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EMPOWERgmat Blog

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
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New post 23 Jul 2015, 23:40
The BIG Payout That Can Come Later From Investing in your GMAT Training NOW

In the realm of financial investing, it pays to invest early on. By doing so, the accumulated return over time can be staggering. There are plenty of online articles that can explain the concept in greater detail, but the simple idea is that making some small, consistent investments now (instead of spending that money on other things) will lead to a much greater financial payout later. A similar concept exists when considering your own GMAT prep and what you’re willing to do to raise your GMAT scores.

Everything about the process of applying to Business School and ultimately attending Business School can be appropriately defined as ‘expensive.’ The value of having the MBA is ultimately worth the sacrifice though, as most MBAs make considerably more money than they would if they did not have the MBA. Just as in retirement investing though, the smaller investments you make in your GMAT prep early on can lead to a much BIGGER payout later.

Consider a Business School applicant who attempts to save money by taking a book-heavy study approach to the GMAT and spending as little money as possible on the process. That applicant could assemble a set of used/cheap GMAT books and some other free resources and could conceivably score well enough on the GMAT to get an invite to a Top MBA Program. Without a scholarship though, the cost of attending that Program could easily cost upwards of $100,000+ over time, depending on the Program. By saving a few hundred dollars in the short term (and not investing in some additional GMAT resources), that applicant will end up paying far MORE to earn that MBA later on.

Now consider a different applicant – one who can properly ‘see’ the GMAT for the investment that it is and invests enough into the process. By putting in the extra time and effort, and investing in some additional study resources, that applicant would likely score higher on the GMAT and open up the potential for Scholarship money. Scholarship money depends on the School, the specific Program and some other variables… but at that level, Scholarships come in the thousands or tens-of-thousands of dollars. A Full Scholarship to Stanford GSB would currently amount to approximately $170,000.

Would the potential for THAT type of scholarship be worth an extra $100 or $200 now? How about $300? You shouldn’t need much time to answer those questions.

Just as with financial investments, you have to decide how much you can invest. You’re probably already ‘trading’ your free time on some combination of the following; studying for the GMAT, researching Schools and planning for application deadlines. You’ve likely already spent some money too. All of that is common to GMAT Test Takers; the ‘process’ costs money. The reality though is that it’s all an investment in YOUR future. If you want to increase your chances at getting the BIG payout, you’ll want to invest just a little bit more now.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
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Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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New post 26 Jul 2015, 23:20
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Steps to Improving CR Ability
Hi Rich, I'm wondering what is the best way to review a CR question. Thanks.

Tau

Hi Tau,

You ask a remarkably broad question, so I'll offer some broad suggestions and work towards specifics...

Things to consider when reviewing CR questions:

1) Did you get the question right or wrong? Just because you got it right doesn't mean that you understood it. Maybe you took a good guess (or even a blind guess). You can't depend on "taking good guesses" as a strategy; on a bad day, you'll get all of those questions wrong.
2) What type of CR question was it?
3) What type of notes did you take?
4) How long did it take to solve it? And WHY did it take that long?
5) What type of logic is the CR prompt built on? Some prompts simply link facts, while others use causality or representativeness (among other things). Understanding the logic behind a prompt should help you to recognize that same logic in other questions.
6) Did you recognize the wrong answers? WHY were they wrong? Can you train yourself to spot THOSE patterns later on (because they will show up again)?
7) Finally, did the approach that you came up with (or were taught) effective in getting you the correct answer. If you've practiced a tactic and it does not seem to help you, then there's nothing wrong with admitting it and changing tactics.


Just Starting GMAT Prep
Rich,

I’ve been away from education for about 7 years now, so. I will have to start everything from scratch. I would like to know what materials are the best to start off with?

Upsilon

Hi Upsilon,

It's useful to test your current abilities early on in your studies (either before you start studying, or just after you’ve begun) so that you can get a sense of your "weak" spots. Take one of the FREE CATs offered through http://www.MBA.com (the download package includes 2 CATs and some practice problems) and see how you do. The score results could be low, but that's okay - it usually takes months to prepare for the GMAT, so your first practice attempt likely won't be great.


3rd Attempt at the GMAT
Dear Rich,

I am currently in the process of studying for my third attempt at the GMAT. Looking back I went into my first attempt ALL WRONG. I tried to cram in about a month and did poorly. I decided to retake the exam only a month later and of course I did worse. Feeling deflated both emotionally and financially I decided I would just put my business school aspirations on hold until I felt a little better about myself.

Flash forward a year later, and I am in a slightly better place with wanting to once again attempt the GMAT. I realize that I was giving myself unrealistic timelines to do what I needed to do and that I was not entering into the testing process with the right mindset. I would greatly appreciate any guidance and/or support on how I can combat my test anxiety.

Phi

Hi Phi,

Don't get too down on yourself. Many Test Takers retake the GMAT and Business Schools really don't care how many times you take the test. With GMAC’s new score reporting rules, if you end up cancelling your score, the Schools won’t even know about it. With this go around, plan on spending a bit more time on your studies and plan a bit better so that you can pace yourself. If you're looking for an elite score, then you might have to work a little harder and/or spend a bit more money. Take advantage of all the free resources that are available to you. The GMAT is predictable. You don't have to "like" what's on it, but with practice, you'll know what's coming and you'll know how to handle it.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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New post 31 Jul 2015, 15:07
LEARN TO DESTROY READING COMP & BOOST VERBAL PACING

• “The passage is hard.”
• “I have trouble with RC pacing.”
• “How much time should I spend reading a passage?”

You're looking at a list of three of the most common phrases that have been written in this forum (and in our inbox from visitors who are just starting their training with the EMPOWERgmat Course). If any of these concerns sounds familiar to you, then there is some good news - they CAN be properly addressed. The solution involves clear steps that can be accomplished with focus, discipline, and the right training.

Get A Grip - Put RC Into A Winning Perspective
Interest in the topic of the passage, and in the author's agenda, will help make a significant improvement in how you handle the majority of RC questions. GMAT Test Takers receive four passages on test day, and most Test Takers find at least 3 of the passages to be boring, complex, and/or intimidating. These are all symptoms of a ‘bad choice’ on the Test Taker’s part. For some reason, if a topic doesn't immediately grab a Test Taker, a ‘block’ occurs, and the content becomes painful, anxiety-inducing drudgery.

We can put the GMAT Reading Comp assignment in perspective though. Executing proper RC reading will take you about 16 minutes of total time to read your four passages. Being interested in 4 topics for a total investment of about 16 minutes can radically improve:

• Your GMAT score…and by extension….

• Your chance of admissions
• Your likelihood of getting better financial awards, scholarships, etc.
• Your odds of getting an awesome job offer
• Your income potential (potentially adding millions of dollars in income over your career)

FROM 16 MINUTES!

That overall potential reward is an opportunity of a lifetime. Reading comp isn't something to fear or loathe, it's something to savor and relish. It's one of the greatest deals that life affords us! Be 100% engaged for this brief window of time, and they GMAT will open up an untold opportunity for you. RC is a precious gift, if you make it one.

