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Efficient GMAT Test-Taking Comes From Efficient GMAT Studies

By Max Peterson On Dec 4, 2015 In  Study Plans General GMAT 


Any time a looming application deadline approaches, you’re more likely to see a group of Test Takers scrambling to jam as much extra study time into their schedules as possible. While putting in that extra study might seem like a logical idea (especially as far as earning that Official GMAT Score before the deadline is concerned) the reality is that quantity of study is not the same as quality of study (and/or efficiency of study). If you’ve been studying a certain way for some time and you haven’t achieved your score goals, then studying a lot more in that SAME way will likely not lead to an appreciable improvement in your performance. To improve, you have to make some logical choices about how you study AND take advantage of the efficiencies that can be gained by adjusting your routine.

Have you ever studied for a lengthy period of time (4 or more hours in a row)? At what point do you start to lose focus? For many Test Takers, it’s right around the 2-hour mark. This is one of the reasons why you never have to work for more than 75 minutes in a row on Test Day (unless you’re foolish enough to skip your 8-minute breaks). The human brain can handle only so much study time in a row, so you have to account for that and plan your study sessions for that efficiency. Plan to take a ‘break’ of some type every 1.5 to 2 hours or so. The break can be 15 minutes or longer (it’s up to you, but it’s important to get up, walk away from your studies and do something less mentally taxing – a physical task can be quite helpful to your overall wellbeing - take a walk, run an errand, etc.). As a general rule, on LONG study days, I recommend 1 hour ‘off’ for every 2 hours ‘on.’

Another common trait of many GMATers is that they have full-time jobs and long work hours. As a result of their work schedules, they often study AFTER work, when they’re already exhausted from a full day’s activities. That is an inefficient way to go about training for this Test. The human brain tends to do its most effective and efficient thinking in the first 4-5 hours of the day, so how can you take advantage of that fact? While it will require ‘shuffling’ your daily routine a bit, you could go to bed EARLIER, wake up EARLIER and study before going to work. You’ll be far more likely to practice effectively, learn new concepts, etc. when you’re awake and alert.

Pacing issues tend to hurt many Test Takers as well. While that might seem like an odd subject to bring up in the middle of this essay, ANY pacing problem that you might face during your studies or on Test Day is because of the inefficiencies in how YOU handle GMAT questions. Having to read prompts over-and-over is inefficient. Doing work in your head is inefficient (and actually takes longer, over time, than doing that same work on the pad). Randomly jotting down notes instead of doing so in an organized way on one ‘section’ of the notepad is inefficient. Take a good look at any question that you get wrong during practice because of a silly/little mistake. WHY did that mistake happen?....Answer: You did something inefficiently.

Thankfully, EVERY aspect of the GMAT can be accounted for. With the proper planning and decision-making, you can take advantage of ALL of the above efficiencies (and plenty more besides those ones). If you’re not sure how to find those efficiencies, then you should seek out advice sooner rather than later (when it is too late to properly incorporate those efficiencies into your studies).

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,


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