GMAT preparation can be a labyrinth of materials, strategies, questions, tips, and time.
To better navigate the cornucopia of convolution, here are 10 guidelines taken from the collective knowledge of teachers and experts at Magoosh.
Study smart and study hard!
From our experience, the more questions a student answers, the higher they scores on the actual test. A student who answers more than 1,000 questions will have a greater score increase than a student who only answers 500 practice questions. Further, a student who answers 2,000 questions will improve more than the student who answers only 1,000 questions.
But it’s not just about numbers. That’s only the beginning.
Not only do you need breadth—answering a lot of questions—but you also need depth. Take the time to dig into explanations and solutions.
As our GMAT expert, Mike, likes to say: “The mark of an excellent student is never making the same mistake twice.” The best students spend more time in solutions and explanations than actually answering the questions. They verify that they answered a question correctly and for the right reasons. They take the time to see why they missed a question, and they keep track of these errors as they practice by keeping an error log.
Along the lines of the first guideline, plan on answering questions more than once during your studies. Attempting the same questions more than once is a great way to gauge your progress and reinforce your skills. Repetition is an important part of learning, so make a point of leaving the questions clean and unmarked when solving so you can return to them.
Also this will help you to develop your note taking ability. You won’t be able to mark up the test when you take it, so it’s a good habit to start now—copy down the important information and solve.
Mock tests are the key to any successful GMAT attempt! Make sure to take as many as you can. Create an environment that mirrors the testing environment as much as possible. Get away from distractions. Use a strange and foreign computer. You need to practice your pacing strategies and build stamina for the test and the only way to do this is with practice.
Practice taking notes and solving problems on a whiteboard with dry erase markers. You won’t have paper and pencil on test day, so it’s better to practice on something that is more like what you will have on the test. Again, we are trying to get comfortable with the testing environment ahead of time so there are no surprises on test day.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Students who can embrace the test as a puzzle to be solved have a better chance at taming the test. Students who hate it will never reach their full potential. You need to approach the test with curiosity and interest in order to break into the highest percentile scores. Only by loving the test will you be confident and relaxed enough to reach the 90th percentile.
Study sessions should be filled with short breaks. Studying in 45 to 60 minute blocks with five to 10 minute breaks in between will make study sessions more efficient and effective. Putting in 8-hour power sessions will not help and won’t facilitate learning.
Your mind needs time to rest and to incorporate new knowledge into long term memory. To do this, you have to take breaks and return to concepts after you‘ve seen them.
Study and make progress without obsessing about your score on a prior practice test—regardless of whether the results were good or bad. These are predicted, estimated scores, and ultimately, are flawed. Remember that none of them are the actual test, with actual test questions, and the actual scoring algorithm.
Attaching a lot of significance to these scores will distract you from your main purpose: preparing for the test.
If you can form a study group with others, you will find it easier to study on a regular basis, and you will be surrounded by people all going through the same experience.
Check Meetup for study groups in your area. Or start your own meetup. Also, head to Facebook and join a GMAT group. Reach out to people and see if they will Skype with you once a week so that you can check in on each other and ask questions.
With limited time, you need to know what to study and how to improve. If you find the verbal questions difficult, you need to be reading reputable, academic-like material every day. If you find the math more difficult, you need to work on your number sense by doing more mental math.
You need to tailor your study plan to meet your needs! Take ownership of your studying! 😀