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Posted on
25
Nov 2019

The GMAT Is Not A Standard Standardized Test

The GMAT Is Not A Standard Standardized Test

A question that we get here a lot, especially from our international clients, is about standardized testing in general. As Americans ourselves and any Americans that might be watching you’re pretty familiar with them in fact in some countries they even call them American tests. They’re so heavily associated with us. For everyone else they’re saying what the hell is this? It’s something that I’ve never seen before, let me freak out about it. There’s really no need to freak out, there’s some commonalities among standardized tests but I think if anything the important thing for you to get about this is that the GMAT is not a standard standardized test. That was clever. Thank you, I do what I can.

Not having an experience with standardized tests is not at all a disadvantage for the GMAT and in fact, it could be an advantage, the case that having too much experience of standardized tests is going to lead you down the wrong path for what you should be doing for the GMAT itself. If you’re an American, the way you prepped for the SAT or ACT or similar test is really going to do your great disservice when you try and approach the GMAT because there are loads of vocabulary lists to memorize, there’s no formulas and everything else, and the GMAT is a lot harder.

 

Computer Adaptive Test

Also, it might technically be a standardized test, but it’s a much more apt name to call it what it is which is: a computer adaptive test. That actually has a much, much greater effect on how you prepare. Computer Adaptive Test, James, what does that mean? Let’s talk about that. Computer adaptive test, I’d say first the biggest difference between a standard standardized tests and the GMAT is in some standard tests you typically can go in whatever order you’d like, within a section, right, within one section you can start with question 1 or with question 10. You can skip through it and you should when doing those other tests. Those are very important strategies but that’s not the case on the GMAT.

Tell them about the GMAT, Mike, lay it on them. Okay, computer adaptive test is a lot what it sounds like, computer: it’s on the computer. Adaptive: it changes according to your response, more on that in a moment, and Test: because it’s testing. It is a test, that’s right, in case you didn’t know. It is a test, but you’re testing my patience. I am? Well thank you. The main difference I think from this is that you have to go one question at a time, you do not get the skip, you do not get the chance to go back and look at them, and the reason for this is because the computer adaptive test basis what it’s going to give you on how you have performed on previous questions.

 

How It Works

By in large the rule is, you got the last question right, they’re going to give you one that’s a bit more difficult. A little higher. You get a question wrong, one that’s a little less difficult, and eventually they bounce around until they get to where you’re at and they’re actually pretty good at it. They’re very good at and just so you know if you’re sitting there thinking like how evil is this that this test is going to adapt itself to become my worst nightmare. Well it’s this evil, it’s going to make it so that you’re always going to feel off your footing. When you come out of a great exam, that is a great performance on the exam, you’re going to be like what the heck did I just look at I didn’t feel comfortable at all through that entire thing.

 

Shooters Amnesia

Which brings up a point that I like to reiterate in my classes. You’re going to be surprised by this but it’s a sports metaphor, and that is from question to question you need to have shooters amnesia. Now just briefly indulge me because I love Kobe, doesn’t matter what your opinion is on him. The basketball player not the massaged Japanese beef. We’re vegetarians here at Apex, we believe all lives are valuable. We’re vegetarians… is news to me. The best thing for a basketball player to do is to shoot the ball and it doesn’t matter if he missed the last shot or made the last shot that has no bearing on whether or not he will make or miss the next shot, so they just forget it completely. If you are constantly thinking about all the shots that you’ve missed it’s going to affect your performance.

 

Be Process Orientated, Outcome Agnostic

Sure and if you do it right and this is this is really a deep thing even though it’s not may become seem so deep, if you’re doing it right you shoot the ball, you shoot the puck, you do whatever it is you can do, you throw the dart, and you don’t need to look at the result because once your action is over, whatever the result was is what it’s going to be either you shot it well or not. Yeah. Be Process Oriented, Outcome Agnostic. First of all, excellent, excellent phrase! That was: Process Oriented, Outcome Agnostic, for those of you who missed it the first time.

