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EMPOWERgmat Blog

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GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
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Blog Topics:

PAGE 1:

5/22/15 YOU Are the Cause of Your Pacing Problem
5/25/15 The 3 Biggest Problems With How Most GMATers Take Their CATs
5/29/15 GMAT Assassin's Manifesto
6/01/15 Calculating an Average is NOT the Same as Understanding the Concept of Averages
6/05/15 Speed Matters: The "Math Approach" vs. The "Strategy Approach"

6/06/15 THE NEW OFFICIAL GUIDE 2016 IS HERE (PDF of CONTENT CHANGES IN THE NEW BOOK!!!)
6/12/15 What the New GMAC 2016 Official Guide IS and ISN'T
6/15/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
6/19/15 GMAT Assassin's Manifesto Pt. II: The 90th Percentile Difference - The Do or Die Mindset Shift
6/22/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

6/26/15 The Biggest "Little" Cause of Your Pacing Problem
6/29/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
7/03/15 How to Get the Most Accurate Assessment From Your CATs
7/06/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
7/10/15 The Challenge(s) That You Face in Your GMAT Prep are NOT That Complicated

7/13/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
7/17/15 3 Advantages to Reviewing Questions That You ALREADY Answered Correctly
7/20/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

PAGE 2:

7/24/15 The BIG Payout That Can Come Later From Investing in your GMAT Training NOW
7/27/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
7/31/15 Learn to Destroy Reading Comp and Boost Verbal Pacing
8/03/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
8/07/15 The Top 7 Things About The GMAT That Actually Work in Your FAVOR

8/10/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
8/14/15 Anatomy of a Tough OG Graphing Question
8/17/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
8/21/15 One of the Toughest Choices You Will Have to Face On Test Day
8/24/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

8/28/15 The One Thing That COULD Actually Kill Your Score in the Verbal Section
8/31/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
9/04/15 The Economics of How You Choose to Prepare For (and Take) the GMAT
9/07/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
9/11/15 5 Factors to Consider About the Business Schools You Plan to Apply to

9/14/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
9/18/15 5 Important Factors in Planning Out Your GMAT Studies
9/21/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
9/25/15 Anatomy of a Quant Question: There’s More Than 1 Way to the Answer
9/28/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

PAGE 3:

10/02/15 4 Silly Mistakes That Many GMATers Make on Test Day (And What YOU Should Actually Do Instead)
10/05/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
10/09/15 8 Common, Must-Avoid GMAT Prep Mistakes - Can You Spot Them ALL?
10/12/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
10/16/15 3 Reasons Why it’s Actually Advantageous to Apply For Round 2

10/19/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
10/23/15 Spot the 6 Major Problems With How This GMAT Test Taker Studied
10/26/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
10/30/15 Big Factors in Why Verbal Scores Can Drop on Test Day
11/02/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

11/06/15 Anatomy of an OG Question: How ‘Brute Force’ Can Work Really Fast
11/09/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
11/13/15 Self-Analysis of Your GMAT Performance MUST Include Actual Analysis
11/16/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
11/20/15 When You’re Stuck, Ask For Help (And Try To Do So In A TIMELY Fashion).

11/23/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
11/30/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
12/04/15 Efficient GMAT Test-Taking Comes From Efficient GMAT Studies
12/07/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

PAGE 4:

12/11/15 3 Aspects of Test Day That You Probably Have NOT Trained For
12/14/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
12/18/15 How to Pick Up Those Missing GMAT Points in the Next 4-6 Weeks
12/21/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
12/28/15 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

1/04/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
1/08/16 You CAN Cement Your Future With the Choices that YOU Make in 2016
1/11/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
1/15/16 How to Proceed IF You’ve Been Invited To Retake the GMAT With the Sections in a DIFFERENT Order
1/18/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

1/22/16 3 Ways to Potentially Improve Your Overall Application (Even After You’ve Sent It In!)
1/25/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
1/29/16 The Top 10 EMPOWERgmat GMATClub Success Stories of 2015
2/01/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
2/08/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

2/15/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
2/22/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
2/29/16 Starting TODAY, You Have Enough Time to Build an AWESOME Round 1 Application
3/07/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
3/14/16 The Lazy Thinking Behind the “2 Minutes Per Question” Plan

PAGE 5:

3/21/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
3/28/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
4/04/16 The EMPOWERgmat Course - At a Glance
4/11/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

4/18/16 Taking The MOST Realistic Practice CATs is an Essential Part of the Study Process

4/25/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
5/02/16 3 Details to Look For When Your CAT Scores Are Not Significantly Improving
5/09/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
5/16/15 Getting a Head Start on the Fall Application Season NOW
5/23/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

5/30/16 Retaking the GMAT in 16 Days Might Not Be a Great Idea
6/06/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
6/07/16 THE NEW OFFICIAL GUIDE 2017 IS HERE (PDF of CONTENT CHANGES IN THE NEW BOOK!!!)
6/13/16 What the New GMAC 2017 Official Guide IS and ISN'T
6/20/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

6/27/16 This Blog Post Contains a Special EMPOWERgmat Discount Code
7/04/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
7/11/16 The “Math Problem” With a 750+ Score Goal
7/18/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

PAGE 6:

7/25/16 3 Reasons Why You Probably Won’t Score Q51 on Test Day (And What You Can Do to Improve Your Chances)
8/01/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
8/08/16 3 Ways That Your PRIDE is Keeping You From Scoring Higher on the GMAT
8/15/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
8/22/16 Your Ultimate Goals Are MORE Important Than Your Current Timeline
8/29/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

9/05/16 That ‘Book Heavy’ Study Plan is Likely NOT Going to Get You to Your Score Goal
9/12/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
9/19/16 To Properly Train for the GMAT, You Should be Using GMAT Materials
9/26/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

10/03/16 3 Reasons Why it’s Actually Advantageous to Apply For Round 2
10/10/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
10/17/16 4 Silly Mistakes That Many GMATers Make on Test Day (And What YOU Should Actually Do Instead)
10/24/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered

11/07/16 3 Reasons Why it’s Actually Advantageous to Apply For Round 2
11/14/16 Big Factors in Why Verbal Scores Can Drop on Test Day
11/21/16 Monday Mail Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered
11/28/16 Self-Analysis of Your GMAT Performance MUST Include Actual Analysis

12/05/16 When You’re Stuck, Ask For Help (And Try To Do So In A TIMELY Fashion).
12/12/16 Efficient GMAT Test-Taking Comes From Efficient GMAT Studies

PAGE 7:

12/26/16 3 Aspects of Test Day That You Probably Have NOT Trained For
1/02/17 You CAN Cement Your Future With the Choices that YOU Make in 2017
1/09/17 3 Ways to Potentially Improve Your Overall Application (Even After You’ve Sent It In!)
5/30/17 Learning to Solve Quant Questions in More than Just One Way (part 1)
7/12/17 Learning to Solve Quant Questions in More than Just One Way (3 approaches)

1/11/18 The Top 10 EMPOWERgmat GMATClub Success Stories of 2017
_________________

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!***********************


Last edited by EMPOWERgmatRichC on 11 Jan 2018, 16:25, edited 115 times in total.
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YOU Are the Cause of Your Pacing Problem

While taking a CAT, or on Test Day itself, almost all Test Takers experience the terrible feeling that comes with the realization that there are WAY too many questions left to answer and not enough time to answer them. Learning proper pacing is an ‘issue’ that most Test Takers have to deal with – the first step in fixing that ‘problem’ is to realize that YOU are the cause of your pacing problem.

Hunting For Pacing Errors
Here are a few things to investigate that you can use as a reference on any of the CATs that you’ve already taken:

Finding More Time From An Unexpected Source
When reviewing a CAT performance, most Test Takers focus on the questions that they answered incorrectly or just ‘stared at’ for too long. However, there is a potential huge pacing advantage to be gained from the questions that you answered CORRECTLY. How long did you take to answer each of those questions? Could you have approached the question in a different way? Would it have been faster to take more notes (hint: the answer is almost always YES)?

Quant
Open up your most recent CAT and find the Quant question that you answered correctly AND that took you the LONGEST amount of time to answer. How long did that one question take? I’ll bet that it took MORE than 3 minutes…. Now, how many OTHER Quant questions took you at least 3 minutes each?

