The Ultimate Guide to winning GMAT

Wikipedia describes Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as a computer adaptive test intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA.

If you ask an aspiring student, GMAT is their stepping stone to a prestigious college or a management program. GMAT is that exam which an Indian student should write to avail admission for graduate programs in the best universities across the globe.

For nearly 60 years, this exam has been accepted as the test of choice and for that matter it is proven that this works. GMAT is basically used to measure your skills and what the schools are looking for in you.

In today’s blog, I will be discussing few pointers which would come handy for an aspiring Indian.

GMAT was started in the year 1953 by GMAC whose goal was to develop a standardized test which helped the Universities to fetch qualified applicants. Those years the assessment was taken over by only 2,000 students whereas now the number has increased to 235,000 times annually.

GMAT scores are used by more than 2100 schools and 5900 programs worldwide.

What are the different sets in GMAT?

The total exam time for GMAT is 3 hours and 30 minutes. Below are the various categories in which the questions will be asked:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
    This section is to measure your ability to think critically and communicate your ideas in your own words. For more details and sample questions, click the link here.
  2. Integrated Reasoning
    These sets of questions evaluate your real world reasoning skills. The information gathered from multiple sources and formats has to be evaluated. Here, the importance is given to both quantitative and verbal reasoning. For more details and sample questions click here.
  3. Quantitative section
    This is the section where in you need to apply your basic mathematical abilities. You will be asked to interpret the graphical data, solve the problems and evaluate information. Nothing to be nervous about here. It may sound really overwhelming at first but the fact is with sheer practice and perseverance everything can be achieved.
    I do have a friend who had come from Arts background who had left her mathematical skills in high school. But she cleared her exam and presently she is pursuing her MBA from University of Texas. She succeeded her GMAT through a solid study plan. Here are some of the tips that I gathered from her to crack the quantitative section:
    – First of all, do not get nervous. It is better not to study from plenty of sources. She just chose GMAT quants and several practice exams.
    – Secondly, if you feel that your first score was not up to the standard of the school you are targeting to, attempt again. The second time you attempt, you will gain confidence.
    – Thirdly, Go with a sense of calm and be confident in what you have prepared.
  4. Verbal Section
    This section measures your ability to read and understand written material. For more details, click here.

Why is GMAT exam so important?

Preparing for GMAT exam takes a great amount of time, practice and dedication. An average student needs at least 6 months to prepare for this exam.

The main reason is because GMAT assesses a higher order of reasoning and a skill that constantly improves through practice. Now, here are few reasons why GMAT is considered important:

  1. GMAT exam is not just to get admission to world class institutions but also gives you the confidence to face all types of competitive assessments.
  2. The exam is required for admission to some of the world class schools.
  3. GMAT score is considered by  most of the schools to attract the best students, which not only helps guarantee a rich educational atmosphere, but also gives you access to an powerful network of future business leaders that will augment your career many times over.

 How to prepare for GMAT?

  1. Plan and choose an appropriate time to write the exam.

Remaining clueless about the dates of an examination will be of no help. You should figure out what time of the year are you planning to give your exam and start preparations in advance. Preparing for GMAT would be tough and stressful enough, but make yourself calm and less intimidating.

  1. Use of appropriate study materials

It is not necessary to buy all the study materials in the market which is deals with GMAT. In fact, that would be a waste of time.  Pick the material that works best for you. Brush up your basic geometrical and algebraic skills from high school. Make use of some of the practice test available online.

  1. Make a study schedule

Structure a schedule that works best for you. Especially if you are working and have a very busy work timings, keep apart at least 30 minutes every day for studies. This would be helpful instead of studying for more than 3 hours and losing your attention span.

  1. Familiarize the structure and format of the test

The structure and format of the test never changes. Be familiar with the directions and hence you can save a lot of time.

  1. Timing is very important

Each section in GMAT has a time limit. It is good keep a check on how much time you take to finish answering a question. In one way, it helps you by not staring at the timer every now and then.

  1. Understand your weakness

Are you slow in reading? Do you need more attention towards your math skills? What are Idioms and phrases? It is good to be self-aware of topics that you think yo need focus upon. It will be easier for you to brush up those topics at first and then move on to another. Once you tackle your weakness by understanding the strategies and concepts, then the hard topics will appear to be easier.