I think an another great aspect of this is that when you start to think about whether or not you’ve got the question right or wrong you are wasting energy. Yeah, really distracting your attention to something that you can’t change and we all do this we all do this. I wish Jaymes wasn’t my coworker but I can’t reflect on that I just have to move forward …  There’s nothing you can do about it… and deal with the train wreck yeah that’s sitting next to me. Day by day. Day by day.

 

Unused Test Strategies in the GMAT

Just for those of you who are familiar with standardized tests something else to keep in mind, a strategy that you can use not very often on some of the like the SAT of ACT, but a strategy that you might have adopted during your education for standardized tests is using answer choices from one question to help you answer other questions. Can’t do that. That will never apply on the GMAT, ever, so there’s absolutely no reason to carry any of your thought process, any information from one question to the next on the regular quantum verbal sections. Oh the last two answers have been C’s, the third one must be a C or must not be a C. They call that a gambler’s fallacy, look it up, Wikipedia’s got a great thing on it.

Every question is like the first question. Wow, you make it sound so sweet. Well then your entire test and your entire obligation to the test is one question, it’s not this huge three-hour test. The math section the quant section is thirty-one single question tests anything that happened before and after, doesn’t matter.

 

How Is The GMAT Different From Other Standardized Tests?

Just to change your frame of mind about this evil test. The fact that it is adapting itself to be difficult for you, this is actually what allows the GMAT to have so few questions. Traditional standardized tests have to have scores of questions, hundreds of questions sometimes. That’s because they have to give weaker students the chance to show that they’re capable, and they have to provide difficult questions for stronger students to show that they’re capable, and they have to give both the weak students and the strong students the same questions.

 

The GMAT: A Customized Test

The GMAT can skip a lot of that process and streamline it and customize the test for you. The test itself is going to be customized for you which is again supporting our strategy. The preparation that you choose needs to be customized for you.

The adaptive test is vital for the GMAT’s very challenging job of differentiating among high performers. Make no mistake other tests you’ve taken whether standardized tests in the States, other exams in just about any country’s academic system has you up against your entire cohort for your age or your school. The GMAT is self-selecting. Meaning that the pool of people that you’re competing against and the percentile within that cohort is much more challenging. All the success you’ve had for better or for worse is a function of what you’ve done.

If the tasks before you, and this happens a lot in school, good school, bad school, doesn’t matter. If the task before you is, do as we’ve shown you, then the moment you’re in a place like the GMAT puts you on. Right, something new, something unexpected. Yes, something that’s not really new, right, but it’s in a new packaging, it’s wrapped up in a different way, and it’s a puzzle. New presentation, what we call perspective shift. The moment you’re off your footing then all of a sudden you’re very unpracticed. Yeah, you’re prepared for a specific path and not for being able to choose the right path. Unless you’re preparing with Apex of course. Of Course! You’re prepared for that. And preparing to prepare is very good preparation. It’s also similar to other standardized tests the GMAT doesn’t really test how good of a student you are.

 

Are You An Excellent Student, Test Taker or Both?

Absolutely. I can tell you this because well, I’m an excellent test taker, I’m not an excellent student. My sister, my younger sister she’s an excellent student, terrible test taker. So I’m not trying to say this to stress you out about something. I’m saying that just because you are a good student doesn’t necessarily mean that you will succeed unless you prepare adequately. Yeah and there are very different skills, that’s not to say that we don’t have plenty of 4.0 s that just wreck the GMAT. Wreck! Wreck in a good way. Wreck, yeah, like just yeah destroy, render it innocuous. Destroy in a good way. Yeah these are good things! Did I go to vocab-y there? No, I think it might be just to American centric.

If you enjoyed: The GMAT Is Not A Standard Standardized test, watch our Cost of GMAT Prep.

 

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Posted on
23
Jul 2019

Why Is GMAT Prep Expensive?

