Four Things To Do Now To Succeed on the GMAT Later:

by on May 30th, 2011

As of press time for this article, most of the United States will be enjoying the  unofficial beginning of summer, Memorial Day Weekend.  As you read this on your smartphone in traffic on the LIE to the Hamptons or up I-75 to “Up North” Michigan, the entire summer is ahead of you.  But if you are  planning to apply to business school this fall, you should heed the warning that you learned in your earlier scholastic days – time flies when you’re having fun, and the fall, like those objects in your rearview mirror, is probably closer than it appears.

There  are at least four habits you can add to your day-to-day lifestyle that will get you ready to hit the ground running when you do begin your GMAT preparation in earnest sometime soon:

1) Read

The GMAT verbal section is a test of focus and concentration, assessing your ability to process written information on a variety of topics and to do so while tired and distracted.  There are certainly techniques to help you navigate the GMAT-specific passage formats and question types, and you will learn those when you are ready to buckle down on GMAT study.  But in the meantime, you can improve your ability to process that information simply by reading more, and by reading articles and books on topics that aren’t as natural of choices for you.  Traveling this summer?  Bring The Economist on the airplane with you and practice some GMAT-style reading while you make other passengers think you’re intelligent and worldly.  Ordering some beach reading from Amazon?  Pick up an extra nonfiction book to qualify for Super Saver Shipping and give yourself a denser read.  Read some academic topics that don’t come easy to you and you will be much more ready to do the same on the GMAT.

2) Do Math

With computers and calculators all around us, we tend not to do very much math once we have completed our college quantitative requirements, but the GMAT will require you to be able to do math without a calculator so you will need to retrain your mind.  Fortunately, day-to-day life provides countless opportunities to perform simple math by hand or in your head, and the more you can do, the easier time you will have when you do sit down to do GMAT math.  Practice calculating tips when you eat out; estimate how long it will take you to reach your driving destination at two different average speeds; notice prime numbers and multiples of 3 when you are writing down phone numbers; do quick calculations on paper before you plug the numbers into Microsoft Excel.  Simply thinking mathematically can help you to retrain those atrophied portions of your brain, and that will allow you to  focus more of your study time and energy on GMAT-specific question types and strategies.

3) Question Conclusions (Especially in Advertising)

One important GMAT skill, particularly on Critical Reasoning and Data Sufficiency questions, is that of exercising skepticism.  So as you are bombarded with advertisements and news stories that ask you to buy into conclusions, look at them skeptically to train yourself to analyze the logic between fact and conclusion the way you will  have to on the GMAT.  “Save up to 75% at our summer sale”?  Doesn’t “up to” include everything down to “save nothing”?  As you consume media this summer  you will be faced with plenty of less-than-airtight arguments; start questioning those and you’ll be able to carry that mindset into your fall GMAT preparation.

4) Notice Grammar

As tihs snetnce suggsets, we are pertty good at readnig poolry wirtten writing.  You knew exactly what that said, right?  But on Sentence Correction problems you will need to recognize problems like Subject-Verb Agreement and Misplaced Modifiers.  So as you go through emails and text messages this summer, make quick notes of grammatical flaws that you see.  Simply being aware of such mistakes will train your mental ear to reject poorly-written material so that you have a heightened awareness of it when you’re ready to dig into the GMAT this fall.

1 comment

  • Good stuff - all very helpful and simple day-to-day adjustments to prepare you for the GMAT mindset!

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