We take systematic preparation for this test seriously because it is a critically important variable in many admissions committees’ decisions about your business school application. Many of our students come to us after a gap in their schooling, and studying for the GMAT frequently requires reinforcing math and English fundamentals, while learning how to apply your knowledge to the particular requirements of the test. For an overview of our thoughts on the business school application process in general, please visit the business school coaching page of this site. Below, you’ll find a summary of the GMAT process specifically, which can help you gain some familiarity with it, as you think about the best preparation program for you. Remember that we are available to you to help situate the GMAT within the business school application process and to craft the right GMAT process for you. Feel free to contact us about any question, no matter how big or small.
Determine when you need to take the test and plan your preparation schedule
The GMAT is administered year-round in the computer adaptive format. Most business schools require that applicants report only unofficial results in their application, so in theory you could take the exam on the day your application was due. That said, it's wise to start studying early. Achieving your best score on the GMAT takes time and it's nice to have the test out of the way by the time your business school application process is in full swing. In addition, while the vast majority of our students are satisfied with their scores after taking the test for the first time, it is good to give yourself another opportunity in case you are unhappy with your first score. Because the Graduate Management Admissions Council requires 31 calendar days to pass before you can retake the exam, we advise our students to schedule an exam date at least six weeks in advance of the earliest application submission deadline.
Starting your preparation earlier is obviously better. The GMAT is highly coachable, patterned, and predictable. Familiarity through repetition leads to dramatically superior outcomes. Being well-prepared for the GMAT results from repetition and knowledge of strategy; when you can get a problem right, and explain how you got there, you’ll know you’re ready. But, it takes time. We recommend a minimum of 16 90-minute sessions to cover the entirety of the test. Most of our students space these sessions out over the course of two to four months in a Comprehensive Package.
Students who have more time or feel that they would benefit from additional preparation often choose the Planning Ahead Package which includes 20 sessions. Generally, the Planning Ahead Package allows for additional focus on advanced problem types and more extended coaching on full-length exams. This package is a great bet for students looking for intensive tutoring in math or verbal fundamentals.
Familiarize yourself with the format of the exam
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) provides this summary of the GMAT format. The GMAT is comprised of 3 sections (Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative and Verbal), totaling 90 questions and 1 essay.
Establish a baseline on a practice test
Establishing a baseline is a critical step in the process of studying for GMAT. We highly recommend taking a real full-length practice exam as your diagnostic. When you contact us, we can send you a PDF diagnostic over email. We recommend completing this test in advance of your tutoring.
Take your diagnostic exam under timed conditions and complete it in one sitting. Sustaining focus over a long stretch of time is one of the challenges associated with the GMAT. Give yourself just over three and a half hours to complete the test.
Your score on this diagnostic exam is not particularly important; it’s just a data set. Your correct and incorrect answers serve as a starting point for us, allowing us to build a syllabus customized to your strengths and weaknesses.
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Once you have a score from your diagnostic exam, we can advise you more specifically on what kind of preparation program makes sense. The more information you provide the better. If possible, please summarize your performance on each section of the exam, your goals, your schedule, and any specific concerns you have about your preparation. One of our tutors would be happy to discuss a preparation schedule and budget that suits your needs.
Tutoring & Practice Testing
Once we’ve matched you with tutor, the real work begins! You’ll meet with your tutor regularly (ideally, at least once or twice per week), complete homework in between sessions, and take practice tests. Practice tests are the best way for you and your tutor to to gauge your progress during the course of tutoring. Based on the results of your practice tests, your tutor will adjust his or her approach, and make sure you are getting as much out of the process as possible.