While you are preparing for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and hope to get into the good graces of the admissions team of your dream business school, it’s easy to get carried away with so much information available.
To set the record straight, we at UnimyPrep have decided to debunk five of the most common GMAT myths doing the rounds around the world.
Myth #1: The GMAT Quant section is really tough.
It is not, but only if you know the basics. The fact is that you will never have to solve problems that require more than a basic grasp of quantitative concepts. The GMAT Quant section is not designed to test your knowledge of advanced mathematics, but your abilities to analyze and solve problems.
If you have a solid understanding of the branches of mathematics listed below, you will do fine.
- Arithmetic: multiplication, division, fractions, etc.
- Algebra: equations, inequalities, sequences, functions, etc.
- Geometry: angles, lines, circles, etc.
- Word problems: turning real-world situations into math problems
If you believe that you need to brush up on these basic math skills, maybe you first need to create a systematic plan to master these concepts.
Check out: Practical Strategies for GMAT Quantitative
Myth #2: I’ve always been a top student, so I will crush the GMAT.
The GMAT is not an intelligence test. Being naturally more intelligent (as measured by IQ) doesn't necessarily mean you'll do better than someone with a lower IQ. The GMAT requires a good deal of preparation. Test takers need to understand the structure of the test, timing, question types, how the scoring works, etc.
Underestimating the GMAT would be a major mistake. A test taker who did just that wrote in one of GMAT Club’s forums: “I underestimated the GMAT. I have learnt a lesson, the hard way. My program at the university was heavily quantitative and I thought math was my thing. I was wrong. It turned out that being good at math does not mean you will get a high quant score, and being a native speaker does not mean you will get a good verbal score.”
Myth #3: Taking several attempts to get a good score is bad for my application.
Schools vary in their approach towards candidates who have needed several attempts to achieve the required score. If you really want to know if this is an important factor for the admissions team of your target school, you can ask them. In fact, the admissions officers may interpret your perseverance as a positive quality.
Crystal Grant, former head of admissions at Imperial College Business School in London, says: “At Imperial, we never penalize candidates who need a few attempts to reach 600 – it demonstrates your grit and determination to succeed, and these are qualities we look for in our MBA students.”
So, if you feel you can score higher, go for the retake.
Here is a short recap of the rules: you can take the GMAT five times during a rolling 12-month period and eight times in your lifetime. Candidates can take the GMAT online exam up to two times.
Myth #4: The GMAT is the most important part of your application.
Wrong. Ask any admissions office and they will tell you that they have a holistic approach to assessing candidates. This means that the GMAT is just one of many factors they consider, along with your GPA, personal statement, CV, experience, interviews, extracurricular work, etc. Of course, the GMAT is an important metric in the admissions process, so the higher your score, the better your chance of being accepted into the school of your choice. But don’t obsess over it.
However, one of the areas where a superb GMAT score may give you an outsize edge is scholarships. There are many business school scholarships where a GMAT score is part of the eligibility criteria.
Myth #5: Your GMAT score will improve quickly.
The good news is that you can considerably improve your GMAT score. The bad news is that it takes time. You are unlikely to raise your score by 300 points by studying for two extra days.
This leads to the question: how long should you take to prepare? Unfortunately, we can’t give you a specific time frame because the time you should spend preparing to take the GMAT exam is unique to you. You have to determine what works for you in terms of your preferred learning style, pace of acquiring knowledge, strengths and weaknesses, work schedule and family obligations.
However, here is some data from GMAC, the administrator of the GMAT exam, which may help you get an idea. Successful business school candidates give themselves between three and six months to prepare. According to the GMAC’s 2016 Prospective Student Survey of more than 3,600 GMAT test takers, 62% of them begin their preparation four or more weeks ahead of their exam date. Those who studied longer scored higher.
These are just some of the myths about the GMAT, and unfortunately there are many more. But why pay attention to speculation and questionable opinions when you can focus on studying and achieving a top score?