GMAT awa
Posted on
20
Oct 2020

4 Best Practices to Help You Master the GMAT AWA Section

Posted By: Apex GMAT

Contributor: Altea Sulollari

Date: 20 October 2020

When preparing for the GMAT most people neglect the GMAT AWA section, and even though this section is scored separately, it is important that you spend some time focusing on performing well on it.

The section is specifically designed to test your ability to impartially analyze an argument and to state your ideas with precision – skills that will be invaluable in your future career.

Another reason to pay attention to this section of the GMAT is the fact that the schools you apply to will get to see your essays, and impressing them with your writing skill can only help your application.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll go over all you need to know about:

  • The GMAT AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment)
  • How the AWA is scored
  • Five best practices to follow when preparing for the AWA section

The GMAT AWA Explained

When it comes to the AWA, keep in mind that this section is not as important as the others as it does not contribute to the all important 800 score. That being said, your essay is sent to the schools that you are applying to and the recruiters will get to see how you structure an argument. Even though the GMAT AWA section is not the most important, it still showcases your writing skills and that is a good enough reason to put some effort into it.

The section is a timed 30-minute essay writing task. You will be presented with a passage and your task will be to analyze the author’s argument to the best of your abilities. You will be expected to provide a thorough analysis of the strong points as well as to point out the weaknesses of the argument. Similar to the critical reasoning section, you will have to speak about an argument construction using abstract language and to show how it can potentially be weakened or strengthened. Your ability to successfully express your ideas in a precise manner will be crucial in this process. A good way to do this is to constantly ask yourself the question: “What if?”, to show you the methods that an argument can be strengthened and weakened. 

The GMAT AWA Scoring System

Now that you know what this section is all about, let’s focus on the scoring system for this part of the GMAT.

Your analysis will be scored separately from the other sections of the GMAT and the score you get will not count towards your final combined score, which ranges from 200 to a maximum of 800. Rather the AWA score range is from 0 to 6 in half point increments, where 6 is the maximum score for a well-structured analysis.

The second thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that your essay will be checked twice: once by a human reader and once by a computer algorithm. The scores from both are taken into consideration and your final score will be the average of those two. However, if the scores from the human reader and the computer algorithm differ from one another significantly, another human reader has to check your argument analysis.

This information is important because although you do not have an idea about how the human reader will check your essay, the computer algorithm uses certain criteria to base its final decision on, and this criteria includes keywords related to the topic, grammar, punctuation, structure, etc. This is useful insight into what is asked of you and where you should focus when preparing for the section in order to succeed. 

What’s a good GMAT AWA score?

Consider the AWA to be pass/fail, where the task in question is whether you can construct a coherent argument, as compared to your peers. In this light, a passing grade would be a 4.5 or greater.  While it is always good to aim high, it’s important to keep in mind that once you’ve achieved a 4.5, there’s very little use of worrying about obtaining a higher score, and you’d do better focusing on the other parts of your application to distinguish yourself.

Pro tip: There is a simpler way to improve your GMAT AWA score without putting too much effort into preparing for this specific section: master the GMAT Verbal section! Both the Verbal section and the AWA section require you to have good critical reasoning skills and for you to be able to analyze arguments impartially. As both of these sections require the same set of skills, you won’t have to work harder, only smarter!

4 Best Practices to Help You Ace the GMAT AWA Section

Now that you’re familiar with the GMAT AWA section and its scoring system, here are some best practices to follow that will assure you master this section.

1. Remember that you are dealing with an analysis! 

Do what is asked of you and do not deviate from that. You’ll need to focus on analyzing the arguments that are presented to you in the passage. Concentrate on identifying the strong points as well as the weaknesses of the argument. This is not, however, an opportunity to express your own opinion on the matter or topic, so be careful not to cross that line and risk losing points. Also, try to stir away from personal views and irrelevant outside information that can potentially affect the way you structure and phrase your analysis. Instead, try to focus on the logic of the argument and stick to that.

2. Do NOT focus too much on the word count!

The number of words you use does not matter as much as the structure and quality of your work. However, there’s a catch! The computer algorithm that checks your essay is more likely to give you a higher score if you write a longer essay with more complex sentence structure. Ultimately, you’ll have to make sure that you have a clearly laid out argument in an easy-to-follow structure, and if you do so well, generally the length will be sufficient and you won’t have any problems regarding word count. Bottom line: if your essay is a bit short, there’s probably something you’ve missed, so go back and look for additional features of the argument to deconstruct. 

Pro tip: Mind your grammar and punctuation! Grammar and punctuation are just as important as structure. A well-written essay should not have grammatical mistakes or sentences that are out of place or do not make sense. Use your Sentence Correction skills! 

3. Practice is key!

Practice makes perfect. Writing a few practice essays is particularly important when it comes to acing the AWA section of the GMAT as it familiarizes you with the process of writing an analysis of argument under a time constraint. Reading many arguments in different formats and on varying subjects will certainly help you improve your overall skills and make you ready for any argument presented come test day.

That being said, do not overdo it. If you graduated from University in an English speaking country with a liberal arts or social sciences degree under your belt, this should be enough for you to make the 4.5 mark in the AWA without much further preparation.

Finally, make good use of ready-made templates to structure your essay. There are plenty of templates that you can download for free so make sure to take advantage of that.

