6 Tips for GMAT Test Success
Think you're ready for business school? Not until you've mastered the GMAT. Here are 6 tips to help
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the standardized test most used by business schools across the country and it's an integral part in the business school admissions process. Though it seems a business-focused exam would be heavy on math, the GMAT is designed to test your overall academic aptitude -- verbal and written communication are just as important in the business world as your ability to put in long hours crunching numbers.
Like the SAT and GRE, the GMAT consists of sections that will test your verbal, mathematical, and writing proficiency. Test takers are allotted three-and-a-half hours to complete the three-section test. The analytical writing section allots 30 minutes apiece for the completion of two separate essays: an analysis of an issue and an analysis of an argument. The quantitative section, which is comprised of 37 multiple-choice questions that concern data sufficiency and problem solving, follows. Students have up to 75 minutes to finish the questions. The test concludes with the verbal section. Again, students have 75 minutes to complete the 41 questions in the section, which focus on critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension. Unlike the SAT and GRE, the score you receive is cumulative and not broken down by section. The analytical writing section does not factor into the final score, which is on a 200-to-800 point scale.
Use these six tips to help prepare for the GMAT:
1. Take it early, take it often. You saw most of the math covered in the GMAT in high school.
Rather than waiting to take the GMAT after you've graduated college or even well into your working life, it's best to take the test in your sophomore or junior year of college, says
2. Take economics and statistics in college.
Some questions on the GMAT will test your knowledge of statistics, which isn't required in some high schools. It's best to take an intro statistics class early in college so that the content is fresh in your mind before taking the GMAT, testing experts say. Also, the GMAT doesn't directly test economics content, but a working familiarity of the subject's basic principles will help you better understand and interpret the business-focused content of the test. "[Taking an] economics [class] is good because it gives you real-life scenarios that you might see in a reading passage," says Wise. "Economics helps you take a business perspective when reading a problem, so it helps for [the] verbal [section]."
3. The verbal section matters more than you think.
While there may be an emphasis on mathematics in many business school classes, precise communication skills are a necessity if you want to be a success in the business world. Not only that, they're much needed if you wish to score high marks on the GMAT. Because the quantitative and verbal scores are lumped together to create the final score, a poor showing on the verbal section can harm your overall score whether you're a math whiz or not. "If the student has suffered abysmally in English, they're not going to be able to communicate well in the form of E-mails, letters, press releases," says Wise. "If you're low in the verbal, your score is going to be lower, period. So, you want to nail it all."
4. Data sufficiency questions require sufficient practice.
While much of the content covered on the GMAT is similar to that covered on the SAT, ACT, and GRE, and many of the questions are formatted in a similar manner, there is one exception: data sufficiency questions. Testing experts say these questions don't exist on other standardized tests and require a significant amount of practice in order to acclimate to their unconventional format. The questions present you with a question and two statements and ask you to determine if either statement answers the question, neither statement answers the question, one statement provides an answer, they answer the question in concert, or they both answer the question independently. At first glance, and without practice, these questions require more time than most and for your mind to work in ways it may not be accustomed. "For someone preparing for the GMAT, data sufficiency questions are usually the first enemy that they have," says
5. Adapt to the computer.
Like the GRE, the GMAT is a computer adaptive test, meaning that the test is performed entirely on a computer and the questions posed to you changed based on your answers to the previous questions. The better you perform, the harder the questions get. With every correct response, the lowest possible score you can receive increases. Oftentimes, there are also cameras placed on you to ensure that you're not cheating, and there's a timer in front of you, reminding you of how long you have before the section is complete. These factors can make taking the GMAT a harrowing experience, especially the first time. "The computer adaptive test is very intimidating," says
If you think you might be intimidated by the test environment, the best way to prepare for it is to simulate it. As part of some Kaplan courses, for instance, the test prep firm offers a practice test in an actual testing center, where the student takes a full, timed practice test in the same environment they will use for the real thing. "It's realistic," says Mitchell. "If someone has nerves or anxiety about the testing center, they can get that out of their system."
6. The first 10 questions are very important ... but so is every other question.
The greatest fluctuations in your score depend on how you fare on the first 10 questions of a given section because of the GMAT's computer adaptive format. It's important to make sure that you take your time on these questions, because they carry the most weight on the test. That doesn't mean, however, that you should spend nearly all of your time perfecting these questions. Just because performing well on them raises your low-score floor that doesn't necessarily mean you want to be sitting on that floor when the test is over. Leaving questions blank near the end of the test because you didn't have enough time to answer them can cost you valuable points that will drastically lower your percentile rank. It's best to pace yourself, ensuring that you have time to give each question a thorough look. "You're harshly penalized for having questions unanswered," says Mitchell. "Oftentimes, people will devote tons of time to the first questions, but then they really fall behind. You've got to finish strong as well."
Available on Amazon.com:
- 7 Tips for LSAT Test Success
- 6 Tips for GMAT Test Success
- 9 Tips for SAT Test Success
- 6 Tips for ACT Test Success
- 8 Tips for GRE Test Success
- GRE Fast Becoming GMAT Alternative for B-School Applicants
- How to Get In: Wake Forest University Graduate School of Business
- How to Get In: The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
- How to Get In: Brandeis University International Business School
- Questions to Ask When Considering a Gap Year
- How Schools Can Achieve Obama's Lofty Education Goals
- First Lady Poses New Challenge to College Graduates
- Texas State Board of Education: Textbook Wars
- A Crack in the School-Choice Dike
- To the Graduates
- 5 Social Media Tools for College Students
- 5 Do's and Don'ts for College Students Using Social Media
- Guide to Great Educational Websites for Kids
- Student-tested Tips to Ace Your Final Exams
- Taking The Edge Off Exam Stress
- Steps to Relief From Federal Student Loans
- Study Skills - Staying Motivated to Study
- Nail That Job Interview
- Smooth Moves to Make Studying More Comfortable
- 10 Cool Gadget Gifts for Grads
- Dear Commencement Speaker: Inspire Me
- As College Decision Day Looms, Schools Say: Pick Me
- 11 Steps to Raise Last-Minute Cash for College
- 6 Steps to Reducing Your Student Loan Costs
- It's Not Too Late to Apply for Scholarships
- New Hope for Debtors Struggling With Student Loans
- School Competition Restores Hope
- Inside Scoop on Working in Study Groups
- So You Want to Transfer
- A Word for the Rejects
- Business Schools' Great Ethics Debate
- Jobs With Great Return on Investment
- Maximizing an Online Education
- Internships Near Necessity in Quest to Find Job in Today's Market
- You Can Work Your Way Through 11 Grad Degrees
- Turn Education Into New Job: Short-term Routes Lead to Career Growth
- Snag Your Dream Internship
- Getting Into Graduate School Made Tougher by Recession
- How to Pick the Best College for You and Your Wallet
- 8 Big Mistakes Online Students Make
- Online Certificate Programs Offer Fast Track to New Career
- Smart Ways to Live Cheaper on Campus
- YouTube the New Essay in College Applications
- Colleges Where Need for Aid Can Hurt Admission Odds
Copyright © 2010 U.S. News & World Report