Archives For How To Study

gmat-study-tipsHave you ever worked with someone who inevitably managed to come up with things to do that were a complete waste of time? Maybe it was an insecure boss who was never confident about what he was doing, so he went for the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to generating deliverables in the last few days before the deadline. Or maybe it was a fellow student on a group project, someone so diligent (cough, cough) that she wanted to turn in a 20-page report when the teacher suggested 10 pages (and actually specified a 12-page limit).

You know who I’m talking about, right? We’ve all run across these situations in our academic or working lives. You want to be polite…but you also want to get your work done and not waste time on activities that don’t really help you reach the overall goal.

The GMAT is trying to waste your time

Okay, the test writers are not literally sitting there cackling and saying, “How can we get them to waste their lives?!?” But the overall sentiment still holds because of the way that the GMAT is constructed. You already know the classic “If you get something right, they give you something harder” pattern, right?

Well, at some point, that “something harder” is going to be something that isn’t worth your time. You’re probably not going to get it right no matter what you do. Even if you do, you’re going to use up valuable time that you could be using on other problems.

Most important of all, you’re going to be using up your finite brain energy on something that probably isn’t going to pay off. How many times in your life have you crashed towards the end of a test or a long day at work because your brain just couldn’t keep going any longer? The GMAT is a “where you end is what you get” test: if you crash before the end of the section, your score will suffer greatly.

This is basically no different than that co-worker who’s trying to get you to build a marketing presentation when the client has specifically requested that you analyze the pros and cons of acquiring a competitor. Tomorrow at the client meeting, it won’t matter how good your intentions were. Your client is going to be mad that you wasted time on something that doesn’t actually help them.

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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2014-2015 application season. Here is their analysis for Harvard Business School. 

Last year, Harvard Business School (HBS) took a new approach to its application essay questions, moving from multiple queries to one very open-ended prompt with no clear word limit. This year, HBS Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold seems to have surprised even herself, judging from a recent blog post, by announcing that the school will be keeping its questions… err, question… exactly the same.

With the benefit of a year of HBS acceptances under our belt using this specific question, we can at least offer some confident guidance on word limits, an issue that really perplexed last year’s candidates. Last season, we had many successful applicants to HBS, some of whom used as few as 750 words while others used as many as 1,250.  In general, we encouraged our clients to stick with 1,000 or fewer, but certain candidates who had plenty to say used more, expressed themselves well and ultimately succeeded. Although Leopold notes that the essay is actually optional, we report—and this will likely come as no shock to applicants—that we had no clients audacious enough to completely forgo submitting an essay. Every single one of our successful candidates did so, as expected.

Here is our analysis of tHarvard Business Schoolhe sole HBS essay question and the accompanying post-interview assessment…
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You’ve seen it. You’ve heard about it. And, today, we are excited to bring you what many are calling “the best self-study method out right now!”

Test Prep Reengineered

It took over 6,000 hours and countless instructors, developers, coders, and designers to bring you GMAT Interact. Designed around the student-teacher connection, a team of Manhattan Prep instructors will guide you through every topic tested on the GMAT, one section at a time. And, you won’t just sit back and hear them give some boring lecture about quant or verbal. GMAT Interact is designed to make you lean forward and engage.

So how is GMAT Interact different? Our on-screen instructors will actually ask you questions, respond to your answers, and tailor your GMAT lessons based on the your answers and the information you input. Like the adaptive nature of the actual GMAT, at times, if you get something right, we’ll take you to a tougher problem. Other times, when you get something wrong, we’ll take you through a detailed lesson. Finally, if you ‘bail’ too quickly from a question, we may push you back to try it again.

Experience The Difference

We’ve spent the past three years pushing education technology to bring you a cutting-edge platform, but what makes GMAT Interact special isn’t just the tech. It’s that we’ve translated what a student experiences in one of our classrooms into a sophisticated suite of digital lessons you actually engage with. Our interactive lessons play out as if you were receiving private tutoring – right from your computer or mobile device, anywhere, anytime. The instructors you’ll learn from are veteran Manhattan Prep instructors – not actors – who have 100+ combined years of teaching experience, so you can prep with confidence.

