A Guide to GMAT Success

Academic Guidance

A Guide to GMAT Success

The GMAT is only one part of your application, but you have a lot of control over how you do! Unlike the work experience you’ve had since college or your undergraduate GPA, your GMAT is a new opportunity to show MBA Admissions Officers how successful you will be in their program.

There are four key steps that I recommend taking as you prepare:

I. Gather Information

The first step in preparing to successfully take the GMAT is to understand how the test is structured, what content is on the test, and how you learn best. This is also the right time to explore if the GRE is a better test to showcase your potential. (The GRE is accepted in lieu of the GMAT at every top MBA program, but they do not publish median or mean scores, as the majority of applicants submit scores from the GMAT).

The GMAT is intended to signal to MBA Admissions Officers that you will be successful in the classroom and is meant to largely test your problem-solving and critical reasoning skills. The GMAT exam consists of four sections: An analytical writing assessment (scored separately from 0-6), integrated reasoning (scored separately from 0-8), the quantitative section, and the verbal section. Total testing time is three and a half hours, but test takers should plan for a total time of approximately four hours, with breaks.

It is also important to note that the quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT exam are both multiple-choice and are administered in the computer-adaptive format, adjusting to a test taker’s level of ability. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the test, take one full-length, computer-adaptive practice exam (available online).

II. Modify Your Approach

Once you’ve learned about the GMAT and taken a practice test, evaluate your content strengths and opportunities. More importantly, reflect on what felt difficult while taking the test. For example, was it the limited time you had in each section? Was it the endurance needed to complete the test with focus? Was it a specific type of common quantitative problem? Or, did you feel like you just needed a refresher on everything? Analyze your practice test to understand where you biggest opportunities.

Then, make a study plan for yourself that focuses on your opportunities first.

III. Apply What You Learn

I think classes are extremely helpful in that they walk you through the various types of problems and often come with many free, computer-adaptive practice tests. If you do not think you would benefit from reviewing each topic, I would still purchase a full suite of GMAT books that explain each topic in depth. Then, simply make a time-bound (I personally recommend 6-10 weeks) study plan that you are able to stick to.

Once you feel you have mastered a certain topic, try to do timed drills that mimic the test. For example, try doing five probability questions within ten minutes.

IV. Test, Test, and Test

As the last portion of the transition, invest the time in taking at least three or four computer-adaptive practice tests. Ideally, take these at the same time of day you will be planning to take the test in the weeks leading up to the test date. So, for example, if you are planning to take the test on Sunday morning, use the preceding three or four Sundays to take practice tests. Try to simulate the experience as much as you can, by only taking breaks when you are given.

Best of luck!