Posted on
25
Aug 2020

## 5 Takeaways from a Successful GMAT Journey

Author: Apex GMAT

Contributor: Svetozara Saykova

# 5 Takeaways from a Successful GMAT Journey

Each client that contacts us is in a different stage of their GMAT prep, but a universal constant is that each is striving for a great 700+ GMAT score. The threshold difficulty standing in their way is the lack of a proper mindset, which in turn can lead to a poor performance, whether due attitude, inefficient solving mechanisms, misplaced focus, or myriad other issues. No matter what, mindset leads the way to performance.

To adjust one’s way of perceiving problems requires much more intricate work than cramming a bunch of material, facts, and figures. Taking the time to understand this and elevate your approach to the test is challenging but ultimately rewarding come test day. Here are five takeaways that anyone scoring 700 or better on the GMAT comes to realize along their GMAT journey. These insights that help test takers thrive help top performers continue to excel in their MBA/grad school programs and in their post-MBA careers, long after the GMAT is a distant memory.

#### It is not what you know… it’s what you do with it.

The GMAT is a psychometric exam. It expects you to be knowledgeable in a core group of secondary school concepts. It’s not a knowledge test, but it uses this universe of information as a baseline that everyone reasonably has been exposed to long before they thought about the GMAT. The exam tests not so much your knowledge but your creative application of that knowledge.

In the process of preparing for your GMAT it is vital to maximize your performance, which necessitates deep understanding of seemingly straightforward concepts so that you can be flexible in how you navigate them. For instance, in the Integrated Reasoning section there is a high chance that you will come across an unfamiliar graph you need to use. In such a case the ability to draw conclusions from known graphs and apply them to the new situation is much more valuable than having seen the specific graph before.

This holds true well beyond the exam. The amount of information you will be exposed to within the 2 years of a top tier MBA program is staggering. In order to thrive in this demanding environment you must be selective, actively deciding what information you take on to master, and use universal thinking tools (heuristics and mental models) to be adaptable as new concepts and information come your way.

For the GMAT, the core concepts are indeed essential. But it is also important to notice what concepts and information you can derive from fundamental knowledge and how to do so, hence not needing to memorize it. Knowing how to successfully apply your knowledge will result in efficiency which will afford you the ability and time to excel in the GMAT, explore what your MBA has to offer, and be a thought leader in your chosen career.

#### Prioritization is crucial

On the GMAT there are harsh penalties for unanswered questions, so it is vital to complete each section in the time allotted. Therefore, proper time and process management is critical when sitting the exam. Essentially, each problem represents a decision where you must weigh the likelihood of obtaining a correct answer, your time commitment to that problem, ancillary considerations like stress and focus management, and how this problem fits into your larger strategy for the section and the exam. Ultimately, you must decide how much time it is worth expending on each problem as part of your core process.

This mental cost benefit analysis must be deeply embedded in your thought process to achieve an elite GMAT score. With the proper calibration, this sense will certainly be useful in business school and beyond. In the professional world, there will always be time constraints – be it stringent deadlines or time zone differences. Being able to prioritize focus and make decisions quickly and accurately while navigating uncertainty and incomplete information is a huge strength. Similarly, actively choosing to abandon a low value or less important task so that you can fully devote to solving an issue of importance is not a sign of weakness or incapability, but rather an asset in a world that will always ask more of you than you can give. Time is scarce in the workplace, and just like on the GMAT, you should prioritize what adds the most value to your bottom line.

#### Every problem has multiple solution paths

A common theme in our client’s feedback is their fascination with a core principle that we teach; that every GMAT problem has multiple solution paths and that sensitivity to how you solve the problem is more important than simply arriving at the correct answer. Let’s take a means and averages problem from the Quant section as an example. Many would be tempted to solve this mathematically straightaway, but this problem can be solved more efficiently using a scenario or a graph rather than processing equations, delivering greater clarity and freeing up valuable time for other, more challenging problems.

Wresting yourself away from the paradigm that a problem has a single “correct” solution path is essential to conquering the GMAT but is also valuable in life. Very few things are clear cut and unambiguous, and training yourself to recognize multiple ways to get to the same destination is important, especially if you can recognize them before committing to any specific path. Seeking answers beyond the ordinary and obvious will provide you with innovative ways of overcoming obstacles and drive progress, and make you a thought leader among your peers and in your graduate program and organization.

Focusing on the structure of the GMAT helps you compare solution paths and choose the best for the current challenge, resulting in not only a correct answer, but a timely one. Moreover, thinking of a problem from multiple perspectives means that you take into consideration unlikely or unnoticed features of a problem, and when applied to a business setting, this added vision can drive great insight into stakeholders interests and uncover innovative solutions to intractable problems.

#### In order to succeed first know yourself

The GMAT is not an exam where you can get 100% of the problems correct. In fact, your score will not depend on the number of questions that you get correct, but rather by the difficulty level of the ones that you do get correct. Since the GMAT is computer adaptive, it increases in difficulty until it matches a candidate’s capabilities, and the aim as a test taker is to get to the most difficult problems that you can handle, and then get most of those correct. In this way, the GMAT drives you to perform at your best rather than spending a lot of time testing fundamentals.

Ultimately, this means that you must decide how to allocate your time and energy to produce the best performance. This means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, evaluating each problem in light of those, and then deciding which problems make sense to handle, which make sense to invest extra time in, and which (few) problems you might want to walk away from right off the bat in order to preserve your valuable time for higher value problems. Don’t simply put your head down and try to get everything right – at least not at first.

During your GMAT preparation you should be conscious of how you perform and how you have progressed from where you began. If you struggle to finish a practice exam in a timely manner, this is a sign that your time management skills require polishing, and that you’re not making timing decisions well. If you perform well on Sentence Correction but not on the Reading Comprehension, then that means that you can spend less time on SC questions and reallocate that time towards Reading Comp, thereby increasing your score and building confidence in your GMAT allocation decisions along the way.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and the workload you handle best will help you excel in your career. Furthermore, knowing your capabilities can aid you when setting work boundaries and defining your professional skill set on the other side of business school. Successful professionals know how to focus on what they do best, and remove those tasks that impinge upon their productivity and value.

In this way, they don’t find themselves taking on too much, and are able to have work life balance, all while placing them in a position to continue to achieve because of that balance. Overworking is counterproductive because it drives burnout and reduces focus and efficiency. In much the same way that athletes require proper rest for peak performance, those working in intellectually rigorous fields requiring creativity need mental breaks for better focus, clarity and job performance. In this sense, being aware of your own limitations will guide you towards a healthy work-life balance and in turn increase productivity.

#### 5% talent and 95% hard work

Being naturally intuitive with numbers or extremely well-read can provide a great footing for your GMAT preparation. Without further development, however, natural talent can only take you so far. The GMAT begins testing you the moment you can no longer trust your intuition and talent, and then need to rely upon knowing what you don’t know, and navigating towards deeper insights. The GMAT tests a range of skills such as critical assessment of data, ability to reason and analytical thinking. This means that being knowledgeable and skillful with fundamentals, or being a strong student only lays the foundation for success. It’s persistence, determination, and having a comprehensive study plan and clear understanding of GMAT architecture that defines those who score 700 or better.

