Really want to rock the GMAT this year? Here are five effective ways to tackle the test you probably haven’t tried yet (and they might even be fun).
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You know — more or less — how to effectively manage your time. You’ve studied test strategies until you can’t keep your eyes open. And you’ve taken dozens of practice tests.
You’re also exhausted. And to truly ace the GMAT, you have to study more efficiently, not longer. Create rituals, not a more-is-better approach. Access a support network, not just go to a generic study group.
Here are five effective ways to tackle the GMAT you probably haven’t tried yet.
1. Join a Meetup group
Did you know Meetup has an entire website section devoted to helping folks ace the GMAT? Not only can you find study buddies, but people who have already taken the test attend to share advice. Right now there are just over 2,000 members in 17 cities, and there’s no doubt this group will continue to grow.
2. Find your effective study time and turn it into a ritual
The common GMAT study strategy is “more is better.” But if you’re waking up at 5 a.m. to take practice tests when you really work best at 11 p.m., stop it. Stop it right now. This might mean going the library during your lunch break because your brain gets super-focused after you eat. Or sticking to a ritual you know you’ll never miss, like studying every morning for one hour before yoga. This takes a bit of trial and error, but the time you’ll save by studying more effectively more than makes up for it.
Sticking to these rituals will eventually create a natural trigger. Going to your favorite indie coffee shop consistently after work will motivate you the second you walk in the door. Train your mind to be in GMAT mode at a specific time or in a specific place every day. This way, the amount of time it takes to transition into study-mode will decrease. The less time you spend transitioning, the more time you can spend on actually improving.
3. Attend a free strategy session
You know this by now, but the GMAT is not your average test. It takes strategy before you can plan your study (and study before you can take the test). Just like any efficient cubicle-dweller, the 10 minutes you spend planning your day every morning will make that day infinitely more productive.
The good news is that there are many free strategy sessions happening across the country. The Princeton Review hosts free events all the time, both as intro courses or free classes to help you decide if you should sign up for one of their longer-term courses.
4. Do fewer problems
Taking unnecessary practice tests will not help you learn the material well enough to ace the GMAT. Instead of taking 12 practice tests, take three. Then pick apart every single question. Studying the problems might mean doing fewer of them, but you’re not done just because you got it right. Spend twice as long reviewing as you spent doing. Evaluating your practice tests makes all the difference.
A good way to do this is to make a weekly date with a GMAT buddy (who you found through Meetup, right?). Choose five to 10 questions you found most difficult. Take turns going through each question, step by step, uncovering the traps. This will be easier with someone you can talk it out with.
5. Get competitive
Turn your GMAT study sessions into a game. Choose a common book and do timed drills. Bonus points if you have access to a place where you can publicize the scores. Best out of three wins?
Whether a one-minute dance party every half hour or GMAT jeopardy works best for you, this post has great list of 7 ways to make studying for the GMAT fun.
What other unique ways have you found to prepare for the GMAT?
Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She landed in San Francisco via New Zealand via London via New York, where she’s now the Marketing Manager at Thumbtack.