Cost of the GMAT Prep

I’m Mike Diamond, head of instruction. I’m Jaymes Kine, one of the lead instructors here. And we are here to talk to you about some of the questions that we have gotten on our fancy social media platforms. Why in God’s name is preparing for the GMAT soo expensive? Can’t I just you know muscle through this with sheer will, determination and self-prep, free resources? And for some small portion of the population you totally can, but, by in large learning to absolutely master the GMAT is like starting from scratch and building a car. You need to at the very least have other people help you make parts, give you schematics, all that, even if you are putting it together yourself. This is not something most people want to do or more importantly have time to do. So why is the cost of GMAT prep soo high?

The GMAT Is An Investment

And I think also the thing to think about is it’s an investment. You need to take the GMAT so that you can go to business school. You want to go to business school so you can become an executive of some sort, somewhere, right? I mean, most of the people, and listen there are those of you out there that are going to B-school to make the world a better place and that’s absolutely awesome and for anyone whether you are going for profit or for the love of humanity, if you have got a need, we have a scholarship program.

So somewhere below here you can find a link to our scholarship application. Let’s be clear, the scholarship we are discussing is an Apex scholarship!

10 Points on the GMAT is worth $80 000!

So, when it comes down to it, the GMAT is an investment and doing well on the GMAT has a significant measurable impact on the amount of money that you are going to make throughout your life. And it might be more than you think. We have actually done some analysis internally and when you compare the salaries coming out of schools, from top schools to very good schools and you adjust for everything else, and just looks at admissions chances and financial aid and GMAT, every 10 points on the GMAT is worth, and I know you actually haven’t seen this document.

Yeah. Guess! Every 10-point increment on the GMAT, how much is it worth?In annual income? In net present value. Lifetime! 10 points? 10K? Keep Going! 30K? 50? About 50 thousand Pounds, 80 thousand US Dollars in lifetime earnings. And that sounds sort of ridiculous until you think about …. Wait, that’s every 10 points? Every 10 points? Well think about it, if you get a 720 and get into Stanford versus a 620, do a great school like, Fox, your lifetime earnings for those 100 points, the difference is going to be more than 800 000 dollars. That’s a lot of dollars!

The Apex Instructor Difference

And so it’s an investment, but from the other side, for us, for what we do. We love what we do! And we are not really in it for the money. I think everyone that’s worked here… Well I mean I am, you have to pay me! Yes! But I do love teaching! We have all started… I think every instructor here started out helping friends, helping family, helping friends of friends, and at some point sort of rolled in and said, well this is something that I enjoy. This is really fun! And it can help me have a fulfilling career.

Why is GMAT Prep soo expensive?

But there is opportunity cost, for you Economics majors out there. Ooh, talking to you! Why is GMAT preparation soo expensive?

Well if you go to a test prep factory and they hire someone who scored a 680 or a 700, just got out of school, doesn’t have teaching experience, they are not paying them very much, they’re actually probably paying them less than they are worth because that’s how big corporations work. Not to get too political. But, you know, they are getting paid $20/hour.

That’s why earlier on in my career I didn’t know this existed. Being a real tutor. It’s also why many of them don’t do it full time. I mean you can see when you go on any of those other websites, and you look for courses available by this specific teacher, they’ve got like 1 or 2 nights a week maybe. Because they are moonlight, doing something else to pay the bills. Still, a lot of excellent teachers, hey you got to make ends meet. But, we don’t want them, because they’re doing something else and it’s just a financial thing for them.

That’s actually one of the things that I’ve been happiest with is going from just teaching on the side and moonlighting and doing that to let’s do this fulltime because I didn’t like my other job and I always liked the few hours a week I was teaching and now I like all the hours that I am teaching. Yeah, when Jaymes joined us he became full time, all our instructors do this full time, just the GMAT!

Apex instructors have score 770+ on the GMAT

And for a GMAT score of, well we all have 770’s and above, we can go to top business schools and work at, I used to be at a hedge fund. Oh, we fancy! We can go do all sorts of stuff. We totally fancy!

So hiring a GMAT tutor is like hiring a professional whether it is an attorney, an accountant, a psychiatrist. Looking for that budget doctor? Yeah, exactly! You wouldn’t get your knee operated on by someone who was like I can do it a little cheaper but I went to a worse medical school.  Right, Zoology is medicine, in a way! I’ve done plenty giraffe knee replacements! That’s actually a pretty big deal!

