Preparing for The GMAT

This article goes to all who are preparing for the GMAT or are planning to apply to B-schools and yet to start their GMAT preparation. I have scored a 710 in the GMAT, although not that great according to Indian standards. Indians on the whole have become very competitive and are scoring very high.

In this article, I wanted to discuss the strategies I used and I believe are sufficient for an average Indian GMAT taker.

Time required: Frankly speaking, this depends on individual to individual. I prepared for one month and I believe it was too less a time if your job is demanding in terms of time and effort. Because in that case, your per day contribution to GMAT preparation reduces. What I suggest is go through a standard book: Princeton Review or Kaplan, familiarize yourself with GMAT pattern and judge for yourself according to your capabilities how much time you need to devote.

Still, if I am to generalize, I feel, 2-3 months is sufficient time to familiarize with the GMAT pattern and practice enough. There comes a level after which there will not be a significant improvement.

Study material and Strategy: I strongly feel that if you go through a study material methodically, it's the best GMAT preparation one can do. Do not run after randomly collected material that is spread all over the Internet. Because in GMAT, the strategy and fundamentals for each and every section is important. So if there is bogus material with wrong answers, you will get yourself confused and fundamentals will not be strong.

I suggest fix a study plan for yourself and stick to it. The material I prefer is (in order):

1. Take up a basic GMAT prep book, preferably Princeton Review or Kaplan. Manhattan GMAT has recently gained a lot of popularity
but I haven't seen it, so I'm not sure how it is and Manhattan SC guide is the best available book for improving your Sentence Correction. But since it is expensive, I'll stick to the earlier options. OK, after picking them, get yourself familiarized with the GMAT pattern and take a feel of it. Divide your preparation into various sections:

  • Basic Math (QA)
  • Data Sufficiency (DS)
  • Sentence Correction (SC)
  • Critical Reasoning (CR)
  • Reading Comprehension (RC)
For those with a mathematical background, maths is very easy. It contains elementary level mathematics in which you can score 100% with a little attention. DS becomes a little tricky but can be overcome with a little practice, alertness and a habit of double checking every answer. In maths section, you have plenty of time available with you. You have around 41 questions and 75 minutes which is more than sufficient. That gives around 1.8 minutes per question which is a lot of time. That is because there will be questions which you can solve within seconds and can double check your answer (important) in a couple of seconds extra. This way you can get more time per question on the relatively difficult questions.

Now comes the Verbal section. This becomes a little tough but with logic and presence of mind, it becomes a cakewalk.

2. Now once you have familiarized yourself with GMAT pattern and difficulty level, go through basic fundas of each of the above mentioned sections through the basic prep books. Then take up a diagnostic test. Once you register for the test, you will get a CD from Pearson which will have some practice section tests and 2 full length tests. Take the first full length test. Utilize the full time available for each section. See where you stand and start prep.

3. Online resources: There are plenty of online resources available but the ones which are more popular are:

I suggest take active participation in the discussion forums on these sites as these will help build your fundamentals. In the meantime practice section tests you have got from Pearson. Also, with Princeton and Kaplan, you will get practice section tests and full length tests. Do take a practice test on every weekend and monitor your growth.

4. Official Guide: The most important resource. The Official Guide, or OG as it is commonly referred to as, contains a whole lot of questions to practice from each sections. this is prepared the people who prepare the GMAT tests and contain questions which have already come in earlier tests. I suggest spending daily at least 1 hour on this and keep a not of every question you did wrong. Revise those at the end and remember the mistakes you did.

IMPORTANT: Do check out the explanation for each and every question, even those you did right. this will help you know why other choices are wrong and whether your reason was the correct one.

All the best for your GMAT preparation. I will post more on specific details later.


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