Seven Tips For Acing The GRE/GMAT

brassmunkey's picture
Rank: Monkey | 61

Heading back to school is not an easy task. It does not matter how impressive your GPA or letters of recommendation may be--all paths lead through the testing center. This fall, I became reacquainted with standardized testing while preparing to submit my applications for Masters in Finance programs. Below are a few tips and methods that helped me hit my target score.

  1. Plan - Rome wasn't built in a day... and neither are solid testing skills. In order to truly master the nuances of the test, you will have to dedicate a good chunk of time to studying and preparation. Once you know the earliest dates by which you will need your score, find a month long (or longer) period where you are able to study for the test.
  2. Commit - Ordering the practice booklet from Amazon is the easy part, actually beginning to study is where things get challenging. To create some economic incentives for yourself, sign up for the test date and pay your fees ahead of time. A hard deadline will force you to reach for your review book instead that second beer, something you will be grateful for come test day.
  3. Review - Both the GRE and GMAT cover rudimentary topics such as analytical writing, reasoning, problem solving and basic mathematics. It is safe to say that if you are reading this post you have done more complicated math, written on more complex topics and read more challenging material than you will ever see on the test. Despite that fact, it is crucial to revisit the basics before you begin your studying. Both private test companies and the test makers themselves publish free PDF's that cover the foundational concepts you will need to ace the test. These review sheets are an invaluable tool for refreshing basic concepts as well as familiarizing yourself with the test itself.
  4. Benchmark - Diagnostic tests are a crucial tool that will help you focus your studying and maximize your results. Included in most test prep books (and easy enough to find for free online) these tests will provide topic by topic insight into what exactly you need to work on to get that perfect score.
  5. Practice - Grab a test book. For taking the GRE, Manhattan Test Prep's 5lb Book of practice problems was an invaluable resource. After taking a diagnostic, the voluminous text allowed me to work on areas in which I was lacking without ever having to repeat questions. For the GMAT, I have found the GMAT Verbal Review and GMAT Quantitative Review books to be a great help.
  6. Test yourself - Take a good number of full-length tests before test day. Practice tests are not only the best way to ballpark your results, but will also help you iron out any last minute problems. In addition to free online tests offered by the company that develops the test, test prep companies will also allow you to take a limited number of free practice tests online. That being said, nothing will truly prepare you for the test experience itself like recreating the realities of the testing center. Head to the library with just your laptop, a pencil, and a piece of paper and take the test like it is intended (they won't let you bring that chai latte and a fancy calculator in the room with you on test day).
  7. Celebrate - Congratulations, you are now ready to apply to graduate school! Go grab a few beers and celebrate; or maybe just head home, after all that studying your Netflix account probably misses you.

Comments (41)

Mar 4, 2014

very helpful

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Mar 4, 2014

@"brassmunkey" What site / company would you say provided the best pdf for reviewing the foundational concepts?

Mar 5, 2014

@"y3r0k91" The ETS provides an extremely helpful pdf for reviewing foundational math concepts for the GRE (http://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_math_review.pdf). There is quite a bit of conceptual overlap with the GMAT on that sheet, but if you want dedicated GMAT material the Graduate Management Admission Council's official review guide has a similarly comprehensive review section.

Mar 5, 2014

Thank you, I wish you best of luck with the admissions process.

Mar 5, 2014

One of the things that helped me the most (180 point increase) was signing up for one of those online interactive GMAT review programs. I picked one that charged $30 a month (after a free one week trial) and had instant access to all sorts of problems from different topics, in computer adaptive format, with on the spot lessons and links to supplementary material whenever I encountered unusual questions.

I find that it was much easier for getting me into a daily routine since I didn't have to shuffle a bunch of books around each day and reorganize notes. It was also extremely convenient-my 15 minute review sessions were almost as efficient as my 4 hour immersion sessions-and i got to mark questions that gave me trouble for review. I'd typically take quizzes consisting ONLY of stuff I'd gotten wrong previously, eliminating the need for one of those time consuming error logs. It also helped me target my review to specific topics and question types. Trust me: after going through 150 consecutive speed rate distance problems of varying degrees, you won't wince when even the worst one shows up on exam day.

Consider it as an add on if its within your budget.

Mar 6, 2014

Hi TheGrind, that sounds like a great service! Would you care to share the url and why you chose that particular service? Were there comparable ones you were considering?

Mar 6, 2014

Sure. I don't want to be seen as advertising for a specific company but I used Magoosh, although there are numerous alternatives that do the same thing. Before proceeding, just check the ratings on gmatclub.

Mar 6, 2014

WTF is up with #5? score inflation??!! i would understand if you were arguing that there's a diminishing return for hours spent studying, but it seems like you're asking people to study less (and score lower) to make things easier for others.

if i didn't know any better, i would say you're giving out BAD advice to the general public to help your clients get higher scores.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 6, 2014

You are by far the worst user/poster/blogger on WSO. I hope for WSO's sake they are not affiliated with you.

Everything you post is a fucking abortion.

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Mar 6, 2014
Nefarious-:

You are by far the worst user/poster/blogger on WSO. I hope for WSO's sake they are not affiliated with you.

Everything you post is a fucking abortion.

+1000000000000000000000

Mar 6, 2014
Nefarious-:

You are by far the worst user/poster/blogger on WSO. I hope for WSO's sake they are not affiliated with you.

