1/17/11

Is there any effective strategy for preparing for the GMAT way in advance (like 1-2 or more years). I come from a non target, with so-so gpa. My GMAT is going to make or break me for MSF and MBA. I'm a decent test taker, but I need an awesome GMAT.

Let me illustrate what I mean by long-term strategy. If I had a few years to prepare for the SAT, I would memorize a massive amount of vocab words of the kind that you see on the test.. I would spend like one hour a week on it and would have significantly improved my vocabulary by the time of the test. Also, I might try to take some quantitative courses (not sure exactly which ones) that would improve my ability to reason through mathematical problems quickly.

Are there any strategies like this for the GMAT? Any ways to prepare myself far in advance (i.e. build vocabulary)

Thanks in advance, SB for helpful responses.

Comments (10)

1/17/11

If I were you, I would just start studying the GMAT test prep material (1hour a week) and would then take a practice test every week or semimonthly. All else being equal the most important factor is the amount of time you invest in studying. One thing that I've been told many do is, save up their sick/ vacation time and use it the week before the test and just go on a studying binge.

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  • eyelikecheese
  •  1/17/11

A solid long term strategy is to read the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Scholarly Journals. A great bit of the reading comprehension is how well you can understand obscure and technical topics.

1/17/11

agree with above - i think the best way to prepare for any of the verbal/writing material is to read the nytimes and wsj, as mentioned above. not to toot my own horn or anything, but i grew up reading the nytimes most days (sports at first of course), and as a result i've never had to study for the verbal/writing parts of any standardized tests. i couldn't even name you half the grammar rules and tricks that they teach you in books and courses, but when i look at a sentence correction question, it just 'looks wrong' or 'looks right', and my gut leads me to the correct answer.

i used to tutor for the sat, and my number one piece of advice to people who had at least a couple months was to read the nytimes every day - regardless of which section they found interesting

Best Response
1/17/11

Reading Comp/Sent Correction - Read the WSJ, Economist, NYT, etc religiously. Pay attention to sentence structure.
Sent Correction - memorize grammar rules. I suggest using non-GMAT materials when doing this.
Crit Reasoning - if you really have the time, take a class in Logic and/or Reasoning if you can find one. Even a proofs class might help if you are mathematically inclined.
Math - Take a discrete math class to solve all prob/stat questions. Other than that just practice.

Don't use Kaplan or Princeton materials... ever. Use Official Guide (and supplementary guides) first, then Veritas, then Manhattan. Exception is Manhattan sentence correction - use before Veritas.

If you take a class, get yourself a 99% instructor. This means no Kaplan or Princeton once again. Makes a big difference. Also, take it in person, not online.

Whenever doing practice problems, 25% of your time should be spent doing problems, 75% should be spent reviewing the following:

1. Questions you got wrong (obviously)
2. Questions you guessed on correctly
3. Questions you took too long on (but got right)... you probably used the wrong method.

Note that this will be hard to execute, so you should aware of this and plan accordingly. It is much more fun to just solve problems, but really try to stick to the 25% 75% rule.

The implication of this is that before you move on to the next set of books (OG-->Suppl. Guides-->Veritaz/Manhattan) you should be able to go through the "completed" material and get 99% right because you studied each problem so rigorously you probably remember the answer/solution. Don't move on until you can do this.

When studying from books, DO NOT WRITE IN THE BOOK, don't even circle answers. This gives you an unfair advantage over the real test, where the questions are on the screen. Also, this will make the materials useless the 2nd time around...

Don't worry about measuring your progress/performance - waste of time. Any "signal" you pick up is random in 95% of the time, and can lead you in the wrong direction.

PS 1hr/week is not going to do you ANY good. At all. You forget more things during a week than you can learn in an hour. 3-6 hrs/week minimum.

Source - I teach the GMAT, and scored in 99th in both math and verbal, separately.

