What is the best way to study for the GMAT?

Jan 17, 2011
Tags: Academics, GMAT

Written by Melanie Yeager, Director of Graduate Programs, The Florida State University College of Business

Preparing to take the GMAT can be a daunting task. Those who succeed on the GMAT know the test, have a true picture of their strengths and weaknesses, and prepare accordingly. Below are some helpful tips and advice gleaned from FSU MBA students and admissions staff. 

Know the test. “I learned the test is less about your pre-existing knowledge and more about managing and understanding the test,” said Steven Porter, MBA 2011. Successful student tips include using a highly recommended test-prep guide, reading about and taking practice tests at mba.com, and possibly taking a prep course. 

Give yourself time. “For most people, one month of test preparation is not enough,” said Lisa Beverly, FSU MBA admissions director. She suggests prospective students take practice exams until they are consistently testing in the range for admission. Select a test date at least one semester before the application deadline, she said. This will give you time to know whether you need to improve on your score and reschedule the test. Keep in mind, Beverly said, that most prospective students score 50-100 points higher on practice tests than they do on the actual test. 

Know yourself. Will you get discouraged if the test material seems too difficult? If so, start out by studying your areas of strength. Do you get energized by solving complicated problems? Consider facing the most grueling problems first. “Don’t try to cram new types of problems in the days leading up to the exam,” said Efren Blackledge, MBA 2011. “Instead, hammer down your approach to the problems you already know how to solve.” 

Practice, practice, practice. “Learn how to space your time correctly,” said Erica Boyd, MBA 2011. Try to practice the entire test at the same time of day as your scheduled test. Be sure to brush up on mathematical formulas and abbreviations used in algebra and geometry. Try taking a practice test in a place like a coffee shop or library with people around. In most testing centers, people are sitting side by side at computer terminals. Sometimes those people will be taking an entirely different test with different time limits. Work on focusing in spite of the activity around you. “Having some preparation before the exam helped me maintain an even keel throughout the test,” said Holly Spencer, MBA 2011. 

Stay positive. Embrace test day with a good attitude. Remember to get a good night’s rest beforehand and eat a healthy breakfast. “Knowing that you did your best in preparing will allow you to reach your full potential on the test,” said Dustin Tremellen, MBA 2011.