GMAT Preparation is no cakewalk, especially if you are a working professional. This is because you have to handle studies as well as office work simultaneously. This article will share some useful GMAT preparation tips for busy working professionals to score 700 marks or above.
The Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is a computer-based entrance examination taken for the purpose of pursuing graduate management programs, such as MBA, in top business schools around the world.
When you apply for a program, the Admission Committee scrutinises your profile for your academic record, GMAT score, previous work experience and other relevant information to check your eligibility. Hence, a good GMAT score has the potential to increase your chances for admission to your dream business school.
Since most working professionals struggle to find time for studies owing to their hectic professional life, a proper time management system and a smart strategy is crucial to getting the perfect GMAT score. In this article, we’ll share some useful insights that will help you prepare for GMAT despite a busy work schedule.
Six Useful GMAT Preparation Tips for Working Professionals
- Understand the GMAT Exam Pattern
The first and foremost thing is to be well-acquainted with the GMAT exam pattern. Hence, do spend some time understanding it. This will help you get accustomed to the concept, syllabus, and scoring pattern of the test. A thorough understanding of the syllabus will also help you recognise your weak areas and decide where extra preparation is required. Once you get to know your weakness, work hard on the sections that need improvement by solving additional questions, and revising the concepts. In the meantime, keep practising on your stronger areas, as this will strengthen your knowledge. Here is a table that will give you an insight into the structure of the GMAT Exam.
|Section||Number of Questions||Question Types||Time Given to Complete the Section||Section-Wise Weightage|
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 (Essay Question)||Analysis of an Argument||30 mins||0-6 (in 0.5-point increments)|
|Integrated Reasoning||12 MCQ||Table Analysis |
|30 mins||1-8 (in 1-point increments)|
|Quantitative Reasoning||31 MCQ||Problem-Solving|
|62 mins||6-51 (in 1-point increments)|
|Verbal Reasoning||36 MCQ||Sentence Correction|
|65 mins||6-51 (in 1-point increments)|
- Create a GMAT Study Plan
GMAT preparation for working professionals requires a lot of time and effort. Hence, developing a GMAT study plan helps you organise what you need to do, and when. However, ensure your plan is realistic. To begin with, create a one-month plan, and come up with a 3-5 step approach. Let us have a look at how your study plan would look like.
The GMAT study plan for working professionals with a 3-step approach as recommended above is as follows:
- Set aside 1-2 days for each section – Each section of the GMAT requires an equal amount of time for preparation. However, the sections you are weaker at may require more effort to learn than your stronger subjects. Hence, plan and divide the six days (Monday to Saturday) of the week for each section of the GMAT syllabus. You can also set aside more days for the tougher subjects as per your need. For example, if you are weak in Quant, allot 2-3 hours for 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) to learn the concepts. This way, plan out days for all sections for a month and adhere to the schedule.
- Keep the weekends for practice – Learn on weekdays, and dedicate weekends for practising the questions based on the topics. Dividing your studying and practising time makes your learning process easier. It’s important to do so as practising questions or taking mock tests will help you understand your problem areas. Besides, this will give you an idea of the time you are taking to answer the questions and how much more improvement’s required.
- Set a target score – Do thorough research on the MBA programs you want to apply to, and check the median scores for admissions to these B-schools. For instance, the average GMAT score for MBA admission in Harvard Business School is 730. Aim for 750+, if you want to stand out from other candidates and earn scholarships. The target score acts as a goal towards which you can orient your GMAT study plan and gives you an idea of how hard you need to work to reach that goal.
These are just a few examples we have provided, you can always make a study plan according to your time and comfort.
- Manage Time Effectively
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a major shift in the work culture. Now, work from home has become the new normal. The main benefit of a remote work approach is that it saves you travel time. Hence, you can start your day early and prepare for the GMAT exam before logging in. You can also allocate some time during or after office hours, and use this time wisely to prepare for the test. If you happen to wrap up work early on any day, then you can skim through the exam topics.
In case you are still travelling to work, utilise your commute time and office breaks efficiently to maximise the learning output. Brush up on all that you have learnt previously, or solve some quant problems during the commute to/from the office daily. You can also watch video lectures, or convert your notes into an audio file and listen to them, based on your comfort. If required, you could also take some time off work to prepare well. However, don’t plan to quit your job for the exam, as this will create a negative impact during the admission process.
For some of you, weekends are all about spending quality time on yourself or with your family. However in the midst of your GMAT preparation it’s quintessential that you dedicate 6-7 hours for revising, learning new concepts or taking mock tests. With this strategy, you will be able to cover the lighter topics on weekdays and revise or learn tougher ones over the weekends.
- Opt for Online Classes
With a busy work schedule, finding time for classroom learning can be a strenuous task for you. However, opting for online coaching classes may eliminate this challenge. Online learning provides you access to study materials anytime, anywhere, from any device, which saves you time from going to a coaching centre, thereby, making studying easier. Besides, the scope of learning is higher in an online mode as it provides you with more options to learn from, such as live mock tests, video lectures, etc. Moreover, it makes you responsible as you have to learn and evaluate the study progress on your own. Following this strategy will help balance your academic and professional life. And, in case you are looking for some useful online resources for your preparation, you’ll find them here.
- Be Consistent with your GMAT Preparations
Consistency is the key to success! It is not that difficult to start learning the GMAT subjects, but it is hard to maintain the same vigour for a prolonged period of time. Even if you find it difficult to learn new topics every day, try revising and solving questions from the subjects that you’ve already learnt. Because, once you procrastinate, that would become a habit and affect your progress in learning. A consistent approach towards the GMAT preparation enhances your learning and ensures that you do not lose touch with the topics.
- Attempt Mock Tests
Once you are done with learning, start taking practice tests. Attempting mock tests familiarises you with the question pattern and thus, boosts your confidence. You can also identify your weaker areas by practising these diagnostic tests. Understanding the topics you are stronger/weaker at gives you an overview of your preparedness and helps you predict your possible score in the actual exam. You can start by taking the mock tests available on the Official GMAT website. Apart from that, there are many GMAT prep websites and apps where you will find mock tests with answers and explanations. Most of these websites follow a question algorithm similar to the real GMAT exam. Attempting practice tests every day not only assesses your progress but also familiarises you with the exam day pressure.
Time, Practice, and Consistency! This is the key to achieving a great score in any competitive exam. Hence, start your preparation by following all the aforementioned GMAT preparation tips.
- Is it possible to prepare for the GMAT with a full-time job?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to prepare for the GMAT and get a good score even if you have a full-time job.
- What is the most important thing I can do to get a great GMAT score while working a day job?
If you work 9-5 and have to prepare for the GMAT alongside your job, the key thing for you to practice is time management. You must allocate time to your GMAT prep everyday, at least 2-3 hours.
- How long will it take to complete my GMAT preparation as a professional?
You can complete your GMAT preparation in the timeframe of your choosing, whether it is 2 weeks or 2 months, as long as you make an appropriate study schedule and stick to it.