GMAT Preparation Advice | Top Universities

GMAT Preparation Advice

By Staff W

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016

Preparation is essential if you want to achieve your best-possible GMAT score. Find out what you can do now to maximize your chances of getting the result you need.

High-quality GMAT preparation means becoming intimately acquainted with the test structure, format, and the types of questions that are being asked.

It means improving upon your weak areas through practice and repetition, developing your ability to answer the tougher questions correctly, and becoming aware of the types of answers that tend to be the correct ones.

Preparing on your own can save you some financial resources, but may not always be as effective as learning from instructors who dissect each answer and impart knowledge and advice from their own GMAT-taking experiences.

The main difference is in the interaction provided by learning with a tutor and/or alongside peers. Studies show that visualization and discussion in a seminar environment will enable you to recognize complex structures more effectively than learning the same material in a non-interactive way.

During your GMAT preparation:

  • Consider what works best for you when learning. This could include factors such as the pace of learning, study environment, group or independent learning, and larger group or one-on-one tuition. 
  • Take care of yourself. You won't get your best score if you're feeling too anxious or haven't had enough sleep. So make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular sleep patterns, good food and exercise. And use whatever strategies you've acquired to minimize stress - whether it's laughing with friends or taking a walk to clear your head.
  • Focus on both weak points and strong points. Make sure you don't let yourself skip over any parts you find harder - pay special attention to those aspects. But likewise, don't neglect to practise exercises you find easier either!

During the final weeks and days before the GMAT:

  • Memorize the most typical problems and answer types.
  • Review all prior mistakes along with explanations.
  • Make a list of those typical errors you tend to make and consciously remind yourself of them and refrain from making the same mistakes.
  • Save a GMAT Prep test for right before the actual test and practice the tests in a mock test setting of your choice so that your memory of the actual question types and difficulty levels which have appeared in prior GMAT tests stays fresh.
  • Take a few days off just before the test. Depending on your own test-taking and learning style, either relax completely or do just one practice test at your scheduled test time each day. Then review the result and relax for the remainder of the day. You may want to take the day before the test off entirely so that your brain can relax more right before test day. Whatever you do, don't tire yourself out by over-studying on the day before the test.

When you are ready to take the practice computer adaptive tests (CATs):

  • Create a study environment that is as similar as possible to the actual test setting, which typically includes a quiet space, possibly a computer room or office environment, so that you can exclusively focus on taking the mock tests.
  • Use a systematic approach. Consider all questions carefully and do your best to answer them. Skipping questions is not helpful on the GMAT CAT.
  • Do not take prolonged breaks during a practice test. In the actual test center, you will not be allowed coffee breaks during sections. There is only a 5-minute break after the 60-minute AWA section, and another 5-minute break after the 75-minute Quantitative section.
  • Eliminate distractions and be conscious of time. Especially when you take practice tests, be as aware of the clock as you will need to be on the actual exam.
  • After completing a practice test, be sure to go over the questions you answered incorrectly. This is the only way to improve. You must understand your mistakes so that you will not make them on the day of the test.

This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in March 2016

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