When to Hire a Private GMAT Tutor?
Posted on
08
Jun 2021

When to Hire a Private GMAT Tutor?

By: Dana Coggio
Published: 8th June 2021

Once you have made the decision to get your MBA, the next challenge awaits you: Studying for and taking the GMAT. You’ve purchased the books, set up a study schedule, prepared yourself mentally for the task that lays before you. (This infographic provides you with handy tips for your GMAT study prep). And yet, as you begin studying, you find yourself stuck and unsure of what to do next. First things first, it is important for you to understand that this is perfectly normal. The GMAT is an exam that tests more than just your quantitative and analytical skills, it is meant to score your ability to think critically and outside of the box. If you find yourself rereading sections of your GMAT prep books or googling various study tricks and tips, it might be time to consider getting yourself a private GMAT tutor.

That in and of itself seems a daunting task. Where do you even begin with finding someone capable of helping you achieve your goals? Well, before you look for a private GMAT tutor, it is necessary that you first understand when to get yourself a private tutor. This important step means you, and your tutor, are ready to work together to achieve a well thought out goal.

Establish your Goals

Before you begin looking for a private GMAT tutor, you need to know what your GMAT and MBA goals are. Perhaps you are striving for a 700+ and looking to apply to a top-tier MBA program. Or maybe you are looking to up your score by 50 points to be considered more competitive for your dream MBA. Whatever the reason, you need to have a good grasp on why you are taking the GMAT and what your goals are.

Having a clear mindset means you can search for a private GMAT tutor whose skills match your goals. This also means you are not wasting precious time with your GMAT tutor recapping where you see yourself in 20 years. As GMAT tutors can be pricey, it is important to optimize your time with your tutor. Additionally, it is important to research how private tutors can help you achieve your goal. If you are interested in increasing your score above a 700, for example, our article on how private GMAT tutors help you in this task can be read here: How Can Private Tutoring Help You Score 700+ on the GMAT?

Establish your baseline

One of the most important things you can do when starting to study for the GMAT is to take a practice exam. You can find a free practice GMAT exam HERE. Once you have taken the practice GMAT exam, you will have a better understanding of where your strengths and weaknesses lie. However, knowing how to strengthen your weakness or grow your strengths may seem intimidating. This is why, when looking for a private GMAT tutor, you should go into your first meeting with a clear understanding of where you score on the GMAT and what some of your initial GMAT prep challenges are.

This gives your private tutor a better understanding of what aspects of the GMAT you struggle the most with and which parts require only brief reviews. Even better would be to take the mock GMAT exam with your tutor present so that they provide you with more knowledgeable feedback and study plans. In Apex’s case for instance, in a 2.5 hour assessment session an instructor puts you through your paces to see where you need the most help and where they should focus your efforts to get the most leverage in your allotted prep time.  

Begin Studying

So, you have created achievable goals and established your baseline GMAT score. You are confident about beginning your studying, and yet, as the weeks pass and the GMAT exam comes closer you realize you aren’t anywhere near where you want to be. This is an important realization for you as a student. If you recognize that no matter how many hours you commit to studying or how many practice exams you take your understanding of the material is not increasing then, perhaps, it is time to turn to a professional to support you in your journey.

A private GMAT tutor will not only help you in comprehension of the materials, but they also will give you confidence and the support to achieve your goals while holding you accountable to your studies. This scoring plateau phenomenon is what most GMAT prep students face at one point or another during the GMAT journey. 

Investing in a GMAT tutor

When it is time to look for a private GMAT tutor it is important to know that this decision is an investment. Although they may not always say so outright, numerous MBA students at many top-tier universities invested in a private GMAT tutor to help them study for the exam. Investing in a private GMAT tutor is an investment in your future and can pay off in the long run even after you have been admitted to your dream MBA program. Working with a high achieving tutor can be pricey.

The costs associated with a reputable GMAT tutor should reflect the investment they put into helping you achieve your goals. Your time is valuable, and so looking for a private GMAT tutor shouldn’t be the main objective of your studies but investing a couple hours to find the right fit can pay off in the end as a stellar GMAT score will not only help in your MBA application process, but it could land you quality scholarships and a place at some of the top consulting firms after b-school.  

