The GMAT is just a test
- Rather than getting overwhelmed by the massive size of it and the endless noise around it
- I will show you a better way to learn, to simplify things, to focus on practicality not theory, and to go from A to Z efficiently without wasting months
- I will share the method and the tips to get an elite GMAT score
I scored a 770 in the GMAT, top 400 worldwide, with just 4-6 weeks of prep, in my first attempt. This is after a long, painful journey with the SAT that you can read about here.
I will simplify GMAT prep down to a simple, repeatable science for you. You’ll feel the difference. All the content skills is one aspect and it is important. More important still, however, is the underlying prep strategy. You need that foundation to be strong and to be right in order to absorb content the right way and get that elite score.
By the way, this post is from the full online video course, Ultimate Guide to Mastering GMAT Verbal, in which I deconstruct the GMAT to a simple science that you can repeat and win. This is exclusively for Learn Ivy subscribers.
You can access the course below:
Exclusively for Learn Ivy Subscribers Only
Let’s dive in:
Hacking GMAT Overall Prep: Tips To Prepare For the GMAT The Smart Way
Hack 1: Why experience pain when you can Netflix
- It’s 2019 guys, it’s time we learnt how to make studying a near pain free process. My strong belief is that downloading test principles to our minds should be as pain-free as Netflix, wherein we download a TV show’s content into our minds. Logically, there’s no difference. The material and medium just needs to be good enough for it.
- Quick tip: if studying is really really painful/it takes more than a few days to learn the entire content, there’s likely something wrong in the material/medium you’re using. Ideally, you want to finish learning content in a week or so tops. Every time I’ve used material that takes weeks or worse months to complete the content, I have done miserably and also hated the painful process.
- E.g., for me personally, I can’t STAND weekly live lectures. They’re too restrictive, I hate the environment, the travel, the inability to control the pace of content download. I best like video content that is broken into short modules, which are to the point and allow me to accelerate/reduce speed. Changing from live to video changes my experience entirely and allows me to sustain much longer without simply quitting
- For others, perhaps books or audio works best. It’s helpful to know your style and double down on it.
- I personally like ebooks on mobile for practise. I like lying down in bed and flipping through Qs and As and it’s easiest with Kindle books than with PDFs/Physical books. So I tend to first do videos for content at 2-3x speed and then do official GMAT Kindle books to “read math” (see below).
Hack 2: Don’t tolerate crap content, trust your instincts
- Whatever book, course etc you use, the most important instinct you can hone is assessing content quality. E.g. I HATE Baron’s content for SAT prep even though it’s super popular. I believe it absolutely skews the finest details which are critical when deciding between those final tricky two options. Moving from Baron’s to official material again everyone’s advice was one of the bigger reasons I moved from 2200 to 2390 in the SAT.
- I’m a big fan of official material for the SAT and GMAT because it captures nuance better than absolutely anywhere else, when it comes to practising 1000 reps. I’d however use another source to learn the content, principles, and strategies along with several demo run-throughs since this is less thorough in the official material and because I prefer targeted videos to reading
- Sometimes, you’ll find courses that are particularly deficient in certain areas. E.g., I was shocked by how CR is covered by most, left to chance rather than repeatable strategy (see the above CR section for an example) or how there’s simply no mention, forget deepdive, of hacks per section and overall learning strategy – only textbook content. To me, that is plain bizarre. It’s not how you help students get 750+
Hack 3: Screw anyone that says, “You shouldn’t read math”
- Growing up, I was always told: you can’t read math, you must practise more.
- Thing is, I just refused to listen because I hated practising math, I was simply lazy. And thing is, I consistently scored high and it is because I didn’t listen.
- Here’s the thing: practising anything yourself takes 5x longer than reading it. And especially if you’re not 100% clear on the concept.
- Not only does it take 5x longer eating up expensive prep time, your confidence takes a serious beating – which is TERRIBLE for your test taking ability.
- Also guys, tell me – how many of you have done a practice question only to realise it used a principle not directly covered in the theory portion? And you’re thinking, well how the heck was I supposed to know THAT?
- Fact is, if you treat reading more solved questions as an extension of the chapter theory itself, your concepts will solidify dramatically more strongly.
- Why would you do everything from scratch yourself when you can outsource all the heavy lifting and simply learn 5x faster because of someone else’s effort?
- You will do far more reps than you ever have previously, but you will spend 80-90% less time per rep than before
- Just think about what I’ve said above. You can either practise 100Qs once in 5 days for example, or read them 5 times in the same 5 days, because reading takes only 20% the time. Which do you think I’d recommend.
- So, am I telling you that you should never practise? I’m not.