1) Did the “work” required to answer those questions really take 3+ minutes or did you have to keep re-reading the prompt (and did you spend some time staring at the prompt and/or your pad)?
2) Did you make any little mistakes on those questions that you then had to go back and fix?
3) Could you have approached the question using a different tactic? Is it possible that “your way” of solving the problem is actually the “long way” to solve it?

Verbal
For the Verbal section, pacing problems can really compound if you’re not reading RC and CR prompts correctly, not taking notes and not using grammar rules to help you deal with SCs. While RC is an easy ‘target’, you might be surprised how much of your clock is getting eaten up by how you handle SCs and CRs.

Start with the average amount of time that you spend solving SCs and CRs (some CATs include this information; if it’s not available, then you’ll have to calculate it). A typical SC should take no more than 60-75 seconds to solve. On really wordy SCs, you could go up to 90 seconds, but you should not be going past that. A typical CR should take no more than 2 minutes to solve. On wordy CRs, you might go up to 2.5 minutes, but you should not be going past that.

1) Is the SC average greater than 75 seconds? If so, then how much greater?
2) Are you using grammar rules to actively eliminate answer choices? How often are you rereading answer choices and choosing an answer that “sounds like how I would say this?” The second option is what’s eating up your clock.
3) Is the CR average greater than 2 minutes? If so, then how much greater? Do you understand the differences in the various CR types and how to logically approach each? Do you know the common wrong answer types for CR and how to spot them? How often do you end up “narrowing it down to 2 choices and then going back-and-forth before ‘guessing’?” That last option is what’s eating up your clock.

If this sounds like you, then “Your way” of dealing with SCs and CRs could easily be costing you 10-20 minutes of excess time…time that could be spent picking up RC points.

In total, those are some of YOUR Quant and Verbal pacing errors…and they eat up time.

To fix your pacing problem AND improve your score, YOU have to take responsibility for these errors, fix them and make sure that they never happen again. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do so and you can be trained to fix these pacing mistakes.

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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The 3 Biggest Problems With How Most GMATers Take Their CATs

The GMAT is a predictable, standardized Test. As such, you can train to score at a high level. Full-length practice CAT exams are an essential part of the study process, but it never ceases to amaze me how often Test Takers use their CATs incorrectly. Choosing to do any of the following will likely lead to CAT scores that are unrealistic and an Official Score that is far lower than you want it to be.

1) Not taking the FULL CAT – The GMAT is a specific ‘event’ that you can train for, but you have to train for the FULL event. Skipping the Essay and IR sections during practice means that you’re turning a 4-hour exam into a 2.5 hour exam. With that shorter exam, you don’t end up facing ANY of the endurance or fatigue issues that you WILL face on Test Day. If you’ve ever heard a story about someone whose Verbal score dropped significantly on the Official GMAT, this is likely one of the big reasons for that drop.

2) Inconsistency with the day/time of your CATs – If your Official GMAT is scheduled for 9am on a Monday morning, then guess when you should be taking your practice CATs?..... At 9am on Monday mornings, if possible. The human brain can be trained to perform well under any number of circumstances, but if you’re consistently taking your CATs at a day/time that doesn’t match up with Test Day (or if you’re inconsistent with the day/time overall), then there is a greater likelihood that your scores on Test Day will be “off” (and by “off”, I mean lower than you want them to be).

3) Practicing in an unrealistic setting – Your GMAT will be administered at a Testing Center, where you will work on a desktop computer workstation in a roomful of other Test Takers. Thinking about taking your CATs at your kitchen table on a laptop computer? Take a moment to think about EVERYTHING in that scenario that is unrealistic. If you train yourself to score at a high level in your kitchen, then don’t be surprised when you DON’T score nearly that well on Test Day.

Thankfully, all of these factors can be dealt with, but YOU have to choose to deal with them correctly. Scoring at a high level on the GMAT isn’t supposed to be that easy. The 700+ score represents the 90th percentile – meaning that 90% of Test Takers either CAN’T or WON’T do what it takes to hit that score. If a 700+ score is your goal, then you have to decide what you are willing to do to make that score happen.

Of course, there’s something to be said for putting in the proper study time, using the proper materials, and learning all of the tactics and “secrets” to the GMAT, but those are subjects for another post.

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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GMAT ASSASSIN'S MANIFESTO

How To Master Essential GMAT Content & Tactics
A GMAT Club Verbal Advantage 2015 Article


Those who beat the GMAT not only learn the core content tested on the GMAT, but they also (and most importantly for maximum achievement) learn the core set of skills that the GMAT is specifically tuned to measure. If you're prepping for the GMAT, then mastering those skills is mandatory. Perhaps the most important skill of all is the one skill that almost NO ONE ever seems to talk about:

THE SKILL OF LEARNING NEW SKILLS

To learn a new skill:
1) You need to understand the processes you intend to master
2) You need a process to master those processes

It's the lack of item 2 that causes people to "get stuck", and learning how to build new skills goes WAY beyond the GMAT. Knowing how to cultivate new skills will be essential not only in Business School, but also in your professional life beyond.

Before we can talk about building skills, we need to discuss HOW to first learn the essential content tested on the GMAT.

CONTENT - Using a Combined Approach To Master GMAT Content
Any new skill requires intake and absorption of new information. It's important to distinguish between learning content and training for a skill. Before skill mastery can happen, the GMAT student must first learn the content (although sometimes the two overlap).

To learn content, you’ll want to draw on a combined approach:

Note Taking & Outlining
Every GMAT student should create a set of notes for all core content on the GMAT. That's true for whether the student is just prepping out of books or is taking a comprehensive Course. The notion that someone can just hear or read something once, and perfectly absorb and retain that information, is a dangerous and complete farce. Notes boost accountability, and good notes should be paraphrased in the student's voice, rather than just a mindless carbon copy of the existing text. Paraphrasing allows the student to take ownership of the content.

Outlining
Top performing students almost universally build outlines of the notes they took. Building an outline has many fantastic benefits: 1) Review – You have to review your notes to build an outline as opposed to letting the notes collect dust. 2) Organizing – To build an outline, you have to organize your notes, decide what the bigger categories are, and construct a priority tree. 3) Creating a Cheat Sheet – An outline serves as a summary - effectively a cheat sheet for continued review. 4) Re-Paraphrasing – A well-constructed outline forces the outliner to re-paraphrase the content. A successful paraphrase requires a solid understanding of the content, and accordingly can also point to any gaps in understanding that can then be filled in.

Listening
If you’re taking a Course, whether live or on demand, then the listening component will naturally be there. Listening (and watching) is the backbone of the institution of education worldwide. Book-only learners will be at a disadvantage, but those who are able to listen and watch a pro break down the content will have an extremely powerful advantage. On the downside, as is the case with any subject matter, the quality of instruction can vary depending on your instructor and the curriculum that is taught. For those still looking, do your research—it’s important to find the right resources for you. Invest time and financial resources to make sure that you won't be at a disadvantage come Test Day.

Speaking/Forum Posting
It’s well known that teaching something is a powerful way to learn. You can’t teach if you have any missing knowledge, so teaching is a great accountability & review component to content mastery. For GMATers, by far the greatest way to teach what you know is on the GMAT Club forums. Those forums are available 24 hours a day to a global community, they're free, and just about any GMAT question every published has a thread that you can add your discussion to. If the thread doesn't exist, then you can create it.

Seeing
Seeing has two different manifestations. 1) Seeing an expert walk you through the content and tactics, breaking down a passage, eliminating options, etc. - that's a central component of any GMAT Course. 2) Converting content into visual notes. For example, you can keep a log of rarer grammar or idiom rules.

SKILL-BUILDING
The GMAT is also engineered to measure a key set of skills that will also serve you at Business School and beyond. Key among them:
• The ability to detect pertinent information, and to do so under pressure
• The ability to distinguish what you can deduce, and what you can’t
• The ability to answer the exact question that is asked

If you are serious about improving your GMAT score, then you must be committed to developing these skills. Without these skills, it is impossible to break 700 (the 90th percentile on the GMAT - a score 90% of test-takers are unable to hit). The average GMAT score for each of the Top 10 MBA programs is well above 700.