4. Don’t stress it too much!

There is nothing worse than stressing out on exam day as it can affect your overall performance on the exam. Working on the GMAT AWA section can be especially stressful and overwhelming because you have to come up with your own explanations rather than rely on provided answers. Try to take it easy and remember that the AWA’s role on the GMAT is as much about grinding down your stamina as it is about writing. You’ve practiced a lot and are prepared to ace this section and the exam as a whole, so don’t worry about it.

Now that we went over everything, you’ve got an ace up your sleeve and you’ll be able to tackle the GMAT AWA with confidence.

Good luck with your exam! 

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Posted on
13
Oct 2020

The Online GMAT Experience-from preparation to post MBA 

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

 

Advancements in technology, combined with constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have prompted the GMAT world to adapt by shifting a large portion of the exam and preparation materials online. Both test takers and tutoring firms have seen positive outcomes from interactive learning aids, an abundance of resources, and easily accessible networks of people at different stages of the GMAT journey. However, the transition has also introduced some hazards concerning physical test endurance, focus, and anxiety. This article evaluates risks and challenges you may encounter taking the online exam and summarizes everything you need to know to be ready for your online GMAT experience.

The Online GMAT Exam

Since the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC) has introduced an innovative, completely online version of the physical GMAT test. This allows test takers to maintain social distance by sitting for the exam from the comfort of home.

As of late July, 2020, at the time of writing, anyone can schedule an online exam before December 31, 2020. In order to accommodate candidates’ availability, appointments are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 24 hours before an available time slot. Note that the online GMAT exam is not available in Mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan due to local data privacy regulations.

Differences from the regular GMAT exam

  • The GMAC has determined that the Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections are the most relevant for graduate business education. Therefore, the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) has been excluded from the online GMAT test.
  • The duration of the online test is shorter–2 hours and 45 minutes compared to 3 hours and 23 minutes. This time frame includes a 15 to 30 minutes tutorial to  familiarize candidates with the online proctored platform and all its functions.
  • Online, you will not be able to choose the order of the sections. The sequence is fixed as follows: Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning.
  • You can use a physical whiteboard, the built-in online whiteboard, or both for note taking. 

If you’re planning to use a physical white board, there are several requirements it must fulfil: it should be no larger than 12×20 inches (30×50 centimeters), use up to 2 dry erase markers and 1 dry erase whiteboard eraser. Items such as whiteboards with grids, background colors, or other markings, paper, pen, pencil, permanent marker, tissues (paper towels, napkins), whiteboard spray, chalkboards, writing tablets, and others are not permitted.

During the online exam, test takers will be able to access an online board from the icon. It contains an endless canvas to take notes on, which eliminates the need to erase your work as you progress through the sections.

  • In contrast to the two optional breaks in the regular exam, the online GMAT allows candidates to opt for only one 5-minute break before the Integrated Reasoning section.
  • Official GMAT scores are available on mba.com within 7 business days of completing the exam.
  • Another perk of the online GMAT experience is that it allows applicants to send scores to an unlimited number of institutions free of charge.
  • The online GMAT fee is $200, compared to the original $250 cost for the physical exam.
  • The online test cannot be retaken for any reason except a verified technical issue or authorized retakes.

Similarities with the regular GMAT exam

  • The online GMAT consists of the same Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections. Despite excluding the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), each of the other three sections contains the same number of questions as before–31, 36, and 12 respectively. In terms of timing, there are no alterations–the sections take 62, 65, and 30 minutes.

online GMAT breakdown

  • To ensure that GMAT scores are compatible and comparable across the online and test center-based versions, the online version adopts the same scoring algorithm. This means that both exams are equally replaceable with one another. 
  • Validity remains the same – 5 years.

Online GMAT Preparation, Tips & Tricks

As the online exam practically covers the same content, regular GMAT preparation remains relevant. If you are trying to figure out which prep method (self, group, or one-on-one) suits you best, you can check out the Four Ps of the best GMAT Prep. Apex’s GMAT tutors and custom-made curriculum are tailored to meet the needs for an online learning environment by providing private GMAT tutoring and nurturing constant feedback.

From a technical viewpoint, it is important to get used to the online whiteboard tool. It is available in all of GMAC’s Official Practice Exams, where anyone can practice all its functions in a simulated, timed environment. Keep in mind that you are not permitted to use touchscreens, graphics tablets, or stylus pens. And lastly, before starting the online GMAT exam, you can do a system test before to ensure your computer meets the operational requirements.

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gmat percentile rankings aticle
Posted on
06
Oct 2020

GMAT Percentile Rankings: Demystified

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

The GMAT exam is an important part of the admissions process for over 7,000 business programs worldwide. GMAT performance is widely regarded as one of the best predictors of not only high academic honors, but also long-term career success. Achieving an excellent GMAT score and ranking in the top percentile is the first stepping stone in anyone’s journey to a prestigious business career.

The competitive admissions environment surrounding top tier universities has resulted in a 10-20% acceptance rate. This corresponds with percentile rankings in specific sections: for example, the GMAT Quant. But what do percentile rankings really mean?

This article describes the relationship between GMAT scores and respective percentile ranking, both in terms of individual sections and as a whole.

How do GMAT scores translate into GMAT percentiles?

