GMAT myths

a ridiculous, costly GMAT myth

Before I make the main point of this blog post, a few disclaimers: 1) I have absolutely nothing against GMAT prep classes; on the contrary, I think that they're more cost-effective than a private tutor for many students. 2) I have absolutely nothing against any of the major GMAT test-prep companies. In fact, I had an absolutely wonderful experience working for one in the early 2000s. 3) The following is meant to be informative, not bitter or critical. OK. Just wanted to make sure that I made it clear that I'm not trying to be a jerk here.

But I had to share this with anybody who might be interested. I just started working with a new student here in NYC, and she's using her GMAT tutor as a supplement to a test-prep course. Her classroom teacher apparently said the following: "If you're debating between A and D on a GMAT question, the answer is probably A."

Whoa. Really? This deserves a special place in the Crappy Test Advice Hall of Fame, alongside the old adage about picking C whenever you need to guess.

I would be shocked if the GMAT doesn't randomize its answer choices. Randomizing might be a little bit tricky on, say, data sufficiency, but I'm pretty certain that A and D are both correct about 20% of the time on GMAT. It's an awfully sophisticated test; why would they do something stupid like making A the answer most of the time?

As soon as my student said this to me, I probably got a crazed, skeptical look on my face. I started searching for any conceivable explanation... was it on sentence correction, and the teacher just meant to say that people are often overly reluctant to choose A? Was it on data sufficiency, where the same might be true? Nope. My student insisted that they were discussing a plain old math problem solving question.

Again, (here comes disclaimer #4), this is second-hand information, and I'm wondering whether something got lost in translation from teacher to GMAT student to GMAT tutor. But if a major test-prep company is making blanket statements about A (or D or C or any other letter) being a fundamentally better guess than other choices, that's pretty scary stuff.