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Pressure’s on: Prepping for the GMAT

Business schools look at two numbers on applications: undergraduate GPAsand GMAT scores.

Business schools look at two numbers on applications: undergraduate GPAs and GMAT scores. If you’ve graduated, there’s nothing you can do about your GPA. This just adds all the more pressure to do well on the GMAT.

Now there’s another source of GMAT pressure: figuring out when to take the exam. Starting in June 2012, a third component will be added. In addition to the existing Verbal and Quantitative scores, new types of questions will evaluate the test-taker’s Integrated Reasoning skills.

“A lot of people are planning to take the exam before June, since their scores will be good for five years,” explains Andrew Mitchell, Kaplan Test Prep's director of pre-business programs. “But because so many people are planning to beat that deadline, you need to start preparing now.”

That preparation will include scheduling a seat in an exam. Unlike the SAT, these tests are given often, not on just four dates per year, but popular dates and locations can fill up fast. The other preparation is studying the subjects and skills you’ll need — many test-takers brush up on algebra, for instance. Mitchell recommends 100 hours of preparation, whether through books, online aids or in-person courses.

What to expect in the GMAT

The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT that will be given after June 2012 will include four types of questions:

Table Analysis: Information will be given in a spreadsheet, and test-takers will answer true/false questions.

Graphics Interpretation: Information will be given in a graph, and test-takers will select options from drop-down lists.

Multi-Source Reasoning: Two or three sources of information (text, chart, table) will be given, and test-takers will compare and synthesize that material to answer questions.

Two-Part Analysis: Questions will require two components for a solution, with possible answers given in a table format.

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