8 Step Guide to Prepare for the GMAT

If you have decided to pursue an MBA, then taking the GMAT is an unavoidable part of the process. The Graduate Management Admission Test is a very challenging exam divided into 4 sections: Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. Your GMAT score will range from 200 – 800, calculated solely based on your scores in the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections.

Here are the average GMAT scores of students admitted to the world’s top MBA programs:

These are scores in the 88-percentile range and higher, meaning you have to score better than 88% of GMAT test-takers in order to be competitive for top MBA programs. Getting to this score takes time, energy, and dedication. There are several courses online and books that can help you get there. In this article, you will find a step-by-step guideline on how to best prepare for the GMAT.

1. Get familiar with the test structure and myths about the test

The test-owning company, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) publishes its own books. The “Official GMAT Book” is the best source to familiarize yourself with the test structure and the way that the test operates. Moreover, it shatters some common myth that exist about the GMAT that you need to know about.

2. Take the practice test to see where you stand

The Official GMAT Book contains a diagnostic test. Before you start studying for the test, it is highly recommended to do this diagnostic test to see where you stand. The test will get you familiarized with the type of questions asked. This test has more questions than the typical GMAT test, it is paper-based (meaning the questions will not be computer adaptive) and it won’t be timed. However, it will give you a great initial idea of where you stand.  Moreover, make sure to time yourself to see how long you take for each question.

3. Keep track of your progress and areas of weakness

After you are finished with the diagnostic test, it is time for you to analyze how you performed in each type of question. Keep track of the number of questions you got right and wrong in Excel. Create separate columns for each question type. For example, for quantitative questions you might have a separate column for geometry, probability, arithmetic, algebra, etc. By doing it this way you will quickly identify the types of questions that you need to learn more about.

4. Study for 3 hours every day

Now that you know what the GMAT is and have identified your weaknesses, it is time to start working on them. You can do this in various ways. You can get a book that focuses specifically on your weak point, for example geometry. You can find practice questions online. You can use flashcards to learn key formulas. Find out what works best for you. Think about how you prepared for other important tests (e.g. the SAT, A Levels, or HSC) and apply your best learning mechanism. Make sure you dedicate more than 1 hour per day to this process.

5. Keep going back to the questions you got wrong

Make sure you bookmark, note down, or somehow keep track of the question you get wrong. Even if you get the answer wrong and you understand your mistake, make sure to save that exercise. Go back to it after a couple of weeks to see if you remembered how to come to the right choice this time. In this way, you make sure that you don’t repeat the same mistake and that you have truly internalized how to solve the problem.

6. Do a practice test every 2 weeks

To track your progress, make sure you do a practice test every 2 weeks or so. Make sure those are reliable tests from companies that understand the GMAT. These practice tests will keep you motivated and help you keep track of your progress. Make a graph out of the data. There is nothing like seeing an increasing slope.

7. Sign up for the Beat the GMAT Forum

Beat the GMAT is a most amazing resource. The name of the forum says it all – it is there to help you beat the GMAT. The forum contains everything: success stories, lessons learned, discussions about universities, and, most importantly, answers to every GMAT question you will come across. Members of the forum share their individual approaches on how to solve each GMAT question. If you do not understand the solution provided in the original source, you can go to the forum and see how other people have tackled the same problem. The strategies used by the members are simply mind-blowing and will save you a lot of time in the test.

8. Register for the test before you are fully ready

When you are close to your target score in the practice tests, sign up for the GMAT. Do not wait until you are 100% ready. Once you sign up for the test, this will motivate you to study even harder. If possible, leave enough time to take the GMAT again, just in case you need to.

Final thoughts

Do not underestimate the GMAT. It will test your patience, logic, and stamina. Start by familiarizing yourself with the format and do a practice test. Keep track of your weaknesses and return to the questions you get wrong. Do a practice test every 2 or 3 weeks, make use of the Beat The GMAT Forum, and sign up for the GMAT before you feel completely ready.

Following these steps will help you get 700+ on the GMAT, a milestone you need to reach if you want a realistic chance of receiving an offer from a top MBA program.

Tringa Krasniqi holds an MBA degree from The George Washington University. She currently works as a Research Analyst at UBO Consulting.

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8 Step Guide to Prepare for the GMAT