‘I’ve got 50 MB of the best GMAT test preparation material with me, good GMAT verbal and quant questions, full-length exam software…downloaded for free from the internet. Plus my friends gave me another 25 MB of practice questions. I think that is more than enough for anyone to crack the GMAT, hai na sir?’ The 24-year-old candidate from Delhi on the phone who spoke at 60 words a minute asked me. And he was definitely not the first one to come up with that question.
Apart from copyright and IPR infringement issues which he was completely ignorant (?) about, he was also missing another bigger point. Several inter-related ones actually.
Accuracy and credibility issues
Free content does not necessarily translate to accurate content. People download GMAT verbal questions, quant questions, complete courses, free full-length GMAT tests and all other variations that you can imagine. Many are shocked to see mistakes in the answers and at times in the questions too.
Quantity vs quality
Brute force will not help you score high on the GMAT. A few hundred well-chosen GMAT questions can improve your score more than a random collection of thousands. Check out the blogs of folks who have got high GMAT scores. Their ‘How I scored a 750+ post’ will invariably include a diligently created study plan that they customised according to their personal needs.
Inconsistent levels of difficulty
The set of questions created by one GMAT test prep team (free or otherwise) can be dramatically different from another team’s content. No wonder then that they get a 740 in one test, 630 in another and then 760 in the third one.
Training the brain to tackle GMAT questions is more a matter of getting the fundamentals sorted out and then digging into practice questions with gradually increasing levels of difficulty.
That’s how sports training also works – if you want to build muscle mass you don’t jump from 5 pound dumbbells to 25 pounds ones and then back to 15 pounds.
Quite a few of the guys who sign up for the online GMAT preparation courses listed on our site are those who have already taken the GMAT once and failed to reach their target scores despite the huge amount of free exam resources that they’ve collected by legit and dubious means. The reasons for their bad performance have a lot to do with the reasons listed above.
Of course, you don’t need to sign up for any course if you can manage it on your own. But do follow one ‘system’ with dedication, structure and discipline. And if you can, please avoid confusing the Gmathalamus (that’s the GMAT cracking section of your brain) to save a few thousand bucks.