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Hacking the GMAT

I was thinking recently that it was only about a year or so ago that I finally decided to apply for business school. Registering (and paying!) for the GMAT was a first big step into making it real.

For those people that are reading this and have yet to take the GMAT, I have just a couple of simple tips for hacking the GMAT.

However, before all that, are you aiming to get into a top-tier school? Get a 700+ and you’ll be setting yourself up for success. You can certainly still get into top schools with significantly poorer scores. In fact, I’ve heard of a student who got into a top school with a GMAT score in the 400’s. (What happened in that case was the GMAT wasn’t at all consistent with the person’s CV/resume and work history. The interview clearly showed that the GMAT was an outlier; the person turned out to be a superstar.)

That said, the higher score you get the easier it is for schools to accept you.

Tip 1 – Challenge yourself

My first and most important tip is to really challenge yourself. If you really want to kick ass on the GMAT, forget 90% of the study books out there. Those are written for people who want to do above average on the GMAT, not kick ass. If you want to get that 700+, only go for the books that are trying to get you the mythical 800. Kaplan GMAT 800 is the book that I used.

Why do this? Well, instead of picking a representative sample of test questions, it only focuses on the really difficult questions. This is what you need to get comfortable with and master if you’re going to hack the GMAT. Forget your other study books; focus on the ones that challenge you.

Tip 2 – Prepare your body and mind

The second and final tip is to be very careful in the days before your exam. Get good sleep, and not just the night before the exam. Make sure your head is in the right place by getting good sleep consistently for a few days before the exam. Whatever you do, don’t be stupid and try cramming so much that you lose sleep the night beforehand.

So that’s it… my tips on how to Hack the GMAT. A good score won’t guarantee you entry, but neither will a bad score necessarily prevent it. But the better you can do, the easier it is for your chosen schools to accept you.

  • Nice advice. Where'd you end up going? I'm guessing Cambridge, based on the reference in your category section.

    Go Blue, by the way.

  • Thanks for the note!

    Yes, I chose Cambridge and it's been great. I plan on posting more
    about it soon.


    On 3 Dec 2008, at 16:41, “Disqus” <notifications-

  • Interesting. Never thought about going overseas for an MBA.

    Look forward to hearing about your experience, especially how it differs from the US schools.

  • A main difference is that it's just one year, so there's less of an opportunity cost from not having a salary while you're in school.

    Cambridge itself is a bit different because the program incorporate three significant projects into the curriculum. This lets everyone practice what we're being taught while we're still doing the MBA. It's a great way to get feedback and reflect on what we've been taught before we graduate. This is pretty unique, and I do plan on writing more about it soon.

  • BlueSky

    Hey Jed, its been great to read your posts. really interesting style and content. Have been facing a dilemma in choosing between Oxford and Cambridge MBA programs. Offered in Cam, waiting after interview from OXford…but quite positive that i'll be in. looking at a career in entrepreneurship/VC/Private equity as i have a strong science background. Any advise will be truly appreciated. i'm leaning towards cambridge right from the start…..but have not been able to make a decision yet…..

  • Clearly, I'm going to be biased toward Cambridge, so I'll say that up front!

    But I can cite other lists, like this one which shows Cambridge as the number 3 place to be world-wide for university/entrepreneurial clusters:

    I'm planning on posting soon about this and all of the entrepreneurship-centered student groups, research groups, etc. There are quite a few, and they all do tend to focus on more of the hard science and engineering startups. Let's face it, that's always been Cambridge's strength.

    Happy to chat more about this, but I would think Cambridge is the place for you! 🙂

  • DoctorPsi

    And don't forget about online education. You can get good tips there and very useful information.

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