Taking the GMAT Long After College

Now that you’ve decided to go back to school, you might be feeling like Al

Pacino in Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back

in!” It is overwhelming just thinking about hitting the books again,

relearning the math you could not wait to forget.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

You have a worthy goal… to get in the top school of your choice and receive

the best education you can. It is an admirable goal and just as any project

you successfully completed, it requires some legwork. GMAT is an important

piece of the admission puzzle, and with careful planning, consistent effort

and determination, it could be your best ally.

The quantitative section is likely to be the harder piece for you unless you

are already working in a quantitative field. You may have to spend a

disproportionate amount of time on remembering and mastering this section.

You will have to “re-learn” some of the theory behind numbers, and acquire

GMAT specific tools and strategies to solve difficult questions.

Remember: understanding math concepts theoretically is one thing, execution

is another. This means after brushing up on the basics, there’s a bunch of

practice to be done.

Data sufficiency will probably be a new question for you. That section of

the GMAT requires a lot of review and you need all the help you can get.

You may have never taken a computer adaptive test (CAT) before. What

“adaptive” means is that there will be no predetermined set of questions or

set difficulty level. The computer tries to match the difficulty of each

successive question to both your overall performance and the question you’ve

just answered.

The better you perform, the more challenging the questions – and the more

challenging the questions, the more points you will receive for answering

them correctly. You can’t skip questions on the CAT: you can see one

question at a time, and there is no going back to change an answer once it’s


Finally, not finishing the test is more heavily penalized compared to

guessing a few questions throughout the test.

The degree to which your score influences your acceptance into business

programs is contingent on a number of factors. Admissions committees

consider, for example, how long you’ve been out of school and will likely

give more weight on the GMAT scores of students who’ve been out of school

for a while.

You might be under the impression that this exam is most difficult hurdle in

your admissions process. This is avoidable when you allow sufficient

practice time and guide yourself by logic rather than emotion during GMAT preparation.

You will master the basics of “reading, writing, and math.” The verbal

segment assumes that you understand standard conventions of written English

and are capable of presenting coherent and compelling arguments in two

analytical essays. The math segment assumes you know the basics of algebra,

geometry, and arithmetic and can apply these concepts in situations slightly

more challenging than high school math class.

The GMAT is not your enemy – half the battle is simply knowing what to

expect on the exam and planning well. Remember that GMAT is most concerned

with your ability to execute and find efficient solutions to problems from

limited areas.

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