Let me cut to the chase, things I did in my second GMAT preparation are:
First time around, my attitude wasn’t great. I focused on Quantity (I would’ve solved about 2000 questions in all) and not on quality. Worst of all, if I went wrong somewhere, I used to get depressed and waste my time. This time, I told myself, if I went wrong somewhere, I am not going to worry about it, but use it as an opportunity to learn something. I really had to work on my attitude. I took help of a lot of online materials – one the best i could find was – Stacey Koprince. I didn’t follow it to the dot, but I definitely borrowed a lot of ideas. If you are starting out or in any stage of preparation and are looking to tweak things a bit, Please do read her articles. They are amazing!
Getting your strategies, is probably the most important thing I did. I used my failures(mistakes) as an opportunity to tune my strategy. Every time I went wrong somewhere, I asked myself, why did I go wrong, where did I loose my focus, how can I get it right the next time. I made a note of it all. It’s not an error log, but strategy log – Like if I see a SIGNAL word, I look for parallelism and if I find x>y, I say to myself x,y can be +/-1,0,+/-.5. Like that I built it up. This came to a couple of pages, but fact is during the exam, I cannot recollect it all. So, on the final couple of days I worked on over all strategies. My final strategies looked something like this.
1. There is only one correct answer. All others have to be wrong
2. If you find no correct answer — read the answer choices again slowly, do not resort to the second best option.
3. Read ALL THE ANSWER choices.
1. Read the question once completely.
2. Then note downs clearly what is given — the values and the variables.
3. Read the question again – what is exactly asked? Interpret it in your own words.
4. Simplify the question in to simple variables or expressions.
5. Restrictions – Implicit or Explicit? => Like absolute value is +ve always, Integers, whole numbers, natural numbers. [Revisit Restrictions if answer is bit ambiguous]
6. If you are unsure about a concept spend couple of seconds using test cases
7. Try to eliminate answers and save time
Heck yah, they are simple and obvious. But, believe me, we often loose out on the tiniest and easiest details. When it comest to building your strategy, making mistakes is the best thing you can do! 😀 Believe me, I was updating my strategy up until last day! Even now, I can improve a lot on it, so don’t settle down once you get your strategies done. As you keep practicing, you will realize you might need to update it quite often. Believe me, its ok to do that!
3. Focus on basics:
Get your basics right. Yup, it’s probably another simple thing. But, if foundation is not strong, how much ever your are trying to improve, you are going to fail. Sit with your materials, take a topic, learn, unlearn, learn till you get 90% accuracy. [I did that for only a couple of topics because I ran out of time, so skipped may be that’s why I got just 38 in Verbal.] This is something Ron Purewal said, while practicing Sentence Correction – say you are doing Subject Verb Agreement, look out for only S-V agreement in the practice questions, if you have found the flaw, move on to the next question, DONOT solve the question. Because, to solve the question you need to good at more than one topic, when you clearly are just mastering one topic, there is a pretty good chance you will not solve the question rightly and hence get demotivated. Do this sort of practice till you reach that 90%-100% accuracy only then move on to the NEXT question.
4. Build your stamina:
Once you are done through basics, move on the tougher problems. I barely did that for verbal, cause I wasn’t that good at it. But for Maths, i worked pretty hard on 700+ questions. I was good at maths 600 Level, but 700 level I was pathetic. What 700 level needs is way different than what 600 Level needs. 700 Level needs LOGIC, quick understanding of question and expecting answers. Only way to do that is practice, practice, practice but along with it keep building strategy [refer Bunuel’s posts]. Beyond 600 level only thing that’s going to help you is strategy. Like keeping watch for words like CONSECUTIVE sets. Believe me, there are 700 level questions where you catch this point – consecutive sets the standard deviation 1, you can blow the problem in a matter of seconds! A couple of words on RC. I am not a voracious reader and I am definitely NOT good at RC. But, to improve RC there is only one thing you need to do. Practice every single day – 3-4. If you missed a day do 6-8 the next day, but practice every single day. The reason is simple, for RC you cannot sit for hours together like you do for SC and CR and build your strategy. RC you got to build it step by step – one day you might be really good, other day sloppy, so on an average, there is a better probability of you to come up with a good strategy for RC when you do it for days together.
5. Don’t bother about your scores:
Most important thing I learnt not to do was to bother about scores. Why is that important? Because I realized every time I got thinking about scores, I was wasting my time and energy, either fretting about it or day dreaming about it. Both of which are not going to help me get anything. So, don’t bother about scores too much. Bother enough to build a better strategy and that’s all you got to bother about. To many “bothers” in this paragraph! 😉
This is pretty much my experience. Hope you got something out of it. 🙂 All the very best.. 🙂