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Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead?

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Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2011, 08:48
Hi everyone,

I heard about this amazing website through another forum and after registering, I found myself spending a great deal of the weekend reading through the website... It is truly amazing and very addictive! :)

Why am I here? I am just about to finish my first year in a 3-year B.Sc. Business Administration program in Europe (Germany) and I am considering applying to some of the top UK schools for a Masters degree, maybe even some US schools. Without doubt the GMAT plays an integral role in the application process and I would really like to get started ahead of time with the preparation as I have heard many older friends complain about how they regret only taking one or two months to prepare. I have also been very inspired by positivesoul's story "From 420 to 700 to Wharton" which really proves that practicing does pay off in the end.

I am applying for grad school in fall 2012/spring 2013 and my idea was to - from now on - consistently spend about 30min every weekday and approx. 2 hours on the weekend preparing for the GMAT. I am aware that this requires a great deal of self-discipline, but over a time span of 2 years it would equal about 460 hours of preparation, and probably around 350-400 hours considering it won't always work out. Now you might think I am crazy thinking about this already, but in my opinion 30 minutes or an hour per day don't hurt anyone. I know a lot of people who take off a year after their Bachelors just to study for the GMAT but I think doing it the other way you could actually avoid having to do this.

But after all this is just my own theory and I haven't had any GMAT experience at all so far. You guys are the experts and I would like to ask you what you think of the idea? Does it seem realistic or is it more effective in practice to prepare intensively 5h a day over a time span of 3 months?

Thanks a lot in advance for your help, I am looking forward to your advice! :)
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2011, 10:06
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Well, my guess is that u will get bored with that. And your motivation must be sky-high to prepare for 2 years :) Maybe it is, but still that's too hard to maintain it for such a long period. If I were you, I would consider 4-5 months as the maximum timeframe.
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2011, 11:05
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A two-year study plan is absolutely NOT recommended. Many people indeed regret having not spend enough time on their GMAT studies, but going to the opposite extreme is equally as bad. Please don't do this. Three to four months of effective study should be enough for almost anyone to perform well on the GMAT.
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2011, 16:16
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Hi salsal, I would like to chime in my own 2 cents here. As a person who has always been the "Average Joe", I started prepping for GMAT in May of 2009. My preparation consisted of multiple books that are highly regarded for GMAT prep, as well as daily exercise to keep my mind going at it. Leaving all the gruesome details of my study behind, I took my first test in April of 2010, so roughly an 11 month preparation. Not happy with my first try, I took it again immediately after a month (I remember it was 32 days after my first try) in May. So all in all, it took me roughly a year to get a score that I was satisfied with.

Moral of story: I was completely burnt out and did not want to deal with GMAT any longer. Have you ever done a food challenge? Well, let me tell you something. I've attempted at a food challenge where I have to eat a 30-inch pizza with another guy in less than an hour. It was a daunting task and we ultimately failed. Why? Because the pizza tasted so nasty afterwards that I felt like I was eating paste. Well, why did I mention this? Because the way that I tackled the GMAT was sort of like the way I tackled that pizza. It was just way too much for me to handle that I was eventually disgusted by it. After 11 months of preparation, I was happy to enter that test center to finish my GMAT experience once and for all. Little did I know, I was unsuccessful the first time. The mere thought of me going back to my preparation for one more month was so mentally exhausting that I wanted to give up (of course, I didn't).

What's my point? Well, from a personal standpoint, I would highly recommend you to not study for that long. There are several arguable points here. One: chances are you won't be able to retain the information that you studied three years ago. It's just been too long and your brain will have probably washed everything away from the first few months of studying; therefore, a waste of time and energy. Two: if you choose to study for three years, you will eventually (this is an assumption) get burnt out and wanted to give up on it. This is, obviously, not a good feeling to have since I went through the same thing. Third: chances are you'll be out of good materials to study from. What will this lead to? You might get your hands on something that won't really help you anymore. Fourth and the MOST IMPORTANT POINT: GMAT will get a makeover on June 4, 2012. This means that your preparation from today up to June 4, 2012, will be one set of ideas. Going beyond June 4, 2012 will be a new beast that you'll have to tackle. You not only have wasted over a year of work on something that may change dramatically, but you'll also have to start all over again. This defeats the entire purpose of going at it for three years.