Everything you post is a fucking abortion.

ugh... basically she's asking us to skip studying for the GMAT and get a certificate in education from Stanford lol.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 6, 2014

Also very important:

Be ready for the computer-based testing format. It is not like the SAT's scantron method. Why is this key? When I took the SAT, one of the most important test-taking skills was to answer all the easier questions first and save the balance of your time to really knuckle down on the hard ones. Because of the GMAT's format of where you get a progressively harder/easier question after you answer the first question right/wrong you need to be ready for this.

Make sure you have software that does this for you.

Mar 6, 2014

GRE over GMAT....?

Mar 6, 2014

Pretty sure the post is meant to be tongue and cheek...it just wasn't done very well.

Mar 6, 2014
acrew09:

Pretty sure the post is meant to be tongue and cheek...it just wasn't done very well.

Probably, but OP has a lot of time on his hands if it is tongue-in-cheek.

Mar 6, 2014

WOW. was this meant to be tongue in cheek? that's a relief because i thought OP was just a dumbass.

way too subtle for internet humor....

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 6, 2014

bankerella, you better be hot otherwise future's gonna be mighty unkind.

Mar 6, 2014

No it was pretty well done. If you couldn't tell after the first point, you need lessons in sarcasm.

Mar 6, 2014
liveproper:

No it was pretty well done. If you couldn't tell after the first point, you need lessons in sarcasm.

bankerella?

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 6, 2014

...life seems a little more dull after reading this...

Mar 6, 2014

I bet that's really you in the photo too

Mar 6, 2014

There are lot a of better resources out there for GMAT specific advice than this forum despite this being the b-school section of WSO. I'd suggest GMATclub.com for starters and any of the ancillary prep services such as Veritas or Manhattan GMAT. These would provide you with a much higher 'hit rate' in terms of answering questions/providing information on the exam because their sole purpose is to be a resource for the GMAT.

Outside of scoring highly on the GMAT, which there are numerous ways outlined on the sites of mention that are quite in-depth and proven to raise scores, the GMAT prep will really only help you score highly on the GMAT. The exam asks questions in a very specific way that may not necessarily be transferable to more practical uses; I'm thinking of Data Sufficiency questions most specifically here. The transfer I do see with the GMAT is its potential ability to enhance critical thinking skills with both numeric and verbal concepts. Never having to take a psychometric tests I don't know what they're composed of so if you could detail that I think you'd get a better answer. However, the GMAT tests heavily basic mathematics such as algebra, number properties, geometry, coordinate geometry, etc. basically anything you saw at the H.S. level. So if that type of material is on one of these exams the GMAT it may help.

Aside from psychometric exams and GMAT carryover if indeed it does have some, the other advantage I see to GMAT prep outside of scoring highly on the exam is in 'brainteasers' that you may get during interviews. Looking back on my interview process and the types of 'brainteasers' I've been asked, they're not actually brainteasers, but really logic based questions that build on certain mathematical concepts such as exponential expressions. GMAT math will help you here because it equips you with the basic tools to handle the math... you just have to provide the logic.

Hope this helps.

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'

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Mar 6, 2014

I haven't done this yet, but it may help. Try http://www.gmatpill.com. Supposedly, it's superior to other study methods since it helps you develop a pattern/method of studying (a plan of attack) depending on the type of question asked rather than merely practicing questions over and over without a method of raising your score.

Mar 6, 2014

Look up for inspiration,

Look down for desperation

look left and right for information

Mar 6, 2014

practice makes perfect

Mar 6, 2014

Study.

Mar 6, 2014

non-native speaker, scored 700+

1) take your first out of two practice GMAT CATs at mba.com

2) study:
Manhattan GMAT Strategy Guides
OG12

3) retake that SAME practice test at mba.com
-> the questions will be different this time around, because you'll have improved across the board

if you need additional quant:
Manhattan Advanced GMAT Quant
http://gmatclub.com/tests/ Math tests

if you need additional verbal:
Aristotle SC
Aristotle RC
PowerScore CR Bible

4) take the second of your two practice GMAT CATs at mba.com

5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGXzlRoNtHU&ob=av3e

Mar 6, 2014

What works for you? GMAT Pill worked for me, but your stylenmight be better suited to Kap or MGMAT.

Mar 6, 2014
Angus Macgyver:

What works for you? GMAT Pill worked for me, but your stylenmight be better suited to Kap or MGMAT.

What was your score? Thinking of using GMAT Pill.

Mar 6, 2014
TraderDaily:
Angus Macgyver:

What works for you? GMAT Pill worked for me, but your stylenmight be better suited to Kap or MGMAT.

What was your score? Thinking of using GMAT Pill.

High 700s. Didn't quite manage to hit 800, but on the whole, nothing to complain about.

I think GMAT Pill's good for people who still have a reasonable handle on English and Math, but still need a little extra something. If you're like... an engineer, or a BS Phys + JD, then the OG alone would prolly suffice. Or if you need more personalised attention, then just pony up for some MGMAT tutoring sessions.

Mar 6, 2014

GMATclub.com is phenomenal, then beatthegmat.com afterwards. PoetsandQuants will also have a few useful resources, but they're more application focused than test prep.

Mar 6, 2014

Nvmd

"Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them." - Bud Fox

Mar 6, 2014

i see alot of 700s, does anyone get 800?

The Four E's of investment
"The greatest Enemies of the Equity investor are Expenses and Emotions."- Warren Buffet

Mar 6, 2014
Comment

"Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them." - Bud Fox

Mar 6, 2014
Comment

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'