Where to look for a GMAT tutor

Finding a proper GMAT tutor means finding a tutor who works with you to achieve your goals. There are a lot of GMAT tutors on the market who claim to ‘know the secret’ or can ‘guarantee a score’. Be wary of these tutors, as there is no true way to guarantee success. Success on the GMAT comes down to you as an individual and the time you invest in studying. A private GMAT tutor is there to help guide you and support you on your GMAT study journey. It is important to find a reputable GMAT tutor whose skills and ways of teaching match how you learn and your goals.

On an average search engine, a deluge of offers and potential tutors appear, and this plethora can seem quite overwhelming.  Luckily, Apex GMAT offers a complimentary 30-minute session with one of our instructors. This session gives you the opportunity to gauge whether or not a private GMAT tutor is right for you. To learn more about where to find a fitting GMAT tutor, check out our article on How to Select a GMAT Tutor.

Finally…

…whether you are 6 months into studying or you are just starting the process, it is never too late to invest in a GMAT tutor. The sooner you do, however, the more your tutor can support you and the more you can get out of the experience. We have worked with clients who are 8 months into their GMAT journey and beaten down to newcomers who are looking at the test through fresh eyes, so we have heard it all before.

Knowing when to get a GMAT tutor is vital to your success. We highly suggest signing up for a complimentary consultation with one of our tutors, as they can help you more narrowly define when to find a GMAT tutor and if a GMAT tutor is right for you. You can sign up for a complimentary 30-minute slot HERE. Still unsure, feel free to listen HERE for some testimonials from people, just like you, who invested in a private GMAT tutor and are very glad they did! 

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GMAT Prep & Test Approaches to Score in the 650 - 700 range
Posted on
01
Jun 2021

GMAT Prep & Test Approaches to Score in the 650 to 700 Range

By: Andrej Ivanovski
Date: 1st June 2021

Getting a good GMAT score is no walk in the park. A lot of test takers struggle with hitting the minimum score to get into their desired graduate program, and they find themselves taking the GMAT multiple times before achieving their score goal. But, what is a good GMAT score? The answer is, as you might have guessed, it depends. Different business schools have different expectations. What might be considered an excellent score at one school, could be viewed as acceptable but not stellar at another.

Therefore, it is safe to say that a good GMAT score is one that gets you into the graduate program of your choice. However, one thing to keep in mind is that sometimes achieving the minimum scoring requirement may not be enough. Generally speaking, it is better to aim for the average class GMAT score, or higher. A score in the 650 to 700 range is very likely to secure you a spot at some great business schools (given that you satisfy the other admission requirements), but at the end of the day, it all depends on the specific program that you are applying to. In this article, we are going to look at some of the most important GMAT prep and test approaches which can help you score in the 650 to 700 range.

4 Tips to Score in the 650 – 760 Range

Practice your pacing

Wouldn’t the GMAT be a whole lot easier if you did not have to think about timing? Timing is a huge issue and often curtails test takers from attaining their desired score. If you distribute the given time equally, you only have around two minutes per question. Planning your time accordingly is integral to success, spending less time on easier questions allows you to spend more time on more challenging ones. Different questions have different difficulty levels, so it is normal that some questions might take longer than others. Our advice is to forget about the timing aspect of your GMAT prep altogether, and instead focus on mastering the skills you need to answer the questions correctly. In this way you will find that timing issues take care of themselves. If you want to learn more pacing techniques, make sure to check out our video on time management.

Learn how to skim

This one might seem obvious – and you might even say: “Of course I know how to skim”. But do you really? A lot of people think that they are skimming a passage, when in fact they are skipping it. The difference between skimming and skipping is that skimming includes paying attention to the author’s tone and point of view, but without actually reading the passage word for word. When you find yourself being able to take away the important pieces of information from the passage, and understand what the author is trying to say, then it is safe to say that you have learned how to skim. Mastering the art of skimming can help you do well on the Verbal section, which can ultimately lead you to a 650 – 700 GMAT score.

Pay attention to transition words

We definitely do not mean to sound like your middle school English teacher, but paying attention to transition words could save you a whole lot of time on the GMAT. Transition words are used to show the relationship between sentences (or parts of sentences). For instance, if the author is using transition words such as “however”, “nevertheless”, “in spite of”, “on one hand” or “on the contrary”, then you would know that the author is trying to express a contrasting point. Even though you can understand that by reading the whole passage, paying attention to transition words can save you a lot of time.

Use an appropriate strategy to solve quant problems

No matter how well prepared you are, there are always going to be questions whose answers you are not entirely sure of. Of course, it should be your goal to reduce the chances of that happening, but the GMAT is not designed to be that easy. When you find yourself struggling to answer a question, at first it might seem like all of the answers make sense. For that reason, it is good to have multiple strategies to tackle all types of GMAT problem types.

