If you’ve already started looking into the admissions process for a Berkeley Haas MBA, you know you need a good score on the Quantitative section of your GMAT or GRE. A high quantitative score on your admissions exams will have a direct positive impact on your business school application—and it’s often what prospective MBAs worry about most.
Whether your MBA leads to a career in consulting, marketing, product design, finance, or entrepreneurship, you’re walking into a world of big data and statistics. You’ll need to be able to efficiently work with complex formulas and calculations and apply them to real-world situations. For this reason, many top MBA programs require you to have a good quant score.
GMAT quant tips from former Haas MBA students who’ve been there
Because it’s such an important step in the business school application process, we know MBA candidates are concerned with getting the best possible score on the quant portion of the GMAT. We sat down with two Berkeley Haas MBA grads to gain insight into their experience.
In this post, Andrea Michaelian and Alicea Wu, both MBA 16, share their tips for improving quant scores.
A quick note about the GRE vs. GMAT: we accept scores from either test as part of your Berkeley Haas application. The biggest difference between the two is that the GRE is used as part of admissions for a wide variety of graduate school programs, while the GMAT is strictly for applying to business schools. In our Evening and Weekend and Executive MBA programs, we also accept the Executive Assessment if you have over 8 years of professional experience. Although the three tests have a slightly different format, these tips can be applied to preparing for the GRE or Executive Assessment also.
1) Review mathematical concepts
The GMAT Quantitative section measures your knowledge of basic math concepts including arithmetic and number properties, algebra, and geometry.
The test requires more than just simple calculations, though. To solve the two question types – data sufficiency and problem-solving – you’ll have to quickly apply these foundational math concepts to different hypothetical situations. And, you’ll need to remember them when you're under pressure in the test environment. So you’d better have your mathematical foundations down pat.
“You want it to be like muscle memory.” - Andrea Michaelian
The more you practice the skills you learn, the faster you can put them to work in the test environment (and later, in the classroom).
2) Simulate test conditions with timed questions
Alicea adds that while reviewing math concepts is important, doing practice questions was critical for improving her GMAT math scores.
For the GMAT quant section, you have to complete 31 multiple-choice questions in 62 minutes. So, to improve her quant score, Alicea simulated these test conditions every weekend for four months.
Especially if you’re not a natural test-taker, this tactic will help you score higher on the GMAT. By running through a full set of questions within the time limit, you will know what to expect on test day. The practice questions serve as a template for what you’ll see on the real test, and working with the timer running will get you used to the challenge of working under pressure.
“Doing practice questions is important. That is exactly how the test will be.” - Alicea Wu
3) Track your practice scores and adjust accordingly
Success on the GMAT comes down to preparation. Andrea and Alicea both said that doing practice problems contributed to raising their quant score on the GMAT. You can take your preparation one step further by analyzing your practice test scores.
Andrea recommends periodically doing diagnostics throughout your study plan. By analyzing your practice scores, you can see the positive results of your training, and figure out which quantitative skills you need to improve. Based on your scores, you can hone one skill at a time until you’ve built up all the necessary core proficiencies.
“Being consistent in preparation had the most impact on my GMAT quant score.” - Andrea Michaelian
Andrea adds that having an idea of the range in which your score will fall can also help with nerves on the day of the test.
The benefits of GMAT quant prep
Like other top MBA programs, your quant score is an important part of your Berkeley Haas application. All Haas candidates must take the GMAT or GRE exam prior to the deadline for which you are applying.
Showing up prepared for the GMAT will help you get a better score so you can take your pick of the schools you want. More importantly, a strong score will help you succeed in your MBA program. Your performance on the quantitative section shows the admissions committee that you’re data-savvy, you can think critically, and you won’t struggle in quantitative classes.
Rest assured, however, the Admissions Committee takes a holistic approach to the application. We are looking for a lot more than just strong performance on the standardized test.
We will also look to your undergraduate transcript, taking into account:
- The rigor of your major
- The institution you attended
- Other activities or responsibilities you had at the time
If you do score lower on the quant section than you’d hoped, fear not! We will also allow you to demonstrate your academic and quantitative aptitude by enrolling in a quantitative course.
We traditionally recommend a Calculus or Statistics course taken online or through a community college. If you go this route, let the Admissions Committee know your course timeline and submit midterm/final grades when available.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.