5 Minutes with the GMAT: Everything You Need to Know (and nothing you don’t)

Scoring, Timing, Sections, Purpose, Costs, & more

If you are reading this, you are probably well on the way to pursuing a high-quality master’s program from a prestigious business school. First things first: you will need to take the GMAT to fulfill your application requirements. Furthermore, you will have to perform well on it, especially if your grades from college/university aren’t strong.

ABOUT THE GMAT EXAM

The General Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is considered the most trusted, proven, and well-understood predictor of academic success for MBA programs. The exam is crafted and administered by the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC) to measure a candidate’s verbal, mathematical, integrated reasoning, and analytical writing skills. You can also register for the GMAT through their official portal or browse through some practice questions here.

The GMAT test is a multiple-choice, computer adaptive test (CAT) – this means that an algorithm selects each following question based on the test taker’s ability level and performance on previous questions. If you are new to this concept, the most important feature to understand is that when you answer a question correctly, the following question will be even more challenging. Conversely, if you answer a question incorrectly, it will give you an easier one next.

WHAT IS THE GMAT USED FOR?

The GMAT test is primarily used for admissions to more than 2,100 institutions, universities, and MBA programs worldwide that offer business and management disciplines. Keep in mind that many business schools screen applicants based on a range of criteria, but GMAT scores are among the most important screening metrics used. Others include undergraduate GPA, work and other relevant experience, application essays, recommendation letters, and personal interviews. Strong GMAT results are necessary, but certainly not sufficient to gain admission to the best MBA and business oriented grad school programs like Masters of Finance (MFin), Masters of Accounting (MAcct), Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Juris Doctor & Masters of Business Administration (JD-MBA) and PhDs in all these disciplines. Remember also that, while the GMAT is important, it’s certainly not a measure of who you are as a person and is one part of a many faceted application. 

An investment of time and resources into the right GMAT preparation program or plan will result in a higher score on the test, which has a direct correlation with your admissions success, and will have a positive impact on your business school experience and future professional career.

STRUCTURE, SECTIONS, TIMING, & SCORING

The GMAT test consists of four sections with categorized problems aiming to assess a different skill set. Each part differs in terms of score range and the number and types of problems:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) 1 task | 30 minutes | scored from 0 to 6 (0.5-point increments)
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR) 12 questions | 30 minutes | scored from 1 to 8 (1-point increments)
  • Quantitative 31 questions | 62 minutes | scored from 0 to 60 (1-point increments)
  • Verbal 36 questions | 65 minutes | scored from 0 to 60 (1-point increments)

There are several other factors worth mentioning:

    • The total score of the GMAT ranges from 200 to 800 in increments of 10.
    • Despite the official scoring guides, the maximum you can score on the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections is 51.
    • The test taker can opt for two breaks totaling 16 minutes (8 minutes each).
    • The total time to take the GMAT test is 3 hours and 23 minutes including the two breaks.
    • GMAT test takers can choose the order of sections when taking the exam:
  • AWA » IR » first break » Quantitative » second break » Verbal
  • Verbal » first break » Quantitative » second break » IR » AWA
  • Quantitative » first break » Verbal » second break » IR » AWA

GMAT SCORING & VALIDITY

While you’ll get your unofficial score when you complete your exam (for all sections besides the AWA Writing), you and your designated schools will receive your official GMAT score within 20 calendar days of the exam, and it will be valid for the following five years. In order to determine what score will be good for you, you should consider both the average (mean) score and the range of scores of applicants admitted to your desired university.

HOW, WHEN, & WHERE CAN I TAKE THE GMAT?

How & Where?

You can take the GMAT in one of the 600+ physical test centers worldwide (official list available here). The test is administered on a computer, via a platform used worldwide: Pearson VUE. The GMAT is available only at designated Pearson VUE test centers, thus assuring each candidate the exact same experience as all other test takers around the world.

When?

You can take the GMAT test almost anytime that you want, depending on the availability of dates into the test center(s) you have chosen. However, there are some requirements regarding re-taking the exam. You can do so once every 16 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period (365 days), and up to eight total times.

