By Branda Winters
The GMAT Exam (Graduate Management Admission Test) is taken mainly by bachelor degree-holders and undergraduate students who are close to graduation. It has three different sections: a quantitative section, a verbal section and an analytical writing assessment. The test aims to assess the abilities that people have in analyzing and solving problems, evaluating data and having logical and critical reasoning.
The GMAT is accepted and required in more than 2100 universities (located in 112 countries) and is used to as one of the metrics in evaluating whether a student should be accepted into a graduate program, usually an MBA program. The exam is the first choice of MBA aspirants, it has a validity of 5 years and it can be taken 5 times a year if you want to study or practice and get a better score.
So, how can you prepare for this exam? Whether you already took it or you are going to do it for the first time, there are some strategies that you can choose to improve your evaluation and increase your chances of being admitted into a graduate school.
- Obtain a Business and/or Management Certification. By doing one of these programs or courses, you’ll start to familiarize yourself more with business terminology and get yourself in the mindset of the GMAT exam. This is going to give you a big advantage, not only in the exam but also in the Business or Management Program that you’ll start studying if you’re looking to do an MBA.
- It sounds too “cliché”, but practice is going to give you a lot of improvement. Spend some time focused on just doing GMAT practice exams, and try to imitate the setting by using a chair and a table in a quiet place. Time the test so that it will be exactly the same as when you take it. Every practice is going to show you where you need to improve. Take extra time to practice these topics, but don’t stop practicing the entire test: we don’t want you to forget about the sections where you are excellent!
- Practice some reading comprehension. The exam is going to test your level of reading comprehension, so practice by reading and extracting main ideas and details. It is going to help you to have a summary of the readings to look for the right answers to comprehension questions.
You can also practice by looking for hidden information in some readings, as the test hides information a lot of times in the “Data sufficiency” section. Sometimes you’ll feel that you need more than one statement to answer a question, but if you read really carefully, you’ll realize you’ll have the answer in only one statement.
Practicing reading comprehension is also going to help you to resolve the “problem solving” section. One advice: check the answer choices before solving the problems. Sometimes you can find interesting facts in there that can help you to finish faster.
Another strategy is to read the newspaper on a daily basis and really try to think about the content that you are reading. Analyze it as if it was a reading comprehension text on an exam. This will get you more and more comfortable with the reading comprehension section.
- Practice some critical reasoning. Don’t focus too much on what you know about a topic. You need to evaluate if the conclusion of an argument seems to be true or not, before choosing an answer to the questions in this section. It will be good to study the types of misleading notions that the exam tends to insert. It will also be good to learn to recognize the key elements of an argument: evidence, conclusion and assumptions. This will help you to identify if a conclusion strengthens the argument or not.
- Practice some analytical writing. Remember you’ll have to work with the time limits, and you can’t forget that. Follow the process: brainstorm, outline, write and revise. Be clear, simple and specific when writing your points of view.
- Study some grammar for the “sentence correction” section. Sometimes it is more difficult for native speakers to identify mistakes in the sentences as they don’t study grammar rules as much as English learners do. A good way to improve your grammar skills is to get a TESOL / TEFL certification and spend some time teaching ESL learners. When you teach grammar, you will be forced to really understand nuances that you might not have realized before. If you practice sentence correction exercises without studying grammar rules, you won’t get to the real reason for the mistakes. But if you teach sentence structure and correction, you will learn about your students’ mistakes and your own.
Bio: Branda Winters is an MBA student at the University of Houston and a passionate writer. She enjoys helping her fellow friends on the hard path of getting admitted to an MBA program.