The good news is that the skills necessary to get a 700+ GMAT score can be cultivated and enhanced with hard work, perseverance and determination. Moreover, these same skills can help you get the most out of your MBA program and career and enhance your skill set. For example, in business school you may come across an exceptional mathematician pursuing a concentration in Marketing because she has identified a weak point, and wants to focus on how to conduct research, to write and communicate clearly and effectively and to understand and implement data in the decision making process. Similarly, someone with average mathematical Mathematical ability might excel in Finance courses because of the skills he has developed – analytical thinking, problem solving, and constructing mental models.

#### Conclusion

The most important thing is to put in the hard work (effortful learning, not just a lot of prep time) to grow those top-level skills, regardless of how naturally gifted you are in a given subject. Marketing isn’t all creativity nor is finance all math, and in this way professional challenges are similar to the GMAT itself, which is neither about Math nor English grammar. Compensating your weaknesses and enhancing your strengths in your chosen concentration will be a vital part of your MBA experience, and it should start with your GMAT preparation.

Your GMAT journey can be pleasant and enriching rather than an arduous, distasteful experience that you dread having to go through. With the proper mindset, guidance and support you can grow through your GMAT experience to acquire valuable skills that will help you for years to come.

Schedule a call with one of our experienced GMAT consultants at +41 41 534 98 78, +44 (0) 79 4361 2406 or +1 (917) 819-5945  and get a head start on the road to achieving your goal.

If you enjoyed this GMAT journey article, watch 650 scoring GMAT profiles next.

Posted on
20
Aug 2020

# GMAT Time Management

Today let’s talk about time management on the GMAT. There are so many misconceptions and so many people looking at time management the wrong way and really running themselves in circles thinking about managing their time.

#### If you are actively managing your Time, you are doing something wrong

Let’s start with the big secret here: If you’re actively managing your time on the GMAT you’re doing something wrong. If you’re looking up the clock every problem or every 6-8 problems you’re doing something wrong.

The fact of the matter is that successful GMAT test takers don’t actively manage their time. They manage their process and the process then manages the time for them, so that they can maintain their entire focus on the problems in front of them and not have to switch their attention away. It’s this attention switching, that actually can drag down your performance on the GMAT.

So let’s take a deeper look at what it means to manage your process. I’m going to start with a story. Most of you out there drive. Just about everyone here rides in a vehicle at least semi-regularly and during the course of driving around you will come to traffic lights and most of the time you sit at the traffic light.

When it’s red it turns green and you go. You don’t really think about it but every once in a while you’re sitting at a light, and sitting and sitting, and sitting, and eventually, this thought creeps into your head: “My god this is a really long traffic light. I’m waiting a little too much time” or “a little more than normal” and it’s that neural mechanism, that sense of time in the sense of something taking a little too long that is at the heart of what process time management’s about.

#### Become more sensitive to time

As you’re preparing for the GMAT keep this process focus in mind. Remember that what you want to do is be sensitive to when something’s taking too long and ultimately you want to become sensitive to when something might take too long so that you can take appropriate action before you end up spending a bunch of time on a problem that’s not going to work for you.

Skipping a problem here and there is part of many elite test taker’s GMAT strategies and you shouldn’t ever feel bad about it. Similarly, you shouldn’t feel bad about spending longer on one problem or less time on another.

#### Series information

This is part of a series of videos we’ll be creating about time management so subscribe at *link* and keep checking in with us if you want to learn more about how to allocate your time on GMAT. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime with questions.

If you enjoyed this time management video, make sure to watch 650 GMAT score profiles

Posted on
18
Aug 2020

## How To GMAT: Efficient Learning

Author: Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ivan Minchev

Studying can be a daunting task for many, especially when there is a limited amount of time, and when the exam – like the GMAT – isn’t a standard standardized test. Lack of interest (it’s ok to admit it… not everyone is as excited as we are about the GMAT), stress, and exhaustion can be distractions that hinder one’s concentration and progress. There are a myriad studying techniques out there to tackle these obstacles, with some more effective than others. This is why this list of 8 studying tips is aimed to assist you in preparing for the GMAT in the most efficient manner possible.

#### 1.Avoid Last-minute Cramming

Make sure you have enough prep time before the exam: our tutors recommend spending about 90-120 days on your GMAT preparation from start to finish. Shorter time frames can work too, but if you can, give yourself the privilege of not having to rush.

Last-minute cramming is the most inefficient way of preparing for an exam, and can be counterproductive for the GMAT, which tests your flexibility, not your knowledge. Cramming can result in added stress and anxiety, which can further detract from your performance. Moreover, the GMAT doesn’t lend itself to cramming, meaning that you’ll need to dedicate some time to get used to its format, the types of questions, and most importantly the skills required to tackle the test to achieve a successful outcome.

#### 2. Designate A “Study Spot”

Find a place where you feel relaxed, but alert – cozy but serious, without the presence of any stress-inducing or distracting factors. Be sure to keep your spot clean and tidy, and only use it for studying or similar mental work. The more you become accustomed to studying in your spot the easier it will be to transition into ‘study’ mode and you’ll be able to get the optimal yield of your GMAT prep time.

#### 3. Listen To Music (Optional)

Some people don’t fancy studying in silence, while others do. In fact, many people find it harder to concentrate due to the lack of background noise. The solution is simple – music. Play some calm background music to go with the study session. The genre depends solely on one’s musical tastes but typically jazz, lo-fi hip-hop, and classical music are go-to’s. Try to focus on instrumental music and avoid anything distracting.

Keep in mind that on the GMAT itself no music is permitted, so your use of music is only to get into a flow state for studying. This means that on the GMAT you’ll most certainly have to contend with annoying noises that you’d typically not notice. Especially when the testing room is silent and crowded, even the smallest of noises can become irritating. To counter this, also try studying in places that mimic the test environment in this negative sense. Total silence on test day is not a realistic expectation.

#### 4. Don’t Forget To Rest

Taking a break is an essential component for progress. When somebody works out, they don’t train for 3 hours straight without any rest. Build a routine. Determine the best and most productive time of the day to study and take regular breaks to let your brain rest. For most people mid-morning and mid-evening are peak times for productivity in this regard. When preparing for the GMAT try to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minute units.

A good night’s sleep is also crucial for a sharp mind, especially with mentally exhausting tasks such as the GMAT. However tempting it might be to stay up late at night, not getting enough sleep will lower a person’s ability to concentrate and will greatly hinder your brain’s functionality when the time to study comes around. In fact, sleep has been shown in many scientific studies to be essential for long term retention of information and new ways of doing things, meaning that a good night’s sleep can actually be more valuable than a few more hours of studying.

#### 5. Maintain A Healthy Diet

Food has an enormous impact on energy levels and focus; two things essential for success on the GMAT. Keep your brain fueled by snacking on healthy and nutritious food.

Ideally, snacks should be slow energy release foods, such as nuts, some fruits like blueberries, green vegetables (avocados, broccoli, spinach, celery), yogurt, and even high protein foods like fish and eggs.

Avoid junk food, especially things that will cause fluctuations in your blood sugar. Also watch out for highly processed products (chocolate, cookies, doughnuts, and even fruit juice). Such food might give your body an energy surge for a while, but a crash will follow soon after.