According to the GMAC, two-thirds of test takers from all over the world score between 400 and 600. GMAT scores also translate into a percentile ranking. A number indicating the percentage of test takers at or below a given score. Percentile rankings are determined by comparing scaled Quant and Verbal scores (which can range from 6 to 51) to your peers’ scores. For instance, if you scored in the 90th percentile, that means that just 10% of all examinees outscored you. It’s important to note that the percentiles are recalculated every summer. This means that the current percentile rankings are likely different from the previous year’s rankings. 

The GMAC considers a sample size of test takers tracked since January 2017 to calculate percentiles. Until the beginning of 2020, a total of 695,794 GMAT exams were taken and scored, with a standard deviation of slightly above 116. Consequently, the GMAC shares average percentiles rankings for each of the four sections:

 

  • Quantitative: 36%
  • Verbal Reasoning: 45%
  • Integrated Reasoning: 33%
  • Analytical Writing Assessment: 19%

 

While these numbers seem low, applicants need to score well above the average to earn a spot in the most competitive business schools.

GMAT Percentile Table

GMAT percentile rankings

How have percentile rankings changed by section?

Over the years, there is a trend towards increasing average GMAT scores and, consequently, percentiles have risen, too. In particular, the GMAT Quantitative percentiles have become considerably more competitive and increasingly important for MBA admissions. As more and more test takers master the GMAT quant section, it gets harder to score in a high percentile. 

One reason may be that as the GMAT’s worldwide popularity increases, non-native English speakers coming from math-proficient countries such as China and India make up a large proportion of the GMAT test takers. On the other hand, the GMAT Verbal section remains rather challenging–a score of 40 out of 60 ranks in the 90th percentile. The increasing representation of non-native English speakers might also help explain why the verbal section remains challenging. 

In any case, balanced percentile refers to the combined result of your scores on the Verbal and Quant sections.

What about the AWA and IR?

The Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning sections are scored separately. They also have their own scoring scale, independent from the 200 to 800 scale used to evaluate Quant and Verbal. A strong performance on the Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning sections can boost your admissions chances. Nevertheless, we recommend that applicants prioritize ranking in the top percentiles in the Quant and Verbal sections.

What do GMAT Percentiles mean for admissions to B-schools?

While most business schools don’t have a straightforward cutoff for GMAT results, the majority of admissions committees consider both percentile rankings and total scores. 

Top-tier institutions like Wharton, Stanford, INSEAD, and MIT are known to perform more in-depth analyses of candidates’ total scores compared with percentile rankings. These programs value exceptional scores, but place additional weight on how competitive candidates are compared with their peers. During particularly competitive admissions cycles, the most selective business schools only consider candidates who scored above the 90th percentile. Admissions decisions entail a more holistic selection process in which committees consider work experience, former education, motivation letters, resumes, recommendations, and other factors that signal applicants’ potential for success in the business world.

If you want to get into the right business program, it’s a smart move to familiarize yourself with the yearly data reports that most business schools produce regarding their current students’ GMAT scores and percentiles. 

Boosting your GMAT score

Depending on your score goals, current level of preparation, and anticipated exam date, you can opt for one of three GMAT prep options that will best suit your needs, budget, and learning style. If you’re aiming for a 700+ score, a professional GMAT tutor might provide the guidance you need to leverage your strengths and weaknesses. This could ultimately put you on the path to degree and career success. 

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How To GMAT: The Verbal Section
Posted on
29
Sep 2020

How to Prepare for the GMAT: The Verbal Section

Posted by: Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ivan Minchev

How To GMAT: The Verbal Section

The business world is dominated by numbers, charts, and graphs. Thus, most business school hopefuls understandably focus on developing their analytical thinking and math skills when preparing for the GMAT exam. But it’s a mistake to neglect the verbal section. Effective test prep requires a balanced, well-rounded approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the GMAT verbal section. 

What is the verbal section and what does it test for?

The verbal section primarily evaluates the test taker’s overall command of standard written English, ability to analyze and evaluate arguments, and critical reading skills. As such, the verbal section is made up of three types of problems: critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension. 

The 3 sections have a total of 36 questions, with a time limit of 65 minutes. This leaves, on average, 1 minute and 49 seconds per question.

How Is it scored

The verbal section, like the quantitative section, is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 60. A 51 is considered a perfect score on both sections. 

The GMAT also ranks test takers by percentile. The percentile system uses GMAT scores from the previous three years to calculate how applicants performed compared to their peers. For example, if an applicant scores in the 80th percentile, it means he or she performed better than 80% of test takers over the last three years. 

Although the scaled scores don’t change over time, the percentiles do. Business schools assess both the scaled and percentile scores to get an adequate understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Language on the Verbal Section

The language in the verbal section is more sophisticated and academic than intermediate, everyday English. If you aren’t accustomed to reading formal English, your verbal prep might require some extra time and energy. 

It will be easier to identify errors, main points, and bias statements once you’ve trained your ear to formal English. Practice reading formal texts efficiently and effectively, and avoid vernacular texts. Instead, choose sources that are known for using elevated writing styles, such as The New Yorker or The New York Times. 

Critical Reasoning

The critical reasoning subsection consists of a brief text outlining an argument (usually less than 100 words) and five answer choices. Critical reasoning questions measure the test taker’s ability to formulate and evaluate arguments. To answer correctly, consider the argument’s logical structure. Each answer choice might strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, or explain the argument’s flaws.   

