GMAT Self Study: A Guide, and Pitfalls to Avoid

The Advantages of GMAT Self-Study

For the reasons discussed at length on our GMAT prep course page, you should use Official GMAC materials as the basis of your self-study. In short, proprietary materials from any third party, whether online or in physical books, are likely to focus on content rather than on the subtle logical traps that make official GMAT questions hard.

There are several arguments in favor of GMAT self-study with official materials.

First, there are plenty of materials available. Between the Official Guide, the Quantitative Review, the Verbal Review, two question banks and six practice exams, you have access to more than 2,000 official practice questions.

Second, they’re affordable. The whole package is available for $329.99.

Finally, these are the only materials that are difficult in the same ways as the real GMAT. Unlike third-party practice questions, which often use brute force methods to increase the difficulty, these official practice questions are just as sneaky and tricky as the live GMAT.

Pitfalls to Avoid With GMAT Self-Study

The first issue is that the “solutions” that come as part of the official materials are weak. Sure, they show one way to calculate the correct answer, but not necessarily the shortest and fastest path to it. Solving problems slowly is a score-killer!

Even worse, studying these suboptimal solutions can engrain bad habits that you’ll have to unlearn later. Do you have time for that? Or the time to do extensive research on online forums to compare multiple solutions to every problem so you can identify the fastest one?

If you’re like the GMAT test takers I know, you have a very busy schedule, and already pay for services like Uber and DoorDash precisely because you value your time.

You SHOULD value your time, since every hour you don’t spend on the GMAT can be spent advancing your career, strengthening your extracurriculars, or even just relaxing.

The desire to achieve your target GMAT score rapidly is one of the main reasons you might want to use a GMAT tutor or enroll in a GMAT prep course.

Video: GMAT Self-Study vs. Professional Instruction