GMAT test strategies
Posted on
09
Jul 2020

8 GMAT Test Strategies To Help Boost Your Score

by ApexGMAT

Contributor: Ivan Minchev

June 22st, 2020

More than 250,000 students take the GMAT every year as a requirement to get into the thousands of different MBA, EMBA, MFin, MAcct and Management PhD programs worldwide. However, due to the complexity of the exam as well as its adaptive difficulty only the top 12% of test-takers manage to score 700 or above. Here are 8 GMAT test strategies you can utilize to achieve a higher score on the exam, no matter where you currently are on your GMAT preparation journey.

1. Adopting the proper mindset

Perspective  is everything. It is very important to understand that even though getting in the top 10% of test-takers might seem like a spectacular achievement (and don’t get me wrong, it certainly is) setting your goals on a certain score tends to be counterproductive. Instead, focus on attaining specific skills, knowledge, and command, and the score will follow. Goals lead to expectations and fear of failure, and fear of failure in turn results in stress, which can greatly hinder performance.

2. Overcoming stress!

Stress and fear can greatly influence your results, but there are ways to manage these very normal responses to a high stakes situation. One of the ways to reduce stress and boost your confidence is by beginning your preparation process as early as possible – ideally 90-120 days before the exam. This provides enough time to fully grasp the complexities of the exam, and more importantly internalize a new set of skills to handle that complexity.

A test taker’s greatest enemy is test anxiety. Understand that anxiety happens to everyone. What sets top performers apart is how they handle that anxiety, and how they direct it back into their performance. Many people use a variety of relaxation techniques for dealing with test anxiety. The most common and easy to use method is to practice deep and controlled breathing in combination with visualization techniques. 

3. For exam day…

Are you a coffee drinker? Surprisingly, caffeine can really help your performance on test day. Caffeine is a powerful nootropic that will help keep your senses sharp and will also boost the oxygenated blood flow to your brain, subsequently enhancing your performance. For more info on how coffee affects your performance click here

Remember how we said that it’s important to begin your exam prep early? This “early bird” attitude can be applied in more ways than one. What this implies is that you must (not might, not should) prepare your GMAT Test Day Survival Kit on the previous day and not leave this for the last moment. Everyone has waited for the last minute to do something, and chances are everyone has left something crucial behind. With the GMAT being such an important exam such situations should be avoided as much as possible. Try having a mock exam day. Map out the whole test day and practice it as if it were real, including your trip to the testing center. This will help you normalize the process and alleviate anxiety on test day.

4. Value your time and manage it efficiently!

Since the GMAT is a timed exam one’s planning and strategic skills are put to the test as they have to come up with an efficient time management strategy.

Use mental math tools whenever possible and also try getting used to reading and analyzing charts, graphs and tables efficiently for the Integrated Reasoning section. 

Once you’re further along in your preparation and have mastered seeing multiple solution paths before engaging any of them, familiarize yourself with common problems, and built up test reading and perspective skills, then you can begin dedicating yourself to timed sets: working on a cluster of 10 consecutive questions for each section of the exam when on the clock. This helps you calibrate your timing decisions and more readily notice when they require adjustment.

Remember, just because the GMAT is a timed exam, this doesn’t mean we must learn under a time constraint. Like good cooking, good learning takes time. Give yourself sufficient time to learn, while also making sure the learning time is spent as productively as possible.

5. The Integrated Reasoning section

Dealing with 12 multi-part questions in 30 minutes means that you’re going to be overwhelmed with information, and you won’t have much time to spare. Sorting through large amounts of data and understanding it in a timely manner is key to getting through this section.

A good way to rapidly identify information needed to solve a problem is knowing what to look for. Read the problems carefully (and this applies to all sections) and proactively determine what you want out of the information or solution path. This way, you will sift out most unnecessary information in advance, saving plenty of time along the way. However, this does NOT mean to ignore the text written around the tables/graphs/charts.

6. The Analytical Writing section 

Failing to plan is planning to fail! Always plan your essay! Set aside 4-5 minutes to plan what you are going to write and how you are going to structure your essay. 

Create an essay template in advance! There are many ways you can go about making one but usually, the more you practice your essay writing skills the more used to a specific writing style you are going to get ultimately resulting in your own template.

