How to start your GMAT Preparation?
If you are just beginning with GMAT prep and wish you could get some strategic advice to carry on the prep successfully, then this blog is for you. We have previously covered four important questions that students ask when planning to pursue an MBA. Those queries are –
- When is the right time to write GMAT?
- An Overview of the MBA Application Process
- What is the difference between Round 1, Round 2, & Round 3?
- 5 Factors that B-school Adcoms Look At
In this article, we will discuss in detail a very important query that students have – How to start GMAT Prep? So let’s discuss the various steps –
STEP 1 – UNDERSTAND THE GMAT
To understand the GMAT exam, you need to first familiarize yourself with the structure of the test and identify what the GMAT will test. The best way to do so is to simply take a mock test. You do not need to take the score too seriously as you haven’t prepared anything yet. The only objective of this should be to understand the kind of questions that you’ll be tested on.
STEP 2 – CREATE A STUDY PLAN
Pursuing a goal without a plan will take you nowhere. Therefore, planning your preparation is very important. There are multiple factors that must be considered during the planning phase –
I. The right target scores broken down to a sectional level
This means that if you’re good in one section, you must try to maximize your score in that area and if you’re equally good at both, then you must try to balance your score. For example, if you’re targeting 720 and you’re good at Quant your target score should be Q50 and V37. However, if you’re equally good at both you should probably target a Q48 and V40.
II. The right order of learning
Before you try to find the right order of learning, you should try to understand where you currently stand and what does it take to reach your target score from there. This is because a student who is starting at a level of Q46 will need to approach his preparation very differently from someone who is starting at a level of Q34.
Ideally if you’re a beginner, the right order of learning for Verbal should be SC followed by CR followed by RC. In Quant, on the other hand, you should focus on learning the basics first, then move to intermediate topics, and finally to the Advanced topics.
III. Create a schedule for yourself on the basis of time available at hand
Now that you know the right order of learning and your target score, you must move on to creating a schedule with clear deadlines against each milestone. If you’re thinking how much should you devote to each topic and what to study when, you can create an account on GMATWhiz portal where you will get a detailed study plan for yourself. Use this link to create an account: https://tinyurl.com/s9bq4rl
STEP 3 – START EXECUTING
Once the plan is ready you need to start executing the plan. Now a lot of students get stuck at this point because they have to decide which resource should they refer to for an effective GMAT preparation. While you may be referring to multiple resources in the initial stages of prep, it is highly recommended that you filter out the best resource of the lot and stick to it to ensure consistency in learning. Lack of consistency is one of the most prominent reasons for failure in GMAT. The best way to identify the right course is to take a free trial and understand whether the pedagogy suits you.
Recommended Read: How to Find the Best GMAT Course?
3 STAGES OF LEARNING
Almost one-third of GMAT aspirants struggle to score well on the test because they prepare haphazardly. Referring to multiple resources not only leads to inconsistency in prep, but is also time-consuming. If you are just starting out with prep, make sure you follow a strategy. For instance, while going through a topic, focus on learning it in 3 stages –
- Level 1 – Learning Concepts
- Level 2 – Learning strategies to apply concepts
- Level 3 – Practice questions on this topic
Where do students primarily go wrong?
It is common for students to jump directly from Level 1 to Level 3, without realizing that if they don’t learn the right strategies to solve questions, they will end up making the same mistakes again and again. In the end, most of these students end up confused with last 2 choices and are unable to solve questions under 2 mins. Hence, it is very important to learn the right methods. And to learn the right methods, it is important that you don’t miss out on Level 2.
Which resources can you refer to?
If you like learning from books you can refer to the Manhattan guides, Powerscore Bible and the Official Guide. However, books generally tend to be good at teaching concepts but are generally not so good at teaching strategies on how to apply the concepts. For learning the best strategies to solve questions with accuracy and in less than 2 minutes, online courses do a much better job.
Step 4 – Assessing your performance
Assessing your performance is a very important part of your preparation. While most people assess their performance based on their Time taken and Accuracy, what they fail to realize is that none of the 2 metrics is adequate or sufficient. Let’s understand why –
Why should you not worry about timing?
While you may think that timing yourself from the very beginning of prep may help improve performance, it is important to understand why it is not the best thing for your prep. When you start timing yourself, your focus shifts from solving questions correctly to solving them quickly.
Thus, neither do you learn the right methods for solving questions nor you feel confident about them. The key thing to focus here is that learning any new method takes time and hence it is natural for you to spend more than 2 mins initially while solving questions. So, instead of worrying about timing, your focus should be on learning the right strategy to solve questions.
Why accuracy isn’t the right metric?
Many students claim that they get around 70-80% of the questions correct during prep, but end up struggling on the test. What they fail to realize is that GMAT is an adaptive test. Therefore, accuracy alone is not sufficient for GMAT. The questions that you get right is more important to get a high score. Two students can get varying extremely different scores of as low as 58 percentile and as high as 93 percentile even after making a similar number of mistakes on the test.
So, what should you rather do?
It is important to ensure that you build the capability of getting a question of any difficulty level correct. The simplest way of doing so it by ensuring that you’re following the right method because it is the right strategy that is what will you take you to that 700+ mark on GMAT.
Work on your gaps in real-time
Another thing that is really important is to ensure that you don’t leave gaps in your understanding for too long. If you keep moving forward with gaps in your understanding, you will find yourself struggling with more complicated topics later on.
Hence, before you move on to the next topic after completing the first one, you must make sure that you have a strong understanding of the first topic. You must ensure that you build the ability to solve all easy and medium questions correctly before moving to a new topic. Revise the concepts if needed and also solve additional questions to build the skill.
Step 5 – Optimizing your performance
Once you’re done with each module (SC, CR, RC for example), take a module test having 15-20 questions and identify areas in which you’re scoring less than 70% questions right. Revisit that area until you improve your understanding.
Once you’re done with the learning phase, keep aside around 15-20 days for fine tuning. An effective way to do so is to create 7 day drills in which you will focus on defined weak areas and work on improving them. Having a mentor to discuss at this stage really helps as you can discuss your progress and understand what should be done next to improve your score.
In this phase, you should take a few mock tests too to learn the right test taking strategy and identify the right sequence of attempting the various sections. Make sure you follow the final strategy that you’re going to stick with in at least 2 mocks before writing the GMAT.
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