3 Lessons to Take Away From the GMAT

“When am I going to use this in real life?” How many times did we speak these words during high school when faced with a challenging math problem? Well, if you sit for the GMAT, you will be prompted to recall some of this information. Much of it hasn't been necessary to us for a number of years, and the majority is tested in such a way that it doesn't seem to apply to business school or the business world. However, the time you spend studying for and taking the GMAT will teach you several lessons that will be useful even beyond your exam date:

1. You will learn how to best use data

By the time you finish this test, you will be able to decipher complex charts, graphs, and tables. You will learn to cull the tiniest pieces of information from emails, memos, and the attachments that accompany them. The new Integrated Reasoning Section requires you to perform all of these tasks. Many Critical Reasoning questions will require you to explain if facts and figures supporting an argument are actually representative of and relevant to the situation. And, of course, preparing for Data Sufficiency problems will improve your ability to determine if you have all the information necessary to arrive at a definitive answer – and if you've considered all the possibilities. These skills are heavily relied upon in business, where people create projections and predictive models frequently. The ability to base these models on relevant data, the skills to identify the appropriate data out of an overwhelming volume of information, and the foresight to predict unusual circumstances and reactions are crucial to the success of these business world predictions. This is some great information on how the GMAT is scored that you may find useful as well.

2.  You will learn how to properly construct arguments

It's one thing to realize you possess the data, or the primary concepts, or the projected result of a particular action. It's quite another to be able to articulate it in a manner that allows other people who need to understand it to do so. Once you know that you have sufficient data to make a decision or prediction or proposal, you must then recognize the unstated evidence that is not readily apparent, but that is necessary for your case to work. These are the assumptions, and when they exist, it often means there is data that is missing that needs to be addressed. Here are 3 GMAT strategies you learned while in college that you may find helpful. In Critical Reasoning, most of the question types relate to assumptions and inferences, and they test your ability to identify and/or manipulate them. The GMAT essay also requires you to analyze someone else's argument and determine what unsupported assumptions cause it to be flawed. When it's time to present your completed ideas to the world, the skills learned studying for the Sentence Correction portion of the exam are invaluable. Sentence corrections test you on seemingly arcane rules, but in doing so, they likewise require you to develop a keen editing eye and greater ease with the mechanics of language. 

3.  You will learn how to approach situations in a variety of ways

While committing formulas and rules to memory is central to GMAT success, you also need to familiarize yourself with test-taking strategies. With 37 quantitative and 41 verbal problems to complete and just 75 minutes per section to do so, your most useful skill is recognizing when to deploy each tool: content, strategies, or strategic guessing. This will only be learned by completing a multitude of problems on numerous tests so that you understand your strengths and weaknesses, your favorite and least favorite approaches, patterns in the test questions, and so on. At times, you may employ two different approaches within the same problem, or you may solve a problem differently than the majority of people do, in a way that works faster and more accurately for you.  This ability to quickly assess a problem, arrive at your best approach to solving it, and use every tool at your disposal will serve you well long after the GMAT is over. Here are some great GMAT resources that you may find helpful in your GMAT prep. You may also want to take a look at these 5 steps to help revitalize a struggling GMAT prep routine.

Once you conquer the GMAT, many of the skills you summoned from the past will return to the dark recesses of your memory again, to be replaced with new knowledge from business school and life. But above all things, if you devote the proper amount of time to preparing for this test, not only will you achieve a high mark, but you'll learn the most important lesson of all: You can achieve anything you put your mind to.