News, advice and resources for business school applicants

GMAT Tips

Test tips from leading prep firms for applicants studying for the GMAT.  If you know your strengths and weaknesses, browse by test section: AWA, Quant and Verbal.


Analysis of an Argument Essay

Today’s GMAT article comes from Manhattan Review GMAT Prep UAE, a provider of GMAT Prep courses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, among others. In this article, they reveal Manhattan Review’s six best points on the GMAT essay.

The GMAT is an odd test. Unlike in the LSAT, the least important section, the essay, comes first, not last. However, though it’s true that business schools don’t pay as much attention to the essay score as to the overall verbal and quantitative score, this doesn’t mean that the essay is of no importance at all. You need to take it seriously and write as good an essay as you can.  Here are six points to guide you:

WHY THE ESSAY?

It is important to keep in mind what the essay is and what it isn’t. The essay isn’t a newspaper Op-Ed. It isn’t a definitive statement on a critical issue of the hour. It isn’t even an essay that you write for your professor. Consider: You only have 30 minutes to think about, plan out, write and proof your essay. So there’s a limit to what you can say and how effectively you can say it. The purpose of the essay is to enable the schools to verify that you really wrote the essays that you submitted with your application. If you sent in a beautifully crafted, eloquent essay but only managed an illiterate, ungrammatical and perfunctory essay in the GMAT the school will wonder whether someone other than you wrote your application essays. The GMAT essay does not have to astound anyone with its brilliance. It just has to be good enough to make sure that the school admissions officers don’t start to entertain doubts as to your authenticity as a writer. Keep this in mind though: While a poorly written essay could harm your cause, a well-written, perhaps even outstanding one won’t advance it very much. The score the business schools continue to be guided by is the main quantitative and verbal score. An adequate score for the essay will suffice. An inadequate score will hurt.

AN ESSAY, NOT A GROCERY LIST

This is an essay, not an office memorandum, an e-mail or a grocery list. It has to read like a narrative, like a logical progression of an argument. There can be no bullet points; numbered paragraphs; headings; underlined words; abbreviations such as w/out or b/c; colloquialisms; acronyms; Internet slang such as LOL, IMHO, P2P, B2B, FWIW and OTOH. All sentences must include at least one noun and one verb. Memorize words that allow you to transition from one paragraph to another such as “however,” “on the one hand” and “on the other hand,” “moreover,” “furthermore,” “in addition,” “consequently,” and “it is possible.”

Avoid inserting yourself into the essay as much as possible. There is no need for such expressions as “I think” on “In my opinion,” or “I don’t agree.” Such terms are redundant. You are the one writing the essay. The reader knows this; he or she doesn’t need to be told.

Continue reading…

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The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Problem Solving (Part 2)

Today’s GMAT article comes from Manhattan Review Asia, a provider of GMAT private tutoring in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore, among others. In this article, they reveal Manhattan Review’s best 5 strategies how to tackle GMAT Problem Solving questions. In fact, the article is so detailed that we had to split it into two parts. If you have missed the first part of this post, you can find it here.

4.  Skipping the Algebra
The most effective way to solve problems quickly is to make up numbers. Problems involving ratios and percentages are very susceptible to solution by this method. You can of course solve such problems using algebra, but it takes so much longer.

Consider a question of the form “There are three times as many third-graders as fourth-graders at a picnic. There are also twice as many first-graders as there are second-graders. If there are four times as many third-graders as there are second-graders, what percentage of the total number of children at the picnic comprises fourth-graders?” This is a classic GMAT-style question. The quickest way to solve it is to pick arbitrary but simple numbers. Let’s assume that there are 20 fourth-graders at the picnic. That means that there must be 60 third-graders. That in turn must mean that there are 15 second-graders. Which means that there are 30 first-graders there.

Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Quantitative, GMAT Tips | 0 comments

The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Problem Solving (Part 1)

Today’s GMAT article comes from Manhattan Review Asia, a provider of GMAT Prep courses in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore, among others. In this article, they reveal Manhattan Review’s best 5 strategies how to tackle GMAT Problem Solving questions. In fact, the article is so detailed that we had to split it into two parts.

As with every type of question on the GMAT, the biggest challenge to answering Problem Solving questions is figuring out how to get to the right answer in the minimum amount of time. If we had half an hour for each question, we would all be scoring in the 99th percentile. We don’t have half an hour. So forget pride. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are at math. If you can get to the right answer without crafting elegant equations doing fancy algebra, go for it! At some point in the test, a question will stump you. That’s when you’ll be thankful for all of those precious seconds you saved by skipping elaborate calculations. Here are five tips on how to improve your Problem Solving skills and have fun on the test:

  1. Go slower in order to go faster
    It is absolutely essential that you take the time to read the question very carefully. Don’t make assumptions; don’t jump to conclusions; don’t take it for granted that the question is asking the same thing as similar questions asked you in the past. Draw a diagram; write out as clearly and as free of confusion as possible who did what in the past and who is doing what at the moment. It may seem as if you are losing time, but you are not. You are saving yourself precious minutes that you would lose by failing to read the question properly and answering what you haven’t been asked. The strategy is: Get the right answer on the first try, not on the fourth try. Before test-day, practice sketching problems out. Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Quantitative, GMAT Tips | 1 comment

GMAT Tip: The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 2)

Here is the second part of the GMAT Reading Comprehension Article from Manhattan Review Germany, a provider of GMAT tutoring in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. In this article, they reveal Manhattan Review’s best five strategies how to tackle GMAT Reading Comprehension questions. If you have missed the first part of this post, you can find it here.