A Systematic Approach to GMAT Skill-Building

The Right Environment & Resources
Your training environment needs to mimic what you'll deal with at the official GMAT Test Center (mild ambient noise, a desktop with a peripheral keyboard and mouse). Further, your CATs should be structured with the two 8-minute break periods and (YES) the AWA and IR sections. Your training resources must focus you on that singular Test Day event, otherwise you are rehearsing in an unrealistic way. Your resources must focus you on preparing to answer GMAT questions under GMAT conditions and provide you with a set of tactics that you can develop through practice to use under times conditions, and under the pressure of Test Day.

Master Individual Parts of A Skill
Don’t try to master multiple skills at once. You have to develop skills piece by piece. In RC, for example, master each link in the process. That would include proper GMAT caliber reading, which we call EMPOWER reading. Next would be learning how to recognize and correctly answer Purpose questions, in each of their various forms. Don’t start shuffling quiz and practice questions around until you have trained on each type of RC question. The only exception to this rule is the regularly scheduled full-length practice CAT, in which case you will have to face material that you haven't necessarily trained for yet.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
What’s more powerful: being an acquaintance of 5,000 questions, or being the commander of 1,000 questions (especially Official questions)? No doubt, it’s the latter. So you've already done a question. Should you redo it? Yes... because it’s not about what the passage says, it’s about WHAT YOU’RE DOING while you’re reading the passage (knowing how to break a passage down, knowing how to look for the signals in a passage, etc). It’s not about the right answer or the wrong answer. It’s about WHAT YOU’RE DOING to answer the question (identifying the question type, knowing how to gather the relevant information, knowing how to manage the options). You know the answer to the question already? So what. What matters is knowing the process to get the right answer. Repeating questions is how you rehearse. It’s not like you hit a great forehand, and suddenly you’re Roger Federer. Roger Federer practices the same shot 100s of times every day. The good news for us is that rehearsing for the GMAT is A LOT easier than mastering a sport.

Evaluate & Adjust, and Rehearse Some More
Self-reflection is imperative. Without the ability to self-evaluate, and course-correct, developing a skill is a lot harder (and will take far longer to develop). If you currently are 'weak' in a particular area, then own it, define what needs to change, and work to make those changes. You have to be passionate about self-evaluation, adjusting, and rehearsing to implement that change.

Allowance for Change & Growth
Allow yourself to have setbacks. Setbacks are normal and are more likely a product of more demanding expectations than anything else. Have patience with yourself and the overall improvement process. Just make sure that you understand what the source of the setback is, so that you can focus on the changes you need to make to overcome that setback. Then, of course, you’ll need to implement the steps above to realize that change.

Consistent & Disciplined Review
Once you master a process, the reality is that there are many, many other processes to master. However, the human brain suffers from entropy---it does not have perfect retention. Without a disciplined review of prior processes, then those processes will wither. As the GMAT assassins's skill inventory grows, he/she must review previously-learned materials. Going forward, you WILL have to allocate a greater and greater fraction of your available training time to reviewing prior content (and past processes) to cultivate a complete test-taking 'game.'

In conclusion, GMAT mastery is complex, but the sooner you operate with a total skill-building mindset (and live the advice in this article today, and for the rest of your GMAT prep chapter) the sooner your GMAT scores will rise. More importantly, the sooner you lock in that top GMAT score, the sooner you'll be on to the task of deciding which Business School Admissions offer you'd like to accept.


“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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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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Good read, thank you.
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Calculating an Average is NOT the Same as Understanding the Concept of Averages

**Warning: During this article, I’m going to stop you periodically and ask you to perform some basic math and logic ‘tasks.’ The work that you do on earlier tasks WILL impact your understanding of later tasks.**

During the Quant section of the GMAT, you’ll be asked to deal with averages on a few questions - sometimes you’ll be asked to calculate an average or an average speed, sometimes you’ll be given an average and asked to figure out something else. You will probably handle all of those questions just fine, but you would be amazed how many GMATers mis-apply the “concept” of averages when deciding on their ‘goals’ for Test Day and their application plans.

Your first task is pretty straight-forward…

Task #1: Do you know how to calculate an average? Right now, in the simplest way possible, describe how to calculate an average…

If you’re thinking something along the lines of “the sum of the terms divided by the number of terms”, then you are correct. This is essential information and is the basis for ALL averages that you will perform on the GMAT and beyond.

Task #2: If you’re told that the average of 3 numbers is 100, then can you come up with a few different examples of what those 3 numbers COULD be? With an average of 100, does that mean that all 3 numbers have to be 100?

There are many different examples that you could come up with (especially since I didn’t say that the numbers had to be integers and I didn’t say that they had to be positive). Here are some examples:

100, 100, 100
99, 100, 101
.1, .9, 299
0, 100, 200
0, 0, 300
-100, -100, 500
Etc.

My guess is that you handled these first two tasks with ease. Now let’s see what you think about these next concepts…

Task #3: How much time should you spend on EACH GMAT Quant question? And why do you THINK that…?

Many Test Takers WANT to spend less than 2 minutes per Quant question, but have you ever really stopped to think about WHY they think that?

You have 75 minutes to answer 37 Quant questions on Test Day, so assuming that you use the entire 75 minutes and answer all of the questions, the AVERAGE amount of time that you will spend per question is a little over 2 minutes. But does that mean that you should spend 2 minutes on EACH question?

Certain Quant questions can be answered relatively quickly (in under 30 seconds), while others are wordy and complex – these questions will require 3 minutes of your time (and that’s if you KNOW what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then these questions will take you 5 minutes each AND you’ll end up getting them wrong anyway).

Thus, the answer to that prior question is NOT “less than 2 minutes per question.” The correct answer to the question in Task #3 is “whatever amount of time is necessary for me to answer the question in the most efficient way possible, without wasting time or making any silly mistakes. Trying to answer every question in under 2 minutes is a silly idea and I’m not in the habit of doing silly things.”

That last part is difficult for many Test Takers to accept – that THEY are ultimately responsible for their own efficiency and accuracy. Part of your GMAT training MUST involve finding those efficiencies and learning to do work in an organized, strategic fashion.

At a certain point in this grand process, you have to decide that your Official GMAT score is competitive enough for you to be ‘done’ with the Test, then you have to choose your Schools and get to work on your applications.

Task #4: If Harvard’s incoming MBA class last year had an average GMAT score of 720, then does that mean that everyone who got accepted had a 720? Does that mean that you MUST have a minimum of 720 just to apply? Does that mean that if you have a minimum of 720, then you will get in?

At this point, the prior work that you’ve done throughout this blog post should be ‘kicking in’ – with an average of 720, some invitees clearly scored higher than 720, some scored 720 exactly and others scored less than 720… So the answer to ALL 3 of those questions in Task #4 is NO. Hundreds of people got into Harvard last year with scores that were BELOW AVERAGE FOR HARVARD.

Let THAT fact ‘sink in’ for a moment… You DON’T necessarily need to hit that average score to get an acceptance letter. YES, you still need a strong OVERALL application and YES, a higher GMAT score is better for you than a lower one, and if you’re after scholarship money, then you might need a higher GMAT score…but having a score that is slightly ‘below average’ for a given School/Program will not necessarily keep you out of consideration.

This is all meant to say that you should strive for excellence in your studies and put together the best performance possible. If your score is a little lower than you want it to be though, then you still have a chance at your dream School. The averages say so!

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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Speed Matters: The “Math Approach” vs. The “Strategy Approach”

GMAT questions can often be solved with more than one approach – this is great news for Test Takers since having more than one option means that you’re less likely to get ‘stuck’ on a given prompt. Taking this idea one step further, if YOU know more than one way to answer a given question, then you have a significant advantage: you can CHOOSE to use the fastest approach, save time and save on the amount of energy that you have to expend to get to the correct answer. To that ultimate end, you might be surprised to learn that just because you answered the question correctly does NOT mean that you did you so in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Consider the following question (before you start it, you might want to test yourself and see how much time you would need to get to the correct answer. Grab a timer and let’s find out…)

Andrew has a certain number of coins in his pocket. He has three times as many dimes as quarters and six times as many nickels as dimes. A nickel is worth $0.05, a dime is worth $0.10 and a quarter is worth $0.25. If he has a total of $10.15, then which of the following represents the number of dimes in Andrew’s pocket?

