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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taking the gmat prep journey. On our own or with peers?
Posted on
22
Apr 2021

Taking the GMAT Prep Journey: On your own or with peers?

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Arin Agich
Date: 22nd April 2021

 If you aim to apply for your dream MBA program or you want to reach the next level in your career, attending business school is a step that you should be considering. If so, you will need to take the GMAT exam. Before starting to prepare for your GMAT journey you have to decide which learning style suits you best. This depends on the amount of available time you have, your score goal, and your budget. In this article we are going to look at the two most common methods to prepare for the GMAT: One on one GMAT prep and Group prep.

What are the differences between one-on-one and group-based GMAT preparation?

Before deciding which one of these methods will work best for you it is important to review the main differences between them.

 Do you study best alone or with peers?

One of the biggest differences between these two learning styles is the presence or absence of others. Being surrounded with others going through the same journey might be encouraging, knowing that the others are sharing similar challenges on their GMAT journey will help you see that you are not alone.  Whereas, being on your own can lead to higher success rates since you can move forward with your own pace without waiting for your peers.

Time Management

A bulk of your GMAT preparation will include a vast majority of practice problems so you will need to manage your time successfully and make sure that you are using this time productively to avoid preparing for the test for extended periods of time. Apex tutors suggest spending between 3-4 months studying for the exam. Managing your preparation schedule and discipline is all up to you if you decide to prepare for the exam on your own. On the other hand, being under a one-on-one prep program will give you plenty of flexibility, but make sure that you keep up to your self-built schedule!

Individual Workload vs Group Projects/Home-works

Irrespective of any type of GMAT preparation method you will need to spend numerous hours doing homework or self prep at home to get comfortable using the skills that you have learnt. If you are part of a group-based prep program you will be able to ask for help and advice from your classmates and even work in groups. For some this sounds time-consuming, whereas for others it is a great socializing opportunity during GMAT prep time. However, as an individual student, your home works can be personalized and built according to your needs. This will help you to focus more on your weaknesses and move forward faster with the topics that you have already developed. 

 Efficiency

Regardless of which method you decide to go for, in the end it comes to efficiency. Keeping in mind that you have a limited period of time until the big GMAT test day, being efficient throughout your preparatory period is the key. To be able to answer this it is important to know the benefits of each method. In the following section we wrote down some of the benefits both for one on one and group based GMAT prep.

Benefits of One-on-one GMAT Preparation

 Personalized Sessions: Curriculum Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of one-on-one GMAT preparation is that the sessions are personalized according to your needs. After your first session with your tutor, where you can openly talk about your challenges that you want to work on and strengths you want to build on, you will be given a personalized curriculum that will help you tackle all your problems.

 Student-Tutor Bond

Preparing for your GMAT test can be overwhelming. This is where the student-tutor bond comes into play. Knowing that you have your tutor’s full attention and support will help you get over your anxiety and reduce your stress. Getting support during such long journeys is crucial. This will help you to refocus when required, rest when needed, and move forward faster when you are ready.

Alex who scored 730 on his GMAT test after working with Apex said this about his one on one GMAT prep experience:

“I felt like Apex was in my camp and in my corner, really making sure that I was putting my best foot forward and that I was going to get the best possible score that I could. The support system that was in place was great and the experience was seamless”.

 Two-way Feedback

For anyone going through GMAT preparation, having feedback on your work is highly important. This helps you to check in with how far you have come. However, it is also important to give feedback to your tutor, too. This will help her/him to understand your needs better. If you are part of a one-on-one tutoring program the feedback can go both ways, at any given time. Feedback can take different forms, some of the examples are: test taking strategies and advice, specific questions type strategies, habits for success, stress reducing advice, etc. 

 Progress at your own pace

Preparing with one-on-one tutoring for your GMAT means that you will have a personalized curriculum by your tutor. This means that, following this curriculum, you can also progress at your own pace. Working more on questions that you have a hard time with or going forward much faster with the ones that you have mastered, without having to wait for your peers. 