- But I am saying first read about 20x more than you typically feel comfortable with. Instead of reading 2-3 examples and starting practice, read 50-100 example questions minimum. I suggest doing this with official material only on their Kindle version – for the reason mentioned further above.
- After you’ve done that and highlighted the questions you thought were worth revising, read them again.
- After that, read them all again.
- Notice that by the third read, A. You’re going much much faster still and reading only the highlighted ones. B. Your brain instinctively starts to see the patterns. It’s like being able to visualise the “matrix”. ESPECIALLY if you’ve used terrific material, you’ll begin to see the test in new light without having consciously realised it.
- THAT is the moment of magic.
- And THAT is when you start practising.
Hack 4: 1000 reps @ high frequency
- Reps are your best friend” – Remember this for life. The answer to almost ANYTHING is reps.
- Even when practising, go for multiple reps at high frequency
- This means, it’s perfectly OKAY to be terrible to begin with. I suck at everything the first few reps of anything. It’s just a learning rep. Just understand what needs fixing and carry on swiftly. Simply doing more reps and understanding what went wrong each time, don’t fuss about it, carry on.
- Do the same questions you’ve read to begin with. Why: Build comfort, confidence and momentum.
- If you spread the mental load across several practice reps rather than one or two reps only, and focus on speed, you’ll have a gentler, less painful, almost fun experience because you’ll constantly be moving forward.
- And rapid forward momentum is easily your greatest ally during prep.
Hack 5: 80/20 your biggest weaknesses
- You’ve seen from the above principles that finishing the textbook content/course should be just the first 20% of your prep not 50-80%, and that several reps of reading the official questions and then practising should then become the focus. Worry about full length tests, 3.5h stamina and section-wise and overall speed only at the end.
- The initial set of practice reps, after your read reps, are JUST to build comfort, not to diagnose weak spots. Goal is to build comfort, nothing more.
- This is unbelievably important. Momentum, comfort, confidence is what matters in these early reps – not problem solving and fixing. Do none of that until the panic you feel when seeing a question disappears. And it will, with enough read reps. The discomfort of putting pen to paper will disappear with enough practice comfort reps.
- Only after done with the initial set of reps to build comfort, direct the reps thereafter with intent
- To do this, you should mentally be able to separate stamina, content knowledge, and speed and test only one at a time.
- Build mini tests after reading and then practising to check yourself against each of these.
- I myself used and highly recommend using the Official GMAT material for this, as explained above.
- For e.g., simply take 10-20 SC, CR or RC questions and see how you do. Important note: the goal is NOT to get it all right immediately, it’s simply to understand what needs fixing
- Think of it as a Sherlock Holmes puzzle. It’s less a test at this point and more a discovery: “Okay, my top opportunity areas are SC modifier content, CR drawing maps, and RC stamina”
- Make a task list with the top opportunity areas as you uncover them. Your goal should be to rapidly attack them till they become strength areas
- For e.g., I simply couldn’t maintain focus long enough to read an RC para. So, one morning, I simply made that the focus. Didn’t look at a single question, but just read RC passage after passage, taking breaks in between, till I built comfort.
- Similarly, I simply did not have the stamina to complete a full length practice GMAT. So, I forced myself to do it 2-3 times over 1 week so that I simply built comfort with what I hated most.
- It’s important however to not get lost in an endless string of such improvements. Your key friends will be
- 80/20 the BIGGEST opportunity areas to scale up your score. E.g., don’t focus on idioms just because it’s a weak area, unless it adds as much delta impact on overall score as does improving your stamina or your ability to draw maps.
- Pace and number of reps. Refer above for details – you need momentum. The worst thing you can do is indulge in one variable endlessly rather than swiftly completing your list so that you’re back in centre and scaling your score upwards.
- Needless to say, building such comfort through such targeted effort was a game-changer for me and has worked remarkably for Learn Ivy students.
With these 5 principles mastered, you will be able to increase your GMAT score by 100 points at the very least. That could well be the difference between a Dream School and your dream life ahead vs. something sub-optimal, with decades worth of impact.
We will go into detail with the above strategies and more, and with dozens of practical, detailed live demos to show you exactly how a 770 GMAT scorer uses sharp techniques to drive towards an elite GMAT score.
In the complete online video course, with 200+ quick, fun, sharp video lectures, I get into detail with Learn Ivy students for each of the above sections, with not just more hacks, tips, live-demos, and exercises but a real ton of methodical content and principles to get you the elite score I want for you in the GMAT.
There is a better, simpler way to prep for the GMAT, and I hope for you to do it right so that you can get into the school of your dreams, and live the life of your absolute dreams, no holds barred.
You can access the course below: