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# Verbal Advantage: GMAT Assassin's Manifesto - Master Content & Tactics

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25 May 2015, 22:11
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This Summer, Master your Verbal Skills Absolutely Free! Get better help – Get better materials - Get better at Verbal!

GMAT ASSASSIN'S MANIFESTO
How To Master Essential GMAT Content & Tactics
A GMAT Club Verbal Advantage 2015 Article

By Max Peterson, EMPOWERgmat

Those who beat the GMAT not only learn the core content tested on the GMAT, but they also (and most importantly for maximum achievement) learn the core set of skills that the GMAT is specifically tuned to measure. If you're prepping for the GMAT, then mastering those skills is mandatory. Perhaps the most important skill of all is the one skill that almost NO ONE ever seems to talk about:

THE SKILL OF LEARNING NEW SKILLS

To learn a new skill:
1) You need to understand the processes you intend to master
2) You need a process to master those processes

It's the lack of item 2 that causes people to "get stuck", and learning how to build new skills goes WAY beyond the GMAT. Knowing how to cultivate new skills will be essential not only in Business School, but also in your professional life beyond.

Before we can talk about building skills, we need to discuss HOW to first learn the essential content tested on the GMAT.

CONTENT - Using a Combined Approach To Master GMAT Content
Any new skill requires intake and absorption of new information. It's important to distinguish between learning content and training for a skill. Before skill mastery can happen, the GMAT student must first learn the content (although sometimes the two overlap).

To learn content, you’ll want to draw on a combined approach:

① Note Taking
Every GMAT student should create a set of notes for all core content on the GMAT. That's true for whether the student is just prepping out of books or is taking a comprehensive Course. The notion that someone can just hear or read something once, and perfectly absorb and retain that information, is a dangerous and complete farce. Notes boost accountability, and good notes should be paraphrased in the student's voice, rather than just a mindless carbon copy of the existing text. Paraphrasing allows the student to take ownership of the content.

② Outlining
Top performing students almost universally build outlines of the notes they took. Building an outline has many fantastic benefits: 1) Review – You have to review your notes to build an outline as opposed to letting the notes collect dust. 2) Organizing – To build an outline, you have to organize your notes, decide what the bigger categories are, and construct a priority tree. 3) Creating a Cheat Sheet – An outline serves as a summary - effectively a cheat sheet for continued review. 4) Re-Paraphrasing – A well-constructed outline forces the outliner to re-paraphrase the content. A successful paraphrase requires a solid understanding of the content, and accordingly can also point to any gaps in understanding that can then be filled in.

③ Listening
If you’re taking a Course, whether live or on demand, then the listening component will naturally be there. Listening (and watching) is the backbone of the institution of education worldwide. Book-only learners will be at a disadvantage, but those who are able to listen and watch a pro break down the content will have an extremely powerful advantage. On the downside, as is the case with any subject matter, the quality of instruction can vary depending on your instructor and the curriculum that is taught. For those still looking, do your research—it’s important to find the right resources for you. Invest time and financial resources to make sure that you won't be at a disadvantage come Test Day.

④ Speaking/Forum Posting
It’s well known that teaching something is a powerful way to learn. You can’t teach if you have any missing knowledge, so teaching is a great accountability & review component to content mastery. For GMATers, by far the greatest way to teach what you know is on the GMAT Club forums. Those forums are available 24 hours a day to a global community, they're free, and just about any GMAT question every published has a thread that you can add your discussion to. If the thread doesn't exist, then you can create it.

⑤ Seeing
Seeing has two different manifestations. 1) Seeing an expert walk you through the content and tactics, breaking down a passage, eliminating options, etc. - that's a central component of any GMAT Course. 2) Converting content into visual notes. For example, you can keep a log of rarer grammar or idiom rules.

SKILL-BUILDING
The GMAT is also engineered to measure a key set of skills that will also serve you at Business School and beyond. Key among them:

✔ The ability to detect pertinent information, and to do so under pressure
✔ The ability to distinguish what you can deduce, and what you can’t

If you are serious about improving your GMAT score, then you must be committed to developing these skills. Without these skills, it is impossible to break 700 (the 90th percentile on the GMAT - a score 90% of test-takers are unable to hit). The average GMAT score for each of the Top 10 MBA programs is well above 700.

A Systematic Approach to GMAT Skill-Building

① The Right Environment & Resources
Your training environment needs to mimic what you'll deal with at the official GMAT Test Center (mild ambient noise, a desktop with a peripheral keyboard and mouse). Further, your CATs should be structured with the two 8-minute break periods and (YES) the AWA and IR sections. Your training resources must focus you on that singular Test Day event, otherwise you are rehearsing in an unrealistic way. Your resources must focus you on preparing to answer GMAT questions under GMAT conditions and provide you with a set of tactics that you can develop through practice to use under times conditions, and under the pressure of Test Day.

② Master Individual Parts of A Skill
Don’t try to master multiple skills at once. You have to develop skills piece by piece. In RC, for example, master each link in the process. That would include proper GMAT caliber reading, which we call EMPOWER reading (take interest, read carefully, and methodically). Next would be learning how to recognize and correctly answer Purpose questions, in each of their various forms. Don’t start shuffling quiz and practice questions around until you have trained on each type of RC question. The only exception to this rule is the regularly scheduled full-length practice CAT, in which case you will have to face material that you haven't necessarily trained for yet.

③ Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

④ Evaluate & Adjust, and Rehearse Some More
Self-reflection is imperative. Without the ability to self-evaluate, and course-correct, developing a skill is a lot harder (and will take far longer to develop). If you currently are 'weak' in a particular area, then own it, define what needs to change, and work to make those changes. You have to be passionate about self-evaluation, adjusting, and rehearsing to implement that change.

⑤ Allowance for Change & Growth
Allow yourself to have setbacks. Setbacks are normal and are more likely a product of more demanding expectations than anything else. Have patience with yourself and the overall improvement process. Just make sure that you understand what the source of the setback is, so that you can focus on the changes you need to make to overcome that setback. Then, of course, you’ll need to implement the steps above to realize that change.

⑥ Consistent & Disciplined Review
Once you master a process, the reality is that there are many, many other processes to master. However, the human brain suffers from entropy---it does not have perfect retention. Without a disciplined review of prior processes, then those processes will wither. As the GMAT assassins's skill inventory grows, he/she must review previously-learned materials. Going forward, you WILL have to allocate a greater and greater fraction of your available training time to reviewing prior content (and past processes) to cultivate a complete test-taking 'game.'

In conclusion, GMAT mastery is complex, but the sooner you operate with a total skill-building mindset (and live the advice in this article today, and for the rest of your GMAT prep chapter) the sooner your GMAT scores will rise. More importantly, the sooner you lock in that top GMAT score, the sooner you'll be on to the task of deciding which Business School Admissions offer you'd like to accept.
_________________
"Students study. GMAT assassins train."

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Re: Verbal Advantage: GMAT Assassin's Manifesto - Master Content & Tactics  [#permalink]

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28 May 2015, 08:31
Really useful tips. I followed many of them and scored 730. Absolutely agree with
Quote:
② Master Individual Parts of A Skill
Don’t try to master multiple skills at once. You have to develop skills piece by piece.
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Re: Verbal Advantage: GMAT Assassin's Manifesto - Master Content & Tactics  [#permalink]

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06 Jul 2019, 06:19
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: Verbal Advantage: GMAT Assassin's Manifesto - Master Content & Tactics   [#permalink] 06 Jul 2019, 06:19