What is the right time to appear for the GMAT?
In two online chats with readers on December 26, 2011 and January 2, 2012, experts Naveenan Ramachandran and Vimal Gopinathan from 4GMAT addressed reader queries related to cracking the GMAT exam and offered advise to aspirants on how to prepare and score better.
For those who missed the live chats, here's the unedited transcript:
mindovermatters asked, Which are the countries that accept the GMAT scores?
Vimal G answers, at 2011-12-26 15:12:49Hi, the GMAT is accepted by several B-schools worldwide. to get a comprehensive list, please visit mba.com
victor42 asked, hi.......My score in GMAT is 700. Math 50 Verbal 30
Vimal G answers, Hi Victor, what is your profile and where are you considering applying?
mindovermatters asked, how is GMAT quant different from CAT Quant?
Naveenan answers, Hi ... GMAT Quant: (1) Lot more emphasis on Data Sufficiency (almost 1/3rd to 1/2 questions come from DS), (2) All questions have to be answered unlike CAT, (3) No trigonometry or logarithms (unlike CAT), (4) Lot less calculation instensive as compared to CAT.
Vimal G answers, the GMAT quant has two types of questions - Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. CAT doesnt emphasize on DS much. Moreover, the CAT covers areas such as trigonometry, binomial theorem and logarithms - which arent tested on the GMAT. A GMAT question is challenging because of subtleties in question presentation, rather than on the mathematical complexity
Pradip asked, from where i will get dumps of GMAT so that i can score max ...
Naveenan answers, Hi Pradip, The OG is supposed to be questions which have featured on the actual GMAT in the past ... I doubt if you will get "open" sources of GMAT actual question dumps as GMAT can potentially sue such a source ... We have had such instances in the past. All the best !
Vimal G answers, Hi Pradip, You can start by preparing from the Official guide. That should be a good place to start. Do a lot of practice for Reading Comprehension, as improvement comes very slowly in the RC section.
anand asked, Hi, can you please let us know what is the minimumn GMAT score for a good B-school abroad? Is their sectional cut-offs?
Vimal G answers, Hi Anand, Different B-schools have different criteria. a GMAT score of 700 + should be good enough for most B-schools worldwide. For the top 10-15 B-schools, a GMAT score of 730+ should be enough
Deep asked, Hi. I just got a 600 in GMAT. A low score of 24 in Verbal. How can i improve Critical reasoning section score in the exam
Naveenan answers, (1) Focus on the question rather than on the argument stem at the outset ... (2) Come up with a possible answer before looking at the 5 answers ... (3) Practice the strengthen, weaken, inference, conclusion questions inside out ... The 1000 series of documents would give you adequate practice. (4) Try to paraphrase the seemingly-correct-answer along with the question. In a lot of cases, an inappropriate choice will fail this test. All the best !
Vimal G answers, Hi Deep, Your verbal score is low and needs improvement. You can take the CR bible and learn the basics. The Official Guide - 12th Edition has some decent questions.
anand asked, Hi, I have work ex of 3 yrs. What do B-schools look for when they check profiles?
Vimal G answers, Hi Anand, B-schools look at several factors while evaluating a profile. The GMAT score, Work experience (both duration and Quality), Application essays, Undergrad / PG scores (to a small degree), extra-curricular activities - all play an important role. The final interview also plays a very significant role to evaluate the fit.
ghfhg asked, Which CR bible you are talking about ? Powerscore CR ??
Vimal G answers, The Powerscore CR book is one of the several books which are good for CR. The study material of most test-prep institutions are pretty standardized these days, and there is much to choose from.
ghfhg asked, Apart from Powerscore which other books I can refer to for CR ?
Naveenan answers, Hi ghfhg ... The 1000 CR is a good source to get adequate practice ... There are tonnes and tonnes of questions which get discussed on beat-the-gmat and gmatclub which you could use ... They even get the analysis for the questions - which makes life easier
Pradip asked, In which case should I go for GMAT ? and in which case should I go for IELTS ?
Vimal G answers, The GMAT is a mandatory requirement for admission into most B-schools. Additionally, a school may also want to see your IELTS / TOEFL score as proof of your proficiency in English. This is done for international applicants whose native language isn't English. In most cases, the IELTS / TOEFL may be waived off. It depends entirely on the B-school
ghfhg asked, Sounds good.. Thanks for the valuable suggestion. Is this discussion confined to GMAT or we can post queries related to applications and interviews as well..??
