In my opinion, every student needs the The GMAT Official Guide bundle, which contains hundreds of original quantitative and verbal questions. Since the language of the GMAT is quite particular, it’s important to get accustomed to it. Third party companies (Manhattan Prep, Kaplan, Veritas, Magoosh, etc.) can only imitate questions with varying degrees of accuracy, and there is a difference. Toting these tomes around town will tone your triceps, too.
What the Official Guides DON’T provide, however, are very useful reviews of the quantitative and verbal concepts on the GMAT. I will usually recommend The Manhattan Prep set of books, which provide a thorough and well-structured review of all quantitative topics and of each of the three verbal question types.
Foundations of Math is a very important book for many students because it provides straightforward drills on important mathematical operations, like factoring quadratic equations, exponents, roots, solving systems of equations, and geometry. In my experience, slowness and inaccuracy in the execution of basic mathematical operations can be as much a problem for some students as higher level concepts can.
This can vary depending on which topics you have already covered, whether you have particular weak points, and how much time is available. In most cases, however, we will follow the order of the topics in the Manhattan Prep GMAT Guides, doing one or more chapters per two-hour session; if you recall all the key concepts clearly, we can move quickly through the material and proceed to select Official Guide problems. If you are seeing key concepts for the first time or still struggling with them, we spend more time in the Manhattan Prep GMAT Guides, and you will do more of the Official Guide problems as homework. At the end of each lesson, I assign an amount of homework appropriate for the time you will have before the following lesson. A major service that the tutor provides is structuring your study time, so I’ll be very clear and detailed about what you should do between lessons.
During our lessons, I will observe you solving the problems and point out any issues with your methodology. I will also point out all the gaps in your knowledge, with special emphasis on the absolutely critical concepts. We will finish each problem with a recap of the larger mathematical takeaways and technique takeaways. If there are a number of good ways to solve the problem (backsolving, choosing numbers, straightforward, etc.), I will point them all out to you. While there are valuable techniques to apply regardless of topic, I am not a big believer in “tricks.” The more I tutor the GMAT, the more respect I have for the exam; there are smart approaches but, in my opinion, no “gaming” it.
In addition to what I do for Problem Solving, I will teach you to boil the Data Sufficiency question stem down to the essential question. Once you do this, it is often very clear whether the statements are sufficient or not..
I feel it’s very important to time you reading the passages so that you are aware of how long it actually takes; I believe it is best to read the passages carefully the first time, and knowing how much time is actually required (often less than it seems) is important. I am not a strong believer in skimming: everything on the GMAT must be read with extreme care. Much of the time spent tutoring this section is used to familiarize you with common ways answer choices can be wrong.
This is often the easiest verbal section for students to improve, since there are many specific rules that can be learned. Much of the time spent tutoring this section is used to familiarize you with common ways answer choices can be wrong: verb tenses, parallelism, misuse of “which,” or, my personal favorite, misuse of semicolons ; ) and colons : )
While not all Critical Reasoning passages contain such neatly distinct elements, I focus on helping you learn to recognize the background, premise, assumption, and conclusion. Much of the time spent tutoring this section is used to familiarize you with common ways answer choices can be wrong.