  • Elimination: write down ABCDE on the scratch board, and work on eliminating the answers that do not make much sense. When you are left with 2 or 3 answers to pick from, the chances of getting the right one are much higher (you do the math).
  • Guessing: leaving questions unanswered on the GMAT is not a good practice, as it is not favored by the grading algorithm. That is why it is important that you answer all of the questions from a given section, even if that means guessing the answer to some questions that you are not sure about.
  • Graphical solution path: sometimes it is easier to solve a problem graphically, rather than taking the standard, mathematical approach. Our instructor, and director of curriculum development, Mike Diamond, talks about the graphical solution path in his videos. If you want to find out more about this approach, see how he solves the Snack Shop problem and the Rope problem using a graphical solution path.
  • Story telling: some problems on the GMAT might require you to put yourself in the story and retell it from your perspective. This is especially useful when you are given information about two or more entities relative to each other. For instance, For some questions like, John was three years older than Tim was 5 years ago. Tim will be 23 two years from now. How old is John now? Here putting yourself in the story and retelling it can help you make the information easy to follow

Which schools can a 650 – 700 GMAT score get you into?

A GMAT score in the 650 – 700 can definitely get you into some of the highest ranked MBA programs in the world, and our clients are proof of that.

Kyle

kyle scored a 650 after working with Apex and got accepted to Georgetown university
Kyle scored 650 on the GMAT and he was able to get into the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. In his words:  I wouldn’t be in business school if I hadn’t gone through this process with an Apex tutor, not only from a scoring standpoint but also from a mental preparation standpoint.

Amy

amy scored a 690 on her GMAT and went to dukeAmy got into the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University with a GMAT score of 690. She says: After working with Apex I could look at a problem and know exactly what they were testing me on and the steps that I needed to take to get to the desired solution. They were always there to help and offered multiple solution paths in case the first one did not resonate.

Lohe

lohe scored a 690on her gmat and got into columbiaA GMAT score of 680 was able to help Lohe get into Columbia University. She says: When I started working with Apex we mostly focused on improving my stress and anxiety. So we worked on different kinds of breathing exercises and on different problem solving techniques that were not the usual math solutions. Once I was able to get comfortable with these techniques my speed and score increased a lot. It was a good mix of stress management and thinking out of the box.

 

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4 Best Practices to help you master the GMAT AWA section
Posted on
27
Apr 2021

4 Best Practices to Help You Master the GMAT AWA Section

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Altea Sulollari
Date: 27th April 2021

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.

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.

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! 

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.

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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gmat percentile rankings
Posted on
06
Oct 2020

GMAT Percentile Rankings: Demystified

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ilia Dobrev
Date: 2nd June, 2021

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 Scoring Chart

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, a balanced GMAT 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 percentiles and scores. 

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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does the gmat matter after graduation
Posted on
15
Sep 2020

Does the GMAT Matter After Graduation?

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date: 15th September 2020

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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Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on
28
Aug 2020

How Does GMAT Scoring Work?

By: Apex GMAT

How You Should Think of Your GMAT Score

If you’re just starting out on the GMAT you probably have a lot of questions about how the GMAT is scored? How the scoring algorithm works? How this plays into your chances of admission all other things being equal, at various institutions. This is why we’re going to talk about GMAT scoring and break it down on a section by section basis. 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how the GMAT is scored I want to start out talking a little bit about the score. How you should think about it. The short answer is, you really shouldn’t think about it. It’s about as useful as reflecting on how quickly you’re running when you’re running as quickly as you can. 

Thinking about the score, thinking about your time, is only going to distract you from your performance. And we see this so often where GMAT test-takers get psyched out about score. They worry about it in advance and on the exam and it not only distracts them from their performance. It can also lead to over-and-under confidence. 

The Effects of Practice Test Scores

People take a practice test and if they do really well they feel great and they tend to lighten up. People take a practice test and if they do poorly they start beating themselves up. It undermines all the confidence that they’ve built up with real skills. 

Practice tests are for calibrating timing decisions and for identifying problem areas. And while they are a useful benchmark to track progress, it’s a mistake to put too much weight into them. So try not to take them too much to heart. Not because they’re inaccurate but because if you’re fully focused on the process the outcome will take care of itself. 

How is Each Section of The GMAT Scored?

