Press "Enter" to skip to content

The GMAT Test: Expert Tips, Tricks & Advice

stacyblackman 0

the GMAT test

Are you applying to business school in the upcoming admissions cycle? Then now is the ideal time to nail down your test prep strategy. The GMAT test and the GRE require a lot of study hours. Getting a running head start in the spring will leave ample time to work on your essays and other application components over the summer and early fall.

In addition to MBA admissions consulting, Stacy Blackman offers test prep services helmed by expert tutor Anthony Ritz. SBC’s director of test prep has worked as a GMAT and GRE instructor for more than two decades. Lucky for us, Anthony dropped by the B-Schooled podcast to share his extensive insider test prep tips, tricks, and advice for MBA hopefuls.

Partner with Stacy Blackman’s best-in-class GMAT and GRE experts and increase your score significantly. Check out our test prep services here. Request a free game plan chat with SBC’s lead test prep coach by emailing

the GMAT test

Candidacy evaluation by the MBA admissions committee is a holistic process. Yet GRE and GMAT test scores play a significant role in assessing readiness. “The scores provide important information to schools about whether you’re prepared to handle both the intellectual rigor and the significant coursework of business school,” Anthony explains.

During the pandemic, several programs—including those at top business schools—went test-optional when testing centers closed. Many schools have since reinstated their test score application requirement now that the world has opened again. But Anthony still advises applicants eying “test optional” MBA programs to consider submitting their scores anyway.

“The statistics so far show that students applying to test optional schools who submit scores are accepted far more often than students who don’t,” he reveals. “Not submitting just really tells the schools, you know, if you saw my score, you wouldn’t like it.”

When to Start Prepping for the GMAT Test

As we alluded to above, the GRE and GMAT tests require a ton of preparation. “If applying to b-school is on your radar, the sooner you start, the better,” Anthony says. “Because this is a major commitment, two to three months minimum for two to three hours a day on average.”

Ideally, anyone considering an MBA in the future should take the GMAT in their senior year of college. Your math skills are only going to get less fresh as time goes on.

If there’s any chance you might go to business school next five years, get the GMAT/GRE out of the way now and know that you can keep it in your back pocket until you need it. —Anthony Ritz, SBC’s Director of Test Prep

Going back to senior year would likely require a time machine for most readers. So, the next best time to start is now. If you wait until the last minute, when you also need to focus on other aspects of the application, it can be virtually impossible—even with good tutoring—to get the progress you need.

Another reason to quit procrastinating: there’s a high chance you’ll need to take it more than once. “The reality is these tests are really hard,” Anthony acknowledges. “You don’t entirely know what you’re getting into until you’ve tried the real thing.”

Even the official practice test isn’t a perfect barometer; it’s never the same regarding stress levels and environment. That’s why most students take the GRE or GMAT test two or three times—and that’s fine, Anthony says.

Schools will take your highest score, and you can even cancel a bad GMAT score without a trace if you want total reassurance that it won’t count against you.

Self-Study vs. Classes vs. Private Tutor

Your first course of action, no matter your chosen path, is to take a practice test. Remember to check out the average scores reported by the schools that interest you to find your target range. See what you’re good at, what you’re struggling with, and what gaps you’ll need to fill to get your desired score.

If money is tight, you have time, and see a clear path to your goals, then there’s nothing wrong with self-studying—at least as a first attempt. You can supplement that with books, pre-recorded videos, and online courses from reputable companies. 

Now, if you have a bit more money and feel you would benefit from more structure and guidance, and can fit a live course into your schedule, then some of those same companies offer solid options for group classes.

Those are helpful if you’re in the middle of the curve or just a bit above in terms of how you’re scoring, Anthony explains. They can provide beneficial structure and they’re at an intermediate price point. The downside is that it’s not as tailored. You don’t get as much personal attention as you would with individual tutoring.

One-on-one tutoring is the most expensive study option of the three. “But it’s also the best possible yield on average,” Anthony says. “And given the dollars that we’re talking about for actually attending business school, the financial aid money that may be in play, the added salary down the road, I think there’s a lot of bases to make that investment.”

“So, if your timeline doesn’t allow for taking a course first and doesn’t leave you the space to reassess and reevaluate, and if self-studying doesn’t work out, I would consider going straight to tutoring,” he advises.

