I may be counting the minutes and seconds, too, but I’ll take the fifth on that.
Things I’ve learned in the last week:
- Peterson’s Master the GMAT is a great resource for studying on your own. I’m sure there are others out there that are good, but I’m glad I got this one.
- I’m incredibly glad that I got the above book from the library, because once I’m done with it (after five weeks of using it), what would I do with it?
- I wish I had put together a more coherent plan for studying before the final week and a half before the GMAT.
- Algebra and Geometry aren’t as hard as I remember them being in middle school (except for probability, and occasionally radicals).
- Finding the flaws in arguments isn’t as easy as I remember it being in my college Philosophy classes.
What I’ve been doing (it’s plan-like… sort of)
About two weeks before my GMAT test date, I made the conscious decision to have read through all of the review chapters for each section of the test by three days before the test. That way I could spend the last two days before the actual test taking the computerized practice tests provided on the CD that came with the Peterson’s book.
For the first few nights last week, I studied for an hour each night. By Wednesday, I realized that an hour a night wasn’t going to cut it. I started spending as much time as I could each night working my way through the chapters, trying to balance comprehension with efficiency while moving through each section.
With 2-ish days left before the test, I have one and a half chapters left to review for the Verbal Section, but I’ve gone through everything else. That only puts me half a day behind where I wanted to be at this point. That’s not bad, but it’s not ideal either. When I get home tonight, I have to figure out if I want to go through those last chapters, or just take the practice test, per my original plan.
I’ve I’d been thinking about it more clearly, I would have realized that I needed/wanted a more detailed plan.
The plan I wish I’d had
I wish, when I first checked out the GMAT prep book four and a half weeks ago (I was able to renew it, thank goodness; it’s due in a week–three days after I take the GMAT), I wish I had sat down and made a plan to go through a chapter of the review book day or so.
I’ve been able to get through a chapter and a bit each night, studying three or so hours at a time. That’s fine because my other option is not to review everything, but it’s a lot of studying, and it doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
This is what my plan would have looked like:
4 weeks before the GMAT
- Monday: Go through Part 1, Chapter 1 of Mastering the GMAT: GMAT Basics – All About the GMAT (24 pages, 1 hour)
- Tuesday: Read Part 1, Chapter 2: GMAT Basics – GMAT Questions: A First Look (25 pages, 1 hour)
- Wednesday and Thursday: Take the diagnostic Practice test that makes up Part II (60 minutes + 75 minutes + 75 minutes over two days)
- Friday: Read Part 3, Chatper 3: GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment – Issue Analysis (17 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Saturday: Read Part 3, Chatper 4: GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment – Argument Analysis (20 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Sunday: Take a day off.
3 weeks before the GMAT
- Monday: Read Part 3, Chatper 5: GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment – Writing Style and Mechanics (12 pages, 1 hour)
- Tuesday: Read Part 4, Chapter 7: GMAT Quantitative Section – Problem Solving (22 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Wednesday: Read Part 4, Chapter 8: GMAT Quantitative Section – Data Sufficiency and Analysis (16 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Thursday/Friday: Read Part 4, Chapter 9: GMAT Quantitative Section – Math Review: umber Forms, Relationships, and Sets (29 pages, 29 problems, 2-3 hours each day)
- Saturday/Sunday: Read Part 4, Chapter 10: GMAT Quantitative Section – Math Review: Number Theory and Algebra (38 pages, 37 questions, 2-3 hours each day)
2 weeks before the GMAT
- Monday/Tuesday: Read Part 4, Chapter 11: GMAT Quantitative Section – Geometry Review (38 pages, 29 questions, 2-3 hours each day)
- Wednesday: Read Part 5, Chapter 12: GMAT Verbal Section – Critical Reasoning (32 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Thursday: Read Part 5, Chapter 13: GMAT Verbal Section – Sentence Correction (34 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Friday: Reach Part 5, Chapter 14: GMAT Verbal Section – Reading Comprehension (30 pages, 1-2 hours)
- Saturday/Sunday: Brush up on any parts of the Math that I struggled with (2 hours)
1 week before the GMAT
- Monday: Do a few of the issue analysis and argument analysis questions from the paper practice tests in the back of the book. (60 minutes)
- Tuesday: Do at least one test’s worth of math questions from the paper practice test in the back of the book. (75 minutes)
- Wednesday: Do at least one test’s worth of writing questions from the paper practice tests in the back of the book. (75 minutes)
- Thursday: Take a computerized practice test. (3-4 hours)
- Friday: Take another computerized practice test. (3-4 hours)
- Saturday: Briefly go over notes in the morning and take the GMAT in the afternoon.
If you think this plan seems ridiculously obsessive, I’m right there with you. That’s part of the reason I didn’t do it. Not because I’m worried about being viewed as ridiculously obsessive (I’m not), but at the time it seemed sort of silly to plan out my studying to that extent. I should have known myself better.
Live and learn, right? And I can this situation to my store of experiences that proves–time and again–that it’s always better to get started on something early, even if all you do is review what you’re going to have to do. Or, in simpler terms: Procrastination never pays.