Online GMAT Test in the face of COVID-19

As of mid-June 2020, at this article’s writing, you should know that the GMAC is offering an online version of the GMAT test in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some of its key point of differences compared to the original version are:

  • It excludes the AWA section.
  • The exam’s duration is 2h and 45minutes, excluding one single 5-minute break.
  • You can use a physical or an online whiteboard.
  • You can send your score report for free to an unlimited number of schools.
  • Can be scheduled anytime, 24 hours a day.
  • The online GMAT costs $200 and has reschedule and cancellation fees waived.

You can learn more about the online GMAT test here.

HOW MUCH DOES THE GMAT TEST COST?

The cost to sit the GMAT exam is $250. This includes sending your results to up to five schools of your choice. All additional score reports past the first five schools require a $35 fee per institution.

Rescheduling & Cancellation of your GMAT appointment

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, at this article’s writing, the GMAC has temporarily waived all exam cancellation, reschedule & score reinstatement fees for GMAT test-center based appointments

Regular Rescheduling fees:

  • $50 if requested more than 60 days prior to appointment
  • $100 if requested 15 to 60 days prior to appointment
  • $150 if requested 1 to 14 days prior to appointment

Regular Cancellation fees:

  • $150 with a $100 refund if requested more than 60 days prior to appointment
  • $175 with a $75 refund if requested 15 to 60 days prior to appointment
  • $200 with a $50 refund if requested 1 to 14 days prior to appointment

ADDITIONAL COSTS WORTH CONSIDERING

Apart from the test fee, there are other costs that you may want to consider. GMAC advises people preparing for the exam to utilize the GMAT Official Guide (as do we) alongside other learning aids as additional materials. Please note that the Official Guide is a great resource for problems, but the explanations leave something to be desired, so using only the Official Guide is not recommended.

A large percentage of test takers who wish to score in the 90th percentile or higher (700+) on the GMAT invest in private GMAT preparation as a personalized means to achieving long-term career success. Our firm, Apex GMAT, specializes in offering private, customized GMAT preparation and admissions consulting. We focus on individual learning and a holistic coaching environment where we tackle not only the fundamentals, but the underlying structure and complexity of the GMAT. We do this not just to get you a good score, but to prepare you for your Masters/MBA program and career beyond by focusing on universal critical thinking skills, cognitive heuristics, emotional and behavioral aspects of learning and high stakes performance, and other learning techniques that can be applied widely over the course of a lifetime. We take pride in exactly this personalized approach as a means for every candidate to utilize their strengths better, focus on their weaknesses, and overcome test anxiety through an exclusively designed GMAT curriculum.

A lot of people try to save money on the GMAT preparation process. When you consider that a top MBA can lead to millions of dollars of extra earnings over the course of a lifetime, it makes sense to invest in GMAT preparation. Learn more about this subject with our instructors Mike and Jaymes, here: Why is GMAT Prep so Expensive?

That’s it! Thanks for sticking with us to the end of this GMAT test crash course! If you are looking for a more comprehensive version diving deeper into what the GMAT has in store for you, feel free to check out our GMAT 101 guide.

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

June 20, 2020

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27
May 2020

How To Select A GMAT Tutor

Hiring a GMAT tutor is something that hopefully, you only have to do once, but this video is for everybody, whether you are brand new to the GMAT or whether you have had one or two bad tutoring experiences. And this isn’t an uncommon thing, a lot of clients come to us after having lackluster success with other tutoring services or with other tutors. So, today I want to talk about what to look for in a tutor. While I’m hopeful that you’ll end up working with us, should you give us a call, I want to give you a framework for what to look for and why these things are important for your learning experience.

Tutors Who Claim They Know What You Need

A lot of these characteristics are rather counter-intuitive. So for example, when interviewing a tutor, when speaking with a tutor be very wary of a tutor who claims to know exactly what they are doing. Everyone learns a little differently and it takes a tutor years and years of experience, dozens if not hundreds of clients to really have a sense of what an individual needs.

Any tutor that you speak with who says: “I know exactly what you need, here is the program that we are going to do” and isn’t asking you enough questions or isn’t spending enough time with you to understand what it is that makes you, you and what your specific background is, represents a red flag. A huge flying, waving red flag that tells you to run in the other direction. Successful tutoring, just like successful education and doing things more generally successfully, is full of uncertainties. You should be identifying a tutor that recognizes that.

