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.

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.

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.

Posted on
29
Sep 2020

How To GMAT: The Verbal Section

The business world is dominated by numbers, charts, and graphs. Thus, most business school hopefuls understandably focus on developing their analytical thinking and math skills when preparing for the GMAT exam. But it’s a mistake to neglect the verbal section. Effective test prep requires a balanced, well-rounded approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the GMAT verbal section.

What is The Verbal Section and What Does It Test For?

The verbal section primarily evaluates the test taker’s overall command of standard written English, ability to analyze and evaluate arguments, and critical reading skills. As such, the verbal section is made up of three types of problems: critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension.

The 3 sections have a total of 36 questions, with a time limit of 65 minutes. This leaves, on average, 1 minute and 49 seconds per question.

How Is it scored

The verbal section, like the quantitative section, is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 60. A 51 is considered a perfect score on both sections.

The GMAT also ranks test takers by percentile. The percentile system uses GMAT scores from the previous three years to calculate how applicants performed compared to their peers. For example, if an applicant scores in the 80th percentile, it means he or she performed better than 80% of test takers over the last three years.

Although the scaled scores don’t change over time, the percentiles do. Business schools assess both the scaled and percentile scores to get an adequate understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.

Language on the Verbal Section

The language in the verbal section is more sophisticated and academic than intermediate, everyday English. If you aren’t accustomed to reading formal English, your verbal prep might require some extra time and energy.

It will be easier to identify errors, main points, and bias statements once you’ve trained your ear to formal English. Practice reading formal texts efficiently and effectively, and avoid vernacular texts. Instead, choose sources that are known for using elevated writing styles, such as The New Yorker or The New York Times.

Critical Reasoning

The critical reasoning subsection consists of a brief text outlining an argument (usually less than 100 words) and five answer choices. Critical reasoning questions measure the test taker’s ability to formulate and evaluate arguments. To answer correctly, consider the argument’s logical structure. Each answer choice might strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, or explain the argument’s flaws.

Although the best tip for critical reasoning questions is to read carefully and watch out for tricky wording, it will help to keep the following questions in mind:

1. How is the argument structured?
2. What’s the conclusion?
3. What evidence supports the conclusion?
4. Which assumptions link the evidence to the conclusion?

Reading comprehension evaluates not only the candidate’s understanding of words and statements, but more importantly, the underlying logic behind them.

In this subsection, you’ll find passages of text followed by several questions about the text’s details and implications. Some passages draw from various disciplines, such as the physical, biological, or social sciences, while others  refer to business-related fields.

Here are some tips to make the process less tedious and more efficient:

1. Read the whole passage without taking too much time to memorize details
2. Analyze the logical structure of the passage
• What’s the main argument?
• What does the author state explicitly?  What is implied?
• How would you describe the author’s tone and attitude?

Keep an eye out for opinionated words–for example, “clearly,” “obviously,” or “apparently”–these words hint at the author’s attitudes, and they’ll help you suss out the main point.

Sentence Correction

The sentence correction portion tests a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication isn’t just grammatically correct–it’s clear, direct, and concise.

In this portion, you’ll find five different versions of the same sentence. The goal is to choose the version that’s grammatically correct and expresses the idea with precision and clarity. Choose wisely!

Conclusion

Taking the quantitative section into account, there are a number of score combinations that will lead to the same overall score, which leave plenty of room to maneuver. However, given the rise in quantitative scores in recent years, total scores and percentile rankings have shifted. This gives candidates an opportunity to boost their overall scores by mastering the verbal section.

For additional tips related to the verbal section of the GMAT read: How to boost your verbal score next.

Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date: 29th September 2020

Posted on
20
Aug 2020

Time Management on The GMAT

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

1. If You Are Actively Managing Your Time, You Are Doing Something Wrong

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

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

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

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

3. Become More Sensitive to Time

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

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

4. Series Information

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

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

Posted on
18
Aug 2020

How To GMAT: Efficient Learning

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

1.Avoid Last-minute Cramming

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

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

2. Designate A “Study Spot”

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

3. Listen To Music (Optional)

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

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

4. Don’t Forget To Rest

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

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

5. Maintain A Healthy Diet

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

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

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

6. Hydrate

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date: 18th August, 2020

Posted on
06
Aug 2020

Probability GMAT Problem

Probability GMAT Problems can be super complex if you don’t frame it correctly. One of the keys to looking at probability problems, particularly conditional probability and independent probability problems, is breaking each part up into its own entity, and a lot of times this clarifies the problem.

1. Introduction To The XYZ Probability Problem

Let’s take a look at this ‘XYZ’ probability problem. Xavier, Yvonne, and Zelda are solving problems. We’re given the 3 probabilities for correct answers and we’re being asked what’s the probability of X being right and solving it, Y solving it, and Z not solving it.