Let’s begin by talking about the four sections on the GMAT and how they’re scored individually. Thereafter we will get to the big ‘out-of-800’ score, which is an aggregate of the quantitative and verbal sections. 

Analytical Writing Assessment

First off, the AWA writing section is scored out of six points in half-point increments. And generally, anything above a four or four and a half is considered acceptable. These are very wide gaps, where they have large groups of people all scoring the same thing. Usually about 15 percentile points for each half point increment. Therefore we can assume that the admissions committees are looking at it more as a referendum. To see how well you can put together an argument and how well you can write in general. 

Remember that they are going to have your writing samples from your essays. In all likelihood, they’re going to interview you. So this is more of a box to check off and shouldn’t take up too much of your time or energy in preparation once you’re at an acceptable level. 

Similarly, when it comes to taking the GMAT you don’t want to burn a lot of mental energy here. It’s the first section, it’s half an hour, but you’ve got a long race to run. This is something that you want to give a short shrift to, relative to the rest of the exam. Allocate your time where it’s going to be most meaningful, which is going to be later on in the Quantitative and Verbal sections. 

Integrated Reasoning

The next section up is the Integrated Reasoning section. Like the AWA, it’s half-hour long, and also like the AWA, they divide us into fairly wide tranches. The integrated reasoning section is scored out of eight points in single-point increments. It’s a relatively new section on the GMAT, about five years old at this point. 

What the Integrated Reasoning section tests is your ability to sort through massive amounts of data and it utilizes skills both from the Quantitative side and the Critical Reasoning on the Verbal side in one section. 

This section is increasingly important, especially as a differentiator among those who already have high scores because it tests a different type of skill. 

Verbal & Quant

This brings us to the big sections: the Verbal and Quantitative. Both seventy-five minutes long, these sections combine to give us our score out of 800. This is the score that everybody talks about. But let’s take a look at them individually at first because each section is scored on its own. 

The Verbal goes up to the mid-40s. A score above 44-45 is entirely elite. And there are a bunch of numbers up to the theoretical 60 max that really aren’t scored. Similarly, in the Quantitative, the score maxes out at 51 and the GMAC leaves these higher raw scores open in the case that they make the exam more challenging in the future. 

It’s important to remember that your raw scores from Quantitative and Verbal aren’t on the same scale, so a 42 in verbal and a 42 in quantitative do not indicate similar achievement. In fact, a 42 on quantitative is sort of so-so, and 42 on verbal is quite strong. 

So, each of these raw scores is used by an admissions committee to understand how you work or how strong you are in a particular section. Typically they’re looking at the quantitative score because most MBA programs focus or at least have a certain minimum amount of quantitative classes, work, etc. 

Overall Score

This brings us to the big score, the score ‘out-of-800’ – the entire GMAT. This score is just sourced from your raw Quantitative and Verbal scores. The precise algorithm that the GMAC uses is confidential but broadly the better you score in each, the better your score is overall. 

To drill down a little further, in general, having roughly equal scores in both, maximizes your overall score. Another thing that we know is that a raw point on the Verbal section is worth marginally more than a raw point on the Quantitative section. While in general, this doesn’t inform how we prep or what we do on the exam, it’s something useful to think about if you’re looking only for 20 or 30 more points and it’s something that we look at when we’re mapping out study plans. 

Another interesting thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to score incredibly well in either the Quant or the Verbal section to have a totally stellar score. So for example, you can have a 90th percentile verbal, 90th percentile quant and these will come together to give you on the order of a 760 which is 99th percentile. The reason is that many people who are strong at Quant are not so strong at verbal and vice-versa. So, the score out of 800 looks at your aggregate performance and gives admissions committees a better sense of how you score overall. 

Do Not Focus To Much on Your Score

I hope this was a useful tour of how the GMAT scores. The big takeaway here, though, is that focusing too much on your score or really, anything more than surface-level looking at it to understand it, takes away from your ability to perform and can wrap you up in knots emotionally and psychologically. 

So, know it, think about it when you’re crafting your study plan but also don’t dwell on it. As long as you’re doing your best, as long as you’re progressing and becoming better at leveraging the skills that you’re learning through self-prep or with a tutor and you’re seeing those results when you’re self-prepping, when you’re in an exam, that’s all that matters. The score will take care of itself. 

For more introductory information to the GMAT you can read this article: 5 minutes with the GMAT or the GMAT – a comprehensive review. To speak to an Apex GMAT instructor about your prep you can schedule a call HERE.