Although the best tip for critical reasoning questions is to read carefully and watch out for tricky wording, it will help to keep the following questions in mind:

  1. How is the argument structured?
  2. What’s the conclusion?
  3. What evidence supports the conclusion?
  4. Which assumptions link the evidence to the conclusion?

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension evaluates not only the candidate’s understanding of words and statements, but more importantly, the underlying logic behind them. 

In this subsection, you’ll find passages of text followed by several questions about the text’s details and implications. Some passages draw from various disciplines, such as the physical, biological, or social sciences, while others  refer to business-related fields. 

Here are some tips to make the process less tedious and more efficient:

  1. Read the whole passage without taking too much time to memorize details
  2. Analyze the logical structure of the passage
  3. Ask yourself: 
    • What’s the main argument?
    • What does the author state explicitly?  What is implied?
    • How would you describe the author’s tone and attitude?

Keep an eye out for opinionated words–for example, “clearly,” “obviously,” or “apparently”–these words hint at the author’s attitudes, and they’ll help you suss out the main point. 

Sentence Correction

The sentence correction portion tests a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication isn’t just grammatically correct–it’s clear, direct, and concise. 

In this portion, you’ll find five different versions of the same sentence. The goal is to choose the version that’s grammatically correct and expresses the idea with precision and clarity. Choose wisely!

Conclusion

Taking the quantitative section into account, there are a number of score combinations that will lead to the same overall score, which leave plenty of room to maneuver. However, given the rise in quantitative scores in recent years, total scores and percentile rankings have shifted. This gives candidates an opportunity to boost their overall scores by mastering the verbal section. 

For additional tips related to the verbal section of the GMAT read: How to boost your  verbal score next.

 

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Posted on
25
Sep 2020

GMAT & MBA Updates – Sept 2020

Hi everybody!

Welcome back to the Apex GMAT channel. My name is Natalie and today I’m going to be speaking to you about the latest MBA admissions and GMAT updates.

Should You Submit A GMAT Score With Your MBA Application?

So today I want to start out by speaking about the fact that due to the coronavirus pandemic some MBA programs have waived their GMAT requirements from the application process, including some top schools such as the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Now this may seem exciting and make the process a little less daunting but I wouldn’t pack away my GMAT prep materials just yet. Remember that the GMAT speaks to your critical reasoning and creative problem solving skills, which are vital to success in any MBA program so applying without this score means that you are limiting the amount of information that admissions officers see. And therefore not fully representing your skills in your application.

Not to mention the fact that other applicants will have their GMAT score in their applications having taken it from before the pandemic in test centers or during the recent months with the online version of the GMAT. Additionally, if you have a weaker part of your application such as a lower GPA then having a high GMAT score can help offset this and make you more competitive. So as you are thinking about your application and your GMAT scores place within that application it’s best to keep these points in mind.

Should You Take The Online GMAT Exam? – Online GMAT Updates

Now you might be thinking – the online GMAT exam?? Do I really want to take it? And when it first came out there were some concerns. Granted there still are but the GMAC has been working to improve and adapt the exam. Just recently announcing that candidates are able to take the test twice instead of just the previous one time. This will provide extra flexibility for candidates to improve their GMAT score in the second sitting if the first sitting was not representative. Additionally, some extra changes to the whiteboard options improves test taker experience.

So that’s all that I have for you today. I hope that it was really helpful. Please leave any questions or comments below and I’d be happy to respond to them. Also if you want to speak about your GMAT prep or MBA applications please feel free to reach out to us on our website and we’d be happy to give you some advice.

Have a great GMAT prep day.

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HOW TO OVERCOME GMAT TEST ANXIETY ARTICLE
Posted on
22
Sep 2020

How to Overcome GMAT Test Anxiety

by ApexGMAT

Contributor: Fatma Xhafa

Sept 22, 2020

Methodical test prep is a painstaking, yet necessary, process for anyone striving for a top score on the GMAT. Most elite MBA programs require a 700+ score for admission. Applicants face a lot of pressure leading up to test day. It’s normal to experience anxiety while studying. 

Apex Instructors have noted that GMAT test anxiety is the most common external factor that directly affects GMAT performance. Almost everyone experiences some anxiety, and about 60% of our clients experience anxiety severe enough to affect performance if left unaddressed. Test anxiety is distracting. It negatively affects a test taker’s concentration, leading to declining comprehension, especially on word problems and the verbal section. 

In extreme cases, test takers might experience a racing heart-beat, nausea, or headaches. Most importantly, anxiety draws attention away from the test. The consequences can be significant if it isn’t managed well.

Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome test anxiety.

What Causes Anxiety?

It’s normal to doubt ourselves and our abilities, but the way we channel doubt makes or breaks our performance. Knowing how to manage stress and trust our abilities is essential to navigating the treacherous waters of the GMAT. 

A strong GMAT preparation plan emphasizes mastering the required skills while maintaining composure in the face of outward distractions. That annoying guy clicking his pen on the other side of the room can be a major stressor. When test takers learn to manage anxiety and resist distraction, a high score takes care of itself.

