You’ve made the decision to apply for an MBA – congratulations! Now, you’ve just got to get through the admissions process. You’ll need to complete an application form, write an essay and come for an interview. You’ll also have to sit an admissions test. For many of our Full-Time MBA students, this is the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test).
Our head of MBA programmes, Yolanda Habets says it may be unlike any test you’ve ever taken before. “So preparation is crucial,” she says, “Don’t walk into it blind. Give yourself plenty of time to study, improve your skills and build confidence.” The GMAT comprises four sections – writing, reasoning, qualitative and verbal. It assesses your all-round approach, thinking and knowledge, and we suggest taking 3-6 months to prepare for it.
During this time you should:
1. Get to know the GMAT
Familiarise yourself with the structure, question format and timings. The test takes three and half hours – and each section has to be completed in a specific timeframe.
2. Take a practice test
This is the perfect way to identify where your strengths lie, which areas you need to work on – and how often you need to study.
3. Make a study plan
What, how and when you study depends on how much time you have and how you prefer to learn – whether it’s doing practice questions, working through study guides or going to a class. The best place to find materials is mba.com– the official GMAT site. It has all the up-to-date resources, guides and past papers you need to get ready.
4. Measure your progress
Every few weeks, take a practice test to see how far you’ve come – and what you still need to work on. Once you’re comfortable with the questions, you need to practise answering them within the timeframe.
5. Get used to the test environment
A week before the GMAT, simulate the test conditions as much as possible for your final practice test – so no music, phones or materials and stick to the timings.
On the day
With enough preparation, you’ll be feeling confident and ready to go on the day of the GMAT. Remember to get to your test centre in plenty of time and take your ID with you. As soon as you finish, you’ll get your score. Hopefully your hard work will have paid off – but if you’re not happy, you can take the test again.
What is Vlerick looking for in an MBA applicant?
“We expect a minimum score of 550,” says Yolanda. “But crucially, we want a well-balanced score that shows students performed consistently in all four areas.”
A holistic approach
Yolanda’s advice for MBA applicants is to pay as much attention to the essay and interview as to the GMAT. She says: “The test score is important – but it’s just one element of the admissions process. At Vlerick, successful applicants are those who prepare well for all elements. “The GMAT gives us a good indication of your skills. But our MBA groups are small and collaborative – you need the right attitude as well as good test scores. We’re looking for the whole package.”