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Getting set for GMAT

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
By Caroline Déclas

The GMAT exam is coming up in June this year and students have been preparing for it conscientiously for the past several months.
Caroline Declas speaks to experts to find out how aspirants can better their preparations for the forthcoming exams.

GMAT, an exam based on the evaluation of competence in Mathematics and English in order to enter business schools is a key test in India to enter top schools and universities in the country and to apply for most of the foreign universities’ undergraduate programs and executive MBA’s.

This computerised test is spread worldwide and is the key to success to enter the best schools which have made GMAT compulsory in their admission process. Although it is expensive (US $250), “3,300 students will be taking the test this year in Mumbai alone, Delhi also being a big test centre,” according to Swapnila B, GMAT Course Head, T.I.M.E. Mumbai.

However, after almost fifty years of its existence, the test has been revised this year. Originally, GMAT consisted of two main parts: the Analytical Writing Assignment – comprising two essays and a quantitative and verbal section. This year, the decision to reduce one of the essays has been taken. Instead, the candidate will have to work on the new Integrated Reasoning section, based mainly on the analysis of data in tables and charts.

“In fact, it won’t really change a lot of things for our preparation classes,” said Swapnila, “It is only the writing section part that will be changing and the new focus will be based on calculation and interpretation which are things we have already inculcated in our students.”Prof. Murtuza Gadiwala, Director, Sharp Minds agrees adding that, “This removal of the second essay is not going to affect the performance of the students. The new Integrated Reasoning section calls for skills that students already possess. It is an interpretation question and they are familiar with this kind of analysis and because they have already dealt with data at their office, it comes naturally to them.”

Nonetheless, even if the coaching classes feel that students will not really be affected by these sudden changes they will have to prepare the students for this change. In order to do so they will mainly guide the students with the information about the new part of the test and answer their questions to reassure them and also prepare the analysis with the official guide that has been released. Although this change occurs a few months before the test itself, both Gadiwala and Swapnila seem to think this change is a good thing as it tests new skills and that it will not be changing the essence of the test itself.

When it comes to the preparation, the students seem to be more worried about the English section. “Not every Indian is comfortable with English and the grammar part is the hardest for them due to lack of practice,” said Swapnila. “Certain students also fear the mathematics part as they do not have a mathematics background. But anyway, once they have targeted their weaknesses they just have to do some extra training and work,” added Gadiwala. “Any student can take this test,” declared Swapnila, “With a coaching class or even if you are studying independantly, I would advise the student to visit the official website of the GMAT and to take a sample test to evaluate his/her qualification, then, based on the score; the student should take a decision. For example, we advise students to take up three and a half to four months to prepare for the exam at a coaching class to make them efficient.”

In conclusion, the most important need for this year’s examination is to follow the advice of the coach and to get ready for it like every other test. “I would first advise the students to review the important concepts as a stepping stone, Gadiwala, particularly mathematics and grammar. It should be clear in their mind and not just a blurred memory.” If they need additional practice in a field, they should then concentrate on that. They should then settle on a strategy in order to manage their time, comprising of a Q&A test and casual training tricks, but most of all, this test is to be taken within a time limit; so they should practice in virtual conditions to make sure they are able to manage with the time limit laid down he points out.

Finally, the students will have to handle the stress of the preparation during the home stretch, so three, two, one… lets go practice!”

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