So you’ve decided to take the next step to further your career in business, finance or management, and you’re planning on applying to graduate school to pursue an MBA or an MFIN. You have made a solid choice and you will be opening a great number of doors in your career. But be forewarned: most top-tier business schools will require a GMAT score before admitting students for graduate level study. The GMAT (or Graduate Management Admission Test) is a computer adaptive test (or CAT) and is designed to assess your analytical, quantitative, verbal, reading, and writing skills in English. While the test doesn’t measure skill or knowledge in business (or basic intelligence), it is nevertheless used as a criterion to judge the abilities of potential students because the GMAT assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, and also addresses data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that most schools believe is applicative to overall business and management aptitude.
Long before you sign up to take the test, you need to familiarize yourself with its inner workings, and find the right prep course to help you prepare. First you will need to get to know the structure of the test. Here are some rough-and-ready facts about the format of the GMAT to help you get started. The GMAT is composed of four distinct sections. Section #1 is the Analytic Writing Assessment section and will take you 30 minutes to complete. It consists of a single essay question which requires you to analyze an argument. Section #2 is the Integrated Reasoning component of the test and will also take you 30 minutes. This section contains 12 multi-part problems on data interpretation and combined verbal and math reasoning. Section #3 is the Quantitative Evaluation section and you are allotted 75 minutes to complete 37 questions, which are comprised of either standard five-choice multiple choice or Data Sufficiency questions. Section #4 is the Verbal component and also lasts 75 minutes. There are 41 five-choice multiple choice questions, of three types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. In total, these four sections along with two breaks will take over four hours. Be warned also that on the Integrated Reasoning section, you will have access to a calculator on-screen while on the Quantitative section, you are on your own.
If this seems daunting, don’t worry because you aren’t alone. Experts agree that the best way to prepare for the GMAT is to partner up with a GMAT test prep center which offers classes and knowledgeable instructors who will help you achieve the results you need. An accredited prep center instructor will help you by sitting down to discuss your goals. First you will take a diagnostic test to determine your actual abilities. This will provide a starting point from which to grow and improve. Once you have your diagnostic score, your instructor can help you build a study plan and help you determine your desired score. Depending on where you’re applying, your goal will change. If you plan to attend a Top 10 school, your goal should be a score of 700. For a Top 20 school, 680 should be the mark you’re aiming for, while a score of 650 is acceptable for a Top 50 school. This means, of course, that you should aim about 50 points higher than these benchmarks if you want to stand out. A top-notch test prep center should be able to help you grow 100 to 150 points based on the diagnostic test you just took. Keep your eye on that light at the end of the tunnel!
The next step will involve evaluating your weaknesses and designing a study plan around problematic areas. If your weakness is in the essay-writing task, it won’t help you to put extra hours in the math section! Your test prep instructor will help you with your study plan in a number of key ways. First they will provide you with the appropriate study materials to help you boost those marks, including textbooks and additional online resources that you wouldn’t have access to on your own.
The final tip when studying and completing your practice tests is to always be mindful of your pace. Never study without a stopwatch. The GMAT is a timed exam, and so it behooves you to know how much time you’re spending on each section, and to shift attention to where you are slowest. A knowledgeable test prep instructor can help you whittle your time down in each section for optimal results.
You are likely now asking which prep center to trust for the best results. The key is to choose a prep center that offers a comprehensive GMAT preparation course that covers the five major skillets. If you live in Toronto or the GTA, Quantum Test Prep offers a comprehensive 100 hour GMAT course package that covers Math Fundamentals, Verbal Fundamentals, Intermediate Math, Advanced Math, and Integrated Reasoning/AWA, which, when offered together, deliver the ultimate GMAT preparation package.
Students in the Toronto area should find a prep center that offers them the whole deal: a comprehensive course curriculum that covers all the GMAT skills, as well as instructors with years (or decades) of experience, who can show you the ins and the outs of the test, and who are also available to answer out-of-the-box questions that textbooks alone can’t answer. Quantum Test Prep’s “7 Steps To A Higher GMAT Score” breaks downthe preparation process and makes it a much easier hill to climb, while also offering additional resources that you may find useful as you begin your formal GMAT preparation.
Knowing how to study for the GMAT and what to expect from the exam can help you get a competitive score, and help get you into the graduate business school of your dreams. If you live in the GTA and you want to get prepared for your GMAT test, contact a reputable test prep center and get started on your study plan today!