What to expect on the GMAT test
Posted on
28
Jul 2020

GMAT 101: What to Expect on the GMAT Test

by ApexGMAT

Contributor: Svetozara Saykova

July 28th, 2020

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!

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 – Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated 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.

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 under performance. 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.

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 send 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 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. 

GMAT Scoring

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

  • the Quantitative score
  • range: from 0 to 51 points  in 1.0 increments
  • average: 40.2 (for the period 2015 – 2018)
  •  the Verbal score
  • range: from 0 to 51 points in 1.0 increments
  • average: 27.08 (for the period 2015-2018)
  •  the Total GMAT score
  • range: from 200 to 800 points in 1.0 increments 
  • average: 563.43 (for the period 2015-2018)

 

  • the Integrated reasoning score 
  • range: from 1 to 8 points in 1.0 increments 
  • average: 4.41 (for the period 2015 – 2018)
  •  the AWA score 
  • range:  0 to 6 points in 0.5 increments
  • average: 4.49 (for the period 2015-2018)

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 the SAT 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 balance spending more time on hard questions 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.

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

Verbal section of the GMAT

   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:

Reading comprehension

   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

Quantitative Section of the GMAT   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

Integrated reasoning   The Integrated reasoning section was added to the GMAT exam 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

Analytical Writing section of the GMAT   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. 

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 how, when 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 what you need to know prior to sitting the online GMAT. 

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 availab;e 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. 

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.

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Posted on
28
May 2020

Gas Mileage GMAT Problem

The Gas Mileage problem is a classic example of the GMAT triggering one of our DSM’s: Our Default Solving Mechanisms for applied math. Yet there are three higher level solution paths that we can engage instead. So we are going to skip the math entirely on this one. In reading the question stimulus, there’s a signal that estimation is going to be a very strong and viable solution path and in fact for most folks estimation is the dominant solution path for this problem.

What to Take Note Of

Notice in the first sentence here that we are given the relationship between the efficiency for Car X and the efficiency for Car Y. When comparing 25 to 11.9, 11.9 is a little bit less than half. Whenever we have a relationship that is a little less or a little more than a factor, that’s a clear signal that the GMAT wants us to estimate.

Now, we have an inverse relationship here, between the efficiency of Cars X and Y and the amount of gas they use. So if Car Y is using a little half or rather if Car Y has a little less than half efficiency it’s going to use a little more than double the amount of gas. Managing the directionality of estimation is essential to make full use of this solution path.

Estimation Solution Path

Right off the bat, we have a sense that Car Y is going to use a little bit more than double the amount of gas. Now, all we need to do is figure out how much Car X will use. This is an exercise in mental math. Instead of dividing the 12,000 miles by 25 we want to build up from the 25 to 12,000.

Ask ourselves, in a scenario type of way, how many 25’s go into 100 – The answer is 4. 4 quarters to a $1. Then we can scale it up just by throwing some zeros on. So, 40 25’s are 1,000. How do we get from 1,000 to 12,000? We multiply by 12. So 40 times 12, 480 25’s gives us our 12,000 miles. Car X uses 480 gallons.

Therefore, Car Y is going to use a little more than double this and we point to answer C because we just need to answer the amount Y uses in addition to X. SO there is a bit of verbal play there that we also have to recognize. That’s the estimation solution path.

Graphical Solution Path

We can see this via the graphic solution path by imaging a rectangle, where we have the efficiency of the engine on one side and the amount of gallons on the other. With Car X, 25 miles per gallon time 480 gallons is going to give us the area of 12,000 miles. That is we’ve driven the 12,000 miles in that rectangle. If we are cutting it in half on efficiency, or a little more than half, we end up with two strips and if we lay them side by side we see that we’re doubling of going a little more than double on the amount of gas that we use to maintain that 12,000 mile area.

Logical Solution Path

Finally, we can look at this from a logical solution path which overlaps a bit with the estimation. But the moment we know that Y uses a little more than double the amount of gas of X, we can also look at and not manage that directionality and just say it uses about double. The only answer choice among our answer choices that is close but not exactly, is C – 520. 480 is our exact number and the A answer is way too low. It’s not close enough to 480 to be viable. So here is an example where, while best practices have us managing the directionality, we don’t even need to do that.

Similar Problems

For similar problems like this take a look at the Wholesale Tool problem, The Glucose Solution Problem and for a really good treatment of the graphic solution path check out Don’s Repair Job. There should be links to all three right below and I hope that this helps you guys on your way to achieving success on the GMAT.

If you enjoyed this Gas Mileage Problem but would like to watch more videos about Meta strategy, try “How coffee affects your GMAT performance“.

 

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Posted on
27
May 2020

How To Select A GMAT Tutor

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

Tutors Who Claim They Know What You Need

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

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

Tutors Who Want to Use Their Method

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

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

Guaranteed Results

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

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

Do Your Research

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

Wishing you all the best in your GMAT preparation.