9
10
18
20
21

The following video (Click the Video next to the "100+ Immersive Lessons" Button) showcases two different approaches to solving this prompt: a traditional “math approach” and a “strategy approach”

https://www.empowergmat.com/the-course/

Now it’s time for the ‘reality check’ – be honest, which way is really faster? Which way did you choose? Now imagine how often you might take a ‘math approach’ and spend too much time on a given prompt. If you have a pacing problem in the Quant section, then you have to consider how often you’re taking the “long” way to solving the prompt.

The Quant section of the GMAT is NOT a “math test”, so to optimize your pacing and maximize your score, you have to be open to learning more than just the “math approach” to answering a given question.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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THE NEW OFFICIAL GUIDE FOR GMAT 2016 IS HERE!!!

Hi All,

With the arrival of the new Official GMAT Guide 2016, we have a series of new practice questions - approximately 25% new content (with certain older questions removed from the prior version of the book). This handy PDF documents the new additions, the "location shifts" in questions and the questions that have been removed. The Team at EMPOWERgmat hopes you find it a useful addition to your studies.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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What the new GMAC 2016 Official Guide IS and ISN’T

**Note: I will NOT be discussing any individual questions from this new book. Doing so would cheat YOU, the reader, out of experiencing those questions “fresh.” On Test Day, you have to be prepared to deal with any GMAT concept at any time in each section, so knowing anything beyond the obvious (it’s Geometry because I can see a picture of a circle; it’s an Assumption question because the prompt asks for the ‘assumption’) would diminish the process that you have to go through to answer the question.**

You probably already know that the various GMAC resources (in print and online) are the best sources for realistic practice questions. Some combination of those resources should be a part of EVERY GMAT Test Taker’s study plan. While no one resource (or set of resources) can guarantee a score result, using credible resources can help you to train effectively. However, you have to also realize what GMAC is willing to give you and what GMAC is NOT willing to give you….

First, the GMAC Official Guide gives you a broad sampling of the types of questions, content and logic that you’ll see when you take the Official GMAT. Knowing what to focus on in your studies is important, and this book helps a great deal in defining the content that you will need to know for Test Day. It will NOT show you every variation on a concept and it will NOT show you any ‘active’ questions (since that would be unfair). To score at a high level, you have to look beyond individual questions and learn the concepts, patterns and logic. This is meant to say that if you answer a question once, you probably have NOT learned everything there is to know about the concepts involved. Re-doing questions using different approaches is one of the most direct ways to build up your skills. That work might sound tedious, but there’s a reason why the 700+ score represents the 90th percentile – 90% of Test Takers either CAN’T or WON’T do what it takes to score at that level…. Are you willing to learn other ways to approach questions and then re-do questions…? How badly do you want that 700+ score...?

Second, the Content Review sections and Explanations provided by the book tend to be ‘technical’ in nature. This is the ‘standard’ in most education-based texts (which is fine), but this type of presentation is also limited. It almost always ignores tactics that can be used, pattern-matching that can make answering the question easier and other ‘secrets’ to how the writers create the questions that you’ll see on Test Day. The given explanation is often NOT efficient either. In most cases, you’ll learn one way to answer each question – the way that GMAC decides to teach you. GMAC has NO interest in turning everyone into a 700+ Test Taker. If most Test Takers scored 700+, then that upper-level score would become relatively meaningless.

Third, there is a ‘functional issue’ with ALL books (not just the Official Guide). No book can ever properly simulate what you’ll experience taking a Computer-Adaptive Test for 4+ hours on Test Day. Beyond the obvious issues with books (questions ‘grouped together’, the general increase in question difficulty through each section, etc.), a book simply won’t “wear you down” the way that working on a computer will. I often hear from “book-studiers” who do really well on quizzes, but perform terribly on their CATs. Getting 15/15 SCs correct in a book is great, but you won’t see any SCs on Test Day until almost 3 HOURS into the Exam, after you’ve already been working hard and you’re starting to tire out (and those 15 SCs WILL NOT be in row, which means you’ll have to periodically “switch out” of CR or RC “mode” to tackle SCs). Working primarily with computer-based resources that will teach you tactics, combined with Official materials (such as the OG 2016) is a better overall method for preparing to face Test Day than just working solely out of a set of books.

Ultimately, the Official Guide is a great resource; at least one version of it should be included in your studies. If you have the GMAT2015 (or the OG13, they’re the same book), then you don’t necessarily need the GMAT2016. However, the marginal cost of buying that new book ($30 or so, in most cases) is rather low relative to the price of taking the GMAT ($250) and the added value of having those new practice questions. When you consider that the GMAT is often the most important part of one’s application AND a high GMAT score can get you a scholarship in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, spending the extra $30 seems like an obvious decision.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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Monday Mail-Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered - Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers

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

The Perils of Book-Only Prep
Rich,
I just completed a good stretch of doing and reviewing OG questions. While doing this, I focused on one topic at a time to really drive home what I was learning. I'm ready to move on to more realistic practice sets and looking for advice. I've done the majority of the OG and plan to use the quant/verbal official guide supplements. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Alpha


Dear Alpha,

If you're working out of books only, then you're going to run into a functional problem on Test Day. Working out of books does NOT prepare you for the rigors and physical wear-and-tear of pulling info off of a computer screen, working on a notepad and referring back as needed. Some computer-based prep is definitely advised. MBA.com has a downloadable package of questions and 2 CATs that you can get for free. There are also freebies offered by a variety of companies that will allow you to get some additional computer-based practice. There really is NO SUBSTITUTE for this. The GMAT tests many aspects of your abilities that have nothing to do with math or verbal skills: organization, discipline, pacing, attention to detail, ability to make smart decisions (even when tired or low on time). Without the proper training, and by working with print materials only, your task becomes more difficult.

Does Cramming Work?
Rich,

I only have one month of prep time available before I attempt the gmat for a second time. (so I can apply for the next round deadline). Will I be able to get a 700+ score if I do really intensive prep?

Beta


Dear Beta,

Each Test Taker will vary in how long he/she needs to study for the GMAT. Since your goal is a 700+, you have to ask yourself what you're willing to do to achieve that score (since 90% of the Test Takers either CAN’T or WON’T do what it takes to score at that level).

It is possible to make significant strides in a short period of time, but you'll have to adjust your tactics. The GMAT tests you in ways that traditional schooling does not (and provides you with hints, shortcuts and options that a traditional test does not, so you have to train properly to take advantage of all those options).

The next question is ultimately about what's more important: taking the GMAT in 1 month or getting a 700+ score? You might not be able to do both. You have to remember your BIG PICTURE goals – the GMAT is one ‘step’ in the process of applying to your first choice Business School, but if your score is not competitive enough, then the plan falls apart. Missing an Application Round is not the end of the world – you can always apply for a later Round or apply next year.

Will A Private GMAT Tutor Save Me?
Rich,
I have couple of days left until my official exam - now scoring within 650-700 range. Do you recommend to hire a private tutor for a couple of hours to address some of the potential weaknesses?

Gamma


Dear Gamma,

A tutor may or may not make a difference in the last few days before an exam. My opinion is that it will make little difference because you probably already have a set way of doing things that will take more than a few days to alter.

Instead, do a light review of all the concepts that you know. Take a good look at both the questions you’ve answered correctly and those that you’ve answered incorrectly. If a question is too hard or too weird, then don't waste your time on it. Instead, make sure that you put your emphasis on correctly answering questions that are ‘gettable.’ Focus on removing as many silly mistakes as possible. Those mistakes are the things that are costing you your missing points.


GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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Manifesto Pt. II The 90th Percentile Difference
The Do or Die Mindset Shift


Does This Sound Familiar?
If you’ve read any posts on this forum, you’ve invariably come across a user expressing that studying for the GMAT is frustrating and difficult. You’ve also probably read those stories about test-takers who’ve gone from 510 to 770. Why is the GMAT so beatable for some people, yet seemingly so unbeatable for others?

