Consulting entrance exams: the importance of the GMAT and GRE

Large consulting firms recruit candidates recently graduated or in the last semesters of university, through fairly robust and standardized processes. An elementary point when applying in these processes are the reasoning tests . These seek to measure logical reasoning competencies that are essential in the consultant’s profile.

Candidates take these exams at a specific time where they must solve various types of questions that measure different areas of knowledge. Generally, the focus is mathematical, verbal, and data analysis . These same competencies are measured in the standardized GMAT and GRE tests , so in some cases the consultancies ask candidates to take these tests directly, or rely on them to build their own tests.

The job of a consultant is to help an organization improve its processes, optimize its resources, or find new opportunities in order to improve its performance. The consultant must be able to analyze situations, understand causalities, find areas for improvement and above all, solve problems , often working under time pressure.

The GMAT and GRE questions measure competencies that will allow an applicant to demonstrate that they have the potential and the foundations, to, with time and experience, perfect their skills to carry out consulting work.

If you are considering a career in consulting, preparing for the GMAT or GRE will help you develop the competencies that are assessed on recruitment exams. In addition, within the consulting career it is very common that after a few years of experience, consultants invest a period to do an MBA (or master’s degree in administration). In large consultancies, resources are allocated to finance the postgraduate courses of consultants with the greatest potential, on the condition that, upon completion, they return to work in the firm.

Consultancy entrance exams - the importance of the GMAT and GRE

This translates into another advantage that you have to prepare for the GMAT and GRE, since it will not only help you to be hired in the company, but it will also give you an advantage to advance in your career when the time comes to start your admission process on a competitive MBA. Both GMAT and GRE are valid for 5 years , and on average the consultants apply to postgraduate degrees after 3 years of experience. Therefore, preparing for and taking the postgraduate entrance exam from the moment you are applying to be hired in consulting is a strategic investment . When it’s time to apply for the MBA, you can focus on the admissions portfolio without having to spend time studying, as you will have your GMAT or GRE certificate.

Kind of questions

In the following, we will describe the types of questions that appear on recruitment exams.

Verbal reasoning problems assess logic and reading comprehension skills. Many of the companies do the exams globally, so they are in English, this adds complexity, as with the GMAT and GRE questions. On the recruitment tests the verbal reasoning questions resemble the Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning sections of the GMAT and the GRE *.

With mathematical reasoning problems , you are expected to demonstrate your ability with numbers with speed, precision and speed. You must use concepts such as ratios, percentages, equations and averages, among others, in an agile way, to reach the solution. In the recruiting tests, the mathematical reasoning questions resemble those of Discrete Quant on GRE and Problem Solving on GMAT.

The data analysis questions and business cases will present you information in different formats including numbers and texts, for example: tables, graphs, emails. You must extract the relevant information and analyze it to reach a logical conclusion or make a decision. In the recruitment exams, the mathematical reasoning questions are similar to those of Data Interpretation in GRE and those of Integrated Reasoning in GMAT .

Each of the questions will represent an opportunity to show that you have developed critical thinking skills . The latter refers to analyzing and evaluating the consistency of reasoning to reach a conclusion and solve a problem.

A critical thinker asks problems and questions, accumulates and evaluates relevant information, and uses abstract ideas to interpret it. In addition, he reaches conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards, and is able to communicate effectively.

A large percentage of the problems that appear in the quantitative reasoning sections of the exams are Word Problems , texts with information that must be transformed into mathematical expressions to solve a question. To solve these types of exercises, in addition to mathematical skills, you must have excellent reading comprehension and the ability to discriminate information . Mastering these types of problems will help you prepare for any recruiting exam questions, to study an MBA, and to serve as a consultant.

The preparation to be successful in these types of questions should be a comprehensive process that considers your context and profile, your starting point and your strengths and weaknesses. The processes are different. For example, someone who studied mathematics should focus on strategies to analyze the information in a practical way and extract the most relevant. On the contrary, someone who studied law, who perhaps has much more developed the part of reading comprehension and critical thinking, will have to master the necessary mathematical skills.

We must not lose sight of the fact that these are not tests of knowledge, they are tests of strategy where correct and precise decisions must be made and at the same time knowing how to manage time . Knowing where you are and measuring how you are progressing will be key to achieving your goal. Additionally, recognize that as Spanish speakers we have some cultural and language barriers that must be resolved . Preparing yourself by being aware of it will help you move forward faster.

Knowing the terminology and names of elements of life in English could help you to be more agile to solve some of the problems. For example, in Spanish, we speak of utility and profitability as financial concepts, in English we say profit and profitability. If you are not aware that they are different measures, you could give the answer to a problem in absolute terms (“profit”) and not in percentage terms (“profitability”).

If pursuing a career in consulting is one of your career goals , earning a competitive GMAT or GRE score will be a key tool . That competitive score is related to everyone who takes the exam, so you should strive to be the best of all, whether in official exam or internal consulting exams. Hence, you have to strategically prepare to meet your goal.

There are various options on the market to support your preparation, make sure that your study program is personalized, focused and comprehensive. The Scholastica Prep methodology takes into account all these elements and provides you with the key tips so that you can develop skills and achieve a successful result on standardized tests.