Setting 700+ performance goal for your GMAT exam is essential. However, studies by Gary P. Latham, Gerard Seijts and Dan Crim on The Effects of Learning Goal Difficulty Level and Cognitive Ability on Performance show that when the participants are focused on higher learning goals than higher performance goals the potential to reach their goals is higher. This is true only in the initial stages of the learning process.
When you are in the initial stages of GMAT prep, setting higher GMAT score goals will motivate you to start the process, but that does not guarantee a higher performance. A motivational self-talk to do your best in the initial stages of preparation (First 1.5 months in a 3 Month Schedule) will result in better performance than setting concrete goals. Why do we experience a contradiction when statistics have proved that concrete goals improve our performance?
The contradiction arises when we consider the knowledge level of the test taker...
When a GMAT test taker is lagging behind in Sentence Correction, what they do? They pick a question type, say Subject-Verb agreement, and drill through 10-15 questions on the same topic, hoping that the concentrated effort to tackle one question type would give them the fundamental learning lessons to solve similar questions in the future. This technique works in most GMAT sections but for the crucial performance differentiators: Sentence Correction and Problem Solving, this technique is a hindrance.
Interleaving – A Better Alternative?
What if you mix and match, and try three question types in one 20-minute GMAT study session? Bob Bjork, who studies interleaving, demonstrated this with an experiment where he used art to demonstrate our ability to remember and connect the dots. One group of participants were shown a set of painting from the same artists in consecutive sessions with each session marking the transition from one artist to the other while for the other participants a mix of painting from various artists were shown in one session. By the end of the experiment, the participants were asked to identify the artist based on the images that...
GMAT Preparation can last anywhere between 3 and 5 months (GMAT Retake) and your attitude during the preparation can influence the results. We have heard first-hand account of GMAT Prep going completely wrong.
Case 1: Bombing on GMAT Day
This is an all-common phenomenon seen among GMAT test takers, even among the best-prepared students. It can be nerves, overconfidence, poor time management, someone near your desk annoyingly typing during the AWA section (this is actually an account that we heard recently) or several other factors.
You should read GMAT Test Day Tips to learn how to handle the test day.
Case 2: Too Many Study Materials
When you start your GMAT Prep, you are tempted to cover every possible GMAT study material: the retired question, forum questions, official GMAT questions, and Questions from Kaplan, Manhattan or ...
Motivation is the key to sustain GMAT preparation for 3-months to 5 months. The standards that you set for goals influence motivation. Jessica M. Nicklin & Kevin J. Williams have covered the correlation between goal setting and motivation in their paper: Self-Regulation of Goals and Performance: Effects of Discrepancy Feedback, Regulatory Focus, and Self-Efficacy
Discrepancy Production & Reduction
MBA Aspirants start goal setting with GMAT Preparation, most likely with a target score. They take the diagnostic test and receive the first feedback. Based on the feedback (the test score), aspirants follow either the discrepancy production or the reduction process.
With Discrepancy production, test takers set goals that are higher than the test score in the diagnostic test while with discrepancy reduction test takers reduce the target score to match with the previous performance. Reducing the target creates positive reaffirmation, but the process is flawed as the test takers are selling themselves short of...
You might argue that when you are in the zone, no distraction - external or internal would derail your GMAT preparation. For such lengthy span of attention, taking breaks would be the last thing on your mind. But for other daily GMAT Study sessions, 20 minutes sessions would be helpful, and produce the best results.
A recent report by Josh Davis, Maite J. Balda, and David Rock summarizes the studies conducted on attention, and learning optimization. According to the report, two findings solidify the belief in short-chunks of attention:
1) Attention has limits of only 20 minutes
2) Multitasking is inefficient
The part of our brain that enables single-minded focus is energy hungry. It is fighting external stimuli – sound, light, smell, and human interruption, along with internal thoughts, and impulses. The maximum time limit on fighting a strong internal & external stimulus is 20 minutes.
Beyond that, we not fully engaged.
Psychological journals have documented the Cognitive cost of multitasking. Technology has a role to play in inhibiting our ability to concentrate long-hours. Computers have evolved from a time-sharing behemoth machines to pocket sized tools...
After getting Business School research right, the next important step for an MBA Aspirant is GMAT Preparation. For 1-Month, 3-Month, or 2-Week GMAT study plan, practice sessions are an integral part of the preparation. But most aspirants are driven by two motivations: mastery or 700+ score. You might argue that the goal behind each motivation is the same, but depending on the motivation that you choose, the results can vary.
The focus for MBA aspirants with this motivation is to improve accuracy every day, and reach 100% accuracy by the end of the preparation schedule. There is nothing wrong in such an aspiration but you will be surprised to learn that aspirants with ‘Mastery’ mentality tend to repeat similar problem types several times. Even after understanding the fundamentals, the test taker will repeat problems from various data sources, official and unofficial, just to prove that he is capable of handling problems from a particular topic. Practice sessions become an ego battle on...
Q) I have been preparing for the GMAT for the past 2 and half months. To be honest, my preparation would have been better but it is just 3 weeks to go and from three diagnostic tests, I am scoring in the 550-570 range. My target is 700+. Should I re-schedule?
