How To Use GMAT Hacks Problem Sets

May 24, 2012

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One of the most common mistakes GMAT students make is inundating themselves with useless and redundant practice materials. It's tempting to buy every book on the shelf and imagine that, after reading them all, you'll cruise to an 800.

One problem with that theory is that you'll never read them all. The other problem is that if you do, you'll give them such a cursory look that you won't gain much from the process.

Managing the balance between thorough study and inundation is crucial when using my quantitative problem sets. I have created 18 sets of 100 questions each, and many students buy all 18. If you are committed to improving your Quant score and have dozens of hours to spend, that is a good strategy. But simply blasting through a few hundred problems a day is rarely a smart study plan.

These problem sets are supplemental materials. If you are taking a GMAT course, or if you have purchased Total GMAT Math, it is best to start there before diving into my problem sets. Learn the basics, do some practice problems, take a practice test or two, and see where you are.

Then, and only then, will you know how best to use the GMAT Hacks problem sets.

Most of the sets focus on a specific subject (e.g. Algebra), and most of the sets are pitched at a specific ability level. Thus, you can tailor your practice to your current skill level.

If you are already scoring at the 80th percentile on Quant practice tests, the Fundamentals sets are likely not worth your time. But if you are not yet scoring in the 50th percentile, or you are struggling to get through medium-level practice questions in two minutes or less, the Challenge sets will only frustrate you more.

In other words, you must practice at your current level (or slightly higher)--not at your desired level. By mastering your current level, you will eventually gain more skill. After all, you wouldn't walk into the gym one day and add 100 pounds to your weights, or try to run two minutes per mile faster than you ever have before!

This is the primary advantage of having all (or many) of my sets at your disposal. If you are struggling mightily with Geometry, you can do dozens of easy- and medium-level Geometry questions to bring your level up. If you just need to polish your World Problems skills a bit, you can work through dozens of difficult Word Problems.

Most importantly, regardless of your skill level, the most valuable part of Quant practice comes after doing problems. Carefully review your errors (and even your successes, if they weren't smooth and efficient), to better understand your current skills and weaknesses. Having 1800 problems at your disposal makes it much easier to pinpoint such issues if you invest the time necessary to do so.

The GMAT Hacks problem sets can be your ticket to a substantial improvement on the Quant section, but only if you approach them from a perspective of methodical improvement. There aren't any magic pills for GMAT preparation--just hard work!



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Verbal

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Verbal section. Recognize, dissect, and master every question type you'll face on the test. Everything you need, all in one place, including 100+ realistic practice questions.
Click to read more.