How you did it: prepping for the GMAT or GRE

prepping for GMAT and GRE

A few weeks ago, we asked whether those of you who applied to bschool did so by prepping for the GMAT or the GRE, and how you made it happen. The highly scientific poll run on Instagram yielded that 85% of you took the GMAT, while 15% went with the GRE. We all sweat studying for the GMAT or GRE; it’s a significant part of the MBA application. Some people are great test-takers, and some of us need more time to focus and prepare. Below is a compilation of some of the resources and programs suggested, along with your lessons learned. Keep reading and let us know what you’ve experienced!

resources to help prep for the GMAT or GRE

The main piece of test advice I always give to anyone thinking about bschool is: take the test as soon as you’re interested in business school (the closer to undergrad, the better). Exam scores are good for five (5) years, so take them when you’re not too far out of undergrad (while you’re basically a professional test-taker). It’s not the end of the world if you take it later on, but getting back into student mode “hurts” a little bit less.

Keep things in perspective

Another important thing to note is that the exam is just one piece of the equation, and you never know what schools are looking for in candidates when forming their incoming class. As our friend @boohbear15 summed up, don’t let a “low” score prevent you from applying: “always apply!” While the majority of applicants take the GMAT, more and more we see the GRE being accepted by business schools. In the past we’ve heard people advise that in order to be taken seriously, you want to take the GMAT–but we have been chatting directly with schools and Admissions Commitees (AdComs), about how they *really* see applicants who take the GRE as opposed to the GMAT, and they really do consider both to be equals these days (more on that to come).

In an Instagram Live hosted by Danielle DeShields, Director of the Moelis Advance Access Program at Wharton (@whartonmbaadmissions), she tackled the concern head-on, advising that students taking the GRE won’t be seen differently, while stressing the importance of building out your entire application. Make sure you’re taking the test that enables you to do your best and give yourself enough time to prep and really crush it. Then figure out how it fits in with the other parts of your application; the process is going to be competitive, but AdComs take a holistic approach in evaluating candidates. Make sure you’re crafting your story in a way that helps you really shine.

How you did it: your tips and program recs

We compiled your specific tips and advice to study for the GMAT or GRE, to assist and inspire our fellow aspiring MBAs. Let me know what you’d add to the list! One or more of the below links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

@annieag3 told us that a friend shared some online books with her, and said, “repeat, repeat, repeat the test,” and “keep track of time…” to understand how you’re progressing in all aspects of the test as you prepare.

@pintsizedfresh recommended Orion, and said, “Pace yourself and find a program tailored to you! (Still studying but seeing improvements…)”

@thework_around, @daniischenone and @margiemay_ used Manhattan Prep.
@margiemay_ loved that “They genuinely care about you succeeding!”
@daniischenone said that it took “Studying 3 nights a week PLUS full days on Sat/Sun” but Manhattan GMAT Prep and Starbucks got her through it.

@beckileela recommended Magoosh and Veritas Prep, local college classes, and the Official GMAT guide. Her biggest takeaway is: “score alone won’t get you in. Make sure that resume is on point.”

@trillMBAshow offered this great advice: “Are you a visual learner or auditory learner? Visual: focus on a practice test. Auditory: Take a prep class.” Definitely take a minute to understand the kind of learner you are!

@hey_emilyhuynh recommended free Kaplan videos and resources; after being stumped by data sufficiency problems for a bit, she watched their free online videos and attended free classes online to learn the strategy for solving those types of problems (how to approach them and not solve certain Qs to make time for harder ones).

woman in a library studying for the GMAT or GRE

There’s no one way…

We’ll continue sharing more GMAT & GRE resources and helping you figure out what the best approach is for your own exams and applications. A really good takeaway is that there’s no one-size fits all approach. Even schools are realizing that; it’s great that many will take the GMAT or GRE, so you can really play to your strengths.

As @trillMBAshow described, it’s worth taking the time to figure out what kind of learner you are, to get the most out of whatever program or resource(s) you choose. It’s also a good idea to ask friends who have been in your shoes, who are similar to you in work or studying style, to understand what studying was like for them, and what kind of results they had.

Finally, don’t let yourself get too stressed or discouraged by a low score on a practice exam. Give yourself enough time for studying for the GMAT or GRE: prepare and get comfortable, without feeling a time crunch. Put in the time, but make sure you’re also building in “non-study” time into your schedule; take time to decompress, reflect on your progress, and tweak your plan if necessary. You’ve got this!

Did you take the GMAT or GRE to get into business school? What about the Executive Assessment (more on that when we talk about Executive MBAs)? Are you currently studying now? What are your favorite study resources and tips to prepare? What advice would you offer to test-takers who will soon be in your shoes? Let us know and we’ll share more here or in our next piece!


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