To properly understand the ‘scope’ of developing the proper RC skills, we have to take a good look at the other (harsh) end of the spectrum: what happens if you hear someone say that they CAN’T be curious about a random array of topics for a few minutes…?

Maybe Business School just isn't right for THAT person. Business School programs will pummel students with a staggering array of Case Studies, lessons and readings right from the outset. Students will be called upon to proffer an opinion in front of classmates. Students will also be assigned to a group of peers and will be responsible to research subjects that many people will likely find un-interesting (unless that same student commits to making the subject interesting…).

The Reading Comp Magic Bullet: INTEREST
So then, the next question is - can you find a way to be passionately interested (and curious) about what the author is trying to convey, regardless of topic? Given all of the potential benefits, the answer to the question should be a resounding YES.

Get into the passages by really trying to connect with the passage and content. By spending more time investing in the passage, and building your RC Ladder, you'll be able to dramatically power through the questions faster AND concurrently boost your accuracy.

You must remember that ‘interest’ is a ‘choice’ – it’s generated by curiosity, and you CAN arouse curiosity about ANYTHING at a moment’s notice. Simply engaging a passage with your own curiosity is a revolutionary force with RC (and can play a role in other aspects of the GMAT, including CR, IR and wordy Quant questions).

So, now that you see the exciting stakes of being an engaged, curious reader, it's probably obvious that with Reading Comp, you HAVE TO take interest in the passage. So how exactly can you do that?

In the EMPOWERgmat Course, we offer a specific, easy-to-use set of tools to mechanize the interest process. Here are some of the ‘elements’ of that process:

Pretend the clock isn't running - That will prevent you from rushing and having to waste time with unnecessary re-reading (to be fair, some re-reading is required, particularly with Detail questions). Under timed pressure, most people instinctively read a little faster, and that extra speed makes the subject matter feel ‘murky.’ The crazy aspect of all of this is if we were to time the actual difference between when you read the passage with (and without) concern for time, the difference is about 15-30 seconds of total time. That's it! The extra time it takes to read a passage the right way isn't as much as it may seem. On top of that, when you factor in the time saved by avoiding most re-reading later on, you will ultimately save LOTS of time by properly investing in that initial read-through.

Be genuinely curious about the topic and the author's perspective - Ask questions, such as: do I agree? Do I disagree? Is that likely to work, or not work? Is this thing any good (or not)?

By reading actively, you'll have TOTAL command of the passage, and the questions will be considerably easier to answer. By investing some more time and energy with the prompt, you'll be able to boost your overall pacing and accuracy.

The Truth About Re-Reading
Some re-reading is OK. However, NEVER, EVER, EVER wait until you're deep into the passage before you realize you haven't connected with the prompt. If necessary, start over as soon as you can. If you ever feel as though the first sentence is getting away from you, start over. Trying to continue on as though everything is just fine will lead to a total waste of time, a lack of that solid understanding you need, and a lack of confidence when you move to the questions. Nearly all Verbal 99th-percentilers will admit to feeling a bit lost after the first sentence (or two) on certain passages. They then STOP and reread (rather than letting a whole paragraph or passage go by in the foolhardy hope that it'll just somehow magically crystallize). You have to invest in the passages, and you have to do so from the start. Again, you'll more than make up that time with the questions since they'll be easier to deal with. You'll not only be more efficient, but also more effective.

Other Essential RC Skills
• Can you identify each question type within RC (and CR)? You need to be able to.
• Do you know EXACTLY what type of information each question type requires of you? You need to.
• Can you spot the common wrong answer types in RC and CR? Needless to say, that skill becomes far more valuable in subtle or difficult questions.
• DON'T read to retain the details. Read to know the role the details play in the passage (eg. The author just provided 2 examples of the implementation of a certain policy; here, we have a description of an outdated model and reasons why it’s outdated, etc.).

Want to Change? What you need to demand of yourself:
I also like to stress that you have to see yourself as training for the GMAT rather than just studying for it. The GMAT is an event that you need to rehearse for, so it's not just about what you know, it's also about the work that you do and how you think. That's why you're going to want to be OBSESSED with your training to be able to apply the EMPOWERgmat tactics during your practice and on the real GMAT.

You need to TRAIN to possess an assassin's intensity with every passage you read. It's a decision within your power to make, using the tools above (along with others that you can train to master). For more on how to train (rather than just study) for the GMAT, see these EMPOWERgmat Articles:

Verbal Advantage: GMAT Assassin's Manifesto - Master Content & Tacticshttp://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal ... 98768.html

Verbal Advantage - Manifesto Pt. II: The 90th Percentile Mindsethttp://gmatclub.com/forum/verbal ... 00155.html

We look forward to helping you crush the GMAT and get you ready to apply to your target schools!

Click "Follow" for more GMAT Club Fresh Verbal GMAT questions, and articles.

“Students study. GMAT Assassins Train.”

Max Peterson
Co Founder | EMPOWERgmat
EMPOWERgmat.com
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2015, 23:06
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Difficulty With Word Problems in Quant
Hi Rich,
I have brushed up on my basics in the math section and have learned and made notes of all the new concepts I learned, but my main problem has always been with word problems. No matter how well my concepts are I just keep having difficulty with word problems. Any advice would be appreciated.

Chi

Hi Chi,

Most Quant questions are based on math rules, formulas and basic steps that you know how to do. The GMAT tests your ability to stay organized, pay attention to details and sometimes deal with information that shows up "out of order." There are usually tactics that you can use and patterns that you can spot to make the questions easier and quicker to solve, but that takes practice.

If word problems are an issue, then you have to get comfortable with taking a question apart, piece by piece. Most Quant questions have 4-5 "steps" to them and the GMAT does NOT expect you to do all 5 steps at once. So, train yourself to do them 1 at a time. Expertise and pacing skills will improve with time, but you have to put in the practice.

LSAT Practice For GMAT Verbal???
RICH,

Do you think LSAT tests are a good practice source for practice material for GMAT CR and RC sections?

Psi

Hi Psi,

While LSAT Logical Reasoning is very similar to GMAT CR, it includes material that is NOT on the GMAT as well as variations on CR-types that aren't on the GMAT either. LSAT Reading Comp likewise has some similar aspects as GMAT RC, but too many differences (including length, among other things) that make the LSAT an impractical source for practice problems (assuming your goal is to improve your GMAT Verbal).

You'd be far better served researching the myriad GMAT sources available and purchasing/practicing with those.

Taking a CAT Right Before Test Day???
Dear Rich,

I haven’t taken many practice CATs during my studies. Is it worth the extra stress of taking a practice CAT the day before my real one for the benefit of getting in one more CAT?

Omega

Hi Omega,

Taking a full-length CAT in the final few days before your real GMAT is NOT a good idea. (and taking a CAT the day before your GMAT is a really BAD idea). The process of going through a realistic CAT is a draining experience and you certainly don't want to burn all that energy so close to your real GMAT Test Date. You'd be better served doing some light review and taking it easy.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

Expert Post
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
User avatar
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 11063
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
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New post 06 Aug 2015, 23:27
The Top 7 Things About the GMAT That Actually Work in Your FAVOR

Anxiety is a big factor in how many Test Takers deal with the Official GMAT. It’s natural to be a bit ‘on edge’ while taking the GMAT, but it’s far better to think of it as being ‘excited’ – when used correctly, all of that adrenaline and energy can be funneled into your work.

