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Don’t Needlessly Memorize Formulas on the GMAT

GMAT Tip of the Week for the Week of January 1, 2013

This week’s GMAT tip* concerns GMAT time management, and specifically how to avoid memorizing a bunch of math formulas for the GMAT quantitative section. To learn what you should do instead, watch this video:

GMAT Tip of the Week: Don’t needlessly memorize a bunch of math formulas for the GMAT quantitative section!

Let me explain.

A lot of students feel like they need to memorize a bunch of formulas to do well on the GMAT. I’ve even had a student come to me once and ask if he should memorize a bunch of formulas the night before the test and then as soon as he sits down to take the GMAT, immediately write down as many formulas as he can remember on his blank scratch paper before starting. The answer to that question, by the way, is a resounding NO!

Truth be told, there are only a handful of formulas worth memorizing for the GMAT. All of the rest should be fairly intuitive. In fact, that’s the tip for this week: Instead of memorizing a bunch of formulas that will fill your head and cloud your thinking on test day, instead think about the logic behind certain formulas and learn why things are the way they are.

For example, instead of memorizing the Distance Formula, instead think about a rate you already know, such as miles per hour (mph) in your car. You know intuitively that a way to measure the rate of your car (r) is miles (distance) per hour (time). Thus, r = d / t. There you go! No memorization necessary. Similar logic can be used to learn the volume and surface area formulas for solid figures (3-D shapes) on GMAT solid geometry questions, for example.

In this blog we’ve previously discussed a number of useful GMAT time management techniques; you can add this one to your tool belt of useful GMAT strategies. Use your brain for more important things on the GMAT like actually solving problems, not storing a bunch of formulas, and go out and dominate the GMAT!

* Each week, one of the GMAT experts at Dominate the GMAT shares a valuable GMAT test-taking tip, strategy, trick, or content item. These tips are designed to augment your GMAT study program and provide you with additional information that will help you improve your GMAT score.