Doing well on the GMAT is a top concern for every GMAT test-taker. After all, a high GMAT score shows admissions committees that you’re a strong student who could add a lot to their MBA programs. But for many, doing well on the GMAT can seem impossible or, at the very least, complicated.
Don’t worry! In this guide, I’ll teach you how to get a good GMAT score by giving you the five most important tips to keep in mind as you’re preparing for the test.
What Does Doing Well on the GMAT Mean for You?
The most important thing to keep in mind about doing well on the GMAT is that “doing well” means something different for each and every test taker.
For some test-takers, getting a score of 750+ is the only way to do well on the GMAT. For others, merely making an improvement on their score from the last time they took the GMAT means that they’ve done well.
Before you even start preparing for the GMAT, you should define what doing well will look like for you, by setting a realistic goal score for yourself. A good GMAT goal score is one that will help you get into the business schools you’re applying to and is achievable for you (e.g., a score that doesn’t require you to improve by 200 points from your baseline score).
Having a realistic goal score ensures that you’re on track for getting into the schools you’re interested in. It also provides a solid benchmark that you can use to measure your GMAT progress with. For more information about how to set a goal score, check out our guide on good GMAT scores.
Ultimately, doing well on the GMAT means that you’ll be able to get into the business schools of your choice. In the next section, I’ll talk more about how to get a good GMAT score that’ll boost your chances of acceptance.
How to Do Well on the GMAT: 6 Most Important Tips
As a test-taker, you’re likely wondering how to get a good GMAT score. Well, the best way to get a good GMAT score is to put in the time and effort to study effectively. By studying effectively, you’ll increase your mastery of the content covered on the GMAT.
Instead of offering you easy gimmicks for test day that don’t really work, I’m going to tell you about the six things you should be doing to prepare for the GMAT. You’ll need to employ these tips well before you actually show up and take the GMAT, but they can help you make the most of your study time to really improve your score.
#1: Make a Study Plan
My number one tip for how to do well on the GMAT is to put in the time and effort to study consistently and study well. Let’s break down what that means.
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The first part of this tip is to study consistently. When preparing for the GMAT, you’ll need to create a comprehensive study plan that takes you right up to test day. This test plan should include the dates, times, and content focuses of the study sessions you’ll put in.
A study plan outlines what you’re going to study and when you’re going to study it. A study plan is helpful so that you know exactly when you’re going to spend time on the GMAT, so that you’re not struggling to carve out space to work from your normal routine.
A study plan is also useful because it makes sure that you’re spending enough time on all the material covered during the GMAT. If you study without a plan, you may spend fifty hours studying geometry, while completing forgetting that idioms also show up on the GMAT and contribute just as much to your total score.
Having a study plan also means that you want to prioritize quality over quantity. Instead of studying for fifteen scattered minutes every single day, study for three solid hours twice a week. The more value you place on your study time, the more value you’ll get out of it.
#2: Focus on Your Weaknesses
As you prepare for the GMAT, you want to spend more time focusing on your areas of weakness than on your areas of strength. You can figure out which content areas you’re doing well on, and which you’re struggling with, by reviewing your mistakes as you practice. Looking at the answers that you got wrong will tell you what kinds of questions are giving you trouble. Then, you can spend more time practicing those areas. You’ll see the biggest score improvements if you spend your time and effort going over areas that you’re weak in, because you’ll be able to immediately gain points by getting those types of questions correct.
#3: Use High-Quality Practice Materials
The third most important tip for how to do well on the GMAT is to use the highest quality practice materials that you can find during your prep. You should look for resources that successfully emulate the style, format, and content you’ll see on the GMAT.
The highest quality practice materials are the practice tests and questions released by GMAC on the GMATPrep Software and in the official guides to the GMAT. These practice tests and questions are high quality because they are real, retired questions from past GMATs, which means that they are the most accurate representations of the kinds of questions you’ll actually encounter on test day.
You’ll want to use as many real GMAT questions as possible in your prep. When taking practice tests, make sure you take the official practice tests before working on any produced by a third party. The same rule applies to practice questions.
While the GMAT official guides and GMATPrep software are great resources for finding real practice questions, they’re not great at providing comprehensive explanations of content. In order to actually learn the material that you’ll encounter on the GMAT, you’ll want to supplement your prep with high-quality instructive materials, such as books or an app.
