A Continuation of GMAT Permutation Math
Posted on
18
Feb 2021

A Continuation of Permutation Math

By: Rich Zwelling (Apex GMAT Instructor)
Date: 16 Feb 2021

Review of example from last post

Last time, when we started our discussion of GMAT Combinatorics, we gave a brief example of GMAT permutations in which we had five paintings and asked how many arrangements could be made on a wall with those paintings. As it turns out, no complicated combinatorics formula is necessary. You can create an easy graph with dashes and list five options for the first slot, leaving four for the second slot, and so on:

_5_  _4_ _3_ _2_ _1_

Then multiply 5*4*3*2*1 to get 120 arrangements of the five paintings. Remember you could see this notationally as 5!, or 5 factorial. (It’s helpful to memorize factorials up to 6!)

More permutation math

But there could be fewer slots then items. Take the following combinatorics practice problem:

At a cheese tasting, a chef is to present some of his best creations to the event’s head judge. Due to the event’s very bizarre restrictions, he must present exactly three or four cheeses. He has brought his best cheddar, brie, gouda, roquefort, gruyere, and camembert. How many potential orderings of cheeses can the chef create to present to the judge?

A) 120
B) 240
C) 360
D) 480
E) 600

First, as a review, how do we know this is a PERMUTATION and not a COMBINATION? Because order matters. In the previous problem, the word “arrangements” gave away that we care about the order in which items appear. In this problem, we’re told that we’re interested in the “orderings” of cheeses. Cheddar followed by gouda would be considered distinct from gouda followed by cheddar. (Look for signal words like “arrangements” or “orderings” to indicate a PERMUTATION problem.)

In this case, we must consider the options of three or four cheeses separately, as they are independent (i.e. they cannot both happen). But for each case, the process is actually no different from what we discussed last time. We can simply consider each case separately and create dashes (slots) for each option. In the first case (three cheeses), there are six options for the first slot, five for the second, and four for the third:

_6_  _5_  _4_

We multiply those together to give us 6*5*4 = 120 possible ways to present three cheeses. We do likewise for the four-cheese case:

_6_  _5_  _4_  _3_

We multiply those together to give us 6*5*4*3 = 360 possible ways to present four cheeses.

Since these two situations (three cheeses and four cheeses) are independent, we simply add them up to get a final answer of 120+360 = 480 possible orderings of cheeses, and the correct answer is D. 

You might have also noticed that there’s a sneaky arithmetic shortcut. You’ll notice that you have to add 6*5*4 + 6*5*4*3. Instead of multiplying each case separately, you can factor out 6*5*4 from the sum, as follows:

6*5*4 + 6*5*4*3

= 6*5*4 ( 1 + 3)

= 6*5*4*4

= 30*16 OR 20*24

= 480

Develop the habit of looking for quick, efficient ways of doing basic arithmetic to bank time. It will pay off when you have to do more difficult questions in the latter part of the test. 

Now that we have been through GMAT permutations, next time, I’ll give this problem a little twist and show you how to make it a COMBINATION problem. Until then…

Permutations and Combinations Intro
A Continuation of Permutation Math
An Intro To Combination Math
Permutations With Repeat Elements

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3 month GMAT study plan
Posted on
04
Feb 2021

GMAT 3-Month Study Plan

by: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Uerda Muca
Date: 2 Feb 2021

When should you start GMAT preparation? 

One of the most crucial decisions to make before you start preparing for the GMAT test is to decide when is the latest and/or earliest time to start preparing in order to do well on the exam. Giving an answer to this question is not as straightforward and easy as it might sound. There are various factors that need to be taken into account, such as your current skill set in English and Math, your target GMAT score, the amount of time per week you are planning to allot to studying, etc. However, with a sensible preparation strategy, one should be able to reach their target score on the GMAT in a 3 month timeframe. 

University requirements

Most business schools consider the GMAT to be a crucial data point in the admissions process and your goal GMAT score depends on which universities you want to gain acceptance into. Every university has its own GMAT score requirement. So, begin your GMAT journey by researching the schools or programs that you are interested in applying to and note the average GMAT score for their recent admitted candidates. Following this, gather information regarding their application deadlines. This will give a better idea of when to schedule your exam and how to adjust your study plan accordingly. 

