GMAT Test-Taking Tips from the Test Prep Experts

A boom in applications to business schools is not surprising MBA admissions officers, who say a similar upturn occurred following the dot-com crash earlier in this decade.  The increase in B-school applications is — once again — fueled by the economic crisis.  Applicants recognize that scoring well on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will help secure them a spot at competitive business schools thereby increasing their likelihood of success after graduation. With this in mind, MBA Podcaster interviewed five of the leading test prep companies to impart advice and recommendations for GMAT test takers in this year’s competitive application season. The show encompasses all aspects of taking the GMAT, from timing, to test-taking conditions, to how many times to take the GMAT.

Business school applicants are facing increasing competition.  The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) says more than three-quarters of the schools they surveyed reported an increase in application volume in 2008, up from 64% in 2007.  In addition, the number of GMAT tests taken outside the U.S. increased 21.5% over 2007 to 105,914 and the number of GMAT tests taken in the US increased 5.9% over 2007 to 158,727.

What advice do test prep experts offer to help GMAT test takers? There appears to be a consensus for how soon students should begin preparing for the GMAT.  That’s about six months.  According to the experts “the best way to get good score gains is to do a little bit less work over a longer period time.  Lots and lots of practice.” 

Experts also agree that applicants should know their starting point.  They recommend students take a few practice tests at the very beginning of the process, to provide a ballpark for the score, and to get familiar with the GMAT. 

If students only have a couple of months to prepare for the GMAT, Liza Wheale of Kaplan says that’s like trying to learn how to learn the entire French language two weeks before a trip to Paris — impossible.  “What is possible, however,“ she says, “is focusing on the areas of the GMAT that will bring you the most success, in the same way that focusing on conversational French that will be relevant to your trip will be the most beneficial.”

Each one of the experts advised students to not change their normal routine in advance of the GMAT.  Brian Galvin of Veritas Prep says one of his students had heard that salmon was great brain food, so she dined at an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant the night before her GMAT, eating as much salmon as she could.  She woke up with food poisoning the day of the test.     

Admissions officers may raise their eyebrows over test-taking students who are into the double-digits, Chris Ryan of Manhattan Review warns, especially if the scores are hanging around the same number.  All five experts advise B-school applicants to examine where they are weak on the GMAT – is it the nerves, the permutations and computations, the sense of not quite being prepared – and focus on that for the next GMAT. 

            And, for students who wonder if it’s possible to score high without really studying, experts say being a natural at taking the GMAT is not unlike being able to bend your elbow backwards. Definitely not natural!

To listen to the full show click below:

GMAT Test Taking Tips from the Test Prep Experts

  • Jon Denning, Director of Operations for PowerScore Test Prep
  • Brian Galvin, Director of Academic Programs for Veritas Prep
  • Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton Test Prep
  • Chris Ryan, Director of Product and Instructor Development for ManhattanGMAT
  • Liza Weale, Executive Director of the GMAT Program for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions


  1. I apologise, but, in my opinion, you are mistaken. Write to me in PM, we will discuss.

  2. The Graduate Management Admission Test is a Standardized test that measures verbal, mathematical and analytical writing skills. It is intended to help the graduate schools of business assess the potential of applicants for advanced study in business and management.

    Nearly 900 management institutes all over the world (almost all of them in the US) require GMAT scores from each applicant. The GMAT tests the fundamental skills – Reasoning and Comprehension included – and does not require any subject-specific theoretical study.

    The test is designed in such a way that it would be unlike any other test you would have taken at school or college. First, the test has no question paper or answer sheets, nor does it have the same set of questions for all the examinees. Further, it does not give you the option of not answering a question (unless, of course, you run out of time at the end). All this because the GMAT is now an entirely Computer based test – the keyboard and mouse do the work of a pen or pencil. The test is scored out of 800 (in multiples of 10), and most scores fall in the range of 500-600. However, a score of even 800 is not unheard of!

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