Vimal G answers, You can post any question related to the admission process.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'Better to give the exam before June to avoid surprises'
Pradip asked, Now a day's US government is rejecting F1 VISA..What's your Opinion on it ?
Naveenan answers, A very blanket statement to say ... US has been very stringent about its F1 visa for several years now (perhaps a decade) ... As long as they are convinced that you have a very good reason to return to India; and that you are sorted with respect to your ability to pay the fees; and that you will not end up being a burden to the American tax-payer; you get the visa. At this stage, you should be least bothered about this factor ... As a lot of colleges all over the world take GMAT scores for their management programs, GMAT is the item to concentrate upon. All the best !
Deep asked, Heard that GMAT will change in June. One section wil be replaced. What is your view on overall difficulty level of the new exam
Vimal G answers, yes, the format of the GMAT is going to undergo a change in the month of June. There will be a new section called Integrated Reasoning (IR) which will be somewhat similar to the Data Interpretation section on CAT. The overall difficulty of the exam is expected to remain the same, although higher percentiles are likely to become harder to achieve, as the number of test-takers is likely to go up.
Naveenan answers, Yes - one of the essays is being replaced with a section called "Integrated Reasoning" ... The IR is very similar to the DI section of CAT ... The mba.com page has a page which provides the sample questions of this type. The overall difficulty level should not change much ... Having said that, it would be better to give the exam before June just to avoid last minute surprises. All the best !
mayank asked, Sir please communicate the full name and publisher of the OG
Vimal G answers, Hi Mayank, The Official Guide is an official GMAC publication. You can get it at any bookstore which sells books for competitive exams. Please ask for the 12th edition.
kapil asked, any ideas on Scholarships available for post grad Management education abroad?
Vimal G answers, hi Kapil, B-schools in the US are known for giving a lot of financial assistance. The Fin-Aid can be in several forms 1. Education loan - without collateral, and at very low rates 2. Tuition fee waiver 3. Assistantships / Other living expense help 4. Scholarship. Out of the four, scholarships are the toughest to get ,as there are very few scholarships available and there is a lot of competition for it. That said, a scholarship doesnt have much of monetary value - you wont find scholarships for more than $ 10,000. Most students view scholarships as a value-add in the CV rather than as financial assitance. If you are keen to reduce your cost, pelase look at Tuition fee waiver that universities provide. These fee waivers can go up to 100%
mindovermatters asked, what is the right time to give the GMAT?
Naveenan answers, there is no such thing as a right time (though there are some theories that some months are better than others) ... As far as 2012 is concerned, it would be better to give it before June in order to avoid the IR question ... But, if the same question were asked in April - it may not be wise to compress preparation duration with a view to avoid IR. Vimal G answers, the best time to give the GMAT is when you are prepared for it. Please take it before the month of May, as the format is changing in June - and you'd rather not be in the first batch to try out the new test! Also, if you have a GMAT score by May, you can prepare yourself for the deadlines which will start comign up from June/ July onwards
mihir asked, i want a short course not 2 full years, i prefer singapore to the US or some course in asia -pacific , but not US or Europe
Vimal G answers, You can look at Universities in Singapore - Nanyang / National Univ Singapore / Singapore management Univ. You also have other options in the Asian region - Asian inst of Mgmt, HKUST etc. A GMAT of 660 with 3-4 years of experience is a bit on the lower side, although you can still manage to get through if you build a good application package. Have you considered re-taking hte GMAT?
Bozo asked, Please reply Sir. I have scored 72% in X, XII, PGDCA but 52% in BSc. Have scored 720 in GMAT. Have 11 years of experience partially in top software companies like TCS and Oracle. What are my chances in IIMs , ISB, SP Jain etc.
Naveenan answers, Hi Bozo ... Very good chances in SP Jain ... IIMs are going to be pretty tough ... With 11 years of experience, the graduation scores kind of pale into insignificance ... You ought to be defiant about your work-ex and your application's strength will be the work-ex and the experiences that you have gained in various capacities ... Just concentrate on them ... You have a strong GMAT score anyways which indicates your ability to take the academic rigor ... Just focus on your strengths and prepare a confident application ... All the best !
