The “Best of Beat The GMAT / MGMAT” – How-To-Study List

by on March 22nd, 2010

studying hardSince Beat The GMAT first started up the “expert articles” feature last summer, ManhattanGMAT has posted more than 30 feature articles! In this article, I’m going to offer a “Best of” list for how to study. Below, you’ll find links to the articles that I think are most helpful in developing and executing a comprehensive study plan, as well as a discussion of how to use them. (I’ll only be using ManhattanGMAT articles for this list, though I’m sure there’s lots of other great stuff out there! :) )

Whether you’re just getting started or are nearing the finish line, it’s critical to develop a study plan that’s appropriate for you, and that study plan will need to be revised periodically as your skills change (because you are getting better over time, hopefully!).

So, start with Developing a GMAT Study Plan. This article will help you determine three critical things:

  1. Your current strengths and weaknesses
  2. Roughly the amount of time you will likely need to spend
  3. How to study overall (including, if necessary, whether to take a class, how to choose the materials you will use to study, and so on)

In order to do the analysis of your strengths and weaknesses (number 1, above), you’ll need this two-part article: Evaluating Your Practice Tests. The link given here is to the first part of the article; you can find the link to the second part at the end of the first part.

Evaluating Your Practice Tests will tell you, step by step, how to analyze a ManhattanGMAT practice test. (Note: you may be able to adapt the article for use with another test; it will depend upon whether the other test report gives you similar data points for analysis.) This analysis, in turn, will allow you to determine your primary strengths and weaknesses across all major axes: question type, content area, timing, and difficulty level.

Now that you’re ready to start studying, we have to discuss another critical component: HOW best to study. It’s really important to ensure that you are studying in a way that allows you to get better at the GMAT – and simply studying a great quantity of stuff doesn’t necessarily accomplish that goal.

You will, of course, need to learn the actual material that’s tested on the exam: math, grammar, ways of thinking through critical reasoning or reading comprehension situations, how to do data sufficiency, and so on. There are tons of great books out there that can teach you this stuff, so this article won’t address those areas. Just go out and find whatever you think are the best books for you.

Next, you’re going to start trying to do some practice problems – possibly problems given in your practice books or the Official Guide books, or problems given on CATs that you’ve taken. How do you actually study these problems? Start here: How To Analyze a Practice Problem. This article describes what to do after you’ve spent a minute or two trying to do a problem. First, you do it; then, you study it. The latter activity is where most of your learning will occur.

If you want more specific ideas about how to use that last article to analyze a problem, try the below articles. For each of these articles, I took one practice problem and analyzed it in the way described in the main article, above.

There are a bunch of additional articles that talk about how to “break down” various individual problems in general (not with the specific “How To Analyze” process). I’m not going to link to them all here; they’re in the archives if you’re interested. There are, however, a couple of other articles that you may find really useful.

If you aren’t already aware of how a computer-adaptive test (CAT) works, including the scoring and time management issues involved, or if you’re simply struggling with timing, then read these two articles:

  • Critical Skill Development: Time Management: this article provides tools to help you learn how to manage your time in the best way.
  • The GMAT Uncovered: this article gives instructions for how to access a free e-book (from ManhattanGMAT) that will explain, in great detail, how the test actually works. There’s also some information about admissions in the book. I should add that I’ve started recommending that my own students read this book between our first and second class; I think there’s a lot of important information in this book.

(Note: if you’ve ever signed up for a free practice test from MGMAT, then you’ll find The GMAT Uncovered in your student center already; all of our students – even those who’ve only signed up for a free test – have automatic access to this book. Just log in and start reading!)

If you are concerned about the essay portion of the test, take a look at this article: Ace The Essays? No Thanks! Here, we discuss what you do and don’t need to worry about as you get ready to write the GMAT essays.

Finally, if you take a test and your score drops by a lot (more than 80 points or so), don’t panic (yet!). Read this: My Score Dropped! Figuring Out What Went Wrong. This article will help you figure out why your score dropped, and this is critically important because you need to figure out why in order to figure out what to do to prevent it from happening again.

Okay, that should be enough to give everybody a jump-start, regardless of where you are in the process. Were there any articles you really liked that didn’t make it onto the above list? Post the link in the comments below and tell us why you think the article is valuable.


  • Love this article.....a must have GMAT Prep bible condensed
    Thanks stacy :)

  • Hello dear Stacy,

    I took GMAT 2 times. At first time my score was 480. my problem was in verbal section, my quantitative score was 46 and verbal was 12.

    Then I studied all Manhattan verbal books and I took GMAT again but I got 530, my quantitative score was 46 but my verbal was 19. This was in a manner that I got 600 on average in 6 manhattan GMATs and my quantitatives were 46-49 and my verbals were 27-30. but I did not do essay.

