Tag Archives: GMAT Prep
February 7, 2017
This guest post is provided by our friends at LA Tutors 123 After working through a grueling standardized admissions test, the moment of judgement arrives when you get your scores. If you got the score you …
This guest post is provided by our friends at LA Tutors 123
After working through a grueling standardized admissions test, the moment of judgement arrives when you get your scores. If you got the score you were hoping for, congratulations! You can now focus your time and energy on the rest of the MBA admissions process. If your score is much lower than you’d hoped, however, you have to decide about whether or not to retake the test.
My biggest advice is: Don’t retake the test if you haven’t done any additional preparation!
As a tutor, I’ve encountered student after student who has taken the test two or more times before seeking a tutor or doing additional practice, hoping to somehow “get lucky” on the retake. This rarely works because these tests are not lottery tickets; the only way to substantially raise your score is to master the skills and test taking strategies they require.
A well-planned retake, however, can give you the boost you need to improve your application and clear the path to the business school of your dreams.
It’s a good idea to retake the test if:
You’re willing to put in the time and effort necessary to prepare for the retake.
Use the score report from your first test to map out how much time you’ll need to improve your skills. For low-scoring students, this might require several months, or an intense effort if you have limited time. You might consider finding a tutor (or purchasing additional hours, if you had one before) to help. Then, take at least one more practice test, preferably more, before the next real test to make sure you’re making progress.
You had extenuating circumstances on your test day.
One of the only exceptions to the additional preparation rule would be extreme circumstances, such as if you became violently ill halfway through the test, accidentally deleted your entire essay ten seconds before your time was up, or your test center was invaded by aliens.
In these cases, you might score substantially higher without additional preparation. Hopefully you’ve already cancelled your scores, because it’s better to not to have a score show up on your score report if it doesn’t reflect your true abilities. Most of the time, however, the biggest factor in how you score is preparation.
You scored substantially higher on your practice tests than the real test.
If your official test performance was much lower than your practice tests, test anxiety may have been a factor, as practice can’t fully mimic the stress of the real test. There’s a chance that once you’ve had the real test-taking experience, you’ll be calmer and more clear-minded the second time around.
That said, you should still to evaluate the reason your real test scores were lower and try to address the problem. For example, did you only complete the practice test in sections instead of all at once? If that’s the case, you should complete a few full-length practice tests in one sitting before your retake. Did the questions on the test seem harder than those on the practice tests? If so, you should seek out a different brand of practice tests and work through those.
Your score is just shy of a posted requirement.
If the school to which you’re applying has posted minimum or expected scores and you are just short of those requirements, a retake might get you over the top. You should still do additional preparation, however, otherwise you’re just as likely to score lower the second time around.
You probably shouldn’t retake the test if:
You haven’t done enough additional preparation and aren’t scoring better on practice tests.
The best way to tell if you’ve improved is to take at least one more practice test and see if your score has gone up. If it hasn’t, the retake might be a waste of time and money.
You scored higher than you did on any of your practice tests and don’t have more time to prepare.
In this case, there’s a good chance you’ll score lower if you take the test again, so don’t tempt fate.
You’ve already retaken the test several times.
While one or two retakes is common, retaking the test over and over again can weaken your application, especially if your scores don’t go up. A single retake with substantial gains, however, can show the admissions committee that you worked hard to improve, or that maybe the first test didn’t reflect your true abilities.
If you do choose to retake your admissions test, make it your goal to retake it only once and get the score you need. If you didn’t seek professional help in preparing the first time around, a class or tutor might be what you need to get you over the top. A private tutor can help you evaluate your weaknesses, keep your studying on-track, and come up with the best plan to make sure you do the retake right.
Image credit: Flickr user Steven S. (CC BY 2.0)
September 17, 2013
Winston Churchill said: “The pessimist see difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” While the words of the good prime minister have much wider implications, consider how this phrase might reframe …
Winston Churchill said: “The pessimist see difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” While the words of the good prime minister have much wider implications, consider how this phrase might reframe one’s approach to GMAT math.
