The Best GMAT Practice Methods

by Target Test Prep, Aug 23, 2022

If you’re planning to take the GMAT to apply to MBA programs, you’ve likely looked into what you need to learn to master the test. You also may have chosen some GMAT preparation resources. At the same time, how you practice for the GMAT can be as important as the resources you use and the concepts you learn. In fact, how you practice can make or break your GMAT preparation.

Many people prepare for the GMAT extensively without getting the results they seek because their practice isn’t effective. So, in this post, I’m going to discuss the best GMAT practice methods, so that you can fully understand this key aspect of getting the results you want from your GMAT preparation.

Let’s begin by discussing the goal of GMAT practice.

The Goal of GMAT Practice

Unlike most tests we take, the GMAT is not primarily a test of knowledge or understanding. It’s a reasoning game. So, the goal of GMAT practice is to develop skill in playing the GMAT game.

There are a few aspects of skill in playing the GMAT game. They include skill in

  • understanding what a question is asking.
  • finding a path to the answer to a question.
  • arriving at a correct answer without making any errors along the way.

So, when we’re practicing for the GMAT, our goal is to develop all these aspects of skill.

Let’s now discuss the type of practice we’ll do most, which is topic-focused practice.

Topic-Focused GMAT Practice

People preparing for the GMAT often find a set of questions and start answering random practice questions one after the other. However, this method isn’t efficient or effective. The main issue with it is that what you learn when answering one question is often forgotten by the time you see a similar question. This outcome occurs because, in between answering similar questions, you’ll answer many questions of other types.

So, what works much better is focusing on one topic at a time and answering questions on a topic until you’re getting them correct consistently. By focusing on one topic at a time, you get to apply what you learned in answering one question to answering the next question. Thus, you allow yourself to develop skill in a topic. For instance, if you’re focusing on Overlapping Sets questions, and you make an error in applying a formula, you can answer more questions that require the use of that same formula until you won’t ever make that error again.

You can see how, by doing topic-by-topic practice, you can master one topic at a time until you’ve mastered the entire GMAT.

Let’s now discuss another important aspect of effective GMAT practice, practicing untimed.

Start Your GMAT Practice Untimed

Because they are aware that the GMAT is a timed exam that allots only about two minutes per Quant or Verbal question, people often believe that they should do all their GMAT practice timed. In other words, they believe that they should give themselves only about two minutes to answer each practice question. However, that impression is not really correct. Timed practice is not the best method for mastering the GMAT. What works much better is starting off doing practice questions untimed, giving yourself all the time you need to answer each question correctly, and here’s why.

As we discussed, the goal of GMAT practice is to develop skill in understanding what questions are asking, finding paths to answers, and arriving at correct answers without making any errors along the way. If you do all your practice questions timed, you won’t have time to develop these skills. Rather, you’ll rush through questions faster than you can handle them, get a significant percentage incorrect, read answer explanations to find out what you should have done, and fail to develop skill.

On the other hand, if you give yourself all the time you need to fully understand and correctly answer each question, you’ll develop strong GMAT skills that will get you to your GMAT score goal.

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