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 is a full-time instructor for Kaplan Test Prep and he loves preparing GRE students for Test Day. The classroom is Lucas’ arena. When he cannot be found in one of Kaplan’s cage matches of learning, he is very likely dancing around DePaul University’s College of Commerce/Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago professing various courses offered by the Department of Management, up to and including monikers such as: “Managing for Effective and Ethical Organizational Behavior,” “Entrepreneurship Strategy,” “Strategic Managements and Analysis,” “Human Resource Management,” “Recruitment and Selection,” and “Foundations of Business Thought and Theory.” (Although that last one was cancelled just before the quarter started and he’s still not gotten over it.) Lucas spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, but hit the long road as soon as he was able. A world traveler with a currently expired passport, he has lived on and wandered around three continents with the expressed intention of finishing the job. He holds a BFA with a concentration in sculpture as well as an MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. When not challenging standardized tests to a duel or wondering how to corrupt the business students of America, Lucas can be found brewing delicious beers, riding-then-fixing-then-riding his motorcycle, hanging out with dogs, pretending he’s a good cook, and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world to have such a fantastic wife and endlessly amazing young son. He’s in Milwaukee now, but is in Chicago often. Email him anytime about anything at:

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