Tutors Who Want to Use Their Method

Many tutors will tell you about their tried and true method or have a particular methodology that they want to follow. This is another one of those red flags. Every learner is a bit different but when you have a tutor that is very top down what they are doing is instead of focusing on you as a learner they are focusing on themselves and what works for them. Or, a little better but not great, what works for the general population, 50, 60, 70% of people. That is great if you are looking to get from a 500 to a 600, but when you are looking for top performers, when you are looking for a 700+ score, you need to leverage your own strengths and recognize your own weaknesses.

Anyone who says, “this is how I solve a problem so you should do as I do” or, “this is the best way” should make your ears prick up because this is someone who is not going to be flexible enough to work with the various balance of characteristics that you have and may throw at them as you hit resistance points in the mid to upper 600s.

Guaranteed Results

Finally, any tutor that promises guaranteed results is not being realistic. One of the best kept secrets in test preparation is that not everyone achieves their goal. While we have a great track record and we don’t really have anyone who fails to improve, not everyone gets to that 700 score. A lot of it is dependent upon the priority that you give the GMAT, your rapport with your instructor, the skills that you come in with, but also your openness to acquiring new skills. Many of the companies out there will advertise certain success rates and under close scrutiny most of those numbers actually don’t compute.

They don’t account for wash out rates, people who decide to start but don’t finish or people who have inconsistent prep because they are focused on the next promotion or planning a wedding. And these are obstacles that can be worked around but at the same time, the idea that everyone who walks in the door succeeds is one that should raise red flags for you. So any sort of assurance is indicative of someone who is trying to sell you something, rather than someone who is genuinely concerned with giving you a realistic lay of the land and speaking about your possibilities and their success rate in a meaningful and realistic way.

Do Your Research

I hope this is useful as you continue to navigate the uncertain world of test preparation. There are a lot of great practitioners out there but there are also a lot of duds and often price point and guarantees don’t tell you who is who. So do your research, have a lot of deep conversations, ask good questions and ultimately go with your gut. Go with what’s comfortable for you and who you feel most comfortable with because ultimately that will lead to the best experience and the greatest amount of openness of your part to master new techniques. So I hope this helps you guys find the tutor that’s right for you.

Wishing you all the best in your GMAT preparation.

If you enjoyed “How To Select A GMAT Tutor”, watch Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success.

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19
May 2020

GMAT Scoring – Demystified

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

Should You Spend more time on the first 10 questions?

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

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

Planning To Score An Elite GMAT Score

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

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

Does The Test keep Track of Other Information?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time and Score Trade-off

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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14
May 2020

The Effects of Coffee on GMAT Performance

Let’s talk about caffeine and the effect of coffee on GMAT performance. Caffeine is a neuro-stimulant. Drinking coffee or tea while you prep and particularly being appropriately caffeinated when your test is a decided advantage. Caffeine is a nootropic, which means it helps you be smarter. It also helps your cognitive abilities become enhanced due to increased blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain.

Find Your Right Amount

It’s important to understand how much caffeine helps, not just to wake you up in the morning. More than that, it’s about how much caffeine is needed to get you to that a really nice steady state of alert focus-ness (where you’re making up words like alert focus-ness) where you kind of feel on top of the world and you have that gentle energy.

You want to understand exactly how much caffeine your body can take because there’s nothing worse than being over caffeinated, jittery and anxiety ridden on the exam. But if you calibrate it properly caffeine is an important part of your GMAT diet.

If you enjoyed the Effects of coffee on GMAT Prep, watch: Why a 4.0 does not equal GMAT success. 

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30
Apr 2020

Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success

You’ve always been a high achiever, always excelled at school, at extracurriculars and in your profession. 4.0, valedictorian, top of your department and yet the GMAT put you on your ass. This is surprisingly much more common than you might think. The big secret is that no one talks about getting help.

Everyone Is Asking for Help

For many professionals, this is the first time in their academic or a professional career where they’ve needed to ask for help or engage a tutor. If you are at one of this top consulting finance banking firms you don’t want to ask around say: “Oh I need help with this.” That shows weakness. One of the big secrets is if you’re in a noteworthy profession everyone is asking for help, but no one is talking about it.

