Course Corrections for My GMAT Study Plan

Now that I’m approximately 60 days away from the big day, it’s a good time to reflect on everything I’ve done thus far and make adjustments where needed.  I’ve read blogs, reviewed forums, and taken two practice CATs thus far.  I’ve also completed six weeks of the Manhattan GMAT Online Live Course.

Higher Standards

Getting a 710 on my second practice test was definitely a big confidence booster.  My original goal was to get 700 overall and break 80 on both sections.  Now, given that I still have two months of study ahead of me, I think it would be a disappointment if I didn’t get close to the 750s.  To get in this range, I need to get better at answering hard Math problems.  With verbal, I’m already performing really well, but my Math is noticeably deficient.

Focus on Approach

I need to develop a routine and methodical approach to each type of question.  I still make small but relevant process errors such as not reading the Critical Reasoning question first, not spotting “and” in Sentence Correction, or not going with the easy option first in Data Sufficiency.  I think I’ll write a post with my exact process methodology for each question type once I complete my MGMAT course.

Use Office Hours

The MGMAT Online Course gives you half an hour with an instructor every week to basically ask whatever you want.  During the initial part of the course, I didn’t even bother with this resource even though I had already paid for it.  Now I book them at least one week ahead.  The Office Hours instructors are extremely helpful with their detailed explanations.  Additionally, they will often give you really candid feedback about the prep (ie MGMAT material they don’t think is too useful).  I find this level of honesty and advocacy truly refreshing.

Practice Problems in the Morning

When I get home after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is study for the GMAT, and much less do Official Guide problems.  However, that’s exactly where I’ve built it into my schedule.  My course correction isn’t to completely eliminate after work studying; I just want to shift a portion of it to the mornings.  I feel I can concentrate better in the morning because I have a limited time to get things done before going to work.  I also think mornings are a better simulation of test conditions anyway, since you’re a little agitated from waking up and don’t have the relaxed feeling you get when you arrive at home.

Finish All of the Official Guide Problems

Currently, I’ve only completed about 40% of all the Official Guide problems, inclusive of the Quantitative and Verbal Review books.  Once my course is over, I’ll definitely ramp up and make sure I go through all of these.  At the very least, I want to review and retry the ones I got wrong and the ones that took me a great deal of time.

Improve My Health and Hygiene

My health has slowly deteriorated since I started studying for the GMAT about a month and a half ago.  Everything from my social life to the cleanliness of my apartment has suffered.  I’m going to make commitments to ensure that my health isn’t in shambles by the time I take the test.  Both body and mind are required to beat the GMAT.

  1. I will clean my apartment for at least 2 hours every week (laundry, dishes, ironing, etc.)
  2. I will go to the gym at least 4 times a week
  3. I will hang out with friends at least once every 2 weeks (this is a low bar for most people, but not for me ;))

Prep for the Analytical Writing Assessment

I’ve put off this section, like most other people do, to focus on Math and Verbal.  While this score doesn’t mean much, I still want to prep for this section and do well.  The template for each of the essays is rather simple; I just need to memorize it and practice it on my Practice CATs.  I want to eliminate any risk of getting below a 4.0 on this section.

Prep My Essays & Applications

Initially I didn’t want to do application prep and GMAT prep at the same time, but given my latest GMAT score and the amount of investment I’ll need to make to write a good essay, I think I’m going to at least finish a first draft of my essays before my GMAT date.  That way, I’ll have a head start after I finish the test.  I also might try to collect some feedback during this period as well.

Download Classical Music

I’ve read this in a number of blogs: classical music can help you “think” more efficiently.  While I’m still somewhat skeptical, I don’t see any harm in trying this tactic.

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