Nice Advice

June 14, 2007
Checking the Manhattan Gmat site, I found at the Gmatters series a good piece of advice about preparation, I found this extract the most important or meaningfull to me, but if you want to check the complete information, go to the attached link.

Okay, I know my strengths and weaknesses. Now what?

Once you've gone through the above exercises, you should have a pretty good idea whether you want to take a class, hire a private tutor or prep on your own. In addition, you should be able to determine a couple of other things:

The total amount of time you're going to need for primary studying (that is, the first time you learn the material). If you take a structured class, the schedule will already be pre-determined.

The amount of time to set aside for review, after you finish your primary studying and before you take the test for the first time. Most people take the test between 2 and 6 weeks after instruction ends.

The amount of buffer time you need to ensure that you can take the test a second time, if necessary. You are only allowed to take the GMAT once in a 31-day period (and 5 times a year).

The application deadlines of your preferred schools. You will, of course, have to work backward from these drop-dead dates. If you have the time, it's preferable to get the test out of the way before you have to start filling out the applications themselves. Keep in mind that your GMAT score is valid for 5 years! If you know you will apply to b-school within 5 years, get the GMAT out of the way as soon as possible.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Studying

Okay, now let’s talk about what to do during an individual study session. At the beginning of each study session, take a few minutes to decide what you’re going to accomplish; prioritize these items so that, if you can’t get through it all, you’ll have done the most important items first. You can choose to focus on one of three main areas in a given study session:
(1) learning content/concepts
(2) developing strategy
(3) preparing yourself for the CAT experience.
(4) doing exercises (this is an addition of mine)

For sessions focused on learning content (facts and rules), structure your study so that you learn a related set of concepts. Then, put those concepts into practice via actual problems from you’re the 3 Official GMAT guides. When you can successfully apply concepts to actual GMAT problems, it’s time to graduate to a new set of concepts. As you complete problems, check the answers. If you get a problem wrong, try to figure out why. When you get it right, you’re still going to examine the explanation! First, make sure you got it right for the right reason (i.e., you didn’t just get lucky).

Second, examine the explanation to see if you could have done it more quickly or cleanly. For every problem, whether you got it right or wrong, ask yourself whether you’ll do a similar problem the same way or a different way the next time.

For sessions focused on improving strategy, first review the lesson or lab that covers a particular strategic technique and decide how best to assess yourself on that technique. To gauge your progress on particular problem types, such as critical reasoning, do a set of problems all of that type using a particular strategy; check the answer explanations after each one, make sure you understand why you got it wrong or right, and assess whether you successfully implemented the strategy you were studying.

Finally, for sessions focused on your CAT preparedness, try the following exercises:

*The 30/30. Choose 30 problems of one type. Allow yourself 30 seconds per problem to eliminate as many incorrect answer choices as possible. Give yourself one point for every correctly eliminated incorrect answer choice. A score of 60+ indicates you are learning how to make effective educated guesses.

*Time log. Keep a log of your practice problems; list the book and problem number, problem type, time spent, result (right or wrong) and, if applicable, content / knowledge being tested. Review the log once a week to spot good and bad patterns; talk to your teacher about how to remedy the weaknesses.

*Appraise the scrap paper you’ve been using for practice problems. Is your work legible? Clean? Concise? Pretend that you have limited scrap paper whenever you do homework. Never erase anything. This will train you for the laminated scrap paper you’ll have to use on the actual test. (Take it a step further: have Kinko’s laminate some legal-sized graph paper, buy some dry erase markers and use these to do your homework!).

*Ask your instructor for other “tests” to address any of your particular weaknesses.
One last point: when you hit a wall, stop. If you’re so tired that you can’t keep your eyes open, or so stressed you can’t concentrate, take a 15-minute break. After that, if you still can’t pull it together, reschedule your study session for later that day or the next day.

Second test:

People do often see improvement on a second exam simply because they know what to expect the second time around, but this improvement, by itself, usually isn’t enough to justify taking the test again. Now that you have the experience of one test behind you, though, you can use your knowledge to focus your prep for next time – you just have to ask yourself the right questions:

Did you think you had scored higher or lower or were you about right?
Was your pacing good or did you feel pressed for time?
Did the test seem harder or easier than your practice tests?
Do you remember any particular concepts or problems that really threw you off track?
posted by Catalina at 6/14/2007, | 0 comments


June 06, 2007
Strategy to tackle the GMAT

What I should do to tackle this test? Well, this weekend and part of this week I had the time to sit and think about it for a while, the first thing that I did is trying to figure out in which sections I feel stronger, and in which I don’t.

The sections that I feel that I am fine are: AWA and Reading Comprehension.

I have problems in the quantitative part, both Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency, and in the verbal part I have to work on Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning; I don’t feel that bad in the verbal part, but I have a lot to improve on.

