The New York Times recently published an article titled “To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test” that might benefit those preparing for the GMAT, as well as others who want to improve their learning in general.
While the article centers around a recently published research study about strengthening memory retrieval and retention in general, the lessons are applicable to anyone studying for the GMAT in particular. In short, the results indicate that in comparison to reading material repeatedly and “concept mapping” (diagramming the relationships among concepts), taking a “retrieval practice” (writing down what you remember) test was the most effective way to learn new material (not sure why it’s referred to as a “test” though).
For GMAT preparation, this indicates that one potentially beneficial strategy for learning the material is to study concepts and then immediately write down what you remember after that lesson, and then to re-review the concepts and then write down what you remember again. Combining that with the existing advice of doing practice problems (e.g., The Official Guide for GMAT Review) and taking full practice tests could lead to a more effective study plan.
Although I might be done with the GMAT, I will definitely try the retrieval practice method of studying in the future, whether in a classroom context or otherwise. This approach may be more time-intensive than existing study methods, but it might be more effective as well. More research is being done on why retrieval practice solidifies learning, but for now, it might be just the thing that helps someone achieve the score or retain the information they want.