Archives For graduate management admissions test

how-to-set-up-your-gmat-scratch-paperA student in one of my classes recently asked me how best to set up his scratch paper while taking the exam, so my first task is to give a shout-out to Robert and thank him for giving me the topic for this article!

I shared a few things with him during class and I’ll share these things with you below. Plus, now that I’ve had a chance to reflect, I have some other ideas for you.

What’s the Scratch Paper like?

You’ll be given a bound booklet of 5 sheets of legal-sized paper (that’s the overly long paper often used for legal documents). This yellow graph paper will be laminated, so you’ll use a special marker to write on it. (If you’re in one of our classes, then you received your very own scratch paper booklet as part of your books and other materials.)

While the booklet technically has 10 faces (front and back of 5 pages), the first page has a bunch of writing and instructions on it, so in practice you’ll have 9 faces on which to write. You can have only one booklet at a time, but you are allowed to exchange the booklet for a new one during the test.

AWA (essay)

The test is divided into four sections. Chances are that you won’t need much scrap paper, if any, during the essay section. In fact, I recommend typing your notes right onto the screen as you read the essay prompt. For example, every time I find a flaw in the argument, I type up a note, then hit enter. When I’m done, I look through the list of flaws, decide which ones to keep, and cut and paste to reorder them. Now, I have a template for what I’m going to write for each paragraph.

Integrated Reasoning (IR) and Organizing Your Page

You will definitely use your scrap paper during the IR section, but there are only 12 question prompts and 9 sheets of paper, so you should have plenty of space.

Organization, though, will be important, since most IR question types have two or three parts. Plan to spend about half a page per problem and keep that work discrete. In fact, I recommend drawing a horizontal line halfway down the page to force yourself to work in a discrete space and keep your steps organized.

Have you ever done this?

[Internal monologue] Hmm, there’s not a lot of room left on this page, but I think I can squeeze one more problem in here. Oh, there isn’t quite enough room after all, but if I turn the paper sideways and write in this blank space between some other work over here, I can finish it off. Argh, none of the answers match. I must’ve made a mistake…let me check my work… Wait, am I looking at work from this problem or from the last problem?

I’m one of the worst offenders on this on quant. Check this out. I just went and found an old piece of scrap paper (I did not create this just for this article—I promise!):

269 - Set up Scratch Paper image

I don’t even know whether that’s one problem or two different problems. Either way, that is NOT good scrap paper practice. I think this might have been one of our challenge problems and I was definitely struggling to figure the problem out.

Continue Reading…

OG2015GMAC just released new 2015 editions of its three The Official Guide for GMAT® Review books. Here’s what you need to know as you decide whether to buy these books and how to use them.

What changed?

The three books in question are The Official Guide for GMAT Review 2015 (formerly known as the 13th edition of the Official Guide, or OG), The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review 2015 (formerly known as the 2nd edition of the Quant Review), and The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review 2015 (formerly known as the 2nd edition of the Verbal Review). I’ll refer to these throughout this article as OG2015, QR2015, and VR2015, respectively.

The questions (and explanations) contained in all three 2015 versions are the same as the questions (and explanations) in the previous versions. There are no new questions.

The new editions do come with special codes to access an online software program that contains the problems from the books. Now, when you want to do a set of random OG problems, you don’t have to create the sets for yourself—you can have the online software do it for you. (OG2015 also still provides online access to the 50 Integrated Reasoning questions that come with the 13th edition of the book.)

The online software also has some short videos (one for each book) starring the incomparable Dr. Lawrence Rudner, Chief Psychometrician for GMAC, answering frequently asked questions from students.

How does the software work?

The software for all three books gives you the ability to choose Practice mode or Exam mode. In addition, OG2015 offers a Diagnostic test mode that contains the questions from chapter 3 of the printed book.

Certain features are offered in all three modes:

- Question Type, Number, and Difficulty. You can choose from among the different question types (PS, DS, SC, CR, RC), as well as by difficulty bucket (easy, medium, hard, or all). You can also decide how many questions you want to be in the set.

- Timing. The software will keep track of how much time you spend per question, as well as your overall time for that set of questions. (It does not, though, give you a time limit, so you will have to set one for yourself.)

- Bookmarks. You can bookmark problems that you want to remember for some reason—maybe your guesses or the ones that you want to try again before checking the answer or explanation.

