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Five things to consider when preparing for the GMAT

If you're interested in pursuing an MBA, you probably already know that you may be expected to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). But what you may not know is what to expect from the test itself or what to know when preparing for the exam. Below are five things to consider when preparing for the GMAT.

1) Some programs waive the requirement

Some programs waive the GMAT requirement for students who meet certain criteria. For example, the Florida International University online MBA program waives the GMAT requirement for military personnel. It is important to research your desired program, so you don't waste time studying for a test you don't have to take.

2) The GMAT is computer-adaptive

The test is computer-adaptive, which means that the more questions you get right, the harder it gets. It also means that you will need to prepare differently based on your target score. For example, if you are aiming for a 700+, you will need to practice with more difficult questions. However, if you are aiming for a score in the 500-600 range, you probably won't encounter many high-level questions and will not need to practice with them as much. So, you will need to make sure to tailor your GMAT preparation to your specific goals.

3) Be prepared for mental math

You are not allowed to use a calculator for the bulk of the exam. You can use one during the 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section and ONLY during that section. For the 75-minute quantitative section, you will need to do your calculations on paper or in your head. In order to work through this section faster, you can memorize your basic arithmetic, exponents and fractions. This will help ensure that you are not slowed down by having to do extra calculations on test day.

4) Take notes

Another consequence of the test being on a computer is that you cannot write on the actual test. This means no circling important words or crossing out incorrect answers. On test day, you will be given a booklet with five sheets on which you can take notes. In order to prepare for this, you can practice by using a separate sheet of paper to take notes on during your GMAT preparation, even if you are practicing with a paper test.

5) You still need to practice for the AWA and IR sections

Even though the Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning sections do not affect your overall score, you still need to practice with them. Because they are first, you need to prepare yourself to take the scored sections after writing an essay and completing 12 IR questions. This may seem like a waste of time, especially for applicants to online MBA programs who are very busy. However, those who only practice for the Quantitative and Verbal sections tend to have inflated scores and suffer on test day when they finally have to do the entire test.


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