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To Properly Train for the GMAT, You Should be Using GMAT Materials
Right now, we’re in the midst of GMAT ‘season’ - that period of time when most Test Takers are aiming at upcoming Round 1 or Round 2 application deadlines. As such, the larger number of people studying for the GMAT generates a higher rate of frequently asked questions about how best to study for the Exam. There are a variety of different GMAT study materials available, but a small percentage of Test Takers decide to use non-GMAT based study materials during their studies. As odd as it sounds, they believe that using LSAT materials is a good idea as they prepare for the Verbal section of the GMAT. Unfortunately, while that idea has benefitted a small percentage of those taking the GMAT, shifting your studies to focus on that ‘outside’ material will NOT be as beneficial as you think it will be (and it could end up hurting your studies more than helping your studies). You’re far more likely to waste time learning concepts that you’ll never see on the GMAT and train in a ‘medium’ that does not properly prepare you for the physical aspects of Test Day. If you want to properly train for the GMAT, then you should be using proper GMAT resources in a proper medium.
You Should NOT be Wasting Time on non-GMAT Concepts
To be fair, LSAT Logical Reasoning and Reading Comp have a lot in common with GMAT Critical Reasoning and Reading Comp. However, there are some significant differences that are worth acknowledging. First, LSAT passages and questions are generally larger than the GMAT equivalent. This is because its generally easier to read passages on paper than it is to read off of a computer monitor (and you have the ability to ‘mark up’ the prompts (taking notes, circling important ideas, summarizing paragraphs right next to the paragraph, etc.). Since those LSAT passages can be longer, they also include a broader range of concepts that are tested (and broader sub-sets of concepts that are tested). For example, GMAT CR ‘flaw’ questions are generally based on one of 2 ‘classic’ flaws (with rarer questions involving one of a handful of less frequent flaw types). LSAT LR ‘flaw’ questions can be written around one of 10 different flaws. Now, imagine putting in all of that extra study time, to learn those 10 flaws, spot them when they appear and practice repeated all the variations of LSAT ‘flaw’ questions…. and then NONE of what you’ve learned actually appears on the GMAT. That would be a colossal waste of time (and that’s just one small piece of the broader Verbal section). Beyond that, there are many types of LSAT LR questions that don’t even appear on the GMAT, including ‘Main Point”, “Point at Issue” and “Parallel Reasoning.” Since the goal is to hone your GMAT skills and score at a high level on the GMAT, that excess work shouldn’t be a part of your study plan.
The Physical Aspects of Test Day Matter a GREAT Deal
4 hours of working on a computer is a completely different experience from 4 hours of working out of a book. The LSAT is administered in pencil-and-paper format, so it makes sense that so many LSAT study materials are also in that same format. However, you will not touch paper nor a pencil during the GMAT. You’ll be reading off of a desktop computer monitor and taking notes with a marker on a laminated pad. Your mind and body have to ‘get used to’ the physical format of Test Day (and all of that ‘back and forth’ between the screen and the pad) for you to be at your best when you face the Official GMAT. To maximize your performance on Test Day, you really should try to ‘mirror’ all of the physical variables that you’ll face on Test Day. You would NOT train for a marathon by running sprints (even though both acts involve running). You would NOT train to play the violin by playing the cello (even though both instruments involve moving a bow across strings). Working with typical LSAT practice materials will NOT prepare you for any of the physical aspects of taking the GMAT, so you shouldn’t be working with LSAT materials (and by extension, you really should not be following a ‘book-heavy’ study plan either).
The Verbal Section of the GMAT is as Predictable as the Quant Section is
Many GMATers become worried about how they’ll perform on the Verbal section. That concern is understandable as the Verbal section has no ‘safety net’ (meaning that if you make a little mistake, then you probably won’t be able to catch that mistake – and you’ll end up convincing yourself that one of the wrong answers is correct). In addition, the Verbal section is the final 75 minutes of a 4-hour Exam, when you’ll be far more tired and ready to ‘give up’ than you would be during the Quant section. However, EVERY concept in the Verbal section is established and defined – from the ‘logic’ and style behind RC/CR prompts to the grammar rules in SCs – EVERYTHING is predictable. Even the wrong answers fall into common patterns. As such, you CAN train for those exact GMAT concepts by using the proper GMAT study materials. The patterns that you’ll face in LSAT materials are designed to mirror what you’ll see on the LSAT, not the ones that you’ll face on the GMAT. This is all meant to say, that your improvement on the GMAT will be best served by focusing on GMAT materials, concepts, tactics, etc.
To that end, we’re here to help,