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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)

  • Commodity Bull's picture

    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.

  • eyelikecheese's picture

    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.

  • dublin's picture

    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

  • Dr Joe's picture

    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.

  • In reply to Dr Joe
    anaismalcolm's picture

    Dr Joe wrote:
    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?

  • In reply to anaismalcolm
    Dr Joe's picture

    anaismalcolm wrote:
    Dr Joe wrote:
    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.

  • Argonaut's picture

    1. Don't underestimate yourself, you may not need all that prep. Take a practice GMAT to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Your anxiety and lack of confidence will affect your performance way more than any grammar rules.
    2. You don't need to read WSJ or NY Times to train your eye for sentence correction, if you haven't grown up reading a lot and thus don't have a natural knack, you won't fix it by attempting to start reading for a year or two. GMAT sentence correction tests for specific errors and you can purposely train yourself to spot those errors.
    3. You can also train similarly for the reading comp; really unless you are from a non-target in a non-English speaking country, I think you can certainly train yourself to perform well on the verbal section.
    4. Quant - while there are some solution strategies, you can't beat quant without being a quick thinker. In that aspect, if you learned how to cram and cut corners, you are probably better equipped for beating quant section than a kid of similar intelligence that diligently carries out every decimal.
    (my GMAT is 750, if that helps to validate my opinions)

    More is good, all is better

  • In reply to Dr Joe
    anaismalcolm's picture

    Dr Joe wrote:

    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.