The first thing we can look at is, say: “Well what’s the probability of Zelda not solving it?” And it’s just going to be the flip, the other side of 5/8 to bring us up to 1. If she solves it 5 out of 8 times, she’s not going to solve it the other 3 out of 8 times. So, we’re dealing with 1/4, 1/2, and 3/8.

2. Doing The Math May Seem Simple

The math here is straightforward, multiply them together. But that might not be readily apparent, or at the very least, just plugging it into that formula can get you into trouble. So, here’s where owning it conceptually and mapping it out with a visualization helps you take command of this problem.

3. Xavier Getting It Correct

Since each probability is independent of the others we can look at them independently. What’s the probability of Xavier getting this correct? 1 out of 4 times. So, we can say in general, for every four attempts, he gets it correct once or 25%. If, and only if Xavier gets it correct can we move on to the next part – Yvonne.

4. Yvonne Getting It Correct

Xavier gets a correct 1 out 4 times then what are the chances that Yvonne gets a correct? 1 out of 2. So to have Xavier get it correct and then Yvonne get it correct it’s going to be 1 out of 8 times – 1/4 times 1/2.

It’s not that we can’t look at a Yvonne when Xavier gets it incorrect, it’s that it doesn’t matter. From a framing perspective, this is all about only looking at the probability for the outcome that we want and ignoring the rest.

5. Zelda Getting It Incorrect

Xavier: 1 out of 4, Yvonne: 1 out of 2, gets us to 1 out of 8. Then and only then, what are the chances that Zelda gets it incorrect? 1 out of 8 trials brings us to X and Y are correct, then we multiply it by the 3/8 that Zelda gets it incorrect. That gets us to 3/64. 3 out of every 64 attempts will end in ‘correct’, ‘correct’, ‘incorrect’.

This is one of those problems that may have to go through a few times but once you attach the explanation to it, you can’t mess up the math.

If you enjoyed this GMAT probability problem, try your hand at these other types of challenging problems: Combinatorics & Algebra

Posted on
04
Aug 2020

One on One GMAT Tutoring: Your Way to GMAT Success

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

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

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

8 Ways One-on-one GMAT Tutoring Gets You to a 700+ Score on the GMAT

1. Creating a Productive & Efficient Learning Structure

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

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

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

2. Constant Two-way Feedback

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

3. Learning at Your Own Pace, and Then Speeding It Up

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

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

4. Developing Specific Skill Sets to Tackle Each Section of the GMAT

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

5. Realizing Better Use of Your Time

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

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

6. Understanding Where You Excel and What You Struggle with Most

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

7. Utilizing Learning Aids

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

8. The Expertise and Professional Mentorship of a Private GMAT Tutor

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

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

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

Posted on
28
Jul 2020

GMAT 101: What To Expect On The GMAT Test

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

1. What is the GMAT?

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

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

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

2. What the Heck is a CAT?

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

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

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

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

3. GMAT Results

• Immediately After Taking the GMAT Test

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

• The Unofficial Score Report

When given your scores, you will have two minutes to decide whether you want to keep them. If the time expires before you make a decision the score will be automatically cancelled. Rest assured, if you cancel them they can be reinstated within 4 years and 11 month from your exam date. You can also cancel them within 72 hours for a fee if you change your mind later on. If you decide to accept your results, an Unofficial score report will be issued. You will receive it prior to leaving the test center.

The report will contain your Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Total scores, as well as some personal information. The unofficial score report can help you determine whether you are a competitive applicant for your desired program and whether you need to retake the GMAT, though you should have a sense of what score you are seeking before entering the testing center, so that you can make a good decision about cancelling/keeping scores.

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

• Within Three Weeks After the Exam

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

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

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

4. GMAT Scoring

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

the Quantitative Score

• range: from 6 to 51 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 40.7 (for the period 2018 – 2020)

the Verbal Score

• range: from 6 to 51 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 27.26 (for the period 2018-2020)

the Total GMAT Score

• range: from 200 to 800 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 568.21 (for the period 2018-2020)

the Integrated Reasoning Score

• range: from 1 to 8 points in 1.0 increments
• average: 4.6 (for the period 2018 – 2020)

the AWA Score

• range: 0 to 6 points in 0.5 increments
• average: 4.43 (for the period 2018-2020)

Source: GMAC.com

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

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

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

5. What are the GMAT Sections?

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

The GMAT can be broken down to:

• Verbal
• Quantitative
• Integrated Reasoning
• Analytical Writing Assessment

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

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

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

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

• Verbal

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

There are three types of questions in the Verbal section:

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

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

Critical Reasoning

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

Sentence Correction

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

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

• Quantitative

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

There are two types of problems in the Quantitative section:

Data Sufficiency

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

Problem Solving

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

• Integrated Reasoning

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

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

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

Multi-source Reasoning

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

Graphic Interpretation

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

Two-Part Analysis

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

Table Analysis

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

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

• Analytical Writing Assessment

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

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

6. How, When, Where?

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

How?