  1. Make sure you are not by-hearting any questions

Memorizing a question’s answer is only going to waste your time. GMAT is a computer adaptive test and it is not necessary that you get the same type of questions that you saw in the practice tests. Hence, understand the logic and work on it. That will be easier.

  1. Practice makes a man perfect

Take your time, don’t hurry and take the test. Practice “N” number of times and when you feel you are confident, appear for the test.

  1. Simulate a test day experience

Give a mock test when you are thorough with the studies. While practicing, stimulate a test environment as much as possible. Choose a quiet place and dedicate 3.5 hours and give your best shot.

  1. Be calm and composed

Never get too nervous and fearful. Though, GMAT can be given 5 times in a year, each time you write the exam keep in mind that whatever score you get will be the final.

Top 10 Books To Refer for GMAT Preparation

Best Books for GMAT
  1. Manhattan GMAT series (Full series. Great value)
  2. The GMAT official guide (Rs. 1,350 – Great book!)
  3. Kaplan GMAT premier 2017 (Rs. 2,499 Paperback)
  4. The Princeton review – cracking the GMAT premium 2016 edition
  5. Grockit – 1600 + practice questions for GMAT (Rs. 899)
  6. GMAT sentence correction strategy guide – By Manhattan GMAT (Rs. 1,070)
  7. The power score GMAT critical reasoning bible (Rs. 1,772)
  8. McGraw Hills GMAT (Rs. 356)
  9. Barron’s new GMAT (Rs. 449)
  10. Manhattan Review GMAT Math study (Rs. 2067)

Best Time to Apply for GMAT

This totally depends on which college you are planning to apply for. The admission season generally starts during fall (August – October). Hence, if you are planning to get into a college during the September month, you got to take the test at least 2 months prior to it.

Remember one thing, the test score is valid for 5 years but of course it is too hard to take the test too soon. Take your time, the more time you have, better the score you get. The absolute minimum time needed between your test date and the application deadline is two months. Plan well in advance.

You can schedule your test through this site and check for nearby centers. There are 29 test centers in India.

Top 10 Universities in India that accept GMAT scores

  1. ISB, Hyderabad & Mohali
  2. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai
  3. IIM, Ahmedabad
  4. School of Management, NMIMS, Mumbai
  5. IIM, Bangalore
  6. Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai
  7. IIM, Calcutta
  8. XLRI, Jamshedpur
  9. IIM, Lucknow
  10. MT, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, Nagpur & Dubai

I am also listing down the best Universities in USA that every aspiring Indian student would want to join & also jotting down the test scores required:

Business SchoolProgrammeGMAT Score/ range
Stanford University – Stanford Graduate School of BusinessMBA740
University of Chicago- Booth school of businessMBA720
Harvard Business SchoolMBA730
University of PennsylvaniaMBA728
Northwestern University – Kellogg School of  ManagementMBA717
Dartmouth College – Tuck School of BusinessMBA716
Columbia University-
Columbia Business School
Duke University-Fuqua School of BusinessMBA690
Cornell University-
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
University of Michigan
Stephen M. Ross School of Business

For an exhaustive list of colleges that accepts GMAT score, check this link.

Top GMAT coaching centers across India

GMAT Coaching Centers India
  1. The Manya Group

Test preparation offered: GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, ACT
Locations: Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mysore, Warangal
Course Variants: GMAT Ultima (offers 63 hours of classroom coaching, weekday and weekend classes etc.), GMAT customized tutoring (1-0n-1 classes, flexible schedule etc.) & GMAT excelerator program (specialized course for high scorers, two hours of customized sessions)
Address: Manya Education (p) Limited, B-7/2, Okhla Phase –II, New Delhi , 110020
Contact no: 011- 40500900

  1. Mahavir Jain Academy ( MJ Academy)

Test preparation offered: GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, CAT
Location: Delhi
Course Variants: GMAT Secure is a rigorous 20 week program supported with full one year support. This offers 80+ classroom sessions, 100+ hours of free vocabulary training.
Address: A-32, 3rd Floor, above reliance fresh, Dayanand Colony,
Lajpat Nagar-IV
Contact no: 011-41008179, 9310017599