GMAT Study Plan
Week 1: GMAT Basics

Become familiar with the GMAT format and content. Prepare yourself for what you are about to encounter during the next 3 months and on the day of your GMAT exam. All you need to know about the GMAT, its structure, sections, timing, scoring, and more can be found Here

Take a diagnostics test. You haven’t studied at all for the GMAT? That’s totally fine, you can still take the test. As the name itself suggests, the point of this test is to diagnose, based on your Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning scores, your strengths and weaknesses. Something to keep in mind; You should take the exam under the same exact conditions as the actual GMAT exam. This is an excellent representation of how the GMAT exam is conducted. To take the GMAT practice exam click Here

Analyze your results. As you are in the process of reviewing the results of your diagnostics test, it would be helpful to ask yourself some questions to better understand the difficulties you encountered. When analyzing the solutions of some questions you got wrong or maybe you weren’t totally confident about, take note of any patterns. What section/s did you find most challenging? Which types of questions within each section were you struggling most with? Also, don’t forget to ask yourself questions about the “bigger picture” like: Were you able to finish every section? Did you feel anxious? How did you feel at the end of the test?

Week 2: Quant Section

Familiarize yourself with the GMAT quant section. Read about which types of quantitative questions and content that you are most likely to come across during your 3 months of preparation, mock tests, and the GMAT test.

Review GMAT Math. Before diving deeper into preparing for this section, take some time to brush up on some of the formulas, definitions, and topics of the Maths section. 

Learn the underlying concepts related to each topic (percents, ratios, exponents, statistics, etc). In this section, you will come across some specific wording that can be fundamental to finding the solution to the problems. In order to not get stuck during the exam and waste your precious time, learning about the most frequently used concepts is helpful.

Week 3: Verbal Section 

Make yourself acquainted with the GMAT verbal section. A great way to start working with the verbal section is to become familiar with the overall structure of this section. To learn more about this section, how it is scored, and some insights about its subsections click Here.

Learn how to tackle each type of question. There are three types of questions in the verbal section and their purpose is to test certain skills. This means that for each of them you have to use particular strategies. 

Tip. It’s more effective to concentrate on one area at a time. So, while preparing for this section, choose one subsection and stick with it for a couple of days.

Week 4: Monthly Progress Check 

Take a mock test. As the saying goes “Practice makes perfect.” The more you get yourself exposed to GMAT practice exams, the more likely you are to achieve your desired score.

Review your results. While looking at the answer explanations, pay attention to the solutions of the questions you got incorrectly.  

Practice the type of questions you are having difficulties with. Identify the questions where you are spending more time than you should. Read some articles that recommend tips, strategies, and tactics that can assist in solving them faster. 

Week 5: Quant Review

Practice and enhance your knowledge of data sufficiency questions. Now that you are familiar with this term it’s a good time to start reading some strategies on how to tackle these types of questions. After doing that, practicing what you just learned by solving problems focused particularly on these types of questions is extremely beneficial to your progress. 

Practice and enhance your knowledge of problem solving questions. These are other types of questions that you will need to do some research and then solve some problem sets on. 

Week 6: Verbal Review 

Practice and enhance your knowledge of Critical Reasoning questions. You can find articles about tips specifically about these types of questions and while practicing you be sure to make use of them. Another practical thing to do is read about articles related to common mistakes and how to avoid them. 

Practice and enhance your knowledge of Sentence Correction questions. Additionally, as was mentioned above, these types of questions concentrate on reviewing a few basic grammar concepts and skills.

Practice and enhance your knowledge of Reading Comprehension questions. Besides reading articles related to tips and common mistakes, reading Reading Comprehension-like writing is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the style and content of Reading Comprehension passages.

Week 7: Integrated Reasoning Section

Become familiar with the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section. Get informed about how long this section lasts, what is its total number of questions, and what types of questions you will encounter. Then you can move on to learn more about its purpose and what makes this section different from the others. 

Brush up on your graph reading skills. For the most part, this section depends on the same math, verbal, and critical reasoning skills that you need for the other sections of the GMAT. Keeping in mind that the inclusion of diverse graphs is what gives this section its uniqueness. You can spend some time getting comfortable with interpreting data from various sources.

Week 8: Monthly Progress Check 

Take mock tests. After studying for almost every section, taking some mock tests will assist in keeping track of your progress. 

Review your results. This time try to identify the topics you are still not comfortable with. Solely taking mock tests without analyzing the explanations to questions is not going to be much help. 

Practice the type of questions you are struggling with. After analyzing these practice tests and understanding the patterns of your weaknesses, working more on the questions you find challenging leads to score improvements.

Week 9: Integrated Reasoning Review

Practice and enhance your knowledge of all four types of questions. As you might have noticed a pattern already, reading about tips, tricks, common mistakes, strategies, tactics, etc. for each type of question and putting them into practice is what you can do when reviewing every section of the GMAT exam. 

Week 10: AWA Section 

Make yourself acquainted with the GMAT AWA section. This is the step that, as you have seen so far, applies to every section. You can’t anticipate doing well on a task without knowing what is expected from you. An introductory article regarding the AWA section can be read  Here

Review sample AWA templates. This is something that might come in handy when you need to format your essays. With some modifications, these templates can be used on test day. 

