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How to Prepare for the GMAT: Cost, Test Resources, and More

25 May
How to prepare for the GMAT

Once you’ve made the decision to get your MBA or other graduate business degree, the next hurdle appears before you: figuring out what, if any, standardized tests you need to take. Many graduate business schools require that applicants submit scores for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).1

This standardized test is designed to show schools your current knowledge and convey how prepared you are for graduate study. Some schools, like Santa Clara University, offer a GMAT waiver for qualifying students who demonstrate this knowledge through experience or academic achievement. But if you do need to take the GMAT, here’s what you need to know to prepare for success on your exam.

How Much Does It Cost to Take the GMAT?

In 2018, the cost of the GMAT is $250 per exam.2 Those who are preparing for the exam can download a free GMAT Handbook and free GMATPrep Software to become familiar with the format of the exam and take practice tests.3 Additional costs associated with the exam, such as for rescheduling or getting multiple score reports, may be required depending on the potential student's needs.

What Can You Expect From the GMAT?

The GMAT is divided into four distinct sections that focus on skills typically required in today's business settings.4 The sections include:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment, which covers the analysis of an argument
  • Integrated Reasoning, with questions covering multi-source reasoning and the interpretation and analysis of graphics and tables
  • Quantitative, with questions addressing data sufficiency and problem solving
  • Verbal, with a focus on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction

There are GMAT testing centers throughout the world, including on United States military bases. The test is timed, so pacing is key. Test takers have up to three and a half hours to complete all sections.
While some schools do not have a minimum required GMAT score, your score can still affect your potential acceptance into an MBA program or a more specialized business master’s program when read in conjunction with the rest of your application. Talking with an Admissions Advisor before taking the test can give you more insight into the score you should aim for. If you aren't happy with your score, you can take the GMAT once a month until you achieve the score you want. In the case of SCU, after several attempts you do not get your ideal score, we recommend that you still apply. The admissions team will look at the entire candidate profile (professional references, essays, academic performance, and final interview), and the GMAT score is just one part.

How Can You Prepare for the GMAT?

Preparing for the GMAT

In addition to providing students with free downloads of test preparation software, the official GMAT website suggests a test prep timeline to help test takers succeed.5 Here are some ways to get prepared before test day:

  • Take a practice test before studying. This helps you to establish a baseline score and clues you in to particular areas where you'll need to focus your studying
  • Form a study group. Tap into friends who have taken the GMAT before who can help tutor you as you prepare, or work on the study materials with a friend who is also taking the GMAT
  • Practice more tests in realistic environments. The GMAT standardized test is taken in a silent, sterile environment. Practice taking your test by eliminating distractions in a clear space. Use a timer to help you get used to the exam’s time constraints
  • Focus up before the exam. You might find it helpful to visit the testing center beforehand, so you feel familiar with the environment prior to the test. The night before, eliminate unnecessary stress by getting a full night's sleep and preparing what you will bring to the testing center. And of course, eat a good breakfast, dress comfortably, and bring an energy snack for the scheduled break

Look for a GMAT Waiver

Some schools recognize that standardized testing is not always a clear reflection of one's ambition or potential to succeed in business. Some applicants, for example, may have years of experience in the business world and would be a great fit for an MBA program or another graduate business degree program regardless of their standardized testing ability.

Check to see if the school you are applying to offers a GMAT waiver, which can save you time and expedite your application. At Santa Clara University, students applying to the Online MBA or Online Master of Science in Marketing who meet our criteria may be eligible for a GMAT waiver, based on their professional and academic accomplishments. If you think you might qualify, be sure and get in touch with an Admissions Advisor to discuss the waiver and your next steps.

What Happens After You Take the GMAT?

Within 20 days of taking the GMAT, test takers will receive a unique link with their GMAT score report. They can then request that their GMAT score be sent to a school, although this will require the payment of an additional fee. It's a better idea to select programs where the scores will be automatically sent before the exam, since this is included in the registration fee.

Whether you’re preparing to take the GMAT or you qualify for a waiver, Santa Clara’s Online MBA and Online MS in Marketing programs have options for you. Learn more about our programs, and if you have any questions at all about the GMAT or the waiver, don’t hesitate to call us at 844-554-2425 today.