The Difference
In GMAT Assassin’s Manifesto Pt. 1 (verbal-advantage-gmat-assassin-s-manifesto-master-content-tactics-198768.html) we talked about how to train. In Part II, we’re going to discuss a decision that all successful GMAT students make... Some students are naturally pre-wired with the right mindset (it’s in how they see life in general); others make the decision deliberately. The EMPOWERgmat Course was programmed to implicitly build this decision into how you will view the GMAT.

The Decision: To earn a huge GMAT score, are you ready and willing to find victory in the PROCESS of building your skill and not just in a score?

Without an enjoyment of the skill-building process, prepping for the GMAT will feel like work, it will be boring, and frustrating. Don’t look at it as work. Instead, you have to look forward to practice. You need to be able to dive into total immersion as you’re prepping, practicing, reviewing, and taking your real GMAT. If you want your best GMAT score then you should be totally immersed in growing and refining your skill instead of obsessing about a score.

Once you decide to shift to the mindset of valuing the PROCESS, you will feel empowered. You will not find the GMAT prep process “painful”, but rather a challenge to be savored. If you make that choice, then you’ll be able to earn a much bigger score, and earn it faster.

Let’s make it specific and explore the Assassin’s mindset.

The GMAT Assassin’s Mindset
When you review a question from a Quiz, a CAT, GMAT Club, etc., there are four properties you need to possess to extract maximum improvement from each question:
1. Self-Discipline
2. Focus
3. Patience
4. Self-Awareness

A Real Example
Let me offer you a comparative example of someone who’s not process-oriented vs someone who is. Take a look at this Critical Reasoning Inference question: (here’s the link to the live question: (cr-inference-series-1-securities-industry-regulator-200100.html).
Inference questions ask you to select the ONLY option that has to be 100% logically true from the information given in the prompt (and the opposite for Inference EXCEPT questions). Tempting incorrect options usually sound very reasonable, but "reasonable" doesn’t cut it. We need the option that HAS TO BE true.

Securities Industry Regulator: Brokerage “Buy” ratings are suffering from a credibility gap. There is a far greater proportion of “Buy” ratings than “Sell” ratings. In fact, 80% of all major financial institution’s ratings are “Buy” ratings. Given that inflated volume of “Buy” ratings, it’s hard to trust the quality of those ratings, and equally challenging to take them seriously. Even the simple act of reducing a financial institution’s analysis to just “Buy”, “Hold”, or “Sell” is dubious since a company’s financial outlook is typically quite complex. Accordingly, a financial institution’s investment rating is rendered almost meaningless.

If the Securities Industry Regulator’s statements are true, then which of the following must be true?

Ⓐ An investor can only profit from an investment if he or she confirms the merits of a company’s financial future.

Ⓑ A “Buy” rating does not guarantee that a given company will have a strong financial future.

Ⓒ Financial institutions should refrain from issuing “Buy” ratings.

Ⓓ The ability of a company to earn a “Buy” rating has become easier than ever before.

Ⓔ Increasingly, financial institutions are issuing meaningless investment ratings.

Let’s say that someone picked option E (it’s the #1 selected INCORRECT option). The prompt closes with: “Accordingly, a financial institution’s investment rating is rendered almost meaningless”, so option (E) seems very reasonable. However, the prompt never said, nor implied, that any rating IS MEANINGLESS. There’s a huge difference between “almost meaningless” and “meaningless”. Over the course of an entire GMAT, catching subtle distinctions such as this can make the difference between a 550 and a 700.

The Outcome Oriented, Impatient, Misery-Fest
I want you to imagine a GMAT student who’s struggling... Struggling not only with this question, but also with the entire GMAT prep process. This is someone who wants to break 700, but is stuck at 550. It seems like no matter what they do, they’re stuck. In this scenario, they’ve scored around 550 on their last 5 practice tests....

Now, picture what this student might be do during a question “review” for this Inference question. Are you picturing this student just jumping straight to the explanation to read why (E) is wrong and why the correct answer (B) is right, and then moving on to the next question? Good. That’s what people who are “stuck” do. What we just described is arguably the #1 reason why people don’t hit their potential and do not earn their target score - they’re not allowing themselves the opportunity to retire old, ineffective habits and build new, more successful ones.

Here’s Where Excellence Happens – The 90th Percentile Breakdown
So what do process oriented test-takers do differently? They ask themselves two key questions on EVERY question they miss:

1) WHY DID I miss this question? If I answered correctly, did I answer it in the best way?
2) WHAT CAN I do differently next time to avoid that same mistake?

So now, let’s compare what process-oriented test-taker would do in “reviewing” this same question. Let’s say that this test-taker also picked option (E). Here’s what this test-taker’s analysis would be:

1) WHY DID I miss this question?
I read too quickly/not carefully enough... and missed that this option said that the ratings “are meaningless” when the prompt actually said “almost meaningless”.

2) WHAT CAN I do differently next time to avoid that same mistake?
I made a silly reading mistake. A mistake that could have EASILY been avoided had I taken an extra 5-10 seconds to read just slightly more carefully. Specifically, I need to constantly remind myself that it’s OK to read at a slightly slower (but more accurate/intensive) pace because not only will that help me boost my accuracy, but I’ll also likely end up saving time since I won’t be as likely to need to re-read as often.

These are the kinds of mistakes that I usually don’t make when I do un-timed practice, but that I do make when the clock is ticking. I need to make sure I’m centered, and in control, from the start of each question.

Zoom Out: What’s the Difference in Mindset?
Could you summarize the difference between these two test-takers in a nutshell? The first student just cares about the result - the result of getting the question right, finishing the explanations, finishing the GMAT, finishing the applications. “I just want to be done. I just want a big GMAT score, and I want to move on.” This test-taker is impatient, and instead of looking inward, they look outward and essentially blame the question, or even blame the entire GMAT.

The GMAT Assassin not only understands the explanation, but the Assassin looks inward with a total focus and full immersion in the process. The Assassin has patience to squeeze maximum insight from each question instead of just jamming through a quiz set, and then jamming through the next quiz, and then jamming through the next quiz, aimlessly burning through questions.

The Assassin test-taker has a sense of self-awareness to inspect what technical mistakes were made, what caused that mistake and what can be done differently to avert that mistake next time.

Conclusion
Ultimately, big GMAT score gains come from investing in the process of self-evaluating, getting excited about opportunity to improve and finding value in the entire prep-process.

The Decision You Make As a GMAT Student

If you want to get into a great Business School, then you need a big GMAT score. The reality is that you ARE going to need to prep. The best GMAT test-takers make the decision to welcome the GMAT prep process for this brief window of time and embrace it. By deciding to make a personal investment into the process itself, and even enjoying it, you’ll not only improve faster, but ironically, you’ll also earn a much better outcome.

It’s time for you to be the next assassin.

Max Peterson
Co Founder | EMPOWERgmat
EMPOWERgmat.com
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Monday Mail-Bag: Most Popular GMAT Questions Answered - 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.

600 to 700: Should I Be Focused On the Hard Questions?
Rich,

I'm pretty efficient in the test overall, and I’ve been scoring in the mid 600s for over a month, but I've been having problems with the most difficult questions. I have a few books, including the OG. Can someone point me to the best place to get additional help with the hard questions?

Delta

Dear Delta,

While many people become concerned about "hard" questions during their studies, it's possible that those questions are NOT what you need to be focusing on. When you review your CATs, how many questions did you get wrong because of a silly/little mistake and how many questions did you get wrong because they were just ‘too hard’? I’ll bet that there are plenty of ‘gettable’ questions that you’re overlooking to focus on the hard stuff. There’s also a decent chance that what you consider a ‘hard’ question could actually be a 'gettable' question if you just use a different (strategic) approach. Until you eliminate the little mistakes that you’re making, you shouldn’t be worrying about harder questions and rare categories.

The Proper Way To Test Verbal Abilities
Rich,

Quick question – I’m looking to get as realistic of a diagnostic on my current verbal abilities. As such, I’m looking for the most accurate practice cat for verbal. Is it gmatprep??

Also, what are your thoughts on only taking the verbal section without awa, ir, and quant? Of course my score will be inflated; guess my question is by how much, and can the verbal score still provide some value/indication of current ability?

Really appreciate your thoughts/direction.

