GMAT Tip of the Week

Don’t Swing at the First Pitch

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

This week, all eyes were on Las Vegas, as the desert oasis town received a whopping four inches of snow. For baseball fans, however, Las Vegas has been the target of much attention all month, as the Major League Baseball winter meetings took place in Sin City, a perfect place for Steinbrenners and other owners to make risky investments with millions of dollars.

Why is this relevant to the GMAT? As many MBA applicants use this month to finalize their applications, including in many cases a last attempt at the GMAT, it may be helpful to remember the old baseball axiom “don’t swing at the first pitch”, particularly when you face verbal questions.

This tradition in baseball is effective because most batters prefer to get a feel for the pitcher’s style before deciding to select a pitch to hit – should they swing at the first pitch without a sense of the pitcher’s timing and delivery, and maybe the lighting and other conditions of the ballpark, they could quickly and mistakenly pop out without ever getting a comfortable chance at a quality plate appearance.

On the GMAT’s verbal section, students often make a very similar mistake, only in this case “swinging” is akin to “eliminating an answer choice”. On many questions, the writers of the exam can sneak a correct answer choice A by you because it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, but your sense of urgency compels you to hastily cross out the “A” on your noteboard because you are anxious to move forward. By the time you “open up your strike zone,” so to speak, with answer choices C-through-E, you’ve mentally eliminated “A” so emphatically that you won’t allow yourself to return to it, and you end up taking a flier on a poor choice toward the bottom of the screen rather than returning to the answer choices you’ve already eliminated it.

Simply put, if you cannot definitively eliminate answer choice “A”, don’t cross it out until you’ve seen other answer choices to get a feel for what the answer choices contain. You may never find the “perfect” answer that you are anticipating, but once you have seen a couple of answers you will be better equipped to see the fatal flaws in the incorrect answers and judge each more fairly.

For more help on the GMAT, visit Veritas Prep.