What to Do If You Are Just Getting Started with the GMAT

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

If you are just getting started with the GMAT and are trying to figure out what to do, we have got several big categories of things to discuss: mind-set, devising a study plan, and learning how to study.


If you do what most people do and try to prepare for this test in the same way that you prepared for tests in school, you are not going to get the best score that you could get.

If you are not sure what is tested on the GMAT or what the different question types look like, take some time to wander around this section of the official GMAT website.

Next, read this short article: “In It to Win It.” This will help you to start to adjust your mind-set so you can maximize your GMAT score. Okay, we are essentially done with the mind-set category, but I have to say one more thing. I put mind-set first for a reason: if you have the wrong mind-set, it will not matter how much you learn or practice. You still will not get the best score that you are capable of getting.

Devising a Study Plan

Get started with this article: “Developing a GMAT Study Plan.” Note: make sure to follow the instructions about taking and analyzing a practice test.

Next, read this article about time management. As you will have already learned from our discussions of mind-set and scoring, effective time management is crucial to your success on this test

How to Study

One key GMAT skill is learning to recognize problems. “Recognize” means that we actually have a little light bulb go off in our brain—“Hey, I’ve seen something like this before, and on that other one, the best solution method was XYZ, so I’m going to try that this time, too!”

When you recognize something, you have given yourself two big advantages: you save yourself time, because recognizing is faster than figuring something out from scratch, and you are more likely to get it right because you know what worked—and what did not—the previous time. You will not be able to recognize every problem, but the more you can, the better.

Read the “How Do I Learn?” section in the second half of the “Developing a GMAT Study Plan” article. Make sure to follow the links given in that section—those links lead to the tools that will help you learn how to learn from GMAT questions.

If you want to take advantage of online forums to chat with teachers and other students (and I strongly recommend that!), learn how to make the best use of the forums.

Finally, ask for advice! So many resources are out there that it can be overwhelming, but most companies offer free advice (Manhattan Prep does here!), and you can also benefit from talking to fellow students.

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