Epsilon

Dear Epsilon,

The most realistic CATs available are the 2 that you can get for free (and the 2 others that you can purchase in Exam Pack 1) from http://www.mba.com

Taking one section of a CAT for practice is normally NOT a good idea. If your main problem is with the verbal section, then you have to practice 2 things:

1) Verbal content and strategy/tactics
2) Endurance

Taking a verbal section out of context means that you didn't do all the necessary work that appears in the 3 hours BEFORE you take the verbal section. The net effect is that you're not dealing with fatigue, which is something that you will have to deal with on Test Day.

By not taking a realistic practice CAT, your score could end up wildly overinflated because your brain is fresh and you aren't carrying around any of the angst/stress/fatigue from the prior sections. You can find plenty of verbal practice in books and online, but a CAT is best used to measure your overall performance, not just one section.

Raising a V38 to V40+
Rich,

I'm constantly scoring high 30s for my verbal score, averaging about a 38. However I've hit a ceiling and I'm having trouble breaking through to the 40s. What's the difference between someone scoring high 30s and low 40s? I get the easy/mid questions right for RC,CR,SC correct. It looks like my problem is with the 700-800 level questions. Should I specifically target higher level questions? Will more exposure to these help?

Zeta

Dear Zeta,

The difference you're talking about (38 to low 40s) is remarkably thin. That level requires a higher level of detail (more note-taking, attention to Focus and Main Point, knowledge of rarer grammar rules, knowledge of what typical "wrong" answers look like, etc.).

Scoring a 38 means that you have a strong aptitude and skills across all 3 Verbal categories, so it's possible that you need to change the physical and psychological ways with which you're tackling the verbal section, and not anything mental.

To that end, make sure that you're taking notes on every question, sitting up in your chair (proper posture and breathing can make a huge difference in your performance, especially late in the test), and using your breaks for a quick snack/drink and some exercise.

You might also consider slowing down a bit as you're doing your work. Many Test Takers come out of the Quant section feeling "frazzled" by the fact that they had to rush to finish. They then carry that energy into the verbal and rush through THAT section. Finishing 10-15 minutes early is actually quite common, BUT it provides no benefit. If you can slow down and use that extra time to your advantage, then you'll likely pick up many of the points that you lost due to minor mistakes.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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The Biggest “Little” Cause of Your Pacing Problem

GMAT Test Takers often face similar difficulties during their studies, so there are certain questions that tend to come up about how to improve those studies. One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about is pacing-related: “how do I fix my pacing problem?” To start, you have to acknowledge that a pacing problem does NOT exist on its own – it’s the result of OTHER problems in how you are approaching the process of answering GMAT questions.

It really is often this simple
Arguably the most common ‘cause’ of your pacing ‘issue’ is simple to diagnose….

Here’s a basic story problem to help emphasize the point (no multiple choice answers to choose from though – you have to do a bit of actual math to get to the solution)….

Do you see yourself in this situation?
Q: A certain Test Taker refuses to take notes while reading Quant questions. As such, the Test Taker must go back to regularly re-read the prompt. If this Test Taker spends an average of 10 seconds re-reading every Quant question in the Quant section on Test Day, then approximately how many minutes, in total, does the Test Taker have to spend on this task (instead of actually spending that time working to answer the given question in the prompt)?

The solution is actually pretty simple, but for the sake of bringing the point home, you really should do the math (take notes!) and come up with the answer yourself.

The magnitude of the issue
A: Since there are 37 questions in the Quant section on the GMAT, if you have to spend an extra 10 seconds per question re-reading the prompt (because you didn’t take good notes), then you will end up spending 37x10 = 370 seconds re-reading the prompts (and that’s time that you COULD have been working to answer the question).

370 seconds = 6 minutes, 10 seconds.

Take a GOOD look at that number. Would having an extra 6+ minutes of time make dealing with the Quant section a bit easier? I bet it would.

In that same way, you could squeeze out even MORE time in the Verbal section (and not just because there are 41 questions instead of 37) – since everything in the Verbal section requires some significant reading and a typical Verbal prompt is far wordier than a typical Quant prompt.

The big fix and the even bigger long-term benefit
This all ties into the proper ‘mechanical’ work that you will have to do to answer GMAT questions (of ANY type) in a timely fashion. By breaking prompts down into “pieces”, and taking good notes while you read, you can set yourself up to begin answering the given question right as you finish reading the prompt for the first time.

Ultimately, all of the issues that you might face during your studies (not just pacing-related issues) are definable, so you have to put some thought into the likely ‘causes’ of those issues and then go about working to ‘fix’ those issues. As a future MBA, you are not allowed to say “I have no idea why….” Instead, you have to look at the data, analyze the processes and come up with an idea. Whether you realize it or not, the process of training to score at a high level on the GMAT involves the same skills that you’ll use to earn your MBA.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 28 Jun 2015, 23:18
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.

Reading Skills vs. GMAT RC Skills
Hi Rich
I am preparing for the test, and I find the verbal section more difficult (in terms of time spent to come up with a solution) than the quantitative section. This is because I am a non-native english speaker, so in order to improve effectively my english reading-reasoning ability I would ask for suggestions on how to deal with it (for instance, if it is useful to read the new york times or the economist in the free time, or if there is a particular newspaper writer whose articles could help).

Eta

Hi Eta,

The suggestion to read from scholarly journals (The New York Times, etc.) is an interesting way to build RC reading skills but it's not necessarily going to improve your RC performance because those articles do NOT come with GMAT questions attached.

Effective practice requires an understanding of what MATTERS in an RC passage and what does not, the proper way to take notes as you read (the EMPOWERgmat Method is called the RC Ladder), and an understanding of the types of questions and the common types of wrong answers that you'll see with each question. In short, you have to be trained to know what RC questions require of you.

As a nudge to help you improve, try thinking about WHY a sentence or paragraph appears in a prompt (what purpose does it serve), as opposed to trying to understand or memorize every nitpick detail provided.


Extra Time on IR Training?
Rich,

How much time should be given to IR preparation? I have given GMAT once and did not prepare for IR much. I got a 4. Is that a decent score? I am giving my GMAT again in few days and I am wondering that if giving practice tests with IR section sufficient for the preparation.

Theta

Hi Theta,

The national average for the IR section is right around a 4.3, so your IR score is fine. The good news is that just about every Business School who has spoken on the subject considers IR to be a NON-FACTOR in the application process. The data collected on this section doesn't consistently correlate with scores in other sections, so Business Schools haven't found a way to use IR data to assess applicants. The short answer is that it IR doesn't matter in the short term, so you shouldn't spend too much time or energy trying to improve (that time would be better spent improving other areas). This might change going into the future, but it likely won't be for at least several years.


The Random Order of Questions in Each Section
Hey Rich,

I had a strange experience with verbal section during my retake of GMAT prep 1. In my first attempt I scored 650(Q49,V29). So, today I gave my GMAT prep 1 again after resetting it. To my surprise, I got 3 reading comprehensions within the first 13 questions. How common is this experience?

Iota

Hi Iota,

Your experience with the software is clearly NOT typical and I wouldn't expect it to repeat (either in practice or on Test Day). From a probability standpoint, it's clearly mathematically possible, however unlikely; I once had a client tell me that (on his actual GMAT) that his first 10 Quant questions were DS questions. While he said it was a bit unnerving, he stayed calm, remembered his training and scored 730. My advice is to roll with whatever the GMAT throws at you. The order of the questions will vary, but the content, rules, format, etc. won't.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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How to Get the Most Accurate Assessment From Your CATs

When it comes to studying for the GMAT, there are a variety of ways to approach the process. Regardless of how you might formulate your study plan, CATs are essential to your improvement as a Test Taker and to help you prepare for what you will eventually face on the Official GMAT. Unfortunately, many Test Takers mis-use their CATs and end up not properly prepared on Test Day. Using your CATs in a rather specific way will help you to maximize your performance on the GMAT.

First off, it’s important to understand that a CAT is a ‘measuring device’ – it will not inherently make you a better Test Taker. Like a bathroom scale that measures your weight and provides a result, a CAT (when properly used) will measure your general Test Taking skills and provide results. If you use the CAT incorrectly, then the score results will not be accurate and you’ll have an incorrect idea of your readiness for Test Day.