When you learn to ‘see’ the GMAT in a different way, you can very easily improve your performance. With that end goal in mind, here are 7 aspects to the GMAT that actually work in your FAVOR:

1) No one question will ever ‘kill’ your score if you get it wrong, so try not to get overly emotional about a prompt (especially one that you’ve already dealt with and has passed).

2) In that same way, you can get the first question wrong in both the Quant and Verbal sections and still score 800, so you don’t have to be so ‘wound up’ about that first prompt. It’s clearly better for you to get those questions correct than not, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.

3) Most GMAT questions don’t require that much work to solve. Yes, there are some exceptions…. And you will have to read, take notes, and do some basic calculations (or logically ‘link’ ideas in Verbal)… (but what do you think you’re going to do in Business School?)

4) You can see your scores, then immediately cancel them if you’re not happy (and no one will ever know that you even took the GMAT).

5) With GMAC’s new ‘wait period’, you can retest in just 16 days (assuming that you’re not on your 5th attempt in a rolling-year period).

6) The actual worst-case scenario is that you have to apply for a later Round or the next application year. You’re never truly out of contention for Business School.

7) The GMAT is a predictable, standardized Test, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. Thus, whatever ‘issues’ you might be facing right now, you can learn to properly deal with them – you just might need the right help to learn how.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

Expert Post
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
User avatar
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 09 Aug 2015, 23:19
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Switch to the GRE?
Hi Rich,
I realized today that all of my schools accept the GRE in the application. I plan on taking a diagnostic GRE tomorrow to see if it is worth the switch from the GMAT.

How do you switch gears from studying for the GMAT to the GRE? What information should I continue to use/study? I have read some negative articles about why you should take the GMAT and not the GRE. But would it be better for me to score well [hopefully] on the GRE instead of poorly on the GMAT? Any advice on how to do this in three weeks?

Alfa

Hi Alfa,

While many aspects of the GMAT criss-cross with the GRE, the GRE has enough elements of its own that would require some serious study time. One of the most significant differences between these 2 tests is that the GRE puts a bigger emphasis on one's vocabulary (and knowing how words relate to other words).

You should absolutely take a free GRE practice test for comparison purposes. It's certainly possible that your skill set makes the GRE the "better" option for you. That having been said, if you're not a great GMAT test taker yet, you probably aren't a great GRE test taker right now either. Regardless of which test you take, you're probably going to need to push back your test date and study some more.

Before you radically change any of your plans, let's see how the GRE practice test goes. Even though the scoring ranges are different, it's easy enough to align your performances on the 2 exams, so you can learn if you're truly "better" at one of them.

Non-Business Major Applicant
Hello Rich,

Throughout college I thought I was going to be a doctor so I went through the whole pre-med biology major and MCAT business. I ended up joining a start up company I co-founded and it opened up doors I never imagined and fell in love with it all.

Now, what advice would you offer to someone who does not know a lot about the GMAT or applying to MBA programs. Since I was a bio major I did not take any business classes. Is this something I should look into doing?

Charlie

Hi Charlie,

The fact that you didn't earn an undergrad degree in some form of Business is not necessarily going to hurt your application, although you will have to show the Admissions officers that you are a worthy applicant (which is something that every applicant has to do). Most schools will require that you take certain classes before you attend the MBA program though (through a summer school or extension program), which typically include Calculus and Statistics. You'll be able to get the specifics from whatever schools you're interested in.

Running out of time on the last question
Rich,

On the last question in a section, is there a penalty for choosing an option but not clicking the confirm button?

Echo

Hi Echo,

If you've bubbled a circle, but haven't clicked the submit/confirm buttons, then that answer will still register as your answer (whether it's correct or incorrect). In this situation, there is no wrong answer penalty. If you HAVEN'T bubbled a circle by the time the clock runs out, then that question will be marked as incorrect AND will be penalized (since you didn't answer it). This result is worse than a standard "wrong" answer because it comes with an additional penalty.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Posts: 11063
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
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New post 13 Aug 2015, 23:02
Anatomy of a Tough OG Graphing Question

Co-ordinate Geometry (often referred to as ‘graphing’) is a rare subject in the Quant section of the GMAT. On Test Day, you’ll likely see just 1 or 2 graphing questions in total, so that subject is not a big contributor to your overall score. While certain graphing questions can be remarkably easy to solve, others can be rather ‘layered’ and will require some time and effort on your part.

Thankfully, graphing questions always revolve around the same handful of ‘math rules’; if you know your graphing rules, then you should be able to deal with whatever variations the GMAT throws at you.

Consider the following graphing question (it appears in the OG13, GMAT2015 and GMAT2016 books):

OG13, GMAT2015 - Page 286, #129
GMAT2016 - Page 290, #144
The question is also discussed here: in-the-xy-plane-region-r-consists-of-all-the-points-x-y-102233.html

How did you handle it? How did you organize your work? How long did it take to solve?

If you haven’t attempted it yet, and you’d like a few ‘hints’, then I’ve provided some notes (they appear below the link which shows how you can approach the prompt using the EMPOWERgmat tactic TEST IT).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkaW7HnaM24

1) When graphing lines, it often helps to rewrite any equations you’ve been given in slope-intercept format (Y = MX + B).
2) Once you have an equation, graphing individual points can (and often should) be done so that you can physically ‘see’ what the line looks like. Graphing an inequality just means that you have to consider additional points that are NOT on the line.
3) When TESTing VALUES and dealing with inequalities, it often helps to consider how ‘big’ or how ‘small’ your values can get.

You may have spent some significant time working on this question (and that’s okay during practice), but how much of that time was spent doing actual WORK and how much of that time was spent deciding what to do (and staring at the screen or your notes)?

Remember that GMAT Quant questions are almost always based on rules that you already know, but will sometimes be presented in a way that you’re not used to thinking about. Staring at the screen is never the answer – putting pen to pad, taking notes, working through ideas, etc. is part of what it takes to score at a high level. Learning to work efficiently is the other part. Thankfully, we can show you how to do both.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

Expert Post
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 11063
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
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New post 16 Aug 2015, 23:07
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Quantity Study vs. Quality Study
Hi Rich,

I have been studying about 5 hours a day including weekends. Regardless of how much I practice I still forget concepts or find myself making silly mistakes because of the pressure for time.

I recently took a practice test and I scored so low that I immediately got discouraged and was positive I would not be able to pull through with even a decent score. I was not able to finish the test and left many questions blank.

After seeing that horrid score I have never felt so disheartened to go on. What am I supposed to do?

Bravo

Hi Bravo,

First off, studying 5 hours every day is probably too much. You might be too focused on doing ‘lots’ of studying instead of doing high-quality studying. Some people are not "natural" Test Takers, so it takes more time for them to train properly – that means more days (NOT more hours per day).

