GMAT Test Preparation General Tips
You already know the importance of the GMAT test, and it could well change your life. You need to prepare for it with a lot of care and some strategy.
- Time will be the most prized commodity during the exam, so spend it wisely. Here is a handy breakup of the time at your disposal:
Quantitative 2.03 minutes (for every section) Verbal 1.83 minutes (for every question) Essay 30 minutes Integrated Reasoning 2.5 minutes (for every question)
- Find your ‘cruising speed’ and master it. Avail the GMAT practice questions from the internet or any kind of GMAT test prep materials, and focus on managing your testing duration while efficiently completing the test. This will help you to find your right ‘cruising speed’. This speed could be different for different people and should be arrived at through constant practice. Your cruising speed will allow you to comfortably navigate all the questions and answer them comfortably within the time given to you.Once you master your cruising speed, you will have good hold over the test. Your practice sessions will endow you with one more quality: A kind of intuition at the back of your mind that keeps calculating the time used up answering each section. So you will have a subconscious idea of how much time has passed, and how much of it is left for you.
- Strategy: While preparing through the GMAT test prep materials, Watch out for the first five or ten GMAT sample questions. The initial questions will help you build your confidence to efficiently tackle the tough questions that are going to reach you after them. In many ways, your initial answers tend to determine what your Total score would be – so handle them with care.
- Try to strike the perfect balance between the right answers and the right amount of time spent on them. You need to figure out early on if you know the right answer to a question, or you do not. This helps you save time for the questions that follow.Let us say you have been working on the GMAT critical reasoning question for over two minutes. And you do not seem to be getting anywhere. What do you do?The key to understand here is that you cannot ‘pass’ a question or leave it blank. You must give an answer. So a better idea would be to guess the answer – and move on. But no wild guessing, guess intelligently. Do a quick elimination and go for the answer that seems right in your gut. It is important to finish the section – if you do not, you will be penalized more. A blank answer sets all remaining questions as ‘unanswered’, so it is crucial to finish all sections.
- As you answer questions one by one, sometimes the mind lingers on the previous question even after you have answered it. Watch out for this phenomenon – it hampers your ability to answer the next question. With your mind still on the previous question, you are bound to misread the current one, so be in ‘super concentration’ mode.Once you have answered a question, forget it. You need to train your mind to focus on the question at hand, put your 100% brainpower on that question, nothing else.
- After successfully completing you GMAT test preparation, it comes the time for the test. At the end of the test, you will need to exercise the ‘Accept / Cancel’ option. You will get two minutes to decide whether to accept or cancel your score. Beware: You cannot undo your decision later, and you will not be able to see your score either. And if you fail to choose any one option within the stipulated time, your score will be cancelled automatically anyway.If you do not ‘Accept’, you will not be able to view your scores ever. If you do ‘Accept’, you will get a printed copy of your unofficial score with details on how to avail your Official GMAT Score Report.
GMAT Test – How to Prepare?
Starting Your GMAT Test Preparation – What You Need?
The GMAT preparation process can be really hectic, if the approach used by the candidate is not up to date. In order to efficiently prepare for the GMAT test, one needs Planning and practice. Planning involves setting aside a date to start your work. And practice entails working on your plan diligently, without excuses or procrastination.
Materials Required to start the GMAT Test Preparation
For the moment, you only need The Official Guide for GMAT Review; the others could be sourced on a need-basis only. This book is a must have for you to practice the GMAT Quantitative Math & GMAT Critical Reasoning sections. You may practice the other sections as well. Make sure you do as many exercise as you can, since practice makes you perfect.
A useful addition is the Kaplan New GMAT Premier with 5 Online Practice Tests – it has tons of exercises in Quantitative Math. And using the attached CD, you can do the practice tests for your GMAT preparation.
