So you’re planning on applying to business school. Your next question is probably going to be: how can I succeed in the GMAT?
For anyone applying for a business degree, this exam could be the difference between you getting into your dream school and having to give up on your dream.
Don’t worry, though – there are some tips and tricks that can improve your chances of performing well on the GMAT. We run through how to prepare well, how to answer questions, and give you additional tips so you know exactly how to succeed in the GMAT.
What is the GMAT?
The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an exam used for entrance to business school. It is used to demonstrate how prepared applicants are for the academic rigour of a business degree, as well as testing basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Getting a low score on the GMAT does not mean that you won’t be accepted into your preferred business school. However, as many business programmes are competitive, a higher score can increase your chances of success. As an example, two-thirds of candidates achieve a score of 400-600.
The GMAT exam is taken on a computer at testing locations globally. The exam has a four-part structure:
- Analytical Writing Assessment: One essay question (30 minutes)
- Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions testing graphics interpretation and analysis (30 minutes)
- Quantitative Reasoning: 31 questions on problem-solving (62 minutes)
- Verbal Reasoning: 36 questions on reading comprehension., critical reasoning, and sentence correction (65 minutes)
When you take the exam, you can choose which order you complete each section – but only from three given orders.
- Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
- Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
Many applicants decide their exam order based on their strengths and weaknesses, but it is also about personal preference. For example, you may want to do the sections you find most difficult first in order to get them out of the way and do your strongest sections later on when you may be more tired.
You’ll also have two optional eight-minute breaks that can be taken between sections. You can choose whether or not you take the break, but it’s a good time to drink some water, relax, and prepare yourself for the next section.
How to Succeed in the GMAT
Everyone will have a different method of exam preparation. You should consider your own strengths and weaknesses while revising for the GMAT exam: at the end of the day, only by doing this will you know how you can succeed in the GMAT.
Regardless of personal differences, though, there are some tips to help you succeed at the GMAT. Firstly, don’t underestimate the value of practice. Going over practise exams and questions is one of the easiest ways for you to identify which sections you’re better at, and which need more work. After finishing a practice exam, make sure you review the questions you got wrong so that you’re better prepared next time.
Below, we’ve gone through some of the best tips to prepare you for the exam and make sure you succeed during it. We’ll also be detailing the GMAT deadlines for 2022 so you can get preparing early for your exam.
Create a study plan
In order to keep your study momentum going from now until your exam date, it’s important to create a study plan. Though it’s possible to prepare for the GMAT in just eight weeks if you’re careful with your time, you may like to have longer. This is especially true if you’re preparing applications for multiple business schools, each with its own entrance essays to complete.
In your study plan, you should focus an equal amount of time on each section of the exam initially. Later on, if you find you’re stronger at one section than another, you could change this. You might spend one week studying each specific section of the exam, from arithmetic to reading comprehension, data analysis and sentence correction. At the very least, you should try to spend a couple of hours every day revising, and longer on the weekends.
Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes: but for the GMAT it’s true. Reviewing practice questions is the only way to be prepared for the test. While you won’t know exactly what kind of questions you’ll get, the more practice questions you do, the less you’ll be fazed during the actual exam.
The creators of the GMAT have an online mini-quiz to get you started with answering these kinds of questions. There are also plenty of other websites offering full GMAT practise tests as well as practice questions which you can try in the weeks before your exam to get a taste of the real experience.
Work on your weaknesses
If you’re wondering how to succeed at the GMAT: it’s about embracing your mistakes. Your exam preparation won’t be successful unless you’re spending more time reviewing your mistakes than your successes.
The GMAT exam is adaptive. This means that the more questions you answer correctly, the more difficult the questions will become. As you prepare for the GMAT, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with difficult questions that you know you’ll have to work to get right. If you keep working on your weaknesses, you’ll eventually get better.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any exam apart from sufficient preparation is staying calm. Your brain won’t be able to work efficiently if you’re stressed, which is why taking advantage of the optional eight-minute breaks is important.
Use these breaks to practice some calming exercises. For example, close your eyes and breathe deeply for a couple of minutes, while repeating some positive affirmations to yourself. This will calm your brain and your body, giving you more of a chance to succeed on the next section of the test.
While you’re doing the exam, try not to focus on the questions that you’ve already completed. Though you might start to worry about an answer you gave in the last multiple-choice section, try to put this out of your mind. Keep your focus on the question you’re currently doing, and give it your all.
What are the Deadlines?
Remember, you can register for the GMAT up to 24 months before the date of the exam. You can also take the test up to five times per year. So, don’t worry if you don’t get your preferred score the first time – many business schools will select the highest score out of all the tests you took.
While you may be able to take the GMAT all year, keep in mind that your business school will have a strict deadline for admissions. For MBA programmes, there are three rounds of deadlines each year, which will vary slightly per programme and per country. The round one deadline usually falls around September each year, while the round four deadlines may be in March or April.
The round of applications you apply in may affect the start date of your course. In some cases, you should be preparing over a year in advance in order to give yourself time to complete the GMAT, apply, and receive your decision from the school.