Choosing your GMAT test date
Posted on November 17, 2020
If you are thinking of taking the GMAT exam, you very well know that you can take it multiple times and during time of the year. The dilemma is how do you chose your GMAT exam date? Well here are some practical tips you can consider before choosing your test date.
Know the deadlines you are aiming for
Usually, MBA programs accept applications in three rounds, although some schools have four or more application rounds, while others, for example, Harvard Business School, may have only two. So, as soon as you have a list of programs that you want to apply to, search for their submission deadlines on the program websites and determine which round you’re aiming for.
Remember to factor in the time needed for other aspects of your applications. Ideally, you should make a plan so that you are not preparing for the GMAT and at the same time writing application essays.
Know your target score
For what is considered a decent (or great) GMAT score, every school has its own score, so you have to do a little research to decide what the target of your score should be. Before you settle on an examination date and dive into your prep, why is it necessary to know this data? Well, a student shooting for a score of 720 will need considerably more time than a student shooting for 660.
In addition to setting an aim for your GMAT Overall Score, you will need to set targets for the individual GMAT test sections: Quant, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning. Some of the top MBA programs are quant-driven, so you should probably plan to receive a top Quant rating if you plan to apply to a top-ranked school. Knowing those parts of the GMAT in focus by your chosen programs will help you decide how much time you will need to prepare for your test.
Know your baseline score
There is no doubt that an important component of GMAT training is taking practice tests. However, many students do not know that a critical aspect of preparing for GMAT success is to take an official GMAT practice exam before they begin their GMAT training. After all, how can you possibly decide how long it will take to reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re starting from?
So, take an official, full-length GMAT practice exam from mba.com, the website of GMAC, the GMAT makers, before you dive into your GMAT studies. A baseline score of your initial practice test, which will tell you how far you are from your score target, helping you decide how much time you need to study before you are able to sit for your real GMAT.
Set a practical timeline to study
Some students need up to 300 + hours to prepare for the GMAT; however, depending on how far your baseline score is from your score target, your learning style, and your other daily obligations determine your time required for preparation. For example, someone who is 50 points from their target is likely to require much less time to plan than someone who is looking for a 200-point increase.
Similarly, someone with a full-time job can have to spread their studies over a larger number of weeks than someone who is free for those hours. Don’t think you can follow the study plan of another person and achieve the score of that individual. For every person, the question of when to take GMAT tests has a different response. Consider what you need to do carefully and when you should make time to do it.
Consider the time needed to retake the test
If you get a disappointing score on the GMAT test for whatever reason, you want to be in a position to take the test again and take it a third time, if possible. No one wants to sit for the GMAT more than once, of course, but the truth is, many individuals do exactly that and end up reaching or even exceeding their score goals.
If possible, give yourself enough of a time buffer between your exam and your application deadlines when selecting a GMAT exam date to allow retakes. Bear in mind that the GMAT rules stipulate that between each test, you must wait at least 16 days, and you may want to allow yourself enough time between exams to fix your GMAT weaknesses.
GMAT scores are good for up to 5 years, so taking the GMAT earlier rather than later will not hurt, unless you need more time to prepare. As the submission deadlines approach, there is something to be said about not getting the GMAT hanging over your head, and you definitely want to avoid a do-or-die scenario in which before you apply you have just one shot at reaching your score target.