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Nov 24, 2015


I’ve written before about how to make the decision between GMAT and the GRE, but what if you have decided to abandon the GRE in favor of the GMAT? Fortunately, there is enough common ground between how you study for the two test to make the transition very possible. Still, there are a few potential stumbling blocks that you are going to want to be aware of.

The Study Plan

Here is the good news, broadly speaking the major methods that you use to study for the GMAT are similar to the ones you are currently using for the GRE. At their core both the GMAT and the GRE are executive reasoning tests. This means that both tests try to measure your ability to think and make decisions. To prepare for an executive reasoning test, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules and formulas that the test employs. Additionally, you should also study the methods that the test makers use to create questions. If you have already been studying for the GRE in this way then your transition towards the GMAT will be significantly easier as proper GMAT preparation requires you to approach the test, and its questions, in a similar manner.

Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Regardless if you are taking the GMAT for the first time, retaking it, or transitioning from the GRE to the GMAT your first step should always be to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Doing this will allow you to know where you need the most improvement and how to allocate your study time between test sections and question types.

Find your most recent GRE practice tests and analyze your personal results. Specifically, you should focus on the test content and question types. With this information in hand, make three lists. The first list will include all the types of content and questions that you already score very well in. You will still want to study this list, but you do not need to spend as much time focusing on it. In your second list write down the types of content and questions that you have not quite mastered yet but will be easiest for you to improve upon. These should include questions where your mistakes are easily identifiable and correctable as well as questions that you may normally score well on, but take you longer than they should to complete. Your final list is going to be the toughest to master. The question types on this list are the ones you struggle with the most. Typically these are questions that you cannot seem to wrap your head around or ones that take an extremely long time for you solve. Most people have a tendency to attack list three immediately, but initially your time is actually better spent focusing on list two. Mastering the problems that you almost have a firm grasp on will allow you to make large gains fast. Only once you have graduated your list two questions to list one should you seriously consider working on list three.

Where the GMAT and GRE Differ

So far we have been using your GRE practice information to build your GMAT study guide. This works because there is a large amount of overlap between the two tests. However, the structure and design of the exams are far from identical and there is definitely new information that you need to learn before you take the GMAT.

The first difference you will notice is that the GRE asks you to write two essays at the start of the exam. The GMAT asks you to write one essay and then gives you an Integrated Reasoning section. This section combines quantitative and verbal skills in a multiple choice format. There is no directly equivalent section to integrated reasoning on the GRE. While this may sound like a major difference, it is not something to get too hung up on. Yes, you will want to prepare for this section, but currently the majority of business schools do not put much weight on your IR score. This may change in the future, but for now you are better off focusing your studies on the traditional quantitative and verbal sections.

The GMAT quantitative section differs from the GRE’s quant section in that it focuses more heavily on algebra and word problems. Aside from familiarizing yourself with these topics, for the GMAT you will have to learn how to answer a new question type called Data Sufficiency (DS). DS problems ask you to answer a question by giving you several pieces of related information. Aside from learning how to answer DS questions, you should also know that GMAT quant does not follow the same time schedule as GRE quant. On the GRE, quant is broken up into two 35 minute sections. During the GMAT you will face one 37 question section lasting 75 minutes. This gives you about two minutes per question.

Despite the differences in the quant section, most GMAT specific material is found in the verbal section. While you will find the Reading Comprehension (RC) questions similar, the GMAT includes new types of Critical Reasoning (CR) questions that you will have to learn. Also unique to the GMAT are Sentence Correction (SC) questions which test your grammar. Similar to the quant section, GMAT verbal timing is also different. While the verbal section on the GRE consists of two 30 minute parts, the verbal section on the GMAT is only one part and is comprised of 41 questions given over a 75 minute time limit. Try to break this time up by spending two minutes on CR questions, a minute and a half on SC questions, and between six and eight minutes on RC questions.

Transitioning from the GRE to the GMAT can be done. Although there are similarities between how you study for both tests, the differences cannot be ignored. Fortunately WYZprep has the tools and information you need to master these differences and make the transition as seamless as possible.

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