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Monday, August 13, 2012 at 1am

HEC Montreal Student Lori Weiss on the GMAT

HEC Montreal Student Lori Weiss on the GMAT main image

The GMAT is an overwhelming experience that I remember quite vividly. At the time, I was thinking, “My whole life is dependent on this one test,” but that’s not the best way to approach this exam. Although the material on the GMAT cannot be studied in the same way as another college-level exam, it can certainly be mastered through careful preparation and understanding.

I began my GMAT journey by asking my friends who had taken the exam for recommendations for the best practice materials. It is especially important in this phase to approach people who have similar backgrounds as yourself. As an English major, I knew that I would need more help on the quantitative section than on the verbal sections.

Secondly, the moment I knew I would be taking the test, I scheduled and registered for it. I chose a time slot that was approximately four months in the future, based upon the advice that had been given to me by my friends who had taken the GMAT. I know this may seem silly, but I was also very conscious about the seasonal timing of the test. I wanted to study for it in the middle of winter, while it was cold and snowing here in Montreal, so that I wouldn’t mind staying inside and studying.

As a full-time worker, it was important for me to set time aside to study. During the four months of study, I set a schedule for myself that involved reviewing questions during my lunch hour, reading practice books upon coming home, and taking practice tests on the weekend. Since I am a morning person, I had scheduled my test for a Saturday morning at 8 AM. Once I was about two months away from test day, I was sure to take practice tests under exactly the same conditions as those that I would have on test day. I woke up early in the morning and began my tests, each Saturday, at 8 AM. Since I wanted the experience to be as authentic as possible, I used the free computer-adaptivepractice tests that were given by GMAC.

In the final week of study, leading up to the exam, I started to feel more at ease about taking the test, considering how much I had prepared. One of the things that had really helped right before the test was talking to my friends about what the actual test room looked like. For those who had been to the same location, they were able to describe what would happen, who would be there, and how the entire process would unfold. Being able to visualize it helped to take the fright out of it.

Two days before test day, I received an email from a family member that included an article about test-taking. The article stated that writing about your fears before an exam can help to alleviate stress. Research had shown that taking only 10 minutes to write about your exam fears can actually increase your final test score. Knowing about the research, I was sure to give myself an extra 10 minutes on the morning of the exam to try writing to ease my anxiety.

 On the day of the GMAT, I was happy to have received as much guidance, advice, and pointers from those who had already shared in my experience. I was comfortable in the room, I knew the rules, I knew what the computers would be like, and I knew how the test would progress. I received a score that I was pleased with, and one that would not require me to retake the test. With four months of preparation and the help of my friends and family, I had achieved the first step in my MBA process.


About Lori Weiss

Lori Weiss recently got her MBA from HEC Montreal, where she was recently awarded the Global Citizenship Scholarship for her Campus Abroad trip to Russia. She has been involved in many activities at HEC Montreal, including her role as International Affairs Director for the student association and as an HEC Montreal team member for the Rotman CSR case competition. Prior to pursuing her MBA, Lori acquired five years of work experience as a Communications Manager for a Canadian Immigration law firm. Lori enjoys blogging and maintains her blog, Lori’s HEC Montreal MBA Experience, during her studies.

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