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GMAT Preparation Essentials: 10 Resources You Need Before Test Day

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Congratulations on your decision to earn your MBA.

Your first step will be preparing for the rigorous journey to pass the GMAT and pursue your business school dreams.

We've compiled some of the best resources to help you understand what you need to do to conquer the GMAT.

Let's jump right in so you can get the first step toward business school completed.

Get acquainted with the exam

Understanding what the Graduate Management Admissions test, or GMAT, is—and what it isn't—is a good place to start. The exam is a 3.5 hour computer adaptive test intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills that will help predict how you will perform in an MBA program. But in order to best prepare for it, you'll  want to know everything you can expect to see on the exam. For an overview of the GMAT exam and some essential strategies, check out this helpful guide.

Download a free eBook

Once you're familiar with the overall structure of the test, GMAT eBooks can be very helpful, whether for broad overviews or section-by-section tips. Check out these great eBooks that provides over 100 pages worth of GMAT tips and strategies, including sample practice questions and study plans (more on those later).  With a good eBook in your corner, you'll be well on your way to learning how to increase your GMAT score.

Get official GMAT resources

We love free resources, and these, directly from the test-maker, are excellent tools to help you prepare for exam day. Check out these official GMAT resources, from handbooks and eBooks to a web-based essay writing tool. You'll want to take some time to find the best resources for you and your study habits—starting with the free ones is a great way to save a little cash for some soon-to-be crucial coffee.

And don't forget to download the free software, which is the exact same technology used on the day of the exam. This will help you become familiar with the test interface so you won't find yourself caught unaware. After all, you'll have more important things to focus on and you don't want to miss a single point due to a lack of familiarity with the test application.

Find free practice tests and sample questions

A critical key to your success on the GMAT is going to be taking a lot of GMAT practice tests and answering as many GMAT sample questions as possible. Start with this list of Free GMAT Practice Test Resources and then consider purchasing other materials if you decide you need more practice.

Also, don't forget to review your answers. A lot of GMAT students rush through the practice questions and tests but don't take the time to review their answers. You need to dedicate some time to reviewing your answers so you can understand exactly why you got each question right or wrong, and ensuring that you have a comprehension of their meaning and purpose.

Build a study plan

You can have all the study materials in the world, but without a detailed study plan in place you won't get the score you need on the GMAT. It's recommended that you dedicate at least two, if not three, months to your GMAT preparation prior to taking the test.

No matter how much time you plan to spend studying for the exam, you'll want to build a solid study plan. Luckily for you, GMAT experts have already designed proven study plans for you that let you know exactly when to study applicable materials and take practice tests, so find a good resource to help guide your study time.

Take advantage of discussion forums

It's important to remember as you're studying for the GMAT that you're not alone. Meet your fellow test-takers and learn with each other. The Beat the GMAT site is an especially good source for practice questions and GMAT Club Forums provide some great discussion of commonly asked issues. Be sure to take advantage of those who have gone before you.

Use Flashcards

While preparing for the GMAT, flashcards are going to be your best friend. Whatever the case may be, there's no avoiding them. Flashcards are a great way to lock formulas or strategies into memory so that when test day comes you can breeze through the questions.

Download a GMAT timer

If you want to make sure you're answering questions quickly and accurately, a GMAT timer can help you stay on the rails. There are free web-based options, or you can download a timer. Either way, making sure you are managing your time well on the exam is crucial to crushing the GMAT.

Buy a book

It's an easy one to forget with all the snazzy resources out there, but there are GMAT books—real ones made of paper. A good book can help you build a plan and keep you on track to make your studying a success.

Take a course

Finally, a full prep course can be an excellent option when readying for an exam as difficult as the GMAT. A course will include lectures from knowledgeable instructors and help you organize your time efficiently. When it comes to courses, like books, there are a lot to choose from. From more expensive options like Purdue University Global and Manhattan Prep, to more budget-friendly like Magoosh, a prep course will help you navigate your GMAT study in a manageable way.

One Final Takeaway

Whatever path you take, if you explore these 10 resources for the GMAT, you'll be in great shape towards getting into your target school. Dedicate some time upfront to find the best resources for you, and then follow a solid study plan to help guide your study time. You'll be ready to rock the GMAT in no time.

About the Author:

allyson evans

Allyson Evans earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her JD from the University of Texas, Austin. She has been teaching and tutoring the LSAT since 2007, and loves helping students achieve their goals. She currently practices law in Austin, Texas. When she's not helping students conquer the LSAT, she enjoys traveling and camping.