What weird old tip did an unemployed single mom use to score an 800 on the GMAT?


It’s been a banner year for unemployed single moms. Their waistlines are shrinking, their monthly incomes from working at home are skyrocketing, and their teeth are whiter than freshly fallen snow. And it’s all thanks to weird old tips! Naturally, I began to wonder if members of this blessed demographic ever stumble across any weird old GMAT preparation tips. Not knowing any single, unemployed moms myself, I asked my girlfriend if she’d be willing to quit her job, get pregnant, and break up with me in order to assist me in this crucial research. Alas, she was not. So, the question posed in the blog title will remain unresolved…….for now. In the meantime, here’s the weirdest tip I could think of:

You’re probably familiar with the idea that a great way to test your understanding of a concept is to try to teach it. If you’ve ever had to teach anything, you know it’s true. The gulf between looking at a problem as a student and saying “Oh, yeah, I get it,” and being able to explain the problem confidently and coherently can be huge. Ideally, we would all just get jobs as professional GMAT tutors while we prepare for, master, and ultimately score in the 99th percentile of the test. But those jobs can be difficult to get before¬†you master the test. So what’s to be done? Family and friends usually have limited patience for listening to you stammer your way through an explanation of the differences between combinations and permutations. And dogs, while willing to listen, are generally frustrating students. So if you want to apply this weird tip, you’re going to have to get creative. Here’s how:

1. Participate in a GMAT discussion forum

Many of you may already be doing this, but make sure you’re making the most of this opportunity. Don’t just go there to post questions for experts to answer; help other users, too. Force yourself to write clear, comprehensive explanations. It’s a great way to reinforce knowledge and reveal any holes in your understanding that you may not have realized were there. Don’t worry about telling someone the wrong thing. Just do your best, and someone will correct you if necessary.

2. Make instructional GMAT videos

I discovered this trick when I was making instructional GMAT videos. The benefits are similar to those you get from teaching, except you don’t have to worry about the hardest part: finding a student. Pick a relatively challenging but not impossible problem and try to record a clean, polished explanation. Try to make sure it would be clear to someone whose level of understanding is below yours. Your first take will probably be pretty bad. Keep trying until you get something decent. If you can’t do it, it probably means you don’t understand the concept as well as you should. Write down exactly what you’re struggling with and discuss it with your private tutor¬†or the experts in your online GMAT community.

3. Find a study partner

If you don’t have any friends who are studying for the GMAT, find someone through an online community who is at approximately the same skill level that you are and would be willing to meet with you once a week via Skype. Then do something like the following: select ten challenging problems and divide them into two sets of five. On one group you’ll be the teacher. On the other group you’ll be the student. Over the next week, solve the ones that you’ll be teaching. Be ready not only to explain the problems but also to field any questions the other person may have about them. Consult experts if necessary. For the other five questions, read them and try to solve them. Don’t go to extraordinary lengths to solve them, but think about them enough so that you’ll have some good questions to ask the other person when they teach them to you the next time you meet.


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