If you enjoyed this video about the cost of GMAT prep, watch our GMAT Confidence video.

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Posted on
08
Jul 2019

GMAT Confidence

GMAT Confidence

I’m Mike Diamond Head of instruction. I’m Jaymes Kine one of the lead instructors here. And we’re here to talk to you about some of the questions that we’ve gotten on our fancy social media platforms. Yeah, so first of all thank you guys. We asked for you guys to give us some questions you have asked the questions and I guess kind of talked ourselves into a corner because now we have to answer them. Do you have the answers? I have the answer guide! You know, that’s pretty much, just so you know, that’s always the GMAT instructors trick, is we have the answer guide that’s the only difference. It’s actually totally not the trick, the trick, this is actually a great place to start. Okay!

Prep Materials

What materials to use. But I want to talk especially about the quality materials out there. There’s a wide variety of materials out there. There are a lot of materials, you’ve got a wide variety of quality I think is what you’re saying. Wide variety of quality but even the good materials in terms of the problems often do a great disservice to our clients by saying this is how you do it. Right, you look in the back and you see this especially, it’s more apparent with the quantitative. Yeah. Here’s all the algebra you need to do, right, and so many times it’s not about the answer it’s about thinking about other solution paths and getting around the answer. Yeah, and this is actually something that happens a lot I think, it’s mainly one of the major pitfalls for self-prep.

Is when you’re studying on your own we read through the official guide or whatever books you may have. By the way we recommend always getting the official guide, other books to supplement are great, but at least the official guide. We have our own materials that we would we would recommend obviously, but let’s go to the official guide on the answers there. When people are self-prepping they will go through the official guide then they’ll be reading the official answers which as Mike just said, they start with here’s the algebra problem and work you all the way through every algebraic step.

GMAT Confidence

I don’t know if you guys can tell we haven’t rehearsed and this is actually a GMAT moment. Yeah, we maybe should have rehearsed, you know failing to plan is planning to fail I think is what we say. Yes and no though, but we have all the answers. We don’t need to go over the answers in advance we don’t need a script because we live and breathe the GMAT this is all we do. And in that way this is a strong parallel for the GMAT. When you’re sitting the exam you don’t need to know the answers in advance ABCD whatever. If you have the tools and the knowledge, the experience, the expertise, then the answers are going to flow. And all that I think adds up to GMAT confidence to know you can go into that test and you can take it right.

Now we may be over confident here but it’s something we’re working on right. But being confident when you get to the test is definitely key. And it’s often a characteristic of really high achieving test takers, to be sure our instructors none of them went to the test saying, ” Oh, I’m nervous I’m not going to do well,” and when we take follow-up tests from time to time that’s that’s not a question. And that’s characteristic of just about everyone I’ve met, clients, instructors, whatever that have scored above that 720/730 mark. Yeah, I think irrational confidence is probably my best my best characteristic as a test taker really. That’s your best characteristic overall! Oh, thanks man!

If you enjoyed this video, see: Quant Versus Verbal.

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Posted on
06
Jul 2019

Quant Versus Verbal

Quant Versus Verbal

It’s time for quant versus verbal. The final showdown. Yeah, oh wait, we have to…

We have to talk about quant and verbal. Right! So quant versus verbal, one of the most common questions we get. Where should I start?

Should I focus more on the quant or the verbal? What do you think Mike?

Quant

It won’t surprise our lovely viewers that it all depends on the person but let’s talk in some generalizations. One thing you might be surprised by, maybe not so surprised to learn, is that a distinct majority of the people we work with come to us for quantitative help versus verbal help.

At least that’s what they state upfront. Many of them end up only getting quant anyhow but a lot of people state that they only need quant and then they end up needing verbal help as well. Once your quant outstrips your verbal you want to bring them up to parity because that’s highly rewarded by the scoring algorithm.

