The GMAT Exam is an important milestone in the life of every MBA aspirant. It is the first significant decision that they take as they begin their tumultuous journey towards their dream B-School. The importance of the GMAT Exam is exacerbated with the fact that it acts as qualifier to be considered by the Business Schools as a potential candidate.

Keeping this in mind, the GMAT Preparation takes up a higher level of importance. The candidate needs to take the GMAT Preparation extremely seriously and take it forward in an organized manner. Knowing how to prepare for GMAT is something that very few people truly know about. However that comes later, before diving into the actual GMAT Preparation, the candidates need to have some information as a hygiene factor.

About the GMAT Exam

The GMAT Exam is one of the most competitive entrance exams owing to its global reach. The relatively high application fee ($250) means that only serious candidates appear for the GMAT Exam. In total 250,884 GMAT Exams were conducted in 2017 which also includes some candidates who opted for a retake which means the total number will be slightly lower.

The GMAT Exam is a computer adaptive test and consists of 4 sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
  • Integrated Reasoning Section (IR)
  • Verbal Reasoning Section (VR)
  • Quantitative Reasoning Section (QR)

The overall GMAT Score is calculated according to the score of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Sections only. While there is no official weightage of the other two sections, the colleges where the candidates apply receive the scores and can determine whether to look at the scores or not.

The AWA section consists of 1 Question in the form of an argument through a couple of statements. The candidate is supposed to analyze the statements and find the logical consistency of the statements. This section has a time limit of 30 minutes in which the candidate has to prepare a logically cohesive essay analyzing the argument given.

The Integrated Reasoning Section consists of 12 Questions that the candidates are supposed to solve in 30 minutes. The questions in this section consists of data provided in the form of tables, charts, or word problems. This data is used to solve the questions given in the GMAT Exam.

The Verbal Reasoning section consists of 35 questions that have to be solved in 65 minutes. The questions can vary in type from Reading Comprehension to Grammar.

The Quantitative Reasoning Section consists of 31 Questions that have to be solved in 62 minutes. It consists of data sufficiency type questions as well as problems.

For more information about the GMAT Syllabus, please visit this page.

GMAT Preparation Alternatives

One of the first things that every aspirant asks once they decide to give GMAT a try is "How to prepare for GMAT?" We try to answer this question as succinctly as possible in this section. There are two basic means of GMAT Preparation:

  • Candidate Preparing on their own
  • Through a Coaching Institute

We will not debate on which method is better in this article but rather talk about the benefits of both modes.

When the candidate is planning their GMAT Preparation on their own, the flexibility available to the candidate is obviously high.

  • They can manage their own schedules and decide the topics which require special attention while reducing time for other topics which they are more familiar with.
  • In addition to this, the candidates who are working may prefer this method since they do not need to travel to a different location after coming back exhausted from work. They can start their GMAT Preparation at home after a short rest.

The benefits to having a coaching institute for your GMAT Preparation is that they have years of experience in preparing students for a variety of Entrance Exams.

  • They can utilize their experience to ensure that each topic is given adequate time in the schedule.
  • Peer Learning should not be underestimated and that is something that the coaching institute can offer. In addition to the peer learning, the other candidates can spur each other to perform better due to the competitive spirit.
  • Several topical, sectional and full mock tests are generally provided by the coaching institute along with the analysis of the candidate's performance to ensure that the candidate continues to improve.

As can be seen, both modes of preparation have their own benefits and drawbacks. If the candidate decides to take up their GMAT Preparation on their own, the one thing that they would require is high self-discipline to ensure that they follow the schedule devised irrespective of the circumstances.

GMAT Preparation Plan

Keeping the above information in mind, the GMAT Preparation Plan should be devised to ensure that the GMAT Preparation occurs in an organized manner.

Since the GMAT Score is calculated from the scores of the last two sections, special attention has to be paid to these sections. However this does not mean that other sections can be ignored because they can still play some role in the final college admissions.

Nonetheless, a general plan for the GMAT Preparation can be found below:

Knowing the GMAT exam format like the back of a hand

While the information given above about the GMAT Format and GMAT Syllabus is useful, each candidate has to know these details like the back of their hand in order to properly set the GMAT Preparation Plan in action. The details required are not limited to the GMAT Exam Pattern and the GMAT Exam Syllabus but also requires the candidates to understand how GMAT is scored. Once all the details are gathered, the GMAT Preparation Plan can be put in place.

Laying down the study plan

The GMAT Preparation Plan begins with the study plan being set along with the complete schedule complete with deadlines for topic completion.

The first thing that each candidate needs to do is complete a GMAT Diagnostic test to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This would give the candidate an idea of how much time would be required for the GMAT Preparation and which topics require special attention. There are several GMAT Diagnostics tests that can be used by the candidates but the one which is most used is the official GMAT Diagnostic tool known as GMATPrepSoftware.

While the exact preparation schedule is up to the candidate, it is generally advisable for the candidate to move section by section rather than jumping across the sections when a topic is completed. Once the topics in a section are completed, it is important for the candidate to give some sectional tests to ensure that they can solve the majority of the questions and are familiar with most of the concepts.

The completion of both the sections should lead to the candidate practicing as many mocks as possible. This would give the candidate an idea of the time management required in the GMAT Exam as well as the stamina required to maintain their focus on the GMAT Exam.

Timing the mock practices

The GMAT Exam is an Entrance Exam at the end of the day and one of the things that every Entrance Exam tests is the candidates' time management skill. It is extremely rare for any candidate to perform up to their potential in the Entrance Exams (including GMAT) because the time limit ensures that they have to solve the problem in a reasonable amount of time.

Due to this reason, the GMAT Preparation has to include timed Mock practices as well. It is never the best idea to charge head on into a situation without getting an idea about it first. This basic concept applies to the GMAT Exam as well. Practicing Mocks is an essential part of the GMAT Preparation to ensure that the knowledge gained during the GMAT Preparation is properly applied in the GMAT Exam.

The importance of time management is enhanced by the fact that the GMAT Exam penalizes candidates who do not complete a section. Therefore the GMAT Preparation has to take this factor into account to ensure that this eventuality is avoided.


The GMAT Preparation is something that has to be taken extremely seriously by the candidate. The competition that they face is immense to say nothing about the pressure that they would face during the exam itself.

The difference in the question types asked in the GMAT Exam compared to the question types in Indian Entrance Exams means that the GMAT Preparation is even more tricky. The computer adaptive nature of the GMAT Exam means that the candidate will be constantly worried about the previous answers if they feel that the question that they are facing is too easy. While this worry cannot be completely eliminated, the distraction caused by it can be minimized through proper GMAT Preparation which includes several full length mock tests.

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