For Verbal theory, the Manhattan Sentence Correction GMAT Strategy Guide is ideal. The Manhattan Critical Reasoning GMAT Strategy Guide could also come in handy. And if you think you will need help with GMAT Integrated Reasoning and Reading Comprehension, you may get the relevant books on these subjects. While buying, try to do a mix-and-match between books from Manhattan, Kaplan and McGraw-Hill – and not buy all from any one banner. This adds variety, as well as a different perspective, and ensures that you are not stuck with any one style and approach to the exam.
Online is your treasure trove for free courses on GMAT. The 60-day study plan by BeatTheGMAT.com is among the best there is. Sign up for it as soon as you make up your mind – you will start with a series of welcome emails and, most important, your daily homework. Save these daily emails and it will help you organize the course better.
Once you start, focus on the Quantitative Math section – from Day 4 to Day 21 on the GMAT Study Guide’s 60-day plan. Do all the quantitative exercises without exception. Remember these tips:
- If you are unable to answer the majority of questions correctly, worry not. It is still early days, and you are bound to get better with practice.
- If you are doing badly on timing, again, do not worry. Practice is all you need to get better. Keep practicing without let up.
- If you go wrong with a particular question, examine why. After all, your preparation is all about rectifying your mistakes.
- Track your exercises, right ones as well as wrong ones, in the Monitoring Excel sheet (it comes readymade with the 60-day plan). Go back to the wrong exercises, and work on them till you get them right. Persist, persist, persist.
After the Quantitative Section, other sections follow.
Having finished every exercise in the Quantitative Math section, you can now look at the others:
- Critical Reasoning – 6 days
- Integrated Reasoning – 3 days
- Sentence Correction Exercises – 6 days
- Reading Comprehension – 4 days
Of course, the days allotted here are for those that find these sections tough – especially the non-English speakers. If you can manage with lesser days, better still, as you may devote the extra days to Quantitative Math. Make no mistake, the Quantitative section is the toughest, and needs as much practice as you can devote to it.
GMAT Test Preparation- The Need for Speed
Remember, it is not enough that you can get all the exercises right. That is but only the first step. The crux of the matter is how fast you can do them. What you need is practice. Only practice can put the speed in your work. It comes only with persistence and perseverance – and discipline.
Set aside at least three hours of hard work a day, every day. This should be your regimen for a minimum of three months prior to your exam. Which is why, never schedule your GMAT exam with less than three months left for your GMAT preparation.
Take GMAT Practice Tests – Persist with Them, too
Once you have done your Quantitative Math, finished the rest of the sections, and have been thorough with your practice, it is time to take a practice exam. The key here is to keep taking these tests till you attain your desired score level.
Here is where you can do the GMAT practice tests:
- If you have bought the Kaplan New GMAT Premier, it has five practice tests.
- If you purchase the Manhattan series of books, you get a code with access to six online practice exams.
- For a small fee, you can take five online practice tests at 800score (800score.com) – well worth going in for it.
- The official GMAT site (GMAT.com) offers two official practice tests. These, needless to add, are the most reliable, coming from the official source. So treat these tests like your prelims – the test to do before the real one. Take them just before you take the real GMAT exam, only when you are full and thoroughly ready for it. Do not, ever, just take the GMAT practice tests for a lark and waste them.
GMAT Test Preparation – What to Remember While Studying for GMAT Exam?
By now you would have realized that studying for GMAT should be a systematic exercise with a disciplined approach. So here are a few things to keep in mind.
Track all your exercises. To do this, the Monitoring Excel (or similar) spreadsheet will help you, so that you can avoid repeating exercises. You can also chart your progress. When you see all cells green – be it Quantitative Math or Critical Reasoning – it is a great feeling.
While Taking the GMAT Practice Tests:
- Always set aside at least three hours for the GMAT exam dates. This ensures that you will be able to finish the test (skipping the Essay if you are confident enough).
- Pretend that you are taking the real exam. To make this work, you will have to ‘think’ yourself into believing it – only then will it be effective. It is all about that ‘final exam mindset’ which you need to develop over time. Then you can work up the frenzy in your own mind and feel the energy and urgency in yourself. (To know more, see the sections that follow.)
