The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardised test used for evaluating a test taker’s skills in mathematics, analytical writing, and verbal skills. It is a common test for students aspiring to pursue graduate business programs abroad. If you are considering getting a management degree from a foreign B-school, you likely have to crack the GMAT.
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Preparing for the GMAT
Even though you can hire professional consultants for extensive support with your GMAT preparation, you must know how to study for the GMAT and give your best effort to be well-prepared for the test. Below, we’ll walk you through the expert-recommended strategies you must follow to succeed in the test.
Be thorough with the GMAT exam structure
Before you attempt any competitive exam, you should be well-versed with the standard format. Similarly, understand each GMAT section and the type of questions they cover. For instance:
- The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA/Essay) measures your critical thinking skills and ability to communicate ideas clearly and logically. This section has only one question; you’ll get 30 minutes to complete the essay.
- Integrated Reasoning (IR section) is relatively new to the test and tests verbal and quantitative skills. The section will cover four types of problems: multi-source reasoning, table analysis, two-part analysis and graphics interpretation. You will be evaluated based on your ability to use logic to analyse and interpret data in different formats like graphs, charts, and tables. The IR section covers 12 questions and is capped at 30 minutes.
- Quantitative Reasoning (Quant/Math section) is the toughest section of the GMAT exam that evaluates your understanding of basic math such as logic, statistics, number properties, and algebra. The test will feature 13-14 data-sufficiency problems and 17-18 problem-solving questions to evaluate your ability to solve the problems and interpret graphic data with mathematical reasoning. You need to complete this section within 62 minutes.
- The Verbal Reasoning section covers three types of problems where you’ll face 13/13 sentence correction problems, 9/10 critical reasoning questions, and 12/14 reading comprehension questions. The section is designed to measure your reading comprehension skills, editing abilities and use of logic. The time limit for completing this section is 65 minutes.
The GMAT score ranges between 200 and 800 and includes the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections. The Integrated Reasoning section is scored out of 8, while the Analytical Writing Assessment is scored out of 6.
Make a study plan and follow it
GMAT is a tough nut to crack; there’s no better way to put it. Therefore, you need to start with your preparation early. Generally, most test takers follow a 12-week study plan to complete the GMAT syllabus. However, experts advise students to take around 3-6 months to prepare for the test so there’s no room for cramming.
If you cannot decide how much time you need to prepare, take a mock test. Based on your score, you can decide on the time and develop a suitable study plan to complete your preparation.
Find the right prep material
Ample GMAT prep material is available both online and offline. You can also refer to the official GMAT prep material to practice the sections. No matter what material you choose, make sure it matches the standard scoring algorithm of the GMAT. Here are some suggestions on the GMAT prep books:
- Thursdays with Ron videos
- GMAT Club and Beat the GMAT forums
- Manhattan GMAT Guides
- Veritas, Magoosh, Kaplan, etc.
Enrolling in prep courses is another way to improve your skills and better prepare for the exam. Several schools and institutions offer on-campus courses where qualified GMAT instructors can provide hand-held guidance. You can also hire a private tutor for specialised attention. The only downside of these options is that they can be costly.
Focus on improving your weaknesses
To succeed in any exam, you must identify your weak areas and give your best effort to overcome the challenges. Therefore, pay close attention to every section and check the number of questions you get right from the wrong. The GMAT exam is greatly based on visual data questions. So, learn to read tables, symbols, charts and charts to improve efficiency. Make it a habit to practice regularly to get familiar with the format and the questions and keep track of the progress. You can also review sample papers of the previous exam toppers to understand how they tackled each test section.
Work on your time management abilities
You will be penalised if you don’t attempt questions or miss answering them within the allotted time. That’s why, to build your skills, set a time limit for each practice section, especially the Qualitative section. Also, don’t waste too much time on one section. Experts suggest you should not spend more than two and a half minutes on each question. So, practice more and more to develop the skill of solving questions in under two and a half minutes.
Don’t aim to be perfect with your answers
The more time you spend perfecting an answer, the less time you will have for the remaining questions. Do not get obsessed with writing the right answers for all questions, even if you don’t know them. Instead of remaining stuck with the tricky questions, mark the answer you think is right and move to the next question.
Getting good scores in competitive exams takes dedicated effort, top-notch time management and a dash of luck (of course!) Thus, if a foreign management degree is on your mind, pull up your socks and start with the preparation process at the earliest.