7. Ask for help

There is nothing embarrassing about asking for help, especially when it comes to an exam that is so vital to one’s future. There are numerous GMAT forums and courses on the web, where you can ask and get help from people who have already taken it.

However, if you would prefer a more personal and individualized approach you could consider hiring a private tutor. The benefit of not preparing alone but hiring a tutor is that it allows for direct feedback on what are an individual’s strengths and what needs improvement, while also receiving advice on how to achieve those improvements. As a result, when the exam day comes you will not only be well prepared but will also know it, having built up confidence in your abilities.

8. Practice, practice, practice!

No doubt you’re familiar with the phrase “practice makes perfect.” There is a reason why this is such a popular saying: it’s true! Not all practice is equal, though. Varied practice that aims at building on existing skills and knowledge is much more high yielding than repetition. No matter how clever you are, no matter how good of a student you’ve been or how proficient in math you are if you do not put enough time and effort in your prep you are not likely to be happy with the end result. Even the top tutors and courses out there won’t be able to help you out if you don’t give your best. So remember, don’t just go through the motions, but practice by constantly looking at the same problems and concepts in new ways, and trying to use them in novel situations, and you’ll find your GMAT prep vastly accelerated.

That was the list of 8 strategies to help you score high on the GMAT. Keep in mind that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another as everybody learns differently. It is only through practice and proactive learning that you will be able to find what are the best methods for your success. 

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Posted on
07
Jul 2020

GMAT Problem – Speed Distance Problem

Speed and distance problems are among the most complained about problems on the GMAT. Numerous clients come to us and say they have difficulty with speed and distance problems, word problems, or work rate problems. So we’re going to look at a particularly difficult one and see just how easy it can be with the right approach.

The Two Cars Problem

In this problem we have two cars – car ‘A’ and ‘B’. Car ‘A’ begins 20 miles behind car ‘B’ and needs to catch up. Our immediate DSM (Default Solving Mechanism) is to dive in and create an equation for this and that’s exactly what we don’t want to do.

These types of problems are notorious for being algebraically complex, while conceptually simple. If you hold on to the algebra, rather than getting rid of it, you’re going to have a hard time.

Solution Paths

In this problem we’re going to build up solution paths. We’re gonna skip the algebra entirely. We’re going to take a look at an iterative way to get to the answer and then do a conceptual scenario, where we literally put ourselves in the driver’s seat to understand how this problem works. So if we want to take the iterative process we can simply drive the process hour-by-hour until we get to the answer.

Iterative solution path

We can imagine this on a number line or just do it in a chart with numbers. ‘A’ starts 20 miles behind ‘B’ so let’s say ‘A’ starts at mile marker zero. ‘B’ starts at 20. After one hour ‘A’ is at 58, ‘B’ is at 70 and the differential is now -12 and not -20. After the second hour ‘A’ is at 116, ‘B’ is at 120. ‘A’ is just four behind ‘B’. After the third hour ‘A’ has caught up! Now it’s 4 miles ahead. At the fourth hour it’s not only caught up but it’s actually +12, so we’ve gone too far. We can see that the correct answer is between three and four and our answer is three and a half.

Now let’s take a look at this at a higher level. If we take a look at what we’ve just done we can notice a pattern with the catching up: -20 to -12 to -4 to +4. We’re catching up by 8 miles per hour. And if you’re self-prepping and don’t know what to do with this information, this is exactly the pattern that you want to hinge on in order to find a better solution path.

You can also observe (and this is how you want to do it on the exam) that if ‘A’ is going 8 miles an hour faster than ‘B’, then it’s catching up by 8 miles per hour. What we care about here is the rate of catching up, not the actual speed. The 50 and 58 are no different than 20 and 28 or a million and a million and eight. That is, the speed doesn’t matter. Only the relative distance between the cars and that it changes at 8 miles per hour.

Now the question becomes starkly simple. We want to catch up 20 miles and then exceed 8 miles, so we want to have a 28 mile shift and we’re doing so at 8 miles an hour. 28 divided by 8 is 3.5.

