GMAT Tip: When Should You Take the GMAT?

Photograph by Martin Hospach/Corbis

The GMAT Tip of the Week is a weekly column that includes advice on taking the Graduate Management Admission Test, which is required for admission to most business schools. Every week an instructor from a top test-prep company will share suggestions for improving your GMAT score. This week’s tip comes from Brian Galvin, director of academic programs at Veritas Prep.

For whatever MBA admissions round you’re targeting, your target date for taking the GMAT should be at least two months before your first application is due. So if you plan on applying in Round 2 and your deadlines are in early January, you should take the GMAT no later than late October. If you need to retake the test, you can do so by Dec. 1, which will still give you plenty of time to work on your business school applications.

Have even more time? Great. Remember that your GMAT score is valid for five years, and it’s pretty hard to take the GMAT too soon. The more time you have, the better, but we consider two months the absolute minimum time you should build into your calendar between your test date and your application deadlines.

Also, build in plenty of time to take at least a couple of GMAT practice tests before you take the real thing. We normally advise Veritas Prep GMAT students to take one practice test before they start our course, not necessarily to see what their score is, but to get a feel for the test and to understand just how long and involved an experience it can be. Then plan on taking a couple of practice tests over the course of your GMAT preparation, and at least one more when you think you’re finished preparing and are ready to take the real GMAT.

Brian Galvin has been with Veritas Prep since 2006 and has devoted himself to developing new and better ways to help students master the GMAT. He earned a 99th percentile score on the GMAT and has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in education from the University of Michigan. He has taught high school history in Detroit, worked in sales and marketing for the Detroit Pistons NBA franchise, and has completed an Ironman race.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.