Why Is Your GMAT So Important?

You know your GMAT is important, but why? And what can you do now to make sure your GMAT score will represent your abilities the way you want it to?

While MBA admissions are holistic and your GMAT score isn’t the be-all and end-all, it is an important part of your application. B-schools weigh your standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE) as one piece of the puzzle, along with your GPA, to gauge whether you’re academically prepared for their programs. And some employers (mainly in fields such as investment banking and consulting) use GMAT scores as a pre-screening tool when evaluating job applicants. Test scores also influence program rankings.

If you’re applying to a school where the average GMAT is 650, then you’ll probably see more diversity of GMAT scores in the acceptance pool (more applicants with lower GMAT scores will get accepted). But if you’re looking at programs with an average GMAT over 700, then it’s true – you’ll see fewer applicants getting accepted with low scores, even though the applications are looked at holistically. An application with a lower GMAT at one of those programs would need to be a true stand-out in other areas.

You want to get accepted into the best b-school for you, and you want to do your very best on the GMAT so that you can get there. Here are some tips to help you prepare effectively so you can achieve the highest score possible:

  • Plan ahead.

Successful preparation takes time – don’t rush yourself. Start preparing now, and take the exam when you’re ready.

  • Set yourself a schedule.

Cramming isn’t a good strategy for a test like the GMAT. Regular preparation will give you the best chance for success.

  • Take practice exams, and time yourself.

Remember that successful test taking is not just about managing content; you also need to master the test environment and complete everything within the prescribed time. Imagine how you’d feel if you weren’t able to finish material you knew forward and backward – because you weren’t ready for the time. Now imagine completing the exam confidently and expertly – and on time.

  • Analyze your performance.

When you use practice questions and practice exams, don’t just check your answers. Review them, carefully, and analyze your work – both what you got right and what you got wrong.

  • Identify where you need to improve, and structure your study around those areas.

Once you analyze your work, focus on the areas where you need the most improvement. Then take another practice test – rinse, and repeat!

  • Combat your anxiety.

If you suffer from test-taking anxiety, devote part of your prep to managing that problem. Sometimes, careful prep and repeated practice tests will help alleviate anxiety. Other test takers may find it helpful to engage in breathing, meditation, or visualization exercises. Find what works for you, and incorporate it into your practice.

Many people are nervous about standardized tests. But this is a piece of your application you can prepare for. And with practice, you can strengthen your performance and ensure that your score does the important work you need it to do: showing the adcom you have the skills to succeed in their program, and helping you get your foot in the door.

Get the individual guidance you need to create an application that shines – one that shows you at your very best and convinces the adcom that you have what it takes to succeed. Check out our MBA Admissions Consulting Services and get ACCEPTED

Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, US News, and Poets & Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.

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