MBA

Top 3 tips to ace your online GMAT exam

SOURCE: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/AFP
Studying for the online GMAT examination is akin to taking a university-level course - students might spend several hours per week in the classroom, but will likely need to spend some 10 to 15 hours per week outside the class in preparation for an exam.


By Yasmin 

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If you’re not sure where to start with your online GMAT examination preparation, Manhattan Prep content and curriculum lead Stacey Koprince – who has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for over 15 years has some advice for you.

Koprince, who was speaking to U2B via a Zoom interview from Montreal, Canada has had former students go on to study at renowned institutions such as Columbia, Stanford, Wharton, and Harvard Business School.

She advises students to look up the average GMAT scores of their prospective graduate school before proceeding with some light study to familiarise themselves with the different types of questions on the exam and then taking a practice test.

This will help students identify their starting point and gauge how much work they need to put in to achieve a score that would help them enrol in their preferred business school.

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It may also be useful for students to obtain two sets of materials in preparation for the exam – one that will teach you how to get better and another that will allow you to practice these new skills that you’re learning.

“The best practice materials are the official guide materials from the test-makers – they’re the real questions,” she said. 

As test-makers don’t typically provide explanations – or, where they do give explanations, they’re not always easy to study from – she said test prep companies can offer students some relief in this aspect.

Many test prep companies also offer free materials, which students should take advantage of.

Alternatively, they can explore available books on GMAT to facilitate their studies. Students can also be strategic in their approach to studying by reflecting on how they study best – be it on their own, with their friends, or if they prefer to enrol in a class. 

“Most of the people that we tend to see are studying anywhere from two to six months, with around four months being the average. Our standard classes run nine weeks, and we usually tell people to plan to spend at least three weeks after the class is over to review everything before taking the real exam,” she explained.

Koprince notes, however, that many of their students are those who are striving for higher scores and for higher score increases, and may not represent the entire population. 

The hours you should be putting in to study for GMAT largely depends on the kind of score increase you’re looking to achieve. Students gunning for a 700 or above score but currently stand around 500 or 550 will indubitably have to put in much more time compared to a student who already has a benchmark score of 650.

Studying for the online GMAT examination is akin to taking a university-level course – students might spend several hours per week in the classroom, but will likely need to spend some 10 to 15 hours per week outside the class in preparation for an exam.

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Three tips for test-takers who are planning to take the online GMAT include:

1. Practice using the online whiteboard tool

Koprince opined that if she hadn’t taken the time to practice the online whiteboard tool, her score would have been disastrous.

“I’ve done five or six hours of practice before I went in, but I’ve taken this exam many times and I’ve been teaching it for a long time. So other people will probably almost certainly need more time than I did.”

2. Stretch when you can

Despite being a seasoned GMAT test-taker and teacher, Koprince admitted to feeling nervous prior to the test. There’s no break between the quantitative and verbal sections of the test; instead, there’s a short break after the verbal section, followed by the Integrated Reasoning section.

Koprince said spending over an hour hunched over her screen, not moving, while being tensed and stressed about the test led to tightness in her neck and shoulders, and a headache. 

“I realised it was because everything is on the screen, including the whiteboard, and I was never looking away from the screen,” she said, adding that she’s now advising her students to look up and down every 15 minutes or each time they check their timer to avoid a tension build-up.  

3. Keep an open mind and just practice!

Humans can learn and adapt to anything, notes Koprince. So while the at-home format varies from that at a testing centre, ensure you take some time practicing the at-home format and mimicking the real test conditions. 

“It’s about knowing what you need to do and giving yourself adequate time to practice,” she said.