To properly utilize a CAT, there are a number of parameters that you must follow:

1) You MUST take the FULL CAT, including the Essay and IR sections. Skipping sections will shorten the Test, which inherently makes the Test easier to deal with. During practice, you want REALISTIC results – the reality of Test Day is that you have to deal with an Essay, an IR section and a ‘break’ before you see a single Quant question and almost 3 hours will have gone by before you see your first Verbal question. Skipping the early parts of a CAT is a mistake that many Test Takers make.

2) You should try to take your CATs at the same time of day as your Official GMAT is scheduled for. Doing so will help you to train to perform at a high level at the same time of day that you will need to perform on Test Day.

3) You need to take the CATs at a location OTHER than your home (if possible) and you need to account for how long it will take to get to the Test Center. For example, if the Test Center is 30 minutes from your home, then you should plan to drive around for 30 minutes before taking your CAT at a library, office space or other similar location.

4) It’s best to make sure all of the little details ‘line up’ with Test Day as much as possible – do NOT pause the CAT, don’t use a pencil/eraser and paper to take the CAT, use a desktop computer (if possible), don’t do ANYTHING that you’re not allowed to do on Test Day, etc.

5) Do NOT reuse a CAT that you’ve already taken IF your goal is to receive a realistic score. You can always retake a CAT to get in some extra repetitions, but your score result from doing so will almost certainly be ‘inflated’ (meaning that it will be higher than it should because you have seen some of the questions already).

As far as scheduling your CATs is concerned, you should plan to take 1 CAT/week at the most. Since taking a CAT won’t make you a better Test Taker, taking more than 1 per week will provide no real advantage. Taking CATs throughout your studies will help you to identify (and fix) issues that take time to improve – endurance, pacing, energy levels, general attitude, stresses (both physical and mental), etc.

Improving your scores requires review and an insistence on precision in your work. Your CAT results will provide LOTS of useful information, including what you got correct/incorrect and how much time you spent on questions. Your analysis of your own work will help to identify WHY you got certain questions wrong and provide insights into the areas that you need to focus on. Putting in the necessary time between CATs to work on those issues is what you ultimately need to do to improve.

If you find that you’re ‘stuck’ at a particular scoring level, taking more CATs is NEVER the solution. Oftentimes the BIG problem is the process one uses to attack the Test. Acknowledging that your study plan and approach might not be sufficient to help you achieve your goals, and then investing in new resources that will help you to improve, is the big adjustment that most Test Takers fail to make. There are some amazing solutions to whatever challenges you face, but blowing through lots of CATs isn’t one of them.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 05 Jul 2015, 23:44
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.

Lack of Concentration
Hello Rich,

I have a recurring problem I hope you could help me with. When I practice for the GMAT (either with books or GMATprep) I always make silly mistakes like misreading the question or ticking the wrong answer although I solve the question right and it makes me feel really stupid. Do you have any advice to help with this type of problem?

Kappa

Hi Kappa,

Issues in concentration have little to nothing to do with intelligence, so try looking at the PHYSICAL ways that you work (and that you can improve). Try writing EVERYTHING down on your pad and labeling your work. On the physical level, eat breakfast every day, eat a snack and have a drink during each break of the CAT, and sit UP in your chair. Take your CATs earlier in the day (instead of later in the day). These are variables that are easy to control and yet most Test Takers don't factor them in.

Getting to Q51 and My Goal Score
Rich,

I have been kind of frozen on Q49 for long on my CAT's in Quant. I believe that 50/51 would help me hit my goal score.

What does it take to be a 50/51 on Quant? I typically make about 12-13 mistakes on a CAT and get 49 and even getting it down to 11-12 mistakes still keeps me at 49.
Any help would be great.

Lambda

Hi Lambda,

At the level you're talking about, picking up those missing points requires a high level of attention to detail (which you already mostly have, since you're scoring Q49). Take a good look at what you're getting wrong and figure out WHY you're getting those questions wrong. To score at that higher level, silly mistakes are NOT AN OPTION. In addition, you'll need to be comfortable with rarer math concepts and have a strong sense of "thoroughness" on DS questions.

The missing points you're looking for will likely be EASIER to earn on the Verbal section (and there will be a greater opportunity there as well). That’s something to consider if you're trying to squeeze a few more points out of the GMAT.

Last Minute Tutoring?
Hi Rich,

I have couple of days left until my official exam - now scoring within 650-700 range. Do you recommend hiring a private tutor for a couple of hours to address some of my potential weaknesses?

Mu

Hi Mu,

A tutor may or may not make a difference in the last few days before an exam. My opinion is that it will make little difference because you likely have a consistent way of doing things that will take more time than a few days to alter.

Instead, do a light review of all the concepts that you know. Take a good look at both the things that you can do and those that you can't. If a question is too hard or too weird, then don't waste your time on it. Instead, make sure that you put your emphasis on correctly answering questions that are ‘gettable.’ Focus on removing as many silly mistakes as possible. Those mistakes are what are costing you your missing points.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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The Challenge(s) That You Face in Your GMAT Prep are NOT That Complicated

Nearing the middle of July, many Test Takers are starting their GMAT prep (or are in the midst of it already) in anticipation of applying to Business School before the Round 1 deadlines occur in September/October. Many of those same Test Takers will face varying challenges during their studies and they won’t know how to go about overcoming those challenges. Worse still, many will be so unable, or unwilling, to do the necessary self-analysis that they will utter the least useful phrase imaginable – “I have no idea why_____.” As a future MBA, you are NOT allowed to have “no idea”; you have to be able to come up with a POSSIBLE idea, even if it’s not great, complete or ultimately correct.

I have NO IDEA why I’m so bad at CR and RC….

Let’s step away from your GMAT challenges for a moment, and instead deal with a simple hypothetical situation. Imagine that you walk into room, lit with sunlight from an open window, and you see a ceiling lamp that is NOT lit. You notice a light switch on the wall and flick it to the ‘on’ position, but the lamp does NOT turn on. WHY is it not turning on?

Stop. Think. Give me a reason why that lamp isn’t turning on (even if it’s just the first thing that comes to mind).

Don’t read another word until you have a possible reason why that lamp did not light up when you flicked the switch.

Now, from a logical standpoint, the obvious problem is probably the bulb itself – if the bulb is burned out (or there is no bulb in the lamp to begin with), then flicking the light switch won’t matter. The BULB is probably the problem. If that was your initial explanation, then that’s fantastic, logical and most likely correct. You NOW have something that you can work on, fix and potentially be DONE with the problem!

But what it that’s NOT the answer? What if the bulb is fine? What ELSE could the reason be? Come up with another possibility.

I have no idea why my score is stuck at ______….

Don’t get distracted by that prior sentence – we’re still on the issue with the lamp. We checked the bulb and the bulb is FINE, so that is NOT why the lamp won’t turn on. What else did you come up with as a possible cause of this problem? As a future MBA, you have to be able to come up with answers. If you can’t answer questions and come up with possible solutions, then there’s no reason for a company to hire you, much less give you power and responsibility (and lots of money) to do an MBA’s job.

Be critical – think of this as if it were a big CR question. Is it possible that the light switch that we’re flicking doesn’t actually turn on THAT lamp? Is it possible that the wiring between the switch and the lamp is faulty? Is it possible that the circuit breaker has overloaded and electricity is simply not getting to the lamp? By thinking about what the problem COULD be, you can define what YOU have to do to fix it and then go about the necessary tasks to do so.

I have no idea why my score dropped on Test Day….

Now, back to the GMAT and a statement that you’ll see many Test Takers making in the Forums. The truth is that you probably DO have the capacity to ask AND answer those bold-faced questions – so you DO have some idea why you’re stuck, or facing challenges or seeing a drop in your score. Part of effectively solving a problem is in defining it. You might not know the exact solution, but you can then work with an expert, research possible solutions, invest in new resources, etc. and ultimately overcome whatever the challenge is.

The great thing about the GMAT is that it is standardized and predictable. Whatever your problem(s) may be, you are not the first person that they have impacted. We can help you to solve them all, but you have to do some of the work to clearly define them first.

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

Picking 5 Schools to Receive the Score Report
Hello Rich!