I suggest that you do a thorough review of this CAT and take a good look at the questions that you’re getting wrong and WHY you’re getting them wrong. If you're making LOTS of silly/little mistakes, then it shouldn't take too much effort to get those points back. You'll have to change the way that you do things, work on your organization/memory and improve your pacing, but the GMAT is a standardized test, so you CAN train in the best ways to beat it.


Stuck at V34
Rich,

I have been preparing for the GMAT for 2 months. Before I started my preparation, I gave GMAT Prep1 and scored 660. The practice test indicated that I needed to work on Verbal more than Quant. So I have been focusing all my time and energy on the verbal section. I have completed the OG & OG Supplement for SC & CR. I have also timed all questions while solving questions.

I have given 3 mocks to date and have been getting the exact same score on the verbal as well as the quant section. For quant I understand that since I have not been preparing, the score would tend to remain the same. However in the verbal section I expected my score to increase but it is stuck at 34 and I am at a loss of ideas as to how to improve.

I am really demotivated. Please help.

Delta

Hi Delta,

Many self-studiers do well on practice sets, quizzes, etc. but don't see huge improvement on CATs. The reason tends to be because they tend to perform differently "psychologically" under the overall timed conditions of a full CAT - meaning that you might "forget your training" and revert back to the way you've always done things.

With a Verbal 34, you're picking up most of the points that you're supposed to be getting and you likely don't have a "weak spot" per se. So the question is what ARE you getting wrong (and WHY are you getting those questions wrong)? At this level, while you still might be making some silly/little mistakes, most of the questions that you get wrong will likely be because of rarer versions of standard grammar rules, some idiom/usage issues and some Out Of Focus answers in CR and RC. If you can define those details, then you should be able to train to face them again.

You're not that far from 700+, but you might have to invest in some new study materials to teach you the content and tactics that you don’t currently know.


How One Section Effects Another
Dear Rich,

A friend of mine took the GRE and scored 165 at quant but a bad score at verbal. He started the test with the verbal section and then continued to the quant. Can an individual's bad performance on verbal affect the level of difficulty of the quant section? Is that why he scored so high on quant?

Foxtrot

Hi Foxtrot,

Verbal sections on the GRE and GMAT are independent of the Quant sections, and vice-versa. So NO - doing poorly on the Verbal section will NOT affect the Quant section (and vice-versa).

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 20 Aug 2015, 23:08
One of the Toughest Choices You Will Have to Face On Test Day

To begin this article, I have to give you some bad news – you’re probably NOT going to get an 800 on the GMAT. Shocking news, I know – but if we pull together, you should be able to survive the horror of that realization. Now, it’s important that you read those prior two sentences as the ‘joke’ that it’s intended to be. Your goal should NOT be to get an 800 (to be fair, very few people hit that mark each year – only about 1 in every 10,000 Test Takers can actually do it). Your actual goal SHOULD be to score at a level that will help make you an attractive applicant to the Business Schools that you plan to apply to.

Assuming that you have the proper overall perspective on that issue, we can now move on to the actual ‘tough choice’ that you’ll face while taking the GMAT:

One of the Aspects of Maximizing Your Performance
You MUST prioritize your performance on the OVERALL Quant and Verbal sections ahead of your performance on any one question in the Quant and Verbal sections.

In real simple terms, this means “don’t get hung up on any really hard, layered or weird prompts and waste so much time that you end up cannibalizing your 75 minutes and missing out on LOTS of other points as a result.”

You Can See It In Your Own Performance
Depending on how long you’ve studied, you’ve likely come across a certain number of questions during your practice CATs that you would describe as ‘hard’, ‘really hard’ or ‘I-had-no-freaking-idea-how-to-deal-with-it hard.’ Take a good look at any of the CATs that you’ve taken and locate any questions that would fit that description… How much time did you spend on EACH of those questions...?

If it was a Quant question, then did you spend MORE than 3 minutes on it? And how many times did you end up spending more than 3 minutes on a question in that section? Did you then have to rush through a bunch of questions just to finish on time? Did you hit Q49+ or did you come up short?

If it was a CR question, then did you end up spending more than 2.5 minutes on it? If it was an SC, then did you end up spending more than 1.5 minutes on it? How many total CRs and SCs fit that description? Did you have to rush through a bunch of questions just to finish on time? Did you hit V40+ or did you come up short?

Next, take a good look at the questions that you had to rush through. How many of them COULD you have gotten correct IF you just had a little more time…?

Now, Put it All Together
So now we’re finally down to it – THE tough choice you have to make – are you comfortable with the idea that you need to ‘sacrifice’ a really hard question (or a few of them) so that you can have enough time to answer those other questions? It’s a tough reality to face, but you seemed comfortable earlier with the idea that you weren’t going to score 800, so it shouldn’t be THAT hard of a concept to digest.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 24 Aug 2015, 00:17
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Standard Deviation on the GMAT
Dear Rich,

I was not a business major in college, so I never took any stats classes. How well do I need to know standard deviation for the GMAT?

Golf

Dear Golf,

Standard Deviation is a subject that the GMAT barely tests. You will never have to use the Standard Deviation formula on the GMAT, but the exam will test your basic understanding of what SD is (it's essentially how "spread out" a group of numbers is). Most Test Takers see just 1 Standard Deviation question on Test Day, so it's not a big point gainer/loser. The broader category of statistics will be tested though; this includes mean, medium, mode and range, so be sure that you're clear on the definition of these terms and how to do the necessary math to solve for them.


Re-occurring Headaches during CATs
Hi Rich,

I've taken the GMAT twice now, and each time I get a dull/massive headache in the back part of my head during the middle of quant and lasts through the remainder of the exam. It severely affects my ability to think or even decipher what I'm reading. Do you have any recommendations to prevent this from happening (e.g. energy drink break? advil? chocolate?)

Hotel

Dear Hotel,

Assuming that you don't have some genetic predisposition to headaches, you're describing a physical problem with how you're taking the test (which is an area of prep that most people don't consider). The next time you take a test, whether a practice CAT or the real GMAT, think about the following:

1) How close are you to the computer screen? The closer you get, the more likely you'll experience headaches, fatigue, etc.
2) How long do you stare at the screen before you turn to take notes on your pad? The longer you're looking at the screen, the more likely you'll experience those symptoms.
3) How is your posture? Slouching negatively affects performance in a number of ways and could contribute to what you’re experiencing.

This should get you started on the road to fixing this problem. The EMPOWERgmat Course has a number of Modules devoted to the Physical and Psychological Tactics necessary to crush the GMAT, if you find that you want to learn about other ways to improve your performance.


Increasing Frequency of CATs
Hey Rich,

I have hit a point in my studies where my cat scores are all in the low 600s, but I cannot seem to make the leap up to my goal (720+). I’m planning to take 2 cats per week for extra practice. Do you have any other suggestions?

Juliet

Hi Juliet,

As a general rule, the bulk of your time should be spent doing practicing problems, review, etc. You should plan to take 1 CAT/week, but taking more than that is usually not helpful. A CAT is just a measuring device - it gives you an approximate score and points out your "weak" spots, but it DOESN'T make you a better Test Taker.

If you're stuck at a particular scoring range, then you have hit your "ceiling", meaning that you have gotten to this level doing things "your way." To raise your score, you're going to have to learn some new tactics and change the way you go about taking this test. You might consider investing in a Prep Course or a tutor.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 28 Aug 2015, 10:34
The One Thing That COULD Actually Kill Your Score During The Verbal Section

Many GMAT Test Takers view the percentiles (that are associated with the Quant and Verbal sections of the Test) with some confusion. Seeing that a Q40 is about the 50th percentile in the Quant section while a V40 is about the 90th percentile in the Verbal section will lead most readers to question why those results are what they are.

The answer is relatively simple though – the broader pool of Test Takers is stronger at Quant than they are at Verbal. However, when you put all of those strong ‘Quant thinkers’ together, and order their results using percentiles, a Q40 just does not represent as strong of a performance (relative to everyone else’s performances in Quant) as a V40 does (relative to everyone else’s performances Verbal).

Whether you realize it or not, the Verbal section of the GMAT is just as predictable and standardized as the Quant section is, so you CAN train to score at a high level. However, there IS one specific thing that COULD kill your score as you’re working through the Verbal section on Test Day: the wrong attitude.

Having the proper Test-taking “attitude” is essential to scoring at a high level on the GMAT. The GMAT is going to take you the better part of 4 hours to complete, regardless of how you score. Knowing that you’re going to be in that Computer Lab for such a long period of time, you should demand excellence of yourself for the ENTIRE length of the Test. Since the Verbal section is the final 75 minutes of Test Day, fatigue can play a big factor in your performance and your attitude though. That one specific challenge that could kill you will almost certainly occur during the Verbal section.

You will, at some point, think to yourself… “I JUST WANT THIS TEST TO BE OVER!!!” The moment that thought crosses your mind is the moment that you are about to get killed.

To score at the coveted 700+ level overall, you MUST earn a relatively high Verbal score. If your ‘priorities’ shift from ‘be strategic, take the proper notes, work hard, get the correct answer in an efficient fashion, etc.’ to ‘I just want this Test to be over – get me out of here…’, then you’ll probably be amazed at how quickly your “new goal” will be accomplished. Of course, you’ll end up sacrificing your original goal (to score at a high level; the one that you’ve been working months to accomplish), but that’s the trade-off when you allow yourself to think in that way.

When/if that thought occurs, you should stop what you’re doing, sit back in your chair, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Don’t worry about the 10 seconds that this will take – it’s time well spent to self-correct your mindset. Top MBA thinkers are NOT allowed to give up after three and a half hours of work. They’re not allowed to say ‘I just want this job to be over.” To get an invite to your first-choice Business School (and the job and career that follow), there are many ‘steps’ involved - successfully working through the FULL GMAT (from beginning to end) is one of them. Think about these ideas as you work through your practice CATs. Build up your proper response ‘skills’ for when that negative thought crosses your mind during the Verbal section (or better yet, work to eliminate it entirely). There are plenty of points to be had during the Verbal section, but you have to stay active, and in the right mindset, to get those points – YOUR points.

GMAT Assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 30 Aug 2015, 23:46
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Q47 With Many Wrong Answers
Hi Rich,

I gave my GMAT prep 1 today. Got a score of 670 (Q47, V35)

I had 14 wrong answers in quant out of 37 but the score is "47(73%)". I don't understand how I could score 47 with so many wrong answers. Can you please clarify?

Kilo

Hi Kilo,

The real GMAT includes questions that are "experimental", meaning that they DO NOT COUNT. It's possible that you got many of those experimental questions wrong and got the questions that "counted" correct – including a number of other factors that are used to calculate your score in the Official Algorithm. Unfortunately, it's not likely that you'll end up in that exact same situation again on Test Day, so to score at a high level, it's important to continue working, define the silly/little mistakes that you’re making and ‘fix’ them.


Questions on Approaching CR Prompts
Dear Rich,

The typical way how I solve a CR question is just to read the question and the stimulus and then answer the question. I usually get 5 to 6 out of 10 questions correct (with equal number of easy medium and difficult questions). Is my method advisable or should I draw a map for every stimulus and classify each piece of information and then find out the missing assumption before attempting to answer the question? How can I solve a CR question in less than 1:45 min?

Lima

Hi Lima,

CR prompts include a variety of question types (assumption, inference, weaken, flaw, etc.), so you need to understand the differences (as well as the similarities) so that you can adjust your approach accordingly. You’re likely to answer more CR questions correctly if you include a certain amount of note-taking. The tough part is that by the time you start the Verbal section of the GMAT, you're going to be tired and you won't want to take notes. You have to decide what you want MORE though: a high GMAT score or to not take notes.

The EMPOWERgmat course uses a tactic called the CR Box, which is a way to organize your information and quickly deduce what the correct answer needs to say.

As an aside, the general pacing rule is 2 minutes per CR question ON AVERAGE; sometimes you'll spend more time than that, sometimes less.


The Thin Line Between 710 and 740
Hi Rich,

I have my Gmat in 3 weeks and it has been a long battle for me. I started with 530 in my first GMAT and currently I am scoring 700-710 on each mock test. Can you please help me and advise me on what should I do for the next 20 days. First - how not to lose the sight of 710 and second - how can I improve further so that I can score 740? Is it all luck and circumstance that can lead to 740 from 710 or is there more to it? I have taken lot of time improving my weak areas. On a given day, I could solve the most difficult questions and sometimes get easy ones wrong too.

Mike

Hi Mike,

As odd as it may seem, there isn't much of a difference (in performance) between a 710 and a 740; for the highest scores though, you have to be great in both the Quant and Verbal sections. It ultimately comes down to silly mistakes, little details and the precision in your work. Take a look at your last few CATs and analyze every question that you got wrong. How many came down to silly mistakes? How many came down to a lack of understanding the math/verbal rules? How many came down to the difficulty level of the question? Some of those errors can be fixed, others can't. Fix the things that you can fix and your score should go up.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 04 Sep 2015, 00:13
The Economics of How You Choose to Prepare For (and Take) the GMAT

GMATers vary in their perspectives on the amount of money that they ‘think’ they should spend on the GMAT. If we ignore the broader costs (time, energy, the money spent on crafting and sending out applications, ultimately attending Business School etc.), then we can focus on the immediate issue – how much should you plan to spend on YOUR individual GMAT training and Test-taking?

The Cost to Take
Assuming that you do end up taking the Official GMAT, then that’s going to be $250 right there. In theory, you could schedule the Test and then ask for a refund (as long as you ask at least 7 full days in advance), but that refund is just a partial refund (currently $80), so you’re going to end up spending some significant money the moment you schedule that Official Test appointment

The Costs to Retake
Now, imagine that you’ve tried to save some money on your training materials, and you’ve been working with free resources (or relatively cheap ones – some used books, for example)… If you take the GMAT and don’t end up with a score that makes you happy, then you can always retake the GMAT. GMAC makes it REALLY easy to do so – all you have to do is wait 16 days and spend another $250. You also have the freedom to take the GMAT up to 5 times in one rolling-year period…. to the tune of 5 x $250 = $1,250.

Investing to Save Money, Time and Effort
If you ‘rush in’ to take the GMAT (especially when you are NOT scoring close enough to your goal score during practice to make that result realistic), then you’re almost certain to take the GMAT again (and possibly multiple times). Considering how quickly that dollar investment will escalate, it’s worth questioning WHY you would choose to spend so little money on your training materials….

Would spending an extra $200-$300 be worth the investment to keep from having to take the GMAT over-and-over again, study repeatedly and repay the Test Fee? This isn’t a trick question. The answer is fairly obvious: YES - both your GMAT score and your future ARE worth that investment. Beyond the obvious dollar-savings, there’s also the broader savings in time, energy and state-of-mind. With a strong, competitive GMAT score, you can comfortably apply to more Schools (and higher ‘ranked’ ones) and increase your chances at receiving a Scholarship or other financial assistance.

While there are many GMAT resources that are ‘high-priced’, there are plenty of high-quality options that are not so pricey. One of the great aspects about this industry is that most companies offer free materials so that you can use to ‘test out’ a product before you invest in it. To maximize YOUR potential on the GMAT, and go about this whole process without spending way too much money, you should investigate the various options and choose whichever one(s) best match your personality, timeline and budget.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 06 Sep 2015, 23:04
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Practice Resources and Proper Computer-Based Practice
Hi Rich,

Can you please suggest whether it is a good idea to buy the 404 Questions on the GMAT Prep Question Pack 1? Is it okay to practice from these? Should they be saved for the last few days of preparation? I have read in a few debriefs that this Question Pack has some questions which are very much representative of the real GMAT.

November

Hi November,

As far as the SOURCE of your practice material is concerned, I absolutely agree that using Official GMAC practice problems must be a part of everyone's study plan. However, some self-studiers use far too many pencil-and-paper sources to study and are NOT properly trained to handle those same types of questions when they appear on a computer. Thus, you have to make sure that you get in enough computer-based practice, so you're used to the wear-and-tear that comes from taking a 4-hour exam on a computer.


Losing Focus During the Verbal Section
Dear Rich,

I’ve taken three practice tests so far, and my scores are 550, 490 and 450. I am increasing my score on the math every time but the verbal is really hard for me. I get tired towards the end and I can't put in the same focus. People are telling me that I need to focus on theory and basic concepts for the verbal section, but are there any other techniques I can use?

I believe part of my verbal trouble with why I can't focus on the reading section is because it’s the last one and I am tired mentally. So on my test, any free time that I had I just used it all up to rest and take a break mentally like drifting off and stuff.

Oscar,

Hi Oscar,

Based on what you've described, you're going to have to change how you "view" the Test. Moving forward, you can't afford to "drift" (as you've described). Taking the two 8-minute breaks during a CAT (and on the GMAT) is a good idea, but you’re not supposed to let your mind drift during those breaks. While 8 minutes is not a lot of time, it is enough time for a brief break (NOT for ‘drifting’), a quick drink/snack and some physical exercise – all of those factors can improve your focus, especially later on during the Verbal section.

Fixing Lots of Issues All at Once
Rich,

I have taken the real GMAT twice, and both the times I had put in a lot of effort. Before appearing for the test the second time I had given many mocks and scored around 700, but I scored a 590 on my second attempt.

The following are the things that I think affect my performance on the real thing: being very anxious, silly mistakes, re-reading or redoing SC and CR problems just to be doubly sure, second guessing my answers in verbal, being very excited about nearing the end of the exam halfway towards the verbal session and rushing just so I could be done

What can I do to fix these problems?

Papa

Hi Papa,

You're asking about something that requires a really ‘personalized’ answer (because it depends so much on the individual). There is one significant thing that you CAN do though, and it will likely help you to solve most of your problems:

Write EVERYTHING down, on the pad, every time you solve a problem. It'll help to fix your organization, silly mistakes, pacing, nervousness, the "need" to double-check everything, etc. By consistently putting in the effort to do proper documented work, the ‘process’ itself should ‘take over’ and everything should improve.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

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Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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New post 10 Sep 2015, 23:04
5 Factors to Consider About the Business Schools You Plan to Apply to

Over the years, I’ve seen many GMATers define their Business School plans in the following (overly-simplified) way: “I plan to apply to Top15 Schools...” Unfortunately, that is a remarkably VAGUE plan. While it’s understandable that a Program’s reputation and ‘ranking’ are important, it’s possible (and even likely) that there are OTHER more-important factors to consider when applying to Business School.

1) Is there a particular company that you want to work for or industry that you want to work in? Certain degrees (and even certain specific Programs) are ‘feeders’ into particular industries.

This has more to do with YOUR specific career goals than anything else. Earning an MBA requires a significant investment of time, money and energy on your part. If you’re not clear about why you want the MBA and what you plan to do with it, then you will likely not know whether you’re actually going for the best MBA for you or not.

2) Do you plan to live and work in a particular part of the world? Certain degrees have more alumni-network ‘access’ and value in certain areas.

While the inter-connectivity created by the Internet means that you’ll never truly be isolated in your business dealings, there’s still something to be said for the value of localized alumni contacts and in-person dealings. An MBA from a well-established Program will likely carry more influence in a closer geographic setting than a location that is farther away.

3) Do you want to go to School full-time or part-time?

This might seem fairly obvious, since you’ll have to decide whether you want to work while you’re in School or not. However, the type of Program can also be a big factor in admissions acceptance rates and how well your application may be received.

4) Are you willing to relocate (potentially a great distance)? Would you be comfortable with a Program that was primarily online?

Uprooting your entire existence (and potentially that of family members) would be a rather large undertaking. There might be a Program that is more geographically “friendly” (re: physically closer) to your current living situation. With a Program that is primarily online, the convenience of attending that Program could out-weigh whatever ‘networking’ you might miss out on.

5) Will Scholarship possibilities be a factor? Would you consider a ‘lower-ranked’ Program if it offered a larger Scholarship possibility?

The cost of an MBA from many institutions can run well into the low 6-figure price range. Scholarships of any type (either full OR partial) can help make it far easier to deal with the economics of attending School. To that end, receiving a larger Scholarship for one School might be preferable to receiving no Scholarship from a more well-known one.


It’s okay if you don’t have answers to any of these questions just yet. However, to maximize the value of your future MBA, you will have to do the necessary research and planning. Of course, your GMAT score will factor in a great deal on all of these decisions, but you probably already knew that.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 13 Sep 2015, 23:20
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Same Score on All 3 GMATs
Hi Rich,

I've taken the GMAT for the third time, and I really don't know how I managed to do this - but in all 3 tests I got exactly the same score – 640.

I feel hopeless and frustrated and really don't know what to do next. I want to apply into one of the top 10 business schools, and I know that 640 won't do it… Any advice would be appreciated.

