We hear from MBA Prep Fellows that the GMAT is one of the most difficult aspects of the application process. That’s why MLT offers GMAT coaching for those who are interested in MBA Prep and would like to strengthen their test score.
We’ve also compiled top tips and resources below to help you conquer the GMAT!
Foundational math: If you have been away from a math class for a long time, or if you are seeing a low Quant percentile (i.e 50% and below), take some time to make sure you are fluent in foundational math.
- fractions, ratios, decimals and percents
- basic algebra
- basic geometry
For verbal, build your reading strength: Start by reading a high reading-level publication, such as New York Times editorials or The Economist for at least 20 minutes each day. Work up your reading stamina until you can read 40-60 minutes in one sitting. Be an active reader, asking yourself test-like questions while you read such as, “What information, if true, would weaken the author’s argument? What position would this author most likely agree with?”
Building a Study Plan: Create a study schedule that lays out “I will study these days, at these times, and these topics.” This breaks down possible feelings of being overwhelmed by breaking up the material into pieces.
- Your study schedule should have 60-90 minutes for four nights, and a double session on Saturday or Sunday (three to four- hours), for up to 6 months. You could shorten the time to three to – four months but have a plan for the longest possible duration.
- Take 10 minutes at the end of their study session each day to write down your reflections – two positives and one negative. This helps you stay accountable (i.e. are you keeping your schedule?) and forces you to find positives to keep you motivated.
As far as study materials (for GMAT), the instructor should have materials but test prep experts also recommend you have the GMAC official guide, 2 free GMAC practice tests, GMAC prep question study pack ($30) for more practice questions, and GMAC prep exam pack 1 ($50 – includes 2 more full-length practice tests).
You can divide the questions in each section into thirds:
- The first third are easy questions – aim for 80% accuracy.
- The second third are medium difficulty – aim for 65% accuracy.
- The final third are difficult questions – aim for 50% accuracy.
Every two-three weeks, do an analysis of areas where you are weak and also areas of strength, based on average time and average accuracy.
When signing up for a course, our coaches recommend choosing one that meets once a week versus one that meets two or three times a week. The latter may go at an intense pace and realistically, too challenging to keep up with.
Keep an Error Log: (Example Template) Keeping a detailed error log is a best practice – your study plan will only be as good as the analysis you do of questions missed. You can tweak the “reasons” section to capture the things that are most frequent for you.
- Log all questions that you get incorrect, as well as any you get correct but take longer than two and a half mins to answer.
- Be detailed and honest with yourself in your analysis. Review and re-study the concepts you missed, create some flashcards and quiz yourself with them, write out some notes… and then go back to do the next quiz or question set.
Selecting a tutor: When you get to the point that you can identify two-four areas of weakness where you aren’t improving with self-study, working with a tutor can help you break through.
- If you took a class with a particular provider and liked the teaching method, then using a tutor from the same company might make sense – the tutor will likely approach the content in a way that is familiar. Usually you will have an initial meeting as well, to make sure it is a good fit.
- Finding a tutor who got a very high score is great, but knowledge, experience and flexibility are key. Can he or she:
- Compare, contrast and evaluate different methods?
- Customize for your strengths and weaknesses?
- Explain multiple ways to answer a question?
- Modify strategies along the way?
- Questions to ask before officially signing up:
- Does the tutor provide content? What materials do they provide/use?
- How much time do they spend reviewing practice problems/sets/CATS before designated tutoring session?
- Also be sure to ask for references!
It’s also crucial to have a set meeting schedule and not meet “as needed”.
Create a study schedule: “Create, maintain, and stick to a study schedule. It helps to know each day what your to-do list includes. This allowed me to remain steadfast in my study prep. On any given day, I would know which topics I had to study and the associated time needed to complete them.”
Simulate test day: “I took six practice CAT exams from MBA.com. Each exam was taken under strict, test-like conditions (no pauses, two 8-minute breaks, etc.) I took the exams at 8 am on Saturdays (same time of day as my official exam). I even packed the same snacks that I would use on test day.”
Have fun with new vocabulary words!: “In addition to just searching for definitions on Google, I would also look up new words on YouTube or Instagram, and sometimes I would even Snapchat them to friends so that I could later recall them more easily. Go social media!”
Get in the habit of reading: “Not only did I start reading more news articles from Scientific American and The Economist, but I would also try to read a nonfiction book on a topic that I was interested in for at least 20 minutes a day. This helped improve my focus for the longer reading comprehension passages.”
Master the basics: “The more fluent you are in the math basics, the faster you’re able to work on the easy and medium difficulty problems so that you free up more time for the most difficult quant questions.”
Additional tip: As stated above, simulate test day as much as possible. We suggest you take practice tests in a slightly uncomfortable/ unfamiliar place, like a study room in a public library, to mirror the experience on test day. Don’t take practice tests at home or in a place that’s comfortable for you.
- Jay Rosner, Test Prep Expert, Princeton Review Foundation presents a video on building your study plan:
- Blog post: How to Identify GMAT Strengths & Weaknesses