Right! But that said, we talk in fact we talk a lot of shit every day. Yeah mostly. We talk, we read, we write, we live, we’re immersed in a world of language, a verbal world. Where even math professors only math a few hours a day. Okay yeah there is a verb – to math! This is not a GMAT word but it’s an Apex word because we math frequently. Yes!

Fluency

So the issue there is fluency. If you’re already fluent in English, all the lessons you need to learn are much more easily attainable. Whereas with quantitative concepts even ones you think you know, often there’s more context. So you need a longer time period and more contact density with them in order to absorb all the stuff you need to then be flexible with them the same way you’re likely already flexible with the English language.

Verbal

Right! I think a big part of that is that the verbal section is the verbal section but the math section is math in English. They’re not just equations. They’re not just giving you specific mathematics problems per se. They are giving you math problems wrapped up in words.

Too true, and that goes both ways, there are quantitative problems particularly on the critical reasoning and a lot of times these aren’t: here are some numbers figure it out. Rather, the cost-of-living index is growing more quickly than inflation, more than pensions or something like that. Where you have some sort of abstract inequality buried in a property – they require mathematical reasoning.

And just for all of our other viewers who might not be from Philadelphia. He meant buried in the problem that’s what that was. Buried not buried? Yeah okay. Although, if you are from Philadelphia don’t spit out your water, it’s okay to say buried, but that’s how it goes.

That’s how it goes, so anyway there’s a lot of overlap on the GMAT but especially on the quantitative side, a lot of the difficulty is puzzling out what you need to answer, not doing the equation but you’re saying what that hell is this asking me for?

Non-Native English Speakers

You know and this is something else that we feel like a lot of the other the other outfits, the other test prep factories don’t really do enough, they don’t do a good enough job in my opinion. Emphasizing what many of you may be thinking right now which is verbal help and mathematical help with verbal for non-native English speakers. There are plenty of students who come Apex who are actually very good mathematicians as it were and it’s the English that they need a little bit of help with. Not as it pertains to the verbal section but actually it’s the English on the quant section that’s difficult.

Absolutely, there’s vocabulary, there’s context, but what’s really important here is that native speakers and non-native speakers pick up language differently. Even the way you learned English if you’re a non-native speaker affects how we approach working with you on the verbal. So if you’re a non-English speaker don’t be too concerned that that’s a disadvantage. You know something I’d like to point out to my students quite often is that the GMAT is actually created specifically for native English speakers and a lot of the test itself is meant to trick native English speakers. So coming at it actually from a non-native speaking background can actually help you kind of skip over all of the little traps that are set up for native speakers. So don’t despair, it’s not that you’re at a distinct disadvantage, you just some different work to do to prepare.

Yeah, different advantages, having access to secondary grammars whether it’s your native language or whether you took say, Spanish in high school.

I’m fluent in emoji actually I can tell that from your text messages it’s frankly disturbing.

If you enjoyed this video, watch GMAT Confidence

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Posted on
21
Jun 2019

Number Theory Problem Form – Wedding Guest

Number Theory Problem – Wedding Guest

Today we’re going to be looking at what at first seems to be an allocation problem. But on further reflection actually turns out to be a much simpler number theory problem. If we take a look at the problem stem these numbers 143 and 77. They stick out to us and they stick out not just because they don’t seem to have any relative association but also because they’re sort of odd-looking numbers they don’t look like most the numbers were used to seeing. Say 48 or 24 or 36 something easily divisible clearly breakable into factors. Here were given these two disparate numbers and we’re being asked to formulate not what the tables are made up of but how many tables there are.

Solving the Problem

So we look at these two numbers and we examine first the 77 because it’s a simpler lower number. 77 breaks into factors of 7 and 11. This clues us in as to what to look for out of the 143. 143 must have a factor of 7 or 11. And in fact 143 is evenly divisible by 11 and it gives us 13. Which means that there are 11 possible tables that is the maximum number of tables are 11. Each one has 13 people from the bride side and 7 people from the groom’s side. 13 plus 7 there’s 20 people at each table. Times the 11 tables is 220. And we can back check our math, 143 plus 77 is 220. We don’t need to go that far but that might help deliver some comfort to this method. So in reality this is a very creative clever way the GMAT is asking us for a greatest common factor.