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

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

When and Where?

First of all, you should make sure you know your chosen MBA programs’ application deadlines and from there coordinate accordingly. Consider how much time you will need for preparation. You should also plan to take the exam more than once; even with a strong score, there’s always room for continued improvement, and you might as well take it a second time after putting all that effort into preparing. So plan to factor in a re-take or two, just in case – also good if you do well… you can always do better!

This is important because the GMAC has rules regarding re-takes: they must be at least 16 days apart, there cannot be more than 5 within a year and there’s a lifetime limit of 8 total attempts at the exam. You can take the GMAT at any time of the year, and appointments are generally available if you plan a few months ahead, so you can launch your plan without worrying about the precise exam date and then midway through make an appointment based on your progress and practice exam results.

7. And Last but not Least – How Much Does it Cost?

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

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

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

Contributor: Svetozara Saykova

Posted on
16
Jul 2020

When To Study For The GMAT?

If you are reading this at any time other than the morning, you’re probably not getting your optimal yield out of your self-prep time. Let’s talk about how the time that you spend preparing and the relative yield you get from that time can change.

1. Time of Day

Most of us have good times and bad times of the day, and that’s tied in very deeply to our biology and our circadian rhythm. Most people are at their sharpest mid-morning. However, if you’re constantly sleep-deprived this might change. In fact, it might never be optimal.

In order to get the best out of your self-prep time, you need to be capitalizing on the best times of the day to study. This also means to not overdo it. Don’t force yourself into studying when you’re not up for it. If you’ve worked a 10-hour day, whether on a desk, on the street, or doing big projects and travelling to a client as a consultant, your study time is very limited. Studying when you’re exhausted is not only going to be low-yield but it’s also going to take a lot out of you so that you’re not able to capture those high-yield times.

2. Small Increments of Study Time

Instead, try self-prepping in smaller units throughout the day. Particularly in those times when you are sharpest. If you can grab 15 minutes at 10 o’clock in the morning, even if it’s a bathroom break or 20 minutes on your commute, do so. Those are really good times to prep. Doing little increments throughout the day increases your contact density but also decreases the burden from your daily schedule.

Many of you out there are working crazy jobs, balancing a social life, and family obligations, and the GMAT can take over. Particularly, if you’re spending 10, 20, or 30 hours a week self-prepping. If you are, you’re spending too much time. You’re better off getting stronger results out of smaller increments of high-yield time rather than killing yourself and studying 3-6 hours at a time on the weekends or in the evenings.

3. Quality Over Quantity

When you study for the GMAT and how you prepare for it are much more important than how much time you prepare. Be mindful of when you’re sharpest during the day and take at least a portion of that time and devote it to your GMAT prep, because what you’re ultimately doing is personal development.

As much as you might be devoted to a job, it’s not going to be there forever. Your personal growth, a high GMAT score, and also getting into the next step of your career or the next step of your education. That should be your priority and you need to make sure you balance that with your other obligations.

4. When To Study For The GMAT?

So remember: incremental short study breaks, or in other words, breaks from everything else you’re doing to study, can increase your contact density. If you’re tired, and this is probably the biggest takeaway, don’t force yourself to study because you’re just spinning your wheels. You are not going to get a good yield out of it. You’re better off putting on Netflix, taking a nap, spending time with loved ones, going out with friends, and getting yourself on an even keel. So that the 60 to 90 minutes a day that you can devote to GMAT is the best 60 and 90 minutes you can give it. Try to get some rest cause I know 90% of you are reading this while tired. Best of luck on your GMAT Prep Journey!

Did you enjoy When To Study For The GMAT? Watch some of our other videos including: How to select a GMAT tutor.

Posted on
14
Jul 2020

Achieving a 700+ score on the GMAT is not a simple task. It requires significant preparation, excellent organization, and continuous motivation to learn. Studying for an exam can be overwhelming, especially when there is no one by your side to keep you motivated. Perhaps you’re struggling with quant problems or you’re not sure how to apply the strategies that you have learned. Well, don’t worry… This is where private GMAT tutoring comes into play.

Here are the top 5 reasons you should start working with a tutor in order to ace the GMAT.

1. Individualized Learning Experience

Although the GMAT is a standardized exam, there is no one size fits all approach to success. While some students favor graphical solution paths, others are more analytical or methodical in their approach to answering GMAT questions. Some struggle with geometry, others with algebra, and others with critical reasoning. There are students who have excellent writing skills, while others, particularly ESL students, require practice to achieve a good score on the analytical writing assessment. The existence of these differences indicates that there is not only a singular path to studying for such a nuanced exam and that preparation should be customized to maximize one’s strengths and abilities.

