Insider Tips and Tricks for the GMAT
The GMAT is often seen as one of the most important aspects of the MBA application.
“If your GMAT is more than thirty points below your target school’s average GMAT, it could place you at a disadvantage and force the rest of your application to work overtime,” Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted, says. “You would have to present something most compelling to overcome that kind of a GMAT deficit at a competitive top school. Indeed, if you come from a common applicant background or a group that tends to do well on the GMAT, a below average score could keep you out — even if the rest of your application is competitive.”
Anthony Ritz, director of test prep at Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered expert tips and tricks on how to best prepare for the GMAT, including the common pitfalls applicants should avoid.
START TEST PREP EARLY
Both the GMAT and the GRE require extensive preparation. Anthony says the sooner an applicant can start prepping, the better.
“Because this is a major commitment, two to three months minimum for two to three hours a day on average,” he says.
Why give yourself ample time? Anthony says the reality is many applicants will need to take the exam more than once—even if they’re well-prepared.
“The reality is these tests are really hard,” Anthony says. “You don’t entirely know what you’re getting into until you’ve tried the real thing.”
CONSIDER A TUTOR
There are plenty of resources available for self-study for both the GMAT and GRE. If you’re looking to save money and have a clear plan, Anthony says, there’s nothing wrong with the self-study route. However, one-on-one tutoring may be worth the investment, especially if you know you’ll benefit from more structure and guidance.
“So, if your timeline doesn’t allow for taking a course first and doesn’t leave you the space to reassess and reevaluate, and if self-studying doesn’t work out, I would consider going straight to tutoring,” Anthony says.
UNDERSTAND YOUR WEAKNESSES
One of the most difficult aspects of testing is mastering the right way to study. Unfortunately, Anthony says, applicants often fail to realize that the way they’re studying may actually be hindering progress.
“A lot of people make the mistake of studying until they get the problem right,” Anthony says. “But they should be studying until they can’t do the problem wrong—until it feels so automatic that it’s totally inconceivable that you’d ever not nail it.”
A better way to approach studying, Anthony says, is to take a systematic approach. That means spending time to really understand a question before rushing to the next.
“If you miss a question, or if you get it right but you had to guess, or if you just struggled and took way too long, then you need to really read the explanation, take your time and truly understand it,” Anthony says.
For every question you get wrong, log it. Then revisit all the questions you’ve gotten wrong—over and over again until you’ve truly mastered your weaknesses.
“It’s a long, tedious, pain of a process,” Anthony says. “But if you really want to see better results, this is the sort of purposeful practice it takes to do it right.”
Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, Accepted
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