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Posted on
30
Jul 2020

Should you include your GMAT score on your resume?

A lot of our clients ask if having a good GMAT score can help you on a job search. The truth is that for some jobs it can be immensely useful. However, other jobs might not even take a look at it. Ultimately, it’s up to the HR departments of your potential employer. Still, there are some rules of thumb to follow. 

A Really Strong Score

Let me first begin by saying that the only time you should list the GMAT on your resume is if it’s a really strong score. We’re talking 700 or above. There’s no sense talking about a middling or even middling-good GMAT score if you run the risk of having someone ask: “Well why didn’t you score higher?” Really, the bar is about 700. 

There are a lot of industries that really value the GMAT and those are going to largely parallel those that value the MBA. Finance, banking, and consulting firms will generally respond favorably to a GMAT score and one of the things to understand about why this is is to understand what the GMAT is and how it factors into a hiring decision. 

GMAT As a Signal

The GMAT’s what’s called a psychometric exam and much like other standardized tests, whether it’s the SAT, the ACT, GRE, LSAT, these test not just what you know but to varying degrees how you think and many of the top consulting shops have HR departments that have their own in-house tests. So the GMAT serves as a good proxy for those and signals that you will likely thrive and do well in the testing environment that, let’s say, McKinsey might place you in. 

Understand that a strong GMAT score immediately says to the the recruiter, that you can handle a certain amount of intellectual rigor and then you have a certain amount of pliability to the way you think. That’s the value of a GMAT score on a resume, aside from the fact, of course, that it compares you to your peers favorably. 

Include Your GMAT Score Where Necessary

So, as you’re hunting for jobs, whether it’s post-MBA or whether you just took the GMAT and decided not to go to business school or got an alternative degree, think about listing your GMAT and think about it as a talking point for how you overcame an obstacle or in a way that might be complementary to the profile or the narrative that you’re trying to present to a particular hiring manager. I hope this helps and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us!

If you enjoyed this video, you can find more useful GMAT content such as: Everything you need to know about the GMAT and GMAT Prep Tips

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Posted on
19
May 2020

GMAT Scoring – Demystified

One of the most common questions asked by those who are new to the GMAT is how exactly does the computer adaptive test or CAT work? The long and short of it is that if you get a problem correct, they give you a harder one, if you get a problem incorrect, they give you an easier one. By doing this the GMAT is able to bounce up and down and calibrate to your skill level.

Should You Spend more time on the first 10 questions?

A few things come out of this including questions about how to spend your time. Whether certain questions are weighted more than others, whether your timing, that is the amount of time you spend on a problem factors into the score.

To start, there’s a common misconception that you should spend more time on the first 10 questions because they tend to adjust your level for the computer adaptive test at a greater rate. While that’s true in the sense that the computer adapted model on the GMAT does influence it more at the outset, whether you should spend more time is actually a more complex question because generally the GMAT is going to give you problems that are about average and build up or down from that average.

Planning To Score An Elite GMAT Score

If you’re planning on performing at a top level, at an elite level, if your goal is 700 or even 600, you need to assume that those early problems that are average level problems you’re going to do well and in a timely manner anyway.

That is spending extra time to ensure you get them correct is a grandiose version of spending extra time to make sure that you’re getting two plus two correct. You wouldn’t check that because you’re confident enough in your skills and if you’re in the GMAT and you’re getting ready to shoot for a 700 you should already be confident enough in your skills not to have to spend extra time on average level problems. To take these problems on a problem-by-problem basis rather than with blanket statements.

Does The Test keep Track of Other Information?

A common question is whether or not the test keeps track of the type of problems you do. This can refer to:

    • subject matter
    • problem solving versus data sufficiency 
    • reading comprehension versus critical reasoning versus sentence correction

However, we can still go about it with the core rule: if you get it right you’re going to see something more challenging, get it wrong, less challenging. We tend to believe that they don’t keep a great track of that but really rely upon the bouncing up and down to calibrate you to your average performance level. You don’t want to sweat any single problem or worry about any single problem type in regards to the Computer Adaptive Test.

Certainly,  sometimes you’ll know that certain types of problems require more or less attention from you or that you make common errors on those problems. However, that’s not a CAT thing, that’s just a general GMAT thing. 

You are penalized for spending too much time on a problem but not in the way you think.