Romeo

Hi Romeo,

To start, a 640 is a solid score, so you shouldn't get too down on yourself. That score might be enough to get you into a Top-10 School, even though it would be at the lower end of the range for any of those Schools.

While earning the same overall score on all 3 of your Tests is not too common, your general situation (repeatedly earning similar Scores) is more common than you might realize. You’re clearly ‘seeing’ (and responding to) the Official GMAT in the same general ways and that includes the little mistakes that you’re making (and it’s costing you some points). To earn a significantly higher score, you’re going to have to learn some new tactics and put in the necessary time to master them – which will probably require that you invest in some new study materials.

Taking the 1st CAT Before Studying
Rich,

Would it be a good idea to try the first GMATPrep test before even studying?

Tango

Hi Tango,

Yes, we recommend that every student take that first CAT early on in their studies. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little studying beforehand though, to familiarize yourself with the general content and question types, but you shouldn’t wait too long to take that first CAT. The results of that Test will give you some important information on your personal strengths and weaknesses, and provide a basis for comparison (for when you take any future CATs).

Fatigue During the Final Days
Hello Rich,

I am down to my last 10 days before my GMAT and I am studying about 8 hours daily but my accuracy has gone down, especially in the last 2 days. I am also getting really tired.

Can you please suggest what should I do to get rid of the tiredness. I am sleeping normal 7-8 hours a day. How many questions or how much time should I dedicate to my studies in the last 10 days so that I don't get stressed on test day. I have been scoring really good in the past 5 tests (all from 700-740 range) and don't want to lose my edge in the last days.

Victor

Hi Victor,

Based on what you're describing, it sounds like you're running a risk of "burning out." I've never asked anyone to study for 8 hours a day; it sounds like you're doing THAT repeatedly. You're scoring at a high level right now, so ease back a bit on your studies and try to relax a bit. We recommend that all Test Takers take 1 day off per week. No CATs, no studying, no review. Go do whatever you do for fun.

For fatigue, take a look at your diet (especially what you snack on) and try to get in a bit of light exercise. Even if it's just a long walk, you'll likely find that activity to be beneficial. While it might be tempting to ‘cram’, you should avoid that during the last week. You can continue to study and review, but the work should be light.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 17 Sep 2015, 23:07
5 Important Factors in Planning Out Your GMAT Studies

September is the time of year when many people decide that an MBA is a degree that they would like to have. Unfortunately, they often rush head-first into the overall process of applying for that coveted MBA (including rushing into their GMAT studies) without properly researching, and planning out, the overall process. With impending application deadlines, those future applicants don’t quite realize the amount of work that will be required to score at a high level on the GMAT. That lack of forethought often keeps those Test Takers from achieving their short-term goals – however, with just a bit of planning, you can avoid those same pitfalls.

1 - Know your timeline, deadlines and requirements

Schools publish their application deadlines, so make sure that you know exactly what they are. You’ll need to put in a lot of effort to properly assemble each application that you send out – so you have to account for all of that time and effort – in addition to the MASSIVE amount of time and effort that you’ll spend studying for the GMAT (and conducting the rest of your day-to-day life).

2 - Studying for the GMAT will probably take longer than you want it to

Many Test Takers spend 3 months (or more) to hit their respective “peak” scores. Assuming that you want to score at a high level, you’re likely going to need that amount of time too. To perform at the 700+ level, you really cannot ‘cut corners.’ The GMAT is remarkably good at giving you the score that you earn, so you have to put in the necessary time and effort to build the necessary skills and EARN that high score.

3 - Your GMAT studies will likely require more than just a few books

The Official GMAC books are great sources for practice questions and the main OG is arguably a ‘must have’ during your studies. However, those books are not built to teach you Tactics, pattern-matching skills or any of the ‘secrets’ to the Test. In general, books tend to be limited in what they can teach you – they’re often written in an overly technical way, and with a ‘bias’ that might not necessarily match your personality or skills. A GMAT Course (either Guided Self-Study or instructor-led) will probably be required. Online Forums also provide a great resource to ask questions, learn new ways of ‘seeing’ GMAT questions and receive advice.

4 – Full-length CATs, taken at regular intervals, are an essential part of the study process.

There is NO substitute for taking FULL CATs (including all sections) under realistic and test-like conditions. It’s important to take a CAT early on in your studies – doing so helps to define your personal strengths and weaknesses and provides a basis for comparison (for when you take future CATs). Taking CATs at regular intervals (1 CAT every 1-2 weeks) is also something that you should plan for (as opposed to 'cramming' lots of CATs into a short period of time - which is almost never beneficial).

5 – You will almost certainly get ‘stuck’ at a particular point in your studies. Do NOT wait too long to ask for help.

When it comes to improving your scores, there is no ‘fast’ way to do it. Skills take time to develop. Bad habits take time to be ‘fixed.’ Both skill development and the 'fixing' of bad habits can be made easier if you're using the proper study resources, but you will still need to invest the proper amount of time. If you want to raise your score 100+ points, then it’s going to take more than 1 week (probably a lot more), so waiting until the last days before your Official GMAT to ask for help is a bad choice.

The GMAT is a predictable, standardized Test, so you CAN train to score at a high level. To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 20 Sep 2015, 23:03
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Question About Overall Percentile
Hi Rich,

I’m so excited and wanted to thank you for all of your help. I just took the GMAT today and got a 710. Is this a mistake though? I got a 47 on the quant (70the percentile) and a 40 on the verbal (90th percentile), but how does this add up to a 710 (92nd percentile) overall?

Whiskey

Hi Whiskey,

Congratulations on your score result; I’m glad that we could help. A 710 is a fantastic score (and there's no mistake with your score report). Each section on the GMAT has it's own percentile. Percentiles are a measure of how you performed relative to how other Test Takers performed; Scaled Scores are the scores that matter though, as they measure how well you performed against the TEST. While each individual section had its own percentile, your OVERALL performance was better relative to Test Takers than either of your individual results.

Taking Daily CATs is NOT a Good Idea
Rich,

I took my first gmat prep three weeks ago and got a 640 (V31, Q47) and took the second test today and got 700 (V37,Q49). My question is should I keep taking a test everyday to keep my momentum and stamina levels up. I am really hoping to stay at the 700 level leading into test day in two weeks.

Yankee

Hi Yankee,

Taking a CAT every day is NOT a good idea. You'd be better served sticking to your normal practice routine for the next 2 weeks and scheduling in 2 more CATs TOTAL.

Some people go "CAT crazy", take too many CATs in a short period of time, and end up “burning out” before their actual GMATs. We want to avoid that.

Other than the 2 full-length CATs, your practice should NOT be excessive because you're already scoring at a high level. Since you're at this level, maintaining it shouldn't be hard; the key now is to NOT burn out before your real GMAT.

When To Focus on Timing
Dear Rich,

I have taken GMAT previously 2 years back and got a 560 but I plan to take it again. I have started preparing and it’s been a total of 2 weeks. At this stage is it recommended to start timing myself or should I focus on grasping the content right now.

