How to: Improve your GMAT and GRE scores

Your performance on the GMAT or GRE is an important indication of potential success in a rigorous graduate program. Because it has such an impact on admissions decisions, you’ll spend weeks, or even months, preparing for your entrance exam. And despite all that preparation, mistakes are inevitable. There are, however, ways to minimize mistakes. Consider the following tips to improve your likelihood of success on test day.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

This is an obvious one. With all the test prep services and practice quizzes available, there’s no reason you should be unpleasantly surprised by the types of questions you face on test day. The amount of time you put into preparation is up to you, but nearly half of test-takers spend around 50 hours studying, and fewer than a quarter spend less than 20 hours on prep work, according to GMAC, which administers the GMAT. Perhaps more significantly, the average number of hours spent studying was reflected in higher test scores. Set aside time every day or week to get familiar with the type of questions you’ll be expected to answer on test day. The more familiar you are, the less likely you’ll be to make silly mistakes under comfortable conditions.

Make a list — and check it twice

Show your work, especially when it comes to math. Jotting down the problem can help you work it through correctly, and give you a record of steps to backtrack through if the numbers just don’t add up. The easiest way to correct a mistake is to catch it, so work a problem out on paper before committing to an answer. Don’t wait to show your work on test day. Showing your work throughout test prep can reveal issues you have with particular question types, allowing you to resolve them prior to the big day.

Keep calm and carry on

Rather than speeding through the test or focusing solely on a complete answer sheet, answer as many questions as you can, to the best of your ability. Test questions will vary, as will your preparedness to complete them, but level of difficulty matters little if you stay calm and focus on your strengths. Develop and practice test-taking strategies to improve the ease with which you make decisions, eliminate bad answers, and pace yourself on test day.

Stay on track

Finally, keep in mind that the GMAT and GRE require planning, time, and focus. Develop a test prep strategy and schedule to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. It will help you study and address the concerns you need to tackle, ensuring you’re comfortable, relaxed, and ready for your entrance exam.

The GMAT or the GRE are required for admission to nearly all top business schools, including ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business, whether you're interested in an MBA or another business master's degree. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time during the admissions process to study, identify and work on weaknesses, and become more familiar with the types of questions you'll face on test day. More than perhaps any other factor in your admissions materials, your test scores can be a difference-maker.

The bottom line

Earning an MBA or business master's degree is one of the best ways to move your career forward, but how it fits into your life is just as important as what it can do for you down the road. Complete the form on this page to learn more about programs offered by ASU's highly ranked Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

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