Preparing for the GMAT

Applying to business school or graduate school may be one of the most important decisions - and investments - you make in your life. To get into your top choice school, you need to score as highly as possible on the GMAT.

The GMAT is a competitive test with high stakes. You should definitely prepare thoroughly – it is not enough to turn up on test day and hope for the best! It is also not enough for the vast majority of people to simply skim a GMAT book over a weekend.

The MBA admissions process is very competitive

The average acceptance rate at leading business schools is between 15% and 25%. A high GMAT score is one way to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of acceptance. With the average score at top schools above 700 (or the 90th percentile), you must perform extremely well on the test in order to remain competitive and submit a winning application.

The higher your GMAT score, the higher your starting salary

Research shows that every 10 point increase in your GMAT score correlates to another $5K in your starting salary after business school. Higher scores help you to gain admission into more competitive, higher-ranked MBA programs, which in turn brings more job opportunities and higher salaries.
In short, it pays to prep.

GMAT Scores and Salaries Graph

Source: Average GMAT scores and average starting salaries from US News & World Report Business School Rankings

The GMAT is one of the most important factors in your application

In a recent survey of 260 MBA admissions officers, 44% said that a low GMAT is an "application killer."
(Source: Kaplan's Business School Admissions Officer Survey, 2009)

The GMAT is still under your control - unlike other aspects!

Of all the components of your MBA applications, many will already be set in stone - e.g. your undergraduate scores, work history, etc. The GMAT, on the other hand, is one of the few admissions factors that you can STILL CHANGE at this point - so be sure to spend sufficient time and effort in maximising the potential gains of this vital aspect of your application.

Doing well on the GMAT takes time

According to GMAC research, 700+ scorers state that they study an average of 114 hours for the GMAT. This table shows the correlation between hours of study for the GMAT and resulting score:

GMAT Score Average Study Hours
700+ 114
600-690 104
550-590 100
<500 82

Source: Student-reported data; GMAT mba.com registrants survey


The GMAT is probably different from any other exam you've taken: it is a computer adaptive exam and includes unique question types such as Data Sufficiency. Preparation and practice are crucial for this unfamiliar test format, and you will need to develop your skills in both content and critical thinking in order to perform well under pressure.

What is the best way to prepare for the GMAT?

Test preparation depends on the individual. The best way for you to prepare depends on many factors: your familiarity with standardised tests, your level of English and grammar knowledge, your work schedule, family commitments, the amount of time you can devote to studying, etc.

At Kaplan, we're here to make test preparation as straightforward and effective as possible. We offer various ways to prepare for the GMAT: attend one of our comprehensive GMAT courses -  In PersonLive Online  or Self-Paced, or consider GMAT Private Tutoring for a completely tailored approach.