The 6 Best Ways to Prepare for the GMAT

By - Nov 11, 16:26 PM Comments [1]

Best ways to prepare for the GMAT

Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review, a well-known provider of test prep and MBA Admissions Consulting in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore for Top Business Schools.

After hours of research and soul-searching, you’ve decided to get an MBA. Good for you!

Now all you need to do is prepare for a great score. First thing you should know is that the GMAT is unlike any other test. It’s one you can’t cram for either. In terms of test difficulty, it’s thought of as as middle-of-the-road. However, there’s good news ahead. At Manhattan Review we tell applicants that if they’re disciplined and prepare well, they’ll get a great score.

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT) which means that the difficulty of the questions adapt to your performance. Here’s how it works: the computer estimates your level of ability based on answers you’ve already given and the difficulty of those questions/answers. Then the computer selects the next question that you should have a good chance of answering correctly. The goal is to get as much information as possible about your true level of ability.

The GMAT measures verbal, mathematical, analytical and writing skills. The test consists of essay questions, multiple choice Quantitative and multiple-choice Verbal sections. The Quantitative and Verbal sections yield a collective score and this is where business schools focus most.

Here are 6 of the best tips guaranteed to prepare you for the GMAT:

  1. Know There Are No ‘Unknowns’

    Before you make a study plan, you’ll want to focus on three main areas: 1) familiarizing yourself with content in all sections of the GMAT; 2) learning test-taking tips to get the right answers; and 3) taking your knowledge and converting it to practical experience, e.g. practice tests. At Manhattan Review, we tell applicants that the most important thing they can do first is sharpen their time management skills – as pacing is critical – and there is a penalty for not completing sections of the exam. Incorporating time limits into your practice tests is a great idea. Further, while you are actually taking the exam, an onscreen clock displays on the computer. Remember to keep this clock on the screen for the entire test time so you can pace yourself better. The average is roughly 1¾ minutes for each verbal question and about 2 minutes for each quantitative question, give or take a few seconds.

  2. First Things First

    The GMAT is comprised of three major sections with a break between each one. The first section is analytical writing, where you’ll be asked to write an essay exploring an issue and another essay analyzing an argument. This period lasts a total of 60 minutes followed by an optional 10-minute break. Remember the breaks are optional so if you feel you need more time, you can continue on with no break. The Quantitative section is next and is made up of 37 questions and lasts 75 minutes followed by another optional 10-minute break. The exam ends with 41 questions in the Verbal section, which lasts about 75 minutes. Memorize the test format so you’ll eliminate the often uneasy sense of newness about working within a format you’ve not seen before.

  3. Know the GMAT Format

    The GMAT is comprised of three major sections with a break between each one. The first section is analytical writing, where you’ll be asked to write an essay exploring an issue and another essay analyzing an argument. This period lasts a total of 60 minutes followed by an optional 10-minute break. Remember the breaks are optional so if you feel you need more time, you can continue on with no break. The Quantitative section is next and is made up of 37 questions and lasts 75 minutes followed by another optional 10-minute break. The exam ends with 41 questions in the Verbal section, which lasts about 75 minutes. Memorize the test format so you’ll eliminate the often uneasy sense of newness about working within a format you’ve not seen before.

  4. Master the Material

    There is a wide range of study books on the market. Some of the best books are the ‘official guides’, which contain hundreds of real GMAT questions, answers and explanations. You can either buy these new, from current students, or buy them used at bookstores and online. Obviously each question on the exam differs, but the methods used to answer them generally stay the same. Familiarize yourself with all types of questions, and develop a process for answering each type.

    When asked – after taking the GMAT – how well he prepared, an applicant told us, “I knew how to answer the questions, but I hadn’t spent enough time practicing how to answer them under time constraints”. He decided to retake the exam. However, before he did he came to Manhattan Review where he was able to benefit from a customized plan that worked on his pacing.

  5. Understanding the Score

    Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800 and two-thirds of test takers usually score between 400 and 600. The Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 0 to 60. Both scores are on a fixed scale and can be compared across all GMAT test administrations. The Verbal and Quantitative scores, however, measure different concepts and therefore cannot be compared to each other.

    If you do not finish in the allotted time, you’ll still receive scores as long as you have worked on every section. However, your scores are calculated based upon the number of questions answered, and your score decreases substantially with each unanswered question. Lastly, find out way beforehand the score you’ll need to get into a particular MBA program. Business schools announce what GMAT scores they are searching for so it’s important to know this before taking the exam.

  6. Develop a Study Plan and Test-Taking Strategy

    Now that you have all the books on the GMAT, and you’ve done your homework using the above list, it’s time to study. Concentrate on the test questions until you feel you understand exactly how to answer them. At Manhattan Review, we ask applicants to study different parts of the test on different days to avoid confusion and better assist them in mastering one area at a time. Put together a study plan that works for you and stick to it. Give yourself at least four to six weeks to study. More time, of course, is always better.

Having a personalized test strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses is essential for a good GMAT score. If you feel you have practiced enough but still don’t have a personalized test strategy, seek outside help with a qualified individual or an organization that specializes in GMAT test prep.

The biggest piece of advice is not to stress. And reward yourself after taking the test. Good prep should always pay off!

We recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of further useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from our consultants who have worked on the other side of the table and evaluated candidates for top business schools. Please call +1-800-246-4600 or +1-212-316-2000 to arrange a free MBA candidacy evaluation. Good luck with your conquest for an MBA!

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