Kaplan GMAT instructors will tell you that we hear common refrains from our students and friends. In my years of teaching, I have compiled a list of three of the most common mistakes my Kaplan students and personal friends have made while they are prepping for the GMAT.

**Mistake #1: Failing to Make Studying Concrete**

You’ve done this at least once. You say you’re going to study. You probably said it something like this: “I have to study for the GMAT this week.” Then suddenly, it’s Sunday night again and another week has passed and you didn’t crack a book or open your online syllabus. What happened? When planning your GMAT study, be specific. Don’t just say you need to do it, and don’t even just list Monday – ‘GMAT PREP!!!’ on your calendar. Choose a date and a time and list the aspect of the test that you plan to review: ‘Monday, 7-9pm, practice GMAT Reading Comprehension passages’. This will make your schedule organized and actionable.

**Mistake #2: Focusing on GMAT Content (at the Expense of Everything Else)**

It is imperative to learn, memorize, and understand GMAT content. Many students like to make flashcards of the content areas. (Area of Triangle = ½ bh, circumference of a circle: 2(pi)(r), etc.) These equations are important but they won’t translate directly into points on test day. Why? You MUST make them **actionable**! The equation for the area of triangle is only important when you know when and how to use the formula to find the answer to a GMAT question. The GMAT isn’t testing your ability to memorize formulas – it is testing your ability to identify the moment and situation when you have to USE the equation. In order to develop this ability, take full-length Computer Adaptive Tests and quizzes.

**Mistake #3: Thinking a Book will Solve Everything**

It won’t. Many students prepare very well by using a book. However, it isn’t the book that causes their success – it is their diligence. A book is a collection of questions and information on content. You have to take this knowledge and apply it to real GMAT practice tests. Studying with a book may earn you a few extra points on test day. However, like everything in business, you get what you pay for – look for a book that comes with online resources and realistic computer adaptive practice to get the most bang for your buck.

Brian taught GMAT courses for Kaplan for over 5 years - starting just a few months after he took his own Kaplan course. He has moved on to his post-MBA career with a large management consulting firm in Washington, DC and sits on a number of non-profit and university boards and panels.