GMAT Tip of the Week: Richard Sherman, the Sorry GMAT, and the Result You’re Going To Get

By now you’ve seen the interview heard round the world – Richard Sherman’s immediate post-game interview with Erin Andrews – and all the fallout from it: Twitter hysteria, discussions about what that Twitter hysteria says about culture, little kid parodies, and everything else. And regardless of what you think about Richard Sherman, if you’re reading a blog post about MBA admissions you want to be Richard Sherman:

-Richard Sherman is one of the best in the world at his profession
-Richard Sherman went to Stanford
-Richard Sherman is going to New York to compete at the highest level anyone in his profession can reach

So whatever words you’d use to describe Sherman’s interview – confident, cocky, arrogant, calculated – you’ll want to bring some of that into the GMAT with you, because in the world of the GMAT you’ll face a lot of sorry questions like Crabtree and if you strategically use Sherman’s bravado you know what result you’re going to get (and it’s a good one).

Here’s why – the GMAT is, really, a lot like Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is a very good wide receiver – he’s big, fast, etc. – just like the GMAT is a very difficult test (it’s clever, labor-intensive, etc.). But both Crabtree and the GMAT are predictable, and if you know what they’re going to do you can approach them with the same level of confidence. And like a defensive back can approach Crabtree, there are two ways that you can approach the GMAT and its traps:

1) Woe is me. When you see a Data Sufficiency question like:

The product of consecutive integers a and b is 156. What is the value of b?

(1) b is prime

(2) b > a

You might fall for the trap answer, D. You’ll break down 156 into 13 times 12 (and realize that you can’t break 13 down any further so there’s no other way to recombine the prime factors to find consecutive integers with a prime), and note that b has to be 13 and a has to be 12. So choice A is, indeed, sufficient. And then when you get to statement 2 you’ll think – yeah, freebie. 13 is bigger than 12, so it has to be 13. But wait – why can’t it be -12 while a is -13? You’ve fallen into the trap – you assumed negative! Woe is you…why do you keep falling for these traps?!

2) The GMAT is mediocre. And when you test a great test-taker like me with a mediocre question like that, that’s the result you’re going to get.

If you go Richard Sherman on a question like this, you’re angry at it. They’re not going to beat you with a mediocre and commonplace trap like “bet you forgot it could be negative”. You’re above that…they may beat you with a crazy challenge that’s way over your head, but they’re not going to beat you with a sorry trap like “could be negative” or “doesn’t have to be an integer”. Now, like Richard Sherman you have to prepare – Sherman KNEW that when Crabtree took off for the corner of the end zone it was going to be a corner fade / jump ball, and you should KNOW that when the GMAT includes an inequality in Data Sufficiency there’s a big change that negative/positive comes into play. So you do have to prepare like a champion to be a champion.

But there’s also a huge question of attitude. When the GMAT traps you, don’t get sad, get mad. Take it upon yourself to not let them beat you with a trap they’ve beaten you with before. Some people fall into a trap and get nervous that they’ll fall into it again. The Stanford-bound like Richard Sherman make it a point to never make that same mistake again, and they see that as a fun challenge. “Oh no GMAT – not today…I know your game and you’d better step it up to beat me”

Remember, attitude and confidence count for a lot whether it’s the NFC championship or the GMAT, and how you approach common GMAT traps can have a lot to do with your performance. Don’t fear those mistakes you’ve made a couple times – realize that they’re so commonplace and predictable as to be mediocre.


Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin