It’s always frustrating to feel as though you’re not making enough progress. Hours of studying, and your score only increases by a few measly points. If your practice tests don’t seem to be going anywhere, or you’re starting to feel like you’re never going to master certain content, it can be hugely discouraging. However there are a few ways to shatter that GMAT score plateau and start hitting your target score.
Though long study sessions can seem like the best way to make progress, the GMAT doesn’t take “hours spent staring at practice problems” or “number of mock tests” into account when calculating your score. Often students are so ambitious that they try to squeeze two weeks’ worth of prep into a single day. If you’re taking a mock test, studying for three hours beforehand is like running a practice marathon then trying to run a real one. Give your brain a break.
Most business school applicants have extremely busy personal and professional lives, and GMAT study sessions are often relegated to early mornings or one weekend a month. The problem is that studying three times a week at six in the morning will be far less helpful if you’re not a morning person. If you find that your most productive sessions are right after you get home from work or even on your evening commute, schedule your study time accordingly.
As you’re switching up your schedule, make sure you’re moving through the material in a way that’s methodical and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you need to start with Chapter 1, but it’s generally better to plan out a day-by-day or a week-by-week plan for what content you want to review. For a better idea of how to make a thorough study plan, check out our past posts on the topic.
In terms of content, make sure you’re paying attention to our errors. If you’re not keeping an error log, it might be helpful to create one. If you’re using the Prep4GMAT app, pay attention to your weakest areas and go over your practice history to see patterns in incorrect answers. Do you confuse permutations and combinations, despite theoretically knowing the difference between the two? Zoom in on your mistakes, particularly careless errors.
If you’re struggling with the same material and don’t feel like you’re making much progress, it may be time to enlist some extra help. Diversify your resources, and make sure you’re taking advantage of all of the online materials available. If you’re really stuck a tutor can help you work through problem areas. A tutor might introduce you to strategies you couldn’t have found on your own.
The bottom line is that if you’re feeling like your GMAT score has hit a plateau, it’s time to change things up a little. Either in the form of resources, scheduling, or even attitude.