The other big question we hear a lot is whether or not the amount of time you take on a problem factors into the score. The answer here is subtle, it’s yes and no. No in the sense that the GMAT scoring algorithm does not track the amount of time that you spend on a problem. But, yes in the sense that the more time you spend on problems the less time you have for other problems. In particular, if you’re scoring above average, you’re on this ascendant curve so that the difficult problems at the end require more time than the less challenging problems at the beginning.

Therefore, if the GMAT kept track of your time and penalized you for spending longer on problems they would actually be penalizing you twice and this gets us into our timing decisions and the trade-off between time and score.

Time and Score Trade-off

When you’re armed with confidence and knowledge about how something works you don’t have to worry about how it works or how what you’re doing affects how it works and you can focus on the task at hand. 

The more that you can offload the burden of worrying about the scoring and the mechanisms by which the GMAT measures you, the more success you will find. As always, I hope this helps and keep prepping!

If you enjoyed GMAT Scoring Demystified, watch The Effects Of Coffee On GMAT Performance.

 

 

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Posted on
13
Mar 2020

What Are GMAT Scoring Plateaus and How To Overcome Them

Mike from Apex GMAT, here to talk about scoring plateaus on the GMAT. You might be surprised to learn that I don’t really want to talk about specific scores. Plateaus exist and as tutors we kind of know where they are but the important takeaway is not to focus on the score but rather the skills that you have or don’t have that cause you to plateau at a certain level.

Scoring Plateaus Explained

Everyone goes through one or two, sometimes three plateau levels during their prep. This is very normal, but it can be disconcerting especially if it’s the first time that you’re encountering this. Or if you’re used to being excellent in school or with a particular subject matter. These scoring plateaus have everything to do with the way you approach a problem and what we call the level of abstraction that you understand the problem at. Whether we’re talking about quantitative problems or verbal problems. At different levels on the GMAT, it requires us to look at them from an increasingly abstract wide angle lens to understand what’s going on and what’s being asked of us.

The First Scoring Plateau (mid 500s)

At the most basic level, certainly through the first 40, 50th percentile on all the sections. So up to the mid-500s let’s say, most of what you’re being asked is skills oriented. That is if you understand the mechanisms of action the formulas the basic English construction behind problems you should be able to get to an answer. That’s not to say that your correct answer will have been done in a timely manner. That is that you’ve used the correct solution path or rather a time efficient, optimal solution path but you should be able to get there. But then the GMAT has to differentiate among all the people who have the base level skills and they really expect you to have these skills.

Implementing Your Knowledge

It’s not that they’re testing you on whether you know how to compute the volume of a cube. They want you to know that. They want to see what you can do with that when you’re presented with a more complicated problem. And so the first level skill set is to see a problem not as a, identify the problem, plug in a formula, analyze an argument, get to an answer, but rather be aware of the construction of a problem and understand what an optimal solution path looks like. Recognize shortcuts, recognize signals in the problem that permit you to have a greater understanding and a quicker decision process.

The Second Scoring Plateau

As we progress further, the next scoring plateau comes in where the GMAT that presents something in such a new way that you are not unprepared for it. Where you have to utilize and bring to bear some of your creative thinking skills to a problem because it’s presented in a way that’s less familiar or less practiced. The GMAT can do this at any level. But this means that your focus needs to go from understanding what’s in the problem to understanding what the problem is asking for and the common mechanisms of action that the GMAT will use to enhance the complexity of a problem. Once you’re aware of how they complicate a problem you can more readily address it. And directly utilize your knowledge of the underlying subject matter to come up with a creative on the spot solution.

Final Plateau

At the highest levels, this is in overdrive. Where you’re given a problem that’s highly complex and usually requires inductive rather than deductive thinking. Deductive thinking is starting with some premises and breaking them down further. Inductive thinking is taking your premises and what they break down to but adding something at the level above that. This causes us to be able to see something in this pyramid further down the line. This is a type of thinking that’s taught much less at schools. It is one of the core characteristics that allows for success at the highest levels of the GMAT. Where you need to think beyond what you’re given and create a new nest a new home for this problem that gives it additional definition.

This is of course much easier said than done. The scope of this video is to outline this thematically. If you look at our other videos, you’ll start to see hints of this framework as we talk about different problems, the way to approach them and of course what the GMAT exam tests. So check out some of our videos below and give us a call if you need some help. We’re here to help and we want to see you succeed.

If you liked this video, check out: GMAT: Not a Standard Standardized Test. For more videos visit: Apex GMAT Vlog

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