After talking to a lot of GMAT mentors and aspirants, it can be safely said that the most essential to scoring great marks on GMAT is a rather perfectly executed study plan.
What no to do
Let’s start with what not to do. GMAT is a predictable test, and there are a plethora of actual GMAT questions to practice, along with two official free tests the usual pattern that test-takers follow unfolds as follows.
Test takers take mock exams without any preparation. Some use unofficial sources like Kaplan, Manhattan Prep, Princeton review, etc while others use one of the two free mocks rather than saving it for later. The unofficial sources cannot provide the exact simulation for the GMAT for two reasons-
The questions are not consistently formed by the GMAT logic.
The lack of knowledge of the GMAC software which is used for GMAT exams. Gmat is an adaptability test and the algorithm working is not known to anyone except for the people who have created it and work for it.
These factors account for unreliable factors of ability.
If aspirants take the GMAT Prep Software test, they will waste one full-length test right at the beginning of their preparation instead of saving it for later.
This plan might work only if a student hits a 680 or above on the first test.
To secure a good score on GMAT an aspirant must do the following:
Step 1: Understanding and identifying Learning Needs
While one must take a Diagnostic Test, it does not need to be a full-length computer-adaptive test because the objective is to measure your ability on the 5 question types posed on the GMAT and identify your learning needs. For this, the paper-based Diagnostic Test at the beginning of the OG should suffice.
The Diagnostic Test can be taken one section at a time or one question type (PS, DS, CR, RC & SC) at a time. The number of questions answered correctly will give a rating for competence level in each area: Excellent, Above Average, Average, Below Average. This will give a glimpse of your relative strengths and weaknesses.
For Quant, one would need to deep dive beyond PS & DS into the mistakes to determine the specific topics on which you need to work on such as Rate & Work, Statistics etc.
Step 2: Build Concepts & Strategies
After identifying the level of competence in each of the areas the aspirant should start learning the concepts & strategies required to solve each question type.
The learning techniques for GMAT will be discussed in the forthcoming posts
Step 3: Practice with a purpose and simulation
Once through with concept prep an aspirant must start practising questions from the Official Guide. But this practice must be done with a certain amount of thought and purpose
Normally test-takers practice one question type at a time in huge chunks, say, 40 CR questions in a row or 30 SC questions in a row before moving on to other question types.
The practice routine will have to mimic the actual test conditions and pattern as much as possible.
This practice routine is intended to help simulate the actual test conditions, as much as possible, right from the beginning of practice and not when an aspirant starts taking full-length tests.
Step 4: Testing To Improve
Analyzing tests and identifying exactly what is required to improve the score.
For example, test-takers often say that they make silly mistakes. But beyond this, they do not seem to have a strategy to cut down on them.
From such a question sit is possible to figure out the technical problem behind these seemingly unforced errors. Even on the GMAT, silly mistakes are not purely a matter of oversight.
For example, a candidate might be reading the question incorrectly and then must start reading the question at the right pace and concentration but as the aspirant reaches the end of it must have read it in a hurry and skim details to start solving it.