The GMAT is designed like many other psychometric exams. Unlike the SAT where everyone and their brother and sister are taking it, the GMAT is taken by a self-selected cohort. That tends to be strong achievers coming from the best schools, the best professional firms in banking and finance.

What the GMAT is Testing?

The GMAT needs a way to differentiate among a lot of very smart, very high achieving individuals. The way it does this is by testing your creative and your critical thinking skills. They want to see how flexible you are with the base knowledge that was instilled in you in elementary, middle, and high school. They are not testing whether or not you can multiply fractions or parse a sentence, but rather how well you can manipulate things on the fly.

To some extent, you can prepare and be familiar with the most common types of problems. Ultimately, as an adaptive exam the GMAT will put you in a place where you’re uncomfortable. Where you’re not sure what’s going on with the problem. And it is this navigation that people who have done well at school tend to not do as well with. Let’s explore why.

Why 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success?

School (for better or worse) is a reactive environment. You’re given information and expected to spit it back or manipulate it a little bit and spit it back. But there are guardrails up there – kind of like bowling with those balloon tubes. It’s very hard to get too off-center because there’s always a teacher or element of feedback or grade, that redirects you towards what you are supposed to be doing. Consequently, you are rewarded for following directions and are also robbed of the experience of failing heavily or not doing what’s asked. As such, you don’t get the experience of solving problems when you are significantly lost. And this is what the GMAT is testing.

So, often high achievers in academic environments tend to struggle because their study skills tend to level off somewhere around mid-600s on the GMAT. Whereas those students who maybe weren’t as strong, went their own way or tended to be more creative, more artsy tend to react to the GMAT like a fish in water. All of a sudden, the things that didn’t allow them to succeed academically, now become tremendous assets.

What To Do About It

So, first things first, don’t worry. This is an opportunity to capture new skills and grow as an individual. At a deeper level what I would suggest you internalize is the idea that what you’ve been doing for success up until now no longer works. That is a scary prospect. Especially when the carrot has always been a few feet in front of your face and you’ve consistently caught the carrot.

So, this represents psychologically, emotionally, a major shift in how you need to deal with achievement. This is highly uncomfortable for a lot of people. It requires a lot of hard work. The opiates that you’ve been using in terms of solution paths that have always worked for you all of the sudden are like an addiction that you need to break.

Unlearn Old Habits

The hardest part of our job as GMAT instructors isn’t so much showing you the new things that you need to do or teaching you new ways of doing things. Rather, in helping you dehabituate, unlearn those things that have become so embedded that they are natural. The upside of this is that when someone does so they become much more flexible intellectually. And are that much more prepared to really excel and take to heart the things they learn in business school and professionally and beyond.

If you have always been an achiever and have been stopped in your tracks by the GMAT, don’t worry, give us a call. Let us learn a bit about you and speak to exactly what it is that you might be doing that’s working against you and also what you might adjust in order to excel rapidly. That is really the silver lining here. If you are really good at achieving or working within frameworks, once you adopt a new framework, the acceleration of GMAT success often happens rapidly. To the extent that we can call this a profile, this profile is one of our favorites to work with because we tend to get really, really strong results. Most of the time, over 700.

Wishing you guys the best of luck. Give us a call. Hope you’ve enjoyed this video and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

I you enjoyed: Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success, watch Will GMAT videos help improve my score?

 

 

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16
Apr 2020

Combinatorics Problem: Movie Night

Today we’ve got a fairly straightforward combinatorics GMAT problem. If you’ve been self-prepping in a rigorous, let me review the rules sort of way, you’ll pick up that there’s orders, combinations here and you might be inclined to really dive in. What’s my combinations formula? What’s my permutation formula? How do I know which is which? Then plug in numbers.

While that will get you there understand that most combinatorics problems are more about being familiar with combinatorics than any really heavy duty math. That is because the number of people who are taking the GMAT are generally more familiar with Algebra or Geometry.

Combinatorics & The GMAT

Combinatorics, by virtue of being less known, is considered more valuable. It is scored more highly than problems of similar complexity in Algebra or Geometry. So you’re really being rewarded just for knowing basic combinatorics and in fact most permutation/combination problems fall into this basic category. The good news here is that you can use your reasoning to solve this problem without being burdened by the formal combinatorics formulas.

