Some people study for years and some don’t study at all – what’s the optimal length of study time for YOU? This 3-part series will help you answer this important question.
Part 2: The Importance of a Trial Run
In part 1 of this series I talked mostly about estimating whether you need a lot of time or not so much time to prep for the GMAT. Now I’m going to suggest how to establish a much more exact period of study time. To do this, you’ll need to take a practice test. You can buy a Kaplan book just for the practice test or use one of the free online tests at GMAT Club and Beat the GMAT.
Once you’ve chosen a practice test, take it and score it. This will provide a rough idea of where you should start; this is your baseline. Now, since you took this practice test cold (more or less), you can expect to earn between 50 and 100 points more, with preparation.
Now estimate that each month of solid prep could produce an improvement; the more time and the more intensive your study is, the better chances you have of increasing your score even more.
How High Should You Aim?
Generally a score is considered minimally competitive if it is higher than the 78th percentile (a score over 650). Higher ranked schools generally require a score over the 90th percentile (a score over 700).
Keep in mind that your GMAT score is not the only factor in b-school admissions. The adcom will also take work experience, undergrad GPA, recommendations, and your application essays into consideration. If your intense GMAT study will negatively impact your job, for example, then it may not be worth it to kill another aspect of your profile into order to excel in another. A GMAT score of 780 will not earn you an automatic admit if the rest of your profile is less than impressive.