Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Training Tips for the GMAT Marathon

A GMAT survivor and I were discussing the GMAT last night and he framed my thinking of how to go about the GMAT in a very interesting way. He used the analogy of a marathon.

Honestly, that's kind of how I feel about the process right now is that I'm in the middle of a long marathon and am doing my best to not get tired. But his analogy was different. He looked at the studying process for the GMAT like one would train for a marathon, with actual GMAT test day being race day. I could no longer think of GMAT studying as just the memorization of formulas, grammatical rules, and practice tests. Instead, these were some of his thoughts.

1. Train for endurance. When you train for a marathon, you run for increasing lengths of time until you've almost reached the 26 miles in one sitting. The GMAT is much the same. You cannot do small problem sets of 10-20 problems and then take a break and then go back. On test day, you will be doing 35-40 problems in 75 min blocks. Why not train that way? Do 60 problems at a time, then when you get to test day your brain things "wow, only 35 problems? easy!"

2. Train for a time. Many marathon runners train with the goal of the completing their marathon in a certain time. We GMAT takers HAVE to complete the GMAT sections in their allowed time or suffer a serious blow to our score. Why not train that way? If you have to do a problem in under 2 mins, but you practice doing them in 3-5 mins, then you're not helping yourself. Stick to the practice test time limits and then this will be no shock on test day.

3. Improve your strenghts as well as your weaknesses. I guess this applies more to triathalon runners, but if you're very good at the swimming leg of the race, work on getting faster at that too. All it does is improve your performance in the end. The GMAT is the same way. If you're good at math, an amazing math score will compensate for a slightly weaker verbal score, resulting in that overall high score that top B-schools want from you.

These tips will definitely result in a different studying approach for me for my remaining 2.5 weeks before my test. Hopefully, they will help others as well.

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