I will be taking the GMAT soon, but I am planning to bank this score until I actually apply for business schools later down the road. However, I've read online you must pick schools to send in your scores at the test center. Do you know if you can opt to postpone sending the score into schools and still have access to the score report? I'm not entirely sure what schools I'll be applying to yet.

Nu

Hi Nu,

On Test Day, you are given the opportunity to send your GMAT score to 5 schools (the $250 fee includes 5 "free" schools). If you apply to any additional schools, or you leave those 5 fields blank on Test Day, then you will be charged an additional fee for each score report. The current price is $28 per report, so that can add up to some serious money if you leave those fields blank (or apply to a lot of schools).

While you might not be sure of which schools that you'll apply to later, you can probably take some decent guesses. Think about dream schools, safety schools, likely candidates - you get 5 for "free", so make sure that you use them.


How to Deal with the Highest Level Verbal Questions
Hi Rich,

I have taken two GMATPrep practice tests, and my scores in the Verbal section were 40 and 44. However, my experience in this preparation is that, especially in SC, there will always be something NEW that you have not seen before. Maybe an idiom, a structure, whatever. That's frustrating, especially when you have studied a lot for that section of the exam.

So when can someone say "Ok, I am ready to get a great score", considering the fact that the test can always offer something that you have never seen before? It seems that getting a 42-44 requires 6-8 wrong questions at most. It's challenging, especially for a non-native speaker.

So, although I got good scores in the practice tests, my concern is that the gmat could give me something new. Should I study more? When could I say "I'm ready"?

Xi


Hi Xi,

Scoring 40+ in the Verbal section is a remarkable feat (90% of test takers can't do it), so you really shouldn't be getting upset about see "surprising" things at that level. The Randomizer has to be able to adapt to ANY test taker (whether that Test Taker is acing the test or bombing it). By definition, if you score in the upper range, you're going to see some harder/weirder questions. Embrace it. It's something that I advise all of my clients: "You WANT to see a 'hard' test - that's a sign that you're doing well." However, you should NOT be trying to measure your progress by the difficulty of any individual question.

If you're also scoring well in the Quant section, then you're ready. Go take the GMAT.

The Cost of Wrong Answers in Specific Situations
Hey Rich

Just want to know how much does last 6-7 incorrect questions costs you on GMAT verbal ? I know a person who is getting these many incorrect questions at the end needs to work on time management skills but just want to have an idea of how many points does the score dip in the below scenario:

a) Getting 10 incorrect questions evenly spread throughout the verbal section

b) And then getting last 6 questions incorrect

Omicron

Hi Omicron,

Getting 6-7 wrong in a row will hurt your score no matter which section (or which part of a section) it happens. That having been said, it's difficult to calculate the "loss" that would occur because:

1) We would need to know how you answered all of the other questions in the section (what did you get correct and incorrect).
2) What scoring range you were in when the "6 wrong in a row" happened
3) How many of those questions were experimental (and thus, did not count)

As a general rule, incorrect answers that are "spaced out" are less damaging than those that are grouped together, but too many incorrect answers (especially on easy questions) will hurt your score regardless of when they occur.

Instead of attempting to quantify what this situation would "cost you", you should focus on fixing the original problem, which is probably one or more of the following:

1) A pacing problem
2) A lack of familiarity or comfort level with the proper tactics and most efficient ways to answer questions
3) Silly mistakes
4) Missing knowledge

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 17 Jul 2015, 06:21
3 Advantages to Reviewing Questions That You ALREADY Answered Correctly

Almost without fail, the first questions that most Test Takers will look at after taking a CAT are the questions that were answered incorrectly. Reviewing questions that were answered CORRECTLY is almost an afterthought (and oftentimes avoided) – THAT ‘missing’ review is a HUGE opportunity. Sometimes the biggest overall improvements can be made in areas in which you are ALREADY knowledgeable.

First, there’s a distinct possibility that you answered some questions correctly by taking a lucky guess (either because you were stuck or low on time) – so reviewing those questions is just as important as reviewing questions that you got incorrect. If a question is legitimately too difficult, then learning to recognize the fact that it was too difficult can help you. Learning to recognize those difficult questions faster in the future can be quite beneficial (so that you can ‘dump’ them quicker the next time you face similar prompts and improve any pacing problems that you might have).

Second, by reviewing correct answers, and re-doing the ‘steps’ involved, you can build up your ‘mechanical’ skills (the note-taking, labeling and physical solving of the prompt). The GMAT is a Test built around patterns, and the work involved in solving GMAT questions is also built around patterns. Answering a question correctly is only part of the goal – you also want to answer the question in the quickest way possible. If you can practice a new tactic (and work on your mechanics), then you could very easily find a faster way to approach the prompt. If you already use the fastest method, then there is likely a way to work FASTER, do the work more efficiently, keep from having to reread the prompt, etc. You’ll only be able to make those improvements by attempting those questions again.

Third, the GMAT consistently tests the same content knowledge and skills over-and-over. At the higher levels though, those patterns involve variations and ‘twists’ that you might not immediately recognize… unless you’ve been reviewing the concepts that you think you know fairly well.

As an example, consider the following:
X^2 – 5X + 6

You probably recognize this as one of the standard Quadratic patterns… and you could immediately reverse- FOIL it into….

(X-2)(X-3)

Why are you able to do that so quickly? What knowledge and patterns are you using? What would you think about IF you saw the following…?

X^2 –XY – XZ + YZ

It’s the SAME pattern, but with Y and Z substituted in for the ‘numbers’…

(X-Y)(X-Z)

While the above example is relatively simple (and a relative rarity), it goes to show that there are ‘levels’ to how well you might actually understand a concept. Making sure that you have set aside some time to review your stronger subjects, tactics, and questions that you’ve already answered correctly, is worthwhile.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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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.

Frequency of Certain Tough Quant Categories
Dear Rich,

How often will permutations, combinations and probabilities be tested on my GMAT? I’ve been scoring 41s and 42s on my practice tests and tend to get these types of questions wrong.

Pi

Hi Pi,

Permutations, Combinations and Probability questions can be some of the toughest questions that you see on the GMAT, although they're not all tough questions (sometimes they're rather straight-forward). As a general rule, you'll likely see 1 of each on Test Day, BUT as you do better and better in the Quant section, the Randomizer is likely to throw you a few more of them. As such, you could end up seeing up to 3 of each in the Quant section (although this is at the rarer end of the spectrum). Make sure that you know the basic concepts, so that you can answer the standard/straight-forward versions of these questions, but don't worry about the crazy versions of these questions (especially if subjects criss-cross, such as a permutation criss-crossing with a probability question).


Non- GMAT Sources to Help Build Up Basic Skills
Rich,

I’m wondering if there are any alternative sources to gain general knowledge in the study process for the GMAT. Since time is always limited, is effort put towards the aforementioned just taking away from problem solving and analysis? Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Rho

Hi Rho,

Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org) is a fantastic resource for people who want to practice the basics without spending any money. We actually have specific recommendations from that site to all of our clients who are concerned about their basic math skills. What those types of sites do NOT typically offer though is real "expertise" in the given exams. No insider tips. No analysis. No pattern matching. If your goal is 700+, then a site such as Khan Academy will probably not be enough to get you there. I will say that the site does have a fantastic design, is fun to use and will certainly help you to improve if your immediate problems are with basic concepts.


Concerned About Low First CAT Score
Hi Rich,

Just started with the GMAT and did my first GMAT prep test, I got a 300; I have not even started with studying and I’m already wondering if I have what it takes to get to 600 or 700. As a start it’s already demoralizing. Any advice would be appreciated.

Sigma,

Hi Sigma,

Don't let your initial CAT score demoralize you; the GMAT has some unique aspects that you've probably never seen before (such as Data Sufficiency questions). The good news is that the GMAT is standardized, so it's going to look the same and ask you the same types of questions every time you take it. As such, you can prepare for what's coming. If these types of Tests are difficult for you, then you'll likely find it helpful to enroll in a GMAT course. You can decide how much time and money you'd like to spend on this process, but you should look around, try out some of the freebies that are offered by the various companies (hint: we have a variety of free resources at our site - http://www.empowergmat.com) and enroll in the one that best fits your personality, timeline and budget.

If you have any questions, then you can always feel free to contact me directly.

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!***********************

Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog   [#permalink] 20 Jul 2015, 07:44

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