Deep asked, Could you suggest which are the best 1 yr MBA in India
Vimal G answers, For candidates with more than 5 years of work experience - the One year executive MBA offered by the IIMs - IIM A, B, C, L would be the best options. Also, XLRI has a one year prog called the GMP, for which one needs about 6 years of work exp. With lower experience levels, B-schools such as ISB or GLIM would be good options.
abhi asked, sir I have been declared as aterrorist in United states my name is Abhishek Mawle also there is Mr.Vikram Buddhi an IIT gold medalist in Jail do you want to ruin the lives of this students by asking them to go to usa.I think CAT is better than GMAT
Naveenan answers, Hi Abhi .. We are not pro GMAT or pro CAT or pro study-in-US for that matter ... There are advantages and there are disadvantages in each country ... Due diligence of the economic levels, acceptance levels, tolerance levels, comfort factors have to be evaluated by each student ...
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'When you are taking practice tests, always start with an essay'
pratika asked, Hi, I would like to know which MBA school in India are best known for recruiting students in Investment Banking and Private Equity. If you could list few names other than the IIMs. Also how many years of professional experience is required to meet the eligibility criteria.
Naveenan answers, at 2012-01-02 15:06:02Hi Pratika ... A very tough question as IB and PE recruiters look for a lot of things ... Prior work experience in relevant areas, how young the candidate is (younger the better), how much of an academic brilliance the candidate has displayed, how presentable the person is (even though this sounds a very biased test) ... Apart from the IIMs, they recruit at the tier 1 schools like FMS, IIFT, IITs, SP Jain etc. Thanks.
nottyn asked, hi, how can an arts student prepare for the GMAT?
Vimal answers, Hi Nottyn, Start preparing for the GMAT by sharpening your critical reasoning and reading skills. This is usually what takes the longest time. Mathematics on the GMAT is quite simple compared to Indian competitive exams. But start early and do a lot of practice from the Official Guide - 12th Edition
Shaivi asked, Area of concentration while preparing for the exams? Best way to brush up the basics?
Vimal answers, Hi Shaivi, Both Quant and Verbal are important, and you need a balanced score in both to crack the GMAT. In Quant, algebra, word problems and Number Theory are probably the most importnat areas. You can start by focussing on these.
pratika asked, I have friend doing MBA in USA, but he has showed me a different picture about the job opportunities, which has led me to take a foot back. Please advise if its true or how should i overcome this
Naveenan answers, Hi Pratika, the job situation in US is definitely terse ... Not one of the most optimistic situations. A lot of the students who sign up for MBA in 2013 are taking the bet that things will definitely improve in 2015. Moreover, economic theory suggests that economic cycles will be shorter and we will neither have prolonged negativity nor prolonged positivity going forward. I hope this helps. Thanks. How should one overcome it: there is really no escape from downturns ... You just have to make sure that you are at the top of the class so that you get picked up by the best recruiters. Thanks.
Shaivi asked, How many hours does it usually take to complete the course work. Best website to get the free mock tests and prepare to be the best?
Vimal answers, one typically needs about 200-400 hours of preparation to be GMAT-ready. Your comfort level with various topics decides the number of hours you'll need. Towards the end, you can download the test prep software from mba.com and take those practice tests. GMAT prep usually gives a very accurate estimate of your score.
t asked, how to prepare for the essay section
Naveenan answers, Hi t ... understand the two essay types: one on arguments and one on issues ... Try to go through the sample essays available in GMAT forums ... Practice a lot of these essays ! More practice makes sense because on the day of the exam the AWA section tends to tire you out. Argument essay: remember to critique the argument and not to bring your own biases. Issue essay: You could bring in your biases and write an essay appropriately. Remember: they are looking for (1) content, (2) organization, (3) language skills and (4) writing skills. Thanks.
Vimal answers, Hi T, the essay section is usually not given much importance by the B-schools, as most B-schools have their own essays. That said, a very low AWA score is not good, as it is bound to draw attention. Prepare for the essay by sticking to the basic essay structure guidelines, which any good GMAT prep institute can help you with. Remember that the essay is also rated by a computer program, and as long as you stick to some basic essay writing guidelines, you will be fine. Make sure to write 3-4 sample essays before you take up your practice tests. Also, when you are taking practice tests, always start with an essay.
pratika asked, Thanks Naveenan, he too thought the same when he enrolled in Spring 2010, but you know its a near double recession which has killed off students back there. How can a student analyse such a situation. What precautions can be taken?