The Tutoring Experience With SBC

The SBC test prep style is customized and tailored. We will meet you wherever you are at and create a personalized plan that fits your needs. Students start by signing up for SBC’s two-hour trial test review package. By the end of that session, we give them a thorough picture of how we can address their needs and help them reach their target score in a way that fits their application timeline and score goals.

Except in rare cases, we want to start this way no matter where you are in your process, Anthony notes. “I find that students often struggle to self-assess effectively,” he adds. “It’s irresponsible for the tutor to jump into reviewing specific topics without first getting a clear picture of everything.”

Subsequent sessions, most commonly one two-hour weekly session, target specific areas to help the student improve in various ways. This will typically include homework to ensure the student continues to progress between lessons as well.

“Beyond that, it can really vary a lot in terms of topics covered, hours of tutoring, needed pace, time spent on homework review versus new material in lessons and everything else,” Anthony explains. “All of that varies based on the student’s background and past experience with the test and what we saw in that initial session.”

For procrastinators who haven’t left much time for studying before the deadline, Anthony suggests they take a practice test ASAP and speak with a tutor immediately. That way, they can craft a plan that addresses their specific circumstances and maximizes the value of the time they have left.

Common Test-Taking Pitfalls

Unfortunately, it takes some students multiple failures to realize they’re not studying right.  “You need to do something different because continuing to bang your head against the wall in the same way isn’t going to get you a different result,” Anthony says. 

Anthony warns that if you go until you get it right one time and move on, you won’t be able to get those results under the pressure of testing. “We can give you an honest, critical assessment of your learning and tell you if you’re not getting it well enough for the test,” he explains.

“A lot of people make the mistake of studying until they get the problem right. But they should be studying until they can’t do the problem wrong—until it feels so automatic that it’s totally inconceivable that you’d ever not nail it.”

Or maybe it’s a lack of understanding of how the GRE or GMAT test works and what they’re after. “I hear many students say they get down to two answers on verbal questions but always fail to pick the ‘best’ one,” Anthony says. There are no shades of gray with those questions, he confirms. There’s only ever one correct answer and four defective, wrong answers.

“So, if you have that sort of confusion, it can really hold you back,” he adds. “We can help you identify and correct those misunderstandings.”

For other students, the issue is time management. If your approach only works when you have unlimited time but can’t solve problems within a two-minute average, you won’t do well with the timer running.

“If you’re too stubborn and can’t let go of problems you’re unable to solve,” Anthony says, “you’ll torpedo your pacing and ruin your score.”

Take a Data-Driven Approach

Whether you study alone or engage a tutor, anyone can take advantage of Anthony’s systematic approach to problem-solving. He advises students to spend a long time studying explanations rather than rushing to the next question. Also, they should try to articulate meaningful takeaways each time and identify when to use them in the future.

“If you miss a question, or if you get it right but you had to guess, or if you just struggled and took way too long, then you need to really read the explanation, take your time and truly understand it,” Anthony advises.

the GMAT test

His final tip for anyone studying for the GRE or GMAT test is to keep an error log. This is a big spreadsheet where you record each question you struggled with and its topic or sub-topic. Note how long you spent on it, what answer you picked, why you missed it, and what you learned.

“You want to data mine your errors to root out patterns of thinking that you can improve,” Anthony says.

Once you have mastered a question in your error log, return to it a week later and try again. You’ll do fine the second time if you’ve truly learned it. But if you miss it again or struggle, it’s back to the whole review and error log process.

“It’s a long, tedious, pain of a process,” he admits. “But if you really want to see better results, this is the sort of purposeful practice it takes to do it right.”

Get our Cheat Sheet!

Before you leave, don’t sleep on this test prep resource, Anthony’s GMAT Math Cheat Sheet, which is a must-have for any GMAT test taker. This comprehensive 10-page compendium is the only cheat sheet that includes absolutely every rule and strategy you need to know on topics such as Geometry, Data Sufficiency, Algebra, Word Problems, Statistics, and more.

@stacyblackmanconsulting #gmat #math #cheatsheet #testprep #SBCyourfuture ? original sound – Stacy Blackman Consulting


Request a free MBA advising session with Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help with your complete MBA applications. Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

The post The GMAT Test: Expert Tips, Tricks & Advice appeared first on Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting.