Planning for the Right Time to Take the GMAT

    The GMAT exam demands the candidates to showcase their managerial, and professional skills by providing knowledge about verbal, quant, reasoning and analytical writing. Needless to say, the preparation that goes behind GMAT is quite a prolonged one, and the most asked question among candidates is ‘what is the right time to take the GMAT exam?’

    The accurate data can guide the candidates in preparing for the GMAT exam not only for the subjects but also for strategizing the selection of the best B-school.

    Step 1: Determining a target business school

    Test takers preparing for GMAT are very well aware of the guideline of selecting up to 5 B-schools for delivering their GMAT scores. The selection has to be made cautiously and only those that the test taker thinks are feasible. It must be noted that there is an additional GMAT fee costing $35.

    Therefore, the first step is to sort out business schools.

    Step 2: Figuring Out the Application Dates of Business Schools

    Each business schools have their set application dates, and it is always recommended to get hold of the GMAT scores 3 months in advance of the application dates. Most of the business schools have numerous application dates and the candidate needs to fix the date they want. The application dates for most of the business schools are:

    Application RoundDeadline
    Round 1September/October
    Round 2Early January
    Round 3April

    The very reason behind keeping the GMAT scores ready is, abroad business schools mandate the providing of other proofs like recommendations, essays, and more and all of these needs time. There is no wonder the essays require enough time to be prepared.

    Step 3: Exact hours of preparation required

    After sorting out the business schools and their application deadlines, the main step that needs to be sorted is the exact hours of preparation needed. There is an easy way to find that:

    GMAT Preparation


    • Target GMAT Score = Final score that you are targeting
    • Current Estimated GMAT score = Starting score from GMAT Mock Test
    • 7/10 = 7 hours of effort for every 10-point score improvement
    • CBT = Confidence Building Time factor; its value can be 0.0 or 0.25

    Here, the CBT or confidence building time factor is the increased time required to grasp the fundamental concepts of GMAT. As it is already known, the GMAT exam is based on verbal, quant and reasoning and if the candidate lacks knowledge in any one of them then their CBT will be 0.25.

    Note: According to GMAC, a student scoring a 700+ in GMAT devotes 90 hours median time.

    Step 4: Allotting time for GMAT Retake

    Out of 250,000 candidates opting for the GMAT exam, fifth are retakes. This states, the candidate might need to give retake for one of the following reasons:

    1. The aimed business school has boosted the required GMAT score
    2. The candidate resides in an over-represented applicant pool
    3. Stressing resulted in low GMAT scores

    According to the official conducting body or GMAC, a candidate has to halt for 16 days before attempting to retake GMAT and also the exam can be attempted 5 times a year and 8 times throughout the lifetime.

    Now, considering all the above factors, though a 3 months preparation time for GMAT might appear long but keeping aside some time for the retaking task is necessary too. As it is stated, fetching the GMAT scores 3 months before the application dates are good, but when retaking comes in the midst, setting aside more than 3 months (total 6 months) before the application dates is a better option.

    Step 5: Additional requirements for MBA applicants

    The MBA application procedure is a quite prolonged one and needs a candidate around 8 – 12 months to finally settle in the classroom of their targeted business school. It is not only about GMAT, a test taker requires to prepare their essays which needs to be compelling, they need to work with recommenders and create a terrific recommendation, and lastly but importantly prepare for the interviews.

    Note: There are additional tasks related to a visa when it comes to international students and that is quite tedious.

    If you are a working professional or student the GMAT prep time will range around 3 – 6 months.

    Step 6: English Proficiency Tests

    International students have another crucial task to tend – taking English proficiency tests or TOEFL/IELTS. The requirements also depend on the business schools and that also affects the prep time.

    Step 7: GMAT Test Centre Availability

    The GMAT test dates are normally flooded during the exam times, and it is very hard for test-takers who are applying around that period to receive a test date. Therefore, it is always advised to book the GMAT date 2 – 3 months before.

    Benefits of taking GMAT exam while studying

    Advantages of taking the GMAT while studying:

    1. The subjects in GMAT: verbal, quant, reasoning and analytical writing will still be crisp in your head.
    2. You will still be into academics and taking the exam will be easier.
    3. The GMAT score validity is for 5 years.
    4. Flexibility and availability of time



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