For anyone beginning their GMAT Prep, there are 4 important parts of the cycle.
Reviewing the Tests
Going through the Official GMAT Guidebook
1. Tests : Time your score
Building exam temperament is perhaps the most important part of your GMAT preparation.
Being able to attack problems with finesse, and handling the pressure to be able to get through 78 problems in 150 minutes and getting most of them right is what GMAT is about.
Give as many tests as possible, there is no fair number, but depending upon the time you have until your exam, anywhere between 8-12 tests is a must.
P.S: Try to give the full 4 hour tests as much as possible. It is important to build your ability to get tricky Critical Reasoning problems right in the 4th hour of an exam.
2. Go over the test results, Improve methods and Look for concepts you need to build
Spend a few hours going over the test results. The point of taking regular exams is not so much as observing your progress (though that is important too) , but to find areas for you to improve upon.
There are many ways to review tests, I'll write a subsequent post to go over some finer details, for now remember to
a. Check which questions you spent more than an average amount of time on - see if you can find an alternative way to do it faster.
b. Find questions you did wrong, and how you could have got them right.
c. Understand areas you need to focus on. If you got 8 out of 14 Critical reasoning questions wrong, you may need to spend more time on it as opposed to Quant for instance.
P.s : I found that keeping my rough notes from the exam clean and accessible helped while reviewing the exam. Reviewing how I tried to solve a problem helped me recollect what my understanding and approach and offers an opportunity to improve those.
3. Building Concepts
GMAT is less a test of your knowledge, and more a test of your ability to decode problems and attack them to find a quick resolution. There are many ways to solve the problem, it is, however, imperative that you find quick, easy and effective ways to get past the same questions.
There are many places where you can study to build these concepts. Books can come in handy as can online courses (The free version of Economist
GMAT Tutor worked brilliantly to help me along my way, I've heard good things about Manhattan and Kaplan
too) . Going through Forums such as Beatthegmat and thegmatclub regularly will help you find new methods to use, and keep you interested and motivated.
P.S : Never underestimate the importance of developing good methods. GMAT is handled best when you treat it like a sword fight as opposed to a butcher shop. You could force through 20 problems in Quant, maybe 25, even 30 if you are effective, but to be able to get through all 37 problems in good time and maintain a high correct-incorrect ratio - you'll need to swipe and dance through the problems.
4. The Official GMAT Guide
It is one of the bets places to get relevant information. Do as many questions as possible from the Guidebook, read up on other parts of your preparation when you do not feel like doing problems.
Remember to keep timing yourself from the very beginning. It is easy to fall under the impression that it is okay to start getting problems right to begin with and later you could work on doing them faster. The simple fact is, once you put in a time limit to your problem solving- the whole equation changes.
P.S : I do not mean to imply that you need to put out a stopwatch every time you put pen to paper, instead, do questions in batches of 10 or another suitable number. Do them as well and as quickly as you can, and then at the end observe how much time you took to solve them.
Hope a few people find this helpful.
Final P.S : Theres more where this came from. I had a decent GMAT Prep during a tough 14 hour a day work schedule, and felt that sharing a little information back with the forum was in order. check out my blog at gmatwin(dot)com