Unlike classroom teaching where the teacher rarely deviates from the prescribed syllabus, a private GMAT tutor will tailor your learning plan based on the knowledge and skills you currently possess and their expertise. By identifying your learning style and framing your entire prep program around it, a skilled GMAT tutor will ensure that you are not only progressing through your prep but enjoying it as well.

What’s more, a perceptive private GMAT tutor will also focus your attention on the areas where you experience difficulties or need improvement, especially those areas that you can’t see for yourself. Due to this guidance and direction, you will be able to spend more time on improving, and less time repeating the same mistakes or going over content that you’ve already mastered. You’ll develop new skills that were previously lacking and adopt more favorable methods to solve difficult problems. Additionally, you will learn how to organize your time more effectively which is essential for you on the exam.

2. Personalized Attention

Although classroom teaching can prove beneficial for mastering the fundamental knowledge needed for higher level approaches, one disadvantage of learning with others is the lack of personalized attention and focus on the lowest common denominator type construal of the concepts being taught. Teachers in any classroom cannot pay attention to all of their students’ needs, especially those who struggle differently than most, or who have higher goals than their classmates. While one student might be struggling with the clustering principle that defines standard deviation as it applies to comparing different sets, another might require a refresh on calculating variance and how the underlying concept operates. Whatever your specific case may be, the help of a private tutor can address it.

By working with a top-notch tutor outside of the classroom, you’ll be able to rapidly progress and draw on personalized mental models to confidently approach GMAT problems of the highest complexity. A skilled GMAT tutor will not only help you acquire new knowledge but s/he is also going to teach you valuable meta-strategies that can be useful for you when you study for the exam. At Apex we focus on solution paths, problem forming, and many other innovative techniques that make for high-yield self preparation, and top level scores.

Moreover, a highly qualified private tutor will have a team behind him/her and copious amounts of materials and drills, while drawing upon a flexible curriculum so that your preparation can be as personalized and efficient as possible and result in the score you are striving to achieve. You shouldn’t be afraid to speak openly with your GMAT tutor about any concerns you have regarding your preparation, and your tutor should always be open to your feedback and input, rather than trying to “run the show”. Recall that the purpose of engaging a tutor is not only the acquisition of knowledge but also the attention and support you will be given.

3. Improved Confidence

In addition, a capable private tutor will ensure that you address your anxiety about the exam in a healthy way. Aside from designing a study plan customized to your learning style, your GMAT tutor will focus on other salient, but less popular factors that affect GMAT performance; the amount of sleep you get, and overstudying, to name just two. While you might not have considered these factors, or believe them to be unimportant, they drastically influence productivity and affect test day performance. That is why an experienced GMAT tutor will do everything s/he can to make you ready, and make you feel ready, for your exam.

4. Greater Motivation

Constant preparation can be exhausting and without the proper support and encouragement, it’s normal to lose your motivation along the way. A tutor, however, can provide that motivation and understanding of what you’re going through – something well meaning friends and family cannot – so that your goals become reality.

Apart from ensuring your efficient preparation for the GMAT, a personal GMAT tutor will also be your greatest mentor, motivator, and cheerleader. S/he will be the person who will check in, see how you’re doing midweek, and encourage you the most because he/she will be personally invested in you and will have a professional stake in the outcome of your preparation. The best tutors take their clients’ successes personally, and this informs their attentiveness and personal pride. The faith that your tutor has in you should inspire you so that you can achieve your dream score and satisfy your collective expectations. Thus, you will be even more motivated than before and you will perceive the exam as an opportunity to demonstrate all the novel skills you have developed and trained throughout your preparation.

5. Higher GMAT Score

Last, but certainly not least, preparation with the help of a private tutor will result in a higher score on test day when compared to classroom learning or self-preparation alone or in combination. As we have already mentioned, lessons from a devoted private tutor will provide you with an individualized learning experience and more personalized attention which will lead to an increase in your confidence and motivation for the exam. Finally, you will learn more than just GMAT strategies from your tutor. You will learn critical and creative thinking skills, heuristics, mental models, and other thinking tools that will help you make the most of all future learning opportunities. The best tutors, like the ones here at Apex, teach you how to better learn, and become mentors and trusted advisors as you progress through your MBA and further career.

Final Notes

To sum things up: private GMAT tutoring can be but the value it will deliver will be more than worth the money. The best tutoring stays with you and will add color and perspective to your future learning, whether in your MBA, on the job, or as you progress through your career. If you want to embark on your GMAT journey with a private tutor, make sure you: