Berkeley Haas MBA students share tips for improving your GMAT quant score

By Eileen Jacob

Taking (and doing well on) the GMAT or GRE is one way to show you are ready for the quantitative rigor of an MBA program. But getting a good score on the quant sections of these tests isn't always easy. That's why we're sharing Berkeley Haas MBA student tips for improving your GMAT quant score.

GMAT quant prep tips

Preparation is important even if you have experience with advanced college math. Alicea Wu, associate director of Drug Safety and Public Health at Gilead Sciences and a December 2016  graduate of the Evening & Weekend Berkeley Haas MBA Program, had studied up to Calculus 3, but found that her advanced math skills did not necessarily translate into preparedness  for the GMAT Quantitative section. 

"Many of the quant questions involved a level of thinking beyond simple calculations," says Alicea. "While reviewing math concepts is important, doing practice questions is more important—as that is exactly how the test will be,” she says.

Alicea Wu

Every weekend for 16 weeks, Alicea would simulate test conditions and challenges by running through 37 practice questions in 75 minutes. "Being consistent in preparation had the most impact on my GMAT quant score." 

Alicea structured her practice sessions to hone one particular skill at a time. "I consistently made practical and purposeful goals for each study session," says Alicea, "For example, ‘My goal for today is to review trigonometry concepts with practice problems.’"

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Andrea Michaelian, Marketing Manager at BlackRock and a third-year Evening and Weekend MBA student, also learned the value of practice while preparing for the GMAT.

"In addition to taking prep classes and learning the strategies, repetition of practice problems was the best thing I did," says Andrea. "The classes will only take you so far. You have to practice in order to apply the strategies and remember them when you're under pressure in the test environment. You want it to be almost like muscle memory by the time you get into the room."

"I also recommend periodically doing diagnostics throughout your study plan to figure out how the practice is affecting your score and what you need to focus on," says Andrea. "Being able to go into the test room and feel like ‘I've done this and I know what my score range is going to be’ will help you get through the test with minimal nerves."

The benefits of GMAT quant prep

Preparing for the GMAT or GRE not only ensures that you are ready for the exam, it also helps you brush up on study skills that will help you succeed in a rigorous MBA program, such as the Evening & Weekend Berkeley Haas MBA, Full-time MBA, and Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives programs.

"An MBA program requires a variety of both quantitative and non-quantitative skills,” says Berkeley MBA lecturer Gregory LaBlanc. “But quantitative skill isn't always about the ability to perform certain mathematical operations. It’s also about the ability to think analytically,"

"Some of the things you do on the GMAT, may not reflect what you do in practice, but they reflect an ability to think analytically. That ability is really important. If people didn't bring that underlying quantitative fluency to class, we would spend a lot of time at the beginning of the program doing a mathematics review."

"The first year of the MBA program consists of core classes such as statistics, microeconomics, accounting, and finance. Even classes like operations require you to be comfortable with complex formulas and calculations,” says Alicea Wu.. “Before enrolling in Berkeley Haas, it had been many years since I had taken a math class, so reviewing math concepts and doing practice questions for the GMAT helped me prepare for these quant heavy classes."

For more application tips, see our guide to crafting your best MBA application and, if you're thinking about taking the GMAT or GRE, download our free ebook Avoiding the GMAT/GRE Blues.

Banish the GMAT Blues

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Eileen Jacob
Eileen was Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2017-2019. She enjoyed meeting prospective students and helping them explore the benefits of an MBA, and hopes these blog posts provide valuable insight into the Berkeley MBA experience.