1/17/11
Dr Joe:

Reading Comp/Sent Correction - Read the WSJ, Economist, NYT, etc religiously. Pay attention to sentence structure.
Sent Correction - memorize grammar rules. I suggest using non-GMAT materials when doing this.
Crit Reasoning - if you really have the time, take a class in Logic and/or Reasoning if you can find one. Even a proofs class might help if you are mathematically inclined.
Math - Take a discrete math class to solve all prob/stat questions. Other than that just practice.

Don't use Kaplan or Princeton materials... ever. Use Official Guide (and supplementary guides) first, then Veritas, then Manhattan. Exception is Manhattan sentence correction - use before Veritas.

If you take a class, get yourself a 99% instructor. This means no Kaplan or Princeton once again. Makes a big difference. Also, take it in person, not online.

Whenever doing practice problems, 25% of your time should be spent doing problems, 75% should be spent reviewing the following:

1. Questions you got wrong (obviously)
2. Questions you guessed on correctly
3. Questions you took too long on (but got right)... you probably used the wrong method.

Note that this will be hard to execute, so you should aware of this and plan accordingly. It is much more fun to just solve problems, but really try to stick to the 25% 75% rule.

The implication of this is that before you move on to the next set of books (OG-->Suppl. Guides-->Veritaz/Manhattan) you should be able to go through the "completed" material and get 99% right because you studied each problem so rigorously you probably remember the answer/solution. Don't move on until you can do this.

When studying from books, DO NOT WRITE IN THE BOOK, don't even circle answers. This gives you an unfair advantage over the real test, where the questions are on the screen. Also, this will make the materials useless the 2nd time around...

Don't worry about measuring your progress/performance - waste of time. Any "signal" you pick up is random in 95% of the time, and can lead you in the wrong direction.

PS 1hr/week is not going to do you ANY good. At all. You forget more things during a week than you can learn in an hour. 3-6 hrs/week minimum.

Source - I teach the GMAT, and scored in 99th in both math and verbal, separately.

+1 SB for you.

Also, I'm taking it in March. How much per week do you think I should study? Based on the free practice tests, I'm getting none wrong in the verbal portion and 1-2 wrong in the math section...what would this translate to score wise?

1/17/11
anaismalcolm:
Dr Joe:

Reading Comp/Sent Correction - Read the WSJ, Economist, NYT, etc religiously. Pay attention to sentence structure.
Sent Correction - memorize grammar rules. I suggest using non-GMAT materials when doing this.
Crit Reasoning - if you really have the time, take a class in Logic and/or Reasoning if you can find one. Even a proofs class might help if you are mathematically inclined.
Math - Take a discrete math class to solve all prob/stat questions. Other than that just practice.

Don't use Kaplan or Princeton materials... ever. Use Official Guide (and supplementary guides) first, then Veritas, then Manhattan. Exception is Manhattan sentence correction - use before Veritas.

If you take a class, get yourself a 99% instructor. This means no Kaplan or Princeton once again. Makes a big difference. Also, take it in person, not online.

Whenever doing practice problems, 25% of your time should be spent doing problems, 75% should be spent reviewing the following:

1. Questions you got wrong (obviously)
2. Questions you guessed on correctly
3. Questions you took too long on (but got right)... you probably used the wrong method.

Note that this will be hard to execute, so you should aware of this and plan accordingly. It is much more fun to just solve problems, but really try to stick to the 25% 75% rule.

The implication of this is that before you move on to the next set of books (OG-->Suppl. Guides-->Veritaz/Manhattan) you should be able to go through the "completed" material and get 99% right because you studied each problem so rigorously you probably remember the answer/solution. Don't move on until you can do this.

When studying from books, DO NOT WRITE IN THE BOOK, don't even circle answers. This gives you an unfair advantage over the real test, where the questions are on the screen. Also, this will make the materials useless the 2nd time around...

Don't worry about measuring your progress/performance - waste of time. Any "signal" you pick up is random in 95% of the time, and can lead you in the wrong direction.

PS 1hr/week is not going to do you ANY good. At all. You forget more things during a week than you can learn in an hour. 3-6 hrs/week minimum.

Source - I teach the GMAT, and scored in 99th in both math and verbal, separately.

