It’s graduation season, and hundreds of thousands of students are making their plans for the summer. Some people will be jumping straight into an internship while others will be traveling or doing volunteer work. And then there are those students who plan to devote at least a portion of their summer to studying for yet another exam.
As business school becomes more competitive and more programs offer flexible degrees, an increasing number of students are getting an early start on their GMAT prep. And with round 1 applications starting in early fall, many aspiring business school students will be taking the GMAT in late August or early September in the hopes that their score will earn them a place at one of the top schools.
So if you’re working on a summer timeline, there are some steps you should take.
Familiarize yourself with the exam as well as the tools at your disposal. Don’t just buy the first prep book you see. Start by researching the structure of the GMAT, including the types of subjects covered. There are plenty of big heavy prep books, but the problem is that many students won’t use them effectively. That’s why after learning about the structure of the test we think it’s best to start with a diagnostic test as the next point makes clear.
The GMAC has several free full-length practice tests that will give you a good idea of your starting point. Of course, don’t be discouraged if it’s lower than you expected. When you see your results, pay close attention to the types of questions that need the most work. After you have your starting score, you can decide on a goal score.
If you already have schools in mind, make sure to check out the median GMAT score or the middle 80 percent score range of their admitted students. You’ll want to aim for a score near the average, or higher if you think you don’t have as strong an academic record as other applicants.
Even if you’ve promised yourself that you’re going to study for the GMAT this summer, we’re sure you have other projects you’re trying to tackle. The average person studies about 50 hours before the GMAT, but the number of hours you’re willing to devote to GMAT prep depends on how much time you have available as well as how much you’re hoping to increase your score.
Some people might have only a few hours a week to devote to GMAT prep, but that amount of prep can make a huge difference when stretched out over an entire summer. Decide how many hours you’re able to devote to studying, though know your own limits. If you’re working 60 hours a week, you’re probably not going to be able to put in several hours each weeknight.
If you’ve decided to spend the summer studying for the GMAT, make sure you’re taking advantage of the entire summer rather than just the second half. Now that you’ve worked out how much time you have, it’s time to start giving yourself smaller steps and benchmarks. Otherwise, you might find that it’s halfway through July before you know it. The most important thing is to find something that you can stick to. If you’re studying over a period of months, we recommend taking practice tests every so often to keep track of your improvement.
If you get to July and hit a plateau, don’t be afraid to change things up a bit. If there’s an area that you’re not seeing a lot of improvement in, take some time to zero in on what’s holding you back. If you want a second opinion, you can always reach out to a tutor. They might be able to help you spot the roadblocks standing between you and a score increase. Because you started early, you have the luxury of trying out new strategies and resources.
Don’t be afraid to take your prep materials with you if you’re traveling or think you’ll have a few minutes between other projects. There’s no law that says you need to study for the GMAT indoors at your desk, so feel free to work on your critical reasoning skills while working on your tan.
And of course, if you have Prep4GMAT on your smartphone, you can study for the GMAT no matter where your summer takes you.