Power GMAT Study Plan for Young Professionals
Many young professionals begin considering an MBA a few years after they start working (for those considering, see our posts When is it time to go back for an MBA? and Managers Not MBAs : Critical For Managers, MBAs and Those Seeking Either). One of the first steps towards applying is getting your GMAT completed. I recently went through the process of preparing for the GMAT and received some great advice from my brother-in-law, Noah Bieber, who has graciously allowed me to post it for your perusal below. As a caveat, he went through law school so he was less worried about the verbal section of the test and focuses more on the math section but, it is a great general guide.
High Level Study Timeline
1) ASAP - take a diagnostic test so you know what to work on. The Kaplan software (see below) has a diagnostic that told me to focus on math.
2) 1-2 months out: Focus on general topic lessons. Princeton Review Math Workout for the GMAT. I read all of the math topics and worked some of the practice problems. Good book and I highly recommend it, it identifies all the types of problems and explains them really well.
3) 2-3 weeks out: start taking full-length practice tests.
Testing Software and Practice Tests
-I bought Kaplan’s 2005 GMAT software for $20. The lessons were terrible, but it had several computerized practice tests. I recommend doing computerized practice tests so you can get used to the computer-adaptive difficulty settings. This will help you practice timing to get to the optimal difficulty.
-The math tests always got to the point where I could not do the most difficult questions, so I tried to practice deciding when I hit the “too-difficult” level, eliminating obvious wrong answers, and quickly guessing. Then, I would get one wrong and the questions would get easier, but you get fewer points for them.
-After you do the computerized tests, they will tell you what topics you need to work on. Since the Kaplan lessons were crappy, I looked up these topics in the Princeton Review book and read through them again.
– I usually skipped the writing practice tests because it was largely irrelevant to my admission and scholarship decisions. I had an easy writing topic and a really hard one, and without practicing, my writing score was 4 / 6.
-Toward the end, I ran out of Kaplan Practice tests, so I borrowed Peterson’s Mastering the GMAT from the library. This book’s lessons were more advanced than the Princeton Review. Honestly, it was too difficult and too late for me, so I just used the practice tests
General Observations and Tips:
-If you can find software with more practice tests than Kaplan, I would get that – I would look for about 12-14 computerized practice tests if possible.
-The practice tests were graded much harder than my actual GMAT. I was consistently getting 600-650 on the practice tests, but I got above much better than that on the actual GMAT. A buddy had a similar experience with the Kaplan practice tests.
Do you have similar or conflicting experiences? Share your tips in the comments.
Photo Credit: Online MBA Degree Program