By Vera Marie Reed

If you're looking to boost your employment prospects, an MBA can certainly help your odds.

The Graduate Management Admission Council's 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report, for instance, shows that 88% of corporate recruiters worldwide intend to hire someone with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree this year. With stats like that, it's no wonder why so many people head to business school.

But how can you get ready to undertake a rigorous MBA program? Read on to learn about the most useful tools to help you prepare for an MBA—you might find one you hadn't thought of before!

1. GMAT Preparation

Your path toward an MBA program will likely include the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Admissions officials at MBA schools look at GMAT results to decide whom they will accept into their programs. While some business schools will consider Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) results as an alternative to GMAT test results, the GMAT is the more popular of the two. As for GMAT preparation, you'll want to consider three things.

First, it will help to know that the test will take three and a half hours, and it will be broken up into four sections: analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal. Understanding these things will help you to plan your preparation strategy better.

Second, you'll want to sign up for a GMAT course. Popular options that will help you to increase your score include Veritas Prep, The Princeton Review, PowerScore, Kaplan, and Manhattan Review. One of the benefits of a GMAT course is that you can take practice tests that closely resemble the real thing, which will give you a good feel for how prepared you are.

Prepare for an MBA

Third, you might want to consider enlisting the services of a tutor. Doing so can pay dividends as you prepare for your GMAT. Of course, you'll need to do your due diligence to find a tutor who has taken the GMAT, has years of experience helping people to successfully prepare, and has a wealth of knowledge about all four of the GMAT sections. With the right work ethic on your part and the right skills on the tutor's part, you'll have what you need to be ready.

2. Software

Being familiar with business productivity applications like the Microsoft Office Suite will be of tremendous value during your MBA career and beyond. Above all, you will be expected to know your way around Excel. Brush up on your skills so that you enter the MBA program knowing such things as the following:

  • Creating spreadsheets
  • Using formulas
  • Working with a pivot table

It also wouldn't hurt for you to find out if the MBA program you plan to take will require the use of any special applications so you can familiarize yourself with them before classes start.

3. Reading

When you start your MBA, you may be assigned class readings adding up to hundreds of pages . . . every day. So if you're not used to consuming that sort of volume on a regular basis, you should get accustomed to it in the months leading up to the start of classes. Otherwise, you could easily fall behind and be left feeling out of your depth.

4. Pre-MBA Course

If you don't have much of a business background—academic or professional—but still want to pursue an MBA, it could make sense for you to take a pre-MBA program. Pre-MBA courses are designed to prepare you for an actual MBA program. They expose you to important economics principles and basic management fundamentals that will help you hit the ground running when it comes time to start your MBA program.

You'll not only strengthen your writing skills and learn how to research effectively in a business capacity, but you’ll also learn about analyzing data and working with balance sheets, income statements, and other documents.

5. Get MBA Application Help

Estimates suggest that about 40% of students applying for an MBA program retain the services of an admission consultant. Any service providers you consider should, among other things, be able to verify their success rates, provide references, and demonstrate that they've been in operation for no less than five years. All components of the application process, including the essay, are important. Getting some assistance can make a big difference.

If you want to secure a spot in a business school to complete an MBA, you'll need to work hard. To succeed once you begin your program, you'll need to work even harder. But with the right strategy, the proper execution, and the right attitude, you'll certainly be ready when classes start.

About the Author

Vera Marie Reed is a freelance writer living in Glendale, California. A mother of two, she specializes in the fields of education and parenting. When she's not delivering expert advice, you can find her reading, writing, going to museums, and doing craft projects with her children. Find her on Twitter @VMReed.

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