Archives For study plan

Recently, we talked about what to try if your deadlines are rapidly approaching and you don’t yet have the score that you want. I’d like to talk about next steps for those of you who decide to postpone your exam and possibly your b-school applications.

I didn’t actually decide “ I just didn’t get the score I wanted

postpone gmatFirst, a pep talk. You always have a choice. You could, for example, choose to apply this year but lower your standards in terms of where you apply. In fact, if you fall into certain categories, this may be better than waiting a year to try to get into a better (or, at least, higher-ranked) school. Let’s say that you’re being groomed to take over a family business. The current CEO is getting older. The business is well-established and fairly regional, so actually the best thing might be to get a degree from a respected (but not necessarily top) school in the same geographic region as the company headquarters.

On the other hand, let’s say that’s NOT you “ in your case, you’re only willing to spend $100,000+ if you can get into a top-fill-in-the-blank school (top 5? top 10? top 20?), and your current GMAT score is probably going to hold you back. In that case, postponing for a year may be the way to go. Any helpful friends or family members who say, Hey, I thought you were applying to business school! can be told, It’s actually a smarter career move to wait until next year. They don’t need to know that the GMAT had anything to do with that decision.
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How do you study? More importantly, how do you know that the way in which you’re studying is effective “ that is, that you’re learning what you need to learn to improve your GMAT score? Read on!

In the first part of this series, we discussed how to get started: setting up your timeframe, picking out your materials, and so on. (If you haven’t read it yet, please do so before you continue here!) In today’s installment, we’ll talk about how to study and make progress over the actual length of your study timeframe.

HOW Do I Learn?

This section addresses probably the single biggest mistake that people make when preparing for the GMAT.

gmat planAt first, you’re going to concentrate more on what you need to learn / re-learn, but as you progress, you’re going to concentrate more on learning how to think. Yes, you need to know the formula for the area of a circle and how modifiers work and so on. But that’s only the start. Once you learn or re-learn a lot of that content, you will then need to move to the next level, which is what this test is really testing: how to think your way through any given problem.

At the end of each study session, jot down in your journal what you did that day, what you think went well, and what you think needs more work. (This knowledge will all come from your analysis of what you did that day.) If something didn’t go as well as you’d hoped, then feel free to adjust your calendar. At the end of the week, review your journal and set up your plan for the next week.

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Just starting out? Or maybe you’ve been studying for weeks already? Perhaps you’ve already taken the official test once but want another crack at it? Whatever stage you’re at, you need a plan, so that’s what we’re going to talk about this week: how to develop your own personalized study plan. (Note: this is an update from the original article about 2.5 years ago. If you run across the older version, ignore it; use this newer one instead!)

gmat study planIn this first part, we’re going to talk about setting up your overall timeframe and getting yourself set up to go! In part 2, we’ll talk about how to study and make progress over time.

Get a notebook, open up a file on your computer, or start a blog. Record everything. The record doesn’t need to be exhaustive in detail, but pay particular attention to three things: (1) what you’ve done, (2) what you’ve learned (big lessons, such as how do I know when to cut myself off on a problem? and not things like memorize this formula, and (3) what you want to review at a later date (again, high level).

Getting Started

First, you need to know your current score and the score level that will make you competitive at the schools to which you plan to apply. This gives you an idea of how much improvement you will need and may affect your prep plans, including the length of time you plan to spend and whether you work on your own. (Generally speaking, the larger the desired improvement, the more likely it is that the student will need more time and / or more outside help.) Put this info in your journal.

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The GMAT RoadmapThis article, written by Abby Pelcyger and Stacey Koprince, was adapted from our upcoming book, The GMAT Roadmap: Expert Advice Through Test Day. The full book will be available mid-November.

Okay, you have your study timeline mapped out. Now, how do you use your time most effectively?

Climbing the Mountain

Look over your study timeline (for many of you, that may be the syllabus for your Manhattan GMAT class). Look at the assignment you have earmarked for the following week. Get a calendar and block off the time periods during which you will study during the upcoming week. Next to each scheduled appointment, list tasks you intend to accomplish during that time slot. Prioritize the areas that address your weaknesses (as indicated by your CAT analysis results) by placing them earliest in the week. Assign only make-up work to your last study session of the week”trust us: there’ll be plenty of it to do.

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The GMAT RoadmapThis article, written by Abby Pelcyger and Stacey Koprince, was adapted from our upcoming book, The GMAT Roadmap: Expert Advice Through Test Day. The full book will be available mid-November.

These days, almost everyone preps for the GMAT”but surprisingly few actually plan how to prep in order to maximize the chance for success. Prepping for the GMAT without a plan is like climbing a mountain without a trail map. You may be just starting out or taking a second crack at the official test, but whatever stage you are at, you need a plan. It’s our hope that this article will help guide you on your way to developing your own personalized study plan.

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errorWhen I make an error, I get excited. Seriously “ you should be excited when you make errors, too. I know that I’m about to learn something and get better, and that’s definitely worth getting excited!

Errors can come in several different forms: careless errors, content errors, and technique errors. We’re going to discuss something critical today: how to learn from your errors so that you don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. First, let’s define these different error types.
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GMAT study tipsLast year, the New York Times published an interesting article: Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits. At Manhattan GMAT, we’ve been discussing it since it came out and I wanted to share this discussion with you.

Get up and move

According to the article, multiple studies support the hypothesis that altering our physical study environment helps us to retain material better. Our brains are apparently making connections based on what we see and hear while we study, even when the sights and sounds are unrelated to the subject matter and noticed only subconsciously. The more connections your brain makes with regard to a specific piece of knowledge, the easier it is for you to retrieve that information when you need it.

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What’s the optimal way to spend your last 14 days before the real test? In this article, we’re going to discuss the second half of this process: how to review. If you haven’t already, read the first part here: Building Your Game Plan. Then come back and read this part!

What is a Game Plan?

In the last two weeks before your test, your focus needs to shift from trying to learn new things to acknowledging that your skills are what they are. They’re not going to change an enormous amount in the last two weeks; you can tweak some things, but now is not the time to change major strategies across an entire question type. Further, it would be a mistake to spend your last two weeks entirely focused on your weaknesses; if you do that, then you won’t be prepared to excel on your strengths. Continue Reading…