So I hope with these said that you'll make an informed decision. Ultimately, I congratulate you for wanting to study for this test. But at that same token I would really hate for you to trek down the path I went. Afterall, it's a learning experience that I share with folks who are just entering this long journey. If you aren't planning to enter b-school anytime soon, I'd wait until the GMAT has gotten its makeover next year, then plan our your study.

Good luck!
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2011, 12:09
I love the pizza analogy, bakfed - well done! (And sorry to hear about that pizza experience...)

I fully agree with you that a 2-year study plan just sounds like the wrong way to go. Not only is it ripe for procrastination, burnout, etc., it just shouldn't take that long in general! Keep in mind that your GMAT score is good for 5 years, so if you have more time over the next few months than you anticipate having a year or two from now, you might as well plan to take the test sooner and then hold onto the score for 5 years. I'd even argue that even if you don't think you'll use the score for 6 years, if the GMAT is on your mind now and you want to get started, you should gear up for a test within the next 6 months or so...then at least you have the option to use that score, and you prepare with some intensity and a finish line in sight.

Think about it this way - most diet and exercise plans fail, in large part because people don't have targeted goals. It's hard to stay on that treadmill for too long without an event to check your progress. If you register for a triathlon or you have a fitness goal to hit by a certain date, you're much more likely to stick with it because you're accountable to an event. To paraphrase Allen Iverson, we just can't get that into practice...we want to play the game! (Practice? Practice? We talking about practice? Not the game...practice?)

So without a genuine attempt at the GMAT over two years, I just don't think you'll get a whole lot of value out of a study program. I'd much rather you plan to take the test sooner, and then even if you don't love your score you've at least had to deal with that sense of urgency that comes with preparing for the big event, and you can learn from that.


One other note - that 2012 GMAT change only affects one section: the new "Integrated Reasoning" section will replace one of the AWA essays. So you won't do any counterproductive studying between now and then - nothing is being removed from the GMAT, and the new section derives skills and thought processes largely from current question families and concept areas - but even at that you may want to plan on taking a test sooner if you have the time just to aid your study process.
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2011, 04:39
Hey guys,

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and taking the time to type it out. I really appreciate it and I am sure I can still learn a lot from you!

I haven’t had any standardized testing experience so far, so speaking of grades and GPA, I have always been very good, but really the only thing that got me there was hard word and practice, practice, practice. I wouldn’t consider myself particularly intelligent, if I wasn’t studying much, I wouldn’t be by far as good. That's why I'll probably also not get around studying for more than 2 or 3 months for the GMAT in or,der to get a satisfying result ;) Additionally, I’m not a native speaker, as you might have noticed, which makes the verbal and essay parts even harder for me and I’ll probably have to do lots of vocab-studying.

I do realize that a two-year study plan is probably a bit over the top ;) But I feel like a 6/9-month preparation period sounds reasonable.

From reading people’s GMAT stories (such as positivesoul’s „From 420 to 700 to Wharton“, as I previously mentioned) I got the impression that practicing can really help you to improve your score tremedously. Is that true? How much did you guys or people you know improve since your first GMAT / diagnostic test without any preparation? Are the ones who manage to raise their scores by several hundred points just exceptions by nature or exceptions because they’re one of the few who have the right attitude and the will power and persistence to pull this through and study consistenly for such a long time period? ;)


@bakfed:
Quote:
so roughly an 11 month preparation. Not happy with my first try, I took it again immediately after a month (I remember it was 32 days after my first try) in May.