#### 6. Hydrate

Just as eating the right way is of vital importance, staying hydrated is equally essential. Around 60% of the human body is water, with the brain being composed of almost 73% water. While this isn’t a scientific argument, numerous studies point out that in order to retain a higher level of focus and cognition, the brain, and the human connected to it, needs to be well hydrated. Make sure to drink enough water during study sessions and the exam day. On test day, be sure to be hydrated, but don’t get stuck having to “go” in the middle of the test. There is nothing as distracting and hindering performance as being under pressure.

#### 7. Try To Explain New Concepts Out Loud And In A Clear Way

As soon as a new strategy, concept, or technique is learned you should try to explain it out loud as if trying to teach it to someone else. Better yet, find someone to teach! And this doesn’t only apply to GMAT prep but to efficient learning in general. This is a great way to make sure that it is thoroughly understood and can be successfully implemented. It also forces you to develop a vocabulary so that you can speak to yourself about a challenging problem in a productive way. Try doing this multiple times until you are able to explain it so effortlessly that another person can grasp it without much trouble. This is easier said than done, but will accelerate your preparation immensely, even if imperfectly implemented.

#### 8. Learn From Your Mistakes

Go over past GMAT practice tests and redo them to see if there are still problematic sections that need extra focus. Keep track of past and current scores to measure progress more comfortably, and maintain an error log to track the types of problems that challenge you most frequently, as well as those that you understand but tend to sink a lot of time into due to inefficient solution paths.

#### Conclusion

Well, there you have it: 8 great techniques to enhance your study time. This isn’t a comprehensive list, though. Always actively try out new tactics to find what works best for you. At the end of the day, everybody has a unique way of learning, and your strategies should reflect your unique approach. If you have difficulty figuring out what works best for you and are in need of some guidance on your GMAT prep journey you can give us a call at +1 (267) 575 7737. Visit our GMAT Curriculum page to find out what topics to cover in your exam prep.

Posted on
13
Aug 2020

# Profiles of Candidates Scoring 650 on the GMAT| GMAT Talk

Today we’re going to speak about what we call profiles in the 650. A lot of times people see their score as sort of a fixed assessment of where they are rather than as a result of a balance of different characteristics that they have and that is feeding into their score. So when we speak with clients a lot of times they say:

“Oh well, I’ve got a 650 I want to get to a 720 – What do I need to do?”

The short answer is: We’ve got no idea because there’s a lot of different ways to make a 650 or a 580 or 620 and so we will talk about a few different profiles and how they could all result in the same score.

#### Albert:

First off we’ve got Albert who is an engineer. He’s very meticulous. He knows a lot of quantitative information so he’s got really strong fundamentals but he also has been trained in an engineering environment which means he approaches problems very linearly. Not just the quantitative problems but the verbal problems as well because his education, especially his higher education, has been very targeted, very straightforward.

Albert knows the fundamentals but the moment he sees a problem he already has decided how to solve it or rather his training has decided how to solve it. He has one solution path. He knows it works and he’s perfectly clear on what to do so he sits down and he does it. This means it’s generally time inefficient but also that he’s not bringing to bear one of the most useful characteristics to his GMAT, which is creative problem-solving.

By not availing himself of his executive-level critical thinking skills or of thinking about the structure of the GMAT rather than just the content he’s doing everything to perfection which has a time constraint and he ends up performing fairly well but gets stuck on the more challenging problems where the algebra or the technicalities of grammar become overwhelming. And in this way, Albert gets to a 650 but he plateaus. He can’t get any further on the exam.

#### Betty:

Next, we have Betty, and Betty is really sharp and has always been someone able to thrive in different work environments and to a large extent in academic environments. However, she’s never been one for more formal education and training.

What happens with Betty is that she’s got great instinct. She looks at a problem and she sees the quick way to solve it partially because a lot of her training isn’t formal and she doesn’t know all the rules or all the mechanics of the grammar or how the GMAT structures critical reasoning or reading comprehension or how exponents work but she’s got a good enough idea to use her high-level functioning skills to ‘bounce’ around to a path of success.

Betty also does well and gets to a 650 but her gap is very different than Albert’s. Where Albert needs flexibility Betty just needs a refresh on the fundamentals. Given the fact that she’s already there with strong instincts and some basis in the fundamentals those fundamentals for Betty would be much easier to plug in.

As such she’s going to have a much shorter prep timeline than Albert even though they have the same score going into it. What’s more Albert’s going to have to focus on unlearning habits that he’s developed over years and years of training whereas Betty can lean into her habits.

#### Charlie:

Finally, let’s talk about Charlie. Charlie has always been a grade 4.0, all A-level type of student. He studies a lot and he’s always been really great at presenting exactly what’s needed to get the marks.

As such he’s always done really well on examinations including standardized examinations maybe like the SAT or the ACT. However, the GMAT is the first time he feels really challenged and the reason for that is that the GMAT is adaptive. So Charlie’s modus operandi – the way he’s been trained and the way he approaches things, is to understand what’s expected of him and then fulfill that. So he’s in reactive mode, whereas the GMAT knows that or the designers of the GMAT know that people who prep in a reactive fashion will eventually get to a point where their solution path’s default solving mechanisms don’t give them the unique approach to allow them to excel past a certain level.

So he also stops at a 650 and he’s sort of halfway between the two others that we already discussed, where he’s going to have to unlearn some habits but he’s also probably in a better position than Albert if he can get away from the prescribed ways that he approaches the exam and the fundamentals. He might need to study the fundamentals but he’s probably over studying them and not looking enough at approaches outside what he thinks the exam wants.

So Charlie would need to work on developing a sense of the structure of the exam, of using the skills that he’s developed to understand when a question is put to him what it is structurally that the GMAT is looking for, how it’s built so that he can react to it with his top-level fundamentals and the creativity that he’s always had as a student but molded in a very different way.

#### Conclusion:

So these are three profiles in a 650 with three very different prep timelines and more importantly three very different sets of skills that these clients need to work on.

So if you see yourself in one or several of these (and these three are by no means exhaustive), give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk with you, understand where you’re coming from on the exam, and try and get a sense of which profile you fall in.

Bear in mind that everyone’s different and these are three extreme examples. You probably are somewhere in a mix between these and a few other of the archetypes that we see regularly. By getting a sense of who you are (which also includes your personality and your behavioral and emotional approach to the exam), how you like to learn and how you perform we can put together a way for you to move forward if you’re stuck and you’ve hit a plateau.

If you don’t feel like talking to us, by all means, think about these different characteristics: how reactive you are, how prescribed your methods are, how many solution paths you see when you take a look at a particular problem, and if any of those seem very restrictive focus on that but don’t get caught up in the trap that most people fall into which is reviewing their fundamentals over and over and expecting movement because most of this game (and I’m calling it a game on purpose) is played on a behavioral and emotional level.

If you score 650 on the GMAT and can’t seem to move on from that score speak to an apex instructor to find out more about our personalized approach to GMAT prep.