But for each section I came up with a roadmap:


This has to be my main section for me to tackle since, I always had problems with math, and since I need to show a good math score, since the master that I am pursuing is a master in finance, which requires a lot of numerical skills. Here are some of the actions that I plan to take for the math section:

Summary of the most important concepts.
Study and come up with my own strategy for DS
Practice with OG and Test Magic.

For math the most important thing is practice, and for that what you need is time, since I know that after a while of putting my brain the math mood, I will be o.k.

There is a really good chance that I will include a math tutor in the preparation, since the math tutor that I once hired is really good and cheap, so for the hard questions, I think he can be tons of help!


I know that verbal can be the “it” factor, since a lot of people have really good math scores, so a good score in the verbal part can really help my score to get boosted. I have to take advantage of the fact, that even though English is not my native language, I am good with grammar rules (thanks to French also) so I have to work hard on this area, but since I love doing verbal things, I know that verbal won’t be so hard for me. Tons of work, of course, but not that hard at last.

Here are the actions that I plan to take on the verbal section:

Summary of the most important concepts.
Study Manhattan SC.
Practice with OG and Test Magic.
Take time every day and read some articles of different areas after lunch or in the morning bus.


I know this is not a very crucial section on the GMAT, and since I think that I am a good writer, my strategy for this section is fairly easy, just follow the instructions that I wrote on how to tackle this section some time ago and write one essay every two weeks on my blog to hear other people’s opinion about it, that would mean that at the end of the GMAT preparation (almost 3 months) I will have 3 essays of each type done, so I think that is more than a good preparation for that section. Anyway, if there is something that I learned about the GMAT is that in this section a lot of it comes into the subject that you get, if you are lucky to get a good subject, it’s easy, but if it is a horrible one, no matter how good you write, it will be harder to write something nice.

Here is the link to my AWA complete strategy:

Mistakes that I don’t want to repeat

If people are not able to learn from their old mistakes, there would be no point of making them... So what I don’t want to repeat from my old experience? Well, it’s easy, it would be not to expend too much time searching for information and making flashcards, I spend tooooo much time making that stupid mistake, and I don’t want to repeat it, so this time I am just going to focus on the OG, and Manhattan SC, and the other books I will take them as a backup, or as a strategy source, but the most important thing with this test as most tests is practice.

What I am planning to do different

Just yesterday, I read this phrase: “for a 7XX GMAT is a bit like training to go into space; one must strive for optimum mental and physical condition levels to best complete the mission. A key component to getting that extra 5-10% on T-day is to minimize stress by staying healthy and alert.” (I have a good amount of nice GMAT related phrases that I found; I will post them later on).

I think this phrase is totally right, so it is important to take it easy, not get too stressed with the test, and work with a good mindset. I paid for my Yoga and Meditation lessons, but I haven’t been able to take them yet, so I plan on taking them really soon, since I already paid for a whole quarter. Right now my painting lessons are helping me in a huge deal to relax and lay back.

I also plan to work on the concepts, because at least for me, if my concepts are clear things are easier for me, and I proved that theory during college where I always got very good grades.

Another important thing is that this time I am going to breath, sleep and dream with the OG, which is the key of success and the best way to get into the test mindset.

So in summary, my whole strategy will be focused in two main points: Strong Concepts & Practice OG.

Now, here is my GMAT Preparation schedule:

Being realistic, I know that I can’t start my preparation until this coming Sunday (June 10th), before that it would be really hard since I have to finish two paintings that I am working on and which have to be done by this coming Saturday, so I think that on Sunday, I will be able to study.

So the starting preparation date would be on June 10th, now, the final day, or the G-Day would be September 3rd, I think this would be a good date, and If I happen to have a bad result, (I hope not) I still have time to take it again. I tried to take the test maybe at the middle of august, but I know that between august 13 and august 27 I can’t take days away from work, because at that time we have the annual inventory, which is very important for us, and take it on august 10 is not good for me since I want to study more, and I don’t want to kill myself while doing so. Another reason to take the test at that moment is the fact that I will work on the application process at the same time.

Doing the math the total amount of days that I would have to study the GMAT would be 84.

So here is how I plan to split my preparation days.

SUBJECT # Days # Weeks
Math Concepts: 9 1,29
Verbal Concepts: 5 0,71
Manhattan Gmat: 7 1,00
Strategies from other books: 6 0,86
OG 10th and 11th edition: 50 7,14
Days I can’t because of work: 4 0,57
Free / Vacation days: 3 0,43
TOTAL 84 12

So by the second week of July I should be on the OG train already. I don’t want to set so strict dates, because I know that if you miss one, it is really easy to get discouraged, that is why I included 4 days that I can’t work because of my office and 3 vacation or free days! In those 3 vacation day, I have to take away that Sunday before the G-Day, since I don’t want to study before this test.
posted by Catalina at 6/06/2007, | 2 comments