At Knewton we get a lot questions about the best ways to prepare for exam day. Abhijit, a Beat the GMAT user, posed an important question on the forums that we thought was worth addressing in more detail.
Question: Do you recommend doing Verbal and Quantitive at the same time or one after the other? I have started Verbal and plan on doing Quant after a month.
Answer: You should study both at the same time!
Studying Verbal for a while, and then studying for Quant for a while might lead to high section scores in the short term, but this strategy is not as effective in the long run.
If mastering the GMAT were as simple as memorizing groups of facts, like memorizing all the U.S. states and then all the Canadian provinces, you could plan your studies sequentially like Abhijit suggests. In fact, it would probably make sense to. However, memorization is not a big part of the GMAT (except for certain handy-to-know items like idioms and common squares): it’s much more important to build all your test-taking skills in combination.
Studying for the GMAT is like working your muscles – if you do a month of chin ups, and then a month of sit ups, the rippling shoulders and biceps you built up after the first month will have faded away by end of the second month. In GMAT terms, your Quant skills might be chiseled and strong on test day, but you won’t have the same endurance on the Verbal section that you had at the end of your training a month earlier.
That’s why most GMAT classes (like ours) are structured to develop your Quant and Verbal knowledge in tandem: one lesson covers Sentence Correction AND Quant strategy, the next lesson covers number properties AND Reading Comprehension, and so on. This ensures that you build a steady foundation for each section of the test — and it prevents the burnout you might feel from immersing yourself in GMAT verbal questions for an entire month!
If you’re studying on your own, you should structure your preparation the same way. Vary your work with Quant and Verbal exercises, and use your drills for each question type to give you a break from all the others.
That way, your GMAT muscles will be strong and evenly developed when exam day comes along.