In the many years I've been teaching GMAT Quant, I've seen many different types of students from different starting points. In this post I want to share the common approaches that keep students stuck with a low score, and what you should to instead.
Common GMAT myths
When students with previous preparation ask me about GMAT classes, I ask them questions to learn about what they believe is true regarding their GMAT preparation. This list usually contains one or more of the following:
- I need to find the right "time management strategy", and my score will increase.
- If my skills have taken me to a 46 in Quant, then I'm close to a 48 and I just need to learn a few more tricks.
- Doing all the questions from the Official Guides will be enough practice.
- I took a GMAT crash course, so I'm familiar with the test and I just need the details.
- The GMAT doesn't test math, only my ability to get to the answers. So picking numbers and eliminating answers is what I need.
The problem hidden in each myth
Let's tackle each of the points one by one and why they do more harm then good.
- I need to find the right "time management strategy", and my score will increase. If you solve questions in over 2 minutes on average, then you need to figure out if you are doing too many steps, or you are not using efficient properties and formulas.
- If my skills have taken me to a 46 in Quant, then I'm close to a 48 and I just need to learn a few more tricks. Doing what got you to 46 but faster won't help. You will need to review your math base. It will take more work to get the last few points.
- Doing all the questions from the Official Guides will be enough practice. I only recommend doing the Official Guide questions once you master an efficient methodology. The questions in the Official Guides are good, but the answer explanations are not designed to get you to 700+.
- I took a GMAT crash course, so I'm familiar with the test and I just need the details. Most people underestimate how long it really takes. The "normal" time it takes is around 3 to 4 months. You can find plenty of case studies online where people took a year or more (although that is not recommended).
- The GMAT doesn't test math, only my ability to get to the answers. So picking numbers and eliminating answers is what I need. That's a great strategy to get to 45 fast. Not such a good strategy if you want 48+. Maybe the only students who can pull this off are those that are naturally very good in Quant and they achieve a 47+ in their first practice test without studying.
What you should do instead
What I've found works best for my students and gets them unstuck is to learn efficient properties and formulas FIRST. Then you can complement with shortcuts for Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.
When I review solutions with students, and I show them how using a property can lower their time from 2:30 to 1:10 for example, their minds are blown because suddenly they don't need to rush and they have more time to answer more questions while doing so with more confidence.
Is it more work? definitely. You have to learn and memorize a lot of properties, you have to do many practice questions to internalize them, and you have to review everything many times.
If you interested in learning about my GMAT Quant program that teaches exactly this, you can check out my complete GMAT Quant course here.