There are hundreds of GMAT practice materials out there, and not all of them are high quality. A high quality GMAT book or app is one that teaches the material you’ll see on the GMAT in a clear, accurate, and effective way. For more information on how to choose the resources for your GMAT prep, check out our guides to the best GMAT books and the best GMAT online prep.
#4: Take Regular Practice Tests
Taking regular practice tests should be an important part of your GMAT study plan. In fact, you should start your GMAT studying by taking a full-length practice test in one sitting, with no distractions. You can use the score you earn on this practice test as a baseline measurement of how you’re performing on the GMAT. From there, you can set a realistic goal score and track your progress as you continue to study.
While you’re preparing for the GMAT, you should take practice tests at regular intervals (e.g., every two weeks or every month, depending on how long your study schedule lasts). Taking regular practice tests is important for a few reasons.
First, practice tests help you track your progress. The way you’ll perform when taking the full, three and a half hour long GMAT may be very different than the way you perform when working on a set of 25 practice questions in isolation. Taking a practice test shows you how you’re doing and is the most accurate way to predict your actual score on test day.
Practice tests also help to build your stamina. As I mentioned, the GMAT is an extremely long and arduous test. By taking full-length practice tests in one sitting, you’ll get used to the length of the test and be able to pace yourself better throughout. You’ll also build up your stamina. Think of practicing for the GMAT like training for a marathon.
Finally, taking regular practice tests helps you make adjustments to your prep. You’ll be able to analyze your results to see what areas you’re improving on, and which are still giving you trouble.
#5: Analyze Your Mistakes
Creating a personalized GMAT study plan is the best way that you can target your prep for your own strengths and weaknesses as a test-taker. It’s important to note that your strengths and weaknesses will often change as you approach test day. That’s why analyzing your weaknesses often by reviewing questions you got wrong is an important strategy for doing well on the GMAT.
You should analyze your mistakes every time you practice for the GMAT. After you complete a set of practice problems, look at the questions you got wrong and figuring out what you misunderstood and did incorrectly.
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As you’re practicing, make sure that you keep an eye for content areas that you’re consistently struggling with. Look for trends in your work. Are you consistently missing questions about triangles or percentages? Is the integrated reasoning section always tripping you up?
Use the trends you see on your practice tests to make adjustments to your GMAT study plan. Your GMAT study plan isn’t finite; you’ll constantly be making slight adjustments to it as you go along based on the areas that you need more help in and the areas that you’ve already mastered.
#6: Get Help When You Need It
This final tip is the most difficult for many test-takers, since it can require time and money. However, getting the help that you need to master a part of the GMAT that’s consistently giving you trouble will go a long way towards improving your score and making your overall GMAT preparation experience more successful and enjoyable.
If you simply can’t master a particular part of the GMAT, consider hiring a tutor for a few hours to help you. If you have a solid idea of what you’ll need help on, the tutor will be able to focus on those specific areas, meaning you’ll get the most bang for your buck in terms of score improvement.
If you really don’t have the funds to hire a tutor, you can get help in a number of other ways. Consider finding a study buddy at your college or workplace. Chances are, they have different strengths and weaknesses as a test taker than you do. You can also ask for help on forums like Beat the GMAT or GMATClub. Every day, hundreds of test takers post to these forums, looking for free advice. The forums themselves are populated by different kinds of people: current test-takers looking for advice, representatives from admissions programs, representatives from test prep companies, expert tutors, high scorers, and more.
Review: How to Do Well on the GMAT
Doing well on the GMAT is all about preparation. In this guide, I taught you how to do well on the GMAT by giving you the six most important tips to keep in mind as you’re studying for the GMAT.
There are no quick and easy tricks for how to get a good GMAT score. Instead, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to study well in the weeks leading up to your test date.
Looking for more tips about how to do well on the GMAT? In our guide to the most effective GMAT strategies, we break down the tips you need to know to master each section of the GMAT. You’ll get more information about how to maximize the effectiveness your prep, as well as section-specific tips that’ll boost your quant and verbal scores.
Ready to craft your own GMAT study plan? You should start by consulting our sample GMAT study plans. In this guide, we offer you four sample GMAT study plans to fit your score goal and time needs. By using these plans as a template for your own study plan, you’ll be able to create a customized study plan that adequately covers every part of the GMAT.
Are you getting close to test day? In our guide to what to bring to the GMAT, we’ll break down everything you need for the test, from essential to nice-to-have. It’s important to have everything you need on test day so that you can take the GMAT on time without running into any unforeseen complications.