Naveenan answers, (1) Make sure that you do not take a huge educational loan (which affects your ability to perform and puts unnecessary pressure); (2) Try to get the most scholarship from your school; (3) Apply to the schools where you are likely to get scholarships; (4) If you are working, do not burn bridges with your current employer (!) An old student of ours got recruited by SAP in US on the basis of his track record while he was working for SAP in India (5) Make sure that you are in the top of your class. (6) Become a smart networker. I hope this helps. Thanks.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
'You have to put in about 10 hours per week to prepare for GMAT'
pratika asked, I would be grateful if you suggest me few websites which gives me the complete information abt the top colleges and scores required to meet the scholarship criteria
Naveenan answers, Hi Pratika ... USNews provides information about the scholarship, gmat club provides the links to all the school websites, the following link provides information about the application deadlines and the "admssion" webpage of each and every college: https://firstname.lastname@example.org&ctz=Asia/Calcutta&gsessionid=OK Thanks.
nottyn asked, how can one manage time effectively to prepare for GMAT? how close are the mock test scores to the actual one? how will i know that i am prepared enough?
Vimal answers, You have to put in about 10 hours per week. More, if you are very weak in any specific area. It is crucial to take plenty of practice tests. At least 6-8. The scores closest to the actual GMAT score are the GMAT prep tests, which can be downloaded for free from the official GMAT website - www.mba.com If you are getting satisfactory scores on the GMAT prep (without much guessing), you can consider yourself well-prepared. Good luck!
shyam asked, I recently read that gmat has replaced one of the essay questions with a new section? what is this section about and how does this affect the scoring?
Naveenan answers, Yes - the "issue" essay is replaced with "Integrated Reasoning". The IR is very similar to the DI section that we have in CAT & other Indian entrance examinations. The scoring of the section has not been released yet. It is going to start on June 5, 2012. To prepare for this, get familiar with pie charts, graph interpretations of data and percentage fundamentals. I hope this helps. Thanks.
Parag asked, Hi. I have done my MBA from a premier B school in India 2 years back. And presently am working in a consultancy firm. I want to pursue education further and am confused whether to go for PHD or a second MBA. Please advise
Naveenan answers, Hi Parag ... A PhD and a second MBA serve very different purposes and there should not be much reason for confusion if you are clear with the purpose. The 2nd MBA is done due to some of the following reasons: (1) to enhance the chances at a global exposure and subsequent job opportunities, (2) if one thinks the CAT score is not a representative of their true potential and they deserve to go to a school which is lot lot bigger. A Ph. D. is a 4 year commitment taken by somebody who wants to pursue either an academic career (faculty or a non - faculty). Thanks.
at asked, hi ...i recently gave my gmat and scored 600 and in AWA got a 6.0 how would you rate my score for me to get into a good B school
Vimal answers, Your AWA score is excellent. However, you also need a good Q/V score to be considered for admission into most B-school programs. With a score of 600, the chances in the top 40-50 univs are very less. I would encourage you to work on your weak areas and re-take the GMAT.
Rohit asked, If I am in no specific hurry to take GMAT, is it better to take it before it changes in June or later? How are the scores likely to be affected and how are the B schools poised to consider scores pre and post format change. Thanks!
Naveenan answers, Hi Rohit, If you are in no specific hurry, it would not be wrong to take post June if you are confident about your math / quant / data interpretation skills ... The exact scoring pattern has not been specified yet. Each school could decide on how they are going to use the test scores. Our belief is that for the admission cycle of 2013, they may not look at IR scores as they will get half the scores pre-IR and the other half post-IR (rough basis). Thanks.
at asked, Do you have any information on Rotman school of management?
Vimal answers, hi at, I've been counseling for US and Canadian MBAs for a couple of years, but unfortunately the Rotman program hasn't come on my radar. Please check their website, the course curriculum offered, the learning methodology, alumni network, industry contacts, tie-ups / exchange programs with other Unis, and also cross-check with ranking lists, such as Bloomberg or Businessweek. That should give you a fair idea.
shyam asked, What training material would you recommend for quant/verbal?