Kick off your studies with the full version of GMAT Interact now, or try it for free, at: www.manhattangmat.com/interact

Go behind-the-scenes and meet the creators of GMAT Interact to learn why so many are calling it “the best GMAT self-study method out right now.” We’re just 3 days away from launching the full version of GMAT Interact, but you can try a FREE Geometry Lesson from it right now, for a limited-time only: http://ow.ly/xNjBn.

gmat-self-studyYou’ve been thinking for a while now about going back to business school. You’ll go sometime in the future…but you haven’t started to do much about it yet.

Well, break out your pencils* and get ready to take advantage of your new membership in the GMAT Exercise Club! We’re going to set up a custom program for you to get the score you need by summer’s end—and then you can decide whether to apply this fall or to wait a year or two.

*Okay, okay, you don’t use pencils for this test anymore, nor is there an actual GMAT Exercise Club, and I can’t really give each and every one of you a completely customized, individual study program. But I can tell you what to start doing today to get yourself ready to take the GMAT by the end of the summer, as long as you make the commitment to get your brain in gear, do a little bit every day, and conquer Mount Everest…er, the GMAT.

This article will assume that you plan to study on your own. If you are still deciding whether to study on your own, take a class, or work with a tutor, the following article discusses the pros and cons of each approach: How to Choose an Approach: Self-study, Class, or Tutor.

Here’s how to develop a study plan that’s appropriate for you.

Week 1: Take a CAT

Your first step is to take a practice CAT under official testing conditions (including all 4 sections: essay, IR, quant, verbal).

It’s best to use a test-prep company CAT for this, not GMATPrep (the official practice test from the makers of the GMAT), as the purpose for taking this practice CAT is to gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses. While GMATPrep is the closest thing to the real test, it provides no data with which to evaluate your performance. Save GMATPrep for later in your study.

Right now, you might be protesting: but I haven’t studied anything yet! That’s okay. In fact, that’s the point! You need to determine what you do already know or understand and what you don’t so that you can set up an effective study plan for yourself. Don’t stress about your first score—use it as a study tool.

It is smart, though, to make sure that you learn a little bit about one particular question type before you take that test. Unless you’ve studied for the GMAT before, you probably haven’t seen anything like Data Sufficiency, so review that question type before your first CAT.

If you take an MGMAT CAT, use this two-part article to analyze your results: Evaluating Your Practice Tests. (The link given here is to the first part of the article; you can find the link to the second part at the end of the first part.)

Week 1: Choose Your Materials or Program

Next, you need a study plan. To start, figure out what materials you’ll use to study. At the least, you will need two things:

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gmat-self-study-classLast time, we talked about how to decide whether to study on your own, take a class, or work with a tutor. If you choose either of the latter two options, then you’ll want to make sure that you’re picking the best program and instructor for you—GMAT prep is too expensive to suffer through a bad program.

How to choose a particular class (including instructor!)

Most companies offer some kind of free event designed to allow you to check out their program before you commit. Take advantage of anything free to help you make your decision.

First, do your homework before you show up for that free event. Take a practice test and try to diagnose your own strengths and weaknesses. Most companies offer a free practice test. (Don’t use up one of your two free GMATPrep tests—the official practice test made by the test makers. Save those for later in your study.)

Research some business school programs and determine what you think your goal score needs to be. Talk to friends who took a course or worked with a tutor and ask whether they would recommend that course or tutor and why. (The “and why” is critically important—it may be that your friend liked a particular class for some reason that doesn’t matter at all to you!) Develop a list of questions that you would like to ask of any teacher an program you consider.

Next, develop a “short list” of companies or even specific teachers and then take advantage of whatever free offerings you can. Many companies will host free information sessions. Some (such as Manhattan GMAT) will allow students to attend one class of a course for free. Ideally, you want to see your instructor in action, so look for any free live or taped event that features the instructor in the class that you’d potentially attend.

One caveat: if the class sells out, you won’t be able to get a seat. Before the first class, call up the company to ask how many seats are still left; if it’s close to selling out, they’ll tell you! Alternatively, get ahead of the game by observing potential instructors a couple of months before you want to start. Then, you can sign up for a later course with the same instructor at your leisure.

