It's been great seeing the Class of 2009 bloggers beginning to post! I've also received a handful of e-mails and thought I'd share some Q&A's. (Note: My answers may be biased towards my own experiences.)
Q: I have just started my GMAT prep and am confused about how to proceed.
To begin tackling the GMAT:
- Familiarize yourself with the test format. Two essays, the verbal and math sections - how much time each, how many questions each, what types of questions are given, etc.
- Then take a practice test. Take a free test.
- See how you score. Where are your trouble areas? Now you know where to focus most of your study time.
- The best book to use is the Official Guide. It contains real questions from past GMAT exams. Any question that you miss, take your time to really understand the correct answers. There are common "types" of questions that will appear repetitively on the test.
- Register for the test: http://www.mba.com and use the test date to motivate you to study.
We get restless because: 1) you just want the test to be over with, 2) you are becoming more scared and excited of the actual outcome, and 3) you can't wait to be knee-deep in the actual applications. :-)
Everyone has different study methods that work for her, but a couple things that may help are:
- Pace yourself. Don't try to cram so much studying in one sitting! This becomes overwhelming. Some people frantically do practice tests one after another. I gave myself 3 months of study time and tackled one practice test per week. The rest of the week I would do practice problems, slowing down to carefully pick through my trouble areas.
- Set goals. To get through the entire Official Guide book aim to finish 30 problems every day or whatever number you choose. For the problems you miss, make sure you understand WHY the solutions are correct.
- Do you get nervous taking tests? If you're anything like me, I may sing beautifully during a rehearsal, but my voice croaks and my knees shake during the actual performance. Often they tell performers to pretend the audience is naked so the funny image helps them relax. If you're nervous on tests, tell yourself, "There's nothing to worry about. I can do this! I will ace this test!" Repeat this to yourself aloud. If you freak out over each wrong answer, you'll just worry and stress out more until you can't focus (and then careless mistakes are made). Find a way that helps you relax before each practice test. I think more clearly when I'm calmer.
- Breathe. If you're mind is racing and your palms start to sweat - take one deep breath in and let it out slowly. Take a couple more if you need to. Those 10 seconds you spend calming yourself down is nothing compared to the 75 minutes you have to do all the problems.
- If you still can't focus when you're studying. Put it down. Take a break. Go out and watch a movie, and then come back later with a clear mind ready to study.
Yes, start researching schools now. On GMAT test day, you can select 5 schools to send your score reports to for free. Take advantage of this by walking into the test knowing which schools you're *hoping* to apply to.
For now, put most of your time into studying for the GMAT. I aimed to take the test once and score above 700. (Fortunately, this happened.) In the meantime, do keep an eye out for when schools post: 1) 2006-2007 deadlines and 2) next year's application. (Some essays questions may change year to year.) Also, start brainstorming on the common essay questions:
- Why an MBA? Why now?
- Long-term & short-term career goals?
- Why school X? -- For each school you apply to.
- Leadership experience and something you learned from it.
- Teamwork experience and something you learned from it.
I leave you with some GMAT links:
- Test-Magic: http://www.urch.com/forums/gmat/
- GMAT Club: http://www.gmatclub.com/phpbb/index.php
- Beat the GMAT!: http://www.beatthegmat.com/
- 4 GMAT: http://mba-forum.4gmat.com/