Graphical Solution Path

Another way to think about this is that we need an equal number of groups from the bride and groom side. The number of people on the bride’s side doesn’t have to equal the number of people on the groom’s side. We just need them broke in into the same number of equal groups. Graphically, the illustration shows us how a certain number of different sized groups combined into this common table. So 13 and 7 and we have 11 groups of each.

Problem Forming

This is a great problem to problem form. It will give you some additional mental math or common result experience by forcing you to figure out numbers that you can present that at first don’t look like they match but in fact do have a common factor. You’ll notice that if they had given you 16 people and 36 people finding that common factor might be easier.

So as you problem form this try and do it in a way that sort of obscures the common factor. Either try it maybe where they have multiple common factors and you tweak things like what is the greatest number what is the fewest number of tables. Or even do a perspective shift and take a look at say how many guests are represented at each table. Or on the bride’s side or on the groom’s side. Of course there are conceptual shifts to this and you can make this story about anything. Once you control the story or rather the structure of the story this problem becomes very very straightforward.

Hope this helped I look forward to seeing you guys soon.

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Posted on
09
Apr 2019

Sleep Affects Your GMAT Preparation

Sleep Affects GMAT Preparation

So what is the number one thing that gets in the way of GMAT performance and preparation for that matter? It’s not quantitative, it’s not verbal, it’s no problem type or rule or anything like that. In fact, it’s a good night’s sleep or more particularly, it’s consistently having a good night’s sleep.

Sleep hygiene and allowing the brain to absorb the information it’s learned in the day past, as well as prepare to absorb new information in the coming day is absolutely essential to learning any new process or skill. Yet, most professionals preparing for the GMAT are already running at a continuous sleep deficit. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to get a full eight hours of sleep every night!

Prioritization of Time

And if you say well I don’t have time between my work and my social life and the GMAT. Consider this, people who get a full night’s sleep are significantly healthier and happier than those who do not. So if you don’t have enough hours in the day, re-prioritize your time. That might mean taking yourself out of the GMAT for a little while. Actually, it should make you more cognizant of all the things you’re not doing with your time. Thereby, allowing you to refocus towards the future and why you’re preparing for the GMAT.

Way too often it’s too easy to rob Peter in order to pay Paul. That is borrow now, to pay later. When we do this with our time, we put ourselves in this downward spiral. This downward cycle where we’re focused more on the job at hand than where we’re looking to go. We see this a lot with our clients who are preparing for the GMAT.

Invest in Yourself

Being committed professionally is vital to success, it’s vital to growth and learning. At the same time, if you’re so committed that you’re putting in 12 or 14 hour days, every day, then maybe it’s time to revisit the resources you’re giving to your employer rather to yourself. Ultimately, the amount of time you invest in the GMAT, in yourself and your sleep is entirely up to you. Realize that the best outcomes come from prioritizing yourself, your learning and your career and leveraging them to be as productive as you possibly can at work, on the GMAT, at business school and ultimately beyond.

So turn the computer off, put on some soft music and go to bed.

If you liked “Sleep Affects GMAT Preparation”, be sure to watch 6 Things Most GMAT Preppers Get Wrong

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Posted on
12
Feb 2019

If you’re doing math on the GMAT, watch this.

If You’re Doing Math You’re Doing Something Wrong

I want to discuss one of the core tenents of Apex’s quantitative philosophy on the GMAT. “If you’re doing math, you’re doing something wrong.” Meaning, if you find yourself doing math, that’s a signal from the exam that you’re using a sub-optimal solution path. By math I don’t mean any calculation whatsoever, but any calculations that aren’t reasonable. That don’t come out easily, neatly and cleanly, once you’re well practiced with mental math. So it’s not that we’ll never do a calculation, but every calculation we do should be deliberate and smooth.

