How to Prepare for the GMAT

GMAT for Business Administration (MBA)

The Graduate Management Admission Test is taken daily by thousands of students, employees and entrepreneurs worldwide and the number of takers keeps on rising exponentially as the GMAT starts being recognized and used by an increasing number of Business Schools and employers.To this day, the number one aim for taking the GMAT is to join an MBA program. Though the motives for undertaking a Master of Business Administration often vary, the main reasons can be summed up as being:

  • Progressing in your Career - advancing your career in finance and banking will become a lot easier by earning an MBA.
  • Assuming Leadership Role - an MBA program will teach you all the skills required to obtain a leadership role and will provide you with hands-on experience leading groups, organizations and discussions.
  • Career Change - an MBA can help you switch careers helping you learn business management expertise that can be applied in any industry.
  • Networking - an MBA offers what most other Masters programs don't, a network of directors, executives and entrepreneurs which will help you build up a solid network portfolio for your future career.
  • Keen Interest in studying Business Administration - if you are truly passionate about gaining knowledge in the field, an MBA will reward you by offering a worthy experience.

The CV will give the interviewer an idea of your work experience, educational background and a taste of your hobbies, interest and other relevant experiences. However, the GMAT will tell the Business Schools how you are going to perform academically in the courses that are fundamental to an MBA degree. By enrolling into an MBA program that uses the GMAT test to assess the candidates level, you will maximize the value of your degree and this may pay off throughout your career.

The GMAT is split into 4 separate sections. The test stars with an optional two 30 minute Analytical Writing Assessment questions that require the student to answer with a keyboard. This is followed by two 75 minute multiple-choice section, the Quantitative (37 questions) and Verbal one (41 questions).

How to Prepare for the GMAT

To study for the GMAT, I would firstly recommend to better understand yourself, know your skills and study habits and pick the option that will help you stay on course and be able to use your abilities to develop the necessary skills to succeed in the GMAT.

A lot of people try to study for the test by giving themselves a lengthy period, setting aside 6 weeks, 15 weeks or more but then jump around from section to section trying to cover all parts equally. This is not really a good way study for the GMAT. One should rather isolate and focus on the sections that one is less confident whilst spending less time on the section that require less attention.

You also have to base the time you are going to spend studying for the GMAT depending not only on your verbal and quantitative skills but also on your objective. If your aim is to join an MBA program from a top university, say Harvard Business School, you should aim to spend several months working intensively in order to achieve the highest possible score.

The material that GMAT produces is the most influential and important material for any GMAT progression. The official GMAT Guide is an extensive handbook full of practice exam questions that have actually been used for previous GMAT exams which makes it extraordinarily helpful for many as it allows to understand not only the content of the test but also the way in which the questions are going to be asked. This allows the person to better prepare leaving no surprises on the day of the exam.

Most takers will find the quantitative part the hardest and struggle as the questions become more complicated. The best way to approach this is to understand the pattern of question that tend to reoccur and focusing on each type until the method has been solved. Take the Data Sufficiency section as an example. Very often, takers will wrongly assume that the aim of the data sufficiency section is to solve the problem. However, the correct answer can be achieved by looking at the problem the other way round i.e. can the problem be solved.

Another GMAT sample question in the quantitative section are the questions which require to calculate the number of additional units (e.g. hours, kilometers etc.) that person X will take to perform a certain task compared to person Y. Though many get scared by these questions, the method to solve them is always the same. By breaking everything down to the lowest common denominator and then multiply by the number of times required to obtain the result one will always find the correct answer.

The GMAT not only tests your abilities to solve complex mathematical and verbal problems but also tests your ability to remain calm and focused during the whole length of the test without letting your insecurity take over thereby disrupting your concentration. This happens often with people who lack self-confidence in one or more sections and this can play against them unless they work hard and prepare psychologically for the GMAT.

In order to better prepare for a GMAT, it is essential to take a series of steps that will guide you throughout the study period to achieve or even exceed the score you are aiming for.

1. Book the GMAT appointment well in advance to help formulate a sound GMAT strategy and to avoid picking a date or hour that doesn't suit you schedule. After all, the GMAT does come at $300.

2. Assess your level in both verbal and quantitative depending on your skills and comfort level to decide the time required for each section.

3. Practice with good study material, trying GMAT sample questions and monitor improvements in scores regularly. The Official GMAT prep books are recommended (see above links).

4. Join a good GMAT forum to chat with other GMAT takers and gurus and make the most of the material available on the sites.

5. Read about experiences of other GMAT takers and learn from their strategy and past experiences. They may always come in handy.

6. Find a study-mate to keep motivation high, check your progress and share study material.

7. Get a personal tutor or attend GMAT classes to help you progress with the sections you struggle the most and instil confidence in your abilities to succeed.

I hope that after having read my article you now have a better understanding of the best approach to preparing for the GMAT. Look forward to reading your thoughts on it. I would also appreciate if you could share your experience in case you have already taken the test.

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