This is the final installment in a series of posts on GMAT/GRE testing. We encourage you to review previous posts, if you have not already. This content was written by Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer, Dallas/Fort Worth MBA.

The Texas MBA Admissions Committee recognizes that you might be putting a lot of pressure on yourself to achieve a high test score.  After all, you’re competitive and driven enough to want to pursue an MBA! It’s important to remember that your test score is only one piece of your story, and it’s considered in the context of your overall application. We review your scores with the knowledge that a test is only one day in your life, and your academic and work history span many years.

Nevertheless, the test is an important component in evaluating your application.

“Quantitative test scores, in particular, have proven to be predictive of success in an MBA program, and taking the GMAT or GRE gets you back into the practice of preparing for exams. The preparation you put into the test sets you up for the mindset you’ll have to bring to your MBA– setting aside time to study on a nightly basis and working your way through problems analytically.”

– Sharon Barrett, Director of Working Professional MBA Admissions at Texas McCombs

The Admissions Committee will look at your test score, in conjunction with your transcripts from your undergraduate and/or graduate work, to evaluate your ability to handle the rigor of our program. In addition, your career and leadership experience adds great value to your application.

At Texas McCombs, we’re looking for future leaders who want to make a difference in their industries and in the world, and a strong resume and letter of recommendation help us identify you as one of these people.

Finally, your motivation for an MBA, with a clear sense of what you want to gain from it, and a thorough understanding of the Texas McCombs program and culture must come out in your essays and interview.

In short, the test is one important piece in a holistic review of your application. So choose the test you prefer, prepare thoroughly and thoughtfully, and give it your best shot. Here are a few top tips to close this series:

Set a target test date and stick to it.

There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate a busy person. So pick a date to take the test that’s not too far in advance (1-2 months at most), then use that time to study intently. “For me, it was helpful to schedule the GMAT about a month in advance,” said Andy Langteau, Texas Evening MBA Class of 2018. “This forced me to focus my study sessions and plan my time accordingly.  These skills, along with the core concepts you’ll refine studying for the test, set you up for success as you re-enter the academic environment.”

Structure your prep around your perceived weaknesses.

There’s no way to know exactly what will be on the test, and trying to cover every piece of material is exhausting and ultimately counter-productive. “Focus on the material that you struggle in,” said Tiffany Mathew, Texas MBA at DFW Class of 2019. “It is easy when you start studying to feel like you have to review and relearn every single concept, but that can be overwhelming and not effective. Spend the majority of your time practicing the concepts you don’t feel comfortable with, and if you have time, review other concepts.”

Don’t wear yourself out.

Remember that the test is not the final word on your application. It does not define you. Make sure you take time to submit a strong application, thinking through each part of it to ensure it tells the Admissions Committee the story you want to represent you as a candidate. “There’s definitely a point of diminishing returns when you’re studying, and you should have the self-awareness to know when you’ve reached that point,” said Dane Riggs, Texas MBA at DFW Class of 2019. “Remember that the GMAT is just a part of the admission criteria, and you have to save time to create a compelling resume, application and essays if you want to improve your chances at getting in to your desired program.”

Regardless of which test you take, consider it part of the overall MBA investment. Challenging yourself in the testing environment will make you better prepared for what comes along the way during and after the program. Good luck and we look forward to your application!