Eh, so the sloppy me does finally have an executable prep plan for the nth time. And one week already into it, I do not intend to have another (n+1)th revision. But before I get to the study plan, here are some preliminary assessment that you must do if at all you want your study plan to yield desired result, all arranged in priority sequence:
- Understand the test pattern, scoring system, types of questions, etc. What is the average time estimate per question and how does the Computer Adaptive test work. Visit http://www.mba.com/ for details.
- Find out what GMAT score is required for your desired MBA program and corresponding application deadlines. A glance at the best B-schools will indicate that you will need 700 for top 10 schools, 680 for top 20 and 650 for top 50; which means the scores will not be an issue and you may need an additional 30 to 50 points to stand out among the other applications. Most of the schools have 3 application rounds, roughly around October, December and January.
- Take a diagnostic test or a full length practice test to determine how much you will need to improve. Analyse the diagnostic test thoroughly and determine your strength and weaknesses. Understand which question types are more challenging and where you spent more time. You will need this information to build your study plan. You may choose to schedule your test by this time
- Finally - you are ready to design your prep plan.
Based on my last years test results and following my difficulties in trying to read and comprehend long passages, I need to improve a whooping 150+ points for my target school; strength - Quant, weakness-Verbal. A little research in various test forums and data collected by test prep companies will indicate that though a lower Quant score and higher Verbal score has a higher impact on the Overall score, the vice-verse, however is not true. Further, when you are playing the game at the highest level (700+) and you get most of your questions correct, the CAT stops testing the basics and starts gussying them up.
Having said that, my prep strategy follows the below GMAT pyramid for a duration of 16 weeks.
16 Week Prep Plan:
Week 0, 1, 2 : Focus on base of the Pyramid - General Knowledge. Do not waste OG questions during this period. You may want to use Kaplan's or Manhattan GMAT course books for this, they have standard material. As for me, I am working on Arun Sharma's Quant and Wren and Martin's High School Grammar. Arun Sharma's Quant is great for getting the basics right. But beware, this book has good number of grammatical errors and I have found occasional issues with the methodology used in certain cases. If you plan to practice Arun Sharma's Quant, then better keep an open mind. Wren and Martin is the best book I have read till date on English Grammar. Though it has a lot of topics, the most relevant ones are Correct Usage, Verbs and Tenses and Written Composition.
Week 3: Focus on Question Strategies for next three weeks. Take a full length CAT and re-assesses your strength and weaknesses. Finish Quant and Verbal sections from OG. I intend to do only OG-13; not planning to work on OG-12. Spend extra time on the weak areas. Revise your basics and practice smaller timed sections.
Week 4: Complete OG Verbal Review and OG Quant Review, 2nd Edition. These two books have the most recently retired questions from the real test per the claims of GMAC. Continue spending extra time on your weaknesses and revising your basics.
Week 5: Complete all the questions from Kaplan GMAT 800. Not a good guide book, but an excellent collection of really tough questions. Prepare a test taking strategy.
Week 6 through 15: Time to focus on the Test Strategies. Take full length CAT; one per week and apply the test strategy. Work on your prep strategy and refine your test taking strategy every week.
- Practice Sudoku - will improve your calculations
- Practice Puzzles - will improve your ability to comprehend subtle information
- Read good newspaper and keep yourself well informed
- Read and work with "Word Power Made Easy", Norman Lewis - will build your vocab
- Start writing, may be a blog - will improve your writing ability
- Most important - Keep yourself motivated and focused
So, the plan is laid out. Resources and timeline determined. The dream with a deadline is now a goal ready to be executed. Finally, the deadline is not at all amusing.
Any other ideas, holler on.
Any other ideas, holler on.