5 Steps to Prepare Yourself for the GMAT

Try these 5 steps to prepare yourself for the GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test is often recognized as being one of the hardest graduate school application exams out there. Test takers should be prepared to not only rely on a wealth of business acumen and management skills, but also advanced reading, writing and math proficiency. If it seems like a lot to have on your plate, it is, which is why year after year the GMAT is the best tests for incoming MBA applicants.

But rather than worry about how to beat this behemoth of a test, consider these five steps toward a better GMAT experience. You’ll come out on top by sticking close to these tips.

1. Give yourself plenty of time

First, gauge your general comfort with both the GMAT’s contents and standardized tests in general. The fact is that some people are better test takers than others, regardless of actual knowledge. You may want to give yourself as much as five months to begin prepping for the GMAT. You also want to take the time to schedule a test in advance and familiarize yourself with any changes or new sections, including the new Integrated Reasoning portion, which was just added in June of 2012.

2. Get a good test-prep book and use it

A good test-prep book is one that’s both up to date, efficient and full of extra resources. Achievers Point suggests some of the best options out there, including the GMAT Review, which is published by the same company that administers the test. Alongside test-prep guides from other recognized publishers, the source suggest that even an updated copy of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to MBA Basics” is a useful volume.

Another great way to familiarize yourself with the exam and get some practice in is through the free GMAT test software available at the official test website.

3. Brush up on your math and writing skills

The GMAT has both a quantitative and a verbal section, which means you might want to revisit a few old techniques from basic arithmetic to data sufficiency. A little reading practice will also help, since you can expect some reading comprehension, sentence correction and critical reasoning. But just as importantly, the GMAT includes an analytical writing section that you’ll want to practice for several times over. The official GMAT website has a batch of Analytical Writing Assessment topics posted, so you can try your hand at these.

4. Consider taking a prep course

As much studying as you can do on your own or even with friends, sometimes what you need most to gauge your progress is the help of a professional. There are a number of test-prep courses out there and even just a few classes could be a big help to your score.

Of course, the classroom environment isn’t your only option. Consider finding a one-on-one tutor who will help you study more efficiently and effectively for the GMAT test. This is probably best for intensive cram sessions in the weeks before the test, although you may want to consider seeking help early on if you find yourself having trouble with specific topics.

5. Take a handful of practice tests

There are plenty of practice tests out there, from those featured in the back of GMAT test-prep books to sample tests available for sale on the GMAT website. Take as many as you can, and continue to time yourself based on actual testing standards. Pacing is an enormous part of standardized testing, and you’ll want to be sure you’ve got your’s perfected.