When we address personal challenges, it’s important to understand the root of the problem. Identifying the exact causes and associated triggers of the anxiety is the first step to conquering it. To pinpoint exactly what is triggering anxiety, determine if the anxiety is situational (caused by taking an unfamiliar exam) or emotional (fear of failure, the pressure to perform well, etc).

For example, if a patient’s heart races during a routine checkup at a doctor’s office, even though the patient doesn’t expect to receive any bad news, their anxiety may be situational; the anxiety comes from the clinical setting itself. However, if a patient becomes anxious waiting for serious test results, the anxiety is likely emotional. The first patient’s anxiety simply comes from being in a doctor’s office. The second patient is anxious due to the potentially life-altering consequences of the test results, rather than a particularly upsetting setting or circumstance. 

Some Anxiety Will Always Exist

When it comes to the GMAT, or any other stressful situation, keep in mind that some level of anxiety will always be present. The trick is to adjust to it. For most test takers, the problem isn’t the initial anxiety, but anxiety about the anxiety

Anyone can become anxious before getting a shot at the doctor’s office. However, most people don’t dwell on the anxiety for weeks or miss an appointment because of it. Someone who thinks about their fear of needles for a long period of time leading up to a doctor’s appointment will probably be more anxious when it’s time to get the shot. The same principle applies to the GMAT. Remind yourself, “this is going to suck, but I’ll get through it.”

Time Management

The clock is ticking and with each passing moment you become more and more worried that you won’t have enough time–an all too common experience for GMAT takers. This fear is understandable considering that the inability to allocate time can impact scores significantly. Fortunately, with proper time management training, anyone can learn to manage time and resources during the exam. When time management is addressed with strong methodologies and best practices, the decision process manages the time, not the test taker

Apex’s curriculum utilizes a proprietary methodology that manages time for test takers. Following this process removes the need to think about timing, takes the pressure off, alleviates anxiety, and allows applicants to focus on the problems at hand.

Computer Adaptive Test

The GMAT uses Computer Adaptive Testing to evaluate applicants’ readiness for business school. Simply put, answering a question correctly leads to more challenging questions, and getting a question wrong leads to less challenging ones.

This creates pressure to answer each question correctly or risk getting easier questions, which affects the overall score. CAT can heighten anxiety levels in general during the test, but especially when test takers focus on difficulty level. It may be tempting to keep track, but it’s ultimately a waste of valuable time and energy to focus on the scoring system rather than the test itself. 

If a question seems easy, it doesn’t mean it actually is. Many high scorers stress themselves out because they don’t internalize how skilled they are. 

In reality, it’s almost impossible to get every question right, even for strong test takers. Strong and weak test takers get about the same number of questions wrong. The difference in score comes from the level of the questions answered correctly. 

The GMAT tests for decision making and time allocation skills. Anxiety disrupts these; that’s why it’s so insidious. For most people, the challenge is combating the low-level anxiety from the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can be annoying and distracting.

Here are some useful methods that alleviate score-related anxiety:

  • Forget about the score altogether. When studying and taking the test, shift your focus towards the most important thing: individual question performance. Shift away from thinking about the score. The only way to get a good score is to focus on individual questions. 
  • Become familiar with the CAT scoring system, especially for GMAT. Understanding the underlying mechanism for scoring can make test takers less nervous and more confident in their performance. Mike Diamond, the Head of Curriculum at ApexGMAT, has provided a detailed explanation HERE.

Past Poor Performance or Low Scores 

Some test takers lose confidence due to negative experiences with the GMAT, such as lower-than-expected results on previous tests or practice tests. This can cause anxiety, insecurity, and even panic.

It’s best to frame practice tests, or official tests that don’t go as planned, as tools to assess  timing calibration, strengths and weaknesses, and to develop efficient study plans. After all, falling short is the first step in any meaningful learning experience. When we excel right off the bat, it’s usually because we’re using skills we’ve already mastered in a new way. Otherwise, we should expect to fail at new things. Failure provides an opportunity to isolate challenges and accelerate improvement. Overcoming obstacles means we’ll know what to expect, and with hard work, we’ll be better prepared for the next test. 

Consider the following strategies:

  • Put yourself in scenarios that mimic test day (situational) stressors. Taking practice tests or timed tests will not only help you adjust to the scoring system, but will also help with time management. Try taking practice tests in a coffee shop, common study room, or library, where distractions are minimal, but beyond your control. This will provide a greater sense of what to expect, and as a result, help alleviate environmentally induced anxiety.
  • Go to the testing center for a dry run. This helps reduce anxiety because it familiarizes you with the testing environment and ensures that there will be no surprises when you take the exam. If the environmental stress is holding you back, the best way to address it is to get used to the environment. 

Pressure from Friends and Family

Parents, professors, and friends want to see us thrive, and while they can be a great source of support, they can also contribute to our stress. Some test takers feel like a weak performance is a betrayal of the people who have invested time, care, and even money, in their success. 

More likely, the pressure comes from an internal desire to live up to what we perceive as others’ expectations. It’s easy to misinterpret enthusiastic support for a personal, emotional investment in our goals. A score that doesn’t reach the goal can feel like a blow to the ego, especially if our initial expectations for success weren’t in line with the amount or type of preparation we performed.