I realize many folks come to the GMAT having bid mathematics a fond (or not-so-fond) farewell way back in high school. Now, a college degree later, one has to re-acquaint one’s self with such topics as solving for x and angles in a triangle; some topics, such as combinations (nCr) might be entirely new — even more daunting for our would-be GMAT taker. If one is facing the long uphill climb toward mastery on GMAT math, how does one view this onerous task optimistically?
I realize that every practice question you get wrong can be discouraging. Mathematics can be a demanding task-master. For any particular math problem, there may be, say, twenty different mathematical facts, from easy to hard, that you need to know to solve a problem, and if you know nineteen of those twenty, you get the problem incorrect. In school math, there might have been partial credit, but on the GMAT, if you choose an incorrect answer for almost-correct work, you get zilch for that.
In fact, if in your mathematical reasoning, you overlook a frequently overlooked mathematical step, then you can bet your bottom dollar that the GMAT test-writer will have an incorrect answer choice corresponding to this frequently overlooked step — that’s Test Writing 101! Given the low success rate of a beginning GMAT-studier, rusty at math, how can one maintain the vital engagement necessary for progress without becoming jaded or discouraged? Of course, part of the answer is the emotional maturity and security not to take personally the initial lack of success.
There’s a wonderful story about Thomas Edison. He and his team were trying to develop a commercially viable light bulb, and the problem was finding the right material for the filament. They tried a plethora of different possible materials, and each one melted or burnt out as soon as the current passed through.
Finally, the Edison’s foreman, utterly exhausted and frustrated, came to complain to the great inventor: “We should give up! We’ve tried a thousand ways with no success! We’re wasting our time!” Edison immediately responded, “A waste of time? Nonsense! We now know a thousand ways that it doesn’t work!” While that kind of optimism may sound over-the-top to the point of lunacy, it is precisely this level of indefatigable perseverance that brought about the light bulb, the archetypal symbol of a good idea.
You see, every math problem you get wrong is an opportunity to learn and grow. You have to be disciplined about studying solutions and taking explicit notes about the mistakes you made and ideas you overlooked. The mark of an excellent student is: never making the same mistake twice.
While striving for that ideal takes discipline, the promise of holding to that standard is: every problem you get wrong represents a mistake from which you are determined to learn. Thus, say, for 200 questions you get wrong, you would have learned “200 ways it doesn’t work”, and by extension, understand 200 mistake that you will not repeat in the future.
In some cases, it may be a matter of knowing a formula, although generally it’s minimally helpful to memorize formulas, and considerably important to remember arguments and logical interconnections. In some topics, especially in GMAT probability questions, how one frames the problem is very important, more important than any of the individual solution techniques. For each math question one gets wrong, one has to study the solutions at multiple levels of analysis.
This approach takes energy and discipline. It takes an Edison-like optimism in the face of frustration. Very challenging, but if you want climb into the higher reaches of the GMAT score percentiles, then one attains extraordinary results only by making an extraordinary effort. Not everyone can do this, but those who are able to able to turn every challenge, every difficulty, into an opportunity for learning & growth, will have reason to be optimistic about the GMAT as well as about their careers in the modern business world.
January 31, 2013
Guest post by Mark Skoskiewicz, founder of MyGuru By now you know the GMAT is a very important test, especially for those aiming for Top 10, and particularly Top 5, business schools. However, you don’t …
Guest post by Mark Skoskiewicz, founder of MyGuru
By now you know the GMAT is a very important test, especially for those aiming for Top 10, and particularly Top 5, business schools.
However, you don’t need a 770 to go to Harvard Business School, and the GMAT is just one of about five key elements to the application. But, this blog post is about GMAT prep options, so I’ll stick to that.
There are three common ways to study for the GMAT:
1) Study on your own
2) Take a GMAT prep class
3) Work with a private tutor
The GMAT assesses core math, reading comprehension, writing, and analytical skills, yet it also has unique features and quirks. So, you’ll do much better if you put in the time to properly prepare for the particular problem types that the test writers love to use year after year. You can perform extremely well on the GMAT by choosing any option above, but folks in specific situations may fare better choosing one option over another.
