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GMAT Test Prep FAQs

Below are some common questions that we hear from people just starting their GMAT test preparation. If you have questions on how to sign up for the GMAT, or about the exam itself, read About the GMAT. You may have questions about our GMAT class or curriculum; feel free to Contact Us.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the GMAT.
Q. Why do business schools use the GMAT? And how important is my GMAT score anyway?

A. MBA admissions committees regard your GMAT score as a very important component of your application. MBA admissions offices track the correlation between the GMAT scores of admitted students and the students' academic performance. Schools have found that typically a high GMAT score correlates to higher grades during the first year (when you would typically take the core MBA curriculum). Your GMAT score is seen as a strong indication of how you will perform academically, and in fact, a high GMAT score can help compensate for a relatively low undergraduate GPA.

However, while a low GMAT score may bar your way to an MBA program, do not make the mistake of believing that a high GMAT score is an automatic ticket to admission. You should carefully prepare your entire business school application.

Q. What is a good GMAT score?

A. You should aim for the GMAT score that will make you a serious contender for your target business school: above the average GMAT score of the school's last entering MBA class. Should you fall somewhat below that average GMAT score (within the school's 80% range of scores), you are still a contender if you have experience that demonstrates management and leadership potential.

If you are wondering what a good GMAT score is for a top school, the average GMAT score usually falls above the 85th percentile for the top 10 ranked business schools. You should aim for a score of 700 or above, ideally 720.

After you take the exam, you will have 72 hours to decide whether to accept or cancel your GMAT score.

Q. How long should I study for the GMAT exam before taking it?
A. If you've just begun your GMAT preparation, plan to prepare for about three months. According to GMAC, the makers of GMAT, test-takers who scored in the 600-690 range reported studying 92 hours on average. How long does it take to study for a 700+ GMAT score?  Those who scored more than 700 reported 102 hours of study time on average.Our GMAT class covers the spectrum of exam topics in 50+ hours. Ideally you should spend an additional 80 hours on your own for study and practice, to ensure you get the most out of your classroom time.We strongly recommend that you plan to take the GMAT at least five months before the admissions deadlines for your target MBA programs. Feel like procrastinating? Here are seven great reasons to get started early.Focus on the GMAT first, and then tackle the other components of the application. You will be more effective if you do not attempt to write essays and study for the GMAT at the same time.
Q. When should I sign up for the GMAT? Should I register for the exam before I take the class?

A. While we understand the desire to motivate yourself by giving yourself a deadline, we recommend that you don't pick an arbitrary date. Sign up for the GMAT exam when you expect to be fully prepared and are ready to perform at your best.When you are ready (for example, you have completed the GMAT course and a final practice test), sign up at about two weeks in advance. Some testing center locations are busier than others, but you should be able to book your preferred time and place if you register a few weeks ahead.

Q. What is the best book for GMAT preparation?

A. We use The Official Guide for GMAT Review as the main reference book for our GMAT course, and we recommend it as the best book for GMAT preparation (although the answer explanations leave something to be desired). Authored by GMAC, the makers of the GMAT, the book provides hundreds of questions from past GMAT tests, and covers all areas of the GMAT. Our course provides additional materials showing the most efficient approaches to answering the GMAT's problems.

Q. How long does it take to prepare for the GMAT quantitative section if my math skills are weak?

A. Give yourself at least three months. During the first month, you should concentration on building your foundational math knowledge and practicing the simple mechanics of solving math problems. Knowing the best method to solve a math problem will increase your test-taking speed.

Keep in mind, however, the GMAT is not testing your high-school math abilities, and being comfortable with solving math problems is just the first step. The GMAT specializes in testing your ability to figure out business-related problems – that is, taking a verbal question and correctly translating it into a math expression or equation to solve. To learn what the GMAT is testing, and efficient problem-solving methods, you may need two months or more to gain proficiency. Think of it not only as studying for an exam but also preparing to succeed in business school.

Q. Can I take the GMAT math bootcamp after the GMAT course?

A. No. You should be comfortable with basic math skills in order to make progress on your GMAT preparation. If your math skills are rusty, our GMAT math bootcamp will help you to get up to speed before beginning our GMAT course. We do not want you to struggle unnecessarily in class and slow down your progress. Take our 10-minute self-assessment quiz, without using a calculator, to decide whether the GMAT math bootcamp will benefit your GMAT preparation.