The Most Overused Solution Path

Let’s go a little deeper into this, because it’s a really important concept. Many, many people preparing for the GMAT spend way too much time worrying about the math. Being freaked out about the math and on the exam doing the math. The applied mathematical solution path is the most over used solution path on the quantitative side of the GMAT. Particularity among engineers, and with people who do a lot of self-prepping. They look to the back of the book or look to previous experience as students. And get caught up in the idea that their answer needs to be precise. This gets in the way of using our estimation solution path or other higher solution paths. Which can get us to the correct answer much more quickly.

The GMAT isn’t Testing Your Math Skills

How do we know that math is not what the GMAT wants us to do? It’s quite simple. If the GMAT was the referendum on how well you can do mental math, then the scores would reflect your ability to do so. MBA programs at top business schools would be filled with people with extraordinary, almost savant like mental math abilities. We know this isn’t the case.
Actually, as we improve on our mental math, we get diminishing returns with it. So we see a lot of clients getting up to the 70th, 80th, or 90th percent level even, on the quantitative side of things. Then, all of a sudden they plateau; they can’t get any higher. The reason is they are so focused on the math. They are missing the bigger logical reasoning picture or the structure of quantitative problems that doesn’t rely on doing math that allows both quick and accurate solutions.

Key Things to Avoid

While math has it’s place, we want to be sure that we’re not putting it on a pedestal. And that when we’re performing computations, we’re doing so with great deliberation, intentionality, and that we have a good reason for doing any computation we’re doing. If you find yourself diving into the equation or doing a lot of processing, stop. Say “Wait a minute, there must be a better way to do this.” Another option is that sometimes you make a basic error early on and that leads to ugly numbers and math. But you should never, never, never be multiplying decimals out to the fourth decimal. That sort of math is the true trigger, the true signal, that there’s a better way to solve the problem. When you’re self prepping, this is what you want to look for.

So by the time you get to the exam, you’re not catching yourself doing math, but you’ve already incorporated it into your process, the fact that math shouldn’t be your default.

So, remember, guys, if you’re doing math, you’re doing something wrong and you can take this one to the bank.

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Posted on
12
Feb 2019

Profit & Loss Problem Form

Profit and Loss Problem

The profit and loss problem form that this problem fits into is one that has strong DSM’s into mathematics. Here we are tempted to do the math in part because that’s so easy. It’s so available to us. This is characteristic of a mid-level arithmetic problem where there’s some shifts and shimmies but overall it’s a fairly straightforward problem that utilizes no more than the four basic operations. So on the one hand this profit and loss problem is pre-algebra or even sort of grade school math. On the other this makes the solution path much more elusive.

Solving the Problem Using Math

So of course we can follow the math. We can add up all the costs, five thousand plus two dollars, times twenty thousand. Then contrast that with the revenue that comes in which is
twelve times twenty thousand. But then we’re left with the ugly division problem that brings us to the profit per t-shirt. This is where the GMAT sticks us.

Instead of handling this in aggregate it’s strongly preferable to handle it with a higher level solution path. Let’s take a look at a few:

Higher Level Solution Path: Distribution

One way to do this is to distribute the fixed cost over the cost per t-shirt. This is actually a lot easier than it seems. Twenty thousand t-shirts, five thousand dollars, five over twenty is one-quarter. Therefore, it costs one-quarter per t-shirt in addition to the two dollars in variable cost. So twelve minus two is equal to ten dollars, minus one quarter is equal to nine dollars and
seventy-five cents. It’s sitting right there for us in literally a moment.

Higher Level Solution Path: Graphical Equalization

We can also use a graphic equalization method in order to get to the same conclusion. If the numbers were more complicated, understanding that that shift is one-quarter down. That is the fixed cost is one-quarter down. Then we know we’re looking for something that ends in a seventy-five cents. That allows us to eliminate all the answer choices that don’t end in 0.75. Then we can use scale to determine that 9.75 is the correct answer.

Practice Problems

There are more complicated versions of this problem form. In particular, I’d encourage you to explore being told that the t-shirt company is breaking even. Then determining the amount of variable costs or fixed cost that’s there or even the production run. Similarly, you can be given a target profit or loss, the break-even just being the zero, so it’s a bit easier and have to reverse engineer the relationships.

