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Didn’t earn the score you wanted on the GMAT, and need to take the exam again? You’re definitely not alone.
According to mba.com, the GMAT exam is given more than a quarter of a million times each year—and approximately a fifth of those tests are re-takes.
In most cases, students fall short of their score goal because they underestimated the exam and didn’t prep hard enough, or used a study method that was less than ideal.
So, what tools and techniques should you rely on to ensure a better outcome? What will you do differently this time?
The first step is to leave the self-recriminations behind, and channel all of your energy toward a smarter, more targeted study plan. Start by ensuring your GMAT retake strategy incorporates each of these 4 key components.
1. Honestly Appraise Your Strengths & Weaknesses
This is an important step you may have skipped the first time around. Did you take a mock exam before you started studying to figure out where to focus your efforts?
Now that you have your GMAT exam results, you may gain some general insight into whether Quant or Verbal is your primary sore spot. However, an overall score won’t tell you which fundamental skills you’re lacking, which question-types tripped you up, or which topics need more attention.
Schedule yourself a free mock exam. Review the results carefully on your own, or enlist the help of a GMAT expert. Many test prep companies offer a free assessment of your mock exam result, along with a mini strategy session, to help you map out a study plan.
2. Make Time for More GMAT Practice Tests & Problems
Did you know that “cramming” for the GMAT means anything short of 100 hours of study? Or that to get a high score, most students need to do an average of 1500 to 2000 questions, study for 150 to 200 hours, and complete approximately 8 to 10 GMAT practice exams?
If your score was far below target the first time around, chances are you simply didn’t prep enough. Aim to set aside an hour or two each day for studying, several months in advance of your re-take date.
3. Re-evaluate Your GMAT Review Materials
Not all GMAT practice problems and sample tests are made equal. Are you sure you are using the highest quality materials?
What about the techniques and step-by-step approaches you’re utilizing for all of the various question types on the exam? You’ll need trustworthy, tried and tested formulas for tackling the GMAT’s uniquely challenging problems.
It’s quite possible that the techniques you relied on in the past simply weren’t up to par. Or, there were gaps in your GMAT review strategy.
Re-evaluate your materials, and seek out the most thorough and trustworthy prep resources.
4. Work Harder at Analyzing Your Performance
After each set of practice questions, and after every practice test, take the time to thoroughly analyze your performance. The stakes always feel a bit higher with a retake. There’s no time to waste, so it’s crucial to identify where you’re going wrong, and quickly get back on track.
Without careful analysis, there is no way to measure your progress at a granular level, and nip bad habits in the bud. You need to know much more than your total score on a practice test, or whether you got a problem right or wrong.
In order to make real progress, students must go deeper during analysis and:
- categorize weaknesses by skill, question-type, and topic area
- evaluate how pacing (speeding or going too slow) is impacting performance
- look at correct answers (as well as mistakes) to see where the approach could be tightened and efficiency improved
For more in-depth advice, take a look at 5 Tips for Better GMAT Practice Test Analysis.
In addition to these practical strategies, it’s absolutely vital to keep your confidence high while gearing up for a GMAT retake. Remember, you’re in good company! Many talented and successful business school graduates took the exam more than once.
Seek out the support of peers by attending free GMAT events in your area, joining online GMAT discussion forums, and focussing on your ultimate goal: acceptance into an excellent B-school.
Best of luck from the Quantum study team!