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

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30
Apr 2020

Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success

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

Everyone Is Asking for Help

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

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

What the GMAT is Testing?

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

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

Why 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success?

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

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

What To Do About It

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

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

Unlearn Old Habits

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

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

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

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

 

 

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17
Apr 2020

The Online GMAT Part 2: Updates & Testing Experience

Mike from Apex GMAT is here to give you part two on our update about the online GMAT exam that’s being rolled out in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The Exam Overview

This exam is designed to be a standalone, separate exam that’s done in the test centers. While there are going to be many similarities there are also a few key differences that you should know about. If you haven’t done so already I’d encourage you to check out part one of our video. It has a lot of key details about the exam.

Test Scheduling

When it comes to scheduling the exam unfortunately it seems that you can’t take an appointment that you have for a live test center and convert it to an online appointment. I’m not entirely sure why this is but due to pricing differentials, scheduling differentials, your online exam has to be a separate enrollment. Your live exam can still be rescheduled for a time when a test center opens.

Take it 24/7

One of the benefits of the online exam is that you can schedule to take it 24/7. It’s going to operate around the globe so there’s no middle-of-the-night blackout time. You can do it at that time of the day that you feel most pumped for the GMAT. This is really great because many times were forced into a time slot either because availability or just because you might be a night owl and the testing center closes at 5:00pm. So this is a real advantage for people who feel on at all hours.

Setup & Proctoring

There are several key things that are going to take place in the setup and proctoring of the exam for security purposes that you should be aware of. First off, there’s going to be a live proctor watching you during the exam. They’ll be able to see you and listen to you during the entirety of the exam. If you have a problem, if you have questions you can both buzz them in a chat or raise your hand and they’ll come on camera live. If you’re having a connection issue or there’s some technical glitch the GMAC is pledged to be fair and not take off time from your exam. However, if you’re raising your hand for the proctor for something that wasn’t an issue, your time, your clock doesn’t stop. So in that sense it’s just like the live GMAT.

Technical Issues

If there’s a major technical issue retakes are available but that’s really going to be something that’s subject to the judgment of the GMAC. We would expect that their system works very well and that the need for a true retake is going to be very rare. Coinciding with this you’re only going to be able to take the online GMAT one time. You won’t get your score immediately but rather sometime within about seven days. It’s a score that can’t be canceled because the online GMAT is designed to only be taken once.

So it’s really more of an emergency measure where people who need to take the GMAT to get an application out should be able to do so. But those same people shouldn’t be able to cancel their score because this is their their ultimate attempt. That being said, there’s nothing stopping you from taking additional GMATs once the live appointments become available. Do be careful here, because it can lock you into a score that you might not want.

Exam Check-In

The check-in procedure for the exam is somewhat involved. It’s done live with a proctor and it takes 10 to 15 minutes. What they’re going to have you do is take a selfie, upload a photo or a snapshot of your photo ID. Then they’re actually going to have you walk around the room. Show them the corners, show them that your desk is clear without any papers on it. Show them the door to the room to ensure that there’s no one in the room. For the duration of the exam, including the breaks, you won’t be permitted to leave the room.

Exam Section Order

The online GMAT has a predetermined order of sections. So unlike the testing center version of the GMAT you won’t be able to pick and choose which sections you do first, second and so on. So after the check-in you’ll be immediately directed to the quantitative section, then the verbal, a five-minute break and then the integrated reasoning and then you’re done.

Scratch Paper

With respect to the scratch paper that we normally get in an appointment GMAT which is that dry erase sort of stuff – on the online GMAT you won’t be permitted to write as we understand it. There’ll be an online calculator for the integrated reasoning section just like on the normal GMAT and then you’ll have a white board that should be some sort of adjustable screen window that you can scribble on and you should be able to move it around the screen for your convenience during the exam.

And this is something that we’re mildly concerned about and you know we have this saying here, “if you’re doing math you’re, doing something wrong.” That said having scratch paper and the comfort of physical pen and paper is something that a lot of people rely upon so keep this in mind as you get ready to take the online GMAT.

Extra Time On The Exam

Finally, for those of you who have an accommodation of extra time from the exam, the online GMAT isn’t available now but they expect that functionality to roll out in mid-may both for time and a half and double time and that also includes an extended break instead of five minutes going to ten minutes in between the verbal and the integrated reasoning.

Check Pearson Vue’s video about the testing experience.

Thanks so much for watching, email us with any questions. We’re here to help during this time and stay safe and healthy out there.

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Posted on
16
Apr 2020

Online GMAT Exam

Hi guys. Mike here from Apex GMAT, bringing you the latest on the online GMAT exam. The GMAC just announced that they’re rolling out the online GMAT.