Let’s see how these tips might help. Here is a Reading Comprehension exercise from Manhattan Review’s Study Companion. The subject matter is the historic transition from classical physics to quantum physics.  It is intellectually difficult; so the challenge is to read quickly AND to get a handle on the author’s central argument on the first read through:

However inventive Newton’s clockwork universe seemed to his contemporaries, by the early twentieth century, it had become a sort of smugly accepted dogma. Luckily for us, this deterministic picture of the universe breaks down at the atomic level.

The clearest demonstration that the laws of physics contain elements of randomness is the behavior of radioactive atoms. Pick two identical atoms of a radioactive isotope, say naturally occurring uranium 238, and watch them carefully. They will begin to decay at different times, even though there was no difference in their initial behavior. We would be in big trouble if these atoms’ behavior were as predictable as expected in the Newtonian world-view, because radioactivity is an important source of heat for our planet. In reality, each atom chooses a random moment at which to release its energy, resulting in a nice steady heating effect. The earth would be a much colder planet if only sunlight heated it and not radioactivity. Probably there would be no volcanoes, and the oceans would never have been liquid. The deep-sea geothermal vents in which life first evolved would never have existed. Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips | 0 comments

GMAT Tip: The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 1)

Today’s GMAT tip comes from Manhattan Review Germany, a provider of GMAT Prep courses in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. In this article, they reveal Manhattan Review’s best 5 strategies for tackling GMAT Reading Comprehension questions. In fact, the tip is so detailed that we had to split it into two parts!

Reading Comprehension is probably the least fun part of the GMAT. The texts are frequently turgid, their subject matter is arcane, the questions are difficult to understand and the answer choices seem indistinguishable. Nonetheless, there is no way to avoid Reading Comprehension. There will be at least three, maybe four, passages to read in the test and at least 12, maybe 14, questions to answer in total. So it is good to go in with a positive attitude and with a clear strategy to extract maximum points in the minimum amount of time. Here are five tips to guide you:

  1. Don’t expect to be stimulated
    The texts are often dull, poorly written and concern subjects you either find uninteresting or know little about or have difficulty understanding. Don’t worry about that. Everybody is in the same boat as you. Don’t beat yourself up over not having read up on ceramics or superconductors or the lives of amphibians or the latest research on medieval poetry. The test givers don’t expect you to have any expertise on abstruse subjects. They are testing your ability to read quickly, to extract and process information efficiently and to draw inferences and make logical connections even when you know next to nothing about the material. Do keep in mind that there will be at least one passage that involves an issue in the natural sciences.So, settle down, grit your teeth, accept the challenge and start reading. Learning to focus is key. Before the test, practice reading esoteric texts to find out what best helps you to concentrate while you’re reading. Making notes is usually helpful. Remember: You’re not writing notes that you intend to use to prepare for finals. You’re writing notes primarily to help you to focus on the text. Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips | 1 comment

GMAT Tip: The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Critical Reasoning (Part 2)

Here is the second part of the Critical Reasoning tip from Manhattan Review UK, a provider of GMAT tutoring in London. In this post, they reveal Manhattan Review’s best 5 strategies how to tackle GMAT Critical Reasoning questions. If you have missed the first part of this post, you can find it here.

Let’s continue with our strategies for GMAT Critical Reasoning with the remaining two strategies and a comprehensive example:

4.    Find the flaw in the assumption

In Weaken arguments the conclusions are not warranted because the assumptions are flawed. There are many examples of flawed assumptions. Here are just a few of them: Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips | 0 comments

GMAT Tip: The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Critical Reasoning (Part 1)

Today’s GMAT tip comes from Manhattan Review UK, a provider of GMAT Prep courses in London. In this article, Manhattan Review reveals 5 strategies for successfully tackling GMAT Critical Reasoning questions. In fact, the tip has so much detail that we had to split it into two parts.

More than any other part of the GMAT, Critical Reasoning needs to be approached strategically. Each of the four Critical Reasoning question types—Assumption, Inference, Explanation/Paradox and Method of Reasoning—has its own corresponding strategy. Four question types—four strategies.

Let us deal first with Assumption questions, because they account for something like 70% of all of the Critical Reasoning questions. Moreover, something like 60% of the Assumption questions consist of so-called Weaken questions; that is, questions that require you to weaken/undermine/challenge the argument’s conclusion. Here are five tips on how to attack Weaken questions: Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips | 0 comments

GMAT Tip: The Top 5 Strategies for GMAT Sentence Correction

Today’s GMAT tip comes from Professor Joern Meissner, PhD, founder and chairman of Manhattan Review GMAT Prep. In this article, he provides Manhattan Review’s five best strategies for GMAT Sentence Correction questions. Read on to see what he has to say!