Zulu

Hi Zulu,

Right now, you should be working on learning the content and tactics necessary to crush the GMAT. Pacing is something that will naturally improve over time (and is something you'll factor in down the line). For example, for those students who plan to study for 3+ months, pacing shouldn’t be a concern until 6-8 weeks into the process. Knowledge and familiarity come first.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Rich Cohen

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www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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New post 24 Sep 2015, 23:54
Anatomy of a Quant Question: There’s More Than 1 Way to the Answer

One of the great aspects of most of the GMAT Quant questions that you’ll face on Test Day is that they can be approached in more than one way. You can always take a technical approach, but often there is a faster strategic option (one that might require that you get away from the long-winded ‘math’, use the answer choices to your advantage, estimate a solution or even just think logically about the situation). The goal on any Quant question on Test Day is always two-fold:

1 - Get the question correct, if possible.
2 - Answer the question efficiently, without spending too much time on it (so that you have enough time to get to the other questions in the section).

It’s that second ‘piece’ that most Test Takers don’t properly train for. If the approach that you take is the “long way” to get to the answer, then you might find it difficult to finish the section on time and it might be difficult to hit your goal score.

Consider the following Quant question, which involves a fairly standard Algebra concept: a two-variable “system”….

If Jake loses 8 pounds, he will weigh twice as much as his sister. Together they now weigh 278 pounds. What is Jake’s present weight, in pounds?

A – 131
B – 135
C – 139
D – 147
E – 188



Most Test Takers can answer the question without too much trouble, but how much TIME does it take you to answer it? Here are several different ways to approach the question:

1 - Standard Algebra with 2 Variables

There are clearly 2 variables, so we can set up a system of equations…

J = Jake’s present weight
S = his sister’s present weight

(J – 8) = 2(S)
J + S = 278

Since the question asks us for the value of J, we can solve using substitution…

S = 278 – J

(J – 8) = 2(278 – J)
J = 556 – 2J + 8
3J = 564
J = 188

There’s nothing inherently ‘wrong’ with this approach, but it’s arguably the ‘longest’ of the various options.

2 - Standard Algebra with 1 Variable

Jake’s present weight = J

If Jake loses 8 pounds, then he’ll weigh twice his sister’s weight….

Sister’s present weight = (J – 8)/2

Since they weigh a total of 278 pounds….

J + (J – 8)/2 = 278

2J + (J – 8) = 556
3J – 8 = 556
3J = 564
J = 188

This approach, while ‘shorter’ (from a ‘math step’ standpoint), involves a slightly more complex set-up at the beginning.

3 – TEST THE ANSWERS

Let’s start with Answer D….

IF…Jake’s present weight is 147 pounds…and after losing 8 pounds, he will weigh twice as much as his sister….

147 – 8 = 139

139/2 = 69.5

So under these conditions, Jake weighs 147 pounds and his sister weighs 69.5 pounds. That is a total of 147 + 69.5 = 216.5 pounds.

The prompt states that their combined weight is SUPPOSED to be 278 pounds. Since this total is 216.5 pounds, Jake and his sister clearly weigh TOO LITTLE. We need them to both weigh MORE and there’s only one answer that fits…J = 188

This approach has the benefit of giving us real numbers to work with (which, for many Test Takers, is preferable to setting up equations and doing lots of algebra).

4 - Logic

We’re told that the total weight of Jake and his sister = 278 pounds. We’re also told that IF Jake LOST 8 pounds, then he would weight TWICE as much as his sister…

This means that Jake weighs MORE than twice his sister RIGHT NOW. Since the total is 278 pounds, Jake’s weight MUST make up MOST of that total weight (a lot more than half). There’s only one answer that logically fits (2 answers are LESS than half, 1 answer is EXACTLY half and 1 answer is just BARELY MORE than half)… J = 188

This approach takes advantage of the ‘spread’ of the answer choices and the inherent rules behind how the numbers relate to one another. It requires a higher level of attention-to-detail, but less work overall.

The ‘takeaway’ from all of this: just because you get a question correct does not mean that you know everything there is to know about solving it. There could very well be a faster/easier approach. To score at higher levels, you need to know more than one way to get to the correct answer. Learning the necessary Tactics, and practicing them, is essential to your success on Test Day. To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
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New post 27 Sep 2015, 23:06
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

RC Passage Subjects on Test Day
Hi Rich,

Not sure if this question even make sense, but just wanted to check. Which RC topic most frequently appears on the actual GMAT? I noticed that I get stumped when I come across RC with topics related to History and Economics. Wanted to see the probability of getting similar RC topics on the exam.

Ah

Hi Ah,

You're going to see 4 RC passages on Test Day. You're likely to see 1 "Business" passage and 1 "Science" passage, but the other 2 passages can come from a variety of categories: Art, Humanities, History, Other Sciences, etc. As you do better and better in the Verbal section, you're more likely to see additional science passages, but the adaptive (and Random) nature of the Test can lead to "tough" passages from other non-science subjects.

The method for dealing with RC passages does NOT change though, regardless of the subject, so make sure that you’re consistent with how you approach the reading and note-taking process. You should be able to answer the questions correctly and pick up the points.

“Digit” Questions in the Quant Section
Rich,

I am getting absolutely pummeled by Digits & Decimals type of questions. I have read through several books, I've done a fair amount of practice problems and I went through Foundations of GMAT math guide, and I seem to not have improved at all. My current proficiency is approx 40% and it looks like there is no improvement in site. How can I get better on these types of questions?

Be

Hi Be,

Digit/Decimal questions are generally built on paying very careful attention to the "details" involved. For example, if a question states that "X is a two digit number", then that means that X can be any integer from 10 to 99, inclusive (NOT 1 to 99). It’s important to take notes and NOT try to ‘juggle’ information in your head. The individual details are not that difficult to understand, but if you're not noting and understanding all of the details, then you'll likely make a silly mistake (and usually 1 or more of the wrong answers is the RESULT of a specific silly mistake that a Test Taker could make).

How to Determine Factors of an Integer
Dear Rich,

I have this problem with factors of numbers.

For example 12 has 3 and 4 as its factors. But I have seen factors of 12 mentioned as 1, 3, 4, and 12.

If "N" is a number, then are 1 and N factors of N?

If "2N" is a number, then are 1, N, 2 and 2N factors of 2N?

Is there any generalization in this?

Se

Hi Se,

By definition, on the GMAT, a "factor" is any positive integer that divides EVENLY into a larger positive integer.

So, the factors of 12 are 1 and 12, 2 and 6, and 3 and 4.

By extension, if "N" is an integer, then both 1 and N are factors of N.

**As an aside, 1 is a factor of EVERY integer**

Working forward, if 2N is an integer then we still need to know a bit more about N (because N might not actually be an integer).

If n = 1/2, then 2n = 1 and the only factor of 1 is 1
If n = 3, then 2n = 6 and the factors are 1, 6, 2 and 3

In questions that ask about factors (or multiples) and involve variables, you'll find that TESTing VALUES is an easy way to figure out the possibilities.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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