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16 Critical GMAT Preparation Strategies

Do you have GMAT preparation strategies in mind? Or are you planning on just “winging it”?

The GMAT is one of the most critical building blocks of a successful MBA application. And any serious applicant will begin studying and preparing for the test several months in advance.

In this blog post, we’ll provide you with tried-and-true GMAT tips and GMAT preparation strategies that will help you perform your very best on test day.

GMAT Preparation Strategies

First, let’s start with some key GMAT facts:

– Aim to take the GMAT once, twice at most. It is best to prepare well for the first test and avoid several retakes.

– There are three sections: Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Verbal and Quantitative

– The test last three and a half hours: 30 minutes each for Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning and 75 minutes each for Quantitative and Verbal

– GMAT scores are valid for five years.

General GMAT Preparation Strategies

There are a few key GMAT preparation strategies that you should keep in mind as you begin your initial preparation.

– Set a baseline

Take an initial practice test on the GMAT website to gauge where you are and where you need to go.

Don’t study too much before taking this test- you want to truly understand where your weaknesses are.

– Keep track of your weaknesses

In a spreadsheet or journal (whatever feels most comfortable) keep track of the GMAT questions and topics that give you trouble.

Make sure that you are consistent and update it after every study session.

– Prioritize consistency over cramming

It is tempting to save studying for several weekend cram sessions, but it is actually more valuable to study a bit every day, even if you can only spare thirty minutes for some practice problems.

GMAT Analytical Writing Preparation Tips

You will receive one question in the analytical writing section and have 30 minutes to answer.

Questions will require you to analyze and critique the reasoning behind a given argument.

– Consider multiple perspectives

As you analyze the argument, make sure to consider the perspective of every stakeholder impacted by the decision made.

Otherwise, your analysis will be incomplete.

– Outline your answer

Always outline your answer before you begin writing.

This will help keep you on track as the minutes tick by and make sure that you cover all of the points that you wanted to.

– Make your points clearly and quickly

Do not waste time on extra words or long introductions.

You only have thirty minutes.

Get to your points quickly, explain them concisely, and move on to the next point.

– Focus on argument, not writing

You are being graded primarily on the quality of your argument, not on elaborate writing.

For writing, your primary focus should be avoiding grammar errors and keep your sentences simple and clear.

GMAT Integrated Reasoning Tips

The Integrated Reasoning section has 12 questions, scored separately on a scale of 1-8.

There are four broad question types: two-part analysis, multi-source reasoning, graphic interpretation, and table analysis.

– Focus on your strengths

You will not have much time for each question (only 2.5 minutes).

Focus on the ones that you know you can do well and spend more time on those.

Practice is key here.

You have to know which question types you are good at and which you might want to pass up.

– Practice getting information quickly

The key to successfully answering IR GMAT questions is being able to quickly and accurately analyze data.

Practice analyzing tables and graphs until you are able to quickly spot facts and interpret them.

– Save your stamina

The verbal and quantitative scores still make up the bulk of your score, so make sure that you save your energies.

GMAT Verbal Tips

The GMAT verbal section focuses on reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction questions.

Make sure you do plenty of practice questions for each of these question types.

– Make the most of your first reading

Learn to mark up passages and sentences as you read them. Highlight main ideas or turning points, and circle important facts you might need to refer to.

– Make sure you have mastered essential economics vocabulary

This is especially important if you are a nontraditional MBA.

– Incorporate advanced reading into your daily routine

Read complicated articles focusing on business topics, and practice analyzing the main points and spotting holes in the argument.

GMAT Quantitative Tips

You will see 37 questions in 75 minutes, broken down into problem solving and data sufficiency questions.

– Practice mental math

You will have to rely exclusively on mental math, so try to incorporate these calculations into your daily life.

Set aside your calculator and force yourself to practice.

– Know when to move on

Remember that you have limited time.

If a question is taking you a long time, know when you need to your losses and move on to the next question.

– Memorize the answers to the data sufficiency questions

Your answer choices will be the same for each one:

Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.

Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.

Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question, but neither statement is sufficient alone.

Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.

Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.


Now, you know the top GMAT tips for each section of the test.

With these 16 GMAT tips, you should be able to build an effective GMAT preparation strategy for each section of the test and incorporate them into your daily routine.

Remember that consistency is extremely important to your success, and make a schedule to ensure that test preparation fits in with your work and personal commitments.

Keep track of your learning, recognize your strengths, build up your weaknesses and you will do great.

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