The 2017-2018 Global MBA Class

The 2017-2018 Global MBA Class

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

6 GMAT tips from an MBA recruiter

By Eric Lucrezia, Recruitment Manager, ESSEC Global MBA

The irony about the GMAT is that it is usually the thing that people spend the most time stressing about, yet it is probably the least important component of your application. Your interview, essays, references, career goals, and soft skills will all play much more into the admissions final decision; however, a competitive score can yield some great scholarship offers. All of the GMAT tips shared below also apply to the GRE and are useful resources to anyone preparing for an English proficiency test such as the IELTS or TOEFL. A great GMAT score is just one of the many elements that make a successful application. Keep things in perspective, follow these key steps, and do your best.

1.  "If you fail to plan, plan to fail."

Consider what is the best moment of the year for you to block out time which you will dedicate to preparing for the test. Do you have more time in the summer? Are you more focused in the fall? Designate when the necessary block of time for your GMAT prep will be and stick to it.  
For native English speakers, note that this is usually one to three months of solid prep. For non-native speakers, usually three or four months. No more than six months should ever be necessary.

2.  Start off with a mock exam!

Whenever your pre-planned start date is, make this GMAT blind test your first task. For me, true preparation begins the moment you do an exam simulation, computer-based, just like the real thing. You may not feel ready yet, or sense that you need to practice or study first. Nonsense! The best way to learn is by doing, and then by repeating. From the website, you can download two free exam simulations, as well as 90 free practice questions. Do your first exam without preparation, like a pre-test. You will probably get an awful score, but at least you will have done it once, and next time you know you will do much better. It gives you room for growth and progress.

3.  Make a customised study plan.

Once you have done your first test and gotten over your (poor) results, you start to get an idea of how hard this thing might be, and how much preparation you will need to achieve your desired score. Whether you choose to take a face-to-face or online course, study at home from a book, or meet with a group of friends, you should make a schedule and stick to it. Study groups are useful for keeping each other accountable.

My GMAT Tips on prep schools

If you're going to take a course at one of the GMAT prep schools, be aware that they can be expensive, but also represent a worthy investment. I can personally recommend two schools that offer some of the best online classes, face-to-face courses, and study materials:
For both of these top GMAT prep schools, you can use the Coupon Code "ESSEC10" for a discount on their course fees.

4.  Think like an Olympic athlete.

The GMAT is an endurance test. It is about honing your concentration skills, so you can stay focused for three and a half hours. Not unlike running a marathon, you are going for long distance. This is why it is so important to practice full-length tests. You cannot prepare for a 42km Marathon by running 5k here, and 10k there. It doesn't work this way.  

I might also suggest that you let your friends and family know important this test is, and that you won't be available for the next couple of months. Keep your eyes on the prize, and make this your #1 priority during your prep period, and until you have reached the desired score. You can have a big celebration with them once you hit your mark.

5.  Don't over-study.

For native (or strong) English speakers, it typically takes one to two months of solid and consistent preparation to get to your target score. For those with a lower level of English, perhaps three or even four months might be necessary. There is such a thing as too much. You need to weigh the benefits of spending many months preparing for a test that, quite frankly, is definitely NOT the most important part of your application for an MBA program. Most business school recruiters will tell you, that the interview, essays, references, experiences, and so on, are far more important. We look at the whole person, and the GMAT is a fraction of that person's profile. Plus, dragging out test prep for a whole year sounds awful, doesn't it? Designate the right block of time, stay focused, and stick to it.

I also suggest that 48 hours before the test, you don't do any questions, and don't open any more books. Cramming last minute never works. Your best bet is to relax your mind and body just prior to the test. Be sure to eat properly in the days leading up to the exam, and get plenty of sleep. Perhaps even go for a light jog to get the blood flowing, and relax your body.

6.  Take the result with a grain of salt.

Whatever your final test scores are, remember, this is just a test. You may feel very relieved or proud, or you may be disappointed. First of all, try to take a screenshot, so you can send unofficial scores to schools, while you wait for the officials to come.  

If you are unhappy with the test, you may consider retaking it. Taking the GMAT two or three times is OK and pretty common for anyone aiming to join a top MBA program in Europe or abroad. Going over three times is less advisable, as people generally plateau after a certain point.

I hope this information was useful. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for any questions regarding the GMAT. Visit the ESSEC blog for more information about ESSEC MBA requirements and admission rounds.

Eric Lucrezia, Recruitment Manager, ESSEC Global MBA

Contact Eric Lucrezia or an MBA Program advisor

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