You’ve decided to get a Master of Business Administration. You’ve made the important school selection choices, and you’ve begun your applications. Good for you! These are important first steps to your future education and career path. But now you have to get into your top school. And you’ve got to take one of the most important tests of your MBA before you even darken the door of an admissions board. The GMAT: It’s one of the key components of the MBA admissions process, and every prospective business student’s least favorite four letter word.
The GMAT 101
Tackling the GMAT wouldn’t be so stressful or difficult if I had more time, but I had about six weeks to learn everything I needed to know to ace the standardized test that will shape my future. It doesn’t have to be so difficult, and there are many programs that offer stress-saving measures and study techniques. But I made my business school decision at the last minute, and would have to take the GMAT the same way.
The GMAT has four distinct sections: 1) Integrated Reasoning, which is new and not a heavily weighted portion of your score; 2) the Essay, which is not difficult, especially for a writer; 3) Quantitative, which tests your math and reasoning skills; and 4) Verbal, which tests reading comprehension and sentence completion. The Quantitative and Verbal sections were the only ones on which I had time to focus, and — if you’re also taking the GMAT — should be your top concerns. These two sections have been baffling test preppers for years, and bringing some of us to tears. Luckily, there are lots of resources to help you prepare, with MBA.com being your first line of defense. Here you will sign up for your GMAT test at an approved testing center, have access to necessary pre-test information, and find several practice exams and questions that can help you both diagnose your progress and prepare for the test ahead.
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Keep Calm and Carry On
While the GMAT is a hugely important part of your admissions packet at any business school, it’s not the only thing by which you will be measured. Your GPA, essays, recommendation, resume, and other admissions materials will also be supremely important pieces of your candidacy for business school. If your GMAT score isn’t in the top percentiles, don’t fret. You can take the test again, or simply let your score stand. While there is a corollary between GMAT scores and first year salaries (each 10 points corresponds to about a $3,000 increase in starting salaries post-MBA), these numbers don’t have to be your fate. In fact, if you’re not a natural test taker, or if it just wasn’t your day, feel free to forget your GMAT score. Think of it as something you can check off a list, not something that determines your life trajectory. While you want the top GMAT score you can get, you don’t want to overly burden yourself with test day pressure. Forgetting my score: That’s what I’m doing. And I’m working on a wing and a prayer that I’ll get into my top school.
OnlineMBA.com contributor Bethany Perryman is pursuing her Masters of Business Administration online.