- Calculator. Yes, the software offers a calculator, even though you’re not allowed to use a calculator on the quant section of the real test. My recommendation: pretend this button doesn’t exist.

- Pause. You can pause the question set. This is useful if someone suddenly rings your doorbell, but do not pause the software while continuing to work on the problem. Otherwise, your data will be skewed and you won’t really be able to tell what your strengths and weaknesses are.

In the Diagnostic and Exam modes, you can only move forward in the question set (as on the real exam), but in Practice mode, you can move back and forth. If you come back to a problem for the second time, the software will actually remember how much time you spent before and will start counting your time where you left off! I was really impressed with this feature.

I do have to warn you about three other somewhat-faulty features (maybe these will be changed in future). First, when you click to go to the next question, the software does not ask you to confirm. That’s fine in Practice mode, where you’re allowed to go backwards, but in Diagnostic and Exam modes, if you accidentally click “next question,” you will be moved to the next problem even if you have not yet entered an answer—and there is no way to go back.

Second, in any of the three modes, you’ll be able to go to a results screen when done with a question set. For both Exam and Practice modes, these question sets will be saved and you’ll be able to review them at any time in the future. In Diagnostic mode, however, you can only see the results screen right after you have finished the problem set. Once you close out of that area (or out of the software entirely), that data will disappear, so make sure you take screen shots of the results screen before you leave that area of the program. (In fact, I recommend taking the screen shots immediately after finishing a Diagnostic set. I accidentally clicked something that took me out of that part of the program and lost all of my data before I could review it.)

Third, in both Practice and Exam modes, the RC questions are offered one at a time, not in sets of 3 or 4 (as on the real test). For this reason, I recommend doing RC questions out of the physical book. Reading an entire passage only to answer a single question is not a good use of study time.

I was also excited to see that the Practice mode offered a “notes” feature, where you can actually type notes to yourself while working on the problem. I was disappointed that those notes seemed to disappear afterwards. When I was reviewing the results screen and the problem explanations, I couldn’t find any way to access my notes again.

How do I get the most out of these new books?

If you already have the previous incarnations of these books (OG13, VR2, and QR2), then I don’t actually recommend buying the new editions unless money is not a concern for you. The most important thing is to have access to the questions themselves. While the new software does make it much easier to set up problem sets, many people probably aren’t going to pay $46 just for that.

If you don’t yet have these books, though, then of course you’ll want to get the 2015 editions. In that case, here’s how I would use the new features:

1. In the first week or two of your study, take the Diagnostic mode tests. I would do these in 5 separate sittings, one for each question type. You don’t need to set yourself a hard overall time limit, but do pay attention to that clock and be honest with yourself when a problem just isn’t happening. Guess and move on. (Note: if you’re taking our class, then you can dispense with this step and save the problems for review later in your studies.)

2. As you work through whatever material you’re using to learn all about the math, grammar, and question types tested on the GMAT, you will initially try just a couple of OG problems that directly test whatever you recently studied. In this case, you won’t be using the OG software because the software doesn’t let you select by topic.

After you get at least halfway through your study material though (e.g., about 3 of our 5 quant books, or halfway through the chapters in the SC book), you can start to set up random sets of questions for yourself using the software’s Practice mode. When you’re offered a question on a topic you haven’t studied yet, just do your best; this will help you to have an idea of your strengths and weaknesses so that you know how much time to spend when you do get to that topic.

Whether you want to do random sets of problems or choose specific topics, here are some guidelines for creating your own OG problem sets.

3. Save Exam mode for a bit later in your studies, after you’ve been through all of your main study material once. Both Practice and Exam modes are pulling from the same pool of questions, but Exam mode imposes some additional restrictions that make your practice closer to the real test (for example, you can’t go back to questions that you’ve already completed).

In sum

Everyone should be studying with the Official Guide materials—nothing is better than the real thing! If you already have the 13th edition or 2nd edition books, don’t feel that you must buy the 2015 editions, but if you don’t, then certainly get the latest versions and take advantage of the new online problem set program.

Happy studying!

gmat-interact-caption-contest

So you’re smart, clever, and creative? … Then you’re going to love this photo caption contest! Once a week for the next four weeks we’re going to post a photo of a scene from GMAT Interact on our Facebook Photo Caption Contest page for you to caption for your chance to win GMAT Interact™ (a $899 value)!