Benefits of group-based GMAT Preparation

 Sharing the Same GMAT Journey

Being part of a group-based GMAT prep program will give you the sense of belonging with fellow future GMAT takers. This will help you to share your struggles and anxieties, and also celebrate your success with your peers. Having a social group throughout GMAT’s many hours of practice questions and tests is supportive. Being surrounded with like minded people with similar goals will keep you motivated. 

Besides sharing your GMAT process during your preparation period, the weekly meetings during mutual classes will give you the opportunity to engage with your peers. Sharing tips, advice, and notes or simply: making new friends!

Study Dates 

Next to your individual tasks and homework, within your GMAT group you can also find study buddies and work on your questions together. This will help you to partner up with one of your peers who might have similar challenges and try to tackle the questions together or this person will be able to help you with the topics you have trouble going forward with. 

 Structured Schedule 

Group-based GMAT preparation courses are highly structured programs. If you are a person who functions easier and is more productive under a ready made structured schedule, working in a group is for you. It will have a routine that you can always count on. 

Developing additional skills

Next to developing your GMAT skills, being part of a group will help you develop additional skills, such as: social and communication skills which are highly acquired skills in MBA programs. Next to developing your personal and social skills, being part of a group will also give you the chance to be part of a team work. This will help you develop your leadership skills and the importance of cooperation with the others. 

Which GMAT prep strategy is the best for you?

Finding the most efficient way for reaching a high score on your GMAT test is important. After reviewing the benefits and differences of the two learning methods you can prioritize your needs, consult with previous GMAT takers and tutors and decide which method would work best for you!

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gmat test day faqs
Posted on
22
Jan 2021

GMAT Test Day FAQs

Should I arrive early at the test center on test day?

Yes, you should arrive early at the test center as there is a check-in procedure that you have to go through before taking the exam. Make sure to be there at least 30 minutes early. If you are 15 minutes late on test day, the administrators may not allow you to take the exam. 

What is the check-in procedure? 

Once you show up at the test center, you have to present a valid GMAT approved photo ID to the administrators. Then, they will take your picture, signature, and fingerprints and they will ask you to sign the GMAT Examination Testing Rules & Agreement as part of the check-in procedure.

What documents should I bring to the test center?

There are 2 things you’ll definitely need with you on exam day. Firstly, make sure to bring your GMAT approved photo ID which contains your name, your date of birth, a recent photograph, and your signature (a passport, a national ID card, or a driving’s license). You will not be allowed to take the GMAT if you don’t present that document. Another thing to definitely bring with you on test day would be your appointment confirmation letter or email. It is not necessary that you bring that with you, however, it is good to have it on you in case of a misunderstanding or mistake in the system.

Pro tip: It is also a good idea to bring a list of up to 5 MBA programs that you want your scores sent to. You don’t want to have to decide that on exam day.

What am I allowed to bring into the exam room?

You are not allowed to bring anything with you into the exam room, as everything will be provided for you. Electronic devices like phones, tablets, smart watches, etc. are also not allowed. Even though you can bring snacks and water with you to the test center, you will not be allowed to take them with you into the exam room, as you’ll be asked to put them in a storage room or locker. However, you will be able to access those during your breaks. 

Am I allowed to bring a calculator?

Calculators are not allowed when taking the GMAT exam, so it is best to leave it at home. In fact, it is a good idea to leave any electronic device that you will not need at home. 

Is there a dress code that I should follow?

There is no specific dress code for the test day, however, you should make sure that you dress comfortably and that you bring extra clothes in case it is cold in the exam room.

What do I do if my computer stops working while taking the GMAT?

If that is the case, one thing that you should not do is try to fix the computer by yourself. The best way to handle that situation is to raise your hand and ask for the administrator’s help.

What is the best way to handle disruptions while taking the GMAT?

According to the policies, any disruptive situation that deviates from normal testing procedures will be thoroughly examined and the decision will be made on a case-to-case basis. In that case, you might be allowed to retake the exam with no additional charge or you can ask for a refund of the initial test fee. Nevertheless, there will be noises such as coughing, shifting and other small sounds that can distract you during the exam. In order to avoid this affecting your concentration drastically, spend some time practicing for the exam in an uncontrolled environment, such as a coffee shop to get yourself used to movement and sounds of others while practice focusing on your prep.

