For some, the GMAT can prove one of the most anticipated aspects of the MBA admissions process, with some spending far more time on their GMAT preparation than other parts, such as their admissions essays.
“After hours of research, attending fairs like the QS World MBA Tour and speaking to students, I made the decision to study for an MBA,” explains Giselle Weybrecht, London Business School graduate and author of The Sustainable MBA. “Little did I realize at the time that, out of the many application requirements, the GMAT would prove the hardest.”
Consisting of four sections (Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and an Analytical Writing Assessment), MBA applicants taking the GMAT test are allowed a total of three-and-a-half hours to finish. For some, these three-and-a-half hours can be the difference between being accepted on an MBA program, and being rejected.
Spending the right amount of GMAT preparation time is key to any successful MBA application. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that devoting as much time as possible is the answer.
“My biggest piece of advice is not to stress,” says Weybrecht. “First of all a perfect GMAT score is not necessarily going to get you into a business school. If the rest of your application is weak, you’ll have problems getting into most schools.”
Further, Weybrecht advises that if test takers know that they will find aspects of the GMAT difficult, they should prepare themselves to take the test on multiple occasions, ensuring that they leave enough time between their MBA application deadline and their test date in order to do so.
Finding support through other test takers who are going through the GMAT preparation stage can be extremely useful.
“Connect with others. If you feel you need some additional help, look at the wide range of groups or one-on-one courses that exist,” says Weybrecht. “These can get expensive but for some people this can be the way to go.”
Using online forums can provide free support, with tailored advice from those going through the same process. TopMBA.com’s discussion forums have their own GMAT section, where past, present and future test takers regularly offer up valuable support and advice for those who need it.
Although they can be expensive, serious participants should look into investing in some of the various GMAT preparation materials available.
“Pick up the materials. There are a wide range of GMAT study books. Some of the best books are the official ones, with retired test questions,” Weybrecht says. “You can either buy these new, from current students or at used bookstores.”
Free preparation aids can also be useful. The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), who run the GMAT offer some retired questions on their website, while TopMBA.com has a free GMAT diagnostic test, so that test takers are able to identify which aspects of the GMAT they are weaker at.
“Find your weaknesses,” advises Weybrecht. “Many GMAT preparation books will have a sample test you can take to get you started. Take this exercise seriously. This will give you a taste of what to expect and help you to determine what you need to work on further.”
Giselle Weybrecht is the author of The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business.