GMAT Self Study: A Guide to Success, and Pitfalls to Avoid

The Advantages of GMAT Self-Study

GMAT preparation is tricky. For the reasons discussed at length on our GMAT prep course page, you should use Official GMAC materials as the basis of independent 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 and critical reasoning that make official GMAT exam questions hard. 

There are several arguments in favor of individual GMAT studying 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. Unlike private tutoring, 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. To succeed at individual GMAT study, you must have excellent time management skills and self discipline.

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 ultimate goal is gaining admission to a quality business school, so make sure you choose a GMAT study style that works for you.

The desire to achieve your GMAT target 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