How Tepper School of Business Students Prepared for their GMAT |

How Tepper School of Business Students Prepared for their GMAT

By Niamh O

Updated August 16, 2018 Updated August 16, 2018

Whoever first coined the inspiring – if not slightly daunting – expression ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is unlikely to have been talking about taking the GMAT, but ask anyone who’s taken it and they’ll say that the well-worn mantra definitely applies.

Once you’ve made the decision to attend business school, you’ll need to start preparing for the application process at the school of your choice. But where would an application for a place on a highly sought-after MBA program be without a test?

And with that comes the joys of the GMAT.

Taking the GMAT gives prospective students the opportunity to show schools they’re committed to a graduate business education.

A good score on the GMAT will help you stand out during the admissions process, but why is it so important? Admissions professionals value the GMAT’s ability to predict program performance – in fact, it’s the most widely trusted indicator of academic success in MBAs.

Examinees can expect the test which takes a little over three hours to include four sections – Analytical Writing Assessment; Integrated Reasoning; Quantitative; and Verbal.

To find out what the GMAT process is really like, asked Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business MBA students to shine some light on their GMAT experiences and subsequent studies at the business school.

Paul I. Park, MBA Candidate – Class of 2019 says, “I felt the integrated reasoning section of the GMAT was most applicable to my MBA experience.

“Throughout my coursework, interviews, and internship, I’ve seen data presented in various forms coming from multiple sources. It’s important to be able to interpret the information and pinpoint key metrics.

“However, I do have classmates who don’t have a traditional business background or English is their second language, so the quant and verbal sections were more beneficial for them.

“Generally, preparing for the GMAT allowed me to get back into a consistent study schedule to prepare for the short six-week minis (quarters).”

Laura Kelly, part-time MBA student says, “When preparing for the GMAT, I prepared most for how to take the test.

“Having been out of undergrad for eight years before I took the GMAT, I knew my hardest challenge would be taking a standardized test for the first time in over a decade.

“I prepped through practice tests online and through an app to get my timing down and to remind my brain how to read and analyze questions in that format.

“I think the test is a better indicator of whether or not a student can think in a way that’s not necessarily familiar to them, rather than an indicator of subject matter ability.”

Benjamin Strickhouser, MBA Candidate, Class of 2019 says, “When I first started toying with the idea of going back to get my MBA and taking the GMAT, I bought the GMAT Official Guide and started working through that.

“As I got more serious about applying to schools, I realized I would need something more regimented in order to properly study. After much deliberation I landed on the Kaplan online course, since where I was stationed at the time was not close to any location where I could do the in-person class.

“The techniques taught in the class were very helpful, but I found the bundle of practice exams that came with the course to be the most helpful.

“Being familiar with the exam itself and what you’ll see and when is very important and taking multiple practice exams prepares you for this. The post-exam analysis also helps a lot to narrow down your focus areas.

“As far as exam procedures, I ate a good breakfast, wore comfortable clothes, brought a jacket in case it was cold, and had some snacks in my locker since you do end up spending almost four hours there. I utilized my breaks to clear my head and prepare for the next section.”

But after the GMAT, how well prepared did Benjamin feel for the coursework at Tepper? He says, “Not having done calculus in a decade definitely made me a little nervous to jump back into things.

“Prepping for the GMAT helped to get me back into the quantitative mind-set which I needed since I was coming from a non-traditional background.

“Tepper itself did a great job of preparing us for the coursework by having a PhD student lead a calculus and statistics refresher course. It specifically focused on the things we would need to know for business applications. Wherever I wasn't prepared, classmates were there to help me along the way.”

This article was originally published in August 2018 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  


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