    I understand the materials in verbal books, and also I answer most of the Official guide verbal book correctly, but on exam time, I can not manage myself, and I can not answer the question right in time limit. I run out of time in verbal. for example, in critical reasoning, my average time per question is 2.40- 3.

    Now, I want to take GMAT again. My goal is 680 score. I do not know what to do. Could you please help me how to plan to achieve my goal?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Hi,
      i am good at maths but i am very poor in Verbal(non-native speaker), but i want to do a self study for GMAT. could you please suggest good books which will just brush up the concepts. so will do that then i will working on workbooks?


    • Have you taken a practice test yet? That can give you an idea of your starting point, which will help you to determine what materials will work best for you.

      We also just published a book called Foundations of Verbal - it's designed specifically for people who are non-native English speakers or who didn't learn grammar and comprehension fairly formally at school. You may want to check out this article to learn more about the book and see whether it might be appropriate for you:

      That book is designed to be used *before* moving on to our ManhattanGMAT Strategy Guides, so together with the Guides, it covers both the basic and advanced concepts.

  • hi, i have been studying for Gmat for the past 2 months. however i am not confident abou my preparation so far. i have done the OG once and a lot of material i received from the tutions i joined to prepare. i have a month to go before i take the exam. please help. i am not feeling too confident. the last practice testr i gave i got a score of 540.

    how should i go about my prep in the last month that i have now.

    • Your question is actually best answered in the forums, not here in the article comments, so I encourage you to post on the forums and ask experts to reply. (I don't personally participate on the forums, FYI.) Note: when you post on the forums, you will need to provide a lot of additional information in order for the experts to give you good advice.

      For example, you don't mention your goal score, so I don't know whether you are close to your goal or whether you still have a long way to go. In general, your practice tests should reflect your goal score about 10 days to 2 weeks before you plan to take the real test. if that's not the case, then you need to postpone your test date - or lower your goal score.

      Try to give the experts a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses in each section as well.

      Finally, note that the above article links to two other articles - one about evaluating practice tests and one about time management. Both of those articles have been updated this year, so you may want to search for the newer versions of both (I wrote both of them, so look for articles with my name on them).

  • Stacey, thank you for your support in advance.
    I took
    GMAT last month, on 06.23.12 after a little over a month preparation. I got 440 total score, AWA 3, and integrated reasoning 3.
    Again, I am ready to prepare for another round of GMAT. My goal is to apply to Columbia, NYU Stern, UVA Darden for the Fall 2013 class. Stacy, what is your best advice for a person like me to achieve my goal? - Kind regards

    • Did you also post on the MGMAT forums by any chance? I feel like I just got a similar question in the last week or so over there.

      In any event, I am actually going to send you over there - we don't do ongoing advice via the comments section of an article. You can post here at BTG (but I don't participate on BTG forums, FYI). You can also post in the General Strategy folder of the Ask An Instructor area at the MGMAT forums (I answer the questions in that folder).

      I'd recommend doing both, actually - might as well get advice from multiple sources and decide what you think will work best for you!

  • I am currently preparing for gmat. I am giving it on 29th july 2013.. I have given a test and scored a 480. Currently i give and hours time daily and 5-6 hours on weekend on my studies. I am weak in my verbal i hardly score 60% in the section. Currently am working on my weak areas. Also, my quant is good but somehow i make silly mistakes in quant and lose on the same. Currently dissatisfied with my scores. Kindly suggest.

  • Hi Stacey,
    English is not my first language and I am trying to apply to B school in the US.
    Your post gives great insight for someone like me who has never heard of the GMAT untill now, and am kindov lost with my study plan.I have ordered OG 13th Ed and the Manhatten Guides. i was just curious as to when i should do my practise test to evaluate my strengths and weakness. Should i review the material first before i take the first practise test or should i do the practice test first?

    • Start by learning what the 5 question types are (DS, PS, CR, RC, and SC) and how each one works (but don't spend more than about a week doing this!). Then go ahead and take the practice test to see what your strengths and weaknesses are. That'll help you to set up your study plan.

      Good luck!

  • heloo friend..
    Can any one tell me what is the minimum score that i need for harvard bussiness school in gmat
    I am starting my prepration now .
    So can any one suggest me how to prepare for it and What about study material..??

  • Hi
    I am going to write my test in 2-3- weeks, but i have not taken my date. Also i am a bit scared because i am doing very bad in my practice test. Please give me a shorter study plan through which I can succed.

  • Hey

    Just getting started with prep, i have complete manhattan course book 13 and official GMAT guide 2015. Kindly guide me as how to pursue with prep, my target is to score 750.


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