When I decided I wanted to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA), I immediately made a calendar with admissions and testing deadlines for my top programs. My target school, University of North Carolina’s online MBA, had an early preference deadline. And that’s when it dawned on me: I had just over a month to prepare for and take the GMAT. I have a strange and strained relationship with standardized tests, and I wanted to make as close to a perfect score as possible. After a few days of reading about the GMAT process and typical scores, I learned that a perfect score was improbable. I would have to adjust my expectations. And that’s when the test anxiety set in.
Unsure about what I was doing, and nervous — I want to get into my top school, which requires a top score — I started where every future MBA student should start: MBA.com. I downloaded the test preperation materials, which has two full-length GMAT exams and hundreds of other test prep questions by subject. After bombing my diagnostic GMAT, I almost gave up. The questions are multi-faceted, difficult, and require logical thought processes and application of new information found within the questions. After the diagnostic test, a GMAT truism became obvious: Don’t make any logical jumps based on common information. The only information you need to answer the question can be found within the question. This was advice I’d gotten from a friend that teaches GMAT prep courses, and looking at my abysmal score, I could see that it was true. Bummer. I had to adjust my strategy.
After a few weeks of working with the materials from MBA.com and an official book I ordered, I knew I needed some more full-length test simulations, and a more wonkish strategy. And that’s when I found Knewton.com. Knewton is a comprehensive test preparation strategy, with tests, homework, videos, reading materials, and sample questions to help students learn the format and functions of the GMAT exam. With Knewon, I knew I’d found exactly what I needed.
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Knewton Knows Best
Knewton Knows Best
Knewton teaches the test, as well as the information necessary for it. I had six full-length tests, hours of video, and a completely understandable method for learning the tricks of the test. The language that the Knewton staff uses made sense to me, and my GMAT scores improved almost immediately. While I’d been doing OK on questions from the official GMAT prep book, working my way through the Knewton curriculum put my mind where it needed to be for the test. I learned more than necessary about data sufficiency, sentence completion, and valid qualitative inferences on the GMAT. With Knewton, I knew I was receiving the right type of instruction.
With just two weeks left before the test, I used every waking moment that I wasn’t at work or doing yoga to study for the test. Phone calls went unanswered, and time flew. I wasn’t improving as fast as I’d hoped, but after every Knewton section, my score was consistently rising.
Two Week To-Do
Two Week To-Do
When I hit the two-week mark, I refocused my strategy. It was only possible (and necessary, really) to hit the highlights and learn the basics. Here’s what I came up with:
- Review basic math concepts every day. Time: At least 30 minutes.
- Review basic types of questions every day, both Quantitative and Verbal. Note any questions you’re consistently missing, and focus on those for at least 20-30 minutes. Time: 45 minutes.
- Review rules of logic and reading comprehension, including inferences. Time: 10-30 minutes.
- Watch two Knewton videos, at least. One on Qualitative, one on Verbal. Take notes. Time: 1-3 hours. Can be completed while doing other practice problems.
- Find out where you’re having the most trouble. If it’s sentence completion, do 30-50 sentence completion problems. If it’s data sufficiency, do 20-40 data sufficiency problems. Time: At least one hour.
- Take a practice test if you have one available to you. If not, take a practice test worth of practice problems. Time: 2-4 hours.
- Try not to freak out. Take frequent breaks, take copious notes, and hone in on the things you can control. If you’re missing most of one type of question, find the corresponding video or study session and review, review, review.
- Practice. Practice more. Keep practicing. Practice even more. There’s a lot to be said for doing hundreds of questions before your actual test day.
- Breathe. It’s a huge deal, but it’s not that big of a deal.
OnlineMBA.com contributor Bethany Perryman is pursuing her Masters of Business Administration online.