Naveenan answers, Hi Shyam ... The Official Guide is an absolute must-do ... The 1000 series of documents give a lot of brutal practice in each of the verbal sections ... The quant - they best place to start is 8, 9 , 10th class math books from the CBSE board ... GMAT specific types could be found on the web ... A lot of practice questions could be found on our website too. Thanks.
at asked, My Quant score was 44 and Verbal was 27
Vimal answers, Both the scores can be improved upon, in my opinion. The Verbal score might be seen as low by most US universities. I'd encourage you to re-take your exam and target a higher score, as you still have a lot of time left for the deadlines.
cats asked, Hi there, Given the economic env @ the globe how much worth it would be venture out for an MBA (say only from Ivy league, Insead, IIMA, ISB). I have a 680 (Q49, V 34) GMAt score, so also would like if you throw some light on my chances for those mentioned schools.I am an IITB grad with @ 5 yrs of work ex in consumer banking (pretty well paid as per Indian standard)...TIA
Naveenan answers, Hi CATS ... Good score upfront ... Good chances considering that that you have a UG from a good place and considerable work-ex also ... however - it might just fall a tad low for the likes of Insead / Harvard etc ... IIMs - somewhere in between and ISB - a good chance. In terms of your RoI question, I think there is a good case if you are pursuing it anywhere in India ... If you do it outside, on a pure cash basis, it will take at least 4 years to repay the edu loan ... I hope this helps. Thanks.
biplab asked, Hi I am Biplab, I am planning to write GMAT and targetting a score > 730. How should I prepare ? How much time should I allocate daily for my preparation and for how many months ? Thanks
Vimal answers, Hi Biplab, A score of 730 is extremely good, and it requires discipline and structured planning. Prepare regularly, alternating between Quant and Verbal, balancing time and effort between the two sections. A total of about 300-400 hours of preparation should be enough, if you invest the time in the right areas (depending on your strengths and weaknesses). You can prepare over a period of 3-4 months. Please get a copy of the GMAT official Guide - 12th Edition and have a look.
cats asked, Naveenan thanks for your response :), ya that's the genaral feeling I too also have (reg top B schools in US but just have a fettsih for Harvard I guess ..sigh!! and at the same time want to work in SGP rather than in USA :( ). I know there is know golden answer there but my biggest worry is finance (esp. if it's in USA ivy or Insead)but say if I do enroll into ISB program what kind of ROI I can expect (my current pckg is say 18-20 l per annum say). By the giving GMAT a second chance is also a WIP.. once again TIA!!
Naveenan answers, Hi CATS ... I think you should give NUS and NTU a serious thought - to my mind they serve your purpose very well and you will get a good shot at the more exotic parts of the bank after a degree from one of these institutes ... At ISB, you could expect at least a 50% jump in your take-home ... At an expense of 20L and an opportunity cost of 1 year of your current salary, it will take about 2 years post qualification on a pure pay-back basis ... It is quite reasonable considering that it is an investment for a lifetime ... I hope I have answered the question ... As long as the payback period is less than 5 years, it definitely makes sense for a +/-30 year old. Thanks !
BenTen asked, What would be a good GMAT score for Indian IT male profile to be considered for Ivey league colleges or ISB
Vimal answers, Hi, The score requirement depends to a large extent on the rest of the application package (work exp - duration & quality, application essays, UG scores etc). However, with a score of 720+, you needn't worry about the GMAT aspect of your application. Good luck!
Ravi asked, Hi I am Ravi, can you advise on specific preparation/activities for AWA,Reading comprehension & Sentence Correction
Naveenan answers, Hi Ravi ... RC: Start reading a lot of off-beat topics like psychology, architecture, medicine - just to open your mind to ideas that it is not familiar with ... at the end of each para, paraphrase the idea in the para in one line ... do the same for every passage that you read (even for the newspaper articles); economist.com, ft.com and wsj will be your best friends in this preparation. SC: pure grammar, stick to the 8 commonly tested grammar rules of GMAT, practice a lot of questions (probably from the 1000 series); AWA: know what they want ... they are looking for content, writing mechanics, organization and language skills. Practice at least 10 essays before the d-day and write the two essays before each of your mock GMATs. All the best ! Thanks !
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh