How to get ready for the GMAT

November 10, 2012
Lucas Weingarten

Prepping for the GMAT is tough.  Often, people underestimate the time and work necessary for GMAT success.  Even when a test prepper does lay out a sufficient runway and exploits the highest quality test prep materials available and utilizes those materials consistently and effectively, when test day finally arrives that prepper might still not feel ready to sit for the exam.  If the students has been regularly taking practice tests between hard-working days at the study table, it is easy to tell if test day will go the way it needs to go.

At this point, the student has two options: take the GMAT and hope for the best, or, push the test date and continue studying.

Assume choice 1: Take the GMAT and hope for the best.  It becomes very clear for everyone who seriously prepares for the GMAT that hope does not yield a strong GMAT score.  Instead, a GMAT score is derived from the work you put in.  It is absolutely true that people can work very hard yet still not see the level of progress they’d like or need.  After all, you can swing a golf club the wrong way 100 times and it will still be wrong on the 101st.  Even so, if the student has equipped themselves with the best GMAT prep resources around, scoring well on the test does not come easily, and one can certainly not expect a magical 80-point gain on test day just because that’s what they want.

Assume choice 2: Push the test date and continue studying.  No one wants to do this.  They registered to take the exam on a specific day for various reasons most which are likely very sound.  In addition to the annoyance of altering set plans, moving the exam forward means it will be part of your life for longer and if the GMAT does nothing else, it definitely looms large, and a rescheduled test date also comes with a $50 penalty.  None of that is good.

However, every admissions officer you can find will say the same thing.  “Present your best self.”  If fifty bucks buys you another two weeks, three weeks, even a month or more to really buckle down and make significant score progress then it’s worth it.

Last night after class, a student starts our conversation with this: “I need seventy more points on the GMAT than I got yesterday on the practice test I took for one of my Official Test Day Experiences.  Is it possible to make that gain in the two-and-a-half weeks I have left before I sit for the real thing?”

“Is it possible?  Um… sure.  Is it easy?  Not even remotely.  Is it likely?  All things considered, including the fact that you have a life that will continue to march on despite that you are trying to prep for the GMAT, no, it is not likely.”

I continue, “What happens if you don’t take the exam in a couple weeks?  Are we up against application deadlines here?”

“Kinda… Well, not hard up against them.  I’m looking at January 15th as my drop dead date, but I really want to get the GMAT out of the way so I can focus on the rest of the application; particularly the essays.”

“I understand all that, I really do.  However, looking at the score report you just showed me and considering all you hav going on in your life outside of this GMAT business, how would you feel if I doubled your remaining prep time before test day?”

“Oh gosh.  It would feel great.  It would remove a lot of stress.”

“Some things about the GMAT experience are out of our control.  But one thing we have at least some control over is when we take the exam and what we do before that time comes.  Give yourself that gift.  Turn two-and-a-half weeks into five.”

With tears of relief she replied, “OK.”


Lucas Weingarten Lucas Weingarten teaches students how to beat the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for Kaplan Test Prep and is proud to have earned “elite instructor” status. Lucas writes extensively for Kaplan’s GMAT blog, and in addition to the GMAT and business school as primary subject matter, he regularly explores topics within higher education, economic systems, sustainability, and current events. Lucas spent his formative years in North Carolina and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, though he has not yet found the part of the world wherein to bury his roots. He has an MBA with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and finance from DePaul University in Chicago and is fortunate to have secured an adjunct teaching position there out of the department of management. Family, friends, and a seemingly endless stream of new hobbies keep Lucas busy and happy outside of the classroom. You can reach out any time by email ( or through the comments thread after his blog posts.

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