The Importance of Drills on the GMAT
If you’ve ever played a sport, you probably have a love-hate relationship with drills. Whether it was running pyramids at the track, shooting countless free throws, or taking batting practice until you thought your shoulder would fall off, you probably didn’t feel yourself getting better in the moment. If you’re like most, you probably got excited to scrimmage so you could have a tangible measure of improvement (and the satisfaction of beating your peers). GMAT drills and practice tests function in a similar way; practice tests are the bright and shiny measures of progress while drills get resigned (or often skipped) because they’re not sexy (and honestly, skipping 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of your prep schedule).
But in order to improve your GMAT score, well-crafted and timed drills can and should be your best friend. Let’s take a look at a few ways to get the most out of question sets:
Start slowly (and easily).
Just like training for a marathon, you don’t want to start out sprinting. Rather than tackling questions of all difficulty levels (or heading straight for the difficult ones), get a strong foothold with the easy and medium questions. What you won’t initially realize is that by getting better and faster at the easy and medium questions (the ones you should be getting right anyway!), you’re banking time for those difficult questions. Identify areas of weakness (or subject areas where you might just be a little rusty) and drill those first and frequently. Building a strong foundation and base will pay dividends as you progress to more difficult questions.
There will be days when you don’t want to look at algebra. There will be days when sentence correction is worse than a root canal. But stay focused. Put together a schedule early on that outlines what you’ll focus on during each study session and stick to it! If you love algebra, use a moderately-difficult question set as a warm up drill. Another idea is to stack the drills that are tougher and less appealing earlier in the week, so that if you happen to miss a session, you’ve still got time in the week to make it up. The free GMATPrep software offered on mba.com allows you to build and customize question sets by difficulty level and question type. You also receive feedback on pacing (how long you spent on each question and difficulty level) so you can tweak your pacing strategy as you go.
Above all, don’t sit down, open your Official Guide and mindlessly answer questions. By the end of your session, you’ll likely not remember half the questions you answered or how you arrived at your answers. Just as you schedule and log drills on your calendar, make sure you’re setting an objective for each set. Are you focusing on pacing and getting through easy questions in under 60 seconds per question? Are you focusing on accuracy and skill rather than time and thus not setting a clock so you can ensure you understand a topic?
The more time you spend drilling, the greater progress you’ll see when you sit down for those practice tests. So be sure to take some time to organize and structure your study sessions so you’re setting yourself up for test day success!