GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a computer aided exam in Mathematics and English language. It is used to measure aptitude and your skills needed to succeed in business school. In fact, it is one of the parameters for getting admission to the business administration programs (e.g. MBA etc.)

Taking the GMAT exam is not easy. It takes a lot of planning, foresight, and of course preparation. Before taking the actual exam, it’s important for you to select the date when you want to appear for it.This will give you enough time to plan for your preparation.

Getting started with GMAT preparation at home:

When it comes to studying for the GMAT exam on your own, there are no secret formulas ortricks; just planning and preparation.Self-help or studying at home is the least expensive option for test takers. It allows you to schedule your study at your own pace.

Set your exam date:

Remember that your GMAT scores are valid only for five years. If you plan to go for the graduate program in the next couple of years, it’s time to open your books. But, if you plan to attend after 3-4 years, then you can take up the exam after some time, to ensure your scores are still valid.

Research on the test format and structure:

The GMAT exam consists of 4 main sections which has scores ranging from 200 to 800:

  • Quantitative multiple choice section.
  • Verbal multiple choice section.
  • Integrated reasoning.
  • One written essay.

Each section is time constrained, so get your hands on as many practice papers to time yourself.

Set a baseline for yourself:

It’s best to take up the numerous online practice tests. The main idea behind this is to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.Whether its quantitative or English, it will help you understand where you need to focus/improve upon. It also acts as a guideline for preparing your study plan.

Choose your study plan:

You need a study plan to start your preparations. For this, you need to get the necessary study materials. There are two ways of going about it. You can have an,

  • Online study plan –Focus on the various online tutorials, websites that provide courses and information for cracking the GMAT. These will help to refresh/learn fundamentals and provide test taking strategies. Most of these sites offer free trial of the self-study courses, so that you can evaluate them before you buy. They also offer practice tests, quizzes and constant feedback for improvement.
  • Offline study plan –If you are comfortable studying with books, then buy the latest Official Guides (OG). The best practice questions are the officially released past test questions from GMAC (the makers of the GMAT). The latest three books areThe Official Guide 12th Edition, the Verbal Review 2nd Edition and theQuantitative Review 2nd Edition.

Once you have a study plan in place, stick to it no matter what. A judicious and sincere effort will get you the right GMAT score that you deserve.

Things NOT to do when preparing for GMAT:

While there are tons of guidelines and online help for GMAT preparation, there are certain things which you should not do when preparing for GMAT.

Avoid sporadic studying:

One of the main reasons for low scores is the sporadic studying adopted by the candidates.Not having a regular study schedule due to obligations and commitments, is highly ineffective for GMAT. You need adequate time to master all the concepts. When you come back to them after a few weeks, it’s back to square one. You have to relearn the concepts to refresh your memory. Set up a routine study schedule every day, whether it’s for a few minutes or a couple of hours every alternate day, but stick to it.

Putting off preparation until the last minute:

To achieve the GMAT scores that reflect your abilities, you should start prepping at least 4 -5 months before your exam date.  You need this duration to ace all sections of the exam. Putting off things till the last minute will negatively impact your scores.

Getting distracted with other activities:

Have a good study environment, without any distractions. Allot hours specifically for GMAT studying in your home. Having your family’s support will help a lot.

Take time off if needed:

If you feel that you have to improve your weakness or boost your strengths, take a break from work and concentrate on your preparation. GMAT will boost your career and there are no short cuts to this.

Remember it’s all about knowing your own skill and ability level, what areas you are good at, and what you still need to master. With the right study plan, attitude, effort and dedication, you can ace the GMAT.

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