Top tips on how to prepare for the GMAT and ace the test
The GMAT remains the most trusted predictor of a candidate’s academic performance and ability to handle the demands of an MBA and other post-graduate programmes. These 12 tips should help carry you through the stages before, during and after the GMAT test.
How to prepare for the GMAT
Plan your test date well in advance
Admissions offices will have a deadline for test score submission and candidates often push back their test to the latest possible date. Many make the mistake to not allow themselves enough time to re-sit the test, in case they don't do well on the day. When you decide to start preparing for the GMAT, make sure you have enough time to take the test again before the submission deadline, if necessary.
Make a revision schedule and stick to it
How much time is needed to study varies for each individual, but you should set aside roughly two to three months of test prep time. Little and often works best, a few hours each day are better than trying to cram everything in one whole day. Design a realistic study schedule, taking into account your everyday commitments. Rather than wade through an ominous revision book, opt for a free online revision course or take a few practice tests. The results are conditional but can be a good indicator of which tasks requires special attention and how much time you will need.
Learn to recognize question types
The same type of questions pops up in each exam and if you can learn to spot their disguise, you’ll know to tackle them in the same way.
Practice test are helpful in this regard and can be used as benchmarks to track progress towards your target score.
Don’t underestimate the different sections
The GMAT has four main sections;
- Analytical Writing Assessment, which measures critical thinking and ability to communicate ideas.
- Integrated Reasoning, the ability to analyse and interpret data displayed in different formats.
- Quantitative Reasoning, ability to reason mathematically, solve quantitative problems and interpret graphic data.
- Verbal Reasoning, evaluates reading comprehension skills, editing abilities and whether you can make sense of written arguments.
Because of their logical way of thinking, Engineers and Scientists naturally find the Quantitative section easier than those in more creative roles such as Marketing or HR but this said, no one should underestimate the Maths. While the level is little higher than Grade 11, you will need to brush off your algebra and geometry cobwebs and perhaps review some technical vocabulary, especially if English is not your mother tongue. For the Verbal section, full marks even for native English speakers are rare, so remember to concentrate and not to rush through it.
Don’t ease off the revision when you hit your target score.
Accelerate your preparation towards G-Day. On the day of the test, nerves can take over and candidates typically lose 30-40 points. Take a few practice tests to gain confidence and get familiar with the question types and test interface.
Do nothing new a week before the test
A week from the test, don’t take on new question styles. If you can’t master them your stress level will rise and your head will swim. Concentrate on what you know already and review and review and review.
G-DAY: how to keep your calm during the GMAT Exam
Effective preparation leads to confidence, the best way to be successful is to plan for success. Get enough sleep the night before to ensure you are well rested on the day. Eliminate any distractions and maintain good time management.
The integrated reasoning section comes before the quantitative and verbal sections so if you’ve received confirmation from your targeted business schools that they don’t use this section, use this section as a warm-up for the rest of the test. Focus your attention and try to do your best but use it to steady your nerves at the same time.
Know your CAT
Remember the GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test (the questions get harder or easier depending on how you do in the previous question). Spend time on the first 5 questions – they are the most important. If you get them wrong, the CAT algorithm will make the subsequent questions easier and therefore worth fewer points.
Keep your eye on the clock
Because the test is timed, you will need to pace yourself. Note that even native English speakers find it hard to get through the verbal section in time. Keep track of time and train yourself to solve problems efficiently. Don’t spend too much time on a single problem, sometimes a good guess will suffice. It’s important that you complete the test entirely, the wrong answers don’t have the same negative impact on the results as the ones missed. There’s a penalty for not completing each section, with each unanswered question your score could decrease.
You’re allowed a dry-erase board for scrap paper but copying hastily from a screen to paper can lead to careless mistakes such as inversed digits. Verify you’re working with the right figures before you start the calculation.
Eliminate wrong answers (P.O.E.)
The Process of Elimination is just a fancy way of guessing and it’s the best way to handle difficult questions that you know you just can’t work out. Eliminate the answers that just can’t be right – if everything else ends in a 0, don’t choose the 3, if everything else is negative, don’t pick the positive.
After the GMAT test
Once completed the test, the computer will immediately issue a test taker copy of your score report. Show consideration to your schools by sending them this by scan while waiting for the official score to arrive 2-3 weeks later. Most schools will appreciate this gesture. If you’re disappointed with the results, know that you can retake the test after 31 days.
The EDHEC Global MBA’s guaranteed scholarships policy encourages candidates to perform well, through its provision of Excellence Scholarship. The Excellence Scholarship is awarded to candidates with an impressive GMAT score, it allows us to attract the best talents while ensuring that they are financially supported.
Why is a good GMAT score important?
The GMAT is still as important as ever, it remains the most trusted predictor of a candidate’s academic performance and ability to handle the demands of an MBA and other post-graduate programmes. There are many reasons why business schools prefer the GMAT as part of the admission process, however, the advantages are not only for the school. A good GMAT score is a sign of the candidate’s commitment and discipline and can provide a competitive advantage in a highly competitive environment. A survey by GMAC shows that more than 56% of business school candidates believe that admissions exams like GMAT and GRE improve fairness and transparency of admissions.
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