Prepping for the GMAT

Think the top business schools are going to give you the best advice about the MBA application process? Not always.

Recently I went to hear a panel of MBA admissions officers representing some of the highest-ranked business schools in the world, as well as two more regional MBA programs. Most fascinating to me was that the representatives from the top schools had almost nothing interesting or useful to say about the application process, while the most concrete and practical advice came from Suffolk's MBA rep. Lillian Hallberg, Suffolk's Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs and Director of MBA Programs, had some great advice to share about prepping for the GMAT. I'll paraphrase it here [with my thoughts in brackets] because it's applicable to all MBA applicants.

  1. The quant section is the easier one in which to raise your score, not the verbal section.
  2. GMAT prep courses are a good idea. [I completely agree, just make sure you choose a great course, which is not necessarily the one that advertises on every bus stop.]
  3. Because you won't have studied some of this math since junior high, review the basics before the prep course starts. That way, you can spend your time during the prep course focusing on test-taking strategy rather than refreshing your memory about the properties of isosceles triangles.
  4. To review the basics, go to your local Borders or Barnes & Noble and pick up some books on Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry. Review those before your prep course starts.
  5. Schedule two real GMAT tests. The first one will be your trial run, and you won't stress out because you know you'll be taking it again. [And if you get a great score, you can stop right there and cancel the second test.] For the second test, make sure to take the entire day off so that you can be as relaxed as possible. [Most schools take the higher or highest of your scores, so it pays to keep retaking it if you think you can push your score up higher.]

See my reactions to another MBA admissions panel here.