Navigating the GMAT..

Before I send you down a path that you may not necessarily need to travel, taking the GMAT exam is not mandatory for applicants to the LBS Sloan MSc.

I would advise anyone considering applying to join the programme to first contact the faculty: sloan@london.edu

However, as I did take the GMAT exam, I thought I’d share my experience with you.

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For most people applying to business school, the GMAT exam is one of the most daunting tasks, as it also was for me.

Many business schools use this as a strong indicator of a potential candidate’s aptitude for the course content, and thus it is important to get a strong score. To this end, there are many organisations that are set up to offer tutoring services. Many of these services carry significant costs. I was fortunate enough to achieve a more than satisfactory score of 710 without opting for any of these paid services. I however put a lot of time into my studies ahead of the exam, probably close to the 100 hours recommended by GMAC.

The most important and useful media to improve your score by a long margin are the Official GMAT study guides. You will be very lucky to find copies of these for free, however even new copies are not particularly expensive. In fact, I would recommend you purchase new copies as they offer you a software copy of the questions that you can access on mobile devices and laptops. This means you can answer questions anywhere you may be, and considering the amount of time needed to learn the content, this is a god send.

When you have obtained copies of the above, before you do anything else, take the short diagnostic tests at the beginning of the book, these will indicate your relative strength on each of the five key areas: Quantitative Problem Solving, Data sufficiency, Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. I would strongly advise you then allocate your time accordingly to try and improve your skill set on the areas that you are less strong.

For me, the diagnostic test showed I was very strong in the verbal tests, but week in the quantitative and sentence correction tests.

For the quantitative questions, nothing that I found was as helpful for preparing you for the test than the official GMAT guide books. That said I did also work through several GCSE  (UK high school) level maths text books to reacquaint myself with the theories needed to solve many of the questions. The main problem that I found with these questions was that they are set up in a way to purposely catch you out. This is proven by the fact that I also worked through an unofficial guidebook by Kaplan titled: GMAT 800, that supposedly contains examples of the most difficult questions needed to achieve the maximum score. I found these questions relatively easy, simply because they weren’t set up in the same way the the official GMAT questions were in that they attempted to deceive you into choosing the wrong answer.

Away from the official guide books, an honourable mention should also go to the Veritas Prep smart phone app. This app is a very useful digest for each of the question types, and more importantly gives examples of some of the tactics that the GMAT test uses to try and lead you away from correct answers. This app is also free to download, and means that you can learn while on the move. I found a useful tactic was to take a screenshot of the frame shown on my phone to capture key points during the videos; This would act as a handy reminder in future study sessions.

I found that the Veritas Prep app was especially useful for improving my ability of answering the sentence correction questions, as was the Keplan GMAT800 textbook to a lesser extent. The Veritas Prep app was also exceptional at guiding me through the Analytical Writing part of the test, offering a very simple and bullet proof approach to passing this section without using up valuable brain power for the more challenging later sections.

I completed several mock tests as provided by the GMAC (you can get two tests for free and then further tests for a small fee), one every few weeks, to re-calibrate where I should allocate most of my study time. I was very happy to find that I achieved my best ever score on the real test. In the practice tests I registered two consecutive cores of 680, before hitting a low 650 a few days before my actual test. The main contributor for this low score was a woeful performance in the Sentence correction questions; being only in the 40th percentile. This in hindsight worked in my favour as any chance of complacency was quickly thrown out of the window, and the last days were spent mostly improving my approach to tackling the sentence correction questions – my approach was almost entirely taken from the Veritas Prep app.

My final grades included an exceptional verbal reasoning score – in the 98th percentile, even though I spent minimal time practicing these types of questions throughout my study. This verbal score also included a 94th percentile for Sentence correction, a massive improvement in just a few days! My quantitative score perhaps suffered due to spending so much time cramming Sentence Correction; I scored in the 84th percentile for Data Sufficiency questions, but only the 37th percentile for Problem Solving, coming in the 52nd percentile overall. I attribute the poor performance on the Problem Solving questions to simply not being able to be calm enough under pressure to avoid the ‘traps’ set by the GMAT team. I am sure I could have improved the Problem Solving score with more practice, but I may have had to clone myself to also have the time to cram the Sentence Correction problems.

I am aware that this is a very long post, and even so I have only covered a small detail of my experiences in studying for and taking this test. If you have any questions please contact me and I will be more than happy to help in any way that I can.

Good luck!

My journey: Business school, business in general, and visions of the future

Thanks for dropping by..

This blog started as a diary covering my journey in applying and joining London Business School’s Sloan Fellow MSc Program. It has since evolved into a more general blog covering thoughts and insights while applying and studying on the course.

Please enjoy, hopefully it will help future prospective students, and enlighten all readers.

For prospective students looking for help with their application process, or insights into life at London Business school, the link below gives articles that you should find particularly useful:

Rubick’s Journeys: application blog articles

Please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions.

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.”

[Izaak Walton]

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