+1 SB for you.

Also, I'm taking it in March. How much per week do you think I should study? Based on the free practice tests, I'm getting none wrong in the verbal portion and 1-2 wrong in the math section...what would this translate to score wise?

What free practice tests are you referring to? Most give you a score...

To tell you how much you need to study, I would of course need to know a lot more about who you are... Very broadly speaking, 10 hrs/week seems to be about the magic number if you plan well in advance and are not trying to go from 400 to 750. If you are taking in March and are beginning to study now... well depends on where you are and want to be, but probably more.

1/17/11
Dr Joe:

What free practice tests are you referring to? Most give you a score...

To tell you how much you need to study, I would of course need to know a lot more about who you are... Very broadly speaking, 10 hrs/week seems to be about the magic number if you plan well in advance and are not trying to go from 400 to 750. If you are taking in March and are beginning to study now... well depends on where you are and want to be, but probably more.

There was a test that I downloaded after registering that I took. I don't remember them giving me a score, but I haven't taken them all so I'll retake and see where I am.

I'd like to get 750, so maybe 2 hours per day? I'll probably focus more on math since that's my weaker subject.

1/17/11
anaismalcolm:
Dr Joe:

What free practice tests are you referring to? Most give you a score...

To tell you how much you need to study, I would of course need to know a lot more about who you are... Very broadly speaking, 10 hrs/week seems to be about the magic number if you plan well in advance and are not trying to go from 400 to 750. If you are taking in March and are beginning to study now... well depends on where you are and want to be, but probably more.

There was a test that I downloaded after registering that I took. I don't remember them giving me a score, but I haven't taken them all so I'll retake and see where I am.

I'd like to get 750, so maybe 2 hours per day? I'll probably focus more on math since that's my weaker subject.

Two hours a day sounds like plenty enough, especially the results you cited were from the problem set I think you did called the Practice Problems in the download from www.mba.com. However, I can't comment further without knowing how you would do on a full practice test.

That being said, it is very hard to actually study 2hrs/day every day. And of course focus on the math if that is your weaker subject... it is also generally easier to improve on.

750 is quite ambitious for anyone without having taken a practice test and at least scoring a 600. Not to say you can't do it, but for many (most) the time/effort required to get there is prohibitive.

1/17/11
anaismalcolm:
Dr Joe:

What free practice tests are you referring to? Most give you a score...

To tell you how much you need to study, I would of course need to know a lot more about who you are... Very broadly speaking, 10 hrs/week seems to be about the magic number if you plan well in advance and are not trying to go from 400 to 750. If you are taking in March and are beginning to study now... well depends on where you are and want to be, but probably more.

There was a test that I downloaded after registering that I took. I don't remember them giving me a score, but I haven't taken them all so I'll retake and see where I am.

I'd like to get 750, so maybe 2 hours per day? I'll probably focus more on math since that's my weaker subject.

Sounds like you're using the official GMAT prep tests (blue screen, there are two of them, etc.?). Your score is available immediately after taking the test, but once you click off the screen, it is lost. If this is indeed the test you're taking and you're getting 0 wrong in the verbal and only 1-2 wrong in the math (there are about 40 questions per section), then you're already scoring a 790 and should go take the test RIGHT NOW!!! You can get 3-4 wrong in the verbal and still score in the 99th % and you can get 8-10 wrong in the math and still score 80+ % (for a combined score of 750+).

If math is your weaker subject, you'll likely need to spend a fair amount of time with it in order to score in the 750 range. If you aren't naturally quick with numbers and the ability to recognize patterns or formulate your own way of coming to the answers, you'll need to memorize formulas and how to tackle each different problem type. I personally believe that most people fall under this category. Since you've got a couple of months, I think two hours a day should be fine and perhaps even excessive if you've got a really high starting point. Even more important is probably the quality of your study time --- don't just burn through 1,000 questions and call that "studying." As Dr. Joe said above, analyze the problems you got wrong and take the time to learn how to solve them. This will make all the difference.

CompBanker

1/17/11

More is good, all is better

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