Solving The Problem

Let’s take a look at this problem. John’s having a movie night. We need to ask ourselves a series of pivot questions. How many different movies can John show first?

Well there’s 12 movies, he could show any of the 12. Leaving 11 movies to be shown second, any of 11. 10, 9. So the answer is 12x11x10x9 or 11,880. But even this math is a lot to do. Notice that by walking it through as a story, as a narrative, we don’t need to cancel out the 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. We don’t need to worry about division or anything else. We just know that there’s 4 movies and each time, each step we take, there’s one less movie available. Here we have this product 12 times 11 times 10 times 9, but we don’t really want to be forced to process this and so we can look for features that allow us to skip doing that heavy math.

Transforming The Numbers

We’ve got this really neat triangular shape in the answer choices where each answer has a different number of digits in it. 12, 11, 10, 9, we can look at and say on average each one’s about 10. The 9 and the 12 sort of compensate, but overall we’re going to have something that’s close to 10 times 10 times 10 times 10.

That is our answer should be somewhere around 10,000 or possibly a little more because we have an 11 and a 12 offset only by a 9. So what we’re looking for is something in that just above 10,000 range this prevents us from doing the math and very rapidly lets us look at those four movies, those numbers 12 11 10 9 and zero in on that 11 880 number.

Problem Form

Try it again with a similar number. Notice that you can’t do this with a hundred different movies selecting 17 of them. The math, the numbers would be too cumbersome.

The GMAT is really restricted here and you should restrict yourself to ones that are reasonable to keep processed in your head without doing heavy duty math. Similarly, notice how this one clusters around ten, it doesn’t have to cluster around ten, but when you’re rewriting this problem think about that clustering and think about how your knowledge of common powers or how other identities can help you rapidly get to an answer because the GMAT will present you with numbers that have a neat clean way to jump from your understanding directly to the answer without all that messy math in between.

This is Mike for Apex GMAT with your problem of the day.

If you enjoyed this combinatorics GMAT problem, try this one:  Remainder Number Theory 

 

 

 

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25
Mar 2020

GMAT Videos: Will They Help Improve My Score?

You most likely navigated to this video after watching some other GMAT videos. If you’re self-prepping by watching a lot of GMAT videos I’ve got some bad news for you. It’s a very low yield way to prep, especially if you’re doing it to the exclusion of other things.

Passive Learning

Now we have plenty of videos up here: some informational, many problems, testimonials, all kinds of stuff. It’s not that they don’t have a role in your preparation.

However, if you’re spending a lot of your prep time on a regular basis watching videos then what you’re engaging in is passive rather than active learning. Again, that’s a very low yield way to learn. That’s the most generous explanation. A realistic explanation might be that you’re using these videos, going around YouTube, looking at different platforms, as a way to feel like you’re making progress. Especially if you’ve been prepping for a long time without a measurable result or if you’ve hit a plateau.

This idea of doing more, engaging more, watching more videos, doing more problems, seems like a really good idea because that’s worked for you in the past. But in fact what you’re doing is self-medicating the psychological anxiety of either not improving or having to put forth meaningful effort & work to change the way you’re approaching the GMAT.

Change Your Approach to Watching GMAT Videos

The good news is there’s a solution for this and it doesn’t mean that you need to stop watching videos. When you’re watching GMAT videos you should be then taking a step back and practicing what you’ve learned. Changing what you’ve learned to see if it’s really sunk in or if you’re really just feeling forward momentum because you’re spending time exposed to the GMAT.

This is sort of a kin to feeling smarter because you carry books around, if you never read the books. You know the book, you know the title and you know the author. If you don’t know what’s inside or you have the story memorized but you don’t know the meaning behind it, the symbolism, why the author wrote it, then you can’t really be said to know the book.

Problem Identification Is Only Half The Work

The GMAT is the same way. It’s very easy to convince ourselves that we’re making progress. Or that we’re proficient by saying “oh yeah that’s a work rate problem. That’s a data sufficiency problem which is a system of equations”. And use that anchor of identification as a way to say I know this when in fact it’s a very surface level understanding.

