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The biggest downside of building a top floor without foundations is not that it will collapse but that after a few collapses, someone may start thinking that a house can ‘never’ be built there.

I had a student who came to me after studying from a couple of other GMAT teachers. She was on the verge of believing that she could ‘never’ learn quant. Why? At both the places, the teachers had almost started with hard questions. They would try to explain those questions to her, but she would get more and more terrified when she tried to solve them on her own and found her mind going blank. However, when we started from the very basics, she found quant within her reach, and gradually started feeling more and more confident in her ability to do quant. It came to a point she started enjoying math. I think it always happens that way. Once you start getting hold of something that was your biggest weakness before, you start loving it.

It was a one-off case, but it made me wonder how many others would be out there thinking that they can ‘never’ do something just because they haven’t got the right approach. It’s a shout out to everyone: Don’t ever accept that you can ‘never’ learn something. Everything is within reach. Be on the lookout. Persist. You’ll find the right approach eventually.

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In GMAT quant, we say that if the calculations are too tedious, you are not doing it the right way.

Can we extend it to life as well?

If things seem overly challenging, probably you aren’t looking at them the right way.

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We need to understand why GMAT asks what it asks.

We can be absolutely sure that after GMAT, we are never going to see in life problems with five options. Right?

Then, why is GMAT a requirement for almost all MBA programs, if we are never going to see such problems in life?

The reason is that GMAT is NOT testing you on those questions. Questions are just TOOLS. What GMAT is trying to test is a precise, in-depth, and structured way of thinking, which is going to be extremely useful not only during the MBA but also during the corporate life. So, probably, it’s time to reduce our focus on looking for question-solving tricks and get down to building our skills.

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I encourage my students to not accept anything that I say at face value but rather evaluate whether it makes ‘sense’ to them. It’s not that I’m going to say anything incorrect but when you accept anything without evaluating it per your understanding, it’s ‘knowledge’ for you. Only when you evaluate and see that it makes sense within your existing framework of logic does it become ‘understanding’ for you.

The other reason I encourage students not to accept things I say at face value is that at times, what I say and what they understand is different, for the simple reason that we are at different levels of understanding. Now, if one accepts what I say without evaluating or questioning, he is going to carry with himself an incorrect understanding, believing that I said so.

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My primary objective in my sessions is not to transfer the knowledge I have but to inculcate in the student the way of thinking I have. And it is important to understand that GMAT is not a test of knowledge; it’s a test of the way of thinking.

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About Chiranjeev Singh

An Alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and with scores of 780 (2017) and 770 (2013) on GMAT and 99.98%ile on CAT, Chiranjeev is one of the most qualified GMAT tutors in India. Chiranjeev has earlier served as Director of Curriculum at e-GMAT. Chiranjeev has been helping students ace GMAT since 2012. He follows a concept-based methodology to teaching GMAT and is very committed to student success. You may contact him for any private GMAT tutoring needs at He conducts online sessions for students across the world.

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