A Timely and Important Public Service Announcement for GMAT Procrastinators
By Ajay Amar, Ph.D., Apr 16 2014 03:03PM
When it comes to GMAT prep, remember these words: "All things come to those who wait, but when they come they're out of date." Tempting as it may be to put off preparing for your GMAT indefinitely, starting early can give you a significant edge in your MBA applications. Ideally, you should start GMAT preparation about three months before you plan to take the exam, and at least 6-8 months before your first MBA application deadlines.
The difference between someone who achieves a higher GMAT score and someone who underperforms is often the quality of the GMAT preparation ... and time. Please, give yourself time. Here are seven excellent reasons to just go ahead and start.
(1) You will avoid magical thinking.
If you have not prepared for the GMAT, you may be filled with unreasonable hope as test day approaches. "Perhaps the GMAT won't be that hard." "Perhaps I really know more than I think I know." “My score went up 100 points between my two practice tests; I think it should go up another 100 points on exam day.”
Sadly, these hopes usually fail to materialize on test day. True confidence comes from striding into the GMAT test center with the certainty that you've put in the time and effort, and that you know what to do.
(2) You'll have time to figure out whether you need a GMAT prep course.
You may be one of those people who can achieve a great GMAT score on their own. However, don’t just assume that you are one of those people. The smarter approach is to prepare seriously, and at an early date take a GMAT practice test – we strongly recommend GMATPrep, the official test software from mba.com. Don't take the practice test cold, and don't take the real GMAT exam as practice. A baseline GMAT score will help you decide whether do-it-yourself GMAT prep is for you, or if it's time to seek expert help.
You might decide to take a GMAT course for many reasons: Maybe you've got a shot at a 700+ score, but you need better GMAT prep and coaching to get to the next level. Maybe you're a little rusty in some areas, or need significant help in one problem area. Maybe you need motivation and support to get you through the recommended 120 hours of preparation time.
Whatever the reason, if you realize early on that a GMAT course is best for you, you still have time to get effective help.
(3) You'll have time to practice all the techniques you learned, and get your timing right.
A good GMAT course will give you the foundational knowledge to master the GMAT, but after the course concludes, give yourself a few weeks to practice your timing, troubleshoot for problems, and psyche yourself up.
On occasion, I see a student take Austin GMAT Review's accelerated course with a just-in-time attitude – GMAT test day coincides with the final class date. Ouch.
Just-in-time may be a worthy goal for supply chain management, but it’s not the best way to prepare for the GMAT.
(4) You'll be able to craft an outstanding MBA application to match that stellar GMAT score.
Did you bag your target GMAT score? Fantastic! But your work has just begun.
If anyone ever tells you that the MBA admissions process is easy, know this: That person is a super-genius, has a U.S. President in the family tree, has selective memory, went to a low-tier school, or never actually applied.
I have seen students ace the GMAT, and put no effort into the rest of their MBA application. Don't make this mistake. Yes, your GMAT score really matters. So do all the components of your application – essays, resume, interview, recommendation letters, and all the documentation and extras that the school may require.
People often underestimate how much time that the MBA admissions process takes. Your MBA application should be well thought out and strategically prepared. Part of the effort involves identifying your top business schools and making connections through admissions officers, students and alumni. I strongly recommend against studying for the GMAT while simultaneously trying to prepare your MBA application. Get the GMAT out of the way first, then tackle the rest.
(5) Your GMAT score could change which schools you decide to target.
I often have students who crack the 700 score, and they suddenly realize that perhaps they were punching below their weight in business school selection. They start looking beyond safety schools. Based on their GMAT scores, some end up with scholarships at top schools.
A high GMAT score can swing open doors. If you achieve that score early enough, it can transform your entire outlook on the MBA admissions process.
(6) Your GMAT score may require a strategic approach to the rest of your application.
Yes, I’ve had students get into top business schools with GMAT scores under 700. They counterbalanced lower GMAT verbal scores with essays that showcased their communications skills. They offset lower GMAT math scores with resumes that pointed to quant-type experience. Their recommenders wrote about their math and verbal skills. They took college-level classes. They had time to strengthen their application strategically, because they had their GMAT scores in hand.
(7) If you need to retake the GMAT, you can do so without missing your MBA deadlines.
For many people, taking the GMAT exam can be a nerve-wracking experience, even if they were well prepared. If you are unfortunate enough to bomb the exam – or even seriously underperform in comparison to how you were doing on your practice GMAT exams – but you were smart enough to do it well before your application deadlines, take comfort. You've got time to diagnose your test-day performance, perhaps prepare even more, and on your next attempt you'll be more familiar with the testing environment.
Here’s a bonus reason! Your GMAT score is good for five years.
Begin GMAT test prep as soon as you decide business school is in your future. You’ll be glad you did.
Austin GMAT Review is the premier GMAT preparation company in Central Texas, offering the best GMAT courses for professionals preparing to enter full-time MBA or executive MBA programs. Austin GMAT Review caters to busy professionals who don't have the time to sort through masses of generic study materials. Meeting with an experienced professor face-to-face in limited-size GMAT classes, students receive the personalized coaching that they need and strategies to excel on the GMAT.