When can you take the Exam?

The earliest appointments that are available are April 20th and appointments extend all the way to June 15th. You should be able to log on right now to secure your appointment. All the links you need are below this video for understanding all the rules and everything else that are going to be governing the online exam. But I’m here to bring you what we know. I’ll be here again tomorrow after we have our call with the GMAC to give you additional details and context.

Key Information About the Exam

Most computers and most high speed interconnect internet connections should be fine for taking the GMAT online. You will need either a PC or Mac and Windows 8.1 or 10 or Mac OS 10 point 13 or above. Windows 7 will not work and unfortunately for you hackers and private people of the world Linux and UNIX OS’s will not work.

There are some additional specifications that you need to be aware of. Number one is that you can’t connect over a VPN and a lot of firewalls might disrupt the connection. There will be a protocol for the GMAC to test your connection before you take the exam but if you’re connecting through a work computer you may run into some issues. Similarly, due to the security protocol you won’t be able to have a second monitor hooked up and you’re going to need a webcam that’s operating at least 10 frames per second as well as an internet connection that is at least 1 Mbps.

In addition to this there will probably be some additional protocols where you need to check in because they’re using online proctor’s to actively monitor your taking of the exam and this means unfortunately that a few countries because of data and privacy laws will not be able to take advantage of the online GMAT which include China, North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Cuba and Slovenia. So if you’re in one of those countries unfortunately you can’t take the online GMAT exam.

The cost for the online GMAT is two hundred dollars ($200) and you should also be able to use an existing registration to make a new appointment for the online GMAT.

Format of the Exam

Format wise it’s going to be almost exactly the same with the exception of the writing section. There won’t be one so for those of you who have stamina issues on the GMAT the good news is that the exam will be a half hour shorter. For those of you who have experienced GMAT anxiety which I talked about with several other videos one of the nicest things about the online exam is that you’ll be able to take it in the comfort of your own home or your own space. Doing so is going to offer some significant benefits but also a few liabilities because you’re much more prone to be distracted when you’re in your own space.

So one of the things I would certainly recommend is preparing to sit the exam like you were going to sit at a testing center that means sitting up straight. Ensuring that you have as much quiet as possible, earplugs should be available to you and you should have clothes on (you know, no pajama pants). Dress as if you were taking the exam, wear shoes because these things will put you in a good headspace to be attentive in taking the exam seriously.

Taking the Exam with a Disability

For those of you with disabilities the accommodations for disabilities are not yet installed in the online GMAT exam so they expect those to be available by mid May.

Scoring

In terms of getting your score right now they expect that the score should be available within a week of taking the exam. I don’t know if that means that they’re going to be recalibrating the exam for any bumps or dips they see in the different format or because the exam is shorter or if they’re going to offer something much more immediately like on the real GMAT but give it an extra level of supervision before they make it official. That’s something that we should have more information for you on tomorrow.

Additional Information and Help

All the pertinent information you guys need about the online exam are in the links below including the ability to register for the GMAT’s online webinar and Friday the 17th where you can have additional questions answered. Thanks so much for watching, stay safe and healthy and I wish you all the best in your online GMAT. Of course if you need us for anything you can email questions to us at this address [email protected]

 

Update: Get more information about the online GMAT in this follow up video: Online GMAT Update.

 

 

 

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Posted on
16
Apr 2020

Combinatorics GMAT Problem: Movie Night

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

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

Combinatorics & The GMAT

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

Solving The Problem

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

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

Transforming The Numbers

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

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

Problem Form

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

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

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

If you enjoyed this combinatorics GMAT problem, try more GMAT practice problems:  Remainder Number Theory 

 

 

 

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Posted on
26
Mar 2020

How COVID-19 Is Affecting The GMAT And Its Test Takers

Mike is here with a special update video about how the COVID-19 is impacting the GMAT testing world. I wanted to share some big news with you guys from the GMAC, the makers of the GMAT, about a substitute exam that they will be using and that you should be able to take from home starting in the middle of April.

General Inquiries

So, first off, a lot of people are finding themselves in uncertainty about their application process and about their GMAT preparation. To be sure, we have been getting a lot of calls about people wanting to make the best use of their time while they are furloughed from work, or while they are working from home and have a bit more flexibility and to be sure it’s an opportune time to bite off this task which for most people is really hard to fit into their existing professional and personal lives.

Additionally, we have a lot of inquiries about what’s going to happen with admissions. We can’t speak for any particular schools, however, we expect that the window of the virus crisis is such that it won’t meaningfully impact applications for Fall of 2021, that is that by the time your first round comes around in September or October, you are going to be able to get in, take the GMAT as normal and be able to apply and go to other events.

That of course is the hope and this is an emerging phenomenon, and emerging circumstance on the world stage without much precedence. So of course things are bound to change and we promise to keep you updated through the entirety of this crisis.

