Archives For GMAT Announcements

AppIconWe are happy to announce that the latest version of our free GMAT app, Pocket GMAT Flashcards, is now available for download via the App store! New updates include:

  • Back-end and usability fixes
  • Content overhaul
  • Updated for iOS7
  • Shiny new icon

Containing over 350 GMAT quant flash cards, Pocket GMAT uses an adaptive algorithm developed by Manhattan Prep instructors to help you target cards you most need help with. Allowing you to strengthen your GMAT quantitative skills anywhere and at any time, the Pocket GMAT app is an indispensable tool for iPhone users.

The app also now works better on iOS6 devices and we have fixed issues with scrolling and swiping, so overall navigation is smoother. We’ve also fixed content errata and made the images look better.

Manhattan Prep has teamed up with Learningpod to make Pocket GMAT free for everyone! In addition to the adaptive algorithm, there is also a sequential practice mode that lets you flip through the cards however you want. You also have the ability to enter a Target Date to keep you on pace and track your progress. The flash cards are organized into “KeyRings” by topic and include algebra, number properties, word problems, geometry, fractions, decimals, and percents.

We hope the new updates improve your studying experience, and if you’re as excited as we are about the revisions, please let us know in the review section of the App store. We use your feedback to make our study tools the best they can possibly be!

GMAT test prep book official guide companion for sentece correction

We are very excited to announce that our new book, The Official Guide Companion for Sentence Correction, will hit bookshelve today, December 3rd!

What is the OGSC (for short)?

It’s one of the best GMAT study guides you could have (if we do say so ourselves)!

Here’s the deal: nearly everyone studies from The Official Guide for GMATÒ Review, 13th Edition (or OG13). This book contains about 900 real GMAT questions that appeared on the exam in the past. OG13 does contain explanations, but those explanations are “textbook” explanations: reading them is like reading a grammar book. The answers are completely accurate but a bit hard to follow if you’re not a grammar teacher (and some of them are hard to follow even when you are a grammar teacher… ahem).

So we decided to remedy that problem by writing our own explanations for every single one of the 159 Sentence Correction problems contained in OG13. We’ll tell you the SC Process for getting through any SC question efficiently and effectively. We’ll also discuss how to eliminate each wrong answer in terms that are easy for students (not just teachers) to understand. The book includes an extra section on sentence structure and a glossary of common grammar terms. Finally, you’ll gain access to our online GMAT Navigator program which lets you track your OG work, time yourself, and view your performance data so that you can better determine your strengths and weaknesses.

Who should use the OGSC?

Are you struggling to improve your SC performance? Do you love studying official problems but hate trying to decipher the sometimes-mystifying official explanations? Do you want to throw your OG13 across the room when you read yet another explanation that says an answer choice is “wordy” or “awkward”?

If something is “awkward,” there is a real reason why—and we explain that specific reason to you so that you can start to pick out similar faulty constructions on other problems in future. (Did you know that, most of the time, “wordy” and “awkward” are code words for an ambiguous or illogical meaning? The OGSC will help you learn how to decipher these for yourself!)

How can I get the most out of the OGSC?

First, read the introduction chapter, where you’ll learn all about how to work through an SC problem in an efficient manner.

Next, if you have already started studying Sentence Correction problems from the OG, begin with the problems that you’ve tried recently. Try to articulate to yourself why each of the four wrong answers is wrong. Try to find all of the errors in each answer (though, on the real test, just one error is enough to eliminate an answer!).

Note: You don’t need to use grammar terminology when you’re trying to articulate why something’s wrong, but do try to go beyond “this one sounds bad.” That’s a good starting point but which part, specifically, sounds bad? What sounds so bad about that part?

Then, check yourself against the explanations. If you didn’t spot a particular error, go back to the problem and ask yourself what clues (in the form of differences in the answer choices) will alert you the next time this particular topic is being tested. If you didn’t know how to handle the issue but now understand from the explanation, make yourself a flashcard to help you remember whatever that is for future. If the explanation seems like Greek to you, then maybe this particular issue is too hard and your take-away is to skip something like this in future and make a guess!

When you’re ready to try new OG problems, make sure to do them under timed conditions (try to average about 1 minute 20 seconds on SC). When you’re done, check the answer. If you guessed, go ahead straight to the explanation. If you got it right, try to articulate why each incorrect answer is wrong, then check the explanation. If you got it wrong, look at the problem again to see whether you might have made a careless mistake. Then go to the explanation.

