Kaplan GMAT instructors will tell you that we hear common refrains from our students and friends. In my years of teaching, I have compiled a list of three of the most common mistakes my Kaplan students and personal friends have made while they are prepping for the GMAT.
Mistake #1: Failing to Make Studying Concrete
You've done this at least once. You say you're going to study. You probably said it something like this: "I have to study for the GMAT this week." Then suddenly, it's Sunday night again and another week has passed and you didn't crack a book or open your online syllabus. What happened? When planning your GMAT study, be specific. Don’t just say you need to do it, and don't even just list Monday – ‘GMAT PREP!!!’ on your calendar. Choose a date and a time and list the aspect of the test that you plan to review: 'Monday, 7-9pm, practice GMAT Reading Comprehension passages'. This will make your schedule organized and actionable.
Mistake #2: Focusing on GMAT Content (at the Expense of Everything Else)
It is imperative to learn, memorize, and understand GMAT content. Many students like to make flashcards of the content areas. (Area of Triangle = ½ bh, circumference of a circle: 2(pi)(r), etc.) These equations are important but they won’t translate directly into points on test day. Why? You MUST make them actionable! The equation for the area of triangle is only important when you know when and how to use the formula to find the answer to a GMAT question. The GMAT isn’t testing your ability to memorize formulas – it is testing your ability to identify the moment and situation when you have to USE the equation. In order to develop this ability, take full-length Computer Adaptive Tests and quizzes.
Mistake #3: Thinking a Book will Solve Everything
It won’t. Many students prepare very well by using a book. However, it isn’t the book that causes their success – it is their diligence. A book is a collection of questions and information on content. You have to take this knowledge and apply it to real GMAT practice tests. Studying with a book may earn you a few extra points on test day. However, like everything in business, you get what you pay for - look for a book that comes with online resources and realistic computer adaptive practice to get the most bang for your buck.