Conceptual scenario solution path

You might ask yourself what to do if you are unable to see those details. The hallmark of good scenarios is making them personal. Imagine you’re driving and your friend is in the car in front of you. He’s 20 miles away. You guys are both driving and you’re trying to catch up. If you drive at the same speed as him you’re never going to get there. If you drive one mile per hour faster than him you’ll catch up by a mile each hour. It would take you 20 hours to catch up. This framework of imagining yourself driving and your friend in the other car, or even two people walking down the street, is all it takes to demystify this problem. Make it personal and the scenarios will take you there.

Thanks for the time! For other solutions to GMAT problems and general advice for the exam check out the links below. Hope this helped and good luck!

Found it helpful? Try your hand at some other GMAT problems: Profit & Loss Problem.


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Everything that you need to know about the GMAT
Posted on
03
Jul 2020

5 Minutes with the GMAT: Everything You Need to Know

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

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

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

ABOUT THE GMAT EXAM

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

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

WHAT IS THE GMAT USED FOR?

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

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

STRUCTURE, SECTIONS, TIMING, & SCORING

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

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

There are several other factors worth mentioning:

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

GMAT SCORING & VALIDITY

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

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

How & Where?

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

When?

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

Online GMAT Test in the face of COVID-19

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

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

You can learn more about the online GMAT test here.

HOW MUCH DOES THE GMAT TEST COST?

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

Rescheduling & Cancellation of your GMAT appointment

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

Regular Rescheduling fees:

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

Regular Cancellation fees:

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

ADDITIONAL COSTS WORTH CONSIDERING

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

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

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

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

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev

June 20, 2020

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The MBA Titans on The Forbes Wealthiest List

MBA’s are not easy to come by on the Forbes list, but those that do have them are powerhouse names. All speak of their MBA’s as being integral to their success in the business world and give back millions of dollars to their alma maters. With MBA’s from top programs under their belts, it is no small feat to attend and graduate from one of these prestigious schools. Attaining attendance could set you on track to become a titan of industry like the 6 below. Here is our list of the Forbes Wealthiest MBA’s:

Ray Dalio

Before he became famous for his Principles of total honesty and accountability at his multi-billion dollar hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio attended Harvard Business School. This finance wizard took his education seriously, having already graduated from Long Island University but still needed a great GMAT for Harvard. In 2019, the median GMAT was 730 (top 2% overall), and they even have an incoming student with a perfect score. We expect Ray was on top even back then, given his shrewd and independent thinking style, which is an asset on the GMAT, which is designed to always keep you guessing.

Our guess: 780

Herbert Fisk Johnson III

Herbert is the current CEO of S.C Johnson Inc., joining the family business in 1987. He started out as a marketing associate but held a number of positions at the company until being appointed CEO in 2004. His leadership skills helped him win the presidential award for corporate leadership – the Ron Bowman Award. He is an avid learner and has the degrees to prove it, with a total of 6 including an MBA and multiple science ones making him the most educated member on the Forbes list. He attended Cornell University for all his education. With a mean GMAT score of 696 in 2019, Cornell is in the top caliber of graduate schools to attend. With his varied educational background, looking at GMAT problems from multiple viewpoints was a skill that he most likely used to beat the clock while determining the correct answers on the test.

Our guess: 740

Leonard Stern

You will recognize this name if you are interested in applying to one of the top business schools in the country. New York University’s business school is named “Stern” due to his $30 million donation. Leonard Stern started out in his successful family pet food business, The Hartz Group, but later went on to sell the company and focus on an industry that he was more interested in: real estate. Since the beginning of his career he has acquired warehouses across New Jersey, Charlotte, Atlanta and Baltimore. NYU Stern has a mean GMAT score of 721 and we have no doubt that with his success in the business world Stern scored high on the GMAT. Known for his quick and impactful decision making skills we are sure that he was able to parse and extract vital information from GMAT questions swiftly.

Our guess: 750

Warren Buffet

Often referred to as an investing legend, Warren Buffet bought his first stock at just 11, and by 16 had already made more than the equivalent of $53,000 from business ventures and investing. He is the current Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and spends about 80% of his day reading, which undoubtedly helped him achieve a great verbal score on the GMAT score. After being rejected from Harvard Business School he ultimately attended Columbia University for his MBA. The mean GMAT score at Columbia in 2019 was 727 and we are sure that with Warren’s sharp business mind he was able to achieve a stellar GMAT score. Maintaining regular and varied reading practices is a sure way to improve your performance on reading comprehension and sentence correction questions.