Q. Do I need to have taken calculus to do well on the GMAT exam?

A. No. The GMAT does not use calculus problems. However, you will most likely use calculus in business school, so it is a good idea to take a calculus class prior to starting your MBA program.

Q. How many GMAT practice tests should I take?

A. You should take four to six GMAT practice tests. We highly recommend GMATPrep, software offered by GMAC on These tests offer real GMAT questions from past exams, use the GMAT algorithm, and realistically simulate the actual test. Take the first practice test at the beginning of your GMAT studies, to gauge your areas of strengths and weaknesses, and take the last practice test close to your testing date.We recommend against taking practice tests from third-party providers, primarily because of the considerable difficulty of replicating the actual exam.

Q. I'm very good at test-taking. Do I need to study for the GMAT exam?

A. It's great that you don't fear tests, but yes, you need to study. Even if you are very good at verbal and quantitative skills, methodical preparation and practice give you a significant edge over someone who takes the exam "cold."Remember, your GMAT score is a critical component of your MBA admissions package; the higher the GMAT score, the better your chances of getting into an MBA program of your choice.

Q. GMAT tests basic math skills, and I'm very good at math. Do I need to study for the GMAT math section?
Q, Alternate. GMAT tests basic verbal skills, and my English reading and writing skills are great. Do I need to study for the GMAT verbal section?

A. The answer to both questions is, "Yes." To achieve your highest GMAT score, you need to work on your weaknesses, but also prepare to maximize your strengths.

Q. If I am still in college, does it make sense for me to take the GMAT exam now?

A. You may consider getting the GMAT exam out of the way before you graduate. In some respects, it is easier to prepare while you are still in college. Your GMAT score is valid for five years.

Q. I work long hours. How do I get my GMAT prep going?

A. Work commitments often cut into the time you set aside to prepare for the GMAT exam, and it's tough to choose studying over relaxation in your free time. As a busy professional, you could be the ideal candidate for a GMAT class. In addition to having committed class time on evenings or weekends, being in close contact with other professionals who share your goals can be very motivating. Researching MBA programs, as well as visiting schools and attending classes, can also make your goals become more exciting and tangible, and help you put GMAT study time on your "must-do" list.

Q. What is the best way to study for the GMAT exam?

A. Everyone has different ways of studying, and you will need to find what's best for you. We can make some recommendations, however, based on experience. The most important thing during GMAT preparation is commitment. As hard as it may seem, you must make GMAT studies your first priority, and commit to it every day; if you attempt to study in "spare time" around other commitments, you will find that you never find that time. A GMAT course may help you stay on track.

Secondly, we recommend that the time you spend on GMAT preparation be devoted almost entirely to studying from the original GMAT source materials. The time that you choose to spend online corresponding with other GMAT test-takers or looking for GMAT tips or practice questions does not count as actual GMAT preparation; this is a common mistake that people make. Stay focused.

Q. My GMAT score fell short of my target business school's average GMAT score. Should I retake the GMAT?

A. The answer depends on the individual MBA candidate. In general, if you did not achieve a score within the business school's 80% range, you should plan on retaking the GMAT before you apply. If you performed better on the official GMAT practice tests than you did on the real exam, you might do better on your next try. If you fell far below your school's GMAT score range, before retaking the exam, you would do well to assess your test-taking strategies as well as knowledge gaps. Whatever your score, if you feel that you performed below your capabilities, you may benefit from expert help. You should always analyze your performance before rushing to sign up to retake the GMAT.

Also, be aware that you may take the GMAT only five times in one year, and only eight times in all.

Q. What is the best GMAT test prep course?

A. The best GMAT prep course is the one that helps you grasp the subject matter and perform at your best on test day. It's as simple as that. Our GMAT course focuses on the content and skills that GMAT actually tests, with rigorous instruction and practice. Our students value our excellent teaching, effective study materials, test-taking strategies, and most importantly, the personal attention and coaching that they receive. At Austin GMAT Review, we believe that the best GMAT prep course values quality of learning above all else.

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