Guessing on the GMAT can stump many test takers. Some students skip it altogether since a wrong guess may result in a lower score. However, you must understand that a couple of wrong answers are better than leaving a section incomplete. GMAT heavily penalizes incomplete sections. Hence, it is important to take strategic guesses when needed.
Typically, you would guess in a couple of scenarios. It is prudent to guess if you are running out of time and one question is taking too long. Sometimes, you may also need to intelligently guess at the end of the exam in order to complete the section. The other time you would take a guess is when you have a hard time remembering a concept. It happens that you may not remember a certain formula or method during the GMAT. In such a case, you should look at the answer choices and go for the best possible option.
Thankfully, the friendly folks at GMAC have done a study of actual GMAT records and have come up with certain insights. Here are the highlights:
- If you only have a couple of questions left in either section, it does not matter whether you guess or skip the question.
- In the verbal section, guessing does not make a difference if you have upto five questions left in the section. The better thing is to answer the question to the best of your ability.
- In the quantitative section, odds for a better score improve if you take guesses. Do not leave any question unanswered. Guessing smartly is the key.
- Finally, your guessing strategy should depend on your own ability in a section. If your scores tend to be low on one section, omitting questions is a better idea than taking random guesses. If you have good mastery on one section, then you should take guesses on that question. If you are somewhere in the middle, refer to the three points above.
If you want to reduce the number of guesses, it is a good idea to take a lot of timed practice tests so that you understand what it takes to finish a section on time. Time management is something you should pay attention to throughout the exam. When you take guesses during practice tests, go back to see whether they were actually correct answers. You will begin to understand your own strengths in each section.
So, should you guess on the GMAT? Yes, but make sure you guess smartly by eliminating answer choices. Solve every question in the quantitative section, even if it involves random guessing and do not worry about a few omitted questions in verbal.