Our guess: 760

Laurene Powell Jobs

Not only is she the richest woman in the technology industry due to her inheritance from late husband Steve Jobs, she is also ranked in the top 50 of the Forbes 400 list. Besides her inheritance, Laurene has a strong financial background having worked at both Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. She is also the co-founder of Terravera and sits on the board of directors of Acheiva. Additionally, she has stakes in the Washington Wizards, the Washington Capitals and Capital One Arena. She graduated from Stanford School of Business with an MBA. The mean GMAT score of the 2019 MBA class at Stanford is 737. From
her background and key eye for gold mine investments we are sure she used her critical and creative thinking skills to her advantage on the test.

Our guess: 750

Jerry Speyer

Jerry Speyer is one of the most well-known New York real estate tycoons and is the Chairman of Tishman Speyer which owns iconic properties such as the Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building. In addition to this, the company has developed both international and domestic skyscrapers in Chicago, New York, Berlin, Paris, Frankfurt and London. He sits on the board of 7 institutions including the Museum of Modern Art and was the Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He shares the same alma mater as Warren Buffet, as he attended Columbia University for his MBA.

Our Guess: 770

As titans in their respective industries it is no wonder that the people included in this list have all scored about a 700 on the GMAT. Scoring in this range is a feat that requires dedication, practice and in many cases a break away from the usual test taking strategies and thinking, but it is not impossible!

Keep prepping.

If you enjoyed the Forbes Wealthiest MBA’s, read about Retaking the GMAT next.

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Posted on
11
Jun 2020

Snack Shop GMAT Problem

The Snack shop GMAT problem is an average or a mean problem. A characteristic of many average problems is that one big takeaway right at the outset is that the answer choices are clustered tightly together. We want to refrain from making any calculations.

The problem is below:

snack shop problem

Selecting A Solution Path

If they’re looking for a level of precision, the estimation solution path isn’t available to us. If we dive into the problem, right from the first sentence we have sort of a conclusion that we can create via either a graphic or accounting solution path.

If you were the business owner immediately you’d say to yourself: Well for 10 days and an average of $400 a day I made $4000. 

This is how we want to think about averages. Many times they’ll tell us a parameter about a length of time or over a certain universe of instances and here we want to treat them all as equal.

Solving the Problem

It doesn’t matter if one day we made 420 and another day we made 380. We can treat them in aggregate as all equal and start out with that assumption. That’s a very useful assumption to make on average problems. So, we start out knowing that we made 4,000. 

What I want us to do is do a little pivot and notice from a running count standpoint how much above or below we are on a given day. So we’re told that for the first six days we averaged $360 which means each of those six days we’re short $40 from our average. That means in aggregate we’re short $240. 6 days times $40 –  and this has to be made up in the last 4 days.

Notice how we’re driving this problem with the story rather than with an equation. In the last four days we need to outperform our 400 by 240. 240 divided by 4 is 60. 60 on top of the 400 target 

that we already have is 460. Therefore, our answer is D.

Graphical Solution Path

If we are more comfortable with graphic solution paths, imagine this in terms of 10 bars each representing $400. Lowering six of those bars down by 40 and taking the amount that we push those first six down and distributing it among the last four bars gives us our $460 total per day.

snack shop graphic solution path

If you enjoyed this Snack Shop GMAT Problem, watch “The Gas Mileage GMAT Problem” next.

 

 

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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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Posted on
19
May 2020

GMAT Scoring – Demystified

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

Should You Spend more time on the first 10 questions?

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

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

Planning To Score An Elite GMAT Score

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

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

Does The Test keep Track of Other Information?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time and Score Trade-off

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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Posted on
14
May 2020

The Effects of Coffee on GMAT Performance

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

Find Your Right Amount

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

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

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

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30
Apr 2020

Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success

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

Everyone Is Asking for Help

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

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

What the GMAT is Testing?

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

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

Why 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success?

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

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

What To Do About It

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

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

Unlearn Old Habits

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

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

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

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

 

 

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