Posted on
11
Aug 2020

## 5 Excellent Apex GMAT Tutors Near You

5 Excellent Apex GMAT Tutors Near You

14th July 2020

By: Apex GMAT

Contributor: Svetozara Saykova

Do you feel like you dream big? Considering that you’ll be taking the GMAT that seems about right. Guiding and supporting ambitious individuals, like you, from all around the globe is what Apex instructors take great pride in. Here at ApexGMAT, we operate globally to ensure an outstanding tutoring experience, whatever your schedule or work situation. Evenings, weekends, night-shift, polar mining camp, three week missile silo assignment – whatever your situation, we have you covered (all of those are real places we’ve helped clients, by the way). Our distinguished 770+ GMAT tutors are based all around the world, covering every time zone, delivering our signature GMAT mentorship at those times most convenient for you. Here are a few of our excellent GMAT tutors:

#### Mike Diamond

Mike Diamond is the Head of Instruction and Director of Curriculum Development. He has a rich and diverse background – politics, investment and instruction, prior to specializing in GMAT tutoring. Mike has a strong and in-depth expertise in mathematical modeling specializing in non-linear mathematics, stochastic calculus and statistical analysis. Currently based in Switzerland, Mike is dedicated to delivering a premium GMAT tutoring experience. He values learning and is committed to helping students maximizing their potential through personalized guidance.

#### Marvin Barron

Marvin has 15+ years of experience in the business sphere. In addition to his in-depth expertise Marvin is passionate about providing ambitious individuals with advice and guidance on their journey to success. Marvin’s tutoring approach is exceptionally personalized and this makes him an invaluable member of the Apex team. He currently lives and works in  Philadelphia. He is available for clients across the US from New York to California, London, Continental Europe and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) / Middle East. Making each student feel comfortable and building their confidence is Marvin’s superpower, which is the key to a marvellous GMAT experience.

#### Jaymes Kine

Jaymes has a rich background in teaching and his students have been from various nationalities. He has lived and worked in plenty of countries and his latest place of residence is the Middle East. He is available for clients in Europe, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Jaymes believes that establishing a personal connection with each and every student leads to better learning experiences and higher GMAT scores therefore he strives to establish that tutor – student relation with both privately tutored students and those who he consults in a group setting.

#### Christopher Wilson

Chris has an extensive background in education as well as project management. Over the years his mentees have been from up and coming corporations to undergraduates seeking to further their education. Even with such diverse clientele, Christopher manages to personalize his approach towards the particular student and he believes this helps clients successfully prepare for the test. Chris has vast experience in the test preparation industry and an in-depth understanding of the GMAT exam in particular. Currently, based in Chicago he covers clients in United States and Europe, Christopher is dedicated to making his consulting impactful for each and every student that he works with.  He’s also an early riser, and has worked with clients on all 6 non-frozen continents.

#### David Chambers

David joined the Apex team with nearly a decade long experience with the GMAT. He has a diverse background, which combines business and chemical engineering. David attained both of his Master’s degrees in the United Kingdom, where he is also currently based. He is the man on the ground for Apex in London and covers clients in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United Arab Emirates. David is one of the most experienced GMAT consultants on the market and his wit and straightforwardness have helped thousands of clients excel in their GMAT endeavours.

So if you are looking for the best GMAT instructors on the market, look no further. Time zones and distance are not a problem for our experienced team. Schedule a call at  +41 41 534 98 78 or +44 (0) 79 4361 2406  to speak to one of our instructors about your personalized GMAT preparation journey.

Posted on
04
Aug 2020

## One on one GMAT Tutoring: Your Way to GMAT Success

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

June 30, 2020

When it comes to GMAT tutoring, we at Apex have learned that there are a set of core characteristics that all successful GMAT test takers embody; no matter their industry, degree, personal traits or prior levels of knowledge. In this article, we’ll:

• explore each of these eight core characteristics
• deconstruct a few of the faulty assumptions that test takers bring to the process
• distinguish one-on-one GMAT tutoring as an efficient way for most people to achieve a competitive GMAT score and build a solid foundation for an MBA program.

Many people preparing for the GMAT believe that it’s the instructor’s responsibility to implement their own expertise and style to improve one’s current skill level and address one’s weaknesses. The reality, however, is more of a two way street, where the important element is the compatibility between a tutor’s teaching style and a student’s learning style. A qualified instructor is one that first examines the way a client processes new information and perceives problems, and the techniques he or she uses to address those problems. Only after a tutor has understood one’s learning style can he/she match professional guidance with the needs of the client.

#### 1. Creating a productive & efficient learning structure

Oftentimes, test takers seek GMAT tutoring because they have stumbled upon enough types of challenging problems that they can’t tackle alone, or they’ve reached the peak of their self-preparation but still seek higher results. One-on-one tutoring differs from self-prep and group work with a tutor in terms of learning environment and having the benefit of an external perception of your performance. With private GMAT tutoring, communication dynamics are on a much more personal, and personalized, level – yielding stronger results much more quickly than alternative solutions.

The privacy and trust inherent in a one on one GMAT tutoring setup permits test takers to feel comfortable sharing their weaknesses in a safe environment and tackle those things that are challenging to them without worrying about how it will be interpreted by peers. The comfort afforded by this situation should not be underestimated. A private GMAT tutor not only helps with improving one’s technique and self-knowledge, but also strives to create a healthy and secure learning environment that is vital for:

• reducing test anxiety
• building GMAT confidence
• improving studying habits
• avoiding distractions and disruptions of the learning process
• encouraging freedom to ask questions
• nurturing motivation

#### 2. Constant two-way feedback

A fundamental rule of management states, “No feedback is bad feedback”. Another is “What gets measured gets managed.” When preparing alone or within a group, a future test taker will not have a clear indication about how effective they are performing until they take a practice exam, and even then the exam only focuses on specific metrics. A good private GMAT tutor will know what to look for, what to measure, and what feedback to give to provide rapid and lasting results. They will guide you through questions that are matched to your current level of skill, meaning that you will be consistently receiving feedback on your methodology, time allocation, implementation of knowledge, and solution paths as you progress through your GMAT preparation. This ongoing back and forth communication will allow you to identify your weak spots in self-prep as well, and revisit appropriate material to deepen your understanding of less comfortable concepts.

#### 3. Learning at your own pace, and then speeding it up

Timing is the most crucial aspect of the GMAT that you need to master to achieve a great score. Naturally, everyone excels at tackling some problems and needs more time to solve others. Tutoring can hone your timing decisions and your tutor can create a customized plan for timing allocation across a range of problems depending upon your relative strengths and weaknesses.

Studying with a private GMAT tutor will also allow you to spend the right amount of time on each aspect of the exam according to your scoring needs. This lets you avoid inefficiencies and master only those techniques that will be most useful to you in order to fulfil your potential.

#### 4. Developing specific skill sets to tackle each section of the GMAT

The GMAT test is a complex exam designed not to test high school knowledge, but rather core character traits like adaptability, time management, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and multitasking. You cannot achieve a high GMAT score if there is a significant difference between your performance in each section of the exam. A private GMAT tutor can give you the best insights on how to build, manage, and combine the different skills needed to get a great end-result and achieve parity between your verbal and quantitative scores.

