How Loss Aversion Impact GMAT Score: Aggressive and Complacent Test takers Both Perform Poorly

GMAT Performance Loss Aversion
GMAT is a grueling test that requires heightened alertness to spot quant and verbal concepts, and consistency of picking the required formula and shortcuts to solve the question in less than 2 minutes.

Test takers might be familiar with the feeling of uneasiness when they make a careless mistake. Studies show that as test takers what influence their ability to make a comeback from careless mistakes & conceptual errors depends a lot on their test taking personality.

There are four broad categories: Aggressive, Panic Driven, Calm & Complacent, and Calm and Focused.

Loss Aversion in GMAT Test Taking

When we make decisions, our tendency to avoid losses are much higher compared to acquiring gains. More than the aversion to loss, the psychological impact of loss is twice more powerful than wins. The classic example is how we attempt the next GMAT question when we are 90% certain that the previous question was wrong. Depending on the personality type, we address the next question differently.


For aggressive test takers, the Loss aversion is much higher, and the psychological impact of one wrong question is much more severe. To compensate the loss, the test taker would try shortcuts and other methodologies that will increase the risk of getting the next question wrong. They would also fall for the standard fallacies like picking Answer Choice E in Data Sufficiency, and Choice A in Sentence Correction even without evaluating other answer choices, thoroughly. For this group, getting 2 to 3 consecutive questions right to compensate one wrong answer is a much bigger motivating factor than overall performance.

Panic Driven

For panic driven test takers, instead of recognizing the concept that are tested in the question, they immediately try Process of Elimination techniques as a mean to compensate the loss that in turn can lead to more errors if the concept tested is not recognized. The impact of the wrong question is so high in these test takers that they are also prone to writing down the wrong information, and making other careless calculation mistakes.

Calm & Complacent

The other end of this spectrum is the Calm & Complacent test taker who feels that slowing down the test taking process would improve accuracy, and would decrease the feeling of loss. In fact, by midway through the test, these test takers would be disheartened at their inability to solve questions successfully and would be distracted throughout the test. Most test takers in this category are likely to abandon the test.

Calm and Focused

This is the best performing group. They have the ability to recognize the loss and reset their focus on the next question. These test takers are consistent with their pace, and have knowledge about their strengths and weakness. The loss in time in a weak section is often compensated with their ability to solve other sections at a much faster pace.

Try these free practice tests, and monitor how you behave.

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