B Stuff et cetera

A blog about (snow)Boarding and Business school

How I prepared for the GMAT

Posted by forlogos on December 11, 2006

Haven’t thought of the GMAT in a while. All the studying and work I’ve been doing reminded me of the last time I had to do so much: the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). I took it over a year ago on November 11, 2005. I was so relieved after taking that test. I studied for it for about 6 months and even took an accelerated Kaplan course (5 weeks, twice a week) for it. The first 3 months I spent studying wasn’t serious studying. I’d go out and goof off a lot. The last 3 months was all deep intensive study. I didn’t go out and didn’t think of anything but the GMAT. I stopped having lunch with co-workers and would do practice tests instead. In other words, I disappeared from the world.

So anyway, the following are what GMAT tips and advice I can offer for anyone based on my experience:

-Don’t take a review class. They’re not worth it. Instead, buy access to Kaplan’s material on their website. That’s a much better use of your money.

-Get a library card. And use it. I kept going to the library to get GMAT books. Even older versions. Get your hands on as much GOOD material that you can and use them. Pay attention and try out the testing tips offered in the books but only use what works for you. The best books are from Kaplan and Princeton; Baron’s books are ok. The Dummies book is a waste of time.

-Get as much practice software that you can – after all, the test will be done on computer. Sometimes the books you borrow will provide free access to their website, use it, but no need to pay for the extra access. You should have enough to test on with all the books you’re borrowing. I got website access from Kaplan from the class I took and really used the material. Additionally, one of the Kaplan books gave me even more free access to their test prep site. A Princeton book gave me a lot of access too. Get the PowerPrep software too.

-Find good places to study, if you can’t study in one of those places, go to another. Avoid noisy places and places with too many distractions. Especially places where you can hear an ice cream truck.

-Set aside study time. Make it a priority. Schedule it and do it. As a matter of fact, cancel some of your activities so that you can study.

-Set a reasonable deadline and goal. It always works better when you have a deadline. Helps with focus. I didn’t have a deadline during my first 3 months so I didn’t study very well. After studying intensively, I got myself a test date a month after I started beating 650 in the practice GMATs. So be reasonable. Don’t schedule a test date before you start studying. Know your abilities and set your test date based on what you can do. Don’t kill yourself either. You need time to get the score you want.

-Do as many complete practice GMATs as possible. And schedule them too. I did one every other day. And spread out the different test types from the different prep companies out. Do more of the paper-based test toward the beginning of your study period and more, if not only the software tests towards the end. Kaplan has the hardest tests, so don’t save them all for last. Use them throughout. Take the drills and study between GMAT tests. Your goal is to do well sitting on your butt taking a long, hard test, so practice it.

-Take a break once in a while. Once a week is good.

-Check websites and forums for tips, but don’t rely on them for answers to specific questions.

I did all the above and did a PowerPrep, Princeton, and Kaplan test the week before my test. I remember getting a 710 score from the PowerPrep, 720 from Kaplan, and I think a 730 from Princeton. I got a 690 from the actual test. So…

-Remember that the test isn’t everything and it isn’t the most important thing in your b-school application. After admission, you’re going to have a few years worth of hard study – so save energy for that too.

Addendum (added a day after original post):

Forgot to add:

I started with a base score of 500, so I basically raised my score by 190 points.

And, if you feel that your practice test scores aren’t as high as you’d hope them to be, remember where you came from (your base score) and take a moment to reflect on your progress…It’s always nice to give yourself a pat on your back for the progress you’ve made thus far.


5 Responses to “How I prepared for the GMAT”

  1. Great advice, thanks for sharing it, I hope you don’t mind but I have added this to ‘Tips from successful GMAT takers’ http://www.prepfortests.com/gmat/info/tips/successfultakers

  2. forlogos said

    Glad you found it. Hope it can help others…thanks!

  3. Idetrorce said

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  4. Cmort said

    Thanks for the advice! It makes perfect sense to take practice tests from multiple sources. I just purchased the official GMAT review book which has actual questions from past tests. I’ll look into the kaplan materials as well.

    I’ve been contemplating the Kaplan course but have heard many people say it’s not worth the money. Good job on doing this on your own! You were extremely dedicated. How has (or was) your actual b-school experience been overall? Do you feel that this test actually helped prepare you for b-school or was it just something you needed to do to get in?

    I wonder what it is that Idetrorce doesn’t agree with? It’s not very helpful to just disagree without stating what you disagree with.

    Best of luck in the future!

  5. forlogos said

    thanks for the great comment!

    B-school is just school. It does feel a different from undergrad, but so many things are also the same. For me the GMAT was just something that had to get done. I haven’t had to do anything that intense (or time-consuming) again.

    Idetrorce leaves that same comment on many different blogs. Thought about deleting it, but I’ll just leave it there.

    Goodluck with the GMAT yourself Cmort, study well and score high!!

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