Have you been wondering how to tell when you’re ready to take the GMAT?
Preparing for the GMAT is a significant undertaking.
After all, getting a good score on the test can mean the difference between going to your dream school and going to your safety school.
The Graduate Management Admission Council, the group that administers the GMAT, recommends spending at least seven weeks studying for the test, and many students will spend even more time preparing.
In our last article, we talked about when to schedule your GMAT exam for optimal application timing.
But since the test is available year-round, how do you truly know when you are ready to take the GMAT? This article will offer several tips to help you decide.
Consistent Scores On The GMAT
If you are consistently scoring in your target score range on practice GMAT tests, then you are ready for the real thing.
However, if your score is still bouncing around every time you take a practice test, 700 one week, 540 the next, then you know you are not quite ready to take the real test.
Instead, spend some more time refining your techniques and focusing on problem areas.
Are you rushing through the test? Are there concepts that you are still unsure of? Take the time to really pinpoint your problem areas, so that you can work on them more effectively.
The GMAT Computer Adaptive Test
Taking a computer adaptive test can be a very different experience from taking a pencil and paper test.
Rather than having all the questions laid out for students in a set order, computer adaptive tests present one question at a time (or sometimes a small set of questions), with your answers determining which questions will be shown next.
If you answer correctly, the next questions will be harder. If you answer incorrectly, the next questions will be easier.
In order to do well on the GMAT, not only do you have to answer questions correctly and efficiently, you also have to avoid being distracted by the increasing or decreasing difficulty of the questions.
Time spent worrying about how well you’re doing is time you’re taking away from the test itself. If you’ve only done practice tests from a book, you’re probably not ready for the test yet.
If you have taken several computer adaptive practice tests and feel comfortable with the scores you received, then you are ready to take the GMAT.
Know Your Strengths On The GMAT
It makes sense that most of your GMAT prep time will be focused on shoring up your weak areas.
After all, if you want to do well, you need to be able to answer as many questions correctly as possible. But spending all of your study time focusing exclusively on your weaknesses is not a good idea.
Ultimately, the GMAT score you submit with your business school applications should highlight your strengths and show why you’ll be a great candidate for admission.
Once you’ve gotten as good as you can reasonably expect to be in the sections you find most challenging, it’s time to focus on your strong suits.
Answering simpler questions confidently and efficiently will give you more time to devote to the most challenging questions, and it’s a lot easier to be confident in your strongest subjects.
If you’ve devoted at least one week of study time to sharpening your skills in your strongest sections, then you’re ready to tackle the full GMAT.
Mastering The GMAT Mental Game
The GMAT is a big investment, both in time (several months of preparation) and in money ($250 USD for the test itself, plus any practice materials you purchase).
It can be hard not to second-guess yourself when the time comes to actually take the test.
But consider this your first real test of business school: when you need to make a tough decision, will you suffer from analysis paralysis, or will you consider the situation and make the right call?
If you decided on the best test date for your desired application window, created a GMAT study plan, and followed through with it, then guess what? You’re ready to take the test.
There is always something more you can do to prepare for the GMAT. At some point, you have to trust yourself and just take the test.
What are your biggest concerns when it comes to taking the GMAT?
We would love to hear from you.