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For the GMAT, Early Preparation Matters

A good score on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a common prerequisite for many business management programs whether on campus or online. Achieving your best score requires a well-crafted GMAT study plan and time to dedicate to studying.

How to Prepare for the GMAT

A year before you plan to enter business school, check admissions and GMAT requirements at your preferred schools. Manhattan College, for example, prefers GMAT scores of at least 500 (out of a possible 800) for admission to its MBA degree online program1. Manhattan, as well as some other schools, do wave the GMAT requirement for work experience. Once you know your timeframe and the GMAT score, you will need to create an account at mba.com, the official website for the GMAT. There, you can download the free GMAT Handbook® and other exam preparation materials. Additional study aides, including The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016, are also available for purchase.

Create a Study Plan

Prospective business students typically study 50 to 100 hours in the 12 weeks before the exam date2. Studying for the GMAT while working may require a longer preparation time to accommodate busy schedules. It is important to become familiar with the test structure and question types and the subject matter. This familiarity will help you design a study plan that allows you to feel comfortable with the test’s pace and questions. Before beginning to study, take a GMAT practice test. Your practice test score provides a baseline to gauge improvement, and it helps identify the subject areas needing most of your attention.

Begin Studying

Set aside 45 to 90 minutes each day to study and answer practice questions.

Succeeding at the GMAT requires solid math skills. You may need to refamiliarize yourself with high school algebra and geometry and should plan on practicing on math daily for at least three months. The goal is to answer each question in the quantitative analysis section of the GMAT within two minutes to provide ample time to complete the test.

Integrated reasoning is a relatively new addition to the test. It correlates to student success during the first year of business school. Some universities use it to give those who scored poorly a second chance at acceptance3.

The verbal component of the GMAT focuses on unambiguously communicating ideas rather than familiarity with American idioms or mastery of grammatical rules4. Prepare to spend no more than two minutes per question on this focus area on test day.

Take a Second Practice Test

Partway through your studying period, take a second GMAT practice test. Compare results to your baseline to assess any changes in strengths and weaknesses. Also, use it to adjust pacing to ensure you complete each section accurately and within the allotted timeframe. Extra full-length practice tests and practice questions are available from mba.com.

Plan for Test Day

As the test date nears, simulate the GMAT testing environment during study sessions. Set timers for each test section and eliminate distractions. A few days before the test, tour the testing center. Know what to bring (government-issued photo identification) and what to leave behind (cell phones and other electronics). Knowing what to expect reduces stress, which may improve performance. With a sound study plan and diligent study, you should be well-prepared for the GMAT. To learn about the M.B.A. online from Manhattan College, click here or call (855) 841-2843 to speak with the Admissions office.


1Manhattan College, Admissions. http://online.manhattan.edu

2“As the GMAT Turns 60, Experts Discuss How to Prepare for the Test,” U.S. News & World Report.  February 6, 2014. http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2014/02/06/as-the-gmat-turns-60-experts-discuss-how-to-prepare-for-the-test

3Choi, Amy, “I Took the GMAT with No Preparation – Here’s What Happened,” Bloomberg, February 20, 2014. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-02-20/i-took-the-gmat-with-no-preparation-here-s-what-happened

4“Idioms, Sentence Correction and the GMAT Exam,” The GMAT Blog. http://www.mba.com/us/the-gmat-blog-hub/the-official-gmat-blog/2011/sep/idioms-sentence-correction-and-the-gmat-exam.aspx