It can help to simply avoid the topic of scores in conversation. Focus on updating loved ones on the process of preparation rather than scores. It’s highly important to prioritize yourself because ultimately, you’re what matters most!

How to Reduce the Anxiety and Enhance Performance

Everyone has their own way of preparing for an important exam, and there is no “right” way to go about it.

However, there are some best practices that can make the process smoother:

Practice, practice, practice! 

Everyone has heard the phrase: “practice makes perfect.” This is just as true of the GMAT. 

It’s very important to practice using sample GMAT questions. Knowing what to expect on the exam can alleviate a lot of anxiety. 

Get 8 Hours of Sleep Consistently

Getting a good night’s sleep not only helps us absorb new information during the studying process, but also prepares the brain to retain more detail in the future. When it comes to the learning process, sleep is essential. 

Experts say that on average, adults need about 8 hours of sleep a night to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. We all perform better when we prioritize our health and wellbeing. A healthy lifestyle, including a regular and consistent sleep schedule, is key when it comes to taking the GMAT and achieving our long-term goals. 

Have a cup o’ Joe

Drinking coffee during test prep and before taking the exam enhances mental acuity due to blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Coffee makes us alert, focused, and ready to crush the GMAT. 

But it’s important to keep in mind just how much coffee is too much coffee. Drinking too much will only make you more anxious and jittery, which is the last thing you want. It’s all about finding the perfect balance that works for you.   

How Can Private GMAT Tutoring Help with GMAT Test Anxiety?

At Apex, we focus not only on the fundamentals of the exam, but also on test anxiety, time management, alternative solution paths, and test reading to use the test’s structure to our clients’ advantage. 

We take pride in our GMAT Curriculum, which is unmatched in the industry. We take the time to cover the widest possible range of methods and develop strategies that work best for individual clients.

When it comes to private GMAT tutoring, personalized attention is the key to 700+ GMAT scores. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. We understand that the same strategy does not work for every client.

Private tutoring can be a gateway to the amazing scores that get applicants into their dream school. A good score on the GMAT is the first step towards career advancement. 

Eventually, it all comes down to vigorous prep and feeling confident in yourself and your abilities. 

At Apex, we focus on the learning process, not just the final score. With the right process, the score will take care of itself. 

Key Takeaways

Hopefully, these tips and strategies have brought you a step closer to identifying and confronting the source of your test anxiety. 

Some things to keep in mind:

 

  • Practice, practice, practice! Practice will do no harm. It familiarizes us with what to expect, and helps us perform better and feel more confident.

 

  • Try private tutoring Personalized instruction is one of the best ways to guarantee GMAT success. To schedule a complimentary phone call with one of our 770+ scoring instructors, click HERE.

 

 

Good luck!

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Posted on
17
Sep 2020

Which Is The Greatest – GMAT Problem

Today we’re going to look at a GMAT problem that screams for estimation but can really tie you in knots if you don’t have the right pivot question, the right perspective. Of the following which is greatest? And on its surface this would seem like a straightforward question except of course the GMAT being the GMAT they’re going to give you a bunch of numbers that are going to be hard to interpret. One part of this problem is simply training. The square root of 2, the square root of 3, the square root of 5. These are common, especially root 2 and root 3 because we see them a lot on triangle problems.

Get Familiar With Identities

And knowing these identities by heart as an estimate is really, really valuable just for being able to get a bearing whether you’re on a geometry problem and you’re trying to navigate or make sure that your answer seems correct or if you’re in a problem like this knowing these identities root 2 is 1.4, root 3 is 1.7, root 5 is 2.2 is useful as a touchstone.

Break Down The Problem

But this problem in general and the greater problem can be broken down not by saying oh well this is 1.4, this is 1.7, but by asking ourselves well logically which is bigger which is smaller. Remember it’s a multiple choice exam and they’re asking for the biggest or the smallest or whatever it is but these are opportunities to compare not nail down knowledge and this attitude is exceptionally vital for the data sufficiency but it crops up in problem solving a lot more than people might care to admit.

Especially if you’ve been there just trying to study and study and study and get to a precise answer on a lot of these things. So, let’s start just by taking a look at a few things. First square root of three square, root of two which one’s larger? If you said root three you are correct. How much larger? That might be a little bit more difficult to ascertain but if you say 1.7 versus 1.4 maybe 20 percent larger 3 is 50% larger than 2 so root 3 is going to be some smaller percentage larger than root two. But either way we know that root three is the bigger one it’s going to be the dominant value so the question becomes how much larger? Or which part of the answer drives the answer choice?

What Do We Know?

So we know that the integers 2 and 3 are more meaningful, larger than the square roots because the square roots are components of those integers. So between A and B, a drives the question that is the three drives the root two more than the two drives the root three. We can take a look at the following two and notice that both of them are around root three.

That is if we take apart the ugly part, which is the square root and take a look at the rest of it – four over five, five over four, these numbers are about one and compared to the two root three we have and the three root two which we’ve already decided is even stronger we don’t really need to entertain C and D all that much. Just to understand that oh they’re about a root three and that’s not going to be enough.

