People prepare for the GMAT in many different ways. Some use books to do practice questions on their own; others spend time in forums like the ones here at Beat The GMAT. And of course, some take a class or have a private tutor. I’m here to offer a few tips to the people in that last group, to help them get the most out of one-on-one time with their teacher or tutor (herein referred to as your Expert).
1. Come prepared!
If there’s any kind of background information that you should know before class, know it. Preview reading or practice problems ensure that you’re coming to your lesson with the basic foundation of knowledge that you will build upon to master the skills being taught. And homework regarding a lesson you’ve already learned will help cement the methods that have been demonstrated. If you’re not sure what, if anything, you need to be doing, ask your Expert; he or she should be happy to clarify any issues regarding the type or amount of work you should do.
2. Ask the right questions.
I can’t speak for other Experts here, but I know that I find it much easier and more productive to address specific queries than extremely general ones. A great question is something like, “I’ve noticed that I have trouble locating sufficient assumptions, like the one in this sample. Can you explain to me why choice C is the correct sufficient assumption, and not choice E? And how can I apply that to other sufficient assumption questions?” I will be able to offer much more productive feedback to that than to someone saying, “I have trouble with Critical Reasoning. Can you give me some tips?” I may have tips to offer, but without specific knowledge of your trouble areas, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be giving you the kind of information that will help you as an individual test-taker.
3. Take advantage of all the resources available to you.
In live classes, Experts often have time before or after class specifically set aside for questions. Often, if you arrive 20 minutes early, you’ll find your Expert sitting, waiting for someone just like you to come in for help. (The Expert may or may not be reading the newspaper or Facebooking while he or she waits, but will be more than happy to put that aside to answer your questions or discuss your concerns.) Online learning tools also have potential applications that many people never fully explore. Post questions on forums and reach out for help; there are huge communities of online students and Experts who can give you feedback or guide you in the right direction.
4. Don’t be afraid to look for clarification if something doesn’t make sense.
Just because one of your classmates understands the question doesn’t mean that you are expected to understand it the same way. People learn differently, and sometimes all a student needs is for something to be explained in a different way. That’s what the Experts are here for, so don’t be afraid to approach yours to ask him or her to try to reframe the issue for you.
5. Finally, try to have some fun with the studying process!
Yes, the GMAT is a challenging test, preparing for it is often a rigorous experience, and your future is a serious thing. But questions are sometimes funny, mistakes should be learned from and sometimes laughed off, and your Experts and fellow students could probably use a light moment as much as you could. So remember that even as you’re working hard, you should take some time out to play, too.
To summarize, remember that your GMAT prep is a collaboration between you, your fellow students, and your Expert. Be proactive about your practice and about asking questions, and take advantage of the many ways that you can study for the exam. And, finally, try to enjoy the process as much as you can, and remember to take time to relax a little! What are some of your favorite ways to relieve GMAT preparation pressure?