#### 5. Realizing better use of your time

Flexibility and accessibility of learning is key to maximizing your potential. One-on-one GMAT tutoring is:

• Usually offered online. This means that you can schedule sessions at the most convenient time depending only on your flexibility. You can have lessons in your breaks from work, gaps between classes, during daily commutes, during holidays, in the park, etc.
• Available at any time. This is not the case with group GMAT tutoring as classes are scheduled depending on the instructor. Apex works globally, and has tutoring available in every time zone around the globe. Private GMAT tutoring should be designed to meet your lifestyle requirements and you should aim to schedule sessions when you are most productive. A technique that the best GMAT instructors adopt is to schedule sessions at a time of the day when you are supposed to sit your actual exam. This can help you simulate conditions similar to those on test day and give you important insights on how to maximize your productivity at that specific time frame.
• Offered with different options depending on duration and material covered in the program. Whether you are a beginner or someone who already has a strong understanding of the GMAT, you can choose a specifically designed GMAT curriculum depending on what you strive to achieve. This is reflected in the amount of hours you are going to spend with an instructor and in the price of the service. At Apex we offer a complimentary first call to help you determine what course of action will be the most suitable for you depending on your current level of preparation and your GMAT aspirations.

#### 6. Understanding where you excel and what you struggle with most

If you are aiming for an elite GMAT score, you’ll need to leverage your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. Understanding the meaning behind each question, its structure and underlying testing purpose, and the methodologies the test writers use to construct the problems is essential for success. The best one-on-one GMAT tutors are aware of the subtleties of the exam and can not only guide you around them, but teach you how to leverage these subtleties for high level insights into the hardest 750+ problems. This will predispose you to uncovering features of the test that most preppers have never even considered.

#### 7. Utilizing learning aids

Finding and gaining access to challenging GMAT problems, authentic and reliable practice tests / mock exams, and appropriate study tools can take ages to hunt down (and cost a fortune). One-on-one GMAT tutoring allows you to refocus your valuable time as experienced instructors will already have compiled a solid database of resources and questions and show you the ones that are most relevant to your success at your current level. That way, your instructor, and not you, will spend the time filtering them according to your needs and present the ones that will have the greatest positive impact on your GMAT preparation.

#### 8. The expertise and professional mentorship of a private GMAT tutor

Working with an expert GMAT tutor who has scored well into the top 1%, and who knows the exam inside and out will help you accelerate your learning and move the needle of your progress in ways you only read about on GMAT blogs. Experienced instructors are trained to teach you how to overcome the different GMAT scoring plateaus and meet your personal target. The goal of great tutors is not only to show you how to answer a question correctly, but also to help you extract a methodology that can be continuously applied to other questions across the GMAT, and to problems beyond.

Apex’s tutors focus on teaching the higher order strategies that are necessary for the achievement of a 700+ score and bringing out your optimal performance. Enlisting the help of a one-on-one GMAT instructor is recommended for those who are short on time or those who already have a solid understanding of the exam and are scoring well (low to mid-600’s), but are looking to gain those extra points that will make them get into their dream MBA program and lay the groundwork for a challenging, engaging, and lucrative career.

Posted on
30
Jul 2020

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

Posted on
28
Jul 2020

## GMAT 101: What to Expect on the GMAT Test

by ApexGMAT

Contributor: Svetozara Saykova

July 28th, 2020

The GMAT is a challenging exam, and in this article we’ll provide both a broad overview of how it works as well as a deep dive into its nuances to put you on a surer footing for preparing, and ultimately conquering, the exam. There’s a good chance that you’ve already decided to apply to several MBA programs, and that they all require a GMAT score, so let’s get started!

#### What is the GMAT?

The GMAT (short for Graduate Management Admissions Test) is an advanced examination that is a requirement for admission to most MBA (Masters of Business Administration) programs. The GMAT consists of four sections – Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and the Analytical Writing Assessment. Each part examines a particular set of skills vital in the business world. A candidate’s performance on the exam helps admission officers assess their suitability for the rigorous curriculum and challenges of an MBA program.

The GMAT requires knowledge of high school level math as well as English language and grammar. The catch is this: they’re not testing your knowledge, but rather your creative application of that knowledge. In that sense, success on the GMAT boils down to two things – your critical assessment of information and your ability to reason

How does a single exam measure whether or not a candidate has the skills to excel in a top MBA program and, by extension, thrive in the business world? The thing is that the GMAT is not a standard standardized test, but it is a CAT.

#### What the heck is a CAT?

CAT stands for computer-adaptive test, which means that the test adapts to your skill level. It does this by modifying the questions according to your performance. The first question will typically have a moderate level of difficulty, then the difficulties of the second and subsequent questions are based upon your performance on previous questions. The algorithm selects which problems to deliver depending upon your collective performance so far. If you continue to answer correctly, the difficulty of the questions will rise and vice versa.

On the GMAT three of the sections are computer-adaptive – the Quantitative, the Verbal and the Integrated Reasoning.

No two people have ever taken the same exact GMAT test. What’s more, the test is challenging for everyone, even top 700+ performers. Why? First, each candidate gets a unique mix of questions as the test adapts to your performance in real time. This pushes each candidate to the edge of their capabilities, making the GMAT feel like it’s more difficult than it is, and making you feel that you’re not doing as well as you are. The test can continue to toss increasingly challenging questions at you until it reaches your limit.

The CAT model has another interesting feature. The test taker is presented with one question at a time and cannot go back and forth within the exam. Once an answer is provided and the test taker proceeds to the next question, they cannot return. This is understandably quite  nerve-racking and can contribute to stress-based under performance. Overcoming anxiety surrounding the GMAT can be a daunting task, but it is vital for excellent performance. That is why having effective strategies on how to manage the GMAT related stress is a must in order to enhance your performance.

#### GMAT Results

###### Immediately After Taking  the GMAT Test

Right after you sit the GMAT you will see four out of your five scores: The Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and your aggregate score out of 800. Those will be your unofficial scores and you will have two minutes to accept or cancel your results. If you do not decide, your score will be automatically cancelled. The AWA/Writing section is graded by an actual human and so that score comes in with your Official Score Report.

###### The Unofficial Score Report

When given your scores, you will have two minutes to decide whether you want to keep them. If the time expires before you make a decision the score will be automatically cancelled. Rest assured, if you cancel them they can be reinstated within 4 years and 11 month from your exam date. You can also cancel them within 72 hours for a fee  if you change your mind later on. If you decide to accept your results, an Unofficial score report will be issued. You will receive it prior to leaving the test center. The report will contain your Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning and Total scores, as well as some personal information. The unofficial score report can help you determine whether you are a competitive applicant for your desired program and whether you need to retake the GMAT, though you should have a sense of what score you are seeking before entering the testing center, so that you can make a good decision about cancelling/keeping scores.

Although the unofficial report can be very helpful to you, it cannot be used for your MBA applications. Only the Official score report that comes in the mail a few weeks later and is send separately to Business Schools can be used for your application and admissions.

###### Within Three Weeks After the Exam

You will be sent a notice that your Official score report is ready. Besides the scores from your unofficial report, it will contain your Analytical Writing Assessment score, your GMAT percentile rankings – it shows where your score is on the scale compared to your peers, the personal data you provided at registration, and scores from other GMAT tests you have taken within the past five years.

Your official score is valid for five years, which gives you the flexibility to send it out to universities when you are ready, or to defer application to another year.

In addition to the official report, an applicant can request an Enhanced score report for a fee of \$30. It contains a comprehensive performance analysis by section and question type, and can provide the candidate with an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as well as how they rank among their peers.

