For many young professionals looking to climb the corporate ladder, earning a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is a sensible choice. An MBA program will give you opportunities to learn business principles and develop your leadership skills for any industry or sector.
Besides the technical skills, an MBA also offers the unique opportunity to create an excellent professional network, access high-paying jobs, and hopefully earn a higher paycheck.
An MBA can improve your marketability as a job applicant. According to data from the Wharton School of Business, 98% of their MBA graduates are offered extended full-time jobs. In other words, earning an MBA makes practical sense.
Before you can gain admission to a program to start working toward your MBA, however, you’ll need to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test).
About the GMAT:
The Graduate Management Admission Test is one the most widely used exams for MBA admissions (over 2,300 schools have used the test to screen applicants) and is required by most accredited programs in the United States. The GMAT is made up of four sections that are timed separately:
Analytical Writing Assessment-
This section evaluates your capacity to communicate your ideas and think critically. It includes just one question, and the examinee is given 30 minutes to analyze an argument.
The integrated reasoning section assesses your capacity to evaluate information presented in different formats and analyze data. You will face 12 questions measuring table analysis, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and multi-source reasoning, within a 30-minute timeframe.
In this section, you’ll be tested on your ability to analyze data and draw conclusions using your reasoning or logic skills. You will have 62 minutes to answer 31 questions on data and problem-solving.
According to English writing standards, this section measures your capacity to comprehend written work, evaluate arguments, and fix errors in the written materials. For 65 minutes, you will answer 36 questions on critical reasoning, reading comprehension, and sentence correction.
You’ll be able to decide what order you tackle these sections in, depending on your preferences.
What Is Your Financial Situation?
The cost of an MBA program varies from school to school. On average, you will pay upwards of $200,000 for your degree. In other words, you must have a solid understanding of your current financial situation and how you plan to pay for your MBA.
Some employers offer financial assistance for those seeking education that will improve their abilities as employees. You can also apply for fellowships and grants or consider taking out a loan. If you decide to fund your MBA yourself, you’ll want to be sure you have enough money not just for the upfront costs but for the entirety of the program. If you’re not quite there yet, consider holding off on earning your MBA until you’re confident you can pay.
How Prepared Are You?
Start your GMAT preparation as early as possible—at least six months before your scheduled exam. Make yourself a study schedule and stick to it, ensuring that you research to find the best GMAT prep for you.
Use GMAT practice exams, so you are familiar with the format and type of questions used. Time management is essential, so you also have to practice your pacing. Don’t rush, and take your time to read each of the questions to find the best answer.
Where Are You In the Process?
As you may have realized by now, much of deciding when to take your GMAT comes down to extensive research. You need to figure out which programs fit your budget and career plan. If you’re scrambling to prepare for the GMAT but don’t yet know where you want to send your scores, you should postpone your applications.
Once you know which programs you’re interested in, be sure you give yourself ample time to prepare and submit your application materials. Remember that your GMAT score is valid for use in applications for five years.
When Should You Take the GMAT?
Taking the GMAT will open many opportunities for you, including the path to the MBA program of your dreams.
However, you must do your research to make sure you’re adequately prepared. If you time it right, you are sure to succeed in your chosen career.