In order to get to a deeper level, you need to not only recognize what you’re looking at but be able to respond to it in a new and interesting way.

What you need to be able to do is not just recognize the problem when you’re looking at those types of problems but recognize them within the general universe of other types of problems that you’re looking at. Just like when you’re sitting in the exam. A core skill is being able to not just recognize the problem but also have a good idea of what to do when you encounter that type of problem.

A work rate problem, to take this example further isn’t a particular problem, it’s a category of problems. Depending upon the way they introduce this problem determines what solution paths, what avenues of approach are going to be the most useful, the most time-efficient and depending on your learning style the most intuitive for you. The skill that you really want to grow in watching GMAT videos is using them as a basis in order to have a better sense of what you ought to be doing. That is, develop the skill of decision-making in an unknown environment not just identification.

Continue to Watch GMAT Videos

As you continue to watch videos keep this in mind but if you’re sitting there just watching video after video, frankly you’re wasting your time. Be sure to take a step back and ensure that you’re able to not just replicate what you’ve seen done in a video but to understand when it’s appropriate to use it and be prepared to do so in a less confined, less predetermined setting. I hope that is helpful and it’s not designed to make you feel bad about what you’re doing but to enhance what you’re doing. I’ll see you guys next time.

If you enjoyed this video watch: How to Avoid Stupid Mistakes on the GMAT.

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24
Mar 2020

Stupid Mistakes – How to Avoid Them on the GMAT

Stupid Mistakes On The GMAT

Hi guys. Welcome back to Apex GMAT’s channel. It’s Mike here and today I want to talk about stupid mistakes and let’s start how just with nomenclature. The idea of a stupid mistake is something that we really don’t like here. We don’t like the word dumb. We don’t like the word stupid because even if you’re saying it in a “haha” joking way and you’ve got high self-esteem and a lot of intellectual rigor you’re suddenly putting yourself down. You’re also drawing away attention from the core reasons for these errors.

Careless Mistakes

So we like to call them careless mistakes or careless errors and this allows them to be addressed to be solvable. If you’ve done a stupid mistake either you’re stupid, hopefully not, or you’ve done something foolish. What you’re doing is offloading the responsibility for that error to it being unavoidable. I was not functioning well so I did it rather than addressing the root cause. This is not that you made an error but that there’s a step before the error was made where you failed to catch the error. That step can be before or after the actual processing error was made. Most often it’s sourced from a lack of attentiveness. You’ve missed a detail because you haven’t read closely enough or you crossed your wires through what they call labeling error. Where you’ve called one thing by the wrong name and stored it incorrectly in your head.

Difficulty of Addressing Careless Mistakes

Careless errors are notoriously difficult to address, but the first step is recognizing what they are. They’re processing errors that require your attention and this is something very different than any intellectual failing. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, everybody makes careless errors. Frankly the more rapidly you think the more sort of cycles your brain goes through in a given second or minute the more likely you are to make a careless error. So what differentiates people who make many versus those who make few? Infact the people who make fewer careless errors make just as many as those who make more except they tend to catch them.

How to Work On Them

There are heuristics that we can work on both to preempt careless errors but also to recognize them. Numerically for example you often catch a careless error by noticing that the number doesn’t sound right. If I tell you that it is 150 degrees out. Fahrenheit or Celsius you know that that number doesn’t sound right because it’s anchored to a reality. A lot of times when we’re doing math on the GMAT or in life we don’t have a good anchor for those numbers so the idea of a reasonable or unreasonable number doesn’t get to go through that cognitive filter. So anchoring whether it’s to temperature or money or number of pumpkins in a field, gives us this added check in order to catch a careless error when we make it.

Pivot Questions

Similarly, when we’re reading a word problem or we’re looking at a verbal problem a lot of times using pivot questions to prioritize and understand and really call out what it is we’re trying to do allows us to be both sensitized when we do make the inevitable error but often get in front of many of the errors that we might otherwise make.

Once again, I want to emphasize that careless errors are not intellectual errors. It has nothing to do with being smart or knowing your stuff and so the moment you write off a dumb or stupid error as oh I need to study that again or I forgot that but I’ll remember it next time you’ve already missed your opportunity to improve. So thanks for watching this video guys check out more below. Remember careless errors are both inevitable and solvable. So looking forward to catching you next time and continue prepping.