#### GMAT Scoring

When you receive your Score Report you will see scores for each section ranging as follows:

• ###### the Quantitative score
• range: from 0 to 51 points  in 1.0 increments
• average: 40.2 (for the period 2015 – 2018)
• ###### the Verbal score
• range: from 0 to 51 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 27.08 (for the period 2015-2018)
• ###### the Total GMAT score
• range: from 200 to 800 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 563.43 (for the period 2015-2018)

• ###### the Integrated reasoning score
• range: from 1 to 8 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 4.41 (for the period 2015 – 2018)
• ###### the AWA score
• range:  0 to 6 points in 0.5 increments
• average: 4.49 (for the period 2015-2018)

Source: GMAC.com

The major difference between non-adaptive tests and the GMAT is that the GMAT score is derived not by how many problems you answer correctly, but by the relative difficulty of the problems that you answer correctly

In standard assessments, like the SAT or the TOEFL for instance, each problem has a firm percentage that contributes to the final grade. These tests demand a certain approach that we are all familiar with from high school:  dedicate time to each question and try to get everything right. This approach is ineffective, however, when it comes to computer adaptive tests like the GMAT. In fact, due to the adaptive nature of the exam, regardless of how well they perform, most test takers only answer correctly between 40-60% of the questions. The critical point is that your score depends on the most challenging questions that you can answer correctly on a consistent basis. In essence, the higher the overall difficulty level at which you get 60% of the questions right, the higher you will score.

The best way to perform well on the GMAT is to be properly prepared. This means not only knowing the material on which you are being tested, but being able to effectively allocate scarce resources like time, attention, and focus. Since you are unable to jump backwards or forwards and because each question depends on your answer to the previous one, you need to be able to accurately assess how much of these resources each question deserves in the context of the greater exam. You should be able to balance spending more time on hard questions while not running out of time on any particular section. It is imperative to note that there are harsh penalties for incomplete sections, so be sure to answer each question before time runs out, even if you must guess at random.

#### What are the GMAT sections?

The GMAT test is comprised of four distinct sections. Each section assesses a particular area of subject matter expertise and each has its own unique problem types; however, critical thinking and analytical reasoning are the core skills that will get you through each section and through the whole exam.

The GMAT can be broken down to:

• Verbal
• Quantitative
• Integrated Reasoning
• Analytical Writing Assessment

The student sitting the exam has the opportunity to choose with which part to start. There are three variations:

• AWA & Integrated Reasoning (break) Quantitative (break) Verbal;
• Quantitative (break) Verbal (break) Integrated Reasoning & AWA;
• Verbal (break) Quantitative (break) Integrated Reasoning & AWA;

You will be able to choose the order following the computer tutorial you will be given at the test center just before you start your exam.

Pro tip: Choose the order of the exam based upon your comfort levels. Most people like to put their most challenging section first so that they can optimize their performance by tackling the difficult section while one’s brain is still crisp. Others may opt to start off with a stronger section, or the less important AWA/IR to get into a “flow” state before tackling the sections that they find most challenging or important. Ultimately, the best advice is to experiment, and go with what makes you most comfortable, because a strong performance can only come with comfort.

#### Verbal

The Verbal section permits test-takers to present their reasoning skills, critical thinking, and command of English grammar. It measures the test taker’s ability to read and comprehend written materials, reason and evaluate subtle arguments, and correct written sentences to match standard written English.

There are three types of questions in the Verbal section:

These questions test your ability to read critically. More specifically, you should be able to:

• summarize the text and derive the key idea;
• distinguish between ideas stated directly in the text and ideas implied by the author;
• come up with conclusions based on the information in a given passage;
• analyze the logical structure of the argument;
• deduce the author’s attitude towards the topic.
###### Critical reasoning

You will be presented with a short argument and asked to select a statement which either represents the conclusion, strengthens or weakens the argument, or analyzes how the argument is constructed. In order to excel in Critical reasoning one should be familiar with logical reasoning, common fallacies and assumption, and structural connections between evidence and conclusion. We all use reasoning daily but more often than not our thought process is not logically precise or rigorous and that is what the GMAT test writers count upon. Examining your own thought process and understanding where you are susceptible to imprecise thinking can be a good start for prepping.

###### Sentence correction

These questions test your knowledge of English grammar and accurate expression. On sentence correction you’ll be shown a somewhat complex sentence, part of which or the whole of which is underlined. You will be asked to select the best version of the underlined portion, whether the original or one of four alternatives presented.

After getting familiar with the specifics of the Verbal section, you might wonder whether native speakers have an unfair advantage. That is a fair contention, however the answer is nuanced. The GMAT does not test particularly one’s command of English, as opposed to some other language, but their understanding of language construction. If one has a strong eye and ear for grammar in another language, they will likely perform well on Sentence Correction. Bottom line: there can be advantages and disadvantages for both native and non-native English speakers. The key is to learn to use them to your advantage.

#### Quantitative

The Quant section on the GMAT is designed to evaluate the candidate’s analytical knowledge and depth of understanding of basic mathematical concepts like algebra, geometry, number properties and arithmetic. More to the point, the expectation is that you know the math typical for any high school student, but the GMAT is using that as a base of knowledge to test your creativity.

There are two types of problems in the Quantitative section:

###### Data sufficiency

These problems consist of a single question and two statements of truth. The task is to determine if each of the statements (or both together) contain enough data to answer the question definitively. DS questions test your ability to promptly identify what information is crucial to answer a particular question and how well you ignore or eliminate unnecessary or insufficient data. It is important to note that you are not being asked to solve the problems, and often it is preferable to not solve the problem. Pro Tip: Insufficient data will often lead you to multiple possible answers – Be Careful!

###### Problem solving

PS problems are somewhat generic, and very much what you may be used to from your school days. Each presents a candidate with a problem that they need to solve, and the answer is multiple choice. The knowledge required is high school level maths up to algebra and geometry, with a smattering of statistics and combinatorics, but nothing terribly high level. Once again, in this part as in the GMAT test as a whole, the main skill that is evaluated is your ability to critically assess information. In fact, it is particularly important to avoid doing the actual math but rather pick apart the problem and reduce it to a much simpler question.

#### Integrated reasoning

The Integrated reasoning section was added to the GMAT exam in 2012 and is increasingly becoming a more important part of the exam.

The IR contains both verbal and quantitative topics, weaved together into a challenging problem landscape. This section assesses the ability of a candidate to comb through a significant quantity of data, often delivered in a complicated fashion, and identify a particular piece of information or derive a specific insight.

There are four types of questions in the Integrated reasoning section:

#### Multi-source reasoning

This problem type offers a combination of text, tables and graphs, and then asks you to identify discrepancies among different sources of data or ask you to draw conclusions or derive inferences by taking tidbits from various sources and combining them together. The key skill  here is adaptability to structurally different content and being able to draw associations between the various content types. Keep in mind that most of the data is not relevant – with multiple sources comes plenty of unnecessary information, so being deliberate with the information you choose to analyze more deeply is essential.

#### Graphic interpretation

Graphic interpretation is exactly what it sounds like. You may be presented with a more traditional graph like a pie or bar chart, but you might also be provided an unusual diagram. The test-taker should be able to accurately interpret the information, recognize relationships among the data and draw conclusions from the graphics provided. It’s crucial to remember that you shouldn’t get carried away trying to understand or interpret all of the information but that the core task is to focus on what you are being asked and finding that needle in the haystack of data provided.