Practice. Practice. Practice. Writing a couple of essays in a day will help you master your timing and get used to the structure you may use on your GMAT essay.

Week 11: Time and Stress Management 

Some other significant factors to consider while working on preparing for the GMAT test are time and stress management. A good start is reading a handful of blogs and articles that suggest many tips and strategies that can help you improve your time and stress management skills. If you want to learn more about how to master stress, how a private GMAT Tutoring can assist you with that, and more click Here.

Week 12: Review and Relax. 

During the last week don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. Instead, try to take care of your mind and body as much as you can. One last brief review focused primarily on the sections or type of questions you struggled most with is going to be enough.  Finally, the most important tip, don’t forget to enjoy your GMAT preparation journey.

We at the Apex team hope that you find this GMAT study plan helpful. If you want to discuss your progress and possibly having some one on one preparation sessions with us, we would be happy to help, set up a complimentary consultation call with a GMAT instructor here

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7 ways to improve your gmat quant score
Posted on
03
Nov 2020

7 Tips To Improve Your GMAT Quant Score

If you’ve experienced the GMAT, you may have noticed that your score is higher on some sections than others. Some otherwise strong business school candidates struggle with their score on the quantitative section. The problem might derive from preparation style, in which case, you might consider professional GMAT tutoring, a service offered by a number of organizations including Apex GMAT. Until then, these tips will help kick start your prep process so you’re ready to ace the quant section.

What’s on the GMAT Quantitative section?

First, let’s talk about what exactly the GMAT quant section consists of. Test takers have 62 minutes to answer 31 math problems. This means that on average, each question should take two minutes. However, this isn’t a hard rule, so there’s no need to get nervous if one problem takes longer than others. 

The questions are divided into two types: data sufficiency and problem-solving.

Data sufficiency questions ask test takers to analyze two given statements and determine whether the provided data tells readers enough to solve the problem. These questions are designed to evaluate quantitative fluency and critical thinking skills.

Problem-solving questions are multiple choice. They evaluate logical and analytical ability. 

Keep in mind that both question types require only algebra, arithmetic, and geometry, so there’s no need to worry about trigonometry or calculus. Moreover, all of the problems can be solved using basic high school level math. 

Why is the GMAT Quantitative section so difficult?

Based on the above description, you might think that the quant section won’t be too difficult. That isn’t exactly true. The GMAT is designed to confuse and restrict test takers in various ways. For example, each problem has a time limit and calculators aren’t allowed. Furthermore, problem solving and data sufficiency problems are in the same section, so test-takers must alternate between the two question types. These factors can cause stress. 

The following tips will help you remain calm and collected as you prepare for the quant section.

1: Don’t overthink the math

First and foremost, don’t forget that the GMAT quant section consists of simple math problems. Use this to your advantage. Don’t do all of the calculations; rather, determine what makes a problem look more difficult than it actually is. 

2: Start managing your time before the test

You can start saving time before you even pick up your pencil by practicing arithmetic. Limiting the time it takes to do simple equations means you can spend more time on the problems. Be sure to review exponent rules and brush up on decimals with fractions. And don’t forget about higher powers!

3: Use alternative strategies to find solutions

If you can’t solve a problem with simple math, try using an alternative path to the solution. There’s usually an easier way to solve quant problems–the GMAT is designed to test for efficient problem solving. Sometimes, straightforward logic or plugging in numbers will solve a problem faster. Keep in mind that a traditional approach might not be necessary for every problem. 

4: Analyze each sentence step by step

During the GMAT preparation process, learn how to simplify each question. Some problems might seem daunting, but they can be broken into smaller steps that you can solve one-by-one. Trying to solve the whole problem at once can lead test takers to answer the wrong question. The more you break down the problem, the easier it will become. Don’t worry–you’ll actually save time by (re-)reading the questions. 

Tip 5: Simplify the answer choices

In addition to simplifying the questions, the answer choices can also be simplified. For example, all data sufficiency questions use the same five answer choices: 

  1. Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
  2. Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
  3. Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question but neither statement is sufficient alone.
  4. Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.
  5. Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.

Seems wordy, doesn’t it? Fortunately, you can memorize these simpler versions:

  1. only statement 1
  2. only statement 2
  3. both statements together
  4. either statement
  5. neither statement

Tip 6: Scratch paper is a must

Although scratch paper may seem unnecessary for quant problems, it can help you keep track of calculations and clarify your thought process. It might take a little extra time, but ultimately, avoidable mistakes are even more time consuming.

Tip 7: Plug in the answer choices 

Another way to save time with alternative solution paths is to start by reading all of the answer choices and plugging them into the problem. If you don’t know which answer choices to start with, start from the middle.