If you enjoyed this video you can watch: GMAT Scoring Plateaus

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13
Mar 2020

What Are GMAT Scoring Plateaus and How To Overcome Them

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

Scoring Plateaus Explained

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

The First Scoring Plateau (mid 500s)

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

Implementing Your Knowledge

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

The Second Scoring Plateau

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

Final Plateau

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

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

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

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12
Mar 2020

MBA Conditional Offers

Today we’re going to talk about getting conditional offers from MBA programs. A lot of times we get calls from prospective clients in a bit of a panic saying oh my god this institution Harvard, LBS, whoever, gave me a few weeks and they said I can get into the program but I need this score.

How often does this happen?

This is much more common than you might think, especially if you haven’t been through the application process before. Schools are incredibly defensive when it comes to maintaining their GMAT average, their GPA average and their face to the world.

But a piece of feedback like this is actually a huge positive. When a school tells you that, what they’re telling you is that you’re a really prime candidate. They like you, they want you and either they need the higher score in order to maintain their sort of credentials. Which seems a little silly but that’s how things work. Or because they’re not confident that you’re going to have the skills to succeed in their program.

The Admissions Secret

A key sort of secret of admissions is that when you get into the program, that’s the hardest part. Programs are designed for you to succeed from, they don’t want attrition. Whether we’re talking MBA program or medical school or college. When they let you in, they let you in with the idea that you’re going to thrive and graduate and represent them well in your future endeavors.

Yeah, he’s a Harvard man! That sort of attitude is what is driving the admissions process. So, once you’re in, it’s as if you’ve graduated. This is a huge, huge incentive to bring this score up and should make you feel really good about everything that you’ve presented. So whether or not the school is worried about your abilities, what they want is validation of their choice.

Typically they say this only when you’re within shouting distance as they say for this score. If they want you to get a 700 they’re going to tell you that if you have a 680 or 670. If you have a 550 they’re not going to have been bothered saying so and typically these schools or these programs especially want to cement your quantitative skills.

The Profile of Conditionally Accepted Applicant

A lot of times the profile of someone who receives a conditional admission is that they have a pretty good GMAT score. Except it’s weighted on one side or the other. Typically strong verbal and the quant somewhere in the 40th, 50th, 60th percentile. They want to be assured that the quant heavy subject matter, finance, accounting, statistics isn’t going to leave you in the dust as soon as you land at the program.

What can you do?

So what can be done in this case? The good news is that many times these scoring changes need to be incremental. But also that if your profile warrants a conditional admission it means that there’s a lot of room to grow. This is an opportunity not just to grow your ability to perform on the GMAT but to grow a whole set of skills that will allow you to thrive in the MBA program and thrive in your career beyond. Especially if you’re really type-A, this represents a great opportunity to pre-load a skill set that’s going to give you a lot of positives on the back end.

It’s Like Adding a New Skill

You should look at it as needing to learn how to kayak or fly a plane or something else in addition to everything else you bring to the table. You’re adding this skill that until now you probably haven’t had. You’ve probably been sort of limping along and getting the score you’ve gotten through some hard work. But also through relying on tried-and-true methods that you’ve received coming through academia, middle school, elementary school, college but mostly when you were younger.

We’re instilled with these ideas about how to parse a sentence or how multiply fractions. And we use them until they break down. On the GMAT, because it’s an adaptive exam they will push us to the point where our skills no longer serve us well. This is usually somewhere in the 50th, 60th percentile.

So the goal here when you’ve got a conditional acceptance isn’t simply to push it ten more points and work what you know a little harder. Instead, really tear down a lot of what you know and get a more contextual more holistic understanding of the math or of the English language. This will allow you to be much more critical and much more creative when you visit these new concepts in your MBA program.

Reach Out for Assistance

In conclusion, if you get a conditional acceptance don’t worry, don’t panic, give us acall. We’ll talk to you about your options and normally this is a very treatable thing. That is the academic programs know when they give you a conditional acceptance that it’s a very surmountable obstacle and we can help you on your way there.

If you liked this video watch: Overcoming Scoring Plateaus.

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