Archives For study tips

gmat-test-prep-700I first wrote about this topic back in 2010. I’ve seen so many people lately on the forums who are going for a 750 or 760+ that I decided to revive the conversation.

My first version of this article started out with some reservations about this topic—and those reservations haven’t gone away. In fact, they’ve grown a little. Just yesterday, I answered a forum question from someone who told me that his or her desired school required a 750 or higher.

I don’t know a single school that says it requires a 750 or higher—and if there is one, then that admissions team is using the test incorrectly and people should be skeptical about attending that school. As far as the GMAT can tell, someone scoring 720 and someone scoring 750 are both equally capable of performing well at any particular business school. (Other reasons may exist for preferring one person over the other, but the GMAT is not one of those reasons.)

Second of all, I talk to many people on the forums who set a goal score and just assume that, as long as they study hard enough, they can get that score. In fact, they think there’s something wrong with them when they struggle to get there. The GMAT is not a static school test, where everyone could theoretically score the top score if they just studied enough. By definition, only 1 percent of test-takers will score 760 or higher.

That loops us back around to my first concern: given that so few people achieve these scores, any school that required a 750 or 760 (or higher) would not have very many candidates to choose from among when building its next MBA class. In addition, the school would build a very lopsided class. The GMAT is one admissions tool, but only one. There are many very strong candidates who do not hit the top level on this particular piece of the admissions puzzle.

In short, most people going for this kind of crazy-high score would be far better off using that time to work towards a promotion at work, or volunteer, or spend more time with family and friends. That is, unless you want to teach for my company—we’re the only organization I know that actually does require a 760+. :)

I also have to discuss something about the ranges I’ve chosen, 700 versus 760. You receive quant and verbal sub-scores on the GMAT, which are combined into a three digit score. The sub-scores can be quite different (or pretty similar) to get a 700 (or any score).

This article will assume that the sub-scores are roughly similar (that is, the person does not have a big disparity between the two sub-scores). If such a disparity does exist—for example, a 70th percentile quant score and a 95th percentile verbal score—then that person may score a 700, but will not have mastered everything listed below for the quant portion. At the same time, that person will likely have mastered many, if not most, things listed under the “760-level” section below for the verbal portion.


Before we can dive into what mastery means for each of these two groups, we have to define something: what it means to recognize what to do on a problem. If you recognize what to do, then when you see a new question, you quickly (within about 20 to 30 seconds) make a connection to some problem you’ve done in the past; there’s some similarity between the two problems and you recognize that similarity.

As a result of that recognition, you now know what to do in order to solve this problem, because you can use the same (or a very similar) solution method. You will also be aware of the common mistakes you might make or traps you might fall into on a question like this one. You may save a little time and you’re more likely to answer the problem correctly.

By contrast, if you don’t recognize what to do, you have to figure out what to do “from scratch” (from the beginning); that slows you down and doesn’t give you any advantage in terms of accuracy.

Okay, here are the differences in mastery for 700-level and 760-level scorers:


What jumped out at you? I’d like to point out a few important points.

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errorWhen I make an error, I get excited. Seriously “ you should be excited when you make errors, too. I know that I’m about to learn something and get better, and that’s definitely worth getting excited!

Errors can come in several different forms: careless errors, content errors, and technique errors. We’re going to discuss something critical today: how to learn from your errors so that you don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. First, let’s define these different error types.
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GMAT study tipsLast year, the New York Times published an interesting article: Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits. At Manhattan GMAT, we’ve been discussing it since it came out and I wanted to share this discussion with you.

Get up and move

According to the article, multiple studies support the hypothesis that altering our physical study environment helps us to retain material better. Our brains are apparently making connections based on what we see and hear while we study, even when the sights and sounds are unrelated to the subject matter and noticed only subconsciously. The more connections your brain makes with regard to a specific piece of knowledge, the easier it is for you to retrieve that information when you need it.

What this means for you: Continue Reading…

I haven’t picked too ambitious a title there, have I?  Let’s see how we do!

Time management is obviously an essential GMAT skill, and one of the (many!) skills we need for this test is the ability to maintain an appropriate time position. Time position refers to the relationship between the test taker’s position on the test (the question number) and the time that has elapsed to get to that point in the section. For example, if I’ve just finished quant question #5 and 15 minutes have elapsed so far, am I ahead, behind, or on time?

Check out the table below to help answer that question:

Positive ahead of time (>3 minutes ahead)
Neutral on time (+/- 3 minutes)
Negative behind on time (>3 minutes behind)

In my previous example, I would be behind on time because, on quant, we’re expected to average about 2 minutes per question. After 5 questions, only 10 minutes should have elapsed “ so I am 5 minutes behind, putting me in a negative time position.

Most people will find themselves in the negative position more frequently than the positive position. If we run out of time before completing the section, Continue Reading…

In this article, I’m going to offer a Best of list for how to study. Below, you’ll find links to the articles that I think are most helpful in developing and executing a comprehensive study plan, as well as a discussion of how to use them.

Whether you’re just getting started or are nearing the finish line, it’s critical to develop a study plan that’s appropriate for you, and that study plan will need to be revised periodically as your skills change (because you are getting better over time, hopefully!).

So, start with Developing a GMAT Study Plan. This article will help you determine three critical things: Continue Reading…

[This article has been updated in a new post featured May 9, 2014. Read the newest version of The Distinction Beween a 700 Score and a 760 Score]. Recently, I was asked to write an article addressing what it takes to score in the 99th percentile. I have some reservations about writing such an article, but I agreed to write it.

First, I’m going to tell you why I have reservations about writing this article. A lot of people may read this article and think: Great! I can just do this and score in the 99th percentile! In order to have this conversation in the first place, however, we have to assume that the tester is already scoring at least 700, if not higher.

In other words, you cannot start with the information in this article (unless you’re already at 700+!). In addition, I can’t write an article that tells anyone, at any current level, how to get to 760. What I can do is write an article detailing the differences between a 700-level scorer and a 760-level scorer. What you can do, if you really want a 760, is first get yourself to a very solid 700-level “ using other articles and resources, not this one. (A very solid 700-level refers to someone who can consistently score 700 under full, official test conditions; it does not refer to someone who got 700 once after skipping the essays.)

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When we study practice problems, our overall goal is to master the problem we’re working on right now. What does mastery mean? It means that, when we see a future different problem that tests the same thing as this current problem, we will recognize that the future problem has certain things in common with this current problem, and we will know what steps to take as a result ” we will, literally, recognize what to do on the future different problem, a problem we’ve never actually seen before.

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Top 5 GMAT Study Tips

ayang —  February 20, 2008

Here is the latest in our latest Strategy Series, by Chris Ryan, Director of Instructor and Product Development.

You’ve just accepted your fate. I have to take the GMAT, you admit to yourself. And now you admit one more thing: No, I can’t walk in and take it cold.

So you contemplate all the research you have to do. Tomorrow you’ll start trolling the online forums, talking to friends about their GMAT-prep experiences, and haunting the Study Aids aisle of your local Barnes & Noble. But right now, you don’t want to buy anything. You want general principles. Whichever books you pick up, whatever course you take (or not) “ how should you think about preparing for the GMAT?

Here are five tips to guide you.

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