(Note: This post is a guest feature from Cathryn Sloane of Varsity Tutors.)
The road to beating the GMAT can be a daunting one, but with the right tools, tips, and habits, you can reach your ultimate potential with confidence and poise. In fact, a well-structured preparation strategy is equally (if not more) important than your IQ. Here are some proven tactics of 700+ scorers.
The 700+ Scorer:
1. Practices, practices, and practices some more
In high school, you could memorize the Pythagorean theorem, plug in a, b, and c, and get an A on the test. You knew ahead of time exactly what formulas you were expected to know, and with a little practice, their use became habit. High school math may have rewarded habit, but the GMAT rewards logic. And unfortunately, the only way to become quick at knowing when to use which type of logic is with a much greater amount of practice than you ever had to do in high school. This is the most painful part of the process, but it is also the most paramount building block of the remaining GMAT prep strategies – it will pay off!
2. Can recognize a variety of question types
The more you practice, the more you will be able to recall similar problems and recognize the exact question type you are being faced with at each turn. It is the ability to draw upon past experiences (in both success and mistakes), learn from them, and use that information the next time you are met with a similar problem.
3. Has an arsenal of techniques for any particular problem type
It is simply not enough to just know one way to do each problem. If you are successful in the beginning of each section, the questions will only become harder (thanks to the computer adaptive technology the GMAT uses). Ultimately, you will be faced with problems that are increasingly difficult and convoluted and you must be equipped with a collection of different techniques for approaching anything that may come your way.
4. Always looks at the answer choices first
Looking at the answer choices before beginning to solve can be the difference between a waste of three precious minutes and a correct answer. If you take a moment up front to scan the answer choices, you can usually get a good idea of which numbers to pick or what form the answer needs to be in – thus improving your approach to the problem-solving process.
5. Reviews, evaluates, and reflects
Perhaps the most important of all strategies that lead you to success on the GMAT is the patience, work ethic, and diligence involved in reviewing, evaluating, and reflecting on those questions that you answered incorrectly. After all, it is not the question types that you are doing well on that you need to study, it is the ones you are getting wrong that are your key to unlocking that 700+ score. After each practice test, review the explanation for each and every problem you answered incorrectly. Find a similar question type and practice the given methods until you are as comfortable with those as you are with elementary addition. This is the true key to eliminating any areas of weakness, and ultimately to achieving that perfect score!
Cathryn Sloane is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a private tutoring and test prep service with 2,000 tutors across 25 major metropolitan cities in the U.S.