Preparing for the GMAT

Erin Aselas, Class 9

Don’t worry. Like me, many of my fellow students in “Class 9″ hadn’t stepped foot in a classroom for several years, much less subjected themselves (ignore the passive voice) to standardized testing. When I decided to take the GMAT in summer of ’08 I had not taken a math class since 1994. I had forgotten nearly everything and had to “relearn” math. Fortunately, with the GMAT there is a limit to what you “have to know” and you can study just that.

Here’s how:

  1. Sign up for a KAPLAN diagnostic/information session and take a practice exam. This introduction class is a free and you will leave it with a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. There are KAPLAN education centers around town including the U district.
  2. Make a plan to study. Either take a KAPLAN review course or get books to self study. I wanted to take a class, but I didn’t give myself enough time. I had to take the exam in three weeks, so I relied on several GMAT books.
  3. Schedule the exam before you start to study. Force your hand. If you have a deadline looming you are much more likely to stay on a straight and narrow path.
  4. Take practice exams (essays and all) at least 4 times (I think GMAC offers two free CAT exams online when you sign up for the exam. I’d take one of those first and one last becasue they are the best). Simulate the exam exactly how you will take it at the center. So honor the time restraints, take breaks only at the scheduled times, etc. Also try to take the exam on the computer versus on paper. Take your practice exams at the same time of day that you will take it at the center.
  5. Focus on your weaknesses, but do not forget about your strengths. You need practice with both. I focused on the math about twice as much as the verbal, but I still did study the verbal despite early indications that I would do fine on that section.
  6. Make flash cards. I know it’s old school but they work.

Info on books/programs I liked/used:

  • Kaplan’s GMAT book and CD-ROM was decent, but the simulated tests were about 100 points harder than the actual test. Which was a bit startling the first time I took it. So keep that in mind, if your Kaplan exam results are below your GMAC practice exam scores then it just may be Kaplan and not you. The GMAC practice exam is a good predictor of performance.

Don’t worry, I did it in three weeks having no working memory of mathematics. You can do it too!