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AKA – I don’t feel ready to take the GMAT, please help!
Let’s say you spent the last few months of your life enrolled in our GMAT class. You attended all the classes and you kept up with homework (mostly)—but you don’t feel ready to take the test yet. You’re starting to panic. What should you do?
Immediately After the GMAT Class Ends…
Take your 3rd practice CAT. Let’s see where you are now after nine sessions of class. This will help you figure out what you need to work on in the remaining time before your test. Also, taking this 3rd CAT within thirty days of your GMAT class ending will qualify you for a free Post Course Assessment (PCA). The PCA is a 30-minute session with an instructor who has been specially trained to analyze your CATs and come up with an individualized study plan. You can email your class instructor to see if he or she is available for the PCA, or you can go directly to your Student Center and click on the Office Hours tab to sign up for one with another instructor. I cannot tell you how grateful my students have been after their PCAs. So don’t miss out on this opportunity by lagging on your 3rd CAT!!
After Your PCA…
Now comes the hard part—organizing your study life without the weekly discipline of class! I sometimes see my students falter at this late point in the game because they forget how easy it is to get caught up in life. When you have a weekly GMAT class, it’s a reminder to stay on track and do your homework. Without this reminder, it’s easy to slip away from making your GMAT studies a priority. So, I highly recommend taking a look at how much time you have left before your test and setting a study schedule.
Here’s an Example of a Study Schedule:
Let’s assume that upon completion of your GMAT class, you still have four weeks before your official exam. Let’s also assume that your PCA (or your own self-analysis) has identified these areas of weakness: Number Properties, Quadratic Equations, Rates and Work Problems, Combinations, SC Pronouns, CR Inference Questions, CR Strengthen Questions, and 700+ Reading Comprehension Questions. Let’s also assume you have a full-time job. That’s a lot of work to get done in four weeks when you only have a few hours a week to practice. So you have to prioritize and set appointments in your calendar so that you don’t procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed!
Your study schedule might look something like this:
Monday (1.5 hours) – Focus on Rates/Work. Do questions 1-7 on drill sheet. Error log them. With remaining time, do 5 OG problems and error log.
Tuesday – No time to study
Wednesday (2 hours) – CR Inference. Do the Session 9 Interact lesson. Do all associated homework, with particular focus on Strategy Guide and OG problems. Error log.
Thursday (1 hour) – Review the 5 Deadly Pronouns and do 5 SC questions in second half of the section. Practice identifying pronoun issues. Do 2 Rates/Work problems and 2 CR Inference problems. Error log everything!
Friday – No time to study
Saturday (4 hours) – Break it up into two separate study sessions. First 2 hours – Practice factoring and special products for Quadratic Equations. Look over Algebra Strategy Guide and Foundations of Math. Review Session 4 Interact. Identify 2 PS and 2 DS regarding quadratics in the OG, give myself 8 minutes to do them all. Error log. Second 2 hours – Do the Algebra Question Bank. Error log.
Sunday – Day off. But, I will plan what to work on next week.
This is how detailed I want you to plan your studying. At the end of the first week, check in with yourself and see if you’re on track with your plan. Then, plan your next week based on what you got done and how much time you have. Your PCA will also give you insight into how to organize your studies. For example, your PCA instructor might tell you to forget about Combination problems or those 700+ RC questions that you get wrong. They might not be worth it given all of the other more frequently occurring material that you have to cover.
What About Another CAT (or Two or Three)?
You’ll also need to plan when you will take your next practice CATs. Most people end up taking a CAT every two weeks or every week, depending on their schedules and needs. But remember, it’s no good to practice a full test under non-test-like conditions. Don’t do it after a full day of work. Don’t start and stop the test. Don’t skip the essay and IR. It is not worth taking the full test if it is going to give us inaccurate information about how you’re doing because you were tired or distracted. We need the accurate information to continue to refine your study plan. It’s also no good just taking CAT after CAT if you’re not working on content in between the practice tests.
If this organizing seems like a lot of work, it is! But it is work that will save you heartache on the other side of the test. You’ve already invested your time, money, and energy into studying for the GMAT. Don’t lose your momentum in the last weeks before your official exam!! If you need help, always feel free to reach out to your GMAT class instructor. We are your teachers FOR LIFE. (Okay, life might be a little long. But we’re here to see you through to the end of your test experience!!) 📝
Want some more genius GMAT tips from Elaine? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Elaine Loh is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in psychology and a desire to teach others. She can’t get enough of standardized tests and has been a test prep tutor and teacher for over half her life. Check out Elaine’s upcoming GMAT courses here.