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How To Use Your Strategy Guides

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This article, written by Abby Pelcyger and Stacey Koprince, was adapted from our upcoming book, The GMAT Roadmap: Expert Advice Through Test Day. The full book will be available mid-November.

If you wanted to meet every neighbor on your block, you wouldn’t re-introduce yourself to your best friends who live a few doors down, or to the guy who has you over for a barbeque every fourth Sunday. Rather, you would identify which neighbors you don’t know, and go knock on their doors. The same is true for learning GMAT content. If you are already solid on a bunch of content, reading a whole book on stuff you already know and doing practice problems you could do blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back won’t improve your score. You need to identify the content that you do not yet know, or are still shaky on, and concentrate your efforts there.

The Strategy Guides are written to provide comprehensive coverage of GMAT-level content. It is your job to ascertain how to most effectively use the guides. Here’s what we recommend:

  • If you know that you don’t know the content covered in a Strategy Guide chapter, are shaky and/or rusty on the material, or feel that there must be a faster way than how you currently approach the subject, read the chapter. Create a cheat sheet for the chapter by taking notes on key points that you want to remember, but don’t yet have memorized. Then, test your learning by completing all of the In Action problems at the end of the chapter. Make sure to check your answer and review the solution after completing each problem—not after completing the whole set. There is no better way to internalize how not to do something correctly than to repeat an incorrect method fifteen times in a row!
  • If you know that you know the content covered in a Strategy Guide chapter, quiz yourself to prove it! Turn to the In Action problems at the end of the chap¬ter. They are listed from easiest to hardest, so try numbers 3 and 8. If you do not get those problems right, read the chapter. If you do get those problems right, complete numbers 11–15. Make sure to check the answers after completing each problem. If you get them all right, move on to the next chapter. If you get them mostly right, skim the chapter and focus in on the pieces of information that you need to fill the holes in your knowledge.
  • If the Strategy Guide leaves you confused, it is likely that you have holes in the foundational knowledge on which the GMAT content is built. While reading the Strategy Guide, refer back to the appropriate chapters of the Foundations books, as needed, to fill in these gaps.