Studying on your own is a good option when:
1. You can score in the mid 500s or higher (which is an average score) when taking a practice test “cold,” and your performance is average or higher in all of the sections. You also aren’t obsessed with scoring well above 700 by the time you take your official GMAT.
The GMAT will make you remember the rules of triangles, how to factor equations, how to read critically, and many other skills you may not have used since college. If you can score about average right off the bat on a practice test, you’ll probably be able to score well above average after studying on your own for a few months.
2. You have a lot of time.
Let’s say it takes 35-50 hours of studying for most people to reach their full natural ability on the GMAT. If you don’t have a job that’s too stressful, and you have six months until you plan on taking the GMAT, you’re in a better position to figure things out on your own.
3. You are an independent worker.
You prefer working on projects by yourself. You didn’t mind classes in college where the professor didn’t explain things very well. You are a natural at figuring things out on your own.
4. You are very structured and organized with your time.
To properly study for the GMAT, you need to develop a plan of attack and stick with it. Each week, you should devote 3-4 hours to studying. You need to methodically review each of the sections and then answer and review practice problems. If you have trouble structuring your time or aren’t naturally organized, you’ll find it hard to study on your own.
5. Expense is an important consideration.
A good test prep class will cost you $500 to $1,500. Private tutoring costs anywhere from $25 to $250 per hour. Obviously, self-study costs much less: roughly $25 for the Official Guide to the GMAT, $30 for some additional practice tests, and $50 for a supplemental bank of practice questions.
With this in mind, let’s review the two other GMAT prep options available to you.
When should someone consider taking a GMAT Prep Class?
It’s not quite as simple as taking the inverse of the above five points, but it’s close. A GMAT prep class is a good option for someone who:
- Scored below average when taking a practice GMAT cold. This means they are missing a few (perhaps not too many) core skills that will be tested on the GMAT, and a prep class can provide a reasonably priced review of those skills.
- Has the free time it takes to work through the prep class. Most classes meet once a week for a few hours for eight weeks or so.
- Benefits from having a teacher explain key concepts. You won’t get customized instruction from a prep class teacher—after all there are 10-30 other people in the room—but you will have somebody explaining the material.
- Needs the structure that the prep class provides. You’ll show up each week at a given time, review new content, and be assigned practice problems to complete.
- Is willing to spend some money to do well on the GMAT. Some prep classes are expensive, but it’s a reasonable middle ground between self-study and private tutoring.
OK, so who should hire a private GMAT tutor?
If you’ve read through this blog post so far and don’t feel like you fit in one of the above categories, then a private GMAT tutor might work for you. Specifically, a private GMAT tutor works well for folks who:
Scored either well below or well above average on an initial practice GMAT, taken cold. If you are well below average, the prep class might not be enough instruction to get your skills up. If you are well above average, you might already know most of the stuff taught in the prep class. After all, a prep class has to make sure it is covering concepts that the average person in the class needs to be taught. So, if you aren’t somewhere close to average, a prep class is probably not for you.
- A side note: If you are trying to score above 700 on the GMAT, you’ll encounter some pretty difficult questions. Many people find that a tutor can quickly reveal the core concepts at play here, oftentimes in cases where self-study or a prep class simply would have failed. If you’re dedicated to trying to break 700, a tutor starts to become a better option.
- You may not have much time because you’re taking the GMAT in four weeks. Or, you may be taking it in three months but you work 80 hours a week, leaving little free time to prep. If you don’t have much time, a private tutor is the most efficient way to fill in the gaps in your knowledge base. A tutor can quickly assess your situation and focus on your weak areas.
- If you don’t mind listening to someone else explain something (vs. having the satisfaction of figuring it out completely on your own), a private GMAT tutor will work well for you.
- When it comes to being organized and structured with your time, almost anyone can benefit from a private GMAT tutor. Why? If you aren’t naturally organized, the tutor can help you develop and stick to a plan. If you are, you can use the tutor to answer specific questions or review questions you had trouble with while following your own plan.
- Unfortunately, a good GMAT tutor can be expensive. With some research, you can find a good tutor for between $50 to $100 per hour. But, if your score improves from 630 to 700, and you ultimately get into a Top 5 business school, the $1,000 to $2,000 you might spend ends up being very well worth it.
