The Ultimate Guide to the GMAT: Tips, Tools, and Resources

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Posted on October 16th, 2008

Preparing to take the GMAT can be a nerve-racking experience, with hours spent memorizing vocabulary and practicing math problems. You can help give yourself an advantage for doing well on the GMAT by making use of the numerous resources that are out there. Many of them won't cost you a dime and can make a big difference in how you study and perform during the test. Here's a list we've compiled of some of these great resources as well as some helpful tips to get you started on the right track.

Study Tips

Give these tips a try while you're still in the preparatory stages.

  1. Start early. Just starting to study a week before you have to take the exam isn't going to do you any favors or really help you boost your score that much. Give yourself at least a few months to study slowly and thoroughly before the test day.
  2. Study the easy stuff first. While it is good to know how to do the tough stuff on the test, you should work on building your way up. The GMAT will give you problems based on your level and if you can't solve the easy ones quickly and correctly you're unlikely to see many truly hard ones.
  3. Focus on your weaknesses. If you know you really stink at geometry or can't understand grammar for the life of you then spend a little extra time on those areas to ensure you're as prepared as you can be for any questions on the test.
  4. Mix it up. Along those same lines, however, make sure you're not focusing too much on one aspect of the test. Give equal time to practicing for each section so there won't be any surprises when you're sitting down to do the real thing.
  5. Find out what you do know. It's hard to know where to focus your studies if you are unsure what you remember from school and still know really well. Spend some time going over practice problems to determine where your weaknesses and strengths are or just to help you learn how to organize and synthesize all the good information that's already in your brain.
  6. Find a method that works. Not everyone studies the same way most effectively. For some, flashcards will be perfect. For others, studying with a partner or a group may work the best. Figure out what helps you remember and learn the material the easiest and stick to it.
  7. Make the most of practice tests. While taking practice tests can be time consuming and tiring, there is no surer way to determine how you might actually perform on the real exam. Take at least one or two practice tests before heading into the GMAT to ensure you know what to expect.
  8. Know the test format. It may seem like a no-brainer, but knowing how the test is set up and how it will be administered is essential. If you've only been practicing out of books and you're taking the exam on the computer you may be thrown off, so spend some time learning about how the test will go, step-by-step.
  9. Create a strategy. You wouldn't attempt to build a house without a blueprint so why attempt to build your knowledge without a plan of attack? Spend some time figuring out what you want to study and how you want to study it to make the most of your time.
  10. Don't cram the night before the test. While it may not hurt to review a few flashcards or get a last-minute overview, don't stay up late trying to study the night before the exam. Instead, get some rest. Studies have shown that you'll actually remember more this way and do better on the test.
  11. Have a schedule and stick to it. Spend some time figuring out just how much time you want to dedicate to studying each day or week. Set up a schedule for yourself based on this desire and work as hard has you can to stick to it.

Test Taking Tips

If you're anxious about taking the test, go over these tips for some suggestions for keeping your cool come test day.