The New Exam

The new exam that the GMAC is rolling out will be taken from home and they are planning on rolling it out sometime in the middle of April. It will have three of the four GMAT sections, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative and Verbal. So you will be able to get your score out of 800 with Quant and Verbal as well as your score for the Integrated Reasoning. The only section that will be missing is the writing section which I say is the least important of the entire GMAT from an admissions standpoint. The exam will be priced at a lower price point; they have not announced what that price point is but certainly at some discount to the normal $250 that’s charged.

Test Considerations

There are also some strategic considerations that come with this exam and some things we don’t yet know. For example, it is unclear as to whether you will get to choose the order of the sections when you take the exam or if it will be predetermined. Additionally, because the GMAC is likely using a different problem bank than they use for the actual GMAT, this makes some subtle time allocation and strategic guessing decisions change compared to the normal GMAT and I will be talking about that in another video.

If You Need Any Help Give Us A Call

I know that this is a stressful time for everyone who has business school and GMAT plans that have been disrupted. So if you need any help or need any advice, please feel free to visit our website: www.apexgmat.com.

You can contact us directly through there by chat, phone or email and from our entire family, we wish you health and safety in this difficult time and we’ll look forward to keeping you updated as soon as we have new information. Thanks so much and stay safe.

Watch other videos about COVID-19 and the GMAT: Here 

 

 

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Posted on
14
Mar 2020

Remainder Number Theory Problem

Today we’re going to be looking at this problem and our big question is that originally we’re given this unknown number N and we know we just have a remainder 3. So the problem is presenting us information in a way that we’re not used to seeing it and what we need to do is work backwards from this to drive the core insights.

Sorting Through the Information

So if we have a remainder of 3 on 23 this means that the chunk that isn’t remainder is 20. So what can our n be in those cases that will allow us to divide out by 20 and leave this remainder 3.

Well first we know that n has to be greater than 3 because in order to have a remainder the amount we’re dividing by has to be something greater. The moment the remainder equalizes the thing we’re dividing by of course we get one more tick in the dividing by box and the remainder goes back down to zero.

Solving

So with 23 and a remainder of 3 our key number to look at is 20. Our factors of 20, that is the things that divide evenly into 20, are 1, 2, 4, 5, 10 and 20. Of course 1 and 2 are below 3 and so they’re not contenders. So we end up with n being 4, 5, 10 or 20.

Check Against the Statements

So for number 1: Is N even? If N can be 4 but can also be 5 then we’re not assured that it’s even. Notice the data sufficiency problem type embedded here. So N is not necessarily even.

Is N a multiple of 5? Once again N is not because N could be 4 or 5. Finally, is in a factor of 20? And in this case it is because 4, 5, 10 and 20 as we just said are all factors of that 20 that we’re looking for. So our answer here is 3 alone, answer choice A.

More Practice

Now here’s a more challenging problem at the same form, see if you can do it and we’re going to come back and in the next video talk about the solution and give you another problem.

So if 67 is divided by some integer N the remainder is 7. Our three things to look at are whether:

    • N is even?
    • If N is a multiple of 10?
    • Or N is a factor of 120?

So give this one a try and see if you can use the principles from the easier problem on this more challenging one to make sure that you actually understand what’s going on. If not, re-watch this video and see if a review might allow you to answer this question.

If you enjoyed using this video for practice, try this one next: Wedding Guest Problem.

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Posted on
12
Feb 2019

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

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

The Most Overused Solution Path

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

The GMAT isn’t Testing Your Math Skills

How do we know that math is not what the GMAT wants us to do? It’s quite simple. If the GMAT was the referendum on how well you can do mental math, then the scores would reflect your ability to do so. MBA programs at top business schools would be filled with people with extraordinary, almost savant like mental math abilities. We know this isn’t the case.

Actually, as we improve on our mental math, we get diminishing returns with it. So we see a lot of clients getting up to the 70th, 80th, or 90th percent level even, on the quantitative side of things. Then, all of a sudden they plateau; they can’t get any higher. The reason is they are so focused on the math. They are missing the bigger logical reasoning picture or the structure of quantitative problems that doesn’t rely on doing math that allows both quick and accurate solutions.

Key Things to Avoid

While math has its place, we want to be sure that we’re not putting it on a pedestal. And that when we’re performing computations, we’re doing so with great deliberation, intentionality, and that we have a good reason for doing any computation we’re doing. If you find yourself diving into the equation or doing a lot of processing, stop. Say “Wait a minute, there must be a better way to do this.”

Another option is that sometimes you make a basic error early on and that leads to ugly numbers and math. But you should never, never, never be multiplying decimals out to the fourth decimal. That sort of math is the true trigger, the true signal, that there’s a better way to solve the problem. When you’re self prepping, this is what you want to look for.

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

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

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