Will I be given something to write on during the exam?

You will be provided with pens and scratch paper by the test administrators once you are seated. If you are taking the online GMAT there is a on screen scratch pad and recently introduced a pre approved scratch paper option.

Do I get to choose the order in which I take the GMAT sections?

It is now an option for the test-takers to choose the order in which they take each section of the GMAT exam. Our instructors advise clients to take their best performing section first as they can really give it their all. You do not want to get to the section that you know you can do well at tired, after enduring the other 3 sections. 

Do we get breaks during the exam?

As the GMAT exam takes a lot of time to complete, you will be allowed to go on a 5-minute break twice at scheduled intervals during that 4-hour time period. Our instructors advise you to take advantage of this time for what it is meant for, a break. Clear your mind from exam activities and try to focus on relaxing. Eating a snack is always encouraged as this will give you an energy boost, just make sure that it is the right type of snack. 

What do I do if I am not feeling well on test day?

Generally, it is not a good idea to take the GMAT exam if you’re not feeling too well on test day, as the GMAT is long and your health can potentially affect your progress and final score. If you decide to reschedule the exam 7 calendar days before your test date, you’ll only have to pay an extra $50 USD rescheduling fee and if you do so on test day, you will lose the entire test fee.

How many times can I take the GMAT exam?

There is no limit on the number of times you can take the GMAT exam (you can take the GMAT exam up to 5 times in a 12-month period). However, it is not advised that you take it more than 3 times as it may give the wrong impression to b-schools and it’s unlikely that your scores will improve that drastically in between exams.

How do I send my GMAT scores to the schools I am applying to?

You will get a few options regarding when to send the GMAT scores to the schools of your choice. Firstly, you can bring a list of up to 5 MBA programs on test day and your scores will be sent to those programs free of charge. Another option would be waiting to get your official score and then sending them to the schools of your choice. In this case, you’ll have to pay $28 USD for each school that your scores are sent to.

Let us know if you have any additional questions regarding your GMAT test day and one of our 770+ scoring instructors will be happy to answer them.

Taking the test in London, New York, Hong Kong or another top city? Find information about GMAT and EA test center in over 50 cities here.

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GMAT calculator and mental math
Posted on
26
Nov 2020

GMAT Calculator & Mental Math – All You Need To Know

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ilia Dobrev
Date: 26th November, 2020

Are calculators allowed on the GMAT? It seems like a pretty straightforward question, but the details are a bit more complicated. 

The short answer is: yes and no. In fact, the calculator question holds the key for a strong performance on the exam as a whole. This article explains when calculator use is permitted and, more importantly, when using a calculator isn’t the best approach to solving a given problem.  

So if you’re used to using a calculator on math tests, don’t worry! We’ve provided a list of some handy mental math techniques and time saving strategies that will enhance your performance on the Quant section and beyond. 

Calculators on the GMAT | Explained

  • You are not allowed to bring your own calculator to the GMAT exam.

According to the GMAC, no personal items are allowed in the exam room at any certified test center.

However, the proctor will provide a blank canvas with plenty of space to perform any necessary calculations by hand.

  • You cannot use a calculator on the Quantitative section.

There’s no reason to be intimidated by the restriction on calculators. Although most of us are used to using calculators for arithmetic, the GMAT is not designed to test your ability to perform complex mathematical operations. The Quant section draws from secondary-level math and basic algebra and geometry to test other skill sets, such as critical thinking, logical reasoning, and problem solving. 

In fact, the majority of the Quant questions can and should be answered without any calculations beyond estimation. 

For example, data sufficiency problems, which are more geared towards reasoning than math skills, typically only call for basic calculations and estimation. If you do need to do math, keep in mind that the GMAC designers usually keep numbers simple and avoid decimals. If you see large numbers or complex fractions, it’s a good bet that there’s an easier solution path. 

For another example of how mental math can save you time, see our explanation of the movie night combinatorics problem

  • You can use an on-screen calculator on the Integrated Reasoning section.

