Plotting Your GMAT Attack


Don't look now, but business schools just keep getting more competitive. The number of applications at top programs is going up again. A recent post by the Wall Street Journal cites a rise in the number of applicants to Wharton, Harvard, and NYU's Stern this year. That's a break from the trend of the last couple years, with prospective applicants holding out as financial job markets continue to be difficult.

Not only have application figures themselves shot back up, the quality of the applicant pool is also higher than it was even a few years ago. The WSJ post points to upward trending GMAT scores:

"In recent years, Wharton's students are becoming a more high-achieving group. The average GMAT score for enrolled students this fall was 728–on a scale of 200 to 800–up from 725 last year and 718 for the class that enrolled in fall 2012."

These incoming classes are posting very impressive scores. The numbers clearly reflect the preparation they put into the exam. Without a doubt, strategic GMAT prep has become a standard part of the admissions process for virtually all top b-school candidates.

So, maybe you've already bought a couple books, or signed up for a class. But at the end of the day, the books and your GMAT instructor won't be sitting in that room taking the'll just be you. Are you doing everything you should to prepare? Maybe you're wondering what the most effective test-takers are doing that you aren't? Here are few of the most important things to keep in mind as you plot your GMAT attack.

  • Make a plan and stick to it. The biggest difference between GMAT success stories and the cautionary tales is NOT math skills or anxiety. It's having an effective game plan. That means specifically plotting out your prep time, getting it on the calendar, and making it happen. It means taking into account your schedule and other commitments and being realistic about your expectations. And for most top performers, it means keeping the GMAT at (or near) the top of your list of priorities in life for at least several weeks in a row.
  • Prepare for the GMAT, not for a math test. Never forget the very limited time you'll be working with and the big penalty for not finishing. Remember too that the answer is always on the screen and in many cases might be pretty recognizable. Great test-takers always proactively choose which questions are best solved with conventional math and which invite time-saving alternative approaches. Your prep time is as much about learning how to make that choice as it is about mastering algebra and geometry rules.
  • Don't be satisfied with "getting it." The GMAT is about performance. When you're reviewing math, it's not enough just to understand the material. On test day, you have to show them you can actually use all these math rules to solve problems. Over and over again. With a fair amount of pressure on you to not mess up. So get out a pen and a notebook (remember you won't have a calculator!), and when you see a math rule that looks less than entirely familiar, write it down. Then use it to solve a problem. Then do it over and over again. Having fun yet? You will be when you come out of the testing room and they show you your score!

This post was written by Next Step Test Preparation.  Next Step focuses exclusively on providing students with customized, one-on-one tutoring packages for the GRE, GMAT, and more.  Click here to learn more about how Next Step can help you.

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