It’s that time of year again, when most b-school applicants have the GMAT or GRE on the brain. Soojin Kwon Koh, director of admissions at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, lays out five steps in the latest Ross Newsletter that can help you develop your own test training plan.
Step One: Start preparing early
Unless you’re a natural at standardized test-taking, you’ll need to train your brain to get it into test-taking mode. Studying is like a workout for your brain, writes Soojin, so the more you exercise it, the better you will perform when it counts.
Step Two: Assess your baseline, then set a goal
Take a practice test to assess the level of training you’ll need to close the gap between your practice score and the average and middle 80 percent range of a school’s GMAT scores. Given a similar professional background and undergraduate performance, a higher GMAT score will make you more competitive, the director explains.
Step Three: Set up a study schedule
Commit to a study plan that fits your schedule and budget. Whether you take a test prep class, work with a tutor, or use study guides, thorough and disciplined preparation is a key to success, Soojin writes. While a score over 700 isn’t necessarily a must, schools want to feel confident you won’t struggle in a rigorous MBA program.
Step Four: Simulate the test day scenario
While you can’t replicate the exam environment completely, do eliminate all distractions, set a timer, and take a practice test at around the same time of day you’ll be taking the actual test. This will help you build up your endurance and maintain focus throughout the exam.
Step Five: Go for your personal record
If you fall short of your goal on the first try, rally your energies to try again, Soojin urges. The admissions committee considers the highest total score, and she says the majority of Ross applicants take the GMAT more than once. If you do re-test, focus your preparation on the sections that challenged you the most.
Like most top MBA programs, Ross School of Business evaluates your application holistically; no single section will make or break your candidacy. A great score won’t guarantee admittance, and a less-than-stellar test performance won’t seal your fate.
“Continue these training runs and your preparation regimen until you score in your target range and feel you can go into the actual test with confidence,” Soojin advises.