After much deliberation and thinking, you have decided that you want to go to business school. With your decision to apply to business school come questions about timing, recommendations, standardized testing and the different specializations offered by MBA programs. Start your preparation with conquering the first major hurdle, the GMAT.
Taking the Graduate Management Admission Test can be a daunting task. The first, and most critical, fact about this test is that your scores are valid for five years. This means that you can prepare for the test and take it when you have time. Try not to bog yourself down with taking the test in the middle of completing your other MBA admissions requirements. It can be overwhelming studying for the GMAT while tracking down recommendations, exploring schools, writing essays and filling out applications. Remember that most round one deadlines are in September or October, so plan on completing your GMAT requirements before then if you intend to apply for that given year.
One great part about taking the GMAT is that you can take the test on your own time. All it requires is the proper scheduling at a local test administration site. With this freedom also comes some responsibility, as there is room for procrastination of studying with such a open calendar of test dates. Make sure you pick a date and fully commit to it.
Another good school of thought suggests that you try and take the test as close as you can to your graduation from college. Taking the test soon after graduation will just allow more carry-over of the test-taking skills you used in college. The longer you are out of school, the more real world experience you will have, but the less you will be used to taking a challenging exam and dealing with the stress that accompanies it.
When to take the GMAT is ultimately up to you. A popular time to take the test is in April or May of the year leading up to your application season. It is during this time that many applicants are motivated to take the test after hearing which programs their friends did and didn’t get into. Just remember to prepare adequately, including practice testing, and to keep your cool and you will do just fine!