In this article, I’m going to offer a Best of list for how to study. Below, you’ll find links to the articles that I think are most helpful in developing and executing a comprehensive study plan, as well as a discussion of how to use them.
Whether you’re just getting started or are nearing the finish line, it’s critical to develop a study plan that’s appropriate for you, and that study plan will need to be revised periodically as your skills change (because you are getting better over time, hopefully!).
So, start with Developing a GMAT Study Plan. This article will help you determine three critical things:
- Your current strengths and weaknesses
- Roughly the amount of time you will likely need to spend
- How to study overall (including, if necessary, whether to take a class, how to choose the materials you will use to study, and so on)
In order to do the analysis of your strengths and weaknesses (number 1, above), you’ll need this two-part article: Evaluating Your Practice Tests. The link given here is to the first part of the article; you can find the link to the second part at the end of the first part.
Evaluating Your Practice Tests will tell you, step by step, how to analyze a ManhattanGMAT practice test. (Note: you may be able to adapt the article for use with another test; it will depend upon whether the other test report gives you similar data points for analysis.) This analysis, in turn, will allow you to determine your primary strengths and weaknesses across all major axes: question type, content area, timing, and difficulty level.
Now that you’re ready to start studying, we have to discuss another critical component: HOW best to study. It’s really important to ensure that you are studying in a way that allows you to get better at the GMAT “ and simply studying a great quantity of stuff doesn’t necessarily accomplish that goal.
You will, of course, need to learn the actual material that’s tested on the exam: math, grammar, ways of thinking through critical reasoning or reading comprehension situations, how to do data sufficiency, and so on. There are tons of great books out there that can teach you this stuff, so this article won’t address those areas. Just go out and find whatever you think are the best books for you.
Next, you’re going to start trying to do some practice problems “ possibly problems given in your practice books or the Official Guide books, or problems given on CATs that you’ve taken. How do you actually study these problems? Start here: How to Analyze a Practice Problem. This article describes what to do after you’ve spent a minute or two trying to do a problem. First, you do it; then, you study it. The latter activity is where most of your learning will occur.
If you want more specific ideas about how to use that last article to analyze a problem, try the below articles. For each of these articles, I took one practice problem and analyzed it in the way described in the main article, above.
- How to Analyze a GMATPrep Sentence Correction Question
- How to Analyze a GMATPrep Critical Reasoning Question
- How to Analyze a Reading Comp Inference Question
- How to Analyze a GMATPrep Problem Solving Question
- How to Analyze a GMATPrep Data Sufficiency Question
There are a bunch of additional articles that talk about how to break down various individual problems in general (not with the specific How To Analyze process). I’m not going to link to them all here; they’re in the archives if you’re interested. There are, however, a couple of other articles that you may find really useful.
If you aren’t already aware of how a computer-adaptive test (CAT) works, including the scoring and time management issues involved, or if you’re simply struggling with timing, then read these two articles:
- Everything You Need To Know About Time Management: this article provides tools to help you learn how to manage your time in the best way.
- The GMAT Uncovered: this article gives instructions for how to access a free e-book (from ManhattanGMAT) that will explain, in great detail, how the test actually works. There’s also some information about admissions in the book. I should add that I’ve started recommending that my own students read this book between our first and second class; I think there’s a lot of important information in this book.
(Note: if you’ve ever signed up for a free practice test from MGMAT, then you’ll find The GMAT Uncovered in your student center already; all of our students “ even those who’ve only signed up for a free test “ have automatic access to this book. Just log in and start reading!)
If you are concerned about the essay portion of the test, take a look at this article: Ace The Essays? No Thanks! Here, we discuss what you do and don’t need to worry about as you get ready to write the GMAT essays.
Finally, if you take a test and your score drops by a lot (more than 80 points or so), don’t panic (yet!). Read this: My Score Dropped! Figuring Out What Went Wrong. This article will help you figure out why your score dropped, and this is critically important because you need to figure out why in order to figure out what to do to prevent it from happening again.
Okay, that should be enough to give everybody a jump-start, regardless of where you are in the process. Were there any articles you really liked that didn’t make it onto the above list? Post the link in the comments below and tell us why you think the article is valuable.