At-Home GMAT Prep: A Handy Guide

Ready to take the next step in your academic career and select an MBA program that will open new doors for you? Well first, you need to take one of the most important exams of your life – the GMAT. This is not something you can take easily as it can potentially score you some scholarships that will help fund your education and it’s one of those things that employers will want to take a look at. That’s why people spend months preparing for the GMAT. That being said, Apex tutors suggest a prep time period of 90 to 120 days.

So, to make the process easier for you, we came up with a guide full of the best tips and tricks that will help you prepare for the GMAT at home, along with some common mistakes to avoid when prepping.

The 2 Main Benefits of At-Home GMAT Prep

It essentially comes down to you to work hard and follow some best practices. Here’s how at-home self-prep will help you succeed:

  • You’ll be able to study in a familiar place. That will make you more comfortable and having a designated GMAT prep space will keep you more focused on your progress.
  • This is a good opportunity for you to study at your own pace and at a schedule that best suits you and your needs. This is definitely a much more convenient alternative than any GMAT prep class that you can take to help you prep.

Top 5 Tips To Follow for a Successful At-Home GMAT Prep

Here are the top 5 best practices to follow when preparing for the GMAT at home:

Find a Good Location

What you want to do is have a designated space where you sit down every day and work on the GMAT. You’d want to pick a place where there are no distractions and where you’ll be able to get work done without being bothered. One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to get too comfortable as you actually want to get some work done and not just end up laying down and napping every time you decide to study for the GMAT.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Make sure to start early with your GMAT preparation as the more time you have to work on improving, the higher your chances of succeeding and getting a higher score. That’s why you’d want to give yourself a minimum of 3 months to prepare depending on your prior knowledge and the level of preparation that you’ll need to succeed.

Follow a Structured Schedule

As soon as you decide to start preparing for the GMAT, you’re going to have to come up with a personalized schedule that you have to follow until the exam day. Following a schedule where you have to practice a bit every day instead of cramming everything on the last week, will keep you more focused. It will also not overwork you and you’ll have just enough time to go through every section in detail and also some extra time to take some mock tests to practice your knowledge.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. Well, they’re not wrong! The more practice you get before taking the actual exam, the better, especially because mock tests help you point out the areas that you need to work harder on. Mock exams also help you get used to the exam’s format and scoring system so you won’t have trouble navigating the exam in the future.

To make things easier, here are a few alternatives where you can get practice tests and official materials to practice on:

Learn to Manage Your Time!

The test-takers’ #1 pitfall is not focusing on the time when preparing for the GMAT, being well-aware that GMAT is a timed exam. We suggest practicing without a time constraint at first, just so you can get used to the format and the concepts. After you get a better understanding of what to expect, you can start timing yourself. You’d want to practice with a timer in order to actually see how well you’d perform in the real GMAT exam. Time pressure is a real thing, and what you don’t want to do is show up and not be able to finish your test on time.

Top 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Preparing for the GMAT

Now that we went over some of the best tips, let’s talk about some common mistakes that students make that you definitely need to avoid:

Procrastinating

Deciding that you need to start prepping for the GMAT in advance is one thing, but what most people end up doing is doing a little bit in the beginning and then procrastinating until it’s too late to go back. You don’t want to cram everything in the last 2 weeks: that’s not time-efficient and it won’t help you master the exam. Instead, you’ll just get more stressed and overwhelmed. In other words, try to keep the same pace throughout the whole 3-4 month period of your at-home GMAT prep in order to get the score you’re aiming for.

Stressing Way Too Much On Exam Day

It’s normal to worry about your scores as this exam can very well determine your future. However, worrying way too much can affect your performance on exam day. Instead, take your time to prepare and do your best when the time comes for you to take the GMAT, and you’ll be just fine. One extra step that you can take to help you manage the stress is visiting the test center before the exam. That way, you’ll get used to the journey and the place and you’ll also feel more relaxed if you know what to expect.  

Studying Instead Of Practicing

Another mistake students make is studying study guides instead of practicing extensively. Study guides can help you so much, but practicing on real exams is what will essentially put all that textbook knowledge into practice. So make sure to spend most of your time on actual practice, rather than focusing on learning concepts by heart.

Pro tip: Another way to help you accelerate learning is by working with a one-on-one GMAT instructor. The help of an expert can be beneficial, especially when you find that you are not making any progress with your prep or if you find yourself falling victim to any of the at-home prep mistakes listed above. These instructors know their way around the exam and will bring some structure to your at-home GMAT prep as they work around your schedule and will keep you focused on what’s important.

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