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GMAT Student Post: Applying to Business School While Working

This week, we’re hearing from John. Since he works full time, John only had two and a half weeks to study for the GMAT, but he was able to bring his math score up by 12 points! Learn what advice he has for you. 🙂

About me: I’m from Birmingham, AL and have an accounting background. I finished undergrad about 4 years ago, and went on to earn my Masters in Accounting & CPA. I’ve spent the past 3.5 years in public practice with one of the global firms. I’m very interested in going back to school but am not quite 100% committed to it yet; I just thought it would be a good move to go ahead and retake the GMAT just in case, as my old score from grad school was expiring.

Biggest challenge: Given that I last took the GMAT about five years ago and am rather far removed from math (my last math class in college was 7-8 years ago), I really struggled with the Quantitative section, specifically word problems and properties of integers. I only had 2.5 weeks to study given the demands of my job, but I was able to bring my math score up from a 35 (37% percentile) on my first practice test to a 47 (68th percentile) on the actual test. Of the 2.5 weeks I studied, I spent 2 days on Verbal and the rest on Quantitative and practice tests.

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Changes I’d make if I could do prep again: I really wish I had made time for one more week of study. I was really starting to make gains on the Quantitative section and am confident I could’ve raised my score another 10-30 points with an extra week of focused Quantitative work. You really need a month to study, at the very least.

Helpful tips for other students: Work 100% of your practice questions with a timer; if you run out of time on any question, skip it and move onto the next. If you don’t know the answer (or aren’t close) within two minutes or so, your best bet is to make an educated guess. I think I needed one more week of study to master the timing of the GMAT; I ended up running out of time and having to guess on my last three Quantitative questions and rushed through the last 5-7 Verbal questions.

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