Tackling Testing: Tips from the Class of 2019

Assistant Dean Silvia McCallister-Castillo asked members of the Class of 2019 for their advice for test-takers.

December 19, 2017

Test-taking can be nerve-wracking, as I was recently reminded firsthand when I took the Executive Assessment (EA)—but it’s also a necessary part of the journey to the MBA for Executives program. Standardized testing allows candidates to demonstrate that they have the excellent verbal and quantitative skills necessary for a rigorous MBA program. It also gets candidates to start reviewing fundamentals and practicing their time management and study skills. Furthermore, the GMAT, GRE, and EA can accurately predict a student’s success in an MBA program, and therefore help the Admissions Committee to determine whether a candidate is ready for admission.

As many of you prepare to take the standardized tests that will become part of your application, we thought we’d ask a group of experts from the Class of 2019 to share their top tips with candidates.

Patricia Tobon (Healthcare)

Take a prep course if you have a tight work schedule or heavy workload. It helped to have to schedule time to go to class and work on homework during the week. This also helped to begin to reacclimate with being a student. Don’t let your score define you—it’s only one metric used to understand your potential; your overall application matters much more.

Willem Veldhuyzen (Sustainability)

Prepare well ahead of time. Do not always follow the specific strategies outlined in the various test prep material. You will unlock your full potential by practicing and finding your own efficient way to solve the problems.

Kristina Wyatt (Sustainability)

I think it’s important to allocate time, do practice tests, remain calm, and enjoy the process of relearning this material.

Brad Wayman (Asset Management)

Take a course and block time for regular studying. As someone who had not taken a formal academic test in over 15 years, I had to set realistic expectations for myself and budget time. In addition to a formal live course (online or in person), download GRE/GMAT apps to get daily questions and study resources to fill every day with learning.

Loren Raszick-Hines (Sustainability)

I hadn’t taken a standardized test in 15 years. I also realize now that studying for the math section helped me prepare—at a very basic level—for the math/quant coursework. Had I entered the program without any math prep, I’d have quickly fallen behind. GRE prep, while tedious, was a necessary refresher. I also found it to be a good indicator of whether I could carve out time to study. If I couldn’t prep for a test, how could I commit to two years of an MBA program?

Marisa Mitchell (Sustainability)

Know how you test, know how you typically need to prepare for tests, and then make a study and test-prep schedule and stick to it as best you can. After some initial preparation and a practice test or two to gauge your strengths and weaknesses, scheduling an actual test date offers great motivation to stick to your study plan. And last, if at possible, schedule the test in advance of your application due date so that if you need to retake the test you can study a week or two in between to recalibrate.

Gabriela Infante (Sustainability)

I would share the same advice I was given by a current student during lunch at SOM: set aside two hours each evening, after work, to prepare for the test. Besides setting the stage for the actual evaluation, it gives you a good parameter of how you’ll deal with the workload of the EMBA program.

Tim O’Mara (Healthcare)

Become familiar with the format of each section and the types of questions asked.

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About the author

Silvia McCallister-Castillo

Assistant Dean for the Executive MBA