Been a while since you attended university? In regular circumstances, the GMAT can be a daunting undertaking. But the thought of taking the GMAT as a returning student – a decade or so after university – can be downright frightening. We here at Apex work often with clients who have spent years outside of an academic setting. Our experts have compiled tips and tricks for returning students to make sure they are on the studying path of ‘least resistance’. Take a look at our 5 suggestions to make your return to high-caliber studying as easy and productive as possible.
1. Take a GMAT practice test
This may sound straightforward, but we cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you take a practice test before you begin studying for the GMAT. This test gives you a baseline understanding of where your strengths and where your weaknesses lie. Though you may use math skills on a daily basis, your quantitative knowledge – as it pertains to test taking – is of a different ilk. By taking a practice test right out of the gate, you can be certain to accurately assess your current skills level and knowledge. From there, you can build your GMAT study schedule and timeline and figure out which parts of the GMAT deserve the majority of your dedication.
2. Find the school and score that suits you
What are your goals? It may sound like a perfectly simple question, but unpacking the answer could take time. It is important that you are honest with yourself as to what your goals are and if they are achievable. Achievable being the key term. A mere desire to attend a top B-school and earn a GMAT score of 770+ is a difficult challenge, especially if your time out of school has been full of non-business-related opportunities. Perhaps your goal is simply to earn an MBA, and your dream isn’t to attend Harvard or INSEAD. Decide on which schools you want to attend and the GMAT score needed for admission. Our advice is to find the average GMAT score of the most recently accepted class and aim for a score 10+ points over the average.
You are no doubt busy. Working full-time, having a family, living a 9-5 life for a decade or so can truly make you forget the rigors of school. Wanting to earn an MBA will throw you back into the world of late-night studying and early morning cramming. The GMAT is your first step into that world. So be sure to create a schedule which works with your timeline and personal life. We have created a 3-month timeline template which you can adjust to fit your personal needs. Once you have created a schedule, be sure to Stick. To. It. This may sound like a ‘no-brainer’ but we find our clients have a difficult time with this. We get it, your personal life is always changing, but your GMAT journey is a short – though intense – one. If your goal is to earn an MBA, the GMAT is a necessary stepping stone on that journey.
4. Learn the GMAT basics
So you have taken a practice test, have decided on which school(s) you wish to attend, and come up with a consistent schedule which works for you. From here, you should unwrap the basics of the GMAT. Become comfortable with the layout of the test, and the different types of questions you will be confronted with. But the ‘basics’ go beyond a basic understanding of the test structure. You also need to get comfortable with skills you learned during high school, yes, that’s right…HIGHSCHOOL. The quantitative, qualitative, and analytical skills learned during high school play a massive role in your success on the GMAT. While this may sound astounding, remember how much you have grown intellectually since your time in high school. The skills you gained have just developed and grown since those years, you may just have to unlock your potential.
5. Utilize the proper resources and Find Help!
Not all GMAT prep books are made the same – nor are all GMAT tutors. You need to look on the market and see which books are structured best for you. With so many on the market, it might be difficult to discern which are best for you. We suggest looking for books which offer numerous solution paths to the same question. This gives you the chance to find the strategies which work for you and your skillset. Additionally, private GMAT tutors are ideal for students who are taking the GMAT as a returning student. Our Apex tutors are professionals in working with our client’s strengths and weaknesses. We also have a unique way of teaching the exam where we show our clients how to consider testing questions from a tester-maker’s point of view, not a test-taker.
6. Be proud of yourself!
If you have decided to return to school and earn an MBA after years out of academics, you should be incredibly proud of yourself. Such a decision is not an easy one to make, and yet your commitment to achieving your goals is inspiring. During your GMAT journey, remember to stick with a structured schedule and find help if you need it. Most people don’t go down the GMAT journey alone, and neither should you!
If you are considering taking the GMAT as a returning student and are interested in getting help on the GMAT, we offer 30-minute complimentary consultation calls with one of our 770+ GMAT scoring instructors. You can learn more about our program by visiting www.apexgmat.com.
Contributor: Dana Coggio