  1. Jamboree

Test Preparation offered: GRE, GMAT
Course Variants: Jamboree offers online training for GMAT. There are various levels of courses – Intensive ( 30+ theory videos, 200 problems solved step by step, 750 practice problems, valid for 2 months), Comprehensive (10 hours of personalized doubt sessions, valid for 6 months), Test Series (4 linear full length tests, valid for 3 months).
Prices: Intensive (Rs.12, 900), Comprehensive (Rs.17, 950) & Test Series (Rs. 3500)
Location: Jamboree Education Pvt. Ltd.
9-AB, 2nd Floor, Taimoor Nagar,
New Friends Colony,
New Delhi, INDIA – 110065
Contact no: +91 116565 4789

  1. T.I.M.E – Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd

Test Preparation offered: GMAT, CAT, GRE, MAT and TOEFL
Course Variants: The course designed at T.I.M.E is especially for the Indian students. They offer free GMAT prep software, a test preparation kit which comprises of 2- full length practice tests. The classroom programs offers about 100 hours (52 sessions) of coaching.
Locations: Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kottayam, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Panjim, Rohtak, Surat, Trivandrum, Udupi, Vizag
Address: 95B, 2nd floor, Siddamsetty Complex, Park Lane,
Secunderabad – 500 003.
Contact no: 040-27898195/40088400

  1. Career Launcher

Test Preparation offered: CAT, IIFT, NMAT, GRE and GMAT
Course Variants: GMAT classroom program offers 80 plus power packed GMAT classroom training, modular flexi program that would suit each student needs and exhaustive practice tests.
Locations: Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh
Address: Espire Building,
A-41, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area,
Near Mohan Cooperative Metro station,
New Delhi – 110044
Contact no: 011-41280800

  1. IMS

Test Preparation offered: GMAT, GRE, Civil service examinations
Course Variants: GMAT classroom (offered for about 3 months, 15 practice tests and 66 classroom training), 14 days GMAT 700+boot camp (14 power packed days of boot camp, set of 6 IMS GMAT prep, 15 practice tests, 30 + drills) & one –to –one GMAT tutoring ( customized sessions as per need), GMAT correspondence, GMAT test series, GMAT classroom plus admission consulting.

Locations: across India
Address: 6th Floor, NCL Building, ‘E’ Block, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), (Next to CITY PARK – Garden), Bandra (east), Mumbai – 400051.
Contact No : 02266170000

  1. Crack Verbal

Test preparation offered: GMAT, GRE
Course Variants: GMAT classroom & GMAT online sessions. Classroom sessions offers about 33 hours of verbal instructions, 35 hours of quantitative and free workshops on applying for MBA & numerous online resources. Whereas online sessions offers live online classes and 500+ GMAT tests.
Locations: Chennai & Bangalore
Address: # S-7, 2nd Floor, Gem Plaza,
Infantry Road,
Bangalore – 560001
Contact no: +91 9019199800

  1. Mnemonic

Test preparation offered: GMAT, GRE, TOEFL and IELTS
Course Variants: The GMAT preparatory classes offers a detailed score reporting and essay feedback, customized lectures, complete study material and 8 full length tests
Locations: New Delhi
Address: 1102 (11th floor) Pearl Best Heights II Netaji Subhash Place New Delhi,
India 110 034
Contact no:  +91 9717 30 1313, +91 11 49050494

I am also listing top 10 GMAT online coaching websites wherein you can download questions and practice tests for free of cost:

  2. Manhattan GMAT:
  3. Magoosh:
  4. GMAT simulator:
  5. GMAT free:
  6. com :
  7. com :
  8. Princeton review:
  9. com :
  10. 800score :

Everybody thinks of another alternative just in case we do not get through the GMAT. First of all, you have 5 chances in a year.

And GMAT is considered as a medium to get admission to the top notch business schools in the world or executive management programs in India. You can keep trying and practicing till you achieve.

But there should always be a Plan B. Have you decided your plan B?

If not, you might as well consider writing CAT (Common Admission Test) or MAT (Management Aptitude Test) exams which will help you get admission in Indian business schools. The study material that you have used and the subjects you have studied is not going to be in vain.

You are not wasting a year also. So think about it! Hence, all the best aspiring Indians. Give your best shot.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Entrepreneur, Mentor & Blogger.
I help business grow & scale. Have helped 15+ companies scale in US, Middle East and India.
I share everything I learned on this blog, so that you benefit. Here’s more about me.

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