To create an effective study plan for the GMAT, test-takers should first make time for self-reflection. But what, precisely, should you ask yourself to generate the results that you desire on this exam? Here are four questions to contemplate as you prepare for the GMAT:
1. “Why am I sitting for the GMAT?”
The GMAT is one of two standardized exams that are accepted as part of a business school application — a growing number of MBA programs also accept the GRE. Given that you have two tests to choose from, should you consider the GRE instead?
Before you move forward with the registration for either exam, there are two important qualifications to weigh. First, certain business programs like the Anderson School of Management and the Haas School of Business prefer the GMAT, while other programs like the London Business School explicitly require it. If you plan to apply to such a program, the GMAT is the obvious choice of test, even if other schools on your short-list accept the GRE.
Second, certain companies in fields like consulting and finance review the GMAT scores of employment and internship candidates. If you hope to work for a specific firm in the future, investigate whether your performance on the GMAT will be critical to an offer.
For applicants who can feasibly submit either exam, speak with admissions officers at your top-choice programs, complete practice tests for both the GMAT and the GRE, and select the exam that works best for you.
2. “What type of learner am I?”
Are you visually inclined? Or do you prefer lessons that are auditory or kinesthetic in nature? These insights into your learning style should be applied to your GMAT prep.
Reflect on your high school and college courses, and consider how you mastered class material. Which methods were most effective? Which were least effective? Were the lessons that you best remembered ones that came from inside the classroom or outside it?
Students who are confident in their ability to read a guide, answer the corresponding practice questions, and unpack GMAT material independently may be able to prepare successfully through self-study. For learners who prefer a more collaborative or interactive education, group study or GMAT tutoring may be ideal. Of course, many of us learn in multiple ways, and you may wish to pair one of the previous options with a resource like the videos available on the official GMAT website, or online tutoring.
3. “Who can provide me with support as I prepare for the GMAT?”
Studying for the GMAT is a challenging and stressful process that can take weeks or months, so who will provide you with support during this period? Your family and friends? Your fellow MBA applicants? Furthermore, what types of support will you need? The people in your life may provide you with different forms of assistance, such as the roommate who ensures you have a quiet space at home for GMAT review, or the business school alumni who can tell you what strategies worked for them on the exam. In order to efficiently capitalize on your limited study time, consider and identify these forms of support before you begin reviewing.
4. “How can I prioritize GMAT prep in my schedule?”
During your prep period, what can you keep on your schedule, and what will you need to remove? Your work commitments are clearly essential, as is maintaining time for exercising, healthy eating, and sleeping. But what can you afford to temporarily skip for several months in order to do your best on the GMAT? If you earn a high score on the test, it may unlock a wealth of opportunities for you, so remember that studying for this exam is only temporary.
Ultimately, think about why you are taking the GMAT within the larger frame of the MBA process, and let these conclusions inform your test prep plan of action. Why do you wish to attend business school? What will you do after you graduate? Reflecting on these questions can make your GMAT prep more effective, and it can help you develop and commit to the strategy that is right for you.