The GMAT is nothing short of a journey which teaches you a lot of things before culminating in a numerical value of your effort in various sections of writing skills, data analytics, quantitative abilities and verbal skills.
Right from the moment one decides to appear for GMAT, the process of learning takes over the routine mundane life and certain spices get added into daily schedule. I can share my experience of taking GMAT after spending 12 years in an industry alongside family obligations with small daughter taking her share of pie in 24 hours.
In my opinion, any extra activity with family commitments can really take place after everyone else is slept and before the daily routine kicks off in the morning. This means, either late at night, or early in the morning. All of us have a preference for late night or early morning work.
The lessons I learnt were as follows:
Take one step at a time: On day one, it may appear like crossing English Channel when you look at GMAT syllabus and may give some horrific time. It can even lead one to believe being mis-fit for such a venture and drop out straight away after couple of days. Trust me, it is not so difficult and very much doable provided you are honest and sincere to the basic plan of spending 10-15 hours a week over 3 months consistently.
GMAT is about presence of mind: This means, one does not need to work very hard to secure good score in GMAT. Just basic formulae along with very good reading habit is all you need for cracking GMAT. Unlike typical aptitude tests, GMAT is about application of concepts. Hence, does not rely on super long formulae, rather requires test taker to be mentally present and looking for loopholes. Something a must for any manager, look between the lines and basic maths can take you through.
Practice: This well known principle holds true for GMAT as well. The more you practice, the better you perform in Quant, Verbal reasoning skills. In my experience, the kind of scores you manage in official full length test provided by GMAC determines lower and upper boundary of your actual score of test day.
Explore Online Options: During test taking, you may encounter that many questions are openly available and discussed on forums such as gmatclub. This is not a problem because the algorithm for determining next question appear exact same during practice paper and actual test. Thus, even if you are solving the question available in public domain, it does not impact your actual score (unless you have the answers to these questions by-heart from your practice). After taking the test, try to google the question and you will find link to forums discussing those questions from various angles. Read those and feel enriched about various ways of looking at a problem.
One key takeaway from my GMAT journey was a commitment not to leave reading habit. This was one area which gave me troubled time initially as reading terse paragraph requires very good comprehension. It is not about speed, but about reading habit.
This is very basic premise for any person, one must read and read regularly on diverse topics. Ideally, one should finish at least one book in a fortnight.
So, if you have plan to take GMAT in near future (say over 1-2 years), I would suggest you start reading on various topics, including the topics that might create boredom, such as geology concepts, anthropology, world history etc. This gives definite edge during GMAT (and TOEFL/IELTS) preparation.
The 3 month GMAT plan:
- Month 0
- I call it month 0, because this is about getting in shape and setting goal to take GMAT exam.
- Do research about your target schools, the kind of GMAT score they require.
- Important Note: The GMAT score requirement varies across the region you come from. E.g. for a European candidate, score of 690 me be sufficient, an Indian/Chinese student may require 720+. The score of 740 may be just enough if you belong to common applicants, such as IT engineers. There may be concessions for exceptional co-curricular and measurable achievements.
- Another thing, some college attach negative weightage to multiple GMAT attempts.
- So, IT DEPENDS hugely but at least get a range of score to target.
During this period of self-counselling, you may order Official Guide 20xx (say 2017) and start browsing type of questions that you will encounter during GMAT journey.
- Month 1
- Work on building blocks, quantitative formula and basic applications; Reading various paragraphs on reading comprehension from geology, history etc; Going through grammar rules of formal english writing, context and sentence meaning unambiguity
- Month 2
- Purchase detailed question set from GMAC on your weak section. Analyse each incorrect question. GMAT Practice Question Set
- Suggest to repeat all those questions just to see whether you have grasped concept and trick properly.
- Month 3
- Only full length test including Analytical Writing and Data Interpretation section
- Thorough analysis of each question and possible alternate approach. Use various internet resources to do so
- I believe that the default 2 question papers coming with GMAT registration are enough to assess the preparation. Still if you feel need for more, you may purchase 4 additional papers, Exam Pack 1 (2 papers), ExamPack 2 (2 papers). There is also a combo of 4 papers which is slightly cheaper: ExamPrep (4 papers) Combo
The list of official GMAT preparation products are available at: GMAC product catalogue for GMAT preparation
Personally, I feel above resources are sufficient. But still if you desire for more, please have a look at following minimal and effective list:
AWA Preparation: Magoosh has some terrific material for effective Analytical Writing Assessment section. The same can be browsed on their website MAGOOSH GMAT AWA. There is free tool to evaluate writing style and grammar at GMAT-AWA Evaluate Essay
PS: Kindly note, above links may get changed with time but the theme is expected to remain same.
Here is a list of Maths formulae I felt necessary and sufficient to ace GMAT.