6 GMAT Tips

The irony about the GMAT is that it is usually the thing that people spend the most time stressing about, yet it is only one component of your entire application. Your interview, essays, references, career goals, and soft skills will also play an important role in the final admission decision; however, a competitive score falling within the appropriate range of your dream school can really strengthen your application and 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. 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. The best way to learn is by doing, and then by repeating. 

As a start, in order not to use up one of the two free official ones from the GMAT.com website, you can try doing a mock test provided by a test-prep company and save the real thing for later in your studies. Most companies give away at least one free test - take advantage of this! When you feel more prepared, you can go to the GMAT.com website to 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 a bad 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 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.

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.  

We also suggest that you let your friends and family know how 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. Most business school recruiters will tell you, that the interview, essays, references, experiences, and so on, are equally important. We look at the whole person, and the GMAT is a fraction of that person's profile. Designate the right block of time, stay focused, and stick to it.

We 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. The testing center does provide a print-out of your scores after the test or before you leave, assuming that you have not canceled your scores. Make sure to keep this print-out!

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.

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

Contact the ESSEC Global MBA Team

1 comment:

  1. Awesome tips. - that's cool that you try to help aspirants to crack their exams. wish I have this kind of info... Is there any particular tips for preparing GRE vocabulary?