Looking At Answer Choice E

Finally, we have E. E is a little funky but we can ask ourselves how many times will root 3, will this 1.7 go into 7 and we get this answer that it’s a bit below 4. Compared with 3 root 2 which is 4.2 (3 times 1.4), we still have a driving the answer. You guys see how this is a marriage of doing a little bit of estimation but also really keeping your framing as is this greater or less than. Now we’ve included a bunch of other different answer choices here for you to take a look at play around with it and see if you can get yourself familiar with comparing these things because the GMAT is only going to come at you with things like square roots that are unfamiliar.

So it’s a fairly defined GMAT problem in that sense. I hope this helps, questions below, like us, subscribe, keep checking in and we’ll see you again real soon.

If you enjoyed this GMAT problem, try these problems next: Probability problem, and the Speed Distance problem.

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does the gmat matter after graduation article
Posted on
15
Sep 2020

Does the GMAT Matter After Graduation?

High GMAT scores are a requirement for acceptance to thousands of different graduate programs, from top tier MBAS to EBMAs to PhD programs in business management. More than a quarter-million students take the exam every year. 

Admissions officers see GMAT scores as one of the most reliable predictors for future success. A high score signifies not only an applicant’s technical and quantitative proficiency, but also his or her ability to perform at a professional level. 

But do GMAT scores matter after graduation? The short answer is yes. Here’s why.

What exactly does the GMAT test for?

To understand why elite business schools and fortune 500 companies take GMAT scores so seriously, we need to ask another question first:

What exactly does the GMAT test for?

At first glance, the GMAT seems like a fairly standard exam; it tests for command over basic algebra, arithmetic, geometry, grammar, and multi-source data analysis. However, on a deeper level, the exam evaluates an applicant’s critical thinking skills and creativity–two essential traits in the modern, highly competitive business world. 

Why is a good GMAT score so important?

The GMAT isn’t about rote memorization. Every GMAT question has multiple paths to a solution. However, some paths are significantly shorter than others. The GMAT doesn’t test how much applicants know; rather, a successful applicant demonstrates what they can do with that knowledge in a narrow time frame. To do well on the GMAT, applicants must demonstrate a strong ability to analyze and contextualize information with speed and efficiency. 

GMAT performance has become one of the most decisive factors for business school admissions committees because the score isn’t just a score. It’s a representation of the candidate’s traits and abilities. A high score reflects focus, diligence, hard work, intellectual aptitude, and time management skills. A high score signifies not only a candidate’s technical and quantitative proficiency, but also his or her ability to perform at a professional level. 

Is taking the GMAT a must?

While every top tier business school requires GMAT scores, not every company does. A 2018 Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) survey showed that only 6% of surveyed companies use GMAT scores in their employee selection process. Of the remaining companies, 21% stated that while a high GMAT score can help a job candidate, the GMAT doesn’t typically play a significant role in the selection process. The remaining 72% said they don’t consider GMAT scores at all.

However, the 6% that do use GMAT scores to vet job candidates are the cream-of-the-crop in the business world. All major banking, investment, and consulting firms, including Accenture and Goldman Sachs, require high GMAT scores for all positions–even internships. 

Most of these firms specialize in quantitative-intensive labor. As a result, the quantitative section tends to carry more weight. For example, if a candidate has an overall score of 680, but a quantitative score of 51, he or she has a good chance of getting an interview at a major firm.

However, there are diminishing returns. Many recruiters believe that a candidate’s efficiency doesn’t increase proportionately to the score. Let’s say candidate A has a 3.2 GPA, candidate B has a 3.5 GPA, and candidate C has a 3.8 GPA. The difference between candidates A and B is the same as the difference between candidates B and C. However, the value candidate B adds to the company compared to candidate A is a lot greater than the value candidate C adds compared to candidate B. This applies to GMAT scores, too. 

How to get a high GMAT score

The advanced skills that business schools and employers look for aren’t solely the result of inborn traits. With a positive attitude, drive, and high quality tutoring, these skills can be learned. Effective GMAT prep trains test takers in the crucial areas that promote logical thinking and mental acuity, and the work habits, determination, and rigor acquired throughout the preparation process lasts for a lifetime. 

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Posted on
10
Sep 2020

Taking The GMAT With A Learning Disability

Today I want to talk about what can be a rather sensitive topic and that is if you have a learning disability, diagnosed or undiagnosed, how that interacts with the GMAT and test preparation. At the outset let me say that this video doesn’t apply to most of you who are watching but if you are previously diagnosed or you think you may have something that’s gone undiagnosed this could be a useful video. I should also begin by saying that we are not mental health professionals here. We are not PhDs in psychiatry or psychology. Everything here is talking about our experiences working with people with learning disabilities and also how we refer people out.

1 in 50 Clients Have a Disability

Very infrequently, maybe 1 in 40, 1 in 50 clients that we see ends up having an undiagnosed learning disability. Typically, we see this somewhere early in the engagement. Where something just seems a little off and we’ll refer them out. We have psychiatrists that we work with in New York and London because we see a lot of clients there. In these cases we’ll often refer people out for an assessment and quite frequently it comes back where they’re 25, 30, 35, and are just discovering that they have some sort of different ability when it comes to learning. This can be surprising but also explain a lot of things for people. Overall, though, we have a lot of experience working with people with many of the major learning disabilities.

