The GMAT is sometimes intimidating, but it is possible to receive the score needed with study. However, it is necessary to study for the test.
Prior to buying a study guide or signing up for a prep class, be aware of some general concepts of GMAT preparation. These tips can help you make an informed decision.
Use these five tips to help you study for the GMAT:
1) Study from the source
The most effective method of study is by using previous test questions. The GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) publishes study guides that have the questions and problems used in earlier versions of the GMAT. Before you buy something published from another source, buy and use these guides.
There is also free MGAT software that can be downloaded at mba.com. This software contains practice exams and previous test problems, and uses the same method as the GMAT. However, this should not be the only way that someone studies. The practice tests are an excellent gauge of how much work one must do to prepare for the GMAT adequately.
The ManhattenGMAT test preparation guides are also very useful since they include explanations for the answers to the questions. This feature is sometimes hard to come by, and is very helpful because you don’t have to figure out or guess how the right answer was achieved. The steps that were used to solve the problem are explained in an easy to understand format.
Study materials that feature previous GMAT test questions are excellent guides for your study. Both the official study sources and the ManhattanGMAT resources are helpful tools for study.
2) Learn the easy material first
People commonly make the mistake during GMAT preparation of focusing on the complex questions more than anything else. They assume that once they get the hang of the hard questions, they can answer the easy questions with no difficulties.
This is a trap, don’t fall into it.
People who know the correct answers to the easier questions, and answer them consistently during the time provided, normally achieve higher test scores.
Because of this, it is better to focus on getting the easy problems down than on tackling the harder questions. If you are able to answer the easier questions correctly during the allotted time when you are taking the GMAT, you will achieve an excellent score and have the confidence that you need to do well.
When you understand the easier questions, your also normally gain an understanding of the mistakes that test takers normally make, as well as the concepts that are behind the questions and what exactly the questions are asking. Test takers who understand the easier problems are also able to help others understand the steps that are needed to come to the correct answers for each problem.
Once you know that you can solve the easy problems without difficulty and during the time required, then move on to the more challenging problems. In order to achieve a score in the top percentiles, you do need to know how to answer tough GMAT questions, but don’t concentrate on these until you know that you have the easier problems under control.
3) Make your enemies your friends.
When getting ready to take the GMAT, people often ask if they should concentrate more on their strengths or their weaknesses.
It is best to focus on both, however, when your time is limited it is better to focus on your weaknesses.
If you have no problem with the critical reasoning problems, but have a hard time when you tackle a sentence correction problem, you need to focus on sentence correction because of the adaptive nature of the GMAT. When you correctly answer questions, you will encounter questions that increase in difficulty, so balance is required.
Don’t let difficult problem types intimidate you. When you focus on weaknesses in your preparation, they can be turned into strengths.
4) Use variety to your advantage
When you are studying for the GMAT exam, spend time on both topic-specific drills and practice exams. The drills will help you improve in your weakest subjects and improve upon your strengths, and the practice exams will help you prepare for the format of the exam. To summarize, topic-specific drills will help your skills improve, while the practice exams will help you prepare for the exam’s randomness.
People who do well on the GMAT exam know how to solve questions and find patterns quickly. When you spend enough time in preparation, most people come up with their own ways to tackle complex questions for the GMAT.
While you are preparing for the GMAT, don’t do a practice exam every day. People who do this don’t normally have enough time to look over their results, and because of this they can’t see which areas then need help in. Also, doing an exam every day may be too much stress, which leads to unhelpful discouragement.
In lieu of that strategy, spend time working through questions from previous GMAT exams instead. These questions are easy to find in the Official GMAC Study Guides.
Within these guides, subjects are organized by difficulty level and topic. When you are working on your GMAT preparation, make sure that you work under conditions similar to those you will find on test day. Use a timer and complete every question as if your score depends on it. After you finish, go over your answers so that you can see what you answered correctly and where you made your mistakes. With practice you will be able to see the patterns.
Consistency will be the key to your success. Make time to work on your GMAT preparation daily, particularly as it gets closer to exam day. As your study time grows, so does your exam confidence.
5) Be confident in your knowledge
As it gets closer to exam day, don’t cram. Stick to your daily practice questions and keep reviewing your answers. This method is an excellent way to improve on your strengths and shore up your weaker subjects.
Don’t try to cram in the few days before the test. Instead, choose a few questions that you are confident in, and do them under exam conditions. This will help you feel prepared. It is also wise to look back over questions that you have found difficult during your studies and review.
Finalize the strategies that you will use to solve every type of problem you will find on the exam. Be familiar with each question type so that you have a strategy in place to use if the question is posed differently than it was while you were preparing. This will help you work efficiently, particularly when you come across a question that you find challenging.
A couple of weeks before the test, do a couple of practice exams, but don’t do so many that you find yourself burnt out. If you are fully prepared for the exam, you can go into the testing centre with confidence.