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Sunday, 20 May 2012

GMAT Review: Part II - Tips

Part II of the GMAT Review deals with tips for acing the GMAT - what to do, what not to do, based on what I've learnt and what I've read. See Part I for information on learning and strategy. The following bits of information are resources and procedures I highly recommend in order to get a good score.


Plan your timeline


Create a study timeline. This should vary from person to person, as it depends on the areas of weakness or the areas you would like to target. Take a practice test to gauge your level, and go through the answers to find out the areas in which you are lacking. Most people are weaker in Verbal, so start with that. Devote a certain number of weeks for each section of the GMAT. I suggest devoting approximately two hours a day per weekday and maybe four to five hours a day per weekend - this means that your entire prep should last around 3 months. 

Learn first, then attack the questions

Read through the concepts presented, as well as the strategies put forward to help you tackle each type of question. Each concept is usually presented with an example. Work through these as you learn, so that you can help understand how they are used. Use the review questions in each strategy book to help you.

Flashcards

You can download some free flashcards here. Or you can use Manhattan GMAT's flashcards, available for free with any purchase of MGMAT products. Or (and this is my advice), make your own. There is no better way to instill the concepts in your head than by writing it down. You can also make the flashcards in the format that would suit you the most. I made my 'flashcards' on PowerPoint, and you can find them here:



Official Guides

Bear in mind, however, to not start practicing questions from the Official Guide that address those concepts. Questions on the GMAT are never organised by concept, nor by topic, and practicing them in order will not help you one bit. You need to have all strategies and concepts in your head so that your mind learns how to switch from one to another; you need to learn how to switch from RC to CR, from stats to algebra, from SC to RC. I suggest learning and working through each strategy book, before then devoting all your time on the OGs. 

Use an error log

There are several available online, but my favorites are the ones found here. I downloaded them and updated them as I was working - yes they do slow you down as you have to update the log after every question, but they do help you in figuring out which areas you need to target and what your strengths and your weaknesses are. 

Take a break

There's no point in taking time off work or studies and concentrating solely on the GMAT for 12 hours a day. The test works to test your understanding and your ability to think, and not your memorization techniques. Try not to exceed 20 hours of GMAT-related study a week, and take one day off per week - one day where you don't even think about the GMAT. Your brain needs that break to work better.

Practice tests

Take one of the free practice tests available from GMAC on www.mba.com as a diagnostic before you start your prep. It will help gauge your level so you know where you stand and just how much you need to improve. Take the same test again after you have gone through the strategy books and worked through the review questions. There should be some sort of improvement - if not, its time to review those concepts. If you have improved, then dive into the OGs. Manhattan GMAT provides 6 full length practice tests, so use those as well; take the first after working with the OG for a couple of weeks. Just a note though - no practice test can be as beneficial to you as the ones provided by GMAC. Use your second practice test a couple of weeks before your real test, so you have the chance to take it more than once if you wish. Aim to take a total of 6-8 full length tests during the course of your study.


Fixing the test date


The biggest mistake I made was fixing my date before the start of my prep. I am one of those people who need a deadline looming over their heads to get working. Unfortunately, since I was living in a new country for an internship, I just did not have the discipline required to work day in and day out on the GMAT - I wanted to travel, really get to know the city and do all those touristy things, since I didn't know if I would ever make it there. Due to this distraction, I wasn't able to fully complete the OG; in fact I was just halfway through, and didn't even touch the OG Verbal and Quant books. So either book your date in advance and reschedule it if you haven't finished with your material, or else only schedule your test when you are sufficiently prepared and are confident of acing the test. 

Before the real test

Do not take any practice tests on the week of your real tests. Do not overwork with practice problems either. Ideally you should not work on the GMAT at all on the day before your test. If you are like me and need to have a look at the problems to get your brain ready to tackle the test, then do one problem in each area on the morning of the test - i.e. one question each for RC, CR, SC, PS, DS and IR. 

To all those giving their tests soon, good luck! Feel free to ask me for anything you need. 


7 comments:

  1. Thank you for this!
    -Keerthana

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    1. Glad I could help! Good luck =]

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  2. it is ncessary to understand questions on the GMAT for passing this test

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    Replies
    1. Yep that's true sara. Understanding how the test works and what the questions are really looking for is key to doing well on the GMAT. Thanks for peeping in!

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  3. Great blog! I'm retaking the test in 2 months and I'm sure I'll find your flashcards extremely useful! Thanks! :)

    Where did you get in?
    -Tara.

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  4. Thank you, I'm glad I could help! Do let me know if they were useful and if your score improved!
    I got into IIM Bangalore and IESE Business School. I chose to attend IESE.

    Good luck! Where are you planning to apply?

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