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GMAT Studies: Help! I Can't Learn Anything New

Studying for the GMAT is challenging, and sometimes it feels as if you've learned as much as you can. Taking a break, finding a study group or ditching your tutor may help, says Kevin Rocci.

By  Magoosh Prep

Wed Feb 26 2014

Trust me – you can learn more. Just like the geography of our planet, learning is full of peaks, valleys and plateaus. Climbing out of a valley or traversing a plateau is not easy and is not accomplished in one day. Often it will take days or weeks to push through into new territory.

The key is to not give up, though. You have to persevere. And with a few suggestions, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Take a Break

One way to get off a learning plateau is to take a break from learning. Not everyone has the luxury to take time off from their studies with application deadlines quickly approaching, but for those who do have the time, take a well-deserved break.

Spend a couple days or a whole week not studying any GMAT materials. Go have some fun. Work as hard as you can to forget about everything you’ve been studying.

Spaced repetition is key to learning new concepts, and having time away from all the concepts, grammar points, and math facts will give your mind time to rest and incorporate new information into your working knowledge.

When you do come back to study, you will be refreshed, you will see things you didn’t see before, and you will have more energy to handle the more complex problems. You’ll spend less time trying to guess on the GMAT, and more time knowing what to do on the GMAT.

Find a Study Group

A little help from friends – sometimes that’s all we need. And they don’t even have to be friends; find a study group to join or create your own. Pulling yourself out of a learning rut alone is tough, but with others, you’ll summit any learning peak in no time.

Others preparing for the GMAT can help point out things that you might have missed, motivate you to study harder and stay on track, and will be a source of support.

Working with others has the added benefit of pushing you to explain problems you understand to the group, reinforcing what you do know, and it will force you to explain what you don’t understand, which in and of itself, can sometimes be enough to breakthrough a block.

Head over to Meetup to look for groups in your area. And if you don’t find any, I am sure there are people out there like you who would benefit from being in a study group. If you are taking a class, then it won’t be too hard: ask students in your class if they’d like to get together once a week and study.

Time for new Materials

The other tip for extricating yourself from the learning-plateau is to find new materials. Perhaps it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the materials. We all learn differently and process information differently. A resource that works for some might not work for you. Or you might not connect with your instructor’s teaching style. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to make a change.

The market is full of great resources and great teachers, so start searching forums, like Beat the GMAT, and asking people what they are using for their studies. YouTube has lots of free videos pertaining to the GMAT and more and more free eBooks keep appearing. Finding new GMAT practice tests will help as well, but be warned that GMAT practice scores may vary.

A simple change might be all that you need to turn your studies around.


The geography of your studies is constantly in flux and changing, which means you have to adapt and change as well. Don’t stubbornly pursue the same course day after day. Make changes to your routine, find a new class, or simply take a break. You’ll pass from valleys, to plateaus, to the summit of a mountain peak! Happy Studying!

This post was written by Kevin Rocci, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.