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How to Begin Your GMAT (or GRE) Prep

The Bell Curves team offers the following tips for beginning GMAT or GRE prep.

Develop A Plan

Applying to business school is usually an 18-24 month process from initial decision to completed application. Each component of the process should have its own mini-plan to guide you to completion. For the GMAT or GRE that plan should look something like this:

  1. Take an officially-licensed practice test.
  2. Determine your target schools and research the score ranges for those schools.
  3. Start self-study.
  4. Research GMAT/GRE test preparation help options (companies, courses, tutoring, etc.).
  5. Complete your test preparation course or tutoring.
  6. Take GMAT/GRE
  7. Resume studying (if necessary)
  8. Consider retaking GMAT/GRE (if necessary)

Take A Practice Test

An initial practice test provides three key pieces of information: where you are currently scoring and how competitive your score is in relation to typical applicants to your target schools; what the test format is and what the question types are; and areas of strength and weakness so you can better target your preparation and studying. DO NOT fall into the trap of putting off an initial practice test because of fears of scoring poorly. It is a practice test, not the real thing. And it is immensely helpful in making the most of your prep.

Adopt a Business-minded Perspective

Consider your GMAT or GRE preparation an investment in yourself, your brand, and your future. Most of that investment is going to involve time, but it will also likely involve money. Almost everyone will benefit from investing in professional, expert instruction or guidance on the GMAT or GRE. Considering that an MBA might increase your lifetime earnings by an estimated $1,500,000 or more, an investment of one or two thousands dollars is well worth the return.

Choose the Right Prep

Each company or test prep professional is unique. Do adequate research to ensure you’re finding the best fit for your learning style and needs. Take advantage of sample classes or promotional consulting hours to get a sense of how a particular company or individual approaches the material and the test. Ask yourself what kind of support they offer students? What are the additional intangibles beyond just the course or tutoring? Does that company teach you how think differently and approach the test or is their approach just rote memorization and repetitive practice? It’s usually a big investment, but as with all investments, research will help you invest wisely.

Have a Plan…but be Flexible

Unanticipated events always arise. Having a plan does wonders for streamlining prep and staying on task, but don’t become too set on any one path. Have a plan and modify as needed.

Good Luck!

-The Bell Curves Team

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