Standardized Test Preparation: Fine-Tune your Process


GMAT tutor

As an active student and tutor, in this post I'll share my perspective on standardized test preparation and provide tips on improving your study habits.

In addition to my full-time work, I work part time as an academic tutor and have also been working with a GMAT tutor. Given my busy schedule, I’ve had to figure out how to get the most out of my test preparation and make sure that every minute with my books is spent as efficiently as possible.

If you are working with a tutor, one of the biggest benefits – whether a GMAT tutor, chemistry tutor, or french tutor – is the structure and targeted attention that he or she can offer.  The thing is that you, as a student, can and should also be structuring your time and process. Don’t just sit back and let the tutor do all the work! 

As you progress towards your deadline, make sure that you:

1) Establish a consistent, study schedule.

  • Identify the time of day at which you are most lucid and focused. In my case, I work best in the morning. Some students are night owls. Do an experiment and try both.

  • Figure out which works best for you and set a routine. Planning your study schedule in advance both reduces stress and ensures that you actually get the work done! 

2) Keep organized notes.

  • Label your notes: what book are the problems from, what kind of problem, what problem #, what did you select for the answer?

  • This is important because in addition to actually doing the practice problems, going back to review your approach is a great way to identify gaps in understanding. 

3) Review what you've covered.

  • As I mentioned above, reviewing is a key way to improve.

  • Review past problems to consolidate your comprehension of content or a problem solving technique.

  • Re-do past problems a couple weeks out to test whether you have fully absorbed the information or strategy.

  • When you go back to a past problem or chapter, make sure to read the book’s explanation to learn about an approach that works, even if you attacked the problem differently. 

  • Ask your tutor if you still unclear after reviewing.

4) Become aware of your patterns.

5) Maintain balance.

  • Sleep and exercise shouldn’t be put aside to make additional time to study.

  • If your body isn’t rested and exercised, it’s likely that your brain won’t be in shape, either.

  • Make sure you are sleeping, exercising and studying in proportionate parts.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do on your end to hone your process and progress towards your goal. Think about the test prep process as a collaboration with your tutor: your tutor can help you get 50% off the way there, but you’ll have to put some elbow grease in yourself to get the rest of the way! 

Download  6 Essential Test-Taking Tips


academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT college admissions expository writing English strategy MD/PhD admissions writing LSAT GMAT physics GRE chemistry biology math graduate admissions academic advice law school admissions ACT interview prep language learning test anxiety career advice premed MBA admissions personal statements homework help AP exams creative writing MD test prep study schedules computer science Common Application mathematics summer activities history philosophy secondary applications organic chemistry economics supplements research grammar 1L PSAT admissions coaching law psychology statistics & probability dental admissions legal studies ESL CARS PhD admissions SSAT covid-19 logic games reading comprehension calculus engineering USMLE mentorship Spanish parents Latin biochemistry case coaching verbal reasoning AMCAS DAT English literature STEM admissions advice excel medical school political science skills French Linguistics MBA coursework Tutoring Approaches academic integrity astrophysics chinese gap year genetics letters of recommendation mechanical engineering Anki DO Social Advocacy algebra art history artificial intelligence business careers cell biology classics data science dental school diversity statement geometry kinematics linear algebra mental health presentations quantitative reasoning study abroad tech industry technical interviews time management work and activities 2L DMD IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs Sentence Correction adjusting to college algorithms amino acids analysis essay athletics business skills cold emails finance first generation student functions graphing information sessions international students internships logic networking poetry proofs resume revising science social sciences software engineering trigonometry units writer's block 3L AAMC Academic Interest EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian JD/MBA admissions Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python Shakespeare Step 2 TMDSAS Taylor Series Truss Analysis Zoom acids and bases active learning architecture argumentative writing art art and design schools art portfolios bacteriology bibliographies biomedicine brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets central limit theorem centrifugal force chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum dementia demonstrated interest dimensional analysis distance learning econometrics electric engineering electricity and magnetism escape velocity evolution executive function fellowships freewriting genomics harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law immunology induction infinite institutional actions integrated reasoning intermolecular forces intern investing investment banking lab reports letter of continued interest linear maps mandarin chinese matrices mba medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis mnemonics music music theory nervous system