Can too much drilling be counterproductive?
What????? Yes, you can “drill” yourself into the ground with practice questions.
There are a bunch of thing that can go wrong with just rapid fire blasting through questions.
Practicing the wrong strategies
If you haven’t learned how to solve questions the “right” way then you may just be practicing the wrong thing using your precious time and energy engraining unhelpful GMAT strategies.
How do I know if I have the “right” strategies?
Have you actually explored a variety of approaches to the main GMAT question types? Have you considered the possibilities and figured what works best for you?
Not necessarily what comes easiest but what ultimately really resonates with you and helps you succeed on the test.
Even if you are working with a GMAT tutor and LOVE the way that this person explains things you should still be looking up explanations on the GMAT forums to have another point of view.
And, really, a solid GMAT tutor should generally be presenting a few different ways if thinking about things and be open to you exploring bit for solutions.
That digging around can really help you consolidate your understanding of a topic.
Practicing the wrong questions
If you read this blog then you know that we are picky about practice questions.
We don’t like:
Your practice should be firmly based on official GMAT questions.
What about my video on demand course or GMAT class based on third party questions???
Taking classes or doing any kind of course that is based on third party questions is less than ideal.
Can it work, yes. And many people have succeeded doing these courses.
But, again, you will generally do better and in some cases MUCH better keeping your GMAT studies focused on official questions
This is especially true on the verbal side of things.
Stick to Official Verbal (avoid third party verbal like the plague)
You might get away with doing a bunch of third party quant but smothering yourself with non-official verbal questions can be a recipe for disaster.
They are just too far off in flavor.
Even if you are taking one of these courses do your absolute best to stick to official questions (especially on verbal). This is especially important leading up to an exam at which point you want to be on target flavor-wise as much as possible.
Practicing too narrowly (rabbit holing)
The other thing that comes up when people are doing volumes of questions is: rabbit holing.
Basically, doing too much of a very narrow topic.
Sometimes people get obsessed with combinatorics for instance and do a million combinatorics questions even though combinatorics is very specific and not really a building block for many questions and you probably won’t get more than one or two combinatorics questions on your test.
What do I mean by building block?
Some topics are fundamental. Exponents, algebra, arithmetic… Working on these fundamental topics can help you excel on a wide variety of questions.
These are great to drill like crazy.
But working on probability or functions helps you on probability and functions questions and that’s about it. So don’t drill that like crazy unless it really is the last thing that you need to master to get the perfect 800 you are aiming for.
That doesn’t mean that you should ignore probability or functions. But just stay focused on the big picture and invest in things that will tend to give you the best return.
Doing too much practice and not enough review
You may be practicing exactly the right thing BUT not leaving enough time to review. The more questions that you work through the more time you will need to review them.
Generally, people are very happy to blast through quizzes. And especially when you don’t do well on a quiz the thought is: let me do another one to see if I can do better!
Of course, that’s not the right approach. We all know that.
There’s only a certain number of questions that you can reasonable do in a day and have time to properly review.
Let’s make sure that you don’t create so much volume that you waste questions and tire yourself without learning anything.
No space for rest and consolidation
You need time away from studying in order to rest. You also need time away to let things settle in your brain. You can only uptake so much learning per day.
Yes, it’s impossible to find a perfect balance but just be reasonable.
Give yourself enough time to learn properly before gobbling up more questions.
There are a whole bunch of official GMAT questions to practice on but they are not unlimited.
Get the most out of them that you can.
It’s important to be ready for hard work.
You will need to put a ton of time into your GMAT studies and that will require making some real sacrifices.
This article isn’t an excuse to be lazy. The opposite in fact.
You need to be active in your learning and in your GMAT studying. That means thinking about how you can get the most out of your time, effort, and resources in general.
With that in mind, be careful about doing too many practice questions without having a plan of attack.
I hope that this was helpful. Comment with any questions. Good luck on your GMAT!