"Cracking" the GMAT

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Everybody wants a shortcut. It would be nice if there were a foolproof secret formula that allowed you to master the GMAT more quickly than anyone else.

I'm sorry to say it: There's no such thing. Sure, some methods are better than others, some prep courses are more effective than their competitors, and some books give you greater score gains than their peers. But that doesn't mean there's a hidden key to the test.

While the GMAC doesn't publicly announce every detail regarding their test, they are remarkably open about it. If you read some of the copious (and free) resources available on the GMAT, such as those on this site, you'll know most of what there is to know about the challenge you're up against.

Most students make their mistake by blaming "the test" when they get frustrated. Learning new material, especially in an unfamiliar format, is a challenge. No doubt about it. But the test isn't designed simply to make you cry. Moreover, nearly everyone preparing for the test has faced, or is facing, the same difficulties you are.

Think of GMAT preparation like any other skill, like playing the violin, becoming a great soccer player, or developing a better memory. These things take time. Some techniques will accelerate your progress, but there's no way to become a chess grand master in five easy steps, or become a scratch golfer by learning which holes are most important.

Reaching your score goal takes time. Most importantly, it takes knowledge (both of the mechanism of the test and the content of the test) and persistence. If somebody tells you they have the ultimate secret to GMAT success, they are probably lying to you.

The good news is this. The GMAT does reward thorough preparation. You can take advantage of a slow-and-steady approach to set yourself apart from those who want to take shortcuts to get into a top school. GMAT prep might not be your idea of a fun weekend activity, but there's no reason to get unnecessarily frustrated just because your progress slows down.



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 Math

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Quant section. It's "far and away the best study material available," including over 300 realistic practice questions and more than 500 exercises!
Click to read more.