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Posted on
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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Should You Retake the GMAT? All That You Need to Consider – Apex GMAT

There it is. A 690. Not what you wanted, but pretty damn good. Should you keep the score or cancel it? Do you take the exam again, after all the agony, or hope that it will be enough?

GMAT test takers face these questions each time they sit the exam, and there is no one size fits all answer. There are many factors to consider, from your personal situation, available time, career and MBA goals, and the draw of being done with the GMAT.

You Are Not Your GMAT Score

Let’s begin with a more general premise: YOU ARE NOT YOUR GMAT SCORE. As much as some might have you believe so, your GMAT score is not the be all end all of your life, self-worth or MBA candidacy. It’s important to keep this fact in mind, and what follows from it – while a strong GMAT score is necessary to demonstrate academic skill and preparedness for an MBA or other graduate program, a strong score is not enough, especially if you’re applying to a top ranked program.

Something that almost no one will tell you – nearly everyone struggles on the GMAT and spends months preparing. We often see clients from top consulting and banking firms who insist on not recommending us to others because they don’t want anyone they work with to know that they needed help!

How The Admissions Committees View Your Score

An admissions committee is looking at your entire profile – your resume, recommendations, accomplishments, and presentation in an interview setting. While they use the GMAT to determine how well they believe you’ll thrive in the academic parts of the MBA program, they’re really looking at the individual when making a decision.

Admissions committees want to see you at your best, so having a second score on your score report, or even speaking about your struggles on the GMAT and how you overcame them can work as a positive to your application. Many programs are also willing to “super score” – taking the best subsections and combining them into the best possible score, and, especially on the quantitative, want to make sure that you’ll be able to handle the rigors of the program. Having an inferior score on your score report is a lot like running a race slowly… no one cares about your worst time, they only care about your best. You might be tired, ill, have a nail in your shoe, or some other calamity, so only your best time represents your capability, and admissions committees know this. So when should you retake the GMAT? Well ask yourself the following question before you make that decision:

What Does This Increase Really Mean To You?

Another factor to consider is how much an incremental increase in your GMAT score will be compared with spending the time elsewhere – adding another activity to your resume, spending more time on crafting your essays, or even feeling better by going out and seeing friends more regularly so you don’t absolutely freaking lose it!

These are real considerations, and being well rounded in fact, not just on paper, will provide a notable enhancement to your ability to market yourself effectively and accomplish your goals – career, romantic, and otherwise. Are you really prepared to give so much up for a number on a piece of paper?

Why Should You Retake The GMAT ?

On the other hand, perhaps you had an off day, or perhaps it is really important to you to crack that 700 because your brother/partner/boss got there and you want to be in that same rarefied air. There’s nothing wrong with that, and that drive can be a healthy one. Retaking the exam, especially after significant preparation, represents an extra $250 GMAT retake fee and an afternoon. Additional retakes are “free” relative to the time and commitment you’ve spent to get to the first exam, so to the extent it’s not damaging to your mental health, relationships, and lifestyle, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t take the exam one or more additional times. Admissions committees can’t see that you’ve cancelled your scores, so don’t worry about looking try-hard. Besides, like everything in life, you’re doing it for you, right?

GMAT Retake Strategy

In the end, there is no right or wrong answer, just the answer that is right or wrong for you. Consult with your family, partner, friends and colleagues. If you’re working with a professional tutor, they should be able to provide you perspective as well, especially since they’ve seen this many times before, and maybe have gone through it personally. If you would like to talk about your GMAT prep or retaking the GMAT with an Apex instructor leave us your details.

If you enjoyed “Should You Retake the GMAT?”, watch why a 4.0 GPA does not always equal a high GMAT Score.

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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
25
Mar 2020

GMAT Videos: Will They Help Improve My Score?

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

Passive Learning

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

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

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

Change Your Approach to Watching GMAT Videos

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

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

Problem Identification Is Only Half The Work

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

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

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

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

Continue to Watch GMAT Videos

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

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

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Posted on
24
Mar 2020

Stupid Mistakes – How to Avoid Them on the GMAT

Stupid Mistakes On The GMAT

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

Careless Mistakes

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

Difficulty of Addressing Careless Mistakes

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

How to Work On Them

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

Pivot Questions

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

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

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

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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
13
Mar 2020

What Are GMAT Scoring Plateaus and How To Overcome Them

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

Scoring Plateaus Explained

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

The First Scoring Plateau (mid 500s)

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

Implementing Your Knowledge

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

The Second Scoring Plateau

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

Final Plateau

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

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

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

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12
Mar 2020

MBA Conditional Offers

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

How often does this happen?

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

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

The Admissions Secret

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

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

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

The Profile of Conditionally Accepted Applicant

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

What can you do?

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

It’s Like Adding a New Skill

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

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

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

Reach Out for Assistance

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

If you liked this video watch: Overcoming Scoring Plateaus.

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