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Old 12-26-2013
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Default Most efficient way of studying to score a 700 on the GMAT!

Went through the official GMAT guides (both the comprehensive and quant) doing all quant questions. I used a stop watch (iPhone) to record my time on each question. I reviewed the ones I got wrong and the ones that took >120 seconds regardless of result. I redid each of these questions and iterated on this process until I felt comfortable. I was extremely disciplined and followed a constant routine.

In the meantime, I worked through the Manhattan GMAT topical guidebooks (which are fairly cheap as a set - I will sell you mine, PM me).

I took a practice exam every week or two up until test date and tracked my scores by type and difficulty of question. It really helps with motivation to see improvement.

I took the GMAT once.

My three (four) keys to doing well:

1. Pacing is absolutely critical. If you cannot finish each section with a bit of time to spare you will not score well. Once I got the pacing down it all kind of came together for me. With practice you'll develop an internal clock that will tell you you're over your time limit on a particular question (I became remarkably accurate at feeling the 120th second pass). You must be willing to give up questions when you've gone over your time. The way the test works, you can get ~40% incorrect and still score extremely well so long as you follow my next point.

2. Don't get the easy questions wrong. Your score is based on the difficulty of the questions you're getting right/wrong, not necessarily the quantity of correct answers. If you can get all the easy/moderate level questions correct (and some of the hard ones) you will do very well. Eliminate your silly mistakes and you'll see your score shoot up.

3. Learn the tricks. The GMAT quant section is just a series of trick questions. The writers are fairly lazy and use the same tricks again and again but in different context, so they can be tough to spot. If you do enough practice problems you'll figure out the tricks and problems that first took you five minutes to solve will take 30 seconds (the Manhattan GMAT guidebooks really helped here). This is knowledge that is absolutely useless in the real world.

(4. Do not consume any alcohol within a month of the exam.)

This may not be the most "efficient" way, but it worked for me and it was very inexpensive (as compared to the classes which can cost >$1,000 -- which is *almost* as crazy as hiring an MBA admissions consultant).

However, don't expect to find shortcuts in preparation. Unless you already spend your free time doing high school math problems you will need to practice. It won't be "thousands" of hours, but it also won't be "a dozen." So get used to it.

For verbal...I don't know. Read Crime and Punishment cover to cover and you'll do fine.

Finally - I would set your goal at 750 instead of 700. 700 is rather pedestrian when dealing with top 20 schools. If you aim high you can miss and still be OK. Hell, shoot for 800.*
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