How to score well on the GMAT?

by Vinaya HS on February 25, 2006

in The SP Jain Blog

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Admissions to most two-year MBA programs in India is through the CAT. For the one-year programs, however, both GMAT and CAT scores are accepted. The GMAT and CAT are two very different exams. Each has its own format, content, logic, and purpose. There is really no point in trying to compare the two. If you have been out of touch with studies for quite a while, then you might prefer the GMAT for a stress-free experience. Of course, if you are planning to apply to colleges outside India your only choice is the GMAT.

I opted for the GMAT route and ended up with a score of 730.

The GMAT, in my opinion, is a stamina exam. You need your full powers of concentration over the entire four-hour period that you would be spending at the test centre. Because the GMAT is a computer adaptive exam, one weak moment during a critical question could mess up your scores. Here’s the best part: you actually don’t know if the question in front of you is a critical question. It could, in all probability, be an experimental question that does not count in your final score. Plus, there’s no option to go back and change your answer. The test software adjusts to your capabilities. If you do make a mistake, just forget about it and move on. There’s no point in trying to second guess the software.

When you prepare, prepare in exam-like conditions. Don’t forget the GMAT’s a tough exam to crack.

What’s the best way to prepare for the GMAT?

This is what worked for me. I prepared steadily over a three-month time-frame spending about three hours a day.


  • Buy the latest edition of the “The Official Guide to the GMAT” published by ETS. It’s affectionately called OG in the online world. It’s a monster-sized and priced book that’s considered to be the bible for GMAT preparation. Every question has detailed explanations provided.
  • Download the free GMAT software from This software has two full-length practice exams, which we will call PE 1 and PE 2.
  • Buy Kaplan’s “GMAT Verbal Workbook.” This is a very good book to work with for the Verbal section.
  • If you still have some money left, buy Barron’s “How to prepare for the GMAT.” Even a second-hand copy will do. With this book, everything you do will be on pen and paper. It’s a worthy book though and has many practice exams.


  1. Solve PE 1. It’s ideal if you take this test in the same time-slot in which you would be writing the exam. It’s important that you write both the essays.
  2. Conduct a post-analysis to identify your weak areas.
  3. Solve all questions from the OG and Kaplan’s Verbal Workbook. You would obviously need to concentrate more on the identified weak areas.
  4. If you don’t have a regular reading habit, develop one. This will do wonders on the Reading Comprehension section.
  5. Every two weeks take a test from the Barron’s book to estimate your improvement.
  6. Solve PE 2. Ideally, you should take this exam about a week before you write the GMAT.

In addition, you should also make time for:

  • Regular preparation for the essays. About 2 essays per week should be sufficient. A great GMAT score with a poor essay score won’t look good. The essays are automatically graded by a software program. You will find a lot of material on the web which explain how to crack these essays simply by using the right keywords. I don’t know how much of this is true.
  • Self-researching the web on areas that you are weak in.

I will be updating this post soon with information on some online resources which I found indispensable. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading this article. I'd love to hear your opinion. Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts. I frequently write new articles that also cover several other aspects of personal finance including credit cards, financial goals, health insurance, income tax, life insurance, mutual funds, retirement planning, and much more. You can Subscribe through Email and receive new articles directly in your Inbox or you can Subscribe through the RSS Feed and receive new articles in your feed reader.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Girish February 25, 2006 at 12:33 PM

Hi Vinaya,
A very very helpfull blog…
It will be a great resorce for MBA spirants.
Post the online resources also.
Have a great weekend.

Kimi February 27, 2006 at 3:14 AM

Hey Vinaya, How are you doing.. I finally got the chance to read your blog again.. cool stufF ! I’m taking the MCATs this April, and it’s not going so well.. But I guess I’ll just have to get over it somehow. I hope everything is going well in India. try some new restaurants there, so I can hear all about it :) talk to you later!

- Kimi

Anoop February 28, 2006 at 11:34 AM

Hey its similar to GRE Exam even in GRE exams u dont know wich one will add to ur score or not..both are stressfull and yes just like u said one weak moment can spoil the entire exam, but the test is completely transparent…no chance of cheating at the center at Lavelle road where u took the exam or have they changed it? nyway take care and bye

Vinaya HS March 3, 2006 at 6:00 PM

The centre’s still on Lavelle Road. :-)

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