- Record your score by section, percentile and global score. You will need this to trace your progress, and to determine the point in time when you are actually ready. An easy way to do this is to fill in the GMAT test Progress Chart, which is available with your online practice test provider.
- Make a note of your mistakes so that you can work on them later and get them right for future tests. You may write them down on the blank spaces on your flashcard, along with your notes or tips.
GMAT Exam – Important Facts
The run up to your GMAT exam is bound to be hectic, so brace yourself for it. Follow these steps:
How to set an appointment for your desired GMAT exam dates?
Visit www.MBA.com, log in, create an account and schedule an exam appointment. The appointment date should fit in with your overall preparation plan, giving you enough time for study and practice. However, take care to check if the test center in your city is full – there are certain months when the centers are likely to be full. Another point: Sometimes there is only one test center per city and that adds to the rush. If the test center happens to be full, click on ‘Next available appointment’ for your city. You also have the option of fixing the appointment through email, phone or fax.
When Should One Consider Doing the GMAT Registration?
GMAT registration starts two to three months prior to the preferred GMAT test dates. The earliest you can register is up to six months before the exam date, and the latest you can register is 24 hours before the test. If you are doing the latter, which is highly unlikely, you may fix it online or by phone.
It is best to choose a date that is at least 21 days before the MBA application deadline. And if your graduate school should receive the scores by email, allow even more time for that to happen.
How to take a repeat exam?
Please note that if you want to repeat the exam for bettering your previous score or scores, you need a 31-day gap before you can take the test again. Also remember that you can take the exam only five times in a one-year period.
- Is your confirmation letter accurate? Ensure that the information in the letter is correct, including your name, which should match the name in your ID.
The Test Fees and How to Pay
GMAT exam fee – $250 + taxes if applicable
Rescheduling fee – $80 (if rescheduled prior to one week of test date; if rescheduled within a week of the test date, pay the fee in full)
Cancellation refund – $80 (if cancelled prior to one week of test date; if cancelled within a week of the test date, no refund)
Unofficial GMAT Score Report
Remember to pick this up after your exam from the front desk. The unofficial score report will have your final score, as well as details on how to obtain your Official Score Report. You should receive an email about the official score report in three weeks of the test date and also information on how to view, download and print the Official Score Report.
GMAT sends your Official Score Report to up to five programs chosen by you on the exam date. You will be doing this when your exam ends, just after the ‘acceptance’ of your exam option. Depending on the preference of the programs, the Official Score Report is sent by mail or electronically.
Important: Please keep in mind that there are bound to be country-specific rules that you may have missed. Watch out for these.
GMAT Test Preparation Cost – What should be the price?
When it comes to paying for your GMAT exam dates, there are two thumb rules.
And that includes the $100 mentioned above. Which means, you spend $250 for scheduling and paying for your GMAT examination.
Here is how you can stay well within that budget:
First, get the study plan for GMAT test for free of cost.
Go online. Try the best GMAT test preparation option available: 60-day GMAT Study Guide by BeatTheGMAT.com, or search the Internet for other online resources. You are bound to get a plan that works for you.
Now pay the minimum for study material required by you:
|The Official Guide for GMAT Review||$20|
|‘Real’ GMAT exams for practicing||$20 – $40|
|Reinforcement books for Verbal section (1 or 2)||$20 – $40|
So, as you can see, you have just about touched $100. And if you feel the need for it, get My GMAT Flashcards – ‘GMAT Math Flashcards: All Math tips and formulas you need for GMAT!’ – for all of $5. You might overshoot your budget by a bit, but it will help you tackle the Math section easily. The Flashcards are good fun – in just 20 slides, all the tips in the Quantitative Math section are covered. You will be able to memorize the GMAT Math formulae in a simple and quick manner. The cards also come with blank spaces for notes, so remember to write down the tips, exceptions and hints that you encounter. Your accidental discoveries could make a big difference for you.
And you will find all of these online (read: Amazon), and often in the ‘used books’ category. Generally, the condition of the books is good and you end up saving a packet.