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 is a full-time instructor for Kaplan Test Prep and he loves preparing GRE students for Test Day. The classroom is Lucas’ arena. When he cannot be found in one of Kaplan’s cage matches of learning, he is very likely dancing around DePaul University’s College of Commerce/Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in Chicago professing various courses offered by the Department of Management, up to and including monikers such as: “Managing for Effective and Ethical Organizational Behavior,” “Entrepreneurship Strategy,” “Strategic Managements and Analysis,” “Human Resource Management,” “Recruitment and Selection,” and “Foundations of Business Thought and Theory.” (Although that last one was cancelled just before the quarter started and he’s still not gotten over it.) Lucas spent most of his formative years in North Carolina, but hit the long road as soon as he was able. A world traveler with a currently expired passport, he has lived on and wandered around three continents with the expressed intention of finishing the job. He holds a BFA with a concentration in sculpture as well as an MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. When not challenging standardized tests to a duel or wondering how to corrupt the business students of America, Lucas can be found brewing delicious beers, riding-then-fixing-then-riding his motorcycle, hanging out with dogs, pretending he’s a good cook, and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world to have such a fantastic wife and endlessly amazing young son. He’s in Milwaukee now, but is in Chicago often. Email him anytime about anything at:

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