Beware the GMAT…and the Ides of March

What's an ide anyway?

Poor Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times on this day, the Ides of March, in 44 B.C. For many in our readership, March is the time to get serious about studying for the GMAT. If you would prefer Caesar’s fate to taking this standardized test, you’re not alone! Fortunately, I have sage advice to share with you regarding GMAT preparation which can spare you further distress on this fateful day.

Know Yourself

Each of us has intellectual strengths and weaknesses. There are people out there who think standardized tests are fun, and they secretly hope everyone will ask their score so they can impress the masses with their intellectual prowess. But for most people, standardized tests aren’t an area of natural aptitude, at least, not in every section on the test. Most people require planned preparation to succeed on the GMAT. Based on your previous standardized test scores (SAT or ACT) and your general comfort with standardized tests, you should be aware of your unique strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly.

Prepare Thoroughly and Use Your Resources

For the average GMAT taker, I recommend you spend between 8 and 12 weeks in regular study sessions. Treat this experience like your first MBA class, setting aside specific, scheduled blocks of time to practice and study. Get your team on board, (spouse, children, friends), so you have a distraction-free study environment. Put in the time, and you will have a much more confident testing experience!

Part of your preparation will include using the resources available to you. Spend some time on When you register on their site, they will provide you with free software to download which includes two full length computer adaptive tests, shorter practice exams, and many other useful tools.

I am often asked if it is better to take a preparation course or to self-prep. The answer is that it depends. If you need a classroom environment and can spend $1300 on a course, take one! If you are self-motivated and can learn independently, spend $30 on a book and do it yourself.

There are many GMAT test prep companies in the market. I recommend you visit a bookstore and flip through the pages of the books to see which one best fits your study style. The preeminent companies are Kaplan and The Princeton Review, but there are many others that may work for you.

One critical part of preparation is taking FULL practice exams. Short exams are good for honing a specific skill, but to get a good sense of what you will score on the day of the test, you must take more than one full, timed exam. Succeeding under time pressure is one of the aptitudes tested by the GMAT, so be sure you simulate that experience prior to walking into the exam. A $250 unhappy surprise is not a great way to start your summer!

Be Ready on Game Day

So, you’ve thought carefully about your standardized test-taking aptitude, and you’ve put in the time and effort in thorough preparation. You’ve scheduled your exam through, and it’s now marked on your calendar. Do all you can in the weeks leading up to the exam to get plenty of sleep, eat healthily, and exercise regularly. Don’t change your routine dramatically in the days before the exam, but set good habits early so you are at top performance on game day.

GMAT and the UST MBA

Remember, the GMAT is just one part of the application requirements. It is an important part, but at St. Thomas, the other components, (work experience, undergraduate GPA, etc.), are all equally weighted with the GMAT. The average score for the Full-time UST MBA student is 600, and it is 560 for the Evening UST MBA student. Generally, it takes two weeks for us to receive your official test scores after the day of your exam. The next Full-time UST MBA deadline for fall 2012 is April 15, and for the Evening UST MBA, it is May 1. Start your preparation today!

If you have more questions about the GMAT, please refer to our website, or contact an admissions advisor for the Full-time or Evening UST MBA programs. Your preparation will lead to your success and increase your chances for admission into the UST MBA Programs.