The GMAT exam is critical for students who hope to get into a great MBA graduate program. The score can severely limit or open up opportunities in terms of the schools and programs interested in you as well. The test is no picnic in the park, but there are plenty of things you can do to prepare.

Give yourself Time to Prepare

The average, successful GMAT test taker starts preparing at least 6 months in advance of the exam. The more time you spend studying, the better you’ll likely do. Start early and block out a few hours each week as study time. Make it an appointment on your calendar – and keep it.

7 Tips For College Students Preparing For The GMAT

Compare Application Deadlines to Test Dates

Most MBA application deadlines include having the results of your GMAT exam available. You’ll need to look at available test dates and compare them to the deadlines for your schools of choice. You should, realistically, leave enough time to take the GMAT a second time in case you don’t do as well as you would have liked the first time around.

Understand the Computer-Adaptive Structure

The computer-adaptive structure was designed to test your knowledge as opposed to your level of luck. Your first question will likely have a moderate level of difficulty. If you answer it correctly, the next question will be slightly harder; incorrectly and your next question will be slightly easier. The questions are asked in random order now, whereas the paper exam clustered things together. The difficulty level is weighted in the scoring.

Take Timed Practice Tests

The amount of time it takes you to finish your exam is important. Not finishing a section because you run out of time will have a huge impact on your results. Practice working at a pace that will allow you to give adequate attention to the first 5 questions while ensuring you answer all of the questions in each section. If you take a prep course, like those through Veritas Prep, you will have the opportunity to take plenty of practice tests; and there are others you can find online as well.

Economics and Statistics

If you know your goal is to get into a MBA program, make sure you are taking economics and statistics classes during your undergrad studies. Statistics classes are great for brushing up before the GMAT. Economics questions aren’t really asked, but will help you understand the business philosophy the GMAT focuses on.

Focus on Data Sufficiency Questions

Data sufficiency questions are unique to the GMAT and have a different style and format. This type of question, which you’ve seen in school but not on other major exams, will give you a question. After it you’ll have two statements. Your job will be to decide if either statement is the answer; if both are answers; if neither is an answer, etc. Your brain will have to work differently to answer this type of question, so you’ll want to practice.

Don’t Waste Time

One of the worst things you can do during the GMAT is waste time. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you’ll need to spend your time doing some deductive reasoning – eliminating the obviously wrong answers and focusing on which one is most likely to be correct. Don’t spend more time than necessary and don’t second-guess yourself unless you’ve remembered something critical that proves your first choice was wrong. Don’t waste time trying to determine the difficulty level or weight of the questions, either. Just look at each question individually.

Remember, your GMAT score is important but it’s not the only part of your competitive MBA application. Focus on the exam, prepare properly, and make sure your entire portfolio is complete!

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