Preparing for the GMAT is no easy feat for any individual. It has been regarded as one of the toughest exams and used as one of the measures for admissions into some of the top B-schools in the world. Many of the candidates who prepare for the exam are working professionals as well. They will have to learn to balance both preparing for the exam and managing a full time job. Therefore it requires a lot of strategies and effective planning to ensure that you score high and successfully complete the GMAT exam.
The GMAT has 4 main categories – Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning. Initially you can attempt a mock test to self analyze your strengths and weaknesses. The practice test will also help you gauge the pattern of the exam, the testing conditions like the adaptive testing methods (the difficulty level of the next section depends on your performance in the previous section). If you are a beginner then this step is necessary so that you familiarize yourself with the exam. Once you become aware of which sections you need to work on then you can accordingly develop a study plan which will suit your needs and requirements. If you are opting to study on your own then you will also have to ensure that you use the appropriate study materials since there are a vast amount of materials available online and you will have to evaluate them carefully before selecting the same. Beginners may require more time to study every category since they first have to get accustomed to the syllabus and then learn the topics in depth as well. Although the syllabus comprises of basic high school and middle school concepts in both Quant and Verbal, you will still have to remember that you have to solve the questions within a limited time period in the exam. Ideally GMAT prep may require 3-4 months of preparation if you are a working professional and 1-2 months if you have taken a break from your job (although quitting your job for preparing for the exam is not recommended). You will accordingly have to book your exam date keeping this in mind.
The first month can be spent in honing your skills in the topics which you are not confident about in both Verbal and Quant. The Quant syllabus comprises of the following topics :
- Arithmetic – Integers, Decimals, Percentages, Real numbers, Sets, Statistics, Probability, Roots and Powers, Permutation and Combination.
- Algebra – Linear equations, Exponents, Functions, Algebraic expressions, Inequalities, Absolute value.
- Geometry – Lines, Coordinate Geometry, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilateral, Circles, Polygons etc.
- Word Problems – Time Speed (Rate) Problems, Discount, Sets and Venn Diagrams, Mixture Problems etc
The verbal syllabus consists of the following topics :
- Parts of Speech
- Pronouns Agreement
- The Sentence – Clause and Phrase
- Subject Verb Agreement
- Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions
- Verb tense
You need to dedicate adequate hours of study on a regular basis so that you are able to stay on track with your preparation. The Verbal and Quant sections are scored on a scale of 0-60 and both have a time limit of 65 minutes.
In addition to the above you will also have to spend enough time on developing your essay writing skills which is required for the Analytical writing section as well. Familiarize yourself with the scoring patterns by reading essays which have been scored high. You will get a basic idea of how the essay has to be structured and also on which parts of the essay you have to concentrate on while answering this particular section. Another important strategy to adopt for this section is to commence reading as a regular habit. This is bound to help you gain knowledge about the different styles of writing and also information on a wide range of topics. This once again assists you when you are required to take a stance based on the question which has been asked in the AWA section – Analysis of an Argument, Analysis of an issue. The intention behind the AWA section is to evaluate your verbal prowess and writing skills and it is not to test your knowledge on the given topic. Therefore concentrate more on writing a well structured essay without any grammatical flaws and conforming to the specified rules of the exam. The Analytical writing section is marked for 6 points and has a time limit of 30 minutes.
Finally you have to allocate time to the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT exam. The syllabus for this section consists of the following types of questions –
- GMAT Multi Source Reasoning
- GMAT Table analysis
- GMAT Graphics Interpretation
- GMAT 2 Part analysis
You will be measured on a scale of 1 – 8 for this section and the time allocated for the same is 30 minutes. The main aim behind this section is to check your skills on analysing the given data and interpreting it accurately and answering the question which follows. The analysis and interpretation of data is a requisite skill which you will need to make use of at later stages in your career when you become a manager for preparing reports like Marketing channels, Sales forecast, Revenue calculation etc. Therefore it is advised to not take this section lightly. The IR section requires you to use all your skills of logical reasoning, quant aptitude, verbal etc to successfully maneuver through each question.
Lastly in addition to preparing for the exam itself GMAT admissions require you to develop your profile on the whole as well. This includes the SOP (Statement of Purpose), LOR (Letters of Recommendation), Internships, Work experience, Online certifications, extra curricular activities etc. Each of these contribute towards your admission in the universities of your preference. Most of the admissions committee members prefer to admit candidates who are versatile and capable to adapt to the demanding schedules of the MBA program. They will not prefer candidates who are only academically intelligent. Hence devote sufficient time towards developing all the above aspects of your profile as well alongside your preparation for the exam.
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