Arrive for class early and, if the teacher is free, chat a bit to get a feel for his or her personality and approachability. (Don’t be offended if she or he needs to get ready for class and asks you to wait until after class to talk.) Feel free to ask about his or her credentials, teaching style, and so forth. Give the teacher a short summary of your situation (current scoring level, goal, any deadlines) and see what the teacher has to say.

Then take some notes. Was the instructor approachable? Did you feel comfortable asking questions and was the instructor happy to answer your questions? Did the instructor answer thoughtfully and even ask you some additional questions in order to clarify your situation? Did the instructor’s teaching style work for you? Do you feel you could learn well from this person for the duration of the course? Would you look forward to this teacher’s class?

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gmat-self-study-classSummer is here again, along with the GMAT busy season. Application deadlines are just a few short months away! It’s time to get your GMAT study into gear.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to study overall. Students ask whether they should study on their own or whether they should take a class or work with a tutor.

In the first part of this 2-part series, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the three primary study approaches; in the second part, we’ll examine how to choose the best program and instructor for you (if you decide to take a class or work with a tutor).

How to study: self-study, class, or tutor?

There are plenty of study materials and programs available from which to choose; the question is what is right for you.

Expect to spend between 50 and 100 hours total spread over approximately 2 to 4 months, depending upon your starting point and goal score. You’ll need to cover a wide range of material and strategies for the four sections of the test. In fact, this is why so many people do choose to take a class (though there are plenty of self-studiers out there, too!).

There are three primary approaches: working on your own (possibly with friends, but without the help of a professional), taking a GMAT class, or working with a private GMAT tutor. No one method is universally the best method. There are benefits and drawbacks to each situation, so deciding which one is best for you will depend upon your specific learning style, goals, needs, and preferences.

Regardless of study method, there are certain aspects that everyone must have. You will need materials that teach you the content tested on the exam, as well as techniques and methodologies for answering the different kinds of questions on the GMAT. You will also need practice materials, both individual practice problems (which can also be grouped into practice sets) and full, adaptive practice CATs.

You will also need some kind of plan—an outline of what to study and when. If you work with a company, that company should provide a syllabus and materials for you. If you work on your own, you will have to determine your own syllabus and decide what materials to use.

Self-Study

Studying on your own is typically the least expensive option and allows you to work on your own schedule. You also have to develop your own study program, which some people view as a benefit and some view as a drawback.

Developing your own plan can be a benefit if you have past experience with developing study plans, including diagnosing your strengths and weaknesses, choosing the best books and online materials to address your particular issues, planning your time wisely, sticking to a schedule, and, most importantly, teaching yourself. A lot of free resources are available to help you with these steps; for example, here’s an article that will help you Develop a Study Plan.

Some companies offer more complete self-study programs. For example, Manhattan GMAT offers an interactive digital learning platform called Interact. GMAT Interact for Integrated Reasoning™ is already available and a full GMAT Interact program will be available in about two weeks.

You can also choose to work just from books; the Developing a Study Plan article linked above talks more about the kinds of materials you’ll need. The basic books might cost you about $250 to $350, while a more advanced interactive learning program might set you back about $500 to $1,000.

You are going to have to be your own taskmaster. If you know from past experience that you’ll find it hard to stay home on Saturdays to study, especially when the sunshine is beckoning, then you may want to consider taking a course with regular class sessions and assigned homework. The last thing you want to do is reach mid-August and realize that you’ve barely cracked the books.

If you have generally done well on standardized tests in the past, are disciplined, and aren’t looking for an extra-large (200+ points) score increase, then self-study may be the option for you.

Class

Taking a GMAT class is more expensive than studying on your own but less expensive than tutoring. On average, a class might cost you $1,000 to $2,000. It will also, of course, provide you with a study schedule (though you will still have to have the discipline to follow it!).

A GMAT course will provide you with a comprehensive set of effective materials and a syllabus to follow. Using a class syllabus will be somewhat less flexible than developing your own (with or without the help of a tutor), but you also won’t have to sit down and figure out what to study on your own. You can (and should!) prioritize the standard syllabus according to your own strengths and weaknesses, spending additional time in weaker areas and moving on more quickly to advanced material in stronger areas.

