Yesterday, during a call, a GMAT aspirant asked me a personal question,

“I see that you have followed your heart and are now doing something on your own. However, don’t you compare yourself with your peers from IIMA whose start-ups have grown large and are doing well?”

Below is a significantly enhanced version of how I responded to him.

I don’t. Why? Because I have never been an ambitious person. Reaching the top of the ladder has never appealed much to me. When I was in the corporate job, I wondered where I’d be if I continued working there – my boss, then boss of the boss, then probably the president of the division. However, when I looked at those people, I didn’t see happy or satisfied people. They were just like me, worried and at unease. The only differences were that they were worried about different (bigger) things and that they earned more. However, I wanted to be happy. A bigger bank balance and a greater social status without corresponding happiness and peace didn’t appeal to me.

I left the job without a second job in hand. I knew what mattered to me was that I enjoyed what I did and that I was adding value – that there was some meaning to my job. I didn’t view the job as separate from life to be done so that the life could be enjoyed. I looked at my job as a part of my life. I thought that since I was going to devote the prime hours of the prime years of my life to a thing, it needs to make sense to me – it needs to have some meaning.

It’s a long story how I have landed up doing what I am doing now. However, I do enjoy what I do now, and I do feel that I’m adding value by doing what I’m doing. Would I do the same in another five years? Probably not. I’d want to move up the ladder: – a different ladder though – the ladder of value-addition and meaningfulness. 

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How many questions do you need to practice in your GMAT preparation?

First, we need to understand that practicing questions is not an end in itself. The end result is learning; practicing questions is just a means to learn.

I believe the following equation holds:

Learning = No. of questions * Learning per question

Given this equation, we can see that the number of questions you need to do depends on two factors: the amount of learning you need to get to reach your goal and the amount of learning you get from each question. 

Clearly, if you are not thoroughly analyzing each question, especially a question in which you are not sure or which you could not mark correctly, your learning per question is not high. Thus, you’ll need many more questions to practice than another person who is learning a lot from every question.

In my experience, I have come across many aspirants who are hardly spending time to analyze the reasoning behind every option in a question. Such aspirants end up doing thousands of questions without any tangible improvement in their scores. Don’t be one of them! Don’t run after quantity (the number of questions you do)! Run after quality (the learning you get from questions)!

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One of my friends got a GMAT 540 after months of preparation but then made an improvement to GMAT 710 in 3 months. I asked him what made this significant jump possible. Below are his words:

‘Simply put, the moment I strayed away from the “score” and started focusing on “improvement,” the results came.’

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You don’t need more practice. You need right practice.

Very consistently, I see that when people don’t hit their target scores on #GMAT, they reason that they need more practice. They feel they just need to do the same thing (practice) more.

Only after they have failed twice or thrice do they realize that ‘probably’ they don’t need more of the same thing, that they need something different.

What they need is right practice.

Practice doesn’t help you if not done the right way. The right way to practice is to analyse each and every question thoroughly: to understand why each incorrect option is incorrect and why the correct one is correct, to try to find all the problems with each incorrect option (and not just move on after finding one), and to play with the words to see whether changing certain words can make the incorrect option correct or the correct one incorrect. This will require you to spend more time per question. You may end up doing significantly fewer questions but will end up learning more. Ultimately, it’s not the number of questions but the learning that is going to get you the desired score.

So, practice. But more importantly, practice right. 

For more such posts, connect with me/follow me on Linkedin.

Published by 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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