F1GMAT: Since you have indicated that the preparation would have been better, it makes us curious as to what happened during the 2.5 months. Why do you think that the preparation would have been better? Without evaluating what went wrong during the preparation, it becomes extremely difficult to change tactics, and re-schedule the test. Even if you postpone the test, and adopt the old method of preparation, which has been proven ineffective, the scores won’t improve.
To offer a solution, we have to make some assumption about your preparation:
a) Lack of Intermediate Goals
Most often than not, test takers try to cover many topics in a short period, paying very little attention to comprehension. This is counterproductive. Set small improvement goals for GMAT mock tests every week like 550-570 570-600, and try relentlessly to achieve those goals. Don’t get overwhelmed by the ultimate goal of 700+.
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Have you wondered why you love watching athletes? The action, rules, and scores are just a few aspects of the sport that attracts us to these world-class athletes. What truly makes them worth watching is their competing spirit. Behind that intense focus, there were months of preparation - the kind of sacrifice that a normal person would never do to achieve their goals. While you prepare 3-4 months for the GMAT, remember what these top five Athletes have to say about preparation, obstacles, and focus:
1) Michael Jordan (MJ)
Michael Jordan is regarded as the greatest NBA player of all time, not just in terms of records but also in promoting the NBA worldwide.
This is what MJ had to say about Roadblocks
“If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it”
GMAT Preparation is similar to a close basketball match. The only difference is that you have to fight your demons instead of an equally good opponent. It requires...
Starting your GMAT test with Integrating Reasoning section can affect your stamina. For the first year, Business Schools like Stanford has revealed that they will not give high priority to IR section, instead evaluate Verbal, Quant, and AWA along with the total score.
“For this application year, we will see your IR score if you have taken the new GMAT, but will focus on the verbal, quantitative, AWA, and total scores.”
This is because there are no substantial data on the IR score distribution and the correlation between IR and Total score.
Where would Integrated Reasoning Come into Play?
1) Low Quant Score
If you have evaluated the GMAT IR Questions types, you will realize that tackling this question type require analyzing data from various sources and finding data that would help you...
Even without using a GMAT prep Book, you can still strengthen your GMAT Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension skills. Here is an excellent video by Knewton on how to improve your GMAT RC and CR Skills:
1. Read News Websites
News sites are great for practicing both Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Short, detail-heavy articles from The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post make for a good GMAT-level challenge on their own. In terms of evaluating arguments, however, the real value comes from the comments on these articles that people leave online. Here you have a wonderful chance to test your CR logic skills.
As people bicker about market trends or Obama’s economic policies, you will see examples of good and bad reasoning in action. Treat them all like a GMAT excerpts. Ask yourself what their arguments rely on, and you will sharpen your ability to identify assumptions.
2. Read Opinionated Authors
Instead of re-reading the GMAT official guide for the ninth time, try taking a good book along with you for your long train rides. There is a wide variety of opinionated non-fiction writing that can help refine your understanding of tone and rhetoric. From Steven Levitt’s...
The ideal time quoted by most GMAT Prep Companies and experts is 3 Months. More importantly it is not the time but the plan that you have during the 3-Month that will help you reach the 700+ target.
Let us look at the most recommended approach:
Take the GMAT diagnostic test in the Official GMAT Prep Software, and note the weak topics. But don’t straightaway start attempting problems in your weak areas. Do as many practice problems from Official GMAT Guide and from other resources and monitor the performance in each section – Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.
Find out your weakest section. For most GMAT test takers, it would be Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning. For students weak in Math, Problem solving is often cited as a weak area.
Just understanding the weak areas is not enough. Go through the answers and explanations and find out why you are missing...
I originally purchased the study materials for the GMAT nearly a year ago. Since they were changing the test, I decided that I needed to take it before the changes to make use of my materials. I started studying about 7 weeks before my test. I spent 6 of the 7 weekends studying for the exam (some more productive than others), 16 days after work studying for several hours, 12 days during lunch studying for an hour, and took 5 days off from work prior to the test just to review.
I went through each of the Manhattan guides and The PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible once and at the end of each guide answered the questions in the OG that were recommended. I did not do the questions in the OG Verbal/Quant guides that were recommended because I wanted to identify my weaknesses and then come back to them later.
After completing the guides, it was clear that my weaknesses were Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency in general. Sentence Correction was by far my biggest weakness so I went back through the entire Manhattan guide again. This is when I worked on questions in the OG Verbal guide, but I only did Sentence Correction questions. I used the GMAT Club iPad app throughout and it really helped to keep track of my progress.
Official GMAT Guide - Understand the Material...
1) DO NOT go by how much time you spent studying. The way to judge if you are ready or not is by how much you understand the subjects. This is very important!
2) DO NOT rush or worry about time so much when you first begin. I focused too much on pace at the beginning and wasted a lot of time having to go back to grasp the subjects. You will need to get this down, but at first it is not the most important thing.
3) DO NOT just look at the correct answer when you get a question wrong. Make sure you understand why your answer was wrong and why the correct answer is correct. I spent more time reviewing then practice tests than I did taking them. (And yes they are long).
4) DO NOT let the Kaplan CAT score scare you. I got a little down, but do not.
5) DO take breaks. Stay on track, but give your mind periods of rest.
6) DO track your progress and timing. I used the GMAT Club iPad app because it was easy to...