Every MBA aspirant encounters these most common questions – What is the right time to attempt the GMAT exam? When is it ideal for me to write the GMAT?
There is no precise answer to the above questions since the correct time to take the exam varies for each individual. It is dependent on a lot of factors and also on each candidate’s aspirations. You will have to take your decision after carefully weighing all of the influencing elements.
As you would well be aware the GMAT exam is usually attempted by candidates who aspire to pursue their MBA overseas. It comprises of the following main sections – Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing, Verbal and Integrated Reasoning. You will have to perform well in all of these sections to obtain a good GMAT score so that you can apply for admissions to the universities which you prefer. GMAT offers you with many advantages, one of the major ones being – you can attempt the GMAT exam upto 5 times in a calendar year with a 16 day gap between each attempt. The total number of attempts overall for the exam is eight. However do remember that when you send your GMAT scores the universities will be able to view all of your previous scores and not only the ones which you submit. Unless you have cancelled your scores the adcom will be able to view all of the other previously accepted GMAT scores.
Much of the confusion over when to attempt the GMAT exam arises because many Indians are accustomed to the Indian correspondent – the CAT exam. The CAT exam can be attempted by the students only once in a year whereas the GMAT exam is available throughout the year. While CAT will help you gain admissions in premier Indian universities, the GMAT scores are accepted by the top B-schools in the world. Also the GMAT scores are valid for 5 years, on the other hand the CAT scores are valid only for that particular year.
You may decide to attempt the GMAT exam due to many reasons like – Switching your field of expertise, desire to enhance your knowledge on management subjects, aspiration to work in managerial positions in the company etc. As mentioned earlier there are many factors affecting when you would attempt the GMAT.
The first and foremost will be from your preparation standpoint. Before you register and select the date for your GMAT exam you will have to estimate how much time you require for your preparation. You will be able to calculate this when you attempt a few mock exams. This will help you self analyze your performance and you will be able to comprehend your strengths and weaknesses in each of the 4 sections. Accordingly you can customize your study plan as per the time available and you can opt for 1, 2 or 3 month study plans, 6 month study plan etc. Your mock test scores will give you an approximate range of the score you might obtain in your final exam. Hence it is recommended that you attempt mock tests on a regular basis to gain a clear picture of the preparation time which you will require before you attempt the GMAT exam.
Next you will have to take into consideration the fact that you need a minimum of 4-5 years of work experience to get admitted into some of the top universities in the world. Most of the adcom favor candidates who are experienced over freshers. This is because they regard candidates with work experience to possess more competencies in their field of work. They will have specialized expertise in their domain. Since these candidates have sufficient experience they will be aware of the functioning of various departments in a corporate as they would have practically experienced the same. It is also easier for these individuals to adapt to the challenging schedules of the MBA program as it is more suited for experienced candidates in comparison to freshers.
Now that you have sorted out the time you will require for your GMAT preparation and your work experience, you can now concentrate on the application deadlines for the universities you are applying to. This is one of the most significant components which you will have to be cautious about before you attempt the exam. Ensure to conduct appropriate research about all the universities which you are applying to before you finalize on your exam dates. The admissions deadlines for every university is bound to be different and you will have to extremely attentive while applying for admissions so that you don’t miss out on the last dates. On the date of your GMAT exam you will be able to send your scores (if you have accepted them) to 5 universities which you had already shortlisted. If you would like to send your GMAT scores to more than 5 then you can request for Additional Score reports for which you will be charged at 25$ per university. The choice of your universities may also depend on the specialization of MBA which you would like to study. There are a wide variety of disciplines from which you can choose from like – Marketing, HR, Finance, Operations, Supply Chain management etc. Every university excels at one or more specializations and has the best faculty and school resources for the same. Therefore your choice can be based on the rankings of the university and the facilities they have available for the course of your choice.
Finally one has to also keep in mind to allocate sufficient time to develop one’s profile – SOP (Statement of Purpose), LOR (Letter of Recommendation), CGPA, Internships if any, Extracurricular activities (Sports, Music, Literary events, Cultural activities etc.), any online certifications completed etc. All of the above mentioned aspects play a crucial role in the admissions process for each of the top universities. They would like to add candidates who are proficient and excel all round instead of only academically brilliant students. Although your scores do contribute towards the admissions it is essential that you develop all of the above elements of your profile which is bound to set your profile apart from the others and impress the admissions committee.
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