Studying for the GMAT? Take notes!

January 15, 2012
Lucas Weingarten

GMAT BlogI take notes.  I write things down.  Those statements may sound less than novel, but more and more such actions seem to be just that.  In the classes I teach, both for Kaplan and at DePaul, it is the rare student I observe actually taking notes and it is the rare student who clamors for pen and paper to assist in communication during group work or to record the communication that takes place.  Instead, most learners and communicators either do not use a pen and paper at all or they have developed the lesser habit of using a computer to capture important information.

In a FastCompany article I came across the other day, it looks like some newly published data has offered a few more bones on the pile advocating for taking the ol’ reliable route of writing things down.  The article mentions a couple other studies that say about the same thing.  For me, this is all music because I find it so personally useful and anecdotally true.

Whether you study for the GMAT in a formal class setting, with a group of peers you put together, or even individually, don’t just listen, talk, and read.  Supplement and augment your learning with thorough note taking.  Write things down you don’t think you need to write down.  Rewrite important concepts that you’ve got to get drilled in.  Write out all your work, step-by-step, just like your middle school math teacher demanded.

Simply going through the motions (literally) of scratching out inked lines on pressed pulp engages your brain in unique ways.  You will learn more, quicker and deeper, than if you just read and/or heard GMAT content and concepts.  Then, after you get back to school, make the most out of your time there by continuing those antiquated habits in your classes.  Plus, who doesn’t have an opinion on their favorite kind of pen?  Don’t you want your old friend back?  Don’t you want the finger calluses you had in high school?  Can you even remember the last time you had a hand cramp?

Lucas Weingarten Lucas Weingarten teaches students how to beat the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for Kaplan Test Prep and is proud to have earned “elite instructor” status. Lucas writes extensively for Kaplan’s GMAT blog, and in addition to the GMAT and business school as primary subject matter, he regularly explores topics within higher education, economic systems, sustainability, and current events. Lucas spent his formative years in North Carolina and currently resides in Milwaukee, WI, though he has not yet found the part of the world wherein to bury his roots. He has an MBA with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and finance from DePaul University in Chicago and is fortunate to have secured an adjunct teaching position there out of the department of management. Family, friends, and a seemingly endless stream of new hobbies keep Lucas busy and happy outside of the classroom. You can reach out any time by email ( or through the comments thread after his blog posts.

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