10 things to consider before you begin your GMAT prep

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Simona Mkhitaryan
Date: July 16, 2021

Get Comfortable With The GMAT Structure

Before doing anything else, you need to familiarise yourself with the GMAT structure.

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA section): this section concentrates on critical analysis and idea communication. You will be presented with an argument where a strong analysis of the reasoning behind the given argument should be provided. (30 minutes, 1 question)
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR section) – the second part of the exam evaluates the ability to assess information and interpret data displayed in different formats. (30 minutes, 12 questions) 
  • Next is the Quantitative Reasoning (Quant section), which measures the ability to solve mathematical and quantitative problems as well as the ability to interpret data. There are two types of questions in the Quantitative Section – Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. Both types of questions require some knowledge of arithmetic, elementary algebra, and commonly known geometry concepts. Since there are 31 questions in Quantitative Reasoning, about 15 of them will be data sufficiency questions which are quite confusing and unique. (62 minutes, 31 questions)
  • Verbal Reasoning (Verbal section) – this is the final section, which evaluates reading comprehension skills, editing abilities, and whether you can make sense of written arguments. (65 minutes, 36 questions)

 GMAT Scores are Valid for Five Years

You will receive your official GMAT score within 20 days of taking the exam. Your GMAT test score is valid for five years. Before taking or preparing for the GMAT, it is essential to know when to take the exam. If you already have a particular school or program in mind then you have to schedule your test based on the deadlines the school has specified. Nevertheless, it is good to keep in mind how long GMAT scores are valid for if you are uncertain about when you will apply to schools.

 Two Sections of the GMAT are Computer-Adaptive

The GMAT is a Computer Adaptive exam. Two sections of GMAT, the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections are Computer-adaptive. So, what does it mean? If you answered a hard level question correctly the next question will be more complex. If you answered a question wrong then the other question will be easier. In these sections, the difficulty of the questions take into consideration the number of questions that you previously answered correctly or incorrectly.  

Take a Practice Test Before Starting Preparation for the GMAT Exam.

Before starting the preparation for the GMAT exam, take a GMAT practice test to find out your baseline, how well prepared you are, and how far off you are from your target score. In this way, you will get familiar with the question types and style and understand the time frame. Via this method, you can compare your starting point versus the ending when you take the actual GMAT exam.  

Familiarize Yourself with the Style and Format of the Exam

The GMAT exam is different from other exams such as SAT, TOEFL, ACT. You need to become familiar with the format of the questions so that during the exam, you won’t allocate too much time to understanding the questions. Some GMAT sections have unique question types that might confuse the test-takers, such as the quantitative (data sufficiency) and integrated reasoning sections where some questions will require more than one response. You will save time and feel comfortable with the questions if you know them beforehand—especially the data sufficiency questions from the quantitative section. 

Practice Without a Calculator

The GMAT exam doesn’t allow calculators on the quant section. This may sound tough, but in actuality, it is for the best since you need to train your mind and mental math to solve the problems. It may also indicate that the problems aren’t that complex and that you can solve them without using a calculator. However, working without a calculator is challenging since you need to carefully check your calculations after every step to ensure you don’t have errors. Therefore, to prepare yourself for this challenge, try practicing from the beginning without a calculator to become familiar with what it feels like and gain experience using the math problems by hand. Also, familiarizing yourself with the tips and tricks you can use while solving the GMAT questions. You  can find more information about the GMAT Calculator and mental math here.

10 gmat tipsDefine your Strengths and Weaknesses

This analysis will help you know what you are good at and what you need to improve. First of all, plan your strategy about how you are going to analyse your weaknesses and strengths. It can be by taking the GMAT practice exam once and then figuring out which areas you felt particularly weak or strong in. Another option is to maintain a notebook for a week and markdown the weaknesses and strengths you encounter during your initial studying. Via this analysis, you might get a sense of whether you are good at time management, what your speed is, and much more. During the analysis, try to identify which question types are the most challenging for you in each section. Figure out what soft skills you have that might help you during the exam and pinpoint the ones that need improvement. After that, conclude and start working on developing new skills and overcoming weaknesses. Always keep in mind having an achievable goal for the final target as a score. Scoring a 700 or higher on the GMAT isn’t always easy! 

Design a Study Plan

After acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, design a personalized study plan to guide you throughout your preparation, decide what sources and courses you need, whether you are going to prepare only with tests, or go step by step through topics and sections. Schedule your learning format and decide which strategy fits the best with your prep level. You might also consider taking courses with a GMAT private tutor, with which you will get a lot of help and guidance in your GMAT preparation creed.

Keep Track of Time

When preparing for the GMAT exam try to keep track of your time to allocate it equally to each section. However, do this step after you have identified what concepts are complicated for you in order to allocate more time on those topics and train yourself to solve those problems. Practice pacing because GMAT time management is critical in order to complete the exam. The worst scenario in the GMAT exam is that sometimes the test takers run out of time towards the end. This is because some of the test takers do not stick with the time and fall behind. Thus, set and stick to certain time milestones to finish the exam on time.

Keep Going, Do Not Get Stuck on a Question

It is also essential to remember that you don’t need to answer every question correctly and that completing the exam is most important. This is because your score will decrease if you do not complete the sections of the GMAT. 2 minutes is more than enough for each question. So, if you are stuck, make an educated guess and move on to another question. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, before preparing for the GMAT exam, first, know about the GMAT exam structure and familiarize yourself with the format and style, then take a practice test to find out your score as well as your weaknesses and strengths. After that, design your study plan and hit the green light! Of course, while practicing for the GMAT exam, try not to use a calculator, keep track of time and concentrate on learning rather than answering all the questions correctly. 

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