I’ve taken the GMAT twice and scored 710 TWICE (is that good or bad… I still can’t decide…) However, I do feel I can give some sage advice for those that are aiming to get the magical 700+. Here are MY SEVEN ESSENTIAL steps to getting a 700+:
#1 – Give yourself time to study
There is an old GMAT proverb: “Study for 100 minutes, get nothing from it; study for 200 hours, get GMAT super powers.” Okay, I made that up, BUT in many ways it is true. I studied 150 hours over 2 months to get my first 710. I absolutely believe that you should make sure to dedicate enough hours spread over several months to maximize your efforts to get a 700+.
#2 – Get the best study materials possible!
In my opinion, the best materials you can get are the 1) Official GMAT Book, 2) The Official GMATPrep Software and 3) Magoosh. I utilized these three resources when I got my first 710, and I was extremely satisfied! Magoosh will allow you learn the concepts and also focus down problem content. I really liked how the videos walked me through solutions for the problems that I had particular difficulty with. Also, the official questions will allow you to get a better understanding of what to expect on your test day.
#3 – Study consistently
It’s not just about the amount of time and materials you use to study. It is also about how often and consistently you study. I have found that studying small amounts every day for an extended period of time yielded MUCH better results than cramming for a few weeks before the test. By consistently putting aside an 1-2 hours a day, you will quickly be on your way to a 700+.
#4 – Track your mistakes with an error log
It is so critical to track your errors. There are three characteristics that I tracked my errors by: 1) Question Type, 2) Difficulty and 3) What type of error was made (Carelessness, timing, or content). I used 3” x 5” cards for my error log, but I have friends that have utilized Microsoft Excel as well (allowing you to filter and pivot the data fields). This way you will be able to see trends and target what areas you need to focus and study.
#5 – Take complete practice tests
It is so critical to take practice tests. A lot of individuals practice the Quant and Verbal portions of tests. However, if you decide to only practice these sections, then your testing session will only last 2.5 hours. The actual test will make you complete the AWA and Integrated Reasoning sections first (1 hour) before you even start the Quant and Verbal sections.
The GMAT not only tests your aptitude but also your testing endurance. By taking the test in its entirety, you will prepare yourself for 3.5 hours testing (as opposed to 2.5 hours). Trust me, it matters.
#6 – Understand your weaknesses
By utilizing your error logs and practice tests, you should be able to get a defined profile of your GMAT testing abilities. Analyze your profile and make a list of the areas that you need to focus on and study. After you study, complete some test questions and cross it off your list. After you have done that for all your weaknesses, retest and analyze your results.
Did any of your weaknesses pop up again? Go through the process again, and repeat until you are able to efficiently answer questions without making concept mistakes.
#7 – Understand your weaknesses
This is the final tip and one of the most important. Many individuals that study for the GMAT understand what areas in which they are weak. However, when asked why certain answers are incorrect or why they are struggling with particular weaknesses, they are often incapable of articulating the material. IF you can master explaining the material regarding your weaknesses, it will GREATLY increase your capability of understanding it.
If you have to, pretend you are teaching it to increase your ability to learn. I know it sounds weird, but it absolutely works! All the individuals that I have spoken with who have gotten 700+ scores communicated that they were not only able to understand why certain choices were correct, but also able to communicate why certain choices were incorrect.
These seven tips helped me get my 700+ score, and I know they will help YOU as well!