Where can I get the OGSC?

You can find The Official Guide Companion for Sentence Correction on our website starting today!

Let us know what you think in the Comments section below. Good luck and happy studying!

manhattan gmat integrated reasoningExciting news! GMAC (the owners of the GMAT) announced on Friday that, starting immediately, we’ll get our unofficial IR scores as soon as the test is over. They already do this for our Quant, Verbal, and Total scores, so IR will be added to the mix.

As with the other scores, the IR score will be considered an “unofficial” score until you receive your official score report. You can consider these test-day scores essentially official, though, as it’s incredibly rare for something to change after that day. The folks over at GMAC are professionals; they’re not going to release scores if there’s even a small chance that something could change, upsetting students who thought they had earned a different score.

So now you won’t have to wait to find out how you did on IR. (You’ll still wait for the essay score, of course, but that’s not quite so nerve-wracking, is it?)

Need to practice IR? Try our new free GMAT Interact lessons for Integrated Reasoning.

Happy studying and good luck on test day!

gmacLast week, GMAC updated its percentiles for GMAT scores. The organization does this once a year to smooth out any differences in the testing pool.

What do I mean by “differences?” The demographics of the people taking the exam change over time. In particular, over the last ten years or so, GMAC has seen a huge increase in the number of non-United-States-based students taking the test. A majority of these students speak English as a second (or third!) language; a majority also have a better grounding in quantitative skills than the average U.S.-educated student. These differences lead to changes in the data over time.

Scaled Scores vs. Percentiles

GMAT results are reported using various “scaled scores.” We receive a 2-digit score for quant, a separate 2-digit score for verbal, a Q+V-combined 3-digit score, and two more separate scores for the essay and IR sections.

Think of these scaled scores as “skill levels.” They reflect a specific, measurable level of ability. Here’s the interesting thing: the skills needed to reach a certain level do not change over time. A quant score of 45 today reflects the same skill level as a quant score of 45 earned ten or even twenty years ago.

What does change over time is the percentile ranking associated with that score. A percentile ranking reflects how much better you did than a certain percentage of the test-taking population. For example, if you score in the 75th percentile, then you scored better than 75% of the people taking the test—not just that day, or that week, but for the past couple of years (or whatever timeframe is designated for that test).

Imagine that you give a math test to a bunch of 10-year-olds. The scoring algorithm is very simple: if you get a question right, you get one point. You then gather all of the scores and figure out percentile rankings for that group. Let’s say that a certain score (let’s call it 5) represents the 50th percentile. A student who scores 5 earned a better score than 50% of her peers.

Then you take that exact test and give it to a bunch of 14-year-olds. They’re a lot better at math. The same score of 5 might represent only the 25th percentile for this new group, because more of these students have better math skills and can answer more questions correctly. A score of 5 still means the same thing (in this case, 5 questions right), but the pool of testers has changed and so the percentile rankings change too.

This is essentially what happens with the GMAT over time as well. If more people who are good at math start taking the test, then that score of 45 (which represents a certain, fixed level of skill) will drop in the percentile rankings because more people will be capable of performing at that level or higher.

We’ve seen especially big demographic changes on the GMAT over the last 5 to 10 years. In 2006, a quant score of 45 was rated the 78th percentile. Someone scoring at that level had better quant skills than 78% of the people taking the exam around that time.

Today, that same skill level of 45 rates the 66th percentile. This does not mean that someone scoring a 45 today is worse at math than someone with the same score in 2006; rather, the two students are equally good. Instead, a greater percentage of the population taking the test today has stronger math skills.

You might be thinking: oh, great. So that means I have to do even better at math. Actually, the opposite is (sort of) true. Keep reading.

This Year’s Trends

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The new release of GMATPrep, version 2.2, is a significant upgrade!

gmatprepThe biggest improvement is that the software now allows you to review previous practice problems and tests. I was excited when I saw this feature listed in the README and I was thrilled when I found that I could actually review the practice problems and the tests that I took last year! Thank you, GMAC! This is enormously helpful for test takers.

The default for both practice problem sets is now to do what most people want to do, which is to save the test for later review, and the new user interface makes it very hard to accidently delete a practice test. You have to press a test ˜reset’ button and then go through a dialog to reset your tests, another big improvement.