Once again, this doesn’t have to be done algebraically. As you begin to appreciate the subtlety of the ratio between costs production run and total P&L all of these problems should be simplified and should be very straightforward.

Continue your GMAT practice with the Wedding Guest GMAT problem.

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Posted on
12
Feb 2019

Six Things That GMAT Preppers Get Wrong

Six Things GMAT Preppers Get Wrong

I’m Mike Diamond Head Instructor for Apex GMAT, here to talk about the top six things GMAT preppers get wrong.

1. Thinking that a correct answer means you’re done with the problem.

When you arrive at a correct answer, that should mark the beginning of your preparation, not the end of it. There are almost always better solution path’s that are more time efficient. That work better with the way your brain engages the problem. Or that will add understanding either to the content or more importantly to the underlying structure of the examination. So when you arrive at a correct answer look for alternative solution paths, and for shortcuts. Give yourself the latitude to explore. Moreover, try to identify what permitted you get to get the problem correct in the first place. A lot of times people focus much more on the problems they get wrong; on what they’re doing wrong than on what they’re doing right. And what you’re doing right can often inform those problems where you are struggling. So remember once you arrived at the correct answer, that’s your starting point.

2. Overusing practice tests.

Practice exams are a crucial part of GMAT preparation, but they’re often misused and overused. Most people use a practice exam to see how they’re doing. But being focused on your score is absolutely the wrong way to approach the GMAT. Rather, you want to be focused on your process and if your process is tight, if your process is correct. Then the score is going to take care of itself. Practice tests are best used for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with your score. They can be used to calibrate your timing decisions. They can be used to identify weak points in your conceptual understanding. Finally, they can be used to identify where you DSM, default solving mechanism, back into old time consuming and unconstructive solution pathways. So, the next time you have an urge to do a test remember that this is going to rob you of two to three hours of valuable prep time. When you’re doing a practice test, you’re not learning, you’re doing.

3. Caring about your score.

I know it’s counter-intuitive, you want that 700-plus score. It’s all you think about; it haunts your dreams. And yet caring about your score is the quickest way to a test anxiety problem and it’s actually entirely unconstructive. Rather, you need to focus entirely on your process and let the score handle itself. Imagine you’re running a race and you’re running as fast as you can. Whether you’re a super fit marathon runner or a couch potato, you can only run as fast as you can. And the time on that race is going to reflect that. So don’t sweat the score, sweat your fitness! Understand what things you can do to improve your GMAT fitness and the score will take care of itself.

4. Studying under a time constraint.

Time trials are really important as you mature in your GMAT progress. But at the start, you want to focus on the mastery of skills in an un-timed environment. Only once you’ve achieved mastery try to do them ever more quickly. By focusing on the time before you have the underlying process conquered you end up rushing yourself in a way that exacerbates your mistakes rather than allows you to correct them. So as you’re prepping, focus on total mastery and understanding first and then begin putting them under time pressure.

5. Low-yield self-prep.

Most people spend entirely too much time preparing from the GMAT. They do so because they’re not getting enough out of their prep time. Does this sound familiar? Okay, I’m going to do a group of 10 questions, maybe on a timer for 20 minutes. Afterwards I’m going to look in the back of the book. When I get the problem right I’m going to say, “yeah, I never have to deal with this problem again.” When I get it wrong in going to go a little bit further and normally I’m going to find something that I knew but I sort of forgot. I’ll say, “You know what I won’t forget that, I’m going to get that right next time.” But it doesn’t happen that way does it? That’s a very low yielding strategy. Instead, you need to become responsible and accountable for your learning and Apex shows you the way to do so by not just being reactive to problems but proactively creating problems of your own.

6. Doing the math.

We have a saying around here and you may have heard it on some of our materials or online videos. If you’re doing math, then you’re doing something wrong. Most of the GMAT quantitative section requires little to no processing and if you’re scribbling tons of stuff on paper it means you’re missing the bigger picture. So remember if you’re doing math there’s always a better way!

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