Imperial MBA Students Share Their Top GMAT Tips

Imperial MBA Students Share Their Top GMAT Tips main image

Performing well on the GMAT is a vital step towards a successful full-time MBA application, particularly if you’re targeting one of the top business schools in the world.

Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London is ranked eighth in Europe for its full-time MBA program in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2019, making it one of the most sought-after programs in the continent.

The school also offers a GMAT Excellence Award that gives a 10 percent fee waiver (£5,200) for applicants with a 750+ score in the GMAT, making a good GMAT performance even more vital.

To find out how you can get such an impressively high score, we asked three of Imperial’s students – each of whom scored 700+ in the GMAT – to share their top tips and insights into mastering the exam.

Find out what James, Matthew and Anirudh have to say below. It should be noted that the exam has been shortened by 30 minutes since they sat it. However, much of their advice remains applicable to today’s exam.

What to use when preparing

Anirudh: “I used Kaplan GMAT 800 and Veritas Prep YouTube channel to supplement my verbal preparation.”

Anirudh’s suggestions above are ideal supplements to the GMAT Official Guide (OG) and official exam prep software. Make sure you go over the questions you couldn’t answer correctly on the first attempt and try to roughly time yourself. If you find yourself short on time (say you have a minute left for five questions), it is best to take a guess, as there is a big penalty on leaving questions unsolved.

How to prepare while still working full-time

Matthew:“I first focused on reading through and writing notes on the revision material from the official guides, this gave me a good basis for which to start practice questions from the books. I aimed to do an hour of these each evening, alternating between numerical and verbal, as I felt quite well-balanced between the two.

“Closer to the time I began practice tests using the official software. Once I’d started revising and felt relatively comfortable with the practice questions, I booked an exam for sooner than I should have – I had a target score in mind but felt that I may have to sit the exam on more than one occasion to achieve it.

“The pressure of having a test deadline helped focus my mind and I ended up surpassing what I needed first time.”

Anirudh: “I set out an hour of practice every day. In the latter part of my prep, I worked on the section my mock test results were highlighting as an area of weakness. As has been noted frequently by test takers, my score on the actual exam was very close (and in my case, the exact same score) as my final GMATPrep practice test.

“The most difficult challenge during my prep period was doing business travel two weeks before the exam, which I balanced by taking a four-day stretch off work before my test date.”

James: “I would take a practice exam under real test conditions on Sunday mornings, then go through incorrect answers (and underlying concepts) on Monday evenings. The rest of the week I practiced out of my books during lunch breaks at work and for an hour or two each evening, specifically focusing on timing myself for each question.

“Don’t forget to practice your integrated reasoning and essay sections. They may not make up part of your score, but they still appear on the report you’ll send in with your application and companies who request it will see them as well.”

Which section should you attempt first?

Anirudh: “Quants was my strong section and I attempted to do it first. I felt pretty good about my score at the end of the allotted time so focused on minimizing damage in my verbal section.”

James: “The verbal section was my strongest from the very beginning, so I wanted to do the quantitative sections on my practice exams first while I was feeling as energetic as possible. This worked out well, so I used the same approach on my actual exam.”

What test day is like

James: “I made sure to stop studying two hours before bed the night before and did some personal reading to try and take my mind off of the exam.

“On test day, I woke up extra early and walked outside for a bit with my coffee to wake up as much as possible before my drive to the testing center.

“During the exam, I kept a close eye on the clock and forced myself to guess and move on if I felt I was spending too much time on one particular question. This was really tough to do as I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to those questions later, but it worked on the practice exams, so I stuck with the strategy.

Matthew: “I arrived well before the exam, so I felt comfortable with the process and environment. They actually let me start before so there is no issue hanging around full of nerves.

“Throughout I made sure I took each break when they came up even if the sign in/out process is a bit cumbersome. This allowed me to relax and get my mind in gear for the next section.”

Anirudh: “I had a full night of sleep, got a double espresso in before I left and had an apple and a dark chocolate in the eight-minute break to keep my mind alert for the verbal, integrated reasoning and analytical writing assessment sections.”

Top tips for the test

James: “Make sure to focus on your timing. Timing will make or break your score in the end.

“There’s no point in trying to estimate how you’re doing during the exam. The algorithm the testing program follows is made to increase difficulty as you get questions right, so most people don’t feel they’re performing well until they see their score at the very end.”

Written by Craig OCallaghan

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