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Brief overview-

The GMAT exam is a widely accepted test that is primarily used for MBA and Masters admissions. Although the GMAT was initially restricted to MBA admissions, its applicability has increased and it is used widely for Masters too. That being said, there are still numerous science and engineering programs around the world which prefer GRE to GMAT or do not accept GMAT altogether.

A key feature of the GMAT is that it is an adaptive test. As the candidate gets more questions correct, the questions keep getting tougher and vice versa.

The GMAT comprises the following sections-

  1. Verbal
  2. Quant
  3. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
  4. Integrated Reasoning (IR)

The verbal section contains three types of questions- Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. The math section contains Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving.  In both these sections, the candidate is given a score on 51, which is calculated based on an algorithm. The combined score on both sections sections determines the candidates score out of 800.

The AWA section requires the candidate to examine a prompt and write an essay on the same. This section is scored on 6. The Integrated Reasoning Section consists of 12 questions that are based on logical reasoning. This section is scored on a scale of 8. The IR and AWA sections are not factored into the 800 score, but are mentioned separately. However, these sections must not be neglected as a low score in either creates a very bad impression.

Strategies and Tips-

The key to the GMAT exam is to know where you stand and have a clear and realistic idea of where you want to be. Your target must depend on your personal aptitude, and on the requirements of your target universities. While the GMAT score is not the deciding factor in college admissions, it does play a significant role, especially for international students.

A habit that candidates must follow is to spend enough time on reviewing questions. Candidates often spend a large proportion of their time attempting practice questions but not necessarily reviewing them. While attempting more questions will give you an idea of where you stand, you won’t be able to improve your performance significantly if you don’t spend time reviewing your errors. Moreover, as you review questions, you will start to notice certain patterns in the kind of errors the question setter expects you to make. You will notice that some answers seem lucrative but are actually incorrect due to a certain line of reasoning. Once you start noticing and remembering the mistake, you could apply it to similar questions that test you along a similar line of thought. Remember, you must think like the question setter. Each option exists for a reason, in order to deceive you a certain way. Everytime you see the options think of why the option exists and what mistake the question setter wants you to make.

Another tip that candidates must remember is to not trust their first line of thought too much. There may be options that seem correct but candidates must assess the options analytically using the methods they have learnt during their preparation. This is especially true for sections such as sentence correction, in which certain sentences may sound correct as we are used to saying and hearing them informally, but they are actually wrong.

Preparation and Materials-

People often ask me how much time it takes to prepare for the GMAT. The correct answer to that is “it depends”. It depends on your aptitude with math and verbal, your approach and your target score. In certain cases, you may be able to achieve your target score in a matter of weeks or days whereas in other cases months of effort might go in vain and the target score may never be achieved if a structured plan is not followed.

After going through numerous study materials and appearing for the GMAT myself, I have compiled a list of the following materials that will be of value to a candidate appearing for the exam-

  1. Official Guide – The set of 3 official guides consist of numerous questions in Verbal and Quant that are of the optimal level. These questions are of the actual GMAT standard, and come with explanations that help you understand your mistakes and alter your approach. These books are a must-have for anyone preparing for the GMAT.
  2. Magoosh Online Subscription – The online subscription to the Magoosh course comes with video explanations on all topics a that help you understand and break down various topics. Moreover, it consists of over 600 questions of different levels of difficulty with video explanations to each.
  3. Kaplan Books – Kaplan releases a new edition of its book every year, which comes with strategies of approaching various types of questions and numerous practice questions. These books also come with 6 free practice tests that are pretty accurate compared to other practice tests online.
  4. GMAT Club – The gmatclub website is a collection of all possible resources for the GMAT. Similar to Quora, but exclusive to GMAT and college admissions. The GMAT club website has thousands of questions with discussions and explanations on each. You can also access various PDF documents that have numerous questions on each topic with explanations.