Developing the Right Attitude
Once the importance of the GMAT has clearly dawned on you, you can approach it with the right amount of determination and discipline. It helps to face the GMAT as a challenge – a challenge that should get your adrenaline flowing, and bring out the best in you. To succeed, you need to have a focussed and concerted approach towards the preparation; given the nature of the test, regular practice along with expert guidance can work wonders for your final score report.
How much time do you need to prepare?
To a large extent, this is a function of your initial state of readiness. The GMAT requires primarily two kinds of theoretical inputs : basic math (comparable to Grade 10 syllabus, but subject to severe pressures of time) and grammatically correct English. Both of these are skills acquired over many years of schooling, and the stronger your foundations in these subjects are, the easier it is for you to prepare. Typically, I recommend that you start preparing at least 3-4 months before your test date. During this time period, your preparation will be divided into two parts – the initial 1�-2 months when you concentrate on strengthening your foundations by delving into the topics of the GMAT syllabus, and the final two months or so when you will focus on sample GMAT tests that give you a feel of the actual computer adaptive GMAT.
Computer Practice : A Pre-requisite for the GMAT
Ever since the GMAT became a computerized test in 1997, the ETS (the organization that conducts the examination all over the world) has had a lot of opportunity to experiment with the content and composition of the GMAT. Computerization has no doubt been a step forward in the conduct of the GMAT, making it all the more demanding and challenging. The unique adaptive nature of the GMAT ensures that the questions on the test match your ability level – so you can rarely have a test that was "too easy" or "too difficult". Given the competitive nature of the exam, there is no way that you can hope to score high without actually preparing on the computer. You need to not only familiarize yourself with the instructions and format of the GMAT, but also acquaint yourself with the adaptive nature of the test so that you can finish the test in time. Finally, you need to practice on the computer for the writing section of the GMAT – in which you need to type two meaningful essays on the computer in a space of 60 minutes. If you are not used to regularly working on the computer, you might find yourself woefully short of words on the day of the test.
The Preparation Process
- Analyze your position:
Before you proceed with the actual preparation, you need to know where exactly you stand and how much ground you need to cover. It helps to assess your strengths and weaknesses through a good quality test, one that is comparable to the actual GMAT in both the quality of its questions and its scoring. Here, it is very important that you do not attach too much significance to your score on this test – the test has to be purely of an indicative nature. Do not get disheartened with a low score, nor get complacent with a high score, for it can all change – for better or worse – by the time you take the actual test. You can even take a paper test if you cannot get hold of a computer adaptive test.
- Strengthening the Foundations:
As mentioned earlier, the GMAT requires you to have strong fundamentals in Math and English grammar. Once you have an idea of which areas you need to work harder through the diagnostic test, you can accordingly streamline your efforts. A good way is to review the textbooks of the school level, without going into too much detail. Both grammar and math work on the basis of a fairly well-defined set of rules : it’s important to be familiar with these rules. Work on the basics for a couple of months – get the concepts right, clarify all your doubts, work through solved and unsolved examples – before you attempt full length practice tests.
- Practice Tests:
It is important that the practice tests that you attempt have been prepared by some authority, and that they reflect actual test questions and scores. Try taking the tests under simulated conditions with utmost concentration. The complete test is of nearly four hours’ duration – a period long enough for our concentration to flag. It will take a couple of tests before you develop the rhythm for taking these tests. Also, it is imperative that you get a good feedback on your performance in these tests – so that you can learn from your mistakes and make sure you do not repeat them. A mistake on the practice test must be looked upon as a learning opportunity, and not as something to fret about. Once you have practiced 4-5 tests, your scores are bound to improve, given that the level of the questions does not vary too much.