First of all, congratulations on your great score, you should be very proud not only of the score but also of your persistence and determination!
How much did you roughly study per day / on the weekends? Did you have a study plan and did you stick to it?

Thank you also for sharing the pizza experience, I’m sure it was hard for you to even look at pizza for a couple of weeks after this ;)
Utimately, I think this also demonstrates that one should not try to handle too much in a fairly short time period. → Therefore, studying for 5-8h per day over 3 months would be equally as bad for you as over 2 year with 1-2h per day. Eventually you’ll get tired of it both ways. Do you agree?

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If you register for a triathlon or you have a fitness goal to hit by a certain date, you're much more likely to stick with it because you're accountable to an event.

That’s very true! I realize that with even with usual exams ;)

Concerning the GMAT change in 2012: So, will they simply add/replace a section? Is it for sure that they won't change other sections?


Thank you again for your help! I truly appreciate it!
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2011, 07:48
In terms of the 2012 change, I don't know much about it but I'll definitely take Brian's word for it. You can also google it to see what it entails (I simply don't know enough about it besides the fact that it's going to change).

I think a 6-9 months is not that bad, certainly has a lot more pros (than cons) when compared to a 2+ years study plan. Honestly, if I were to do it again, I'd do more of a 6-9 months, leaning towards 6 or 7 preferably. I have to somehow disagree at least a little bit that studying intensely for 3 months is a negative thing. You can think about GMAT as a final exam from college. Some folks (probably most folks) would agree that what they'll do is procrastinate and wait until the last minute and cram everything in. The GMAT isn't testing you calculus, nor is it asking you to read the Harvard journals. Most of the stuff on there is mostly high school materials, with a bit of a twist in it. What you need to do is practice enough for you to realize these twists when present, and tackle the question strategically. A 2+ year studying plan won't get you any closer to mastering the material if you can't see these twists. I guess same could go the other way: studying intensely (but incorrectly) for 3 months would do no right either. Anyway, I personally don't think there's anything bad about a 6-9 month studying plan, as long as you do it right and don't get burnout towards the end.

As for me, I improved from a 580 to a 700 (with an official 660 first time). My game plan was that I analyzed where I was lacking, which was verbal, and really attacked my weak side. I used MGMAT's SC and practiced and practiced and practiced. I totally believe that one can improve from a 400 to a 700. It will really depend a lot on several factors: time, dedication, and perseverance. Obviously, a 400 to a 700 will require a lot more practice but the harsh reality is that not everyone has the time and energy to study 150+ hours to achieve that 300 point increase. I would say just do the best you can and take that beast when you're ready. Instead of worrying how many points you can improve, simply think about getting that 800 the first time. =)
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2011, 09:24
Hey gang,

Regarding that new Integrated Reasoning section, you can read the Official GMAT Blog's explanation and even try some sample problems through the www.mba.com site here: http://www.mba.com/community/MBA_com/b/officialgmat/archive/2010/11/05/next-generation-gmat-integrated-reasoning-question-testing.aspx

And for the official press release, which reiterates that "the GMAT's verbal and quantitative sections will not change", please see: http://gmac.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=112.

So rest assured that all the study you may put in over the next 16 months (although I do recommend a shorter time horizon!) or so will not be wasted!
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2011, 07:29
Sorry to get back so late, I had a couple of exams to write over the last weeks.

Thanks for your help again, guys. Brian, thank you for the link and also thank you for sharing your experience, bakfed :)

So, supposing I would start studying this summer (July) for approx. 6-7 months, how long would you recommend to study per day (weekdays and weekends)? Would you recommend to start off with a GMAT course (just to sort of "get into the material quicker")?
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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead? [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2011, 06:16
I have roughly 6 mon in hand (my date is 8 sept 2011) and I try to study at least an hour every day and 6 hrs on the weekend, I will have to increase as the day gets closer!

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Re: Starting GMAT preparation 2 years ahead?   [#permalink] 11 Mar 2011, 06:16
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