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A Good GMAT Score Warrants a Rigorous and Focused Review Program

If you are planning on enrolling into a Master of Accounting (MAcc) program this coming fall or at any time in the foreseeable future, then you ought to already know that you will most likely have to submit a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score as part of your application for admission to a MAcc program. Depending on the quality, prestige, or rigor of the MAcc program you are considering applying to, you might have to obtain a GMAT score that is above a certain threshold  to ensure that your application for admission receives the highest level of consideration from a given admission committee. While your GMAT score is only one of several factors that usually determine the fate of your MAcc application, there are a variety of MAcc programs that award graduate assistantship appointments based solely on a GMAT score but provided that the applicant meets all other admission criteria. In this still recovering U.S. economy and with all the uncertainties that characterize current U.S. employment figures, it does certainly make sense to take advantage of every opportunity available to complete a MAcc degree with as little cash outlay or education loan as possible.

Now that the importance of your GMAT score has been established, it is only appropriates to speculate on what would be seen as a good GMAT score. I combed through dozens of graduate business programs as I was researching potential graduate accounting programs I should consider sending my application materials to. Based on that experience, I believe it’s fair to say the consensus estimate for a good GMAT score lies somewhere between 600 and 690. Any score below 600 is an OK score and any score above 700 is an excellent score. If you achieve a GMAT score above 600, you are almost guaranteed to receive a positive admission decision from most highly regarded graduate accounting programs.

It took me about 3 months to prepare for the GMAT and I ended up scoring 640. Like most standardized tests, the difference between obtaining a good score and a so-so score is serious preparation unless you are naturally gifted in which case this write up is not even intended for you to read. I am going to discuss what I think has helped me the most during my preparation for the GMAT.  The following is how I suggest that you review for the GMAT if you want to obtain a score above 600.

Review    MaterialImportanceReview Time-linePurposeReview Strategy
Latest edition of Princeton Review Cracking the GMATStrongly RecommendedWeeks 1-3To intimately get acquainted with the structure of the GMAT and the spirit within which questions are constructedRead through it very quickly. Do all practice questions after each review module. Take notes as you read.
Latest edition of the The Official Guide for GMAT ReviewNecessaryWeeks 4-7So you can get accustomed to the types of questions you will be seeing on the actual exam.Carefully read the informational portion at the beginning. Do the pretest then follow book instructions on how to use pretest results to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Then work your way through all the questions. Do not write or circle anything in the books. Instead, use a notebook to take notes or to write your answer choices down.
GrockIt Free Course* on The 12th Edition of The Official Guide for GMAT Review (Free registration required)Strongly recommendedWeeks 4-7To help you better understand the solutions to the questions in The Official Guide.Just use it as a companion to The Official Guide. It’s possible that you might not fully understand the rationale behind some of the solutions to the questions offered in the Official Guide. You can use the free GrockIt course to read about alternative ways of attacking and solving the questions.
GMATPrep® Software Simulation Test.NecessaryWeeks 7-8To get acquainted with the actual software use to administer the GMAT. What you see on this simulation of the actual GMAT in terms of look of and feel is what you will get on. Most importantly, taking a sample test will enable you to assess your level of preparedness after you have gone through the Official Guide.The software is available for free either via download or through CD from GMAC (the company that administers the GMAT). However, free registration is required. The test software contains exactly two full length tests. Just take one of them under normal testing conditions. Make sure to review the questions that you are missing or that are taking you longer to solve.
Latest edition of the The Official Guide for GMAT Review (Again!)NecessaryWeeks 8-11To cement all the hard work you put in from Week 4 through Week 7. They say that repetition makes permanent.Just approach the second time around as if the first round never happened. Go through all the questions again. Feel free to jot down any notes or to circle your answers inside the book. Make sure to carefully review the question you are still missing or that are still giving you a difficult time.
GrockIt Free Official Guide Course (Free registration required).RecommendedWeeks 8-11To help you better understand the solutions to those questions in the Official Guide that you are still having a hard time solving.Use as needed.
Manhattan GMAT Computer Adaptive Practice Exams – 1 Year AccessStrongly recommendedWeeks 11-13To build stamina as you will need it because the GMAT is a 3 1/2 hour long test. This will also help you with learning to efficiently manage your time as you won’t have enough time to work on individual question if you wish to get through the end of each section of the test. Always remember that on the GMAT, you do get penalized for not finishing a section.The Manhattan GMAT simulation test questions are fairly hard but do not let that intimidate you as you go through GMAT similation. I would recommend that you take a the minimum 8 Manhattan GMAT simulations under normal testing conditions. Please approach the written part of the simulation as if it is test day because this is your best opportunity to get some preparation for that portion of the GMAT. Take the time to review the questions you are missing so you won’t struggle with similar questions on test day.
Manhattan GMAT Free GMAT Flash CardsRecommendedWeeks 4-13To complement your own notesGo through them all then use them as needed
BeatTheGMAT Free GMAT Prep Flash cards (Free registration required)RecommendedWeeks 4-13To complement your own notesGo through them all then use them as needed
GMATPrep® Software Simulation TestNecessaryWeek 13 (72 hours prior to GMAT test date)To get one last assessment of your level of preparedness. This is your last dress rehearsal before your GMAT test day.Just take the unused simulation test under normal testing conditions as you would at the testing center. Make sure to review the questions that you missed or that might have given you a hard time.
BeatTheGMAT Forum & GMATClub ForumRecommendedWeeks 1-13Learn from the experiences of those who  either fared well or  underachieved. You can learn some valuable tips on these two forums.Visit the two forums as needed however do not let them become a distraction.You don’t have to be member in order to have access to the forums content. Be really careful not to allow yourself to be entice to buy any review material or review course.

*The GrockIt Free Course tool was not available back when I was reviewing for the GMAT. However, I checked it out and concluded it could be really helpful to current and future GMAT takers.

As you might have noticed, the GMAT review strategy above is very focused in that you do not have to deal with a myriad of review materials. This GMAT review guide assumes that you have an above average mastery of the English language and of the college level math. If you are lacking in any of those two specified areas, then you might have to consider securing additional study materials so you can be better suited to make the most out of this GMAT preparation strategy. I will be happy to respond to any follow up question that an inquiring mind might have vis a vis this blog post.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by 3monthsolong:

    with 3 month, you getting 640 is really low score. seriously, if you already passed 4 parts, and cant pull of above 700. I would doubt your reasoning to go MS in a first place

  2. Comment by Dee.Nomore74:

    Narcisse, such a great list you put together. I might be studying for gmat if I pass the final part of the cpa exam. Needless to say, this article came on just in time 🙂

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