Now that I´ve finished with the GMAT, I can look back at the whole process that was my preparation and what it took to achieve my goal. A lot of things and details, as I have stated in a previous post, come to consideration when thinking about the exam and how to prepare it, but I would say that there are four main key factors leading to success:
– Study. Not much to say here. Proper preparation is essential (of course). Whether you decide to self-study or take a preparation course, you should anyway be prepared to commit a great portion of your already limited free time to the GMAT, and take it seriously. One point being clear: no matter what is your starting level you will get better with practice. The first thing to do, in any case, is to learn a little bit about the exam: how it is structured, which math or verbal concepts are tested, how much time you have, how it´s scored… And get yourself a copy of the Official Guide.
– Know yourself. The GMAT-process is different depending on each person: there are people who need no more that a few weeks (sometimes as few as a couple) to master the exam, while others need more than three months to achieve their goal (it also depends on how much time you can allocate to study, of course). Likewise, there are “all-around players”, very good at solving both math and verbal questions, whereas other people need to focus more on certain sections/question types of the exam. You should be aware of your strenghs and weaknesses, not only in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of skill, which will define you as a GMAT-student and determine your schedule and how you allocate your time. For example, in case you are really great at math and not so much at verbal, it is clear that you should spend most of the time (maybe up to 80% of it) practicing verbal questions and reviewing verbal concepts/theory. On the other hand, if you know you are kind of slow answering certain types (or all) of questions or solving math problems, then you should target your efforts in pacing yourself better.
–Like it. Somebody told me -and I have found it to be true- that people who like the exam usually do better than people who do not. It is a very logical thing: if you enjoy the GMAT, you will find it easier to spend time studying and be able to do it with less effort (and also finding it all far more interesting). I have to say that this was my particular case. I thought of every question as a little challenge (the big one being the exam itself), and that motivated me to always look for the better way to solve the questions or do it more quickly, and find the logic behind them. You get to kind of enjoy the process.
– Rest. This may sound like a cliché, but it is also very true. Your chances of success will be hurt if you come to the exam mentally and physically unprepared. Not only you have to be ready to answer different types of questions, but also you have to solve each one of them as quick as you can, one after another. That requires for you to be alert and not lose focus. So never overlook the importance of a good night of sleep the day before . Bottom line: you have to be at your best if you want to score really high.
There maybe other test takers who would include other factors, but in the end, if you do a good job in each one of the above-mentioned-areas, you wil be in a good place to start.