GMAT Interact is a comprehensive, self-paced program that features 35+ lessons that are interactive, fun, and completely driven by you. Designed around the student-teacher connection, expert Manhattan Prep instructors guide students through every topic tested on the GMAT, one section at a time, asking them questions and prompting them to think about the content presented. What’s more: every response a student gives helps personalize the lesson. It’s what many are calling “the best self-study method out there right now.”

Here’s how the contest works:
Every Monday for the next four weeks, we will be posting a photo of a scene from GMAT Interact on our Facebook Photo Caption Contest App for you to caption. Our weekly winner will be announced each Monday when we post the new pic to quote! Judging is based on creativity and votes accumulated on captions — so be sure to share your caption with your friends, and encourage them to vote for you.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to our Facebook Photo Caption Contest now to see this week’s photo and be sure to check back next week for the winner!

 

free-gmat-classDo you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. The SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan GMAT’s live online Complete Courses (a $1290 value).

These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their MBA to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan GMAT’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline is fast approaching: June 27, 2014! 

Learn more about the SVS program and apply to be one of our Social Venture Scholars here.

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

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-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?

Continue Reading…

gmat-quant-tipsMemorize what? I’m not going to tell you yet. Try this problem from the GMATPrep® free practice tests first and see whether you can spot the most efficient solution.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.40.57 PM

All right, have you got an answer? How satisfied are you with your solution? If you did get an answer but you don’t feel as though you found an elegant solution, take some time to review the problem yourself before you keep reading.

Step 1: Glance Read Jot

Take a quick glance; what have you got? PS. A given equation, xy = 1. A seriously ugly-looking equation. Some fairly “nice” numbers in the answers. Hmm, maybe you should work backwards from the answers?

Jot the given info on the scrap paper.

Step 2: Reflect Organize

Oh, wait. Working backwards isn’t going to work—the answers don’t stand for just a simple variable.

Okay, what’s plan B? Does anything else jump out from the question stem?

Hey, those ugly exponents…there is one way in which they’re kind of nice. They’re both one of the three common special products. In general, when you see a special product, try rewriting the problem usually the other form of the special product.

Step 3: Work

Here’s the original expression again:

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.31.24 PM

Let’s see.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.32.25 PM

Interesting. I like that for two reasons. First of all, a couple of those terms incorporate xy and the question stem told me that xy = 1, so maybe I’m heading in the right direction. Here’s what I’ve got now:

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.33.22 PM

And that takes me to the second reason I like this: the two sets of exponents look awfully similar now, and they gave me a fraction to start. In general, we’re supposed to try to simplify fractions, and we do that by dividing stuff out.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.34.28 PM

How else can I write this to try to divide the similar stuff out? Wait, I’ve got it:

The numerator: Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.35.25 PM

The denominator: Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.36.02 PM

They’re almost identical! Both of the Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.37.06 PMterms cancel out, as do the Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.37.41 PMterms, leaving me with:

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.38.29 PM

I like that a lot better than the crazy thing they started me with. Okay, how do I deal with this last step?

First, be really careful. Fractions + negative exponents = messy. In order to get rid of the negative exponent, take the reciprocal of the base:

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.39.05 PM

Next, dividing by 1/2 is the same as multiplying by 2:

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.39.54 PM

That multiplies to 16, so the correct answer is (D).

Key Takeaways: Special Products

(1) Your math skills have to be solid. If you don’t know how to manipulate exponents or how to simplify fractions, you’re going to get this problem wrong. If you struggle to remember any of the rules, start building and drilling flash cards. If you know the rules but make careless mistakes as you work, start writing down every step and pausing to think about where you’re going before you go there. Don’t just run through everything without thinking!

(2) You need to memorize the special products and you also need to know when and how to use them. The test writers LOVE to use special products to create a seemingly impossible question with a very elegant solution. Whenever you spot any form of a special product, write the problem down using both the original form and the other form. If you’re not sure which one will lead to the answer, try the other form first, the one they didn’t give you; this is more likely to lead to the correct answer (though not always).

(3) You may not see your way to the end after just the first step. That’s okay. Look for clues that indicate that you may be on the right track, such as xy being part of the other form. If you take a few steps and come up with something totally crazy or ridiculously hard, go back to the beginning and try the other path. Often, though, you’ll find the problem simplifying itself as you get several steps in.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

 

 

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!