Here are Manhattan Review’s five top strategies for attacking Sentence Correction questions:

  1. Don’t expect the right answer to read like a sentence crafted by Henry James or Gustave Flaubert. The best sentence is often the best of a bad bunch—it’s the one with the least number of egregious errors. Therefore, don’t be put off if the sentence you choose sounds awkward. If the worst thing about it is that it sounds like something your boss might dash off in an office memo, don’t worry.
  2. More than half of the Sentence Correction exercises will involve at least one Subject-Verb agreement issue. Therefore, always make sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row and that all of the subjects are properly aligned with their verbs. Remember, a subject has to agree with a verb, as a matter of number and as a matter of logic.
  3. Make sure your pronouns are lined up properly with their antecedents. If the antecedent is plural, the pronoun replacing it must be plural. This is a particularly important issue in long, convoluted sentences in which it is easy to forget a pronoun’s antecedent.
  4. Get your comparatives sorted out. “As” goes with “as”; “more,” “less” and “fewer” go with “than.” Never combine the two. Sentences such as “The girls fared as well or better than the boys.” It has to be one or the other: “The girls fared as well as the boys.” Or “The girls fared better than the boys.”
  5. Make life easy for yourself and narrow your choices down as quickly as possible. Spot the critical issue and eliminate the answer choices that obviously come down on the wrong side of it.

Take a look at the following sentence from Manhattan Review’s course material as an example: Continue reading…

posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips | 0 comments

Exclusive GMAT Insights and Advice for MBA Hopefuls From Top GMAT Community Leaders

Each year thousands of individuals begin journeys that they hope will ultimately lead to an acceptance offer from top-tier business schools around the world, and for the majority of these applicants one of the first steps on the b-school path is studying for and taking the GMAT exam. With the 2012-2013 application season wrapping up, a whole new cohort of aspiring MBA students are beginning to get serious about their own school choices and application materials. Most schools won’t be releasing their updated application requirements until later in the summer, so one concrete element of their application that they can start working on now is properly preparing themselves for taking the exam.  We sat down with the founders of the major online GMAT communities (Beat The GMAT and GMAT Club) as well as the Director of Academic Programs at leading GMAT test prep firm, Veritas Prep. These individuals have a combined wealth of experience to draw upon when providing helpful tips and insights to share with anyone contemplating an application to business school in 2013-14. In the article that follows, readers will have the opportunity to learn about common misconceptions many test takers have about the exam, successful approaches to creating a study schedule, specific tips that can help those who struggle with either the verbal or the quant sections, and valuable insights on how to approach retaking the test. We additionally have checked in with the official information provided by GMAC, the organization that creates and administers the GMAT exam.

Continue reading…

posted in: Admissions Tips, GMAT - Quantitative, GMAT - Verbal, GMAT News, GMAT Tips, Planning Tips, Strategy Guides | 0 comments

Admissions Tip: Planning for the GMAT

For all you “early birds” who are planning to apply to business school this fall, we wanted to offer a few tips on managing your time as it relates to the GMAT exam.  Because this is an important element for many applicants in determining at which schools they will be competitive, it’s best to prep intensively and get this out of the way early in the process.

You should ideally be finished with the GMAT by mid-summer.  The reason for this is that you will want to reserve the months of August, September and October for essay writing, school visits, managing your recommenders and other miscellaneous application-related tasks.  The last thing you want to be doing in September is juggling the demands of GMAT prep alongside your MBA applications, your responsibilities at work, your extracurricular involvements, etc. Continue reading…

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GMAT Tips: But I Should Know How to Do This

Today’s GMAT tip comes from test prep firm ManhattanGMAT. In this article, they provide some tips on how to avoid getting stuck on problems when taking the GMAT.  Read on to see what they have to say!

But I studied this – I should know how to do it!

When was the last time you thought that? For me, it was sometime within the past week. I knew that this problem was not beyond my reach! Meanwhile, the clock was ticking away and all I could focus on was the fact that I couldn’t remember something that I should have been able to remember.

That horrible, sinking feeling is universal: we’ve all felt it before and – unfortunately – we’re all going to feel it again. How can we deal with this?

Recognize the “But!” feeling

You almost certainly already know what this feels like, but here’s a longer list of the ways in which this manifests. When was the last time you thought any of these things?

-        But I studied this…

-        But I should know how to do this…

-        If I just had a little more time, I’m sure I could figure it out…

-        I’ve already invested so much time, I don’t want to give up now…

-        I’ve been struggling with this for 2 minutes but I really did finally figure out now what I need to do; it’s just going to take me another 1.5 minutes…

Then, of course, I’m sitting there staring at the problem and stressing over it – which makes it even harder to think clearly. Continue reading…

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