New to GMAT Prep: Where do I Start?

Hi all,

I graduated this past December from Rutgers University with a 3.6 GPA and majored in finance and minored in economics

I recently decided I'd like to pursue a Masters in Finance at a top-ranked university to rebrand myself and help me with full-time recruiting. After doing my research, I learned that the majority of these programs require the GMAT and a score of 680+, which takes months to prepare, as I was told. Most of these MSF programs have final application round deadlines some time early/mid-May.

For now, I purchased the official 2022 GMAT guide from Amazon and plan to read that this week and do a practice test this upcoming weekend to see what my strengths and weaknesses are.

• How do I best prep in 2-3 months?
• What would be an ideal study plan for me?

  • Do you guys recommend I invest in a Kaplan boot camp course (2 months long) or any other course and then take the GMAT to increase my chances of obtaining a high score, or should I do another method?

I look forward to your comments/advice. I am beyond worried at the moment and don't want to wait another year to apply to these top programs. I am committed to prepping as hard as possible and am open to any ideas you guys may have. Thank you!

Comments (8)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
3d 

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3d 
D_J_S, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I took the GMAT under a similar timeframe. If you are set on applying to these MFIN programs due in May, you want to take your GMAT in April. Ideally, you study well and crush the GMAT your first go-around, but if some unlucky hiccups happen on your test day it is nice to have a 2+ week buffer so you can retake. 

1) Take the 1st free online test provided by the GMAT website, I wouldn't use the book. The GMAT website is the exact format you will face when you take the test for real. 

2) If your aim is the cutoff and you hit the 680 cutoff I wouldn't recommend purchasing a course, especially on such short notice. The GMAT prep book plus the advanced review materials you can also buy should be enough to improve your score (just) enough that you have a buffer. If you score well above then even better. If you score well below (say, 600) then perhaps it is worth doing a boot camp considering how short of a time you have to prepare. Additionally, it may be beneficial for you to hire a private tutor 1-2x before your test date. They would be able to be more specific to your needs than a boot camp. 

3) The breakdown of questions broadly is "basic math" "data sufficiency" "reading comprehension" "critical reasoning" and "sentence correction." If you crush one of these five areas on the exam consistently don't spend time studying it. As good as it'll make you feel, in 2 months your goal is to learn what you are worst at and do everything you can to guarantee an improvement and trust the other pieces to fall into place on test day. My study plan was an hour a day and taking the 6 official exams available online every other week, taking 2 of them in the final week before the test. My blind score was already competitive for my needs, so I was mostly just doing specific drills on the few questions I missed each time. I found that the official guide plus the advanced reviews were enough. I have friends that used the manhattan prep tools with some success. I don't know much about Kaplan/Princeton. 

  • 5
  • Associate 2 in CorpFin
3d 

I went with Target Test Prep for quant. Really liked the program / structure. I think they were in the process of adding verbal at the time but this was 3-4 years ago. Used Kaplan for verbal, I think. Did the job. I ended up punting the business school idea when COVID hit. 
 

edit: realized I used Manhattan for verbal

  • 1
  • 1
  • Investment Analyst in HF - Other
3d 

Seconding TTP for quant with the warning that if you do the non-accelerated track on their guidance, it will take an absurd amount of time to complete (3-5 months depending on how much you can study per day). I would get that and go through all the lessons, but only do one chapter test for medium / hard level questions. Then at the end of the lessons go back to the chapters where you feel less confident to finish the remaining chapter tests

3d 
TX1123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I used the manhattan prep books and they were plenty sufficient for me. The pack comes with a few practice tests available online which I felt were a bit harder than the real thing. I'd agree with their recommendation that the advanced quant book is unnecessary unless you're already near the top of quant (I wasn't). I'm sure the other prep book sets are relatively similar. I think the best piece of advice was just to make sure you're actually taking full practice tests as though you are taking the real thing, not just working problems. It's a long test and takes some getting used to.

  • 1
1d 
jenkinscooper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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wise_monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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