[720 Q49 V40] My Blog: Errors and lessons learned

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by mayonnai5e » Sat May 17, 2008 4:47 am
When I first started, I had bought so many books it was overwhelming. The sheer abundance of material left my without a plan of attack. Recently, I've seen other members ask how to order their studies with such a problem and I believe using the right books in the right order is the best way to leverage what you have in front of you to maximize your score. Here are some quotes from posts I made many months ago:
You have purchased a lot of books (but not as many as I did - I purchased at least 3 or 4 more than you and used only 5 total). You may find yourself in a position (as I once did) where you have too many books, too many strategies for studying, and too many ways to order the books to use. I found myself overwhelmed with the amount of materials and it paralyzed me. Here is my suggested order:

1.Cracking the GMAT with DVD - good and entertaining intro book (ignore some of the weaker strategies because to get in the high 600s and 700s you can't follow some of them); the problems in this book are relatively easy.

2.Kaplan GMAT 2008 Premier Program - this book is similar to the PR book, but more serious and not as "noob-like"....this book is a very good followup to the PR book.

Work through 3, 4, 5, and 6 at the same time:

3.Sentence Correction GMAT Preparation Guide - you should work this book as you work through OG because at the end of each chapter in this book there are listings to OG SC questions that highlight the topic at hand.

The OG books are all ordered by difficulty so you should intersperse the questions from each by difficulty. For example, do the first 20 RC questions in OG11 then do the first 20 RC in OG V. Then work the next 20 in OG11 RC and OG V. This means you'll cover all the easy questions at the same time and give you a nice steady progression in difficulty. In addition, it also gives you a broader base of questions to work with.

4.The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11th Edition
5.The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review
6.The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review

Lastly, the Kaplan 800 book has very good strategies for hard problems you're likely to see. I would work on this book when you get to the last 50 problems of each topic. For example, on the last 50 CR, you can do the CR section of Kaplan800 to see what "hard" problems are like, do that section, then go back to OG11 or OG V review and do those.

7.Kaplan GMAT 800, 2007-2008 Edition (Kaplan Gmat 800)

The idea is to use the right book at the right time in your studies and focus on quality over quantity - that's a winning formula.
Total beginner without knowledge of test format, questions asked, nor strategies for solving questions in each question type: PR Cracking the GMAT

Hasn't done math in years and needs to relearn some fundamentals: Kaplan Math workbook

Familiar with format and understands the different question types as well as strategies for answering questions from each type (e.g. knows how to solve a weaken CR question vs knows how to solve an inference CR question): OG11, OG V, OG M

Weak in SC: MGMAT SC

Wants to work on harder Q questions: Kaplan 800

Decide which of these you fall into and pick your books.
Also, you should also read Eric's post in the GMAT resources area to get his opinion on the best materials. His opinion is very much consistent with mine for the most part: https://www.beatthegmat.com/books.html

The last thing I want to mention is that if you are studying in a good way and focusing on quality over quantity, you should not be able to finish very many books in 2 or 3 months. Consider the math of what I consider "good studying":

OG11 + OG V + OG M = 1400 problems

Let's say 2 minutes per question timed (OG questions should always be timed) + 3 minutes to study each and every solution, including questions you got right, and taking notes on lessons learned = 5 minutes per question.

1400 * 5 = 7000 minutes = 117 hours
Assume you work 2 hours per workday and 10 hours per weekend: 20 hours per week --> almost 6 weeks to finish all three of these books!

This calculation did not include the time spent on cats exams, which in itself can take well over 5 hours (3 hour cat + 2 hours going over all mistakes and writing down lessons learned). If you take 5 hours out of each week for this then it should take you 8 weeks to finish these three books.

It was exactly for this reason that I left 4 books almost completely untouched!
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