As I have said in NMAT Series: NMAT Overview, the NMAT is an exam that you have to prepare for if you want to ensure getting a high percentile rank (90+ or better). I took the NMAT twice so I know what I am talking about. Of my two takes, I have not enrolled in any review center because I was not willing to spend money for that. So, I self-studied. Here, I will be giving you tips on how to self-study whether you have enrolled in a review center or not.
Is it necessary to enroll in a review center?
It’s up to you. If you think you have a good background on the topics, and if you are willing to give extra effort, but unwilling to dole out cash, then self-studying is for you. Otherwise, you may opt to enroll in a review center. If you’re willing to spend money, time, and effort just so you can get that 99+, you may enroll in review center and then study on your own at home. However, I think that is unnecessary! NMAT must be taken seriously but not too seriously that you’ll rack your brains off doing all that work! It covers only the basics, and it should not bother you too much!
General Review Tips: Self-studying
1. Answer the practice test that will be emailed to you by CEM. Once you're done with your payment, CEM will email to you a sample of the NMAT. It is helpful because it closely resembles the real NMAT. It's level of difficulty, exam type, and topics covered, are similar with the real NMAT's. One tip - don’t just use the answer key for checking. Try to research about the concepts involved in the questions to understand how they where answered.
2. Get a copy of the MSA NMAT Reviewer and go over it. It’s the only NMAT reviewer I know. I’m not sure if there are other NMAT reviewers, but it’s the only one I used. Although the problems and questions are a little more difficult than what’s given in the NMAT, it will still help build your confidence in answering and helps you practice your brain. Some of the concepts involved in the practice tests are actually helpful. However, take note that not everything in it will be necessary.
3. Time yourself while answering practice tests.
The NMAT is time pressured. I was surprised how time flew when I took it the first time. Even during the second time, I was not able to finish part 1! That's why I advise you, for best results, put time pressure when you practice.
4. Give attention to the subjects you are least familiar with.
It's frustrating to do an exam having to guess the answers to an entire subtest right? If your high school or college education were not able to give you a background on some of the subtests, then do yourself a favor, refresh yourself on these topics. In my case, verbal and social science were my weakest subjects. I tried to widen my vocabulary by reading books (I'm not sure if I succeeded), tried to read a little on psychology, and even asked a friend to explain some social science concepts to me.
5. Be resourceful. Use the internet to look for review materials, even if they are not designed specifically for the NMAT. Scavenge for your high school books. You don’t need to spend much. You can even borrow books from family and friends! For some online sources I found, check my post - NMAT Series: Review Materials
6. Take notes on the basic concepts that you encounter so that it will be easy for you to go over them in the future. If you’ve started studying long before the NMAT, this will be doable and will be helpful especially in the last days of your review. You can also use your notes as you try to answer more practice tests. Taking notes will save you from the trouble of having to go through the whole process of researching a concept again.
7. Never give up. Practice makes perfect. Sometimes you may feel lazy, tired or frustrated especially if you’re having a hard time answering the practice tests. Take breaks, but never give up on practicing! Remember, quitters never win! In fact, the more you practice, the more you'll get better on subtests especially perceptual acuity and inductive reasoning.
8. Don’t cram!
Cramming is the norm, but it’s not really beneficial. Yes, you’ll be able to save time and effort and you’ll have an excuse if results won’t turn out good, but you might also get excessively stressed and worried that you will not be able to perform well. In fact, studies have shown that crammers perform lower on exams than noncrammers.
9. Schedule your study time. This is to ensure that you have time to review. If you don’t schedule your study time, you are prone to putting it off the next day, the next week, or the next month and maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up cramming the night before the exam, and that is a no-no.
10. Do your best so that you will have no regrets.
No matter what your exam result may be, if you know you did your best, then you will not regret how you prepared for the exam. Also, don’t overdo your preparation especially if you are the kind who don’t like wasting time and effort. You just might regret studying too much!
11. The NMAT is important but, NEVER prioritize it over your college subjects.
I don’t think that your college subjects are worth sacrificing for the NMAT. I am encouraging you to prepare for the NMAT, but if that means giving up on one of your subjects’ exam, then, never mind. You can take the NMAT again, but it’s less likely for you to be given a chance to retake your college subjects’ exams.
Don’t get scared of the NMAT and don’t think of it as extremely difficult. With enough preparation, you can certainly reach your goal! Some even get high scores without much preparation (I have friends who crammed a few nights before and still got high scores)!
God bless with the NMAT! I know you can do it! :)