There is a lot of information and misinformation out there about how to go about studying for the GMAT in order to be successful. With so many materials out there, it is often difficult to decipher the best way to study and what materials are the best. Let’s take a look at the top 5 myths I’ve encountered about studying for the GMAT.
1) You can go to the bookstore, pick out a few books, study them hard, and expect to do well on the test.
This approach is absolutely the wrong one to take. The quality of GMAT study materials varies wildly, so you have to do research on which books are the best before you jump into studying. You don’t want to jump into studying the basics and later realize that your study materials were not that high quality. Take a couple of weeks and do some serious research on which books you should buy and you’ll be glad later that you did.
2) It is impossible to improve on Reading Comprehension.
I will readily admit that this section of the test is the hardest to improve upon. It is unlike Quant or Sentence Correction, where you can study a bunch of rules, do a lot of practice problems, and most likely get better. However, I do truly believe there are several things you can do to improve your score on this section.
The first thing to do is find the strategy that works best for you. You can do one of two things: read the entire passage and take notes (mental or written), or read only specific parts of the passage and then jump to the questions. I would personally use the first method. You can waste a lot of time going back to the passage if you use the second method, whereas you rarely have to if you use the first method. Find what works for you and stick with it.
The next thing you can do is start reading The Economist online. Reading dense, well-written articles on a computer screen about at times difficult subjects is really great practice. This is what The Economist is all about. The language and writing style quite often is similar to that used on the GMAT, so reading 2-3 articles a day can get you accustomed to GMAT passages.
After this, you just need to practice as many official passages as possible. Do at least 1-2 passages from the Official Guide and the Official Guide Verbal supplement. If you ever miss a question, reflect on what you did wrong and how you can change you style to prevent missing a similar question in the future. If you do all these things, you can do well on this section of the test.
3) If you aren’t naturally good at math, you can’t do well on the Quant section.
Doing well on the Quant section is really a function of practice. There are great books and study materials geared towards learning the fundamentals. The Manhattan GMAT math series and Jeff Sackmann’s Total GMAT Math are both great materials that can help anyone gain a great grasp of math fundamentals. Once you learn the fundamentals, all you have to do is practice high quality problem sets over and over. Through extensive practice, you will start to see patterns in the questions and you will eventually learn how to deal with more and more difficult problems. This can be achieved by anyone who studies hard enough. There is no “math gene,” without which you can’t be successful. You simply must find high quality study materials and then practice tirelessly. For solid practice problems, I would look at the Official Guide, the practice tests from GMATclub.com, and Jeff Sackmann’s Extreme Challenge. Going through all of those practice problems almost guarantees success on the Quant section of the test.