So, you’re thinking about heading back to business school to earn an MBA or MS degree? Great! Hopefully you’re considering the Leeds School of Business as a potential fit. As you probably already know, several components comprise a successful business school application, but the GMAT (or GRE) test score tends to be one of the biggest points of stress for prospective students. Below is a six point plan to help you achieve your target GMAT score and take control of your business school dreams!
1) Make a Plan: There are countless options to consider when you start studying for the GMAT. A good starting point is to decide whether you’ll need an instructor-led in-person course or if a self-guided study plan will be sufficient. Either path is perfectly acceptable, but it depends on your learning style.
2) GMAT Prep Options: If an in-person course is your cup of tea, you might be interested in The Princeton Review, Kaplan GMAT Prep or Veritas Prep. On the other hand, if you are an independent studying maven, go ahead and check out Magoosh GMAT Prep (I personally used this one and loved it) or e-GMAT, to name a few. Keep in mind that some of the in-person courses have self guided options - which can be much more affordable - as well. You can grab a few free practice tests at MBA.com and if you want to dig even deeper into options, a good resource is Beat the GMAT.
3) Set Your Test Date: Just do it. Pull up your calendar, estimate how much time you’ll need to study (Magoosh has a good resource for 1-6 month study plans) and schedule your test date. Not only will it force you to start studying in earnest, but it will make your journey to an advanced degree tangible.
4) Learn to Say No: Studying for any standardized test can be daunting, especially when you’re contending with the demands and stresses of a job or jobs, family, friends, school or hobbies. Once I had set my test date and embarked on my study plan, I was putting in 5-15 hours each week for three months, including blocking off time for full practice exams on some weekends. I begrudgingly learned how to better budget my limited time (important for grad school) which included turning down some plans with my friends or family. As long as you’re honest and communicative with them, they’ll understand (and probably cheer you on)!
5) Alternative Strategies: Did you set your test date and procrastinate on studying? It happens. I’ve actually heard of a handful of people taking a week off of work, or even one single weekend, to cram for the GMAT. At least you won’t have to deal with Step #4 too much?
You could also try playing to your strengths. Some people are excellent at quant/integrated reasoning and terrible at verbal/analytical writing. Some are the opposite. A few are great at it all, but they’re probably not looking at this post. A bold study strategy could be to double down on your strength, either quant or verbal, and try to maximize your score in those sections. Of course, study your weaker category enough to be respectable, but don’t waste too much time on diminishing returns.
6) Can I Get a Mulligan and Retake the GMAT? Of course! Your highest score is the score admissions officers consider during the admissions process. Keep in mind though that each GMAT Exam costs $250.
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