A good instructor will be able to address different learning styles in the classroom. You will also be able to ask questions and discuss the finer points of GMAT problems with a real, live person; your teacher will become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses over the length of the course and will be better able to assist you as a result.

If you’re going for a large score increase (200+ points) or a very high score (700+), then this option might be the one for you. The cost is mid-range between the other two, and you gain access to a tried-and-tested program and an instructor who can help guide you through your studies. (Plus, the incremental cost over a self-study plan is negligible compared to the opportunities that will open up if you can hit your ambitious goal score.)

Tutoring

Tutoring is the most flexible and customized option, but also the most expensive—so much so that cost is the primary drawback to tutoring. Expect to spend a minimum of $3,000 (and quite possibly more).

A tutoring package will provide you with a comprehensive set of effective materials and a tutor should customize a syllabus based upon your particular learning style, goals, strengths, and weaknesses. You will also have the flexibility to set your own schedule and to concentrate on the areas that are most problematic for you. Further, because the expert is working with you one-on-one, she or he will quickly learn what your needs are and customize the lessons accordingly. As a result, tutoring is typically the most efficient study method (though you will pay for that efficiency!).

If cost is no object or if you know that self-study and classroom approaches won’t work well for you, then tutoring may be the best path. You might also use a hybrid approach in which you study on your own or take a class, and then do only a small number of hours of tutoring for more targeted help.

For options two and three, the right instructor makes all the difference. In the second part of this two-part series, we’ll talk about how to choose a particular instructor who matches your learning style, motivates you to attend class, and effectively conveys how best to think and work as the best GMAT test-takers do.

Related Article: Read How to Choose: GMAT Self-Study, Class or Tutor? (Part 2).

Studying for the GMAT? Take a free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class, online or near you. Be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

With GMAT INTERACT™ coming June 16th, we’d like to take you behind-the-scenes to explore some fun facts about GMAT INTERACT and the creation process that has made all of this possible. Here are a few fun facts we’d like to share.

1. GMAT INTERACT was years in the making.

gmat interact

 

It took over 6,000 hours of development to bring GMAT INTERACT to life. An expert team of Manhattan Prep designers, coders, developers, and instructors worked for over three years on the design and development of the platform to create a user experience that is unlike anything else in test prep.

2. This is the first GMAT learning platform that is truly interactive.

education technology

GMAT INTERACT is a comprehensive on demand, self-paced program that features 35+ lessons that are interactive, funny, and completely directed by you. No two people see the same thing. Designed around the student-teacher connection, an expert Manhattan Prep instructor will guide you through each section of the GMAT, asking you questions and prompting you to think about the content presented. What’s more: every response you give tailors the lesson you’ll receive.

3. We’ve made GMAT Fun!

gmat online course

Manhattan GMAT is known for our incredible instructors (just check out our Beat The GMAT Verified Reviews). Not only are our teachers top scoring GMAT experts, they’re also fun and engaging—and we’ve put them front and center in GMAT INTERACT. And, we may have also thrown in a sock puppet or two…

To give you a taste of the fun you can expect, here are some facts about GMAT INTERACT:

o Number of times you get to see Tommy dance: 3
o Number of times Whitney Garner laughs on camera: uncountable
o Most takes we needed for a clip: 16
o Number of times we cursed on camera and had to toss the clip: 11
o Number of dolphin drawings used: 1
o Number of dinosaur cat robots destroyed in production: 1
o Number of bubbles used in the Evil Grammar Lab: 521
o Number of cavemen used in production: 1

4. With GMAT INTERACT, you don’t get 1 Manhattan Prep instructor – you get 11!

best gmat online course

When we say that GMAT INTERACT is comprehensive – we mean it! We put eleven of our most accomplished instructors in front of the camera, take-after-take, and are delivering them to your computer and mobile devices wherever you are. Not just a video, our instructors will engage with you based on the responses and answers you input.

5. You don’t have to wait until June 16th to try GMAT INTERACT!

best online education platform

While the full version of GMAT INTERACT won’t be available until June 16th for purchase, you can try a FREE GMAT INTERACT Geometry Lesson right now, for free. So what are you waiting for? Jump in and have some fun! Test prep doesn’t have to be boring ever again!