Proven Strategies to Ace The GMAT — The Admit Lab

Philippe Barr, PhD
7 min readMay 19, 2023

Are you preparing to apply for an MBA program? If so, you know that the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a crucial aspect of the application process. The GMAT measures skills in quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, analytical writing, and integrated reasoning. Scoring well on the GMAT can be the difference between getting into your dream MBA program or not. In this blog post, we’ll go over some tips to help you ace the GMAT and stand out as an applicant with a strong score.

GMAT or GRE?

In 2023, many MBA programs are offering the option of either taking the GMAT or the GRE for admissions. Before deciding which one to take, it is recommended that you first take a practice test to get an idea of which one feels more comfortable. Taking a practice test can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses so that you can focus your efforts on maximizing your score for the one that you feel most comfortable taking. Once you have decided that the GMAT is for you, it is now time to get prepared to ace it.

How much time do you really need?

The average amount of hours needed to achieve an optimal score on the GMAT depends largely on the individual’s aptitude and level of preparedness. Generally, it is estimated that studying for 500 hours or more can lead to a successful outcome. According to one survey, students who studied between 400–600 hours reported having a higher success rate than those who studied fewer hours. Additionally, students who devoted more time to studying and practicing test questions scored an average of 20 points higher on the test compared to those who studied for a shorter duration. These results suggest that investing the necessary time and effort into studying for the GMAT can lead to positive outcomes. Therefore, if you are serious about achieving a top score on the GMAT, it is important to invest time into developing a strategic study plan and consistently practicing test questions.

Know the format of the exam

The GMAT has a unique format, and understanding it will help you develop a solid foundation and reduce anxiety. Knowing the format of the exam will help you manage time and plan better.

Start with the basics

Before diving into the specific test sections, make sure you have a solid foundation in the basic content areas. Familiarize yourself with the fundamental concepts in math, grammar, and critical reasoning. Don’t underestimate the value of reviewing the basics before tackling more complex material.

Read business publications

The GMAT requires strong verbal reasoning skills, which can be honed by reading business publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Bloomberg Businessweek. Reading these publications will help you develop your critical reading skills and keep you informed on the latest business news and trends.

Create a study plan and stick to it

To ace the GMAT, it’s important to create a study plan to prepare for the exam. The study plan should be realistic and measurable. It should be an important element of your MBA preparation timeline, and it should consider your schedule. and Allocate specific hours of the day to study, and try to stick to them. The study plan should also have practice questions and mock tests. Practice as many questions as possible to increase your chances of scoring high marks.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Identify the topics that you are good at and those that need improvement. Concentrate on the topics that need improvement, and have extra time to practice them. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you prioritize which sections on the GMAT need more attention.

The GMAT is a test that becomes more challenging as you answer more questions correctly. This adaptation can lead to frustration for some test takers as the difficulty level increases.

To improve your confidence and comfort level on test day, concentrate on enhancing your experience with the GMAT’s challenges during your studies. Begin your study sessions by reviewing and exploring in detail the five to seven areas where you made mistakes. Allow your errors to lead you forward.

Pace yourself

Pacing yourself is an important consideration when preparing for the GMAT. Taking a significant amount of time to properly prepare will ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the material and can maximize your potential score on the exam. Additionally, taking breaks and giving yourself time to relax can help keep you focused and prevent burnout. Proper pacing will ensure that your study materials are fresh in your mind when it’s time to take the GMAT. Taking the exam without properly preparing is an easy way to set yourself up for failure. Make sure you’re putting in the effort to ensure that your GMAT score accurately reflects your knowledge and potential.

Time Management

Time management is critical in the GMAT. The exam is time-bound, and you have to manage your time well to answer all questions. Make a habit of timing yourself while practicing, and try to finish all the questions before the deadline. Remember that unanswered questions or unanswered segments can adversely impact your score.

Use GMAT Prep Materials

Among great tools to use to help you ace the GMAT, prep materials like GMAT Official Guide, Manhattan GMAT, and Economist GMAT tutor can help you prepare for the real exam. The content of these materials is extensive, and they have practice questions and mock tests to help you understand the exam better.

Get a study partner or hire a tutor

Studying alone can be challenging, especially when you need someone to bounce ideas off. A study partner can help you stay motivated and focused during your GMAT preparation. Additionally, a tutor can offer personalized coaching that targets your specific needs. A tutor can also answer your questions and help you with test-taking strategies.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice tests are an excellent way to get familiar with the GMAT questions and format. They also help you evaluate your performance and areas that need improvement. Practice tests are readily available online, and some are even offered by the GMAT official website. Make sure you take as many practice tests as possible and review your answers thoroughly.

Be mindful

To ace the GMAT, it’s also important to learn how to reduce stress by practicing techniques such as slow, deep-belly breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and taking walks in nature. Additionally, unplugging from TV, movies, and devices can also help you stay calm.

Similar to practicing math and verbal questions, reducing stress also requires consistent practice. By committing yourself to practicing deep relaxation regularly, you can develop a level of focus and presence that most people struggle to achieve during the GMAT.

Get a good night’s sleep

The night before your GMAT exam, make sure to get a good night’s sleep. Being rested and alert will help you stay focused during the test, improving your test performance. Avoid caffeine or other stimulants the day of the exam, which can make you jittery and anxious.

Get your mind right

Setting a mindset to perform well through determination is crucial for test-taking or any challenge you face. It should form the basis of your studying routine. Most people who prepare for the GMAT have access to all the necessary information, but only 10% achieve a score of 700 or higher. The difference between success and failure is not the information itself since most people have the same resources. The key factor is the level of personal excellence that you bring to the test. True excellence comes from within, and if you approach the GMAT with the determination and courage of a true winner, you will be on the path to success.

Conclusion

Taking the GMAT can cause stress and anxiety for applicants. However, with the right preparation, guidance, and mindset, you can tackle the exam with confidence and set yourself up for success. Keeping up your studying habits through practice tests and reviews is key to giving yourself the edge you need to ace the GMAT. Additionally, understanding what’s on the test as well as how to approach it is essential for performing well.

As important information covered in this blog post highlights, preparing diligently for the GMAT is not simply a matter of memorizing facts; it’s also about developing strategies for different sections. Finally, if these tips have inspired you to get started or provided helpful guidance in moving forward with the MBA application process, be sure to check out our MBA application services! We offer consulting solutions that will give you a competitive edge when aiming to optimize your resume and strengthen your application portfolio. Best of luck on your academic journey!

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Dr. Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Dr. Barr spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Dr. Barr has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

Originally published at https://admit-lab.com on May 19, 2023.

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Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: https://admit-lab.com/