#### Two-part analysis

These types of questions measure one’s ability to solve complex problems – quantitative, verbal or a combination of both. Each question has two sub-questions which can be dependent upon one another. Irrespective of whether they’re related, like other Integrated Reasoning questions, you’ll need to answer both parts correctly to get credit for the question. The format of the problems in this section is intentionally diverse in order to cover a wide range of content and test your ability to synthesize knowledge from different fields.

#### Table analysis

This question type presents a table of data, but that’s just the beginning. The challenging part of these problems is determining what’s being asked for, and then using the provided tables in an efficient manner.

Table analysis requires not just reading information from the tables provided, but requires one to understand the question, and organize the data in such a way so that it can be efficiently sorted. The candidate is tasked to determine what from the given information is relevant or meets certain criteria.

#### Analytical Writing Assessment

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) or the “essay” section provides admission officers

with an idea of your writing skill. The AWA section is scored separately and does not count towards the Combined (200 to 800 points) score. The essay is checked twice – once by a human reader and once by a computer algorithm. The final grade is an average from both scores. If the scores differ greatly, then the writing sample is reviewed by another human reader and after that the final grade is decided.

For this task you will be presented with a passage similar to those from Critical reasoning in the Verbal section of the GMAT. You will be asked to provide a well-supported critique of the author’s argument, to analyze their strong points and identify the weaknesses in their line of reasoning. What’s more, the AWA section measures the candidate’s ability to express themselves and their ideas clearly and with precision in written form.

Now that you have a thorough understanding of what to expect on the GMAT you might be concerned with the practical side of things like how, when and where

#### How?

The GMAT test is administered by the global testing network Pearson VUE. They have 600+ centers all around the world where you can sit the exam. The GMAT is facilitated through a computer system available at the designated Pearson VUE centers, which means that you can take the exam only at those centers.

As of the COVID-19 pandemic the GMAT centers closed so the GMAC provided an online version GMAT. In case there is still an option to take the GMAT online when you are reading this and you are interested in doing so, check out our videos on how it is administered and what you need to know prior to sitting the online GMAT.

#### When and where?

First of all, you should make sure you know your chosen MBA programs’ application deadlines and from there coordinate accordingly. Consider how much time you will need for preparation. You should also plan to take the exam more than once; even with a strong score, there’s always room for continued improvement, and you might as well take it a second time after putting all that effort into preparing. So plan to factor in a re-take or two, just in case – also good if you do well… you can always do better! This is important because the GMAC has rules regarding re-takes: they must be at least 16 days apart, there cannot be more than 5 within a year and there’s a lifetime limit of 8 total attempts at the exam. You can take the GMAT at any time of the year, and appointments are generally availab;e if you plan a few months ahead, so you can launch your plan without worrying about the precise exam date and then midway through make an appointment based on your progress and practice exam results.

#### And last but not least – how much does it cost?

The total price of the GMAT is \$250 – as of July 2020 230 Euro/203 GBP. This amount includes sending your official score to up to five universities or MBA programs of your choice. You can of course request your results to be sent to additional programs; each one will cost you an additional \$35

This all might seem a little overwhelming, which is reasonable given how important the exam is, and all the idiosyncrasies of the GMAT. Growing familiar with the exam is a challenge in itself. With determination and the proper guidance, you can unleash your full potential and obtain admission to your dream MBA programs. Set yourself up for success by learning how to select the right tutor to begin your GMAT journey.

We are excited to announce that the Apex GMAT Blog is rated as one of the top 10 GMAT blogs in 2020 by Feedspot.

Posted on
21
Jul 2020

## The Four Ps of the best GMAT Prep – Find out which of these three types of GMAT preparation suits you best

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

June 25, 2020

If you are already preparing for the GMAT or researching how to do it in the most efficient way, then you will want to know about: The Four Ps for having the best GMAT Prep experience. Over the course of more than a decade coaching GMAT test takers to elite performance, we have created The Four Ps of GMAT prep – Practice Prevents Poor Performance. These words have proven to be essential to achieving GMAT success. It all might sound obvious at first, but we bet it is easier said than done.

All practice, however, isn’t the same. It’s vital to engage in high yielding, iterative practice that engages the brain in the ways that are most efficient to learn. This is different from memorizing material or even being able to recognize particular problems; strong GMAT practices entails internalizing how the GMAT operates, recognizing underlying structural patterns, and mastering flexibility in the face of highly familiar concepts.

While these are beyond the scope of this article, today we’ll take you through the most significant stepping stones of your journey to accomplish your MBA goals and help you select the best GMAT preparation plan for you, depending on your aspirations, timeline, budget, and current level of skill.

The cornerstone of the GMAT is having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the proper roadmap to follow to attain the desired results. The most common motivation for many of our clients is the positive correlation between a high GMAT score, prestigious business school admission, and long-term career goals. What’s more, every 10 extra points can be worth as much as \$80,000 in earnings over the course of a lifetime.

Also worth mentioning is that a good GMAT score is relative. Even if you achieve a score that is competitive, there is always someone out there with a stronger score… until you get to 800. What this means is that there’s always room to grow, and that learning – in life and in the GMAT – is never finished, but also that the tools to learn never go out of style.

Universities view your full portfolio; resume, essays, recommendations, interview (read as personality), and much, much more. A strong academic record at college/university both does not guarantee admission, nor does it equal success on the GMAT. In fact, a high GPA can be a liability if your GMAT score comes in significantly below where one would expect it to, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. Our advice is to research the programs that you are interested in by speaking to admission counselors, school alumni, and current students and look at both the range and the average GMAT scores of admitted students. This way you will have an idea and make an informed prediction about how competitive you need to be.

A great GMAT score is one that complements your portfolio, highlights your strengths, and covers for your shortcomings. From our experience and those of our clients, extensive focused GMAT preparation is central to getting those extra points under your belt.

#### THREE TYPES OF GMAT PREP

In your search for the best GMAT prep plan for you, we wanted to lay out the connection between your current ambitions and future career goals. Therefore, we’ve divided this concept into three key distinguishable subcategories based on factors that have a significant effect on productivity: personalized approach, group vs solo work, and time spent preparing.

#### Self-prep

Self-prep refers to preparing for the GMAT by yourself, without the help of a tutor or an instructor using published resources, message boards, and the help of friends or family.

##### Pros
• Working at your own pace – Often, many test takers to-be are engaged with a heavy workload during their GMAT preparation. Self-prepping allows them to devote time as they can without having to coordinate with any external schedules.
• It is cost efficient – As this approach does not involve tutoring services, it is likely that you will be spending money only for learning aids. Moreover, there is an abundance of free resources online that you can take advantage of if you have the time to distinguish which ones will serve you well. That said, there are a lot of very poor resources out there, so proceed with caution.
##### Cons
• Over Reliance on Practice exams – When you are prepping alone, it is natural to refer to practice exams as your main baseline for your performance. However, the main purpose of GMAT practice tests is not to “learn” new knowledge about a topic or a specific problem, but to improve your timing or identify weak points in your conceptual understanding. This makes practice tests by themselves fairly insufficient for thorough and effective GMAT prep.
• Ineffective prep time – Spending too much of your valuable prep time on searching for the right questions, learning aids, study guides, etc. is a very low-yielding strategy. A bit of expert direction can save a ton of time that can be used to focus on amplifying your skills.
• Lack of professional guidance – if you opt for self-prep you must be aware that you will miss out on working with GMAT tutors who understand the exam backwards and forwards and have years of experience helping others achieve their goals. They can be a sounding board, coach and disciplinarian, recommend (or better provide) the highest quality resources, and make the learning more personal.
• Lack of self-discipline – Depending on the person, one may find it hard to be self-disciplined enough to maintain a schedule and commit to studying regularly so that they’re as prepared as possible by test day.