Have I missed any other major ways to study for the GMAT, or any other key considerations? What are your thoughts?
Image credit: Bill Selak (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Mark Skoskiewicz is the founder of MyGuru, a boutique provider of customized, 1-1 GMAT tutoring, as well tutoring for most other standardized tests. He also has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
May 23, 2012
Our friends at Magoosh, masters of online GMAT test prep, have just released their newest eBook, and this one’s on Integrated Reasoning. The revamped GMAT, which includes a section on Integrated Reasoning, will launch in …
Our friends at Magoosh, masters of online GMAT test prep, have just released their newest eBook, and this one’s on Integrated Reasoning. The revamped GMAT, which includes a section on Integrated Reasoning, will launch in June, so get a head start on your studies and take advantage of this great–and gratis—resource.
Magoosh’s Complete Guide to GMAT Integrated Reasoning features an overview of the section as a whole, including scoring; overviews and strategies of/for each question type; practice questions; and recommendations for conquering this new section.
Click here to download the eBook.
May 3, 2012
*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.
Our client Tariq had a tough decision to make. He had sorted out his options and felt strongly that Chicago Booth’s MBA program was the perfect fit. He loved the classes, the focus and the city, and could easily picture himself there. Unfortunately, his first attempt at the GMAT had yielded a 690, with a low quant score. Though Tariq and his consultant agreed that this was a nice first attempt, and possibly good enough for many schools, they knew that while this score made it into the range where 80% of Booth’s students landed, he was still somewhat below the average score.
The rest of Tariq’s application was strong and interesting, but added to the dilemma. After a strong undergraduate career at Amherst, where he compiled a 3.6 GPA, he returned to his native Turkey to work in arts management. Tariq transformed this experience into an essay and application that made his desire to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business worlds clear and interesting. His consultant had few worries about his application outside of the GMAT score, and they discussed what to do. Since Tariq’s application was lacking in more day-to-day quantitative experience, and his first choice was a program with one of the highest average scores, they agreed that he should go ahead and retake the test.
Tariq’s consultant pointed him to Booth’s messaging regarding the GMAT, which he found reassuring. His school “looks favorably” on taking the test more than once. We see this fairly often as MBA programs consider working hard and improving your score as evidence of persistence. Tariq focused on doing the best he could to impress the admissions committee. Though it was too late for Round 1, he had enough time to work through an online class and retake the test before Round 2. His hard work and focus paid off with a thirty point bump in his score, a solid 720 with an even break between quant and verbal. Tariq and his consultant agreed that if Booth had not been on the top of his list, or if he had been further away from the average score, it may not have been worth it at all to retake, but in his case the costs were outweighed by the benefits.
April 30, 2012
Aside from manipulating the GMAT’s favorite numbers (72, 64, etc.), one of the calculations you’ll do most often when working through GMAT problems is dividing and multiplying by five. It’s common in the real world, too. As …
Aside from manipulating the GMAT’s favorite numbers (72, 64, etc.), one of the calculations you’ll do most often when working through GMAT problems is dividing and multiplying by five. It’s common in the real world, too. As with most common calculations, there’s a better way to do them than long division or traditional multiplication.
For both division and multiplication, the key concept here is that 5 is simply 10 divided by 2. So, anywhere you see a 5 in an equation, you can substitute (10/2). You won’t always want to do that, but in some cases, I guarantee you that working with 10s and 2s is preferable to working with 5s.
Using that trick, consider multiplying 36 and 5. (If you automatically know that, work through the example with a less common number, like 47.) Using the trick outlined above, 36(5) = 36(10/2). You now have two options: you can multiply 36 and 10 and then divide by 2, or divide 36 by 2 and then multiply by 10. Either way, both steps are quite simple.
This is an excerpt from a longer article by Jeff Sackmann, originally published at GMAT Hacks. Jeff has created several valuable GMAT-preparation resources, including Total GMAT Math and Total GMAT Verbal.
Interested in reading more? Click HERE to see more test prep advice.