This week, Vault is hosting two great Manhattan GMAT advice articles. One is specifically for prospective MBAs struggling with the math GMAT section and the other is for those struggling with the verbal. Here is some excerpted advice from each:
Rewrite sentence correction sentences to retrain your ear.
Even though I'm a native speaker of English, my ear can be wrong. Even with my command of the grammar rules, I can sometimes get sentence correction practice problems wrong just like the next person. What do I do to improve?
Any time I get an SC problem wrong, I apply a great technique to hone my ear and my grasp of subtle rules. What I do is burn the correct sentence into my mind. All it takes is one patient minute of review, during which I rewrite the sentence in a notebook with the correct answer inserted. As I do so, I analyze the rules that make this version of the sentence correct, in comparison with the wrong answer choices. Finally, I say the sentence aloud.
Store the sentence in your head using two different senses--sight and hearing. Force yourself to produce it two different ways--on paper and aloud. Then you'll always have it somewhere inside you, and you'll remember the associated rules that much better.
This technique is especially helpful for idiom mastery. By the way, don't go off and study huge lists of idioms that you find on the Internet or in non-GMAT-specific books. You need to grasp and recall the idioms that appear on the real GMAT, in sentences as they appear on the GMAT. So reviewing a GMAT-specific list is useful. Making such a list is even more useful. And writing out corrected Official Guide or GMAT Prep sentences that contain those idioms? That's super-useful.
Read the full article of GMAT Strategies for the Verbally-Concerned.
Go proudly back to math basics.
If necessary, return all the way to first grade with your head held high. Math is hierarchical--you can't multiply if you can't add. To put it better, you can't understand multiplication if you don't understand addition.
So return to first principles: arithmetic of whole numbers, positives and negatives, simple fractions and decimals. Multiplication tables and square roots. Get the facts, the processes, and the understanding down pat for those early topics, and build upwards from there.
Believe it or not, many GMAT problems assume that you've internalized various mathematical facts, and without them at your mental fingertips, things will be harder and slower than you'd like. Quick, what's 11 x 11? 9 x 7? The square root of 225? If this sort of question has you scratching your head or reaching for a calculator, you should prepare yourself for a trip back to rebuild the fundamentals (no, calculators are NOT allowed on the GMAT!).
Similarly, there are many mechanical operations that you're going to have down pat too. What's 1/2 + 5/6? 0.001 x 5,260? How about x squared raised to the 3rd power? The GMAT is going to assume that you can quickly and seamlessly perform certain operations to solve problems. For most people, it takes a little (or a lot of) practice to get your math 'muscles' back. So, if you didn't like algebra the first time around, now's your chance to master it again!
Read the full article of GMAT Strategies for the Math-Challenged.