Especially those who come to us at the outset and say I was diagnosed at 14 with ADD, ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyslexia, some executive function issues, memory span is one that we see sometimes that comes up. We’re very familiar with helping people who are differently abled in the way they learn achieve great success. I think this brings us to an important point about what it means to be somewhat neuro-atypical. Which is that it’s not just like a light switch or even spectrum where it’s either on or off but intelligence and ability are tied in with many, many, tens, if not hundreds of different facets inside the brain and a lot of times when people encounter resistance, difficulty in learning, or difficulty with a particular subject or type of information, it’s one particular setting where all their other settings are normal or great.

What Having A Disability Actually Means

And yet that one setting not only can serve to really throw them off and throw off their ability to learn in traditional environments but also, unfortunately, can set the tone for underperformance and underachievement if it’s not caught early enough. There’s a big feedback effect if you didn’t get something in first grade. Or as clearly as your peers. Then second grade you’re a little further behind or a little further discouraged and so on and so forth.

We see this certainly with people on the mathematical side, where they have a disability but also with people who just for whatever reason didn’t excel. They weren’t getting a lot of sleep. Their parents were going through a divorce when they were in third grade and they missed a couple of critical weeks on multiplication. And all of a sudden that snowballed to: “I’m really bad at math.” “I’m really just not that good at this.”

And this can apply to any section of the exam. It can also apply to things well outside psychometric exams. But you should be sensitive to this in yourself and understand that a lot of times when you say “I’m just not good at that” what it might mean is that you got set on a bad course or there’s something impeding your progress. These things are almost always solvable.

Mentorship Is Vital To Progression & Success

And to bring us back to the GMAT in particular and psychometric testing with respect to learning disabilities. To be sure extra time is something that comes up a lot. And if you qualify, extra time can be very useful for certain particular diagnoses. Also there are a lot of skills one can build to compensate for other relative shortcomings or places where you’re not processing as well as those around you. This is where having the assistance from someone outside, of course, a good psychiatrist who specializes in differently-abled people at a neurological level, but also for mentorship through any learning process.

So this really isn’t just about GMAT or test preparation but any learning process can benefit from having someone who’s familiar with your diagnosis, familiar more generally with working with people under a whole range of learning styles and having that cognitive empathy to not talk down but explore with you and having someone most of all who can see the things that you’re not seeing because you’re so tied up either in the task at hand or just as often in the emotions and anxiety surrounding the task at hand because diagnosed or undiagnosed or just insecure.

Put Yourself In The Right Head Space

You’re often working against the emotions of feeling that it’s just not coming, rather than the shortcomings themselves. And this is a key point for anyone who’s learning anything. A lot of it is an emotional and a head space issue. If you put yourself in the right head space a lot of these obstacles don’t exactly fall away but they become surmountable. So if you guys have any questions and particularly if you have a diagnosed disability or think you do and need a referral to a great learning psychologist or psychiatrist or want to discuss your prep give us a ring at the website or the number below. We’re very happy to speak with you and send you in the right direction. I hope this is helpful for you guys out there post your questions below and I’ll look forward to seeing you next time.

 

If you enjoyed this learning disability video, get familiar with the GMAT exam next.

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how to increase your gmat verbal score
Posted on
08
Sep 2020

How to Boost Your GMAT Verbal Score

By Apex GMAT

Contributor: Irena Georgieva

8th September

The GMAT is notorious for its grueling quantitative section, but many test takers also struggle with the verbal section–especially non-native English speakers. A high verbal score will boost your overall score and enhance your critical thinking skills, bringing you one step closer to your dream job.

So how can you improve your score? Don’t worry. We’re here to help. 

1. Start with the basics

To avoid running into difficulties in the GMAT verbal section, familiarize yourself with English grammar and style. If you aren’t confident in your grammar skills, start by reviewing English grammar from the beginning to master the basics–and don’t forget to practice! Try solving a few grammar questions to see if you can apply the skills you learned. If you need more time, take it. Study diligently. This first step is paramount to verbal prep. 

2. Learn to distinguish between different writing styles

The verbal section isn’t just about grammar. To get a high score, you’ll also need to take writing style into account. Consider the sentences the woman ran here and she darted over. The meanings are similar, but elements such as context, tone, and word choice may be different. Think in terms of the most appropriate answer given the surrounding text. And be sure to read carefully!

3. Read, read, read. And did we mention read again?

In addition to the official GMAT guide, we advise clients to read on a daily basis to strengthen vocabulary and comprehension skills. Explore news sources like The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal–these publications often cover topics that you’re likely to encounter on the GMAT, and you can keep tabs on current events while you study. News sources provide good examples of the kind of writing style, vocabulary, and tone you’ll find on the GMAT, as well as unfamiliar idioms and phrasal verbs.

4. Make flashcards

Speaking of idioms and phrasal verbs, flashcards can be great tools for learning new vocabulary. GMAT flashcards are available for purchase, or you can make your own cards at home. Keep track of the words you’re struggling with and review them daily. With hard work and repetition, you’ll improve your verbal score and expand your vocabulary. 

5. Try private tutoring

If you’re still having trouble with the verbal section, consider hiring a private tutor. It’s OK to be picky–it’s important to work with an instructor who meets your needs. A good tutor will consider your history with the GMAT, address your concerns, and develop a personalized study plan to maximize your strengths and address your weaknesses. With effective test prep, your score will improve before you know it. 

We recommend 5 takeaways from a successful GMAT journey and GMAT scoring explained next. 

 

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