Deciding When to Take the GMAT

The official website of the GMAT states, “You can take the GMAT once every 31 calendar days and no more than five times in a 12-month period.”  This is good news.  The GMAT isn’t a one-shot deal.  It does mean, though, that you should select and, more importantly, prepare for your test date carefully.

But, beyond application deadlines, how do you determine for when to schedule your test?  Try this out.  Select your test date by setting a study schedule for yourself, then finding when the test naturally falls in your preparation, accounting for other major items on your calendar, of course.  So, command-tab over to your calendar, open that day planner, and let’s get scheduling!

Step one:

Veritas Prep’s curriculum is divided into twelve lessons.  Determine how many days you need to work through each lesson’s homework, check it, review the problems that you found difficult, learn why you missed the questions that you got wrong, and readdress any skills or strategies you think would be helpful.  Remember that homework problems have benefits beyond just completing the work.  It’s important to learn from each problem.  Two thoughts on how to do that:

First, as you are working through homework problems, star the difficult ones.  Revisit them to determine why they were difficult for you, review the skill tested, and make sure you are comfortable with the strategy used in the question (“Oh!  This was a 5-12-13 triangle.  I didn’t see that, and it unlocks the question.  I should remember to search circles for hidden triangles in future problems.”).

Also, revisit the problems you missed to determine why you got them wrong.  Specifically, into what testmaker trap did you fall (“Oh!  This was a strengthen question, and I selected the weaken answer choice.”)?  Remember, learning from a missed problem is a valuable opportunity.  A critical part of completing the homework is learning from your mistakes.

Step two:

Take a look at your calendar to gauge when work will be busy, when you plan to travel, and when other events that may take up study time are scheduled, then just map out your plan.  For example, “I need four days to work on Arithmetic.  I have plans Saturday, but I could devote Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, and Sunday to feeling confident in Arithmetic.”

Step three:

After finding this natural test date, to be safe, build in a few days as a buffer to ensure that unexpected work or social plans don’t derail your schedule.

Once you have your schedule set, stick with it!  You will benefit from your perseverance on test day.  Finally, be confident when you take your test!  You have worked hard to prepare.  Now is your time to prove what you can do!

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Casey Frandrup is a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Portsmouth, RI. After graduating from Duke with a degree in Economics and receiving her MBA from UC San Diego, Casey went on to teach Macroeconomics in Bahrain to personnel affiliated with the U.S. Naval base. Now she is state-side coaching students towards success on the GMAT.