  1. Pace Yourself. When taking the GMAT you won't be doing yourself any favors if you rush through the questions without reading carefully or spend far too long on one or two questions so you don't have time for the others. Work to find a pace that allows you a happy medium and know just how much time you can afford to spend on each problem.
  2. Relax. If you're hyperventilating you're going to be spending more time concentrating on breathing than on the test so settle your nerves and calm down. Remember that even if you do absolutely horribly on the test the world is not going to end and you can take it again.
  3. Don't get hung up on mistakes. You may be a perfectionist in normal life, but acting that way on a test won't help you out. You're probably not going to get every single answer right and there will be problems that you simply don't know the correct answer to. Do not let this sidetrack your focus for future problems. Wipe the memory of the previous problem from your mind every time you move onto a new problem instead.
  4. Avoid guessing randomly. Unless you're racing to guess on answers in the last few minutes of your exam time, you really shouldn't completely guess on an answer. Most of the time you can eliminate one or two that you know aren't right and guess between a smaller number to give you a better chance of being right.
  5. Watch out for baited answers. The makers of these kinds of tests can be sneaky and provide a few answers that reflect commonly made errors or ideas that are somewhat similar. For this reason, ensure that you read questions carefully and get those simple calculations right.
  6. Take your time with the first few questions. The first few questions of each section on the GMAT are used to gauge the level you're at and determine the difficulty of the rest of the exam, so make sure to go through these carefully so you get questions that reflect how much you know. You can catch up later on by answering those easier questions right, but it's easier in the long run to get it right from the get-go.
  7. Use your scratch paper. The test provides you with scratch paper so make the most of it. Sketch out problems that you're having trouble with or use it to help you make clear concepts you're struggling with.
  8. Don't waste time reading directions. This isn't to say you shouldn't know the directions, but this is something that you should have already done BEFORE the test not something that you're doing as you're sitting in the test. Make it a point to know the directions for each section backwards and forwards before you ever show up to take the real test.
  9. Stay active, not passive. It's easy to just let your eyes glaze over and pick the answers that seem the most correct without much though but that's not the kind of attitude that will get you a great score. Keep your mind up and running as you're going through the test instead.
  10. Don't watch the clock obsessively. While it's a good idea to have some notion of how much time you have left, watching the clock like a hawk is just going to stress you out. Focus on the work you're doing an only check the clock periodically.
  11. Remember it will be over before you know it. While the hours it takes to go through the test may seem like an eternity, in reality it will be over before you know it and you can relax.

General Information

Learn the basics about what the GMAT is and how to take it from these sites.

  1. How the GMAT CAT Works: If you've never taken an exam on a computer before, learn how the computer adaptive test works and what important things you'll need to know about it that can help you to do better on the GMAT.
  2. MBA.com: Check out the official site for the GMAT to learn about the basics of signing up and how the test is put together.
  3. Graduate Management Admissions Council: This site is home to numerous resources about being an MBA student but can also provide a wealth of information about the GMAT as well.
  4. GMAT Test Structure: Learn just how the GMAT is going to be set up so you can study better for each part.
  5. GMAT Scoring Scale: Here you'll find information on how the GMAT is scored so you can understand what your score means.
  6. How to Sign Up to Take the GMAT: To take the test you first need to sign up for it. This step-by-step guide will help you to understand just what you need to do to get signed up.
  7. ETS.org: Want to sign up to take the GMAT and find helpful resources like practice exams? Pay a visit to this official site.
  8. GMAT Information: Check out this site to learn all the basics about how the GMAT works.
  9. What is the GMAT?: Want to go to radiography school but not quite sure just what the GMAT is? This PDF will give you the complete lowdown.
  10. GMAT Orientation: Get a great overview of the GMAT including what it will include, how much time you'll have and how it's scored from this site.
  11. Wikipedia GMAT Entry: Find out all the basics of the GMAT on this encyclopedia entry.

GMAT Strategies

Don't study or take the GMAT without a plan of attack. Use these sites to provide some guidance and advance planning instead.

  1. Top 5 Test Day Strategies: Learn some great ways to keep your focus and ensure you do as well as you're capable of doing on the test with these helpful strategies.
  2. GMAT Prep Plans: This site provides study plans for those with as much as a month to study and as little as a few days to maximize the effectiveness of studying.
  3. GMAT Strategy: Here you'll find some suggestions on how to prepare for the GMAT, what common mistakes are made and more from this site.
  4. Nova Test Prep GMAT Strategies: If you scroll down past the ads, you'll find some helpful strategies for the GMAT that can help you breeze through questions with confidence.
  5. Honing Your GMAT Strategy: Business Week provides some helpful suggestions on prepping for the GMAT no matter how much time you have to study.
  6. GMAT Prep Pointers: Learn some of the common pitfalls that affect people when they are studying or taking the GMAT and how you can avoid them.
  7. GMAT Test Taking Tips: This blog is home to a multi-post guide to some ways that you can help yourself on the GMAT.
  8. 10 Ways to Crack the GMAT: Here you can find some helpful tips and links to resources that can give you some assistance studying for the test.
  9. Prep Strategies for the GMAT: Check out this site for some interesting GMAT stats and tips to help you stay calm and focused while taking the test.
  10. Top Tips for the Test: This site provides some basic dos and don'ts for taking the GMAT that can help make a big difference come test day.
  11. GMAT Test Taking Strategies: Here you'll find four big strategies that you can consider using when taking the GMAT to help boost your score.

Helpful Tools and Resources

Whether you're looking for others to share the experience with or just need some helpful tools and pointers, check out these sites.

  1. Beat the GMAT: This forum provides tons of information on each portion of the test, answers to common questions, ways to meet up and much more.
  2. GMAT Club: Aspiring MBA students from around the world can join this club and get help and resources to take the GMAT from this site.
  3. Are Your GMAT Scores Competitive?: Check out this site to find out if your score on the GMAT will help you to get into a top business school.
  4. GMAT Hacks: This blog provides some tips on getting discounts on GMAT study materials as well as some tips and resources to help you do well.
  5. GMATTutor: Need some resources to help you study? You'll find just about anything you could want on this site.
  6. LearnHub GMAT Prep: Visit this hub to join thousands of other members who are taking advantage or articles and study tools available through the site.
  7. Last 14 Days of Study: So you're down to the last two weeks before your exam. Check out this site to find out how you can make the most of that time.
  8. Attacking Each Section of the GMAT: Go through the GMAT section by section to learn what to expect and get some pointers on what to look out for in each.
  9. GMAT Meetup: Use this online tool to find GMAT study groups and classes in your area so you don't have to go it alone.
  10. ScoreChase: Commune with others who are studying for the GMAT on this site by participating in the forum. You'll find answers to some common questions and some tips for studying.
  11. GMAT and MBA Blog: This blog can keep you updated with the latest news for those getting their MBA and some study tips and tools for those planning to take the GMAT.

Study Guides and Tools

Check out these lists, quizzes and flashcards to help you get an awesome score and gain admission into the best online colleges.

  1. English Test.net: For those who need a little extra attention for the verbal portion of the test, check out this site. You'll find loads of quizzes and vocab exercises.
  2. Business Week GMAT Preparation: Take the advice of Business Week and get your GMAT study off the ground with the tips and tools offered here.
  3. GMAT Flashcard Study System: These flashcards aren't free, but if you want to sign up with this site you can get access to a collection of professionally produced flashcards to aid your study.
  4. GMAT Flashcards: Take advantage of these flashcards to study for certain portions, especially those related to math, of the GMAT.
  5. GMAT Practice Tests: This site offers not only practice tests but a wide range of helpful study guides so you'll know what to expect on every section of the test.
  6. GMAT Vocabulary Builder: Improve your vocabulary skills for the GMAT and beyond with this site.
  7. GMAT Vocab Lists: If you need some guidance as to what vocab words might show up on the GMAT then check out this forum for some suggested words you should know.
  8. Quizlet GMAT Flashcards and Study Tools: Here you can find flashcards and an array of other study tools to help you get through your study sessions more productively.
  9. GMAT Flashcards: If you find flashcards to be a helpful study tool then look no further than this site which has a great collection of pre-made GMAT flashcards.
  10. MBA Podcaster: This site has a great collection of podcasts for those already earning their MBAs as well as prospective students. There's even a special collection of GMAT podcasts that you can listen to for some additional test prep.
  11. Mark Rice's GMAT Study Guide and Notes: Want to learn from the experience of someone who's been there before you? Then give this site a look. You'll find all kinds of helpful study and test-taking tips.

Preparatory Courses and Products

Get some great advice and information on what you need to do well on the GMAT through the offerings of these companies.

  1. The Princeton Review: This company offers classes to those planning on taking the GMAT. Check out their site to see where the classes are that are closest to your hometown.
  2. Kaplan: Get personalized attention and help from the classes offered by Kaplan. You can sign up online to find courses offered in your area.
  3. Manhattan GMAT: Residents of New York can take advantage of this prep service which can offer personalized tutoring and courses to boost your scores.
  4. Veritas GMAT Prep: With sites all over the US and the world, this company can be a big help to prepping for the GMAT no matter where you live. Check out on-site courses or an online alternative.
  5. WinGMAT: Get some help studying for the GMAT through this online program. You can sign up to use it for as little as $3.99 a day.
  6. GMAT CAT.com: Check out this site to get access to materials and guidance that can help you score better on the GMAT.
  7. UNC Charlotte Exam Prep: Those who live near the University of North Carolina-Charlotte can sign up for a prep course offered through the university. If you don't live in the area, check with colleges in your area to see if they offer similar services.
  8. GMAT Secrets: This site offers a specially designed study guide that aims to help you do better on the GMAT.
  9. PowerScore: You can sign up for classes with this company and get advice and information from instructors that can help you do better on the test.
  10. GMAT Simulator: If you want to get the authentic experience of taking the exam more than just with the free exams that the official test site offers then consider purchasing this program.
  11. Integrated Learning: If you think you might need some one-on-one tutoring to help you out with prepping for the GMAT, you'll find it on this site.

Sample Tests and Questions

Make sure you're prepared for the real deal by taking these practice tests ahead of time.

  1. Test Prep Review: Check out this site for helpful test practice, flashcards, and a study guide.
  2. 800 Score.com: Want to score an 800 on your GMAT? Learn how to get close or on the mark with some guidance from the practice exams on this site.
  3. Kaplan Practice GMAT: Kaplan offers courses to help you do better on the GMAT as well as these free online practice exams.
  4. GMAT Test Prep: Here you can test yourself on the verbal, quantitative and analytical portions of the GMAT.
  5. Syvum GMAT Test Preparation Exercises: This test prep company offers some free online resources in the form of these helpful test questions to get you in good shape for the real thing.
  6. Princeton Review Practice Test: Even if you're not taking courses with Princeton Review you can use their online tests and questions to practice.
  7. GMAT Test Questions: Here you'll find sample questions that will test you on every section of the exam to ensure you're ready.
  8. 4Tests GMAT Practice: This site offers a few verbal and math questions for you to get some practice as well as links to other online exams.
  9. Peterson's Free GMAT Practice Test: This timed practice test will help you get an idea of how you'll perform on the GMAT when you actually take it.

GMAT Study Books

If you want to study for the test on your own or need a supplement for a course, check out these helpful publications.

  1. The Official Guide for GMAT Review: The Graduate Management Admissions Council puts out this publication which offers loads of practice questions, explanations of why you're right or wrong, free computer-based tests, and much more.
  2. EZ GMAT Math Strategies: Focus on the math portion of the exam with this book, with helpful advice on how to study and make the most of your time during the quantitative part of the test.
  3. Kaplan GMAT Premier Program: Study for the GMAT using this book. You'll get practice questions and exams to test your skills as well as some test-taking strategies.
  4. Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review: With this book you'll be able to focus your studies on the verbal section and have access to numerous practice questions, some of which might even show up on your actual exam.
  5. Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review: If you're struggling with the math portion, consider checking out this book. You'll be able to go through hundreds of practice problems and access your strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Cracking the GMAT: This book comes complete with a DVD that gives tutorials as well as hundreds of prep questions, practice exams and more from the Princeton Review.
  7. Kaplan GMAT 800: If you've already mastered the basics, check out this book to get access to some of the toughest questions you may be asked on the GMAT.
  8. The Ultimate Math Refresher for the GRE, GMAT and SAT: Review some basic and advanced math concepts through this book so you'll be prepped on all fronts for the GMAT.
  9. Barron's GMAT: Barron's puts out this GMAT study guide that contains practice questions and study strategies.
  10. GMAT for Dummies: Part of the popular Dummies series, this book breaks down how to study for and do well on the GMAT in a way that's easy to understand and apply.
  11. The Ultimate Verbal and Vocabulary Builder for the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT and LSAT: Check out this book to get some extra help with the verbal part of the exam. You'll get helpful advice on building up your vocabulary and learning the basics of correct grammar.

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