I meant to post this a couple of months ago, but well ... I'm a procrastinator
750 GMAT in 8 days
A guide for procrastinators, by a procrastinator.
So you’re a lifelong procrastinator. You’ve meant to study for the GMAT for months, but never got around to it and now with the GMAT test a month away and thanks to the unsympathetic boss that won’t let you take time off to study, you are officially screwed. You will fail the GMAT and be forever doomed to work under that devil. You feel short of breath, and your vision blurs …
Do not panic, deadlycat is here to save your ass, assuming of course that like him, you have at least 8 days (4 weekends) to study.
The first thing you need to do is head down to the local book store and pick up a copy of the Official Guide 12th
edition. If you are having a crappy day and in need of a win, order the book online while at work. Top off the stunt by smiling at your boss as he walks by
Do the diagnostic test at the beginning of the Official Guide. Take some time to think each question through but don’t take too long. If you have trouble with a question, take your best guess and move on. This should take you about 3-4 hours to do. Tally up your score with the answer key.
Interpreting the result:
The diagnostic is not timed, so it doesn’t measure your speed, nor your accuracy when time is a factor, so do not take the result as a strong indicator of your current ability on the real GMAT. What it does measure well however, is how much you know, and more importantly, how much you DON’T know.
Excellent and Above Average sectional scores indicate that your foundational knowledge of the material is solid. Average and Below Average are the reverse.
A high section score doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do well on the GMAT, but a low score guarantees that you’ll do poorly. If you can’t do these questions untimed, then you won’t be able to do them timed, as the logic goes.
If the majority of your scores are Below Average, writing the test with so little time to prepare is a bad idea, you would be better off with a longer study period.
If the majority of your scores are Excellent, you should look to improve the section(s) that is/are not. This is the ideal position to be in as the task in front of you is straight forward.
If the majority of your scores are a mix of Average and Above Average, a good GMAT score is possible, however with only a few days to study, you need to pick carefully what topic to invest your time in.
Now that you know what your weaknesses are, you need to formulate a study plan to shore up as many of them in as short a time as possible. Different people have different weaknesses so I’ll just list a few guidelines for customizing studying strategy:
Reading Comprehension is a skill that’s accumulated over a life time, and therefore practically impossible to improve significantly in a few days. Don’t invest any time in this area, it give terrible rate of return.
It is easier to improve from Below Average to Average than from Average to Above Average. There is just more room for improvement when you’re at the bottom. So aim to improve sections that are Below Average first before you look to improve sections that are Average.
With 7 days remaining, you’ll need to decide how many days to dedicate to studying and how many days to dedicate to doing practice tests. A good rule of thumb is to count the number of Average and Below Average scores and set aside that many days to study, one day for each topic, unless one of them is Reading Comprehension, in which case you can subtract one.
For those who are at least Above Average in all sections, congratulation, your foundation knowledge is strong and you should start doing practice test immediately to hone your speed.
Sentence Correction (SC) book – I recommend the Manhattan SC
book. The non native English speakers will appreciate the simple and straightforward approach of the book. The book itself is close to 300 pages so you won’t be able to cover all of it but make sure to read at least the chapters on Subject Verb Agreement, Pronouns and Parallelism as they come up frequently on the GMAT.
Logical Reasoning (LR) book – Power Score is the winner here. Though I should put in a disclaimer, I’ve never read the Power Score Gmat book. I used the LSAT one that I had from my LSAT study a couple of years ago. At 500+ pages, it’s a massive tome that even Superman won’t be able to finish in a day. My recommendation would be to hit up the important chapters such as Must Be True, Main Point, Strengthen and Weaken. This has the added benefit of indirectly prepare you for the Reading Comprehension as well.
Math books – OG 12
math formula section. No I’m not kidding, the fact is, with only a couple of days to cover the Math Section, you don’t have the luxury of reading books and seeing how the formulae are derived. What you must rely on now is your memory. The Math being tested on the GMAT is high school level. You’ve learnt it before and now you just need a little help to bring it back up from the recesses of your memory. Simplest way to do this is to use the formula page as a crutch and start solving the questions in the guide. You’ll be surprised by how much you remember. In no time you’ll be able to ditch the crutches and start solving questions on your own.
Reading Comprehension (RC) book - None
Practice Question book – OG 12
. This is more than enough for your purpose. To put into perspective, I only did about 40 questions in the book.
Doing Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) is crucial in the preparation for the GMAT, it not only mentally preps you for the pace and rigor of the real GMAT but it also gives you a rough idea of your progress in the preparation.
One important thing to remember once you’re finished a test is to immediately check the solutions, not just for the questions that you got wrong, but also for the question that you got right. This is an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT point. More often than not, even when you have the right answer, the method that you used to get it is not optimal. With the GMAT being timed, getting the answer quickly and efficiently is just as important as getting it right. Expect the bulk of your study time to be spent here, especially with the first few tests as there is much knowledge to be learnt. Don’t fret if this step takes a lot of time, remember that the tortoise won the race despite being slow. Aim to check the solutions on the same day as the practice test so that your own solutions are still fresh in your mind. That way you can compare and contrast your methods against the solution provided.
Take the time after each test and do feedback. Identify areas that you can improve on, whether that’s timing, accuracy or a specific question type like SC and take steps toward improving them. Remember that it’s not PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE, it’s PRACTISE, FEEDBACK, PRACTISE, FEEDBACK.
PowerPrep Tests are a bit old but are still very good. The scores is accurate (providing that you haven’t done too many questions in the OG) and it has full solutions to all the questions. The questions are a bit easier so they’re perfect as the introductory tests. Skip the AWA, you want to focus on the meat of the GMAT at this point.Manhattan GMAT
CATs are very good to study off of. The solutions are very well written and every question is timed and categorized so that you can see how much time you took to solve the question and what questions types are you strong/weak in. Keep in mind that the Manhattan scoring is not very accurate so it’s best to use the MGMAT early on while you’re still in the process of learning and improving.
GMATPrep CATs are the official test prep, as such the scoring is very accurate, much more so than any other CATs that are out there. Unfortunately, there’s no solutions provided so they’re not that useful to study off of. Save these till the end when most of the studying is done and you just need to know exactly where you stand in the pecking order. Write the AWA, it’s important that you mimic test condition as closely as possible here. It’s also important to at least see a question or two from the AWA so you know what to expect.
Day of the test:
Don’t study the night before, or the morning of, it’s not worth it at this point. Instead chill, relax and get plenty of sleep.
Bring snacks and drinks to consume during the break.
Budget your break time properly, keep in mind that they count the sign out and sign in time as part of your break. Don’t be like me and come back 5 minutes late, it’s rather annoying having to start a new section with a time deficit.
Mental state is very important for doing well on the test. Don’t let the nervousness overwhelms you. Be confident, believe in yourself and believe in your preparation. Likewise, don’t let the GMAT questions intimidate you. You’re the BOSS, ATTACK or as they say in my native language, TAN CONG.
Best of luck, of course you won’t need it if you had followed my guide up to this point