One of the phrases I commonly hear from prospective MBA applicants is that they need to “pass the GMAT.” In my opinion there is no such thing as “passing the GMAT”. The GMAT can simply be linked to a door they need to pass through to reach their goal of being admitted to a business school. It requires having the right attitude, a focused approach, and adequate preparation.

Before anything else, I strongly encourage you to identify the business schools where you want to apply. Deciding where you want to take your MBA is the first step in being adequately prepared for the exam and the main reason why there is no real “passing” or “failing” the exam. Each and every business school has its own specific entry requirements. Hence, until you actually sit down, research your potential choices and make a decision, you do not actually know what score you will need. Too many students approach their GMAT preparation with the firm conviction that they MUST go to Harvard (or someplace similar) without ever really considering if Harvard is the right place for them. Does this mean I am telling you not to apply to Harvard? No, of course it does not, but I am saying that proper GMAT preparation only begins by identifying where you do want to apply and that your ultimate decision should be well-informed and researched.

Too many people rush to apply to a school that is not right for them because they read a set of rankings in a magazine. An MBA is a very expensive and time-consuming degree, and the decision about where to take it should not be made lightly. Actually, until you identify where you are going to apply, you do not know what score you really need. This makes your real preparation like studying in an information vacuum, without a reference point against which to mark your progress.

The full version of this article can be found on PrepAdviser.

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