#### A GMAT prep course or GMAT bootcamp with a tutor (either online or in-person)

This concept involves future test takers gathering in a study group, class, or a bootcamp and working collectively with a professional GMAT tutor who will guide them through their GMAT preparation.

##### Pros
• You can ask others for help – As you will be working not only with an instructor but with a group of other prospective test takers, you’ll be exposed to an environment that brings together various skill sets, learning backgrounds, and experience. You can capitalize on this opportunity to network and build relationships that will not only help you with your prepping, but also potentially with your career beyond.
• There is competition – Despite the negative connotations of competition, it can boost your motivation and even make you want to work harder in order to become better or the best in the group. The best teams have healthy competition where each individual is driven to excellence by their teammates, so having a good study companion or three is a great way to have a successful experience.
• Learning aids and supplementary materials are usually included in the price – this saves you money because you do not have to purchase materials outside of the class or to supplement your prep. When considering more than one course be sure to consider what each course includes as this can be a key deciding factor.
##### Cons
• Lack of personal attention and individual feedback – Having one tutor for all means that the instructor cannot concentrate on individuals and their unique needs,  which becomes especially important past the 650 level scoring plateau. The instructor must instead concentrate on helping the wider group by going over topics generally, and at a level that speaks to the majority. Inevitably, you will be forced to cope with teaching practices that might not be perfectly aligned with the way you learn best, simply because they are more universally teachable. This can prevent you from focusing on the areas you need to improve in the most, and can certainly drive down the efficiency of your GMAT preparation.
• Not everyone works well in a team – Peer pressure, social distractions, and low group chemistry are factors that might negatively affect not only your individual performance, but also that of the whole group and can ultimately result in a waste of valuable time.
• Having to cope with the group’s pace – Timing is one of the most vital aspects of the GMAT that you must master if you want to even give yourself a chance to achieve a good score. Studying with a group where people differ in terms of availability, previous knowledge, skill sets, educational backgrounds, and, most importantly, learning styles creates many time-constraints. Even when it comes down to GMAT fundamentals, you ought to focus on mastering them in an un-timed environment before you proceed with bringing them in under the exam’s time constraint. When in a group, you will be improving as a unit rather than as an individual. This does not ensure that you will outperform your peers.
• Finding your own unique solution paths – Everyone has a preference when it comes down to using a solution path. To be efficient on the GMAT, you will not only need to refine the ones that you’re used to applying, but to also master other approaches that will be more effective when it comes down to tackling different types of problems. When studying in a group, it will be hard to gain such new skills as all of you will be progressing as a unit and employing universal tactics rather than learning as individuals.

#### Private, one-on-one GMAT prep with a tutor (either online or in-person)

Individualized GMAT involves a single test taker spending time with a single instructor in a private environment.

##### Pros
• Customized lessons tailored to match your specific learning needs – This is a mixture of the Pros of both self and group prep. You get to move at your own pace, but accelerated by the personalization element. You  can also concentrate on concepts and question types that are most challenging for you, and solution paths that most naturally fit the way your brain likes to solve problems. A strong private GMAT tutor should adapt his or her teaching style to your specific learning style to help you gain the most of your preparation.
• Convenience – Sessions, especially if held online, can take place anytime, day or night, whenever most convenient to you.
• Flexibility – as private prep is personalized, tutoring firms offer different options for the length of the program and the content covered. You can customize your GMAT preparation in such a way so that you save time and concentrate on the aspects you choose. Having a mentor to guide you also allows you to gain insights about yourself that you were not aware of before that will help you excel in the areas you need.
• Instructors can provide specific content related to your progress – tutors will quickly understand your GMAT needs and provide only the materials that will be most beneficial to your process. In this way you will get the most suitable problems, views, and exercises without spending additional efforts on research. Moreover, you will save a lot of time reviewing things that you already know (happens in classes), or strategies that aren’t efficient for your learning style.
• The best GMAT tutors will teach to your skills, not simply tell you about theirs – as mentioned, moving up your learning curve happens when an equivalence between an instructor’s teaching style and a student’s learning style is in place. Individual work allows the best tutors to create an efficient and realistic action plan for your GMAT preparation and to tailor their skills to match your needs.
##### Cons
• Expense one-on-one GMAT preparation is the most valuable option, but also runs at a premium price point compared with classes. The most highly qualified instructors are worth it, however, if you are aiming for a 700+ score and a multi-million dollar career after your MBA program.
• Some private tutors do not have their own materials and curricula – This means that some extra costs might be necessary. Having access to high quality material is vital, especially if you are aiming to score above 700 in the test as real value begins where the books end. Commercially available materials are designed for the heart of the market, and designed to be consumable by everyone.

#### THE BEST GMAT PREP FOR ME

We can distinguish these three approaches based on the score goals one has. If you are looking to get from a 500 to a 600 or even a bit more depending on how good your  knowledge is, then the self or group approaches might be more beneficial if cost is a factor in your decision. They can give you a solid base, while saving the frustration of self prepping or the cost of personalized attention that you might not require.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking at the premiere MBA programs, you’ll need to be included among the GMAT’s top performers. Aiming for a 700+ on the GMAT, will require you to leverage your own strengths and combat your cognitive liabilities in an optimal manner. You’ll need to closely examine how you approach math and the written language, as well as your overall problem solving techniques, heuristics and mental models to reach top marks. Further, the best GMAT performances come not just from ruthlessly solving problems, but from understanding the real structural aspects of the GMAT that drive complexity and make it so challenging. Recognizing the meaning behind each question, its underlying purpose, and the subtleties that GMAT test writers embed are just as important, if not moreso, than the fundamentals.

To achieve this private, one-on-one tutoring is the best overall GMAT preparation option. Naturally, it is more expensive, but the most highly qualified tutors, like the ones here at Apex, usually focus teaching the higher order strategies that are necessary for the achievement of a 700+ score and bringing out your optimal performance. Enlisting the help of a one on one instructor is recommended for those who already have a solid understanding of the exam and are scoring well (mid-600’s), but are looking to gain those extra points that will make them get into their dream MBA program and lay the groundwork for a challenging, engaging, and lucrative career.

#### THE TYPE OF GMAT PREP TOP PERFORMING STUDENTS IDENTIFIED AS THE BEST

The concept of private, one-on-one GMAT prep is exactly the type of service our tutors at Apex offer. We have built our own GMAT curriculum and created guides, learning aids, and other resources that help the highest achieving test takers understand what they excel at and identify where they must focus. The goal is not only to tackle a question by answering it correctly, but also to extract a methodology that can be continuously applied with other questions, in a time efficient manner.

This approach permits students to move up their learning curve and to get to the 700+ score that they desire. The feedback they provide helps us understand the needs of each future test taker better and to accelerate even more at providing the best value for clients.