Students are Turning to Graduate Study to Improve Skills

With the economy still being in a very precarious state, and foreclosures and unemployment still a common occurrence, many wonder where life will take them. Americans are predictably resilient, starting new businesses, changing careers and going back to school to make the new reality work for them. Many people wonder how many students are going to grad school now that jobs are scarce and millions are struggling to make ends meet.

Test preparation companies are seeing a surge of students young and old enrolling in test prep classes and preparing for graduate study. These students want to gain new skills and sharpen old ones, making themselves more attractive in the employment market. For students looking to go to business school, it may be helpful to enroll in a free GMAT course, or enroll in online GMAT prep. These courses will prepare you for the questions that will be asked in the actual exam and will give you a snapshot of the test at a glance.

The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test is the comprehensive exam that most students will need to pass in order to apply for graduate study. Most colleges and universities require this exam, although many schools are relaxing their score requirements to allow for more students to gain entry. The GMAT is administered by independent testing sites and registered proctors and requires a fee to sit for the test. The test is comprised of several parts that evaluate the verbal, mathematical and written analytical skills of the applicant.

Many students are enrolling in business programs in order to strike out on their own and learn entrepreneurship skills that will help them manage their own small businesses. Some are going back to school to learn skills that will allow them to train for more responsibility in their existing jobs. Still others are career changers looking for a totally new field, breaking away from their previous career fields.

With the state of the economy, more students are turning to graduate study as a means to earn new skills, and brush up on old ones. Many are finding that the new reality means that they have to change the way they think about the world of work. When it comes to graduate study, students can be prepared for college admission by studying for standardized tests, taking anĀ online GMAT prep. The possibilities are endless.

Navigating the GMAT Essays

Are you worried about setting yourself apart during the business school admissions process? One of your key opportunities is to deliver well-written GMAT essays. This guide will teach you the tricks to overshadowing your competitors with great essays.

The Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GMAT lasts for one hour and is divided into two essays: issue and argument. Consider the following top-tier advice:

  • Stay on topic. With only thirty minutes for each essay, you will not have time to go off onto tangents. Plan to make your points within 300 words or less.
  • Use supportive statements and cite facts whenever possible. Include your personal experience when appropriate but also rely on the evidence given by third parties.
  • Both a computer program and a human reader will review your essays. Make sure that your word choice, sentence construction, and overall flow appeal to both entities.

For the Analysis of an Issue essay, your job is not to prove that the issue is right or wrong; your job is to convince the reader to believe your position. The simplest format for the Analysis of an Issue section is the following:

  • Introduction with a background on the issue and reasons why you agree or disagree
  • Reason One with an explanation of the reason and an example
  • Reason Two with an explanation of the reason and an example
  • Acknowledgment of the opposing side’s arguments and ways to refute them
  • Conclusion re-emphasizing the issue and the arguments you have already presented

The easiest format for the Analysis of an Argument essay is below. For this section you must point out the flaws of the argument and convince the reader your conclusions are correct.

  • Introduction with a background on the argument and your stance on its validity
  • Point One with an emphasis on the argument’s positive aspects, using examples whenever possible
  • Point Two with an emphasis on the argument’s negative aspects (flaws), using examples whenever possible
  • Point Three listing ways in which the argument could be improved or strengthened
  • Conclusion reiterating the argument and its major advantages and disadvantages

Before your writing time is complete, review your essays. Make sure they are free of spelling errors, meet conventional grammar and formatting guidelines, respond well to the essay topic, and capture the reader’s attention.
Practice essay writing several times before you reach the testing center, so you will understand the pacing necessary to meet the time limits. GMAT test prep is available both online and in-person for essay assistance.
With advanced planning and GMAT test prep, you are on your way to furthering your education and propelling your job prospects well into the future.

Preparing to Retake the GMAT

Many people choose to retake the GMAT in order to improve on their original scores. You are allowed to retake the test once every 31 days and no more than five times in a one year period. As all test scores for the past five years (including cancellations) show on your student report, if you are planning on retaking the exam, we suggest taking it no more than three times. Beyond that, schools may not look at multiple attempts in a positive light. The good new though, is having taken the GMAT once before, you will be able to draw on your past experience and use these scores to help tailor your study plan for future tries.

Tailor Your GMAT Test Prep

Your GMAT test prep for the second time around can focus more heavily on the areas you struggled with on the first test, be it quantitative, verbal, or the writing assessment. You may feel that you just need to review some sections before test day and spend significant amounts of time on areas that were a challenge on your first GMAT. Immediately after taking the test, you may be able to look up questions that threw you off the first time you took the test, having these challenges in mind for your studying will give you a good starting point.

Online GMAT test prep will help you to cater your plan to meet your needs — even more important now that you have a better grasp on which areas will be a challenge. Taking practice tests along the way will help you to gauge how your scores are improving on the way to your second test.

Draw on Your Knowledge of the Test

Having already taken the GMAT once will also help you to relax and do your best on test day. You’ve been in the exact situation before and may have an even better idea of how they test will go than you did from your practice tests before the first attempt. You can focus on the content and feel comfortable with the computer and the format of the test.

The GMAT can be very different from any other test you have taken in the past, especially in that you cannot go back and change your answers in the verbal and quantitative sections. Having experienced this in a real test setting can help you the second time around, especially if you were anxious about the test format the first time you took the GMAT.

Even when you’re taking the test for the second or third time, it is important to maintain a solid study schedule and continue to review material and take online GMAT practice tests. Doing so will help prevent your scores from decreasing, help you to improve your test taking abilities, and keep the material fresh for the next test.

Designing a GMAT Test Prep Schedule

Designing a solid GMAT test prep schedule is essential to success on the exam. Most test takers plan to spend three to six months studying for the GMAT, but this is dependent on your personal study habits. All test prep schedules should consist of individual study time, GMAT courses, and taking online practice exams. The GMAT tests verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills, similar skill sets to the ones you studied when you were preparing for the SAT in high school. Yet this time around, the material will likely be more challenging and the test format will be significantly different.
One critical factor in deciding how long to study for the GMAT is how long you can devote to studying each day. For people who have full time jobs or are in school full time, it is best to set aside specific hours each day to fit study time into a busy schedule. In these cases, a six month GMAT test prep schedule is likely to be best. For people who can devote larger amounts of time to study, three to four months may be enough. Enrolling in a GMAT course is often a good way to stay motivated and be sure that you stay on track during your test prep.

The quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT are given in a computer adaptive format. This means that you will be provided one question at a time on a computer. After answering the first question, the computer will generate another. The difficultly level will depend on how well you score on previous questions. This format is likely different from anything test takers have faced before. For this reason, starting practice tests early in your test prep, or at least two months before the exam, will help you become familiar with the format. There are 37 quantitative questions and 41 verbal questions on the GMAT. Practice exams will also help you learn to pace yourself as you work through each section of the exam.

The analytical writing section of the GMAT contains two parts: an analysis of an issue essay and an analysis of an argument essay. Test takers are permitted 30 minutes to complete each essay. Reading sample essay prompts and practicing writing a solid essay within the time constraint will help you prepare for test day. There is no single correct answer to either writing sections. Piecing together a coherent analysis is more important than having prior knowledge of the topic.

By sticking to a test prep schedule, GMAT test takers can ensure that they are prepared for the test and familiar with the format. By this point in their academic career, they will benefit from a strong knowledge base and a high degree of self-awareness about their skills and study habits.


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