Bonus tip

The most important tip of all is practice, practice, and practice! There are many different ways to prepare: memorizing rules and formulas, watching GMAT problem-solving videos (don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel), and enrolling in professional GMAT courses

Follow us to learn more about the GMAT preparation process. Good luck on your exam!

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the online gmat
Posted on
13
Oct 2020

The Online GMAT Experience-from preparation to post MBA 

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

 

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

The Online GMAT Exam

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

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

Differences from the regular GMAT exam

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

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

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

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

Similarities with the regular GMAT exam

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

online GMAT breakdown

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

Online GMAT Preparation, Tips & Tricks

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

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

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gmat percentile rankings
Posted on
06
Oct 2020

GMAT Percentile Rankings: Demystified

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

The GMAT exam is an important part of the admissions process for over 7,000 business programs worldwide. GMAT performance is widely regarded as one of the best predictors of not only high academic honors, but also long-term career success. Achieving an excellent GMAT score and ranking in the top percentile is the first stepping stone in anyone’s journey to a prestigious business career.

The competitive admissions environment surrounding top tier universities has resulted in a 10-20% acceptance rate. This corresponds with percentile rankings in specific sections: for example, the GMAT Quant. But what do percentile rankings really mean?

This article describes the relationship between GMAT scores and respective percentile ranking, both in terms of individual sections and as a whole.

How do GMAT scores translate into GMAT percentiles?

According to the GMAC, two-thirds of test takers from all over the world score between 400 and 600. GMAT scores also translate into a percentile ranking. A number indicating the percentage of test takers at or below a given score. Percentile rankings are determined by comparing scaled Quant and Verbal scores (which can range from 6 to 51) to your peers’ scores. For instance, if you scored in the 90th percentile, that means that just 10% of all examinees outscored you. It’s important to note that the percentiles are recalculated every summer. This means that the current percentile rankings are likely different from the previous year’s rankings. 

The GMAC considers a sample size of test takers tracked since January 2017 to calculate percentiles. Until the beginning of 2020, a total of 695,794 GMAT exams were taken and scored, with a standard deviation of slightly above 116. Consequently, the GMAC shares average percentiles rankings for each of the four sections:

 

  • Quantitative: 36%
  • Verbal Reasoning: 45%
  • Integrated Reasoning: 33%
  • Analytical Writing Assessment: 19%

 

While these numbers seem low, applicants need to score well above the average to earn a spot in the most competitive business schools.

GMAT Scoring Grid

GMAT percentile rankings

How have percentile rankings changed by section?

Over the years, there is a trend towards increasing average GMAT scores and, consequently, percentiles have risen, too. In particular, the GMAT Quantitative percentiles have become considerably more competitive and increasingly important for MBA admissions. As more and more test takers master the GMAT quant section, it gets harder to score in a high percentile. 

One reason may be that as the GMAT’s worldwide popularity increases, non-native English speakers coming from math-proficient countries such as China and India make up a large proportion of the GMAT test takers. On the other hand, the GMAT Verbal section remains rather challenging–a score of 40 out of 60 ranks in the 90th percentile. The increasing representation of non-native English speakers might also help explain why the verbal section remains challenging. 

In any case, balanced 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 scores and percentiles. 

Boosting your GMAT score

Depending on your score goals, current level of preparation, and anticipated exam date, you can opt for one of three GMAT prep options that will best suit your needs, budget, and learning style. If you’re aiming for a 700+ score, a professional GMAT tutor might provide the guidance you need to leverage your strengths and weaknesses. This could ultimately put you on the path to degree and career success. 

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5 takeaways from a successful gmat journey
Posted on
25
Aug 2020

5 Takeaways from a Successful GMAT Journey

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Svetozara Saykova
Date: 25 August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prioritization is crucial 

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

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

Every problem has multiple solution paths

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

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

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

In order to succeed first know yourself

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

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

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

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

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

5% talent and 95% hard work

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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how to gmat efficient learning
Posted on
18
Aug 2020

How To GMAT: Efficient Learning

Author: Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ivan Minchev

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

1.Avoid Last-minute Cramming

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

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

2. Designate A “Study Spot”

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

3. Listen To Music (Optional)

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

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

4. Don’t Forget To Rest

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

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

5. Maintain A Healthy Diet

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

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

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

6. Hydrate 

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

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

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

8. Learn From Your Mistakes

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

Conclusion

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

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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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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

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one on one gmat tutoring your way to gmat success
Posted on
04
Aug 2020

One on one GMAT Tutoring: Your Way to GMAT Success

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

June 30, 2020

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

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

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

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 learning environment and having the benefit of an external perception of your performance. With private GMAT tutoring, communication dynamics are on a much more personal, and personalized, level – yielding stronger results much more quickly than alternative solutions.

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

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

2. Constant two-way feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Realizing better use of your time

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

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

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

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

7. Utilizing learning aids

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

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

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

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

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