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How to prepare for the GMAT at home

Prepare for GMAT

If you plan to pursue higher studies in the field of management, like an MBA, then perhaps these questions come to your mind. What is the GMAT? Do I need to take the GMAT? If so, how to prepare for the GMAT at home? Stay tuned to this blog post as we give you a crash course on the fundamentals of the GMAT.

The GMAT stands for the Graduate Management Admissions Test. But, you may have heard people calling it “the MBA test”. The reason being is that most MBA programs require a GMAT score for the admission procedure. Countries around the world have different grading systems and the GMAT helps admission committees to evaluate applicants.

Some universities also accept the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) for admission to a management degree such as an MBA, but most of the times the GMAT is asked for. Even if the MBA program you’re applying for doesn’t require a GMAT score, though unlikely, we strongly recommend you to take the GMAT test. If you score well, your application could stand out.

Before we move on to the GMAT preparation, let’s see what the GMAT is.

What is the GMAT?

The GMAT is a computerized test that consists of 4 sections:

  • Analytical writing assessment
  • Integrated reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning

These sections will be discussed in detail as you read through this blog post. Don’t be alarmed by the information because you’ll also learn how you can prepare for the GMAT. First things first, familiarize yourself with the test format of the GMAT before you start your preparation.

Analytical Writing Assessment

This section focuses on your ability to analyze an argument and your writing strength. You’ll be presented with a brief argument. Instead of being asked to present your perspective on the topic, your task is to critique the argument and analyze its logical sense.

  • 30 minutes long
  • The highest you can score is a 6.

Integrated Reasoning

  • 12 multiple choice questions
  • Types of questions:
    • Multi-source reasoning
    • Graphics and Table
    • Interpretation
    • Two-part analysis
  • 30 minutes long
  • 1 to 8 score range

Quantitative Reasoning

  • 14-15 Data Sufficiency questions
  • 16-19 Problem Solving questions
  • 31 total questions
  • 62 minutes long
  • 0 to 60 score range

Verbal Reasoning

  • Approximately 12 reading comprehension questions
  • Approximately 10 critical reasoning questions
  • Approximately 14 Sentence Correction questions
  • 36 total questions
  • 65 minutes long
  • 0 to 60 score range

Now that you understand the test pattern of the GMAT, let’s talk about tips on preparing for the GMAT.

How to prepare for the GMAT?

The study plan we propose is for you if you wish to prepare on your own. Just like preparing for the GRE, the time needed for GMAT preparation varies from person to person. We recommend you to practice for 6 – 8 weeks before taking the GMAT test.

Take a practice GMAT test

Find yourself a practice GMAT test, for example the GMAT Official Started Kit and Practice Exams, take it under exam conditions and see how much you score. By doing this, you’ll get a feel for the exam and identify your strong and weak areas like time management, reading skills, etc. Don’t be demotivated if you score low because this is your first test without any preparation.

Make a study plan

After identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you should dedicate time proportionally to each area. For instance, you scored higher in the quantitative reasoning section and lower in the verbal reasoning section. So, you should spend more time improving your verbal reasoning skills and less time practicing your mathematical skills.

What is a good GMAT score?

The answer to this question may vary for different applicants. To determine your target score, make a list of your preferred MBA programs you wish to study abroad or within your country, and note down the minimum score required (if any) for each program. Moreover, search for the average GMAT score of accepted applicants if you can. Ideally, your target score should be well above the average one.

Keep taking practice tests

The best approach to preparing for the GMAT is by solving lots and lots of practice papers under exam conditions. It can help you improve your time management as well as make a good strategy to take the GMAT.

Now let’s see how to prepare for the GMAT by yourself keeping different sections of the test in mind.

Preparing for different sections of the GMAT

Analytical Writing Assessment

Write the essay from a practice test and compare your essay with other examples. By comparing, you’re not looking to see if your writing is the same. Instead, the purpose of comparing is to critique yourself in how well you structured your essay.

Moreover, if you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas, then we suggest you go through some informative sources. TED Talks, documentaries and Podcasts are a few good sources for broadening your mind as you may come across new topics from different fields.

Integrated Reasoning

In this section, there are various types of questions so it may not be ideal to have a “one size fits all” preparation strategy for this section of the GMAT. To keep things concise and simple, just answer many sets of questions and determine your best strategy. Get an idea of the types of questions and try to find similarities between them. Some questions between papers may be repeated but have different graphics or values.

Quantitative reasoning

Just like integrated reasoning, solve many different sets of questions. Try to analyze your answers and understand the patterns of mistakes you made. For instance, if it’s a careless error, then improve your concentration. If it’s an error you couldn’t see coming, then you may have to revise the involved concepts again.

Verbal reasoning

For this section as well, practice is the key. Answer as many practice tests as you can. Read the answers to the questions you got wrong and evaluate the mistakes. Some verbal questions may be too intricate or indirect, so it’s also essential to understand why your answers are either wrong or right.

Furthermore, read articles and short passages and try to understand the underlying message as quickly as possible. This can help you improve your skills to reading quickly and process the information.

Apply for the GMAT

If your scores are consistently high and you feel confident about your preparation, then you can apply to take the test. You can apply for the GMAT anytime between 6 months and 24 hours before your preferred date. However, we advise you not to leave it for the last moment as slots usually get filled up pretty rapidly. Keep in mind, the GMAT score is valid for 5 years and you can take the GMAT once every 16 days and up to 5 times in a year, and up to 8 times in a lifetime.

If you want tips on how to prepare admission documents such as CV, Letter of Motivation (LOM), Letter of Recommendation (LOR) etc., check out how to study abroad.

Good luck!

Author: Adil Ilyas

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