It’s not surprising that so much of the way we talk about the GMAT plugs into war analogies. There is a ton of companies promising to show you how to kill, beat, hack, conquer and destroy the test. They stop  just short of chopping the GMAT into little pieces, and burying it in the desert. I can see why this adversarial approach seems to fit. Like battle, your approach to the GMAT must be strategic. You should actually have a strategy for every aspect of the test – from a strategy for each question type, to a strategy for timing. Like battle, it tests your limits.

The GMAT can feel like a multi-headed monster and these war analogies can often feel appropriate. But does this gel with the spirit of the test? Well, yes and no. At the beginning of my process I remember tweeting this:

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After a while though, my approach changed. I began to understand, appreciate and even enjoy the cleverness of the test.  I began to see the way in which it sifts test takers into percentiles in the most subtle and  ingenious ways.

Thinking about this lately, a quote from the (brilliant) novel Ender’s Game came to mind. It came to mind because the GMAT rewards you for your understanding of what it is testing, how it does this, and what it requires from your approach. In the verbal section in particular you are rewarded for recognising the GMAT’s specific tone. It’s hard not to appreciate.

Here is the quote that I think takes the battle analogy one step further, to where its a useful (although still over-dramatic) construct.

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment I love them…I destroy them”

Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game