I was also delighted to see that in the practice utility, the Reading Comprehension problems are now grouped correctly. In the previous versions of GMAT Prep, each RC practice problem included an entirely new passage, unlike the real test, where of course each passage has 3 or 4 associated questions. This is another significant improvement and makes the practice utility more helpful for people who are working on RC or who want to do mixed verbal sets. Since this new feature works correctly with mixed drills as well, you can now use GMATPrep to specify realistic verbal mixed sets, with SC, CR, and RC problems, as well as realistic quant mixed sets of PS and DS problems.

Although the two practice tests still seem to have only one IR section, an IR percentile ranking is now computed, which is helpful.

There are is also some new timing analysis available in practice sets, along with some at least moderately useful progress tracking graphs for examining progress on practice sets.

And speaking of time, you can now pause a practice exam or question session. Although you really shouldn’t do this if you want a realistic practice experience, sometimes it is helpful, such as when you are writing a review of the software and need to test features and then write about them. J

GMAC must be thinking more about customer support because you can now generate system information at the click of button, which makes things much easier if you ever need to call of email GMAC about a software problem.

And finally, if you are a test taker with a GMAC approved timing accommodation, you can ask for a special code that you enter that will allow you to take practice tests with the appropriate amount of extra time.

All in all, very well done GMAC! I noticed a couple of weird little bugs that I’ve listed below, but they are minor compared to the improvements and have easy workarounds, which I’ve described.

Weird Little Bugs:

  • You have to enter your mba.com account name and password when you first launch GMATPREP and if you are logged in to mba.com when you try this, you will get an unhelpful unknown error message. If you see this message, just log out of mba.com’s website and try starting GMAT Prep again.
  • When you solve an IR table question, the ˜submit’ button will be grayed out until you click on sort by a column “ even if you have filled in all of the answers “ so just remember to click on something to sort by if you didn’t actually have to sort (and usually you will have to) to answer the question.

We haven’t tried one of these yet: multi-source reasoning. These questions will consist of 2 or 3 tabs of information with accompanying questions. MSRs tend to have 2 or 3 associated questions, though it’s possible to have just 1 or more than 3. The one we’re going to try has been released as a sample question on the mba.com website and contains just one accompanying question.

Try the problem

gmat multi source reasoningLet’s try out the question: here it is. Just in case that link changes, you can also click on this link to go to the next-gen GMAT website, and then, toward the bottom of the page, click on the Multi-Source Reasoning link. We’re going to try the very first problem (with the text beginning Yesterday was the deadline).

Note: when you are done, do NOT click the next button. Just leave it up on the screen and come back here.

Set your timer for 2.5 minutes and go! (Note: we have an average of 2 minutes and 30 seconds for each IR question in the section, but some question types are more complicated than others. I recommend trying this one for 2.5 minutes, but you can spend 3 to 3.5 if needed. Normally, we would have at least 2 questions and a total of at least 5 minutes to spend on an MSR prompt, but we’re answering only 1 question here.)

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Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up to Liz’s post from Wednesday, reviewing the new GMATPrep 2.0.

Late yesterday afternoon I got an exciting email from GMAC! It said that GMAC had found and fixed what was described as a section scoring error and posted an updated version of the GMATPrep practice software for students to download.

Of course I immediately downloaded the new software in order to test it. Version 2.1 asks if you want to replace version 2.0 before it downloads, which is a nice feature, but a bit irrelevant, because of course you want the version where IR scoring works.

The big surprise is that the IR section score is on a 1-8 scale, not 1-25 as it appeared to be previously. I tried it and missed one question in one out of 12 prompts and got an 8, but when I tried it again and missed 1 question in each of 4 different multiple answer prompts, I got a 7, so it looks as though GMAC must be giving some sort of partial credit, but I won’t be positive of this until I’ve tried the test several more times. Unfortunately, you can’t complete just the IR section and get a score. You have to complete the entire test if you want scores.

After you finish the test, you can use the review screen, but beware, as soon as you exit, you will no longer have access to the questions that you answered. The software will save your scores for you though, so at least you don’t lose those.

This morning I was delighted to discover a new version of GMATPrep up on the mba.com website. You have to have an mba.com account and be logged in to download it, just as before, but Mac users will be pleased because now there is a version that runs on the Mac OS (version 10.6 or greater) along with the version that runs on Windows XP, Vista, or 7.

After I downloaded and started the actual test (there are two provided, just as with the old GMATPrep) I noticed that it looks more like an actual GMAT administered at a test center than the old GMATPrep looks. It has all of the instructions and the mini-tutorials that the real test has. Continue Reading…