Surprisingly or not, a calculator will be provided for the Integrated Reasoning section. This GMAT calculator has the standard basic functions, CE (clear entry) button, C (clear) button, an sqrt function, a % (percentage) button, and a 1/x button that calculates the reciprocal of the entry currently on the screen. There is also a row with the standard memory functions

    • MS (memory store) stores the current entry in the calculator’s memory.
    • MR (memory recall) displays the last number stored in the calculator’s memory.
    • M+ (memory addition) adds the current entry to the value stored in the calculator’s memory. This button is helpful when you need to add a long series of numbers, but don’t have time to retype each one.
    • MC (memory clear) erases whatever is in the current memory. Use it before every new calculation set.

Improve your Mental Math and Reduce Calculator Dependence

Survival Tips & Tricks

  • Do not overuse the IR calculator.

Although the GMAT provides a basic calculator for the Integrated Reasoning section, don’t use it too often. You’ll waste more time than you save. However, you can apply some of the same solution paths used in the Quant section to problems in Integrated Reasoning.

  • Practice mental math operations regularly.

Mental math operations are easy to learn with some practice, and mastering mental math can provide a significant morale boost leading up to your test date. You can add, multiply, subtract, and divide when you pay bills, check out at the grocery store, calculate a tip, etc. without using a calculator.

Try putting away the calculator and practicing mental math in your daily life to save time and, ultimately, enhance your GMAT score.

  • Make accurate estimations

Learning to estimate efficiently is the key to saving considerable amounts of time on the GMAT. Convert unwieldy numbers to more manageable figures, like 0 or 5, for the quicker calculations. Then, you can browse the answer choices and select the answer that’s closest to your preliminary estimate.

  • Don’t use a calculator when prepping for the Quant section.

Preparing without a calculator is a great way to practice mental math operations outside of your daily life. The test setting and Quant context will help accustom you to the environment. You’ll feel more prepared if you know exactly what to expect on test day. 

  • Familiarize yourself with a basic GMAT calculator and practice using its memory functions.

Since the on-screen calculator will be your only technical aid during the Integrated Reasoning section, it’s smart to spend some time getting used to it. When you’re pressed for time, the calculator’s memory function can be a crucial tool for staying on track with a healthy exam pace. 

  • Look to the answer choices to guide your strategy.

Sometimes, you can eliminate a couple of answer choices immediately. 

Even when time is in short supply, you can make educated guesses and use your reasoning skills to boost your chance of arriving at the correct answer.

  • Don’t panic if you see big numbers.

Keep in mind that the people behind the GMAT are aware that they’re designing questions to be answered without calculators. This limits the difficulty of the arithmetic and encourages test-takers to look for the more straightforward approach.

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the online gmat
Posted on
13
Oct 2020

The Online GMAT Experience-from preparation to post MBA 

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ilia Dobrev
Date: 13th October, 2020

 

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

The Online GMAT Exam

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

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

Differences from the regular GMAT exam

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

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

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

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

Similarities with the regular GMAT exam

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

online GMAT breakdown

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

Online GMAT Preparation, Tips & Tricks

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

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

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gmat percentile rankings
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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Posted on
25
Sep 2020

GMAT & MBA Updates – Sept 2020

Hi everybody!

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

Should You Submit A GMAT Score With Your MBA Application?

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great GMAT prep day.

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overcome gmat test anxiety
Posted on
22
Sep 2020

How to Overcome GMAT Test Anxiety

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Fatma Xhafa
Date: 22nd September, 2020

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

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

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

Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome GMAT anxiety.

What Causes Anxiety?

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

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

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

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

Some Anxiety Will Always Exist

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

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

Time Management

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

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

Computer Adaptive Test

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past Poor Performance or Low Scores 

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

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

Consider the following strategies:

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

Pressure from Friends and Family

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

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

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

How to Reduce the Anxiety and Enhance Performance

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

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

Practice, practice, practice! 

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

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

Get 8 Hours of Sleep Consistently

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

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

Have a cup o’ Joe

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

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

How Can Private GMAT Tutoring Help with GMAT Test Anxiety?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways

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

Some things to keep in mind:

 

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

 

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

Good luck!

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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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