GMAT Practice Tests

Often, confusion exists about the uses and benefits of practice tests, and the role of practice tests in preparing for the GMAT. Let’s try and offer some clarity to the situation:

Practice Tests

Practice tests are evaluative tools and should be used as such. They are NOT learning tools. You use tests to asses what you have learned and your ability to apply that learning under conditions as similar to the real exam as you can make them. As such you should only be taking practice tests at most once per week (unless you are not working), and should seek to simulate the conditions of the actual test as much as possible when doing so (especially in the last few weeks before the real exam). In the larger preparation picture, you should take a practice test at the very beginning of your preparations to establish a baseline and determine your areas of strength and weakness. After that, it would be advisable to hold off on doing another practice test until you’ve had a chance to do some content review and focused, small-scale practice. Once you’ve gotten a sizable chunk of material and practice behind you, you should start incorporating full-length practice tests into your preparation regiment.

Key points for simulating practice tests:

Digital Flashcards Have Arrived

This past week we went live online with our comprehensive set of digital flashcards. The original hard copy versions had been so well-received by students that we figured we had to put them up in electronic form. The move means even greater functionality and learning benefits. The flashcards were already a great way to learn vital content and hone recognition skills, and soon the digital versions are going to be linked to examples and practice problems according to skill areas.

For Bell Curves students the digital flash cards can be found in the “Extras” tab in your student account. And the best part? They’re free. Now you can access the flashcards whenever you’re in front of a computer and have a few minutes to do some focused review.

Speaking of the new ways to use our Flashcards, we’ll soon be launching a fantastic GMAT iPhone/iPod App. There aren’t many GMAT-only apps out there (from the purported 100,000 apps Apple currently has available), and this one will offer you features for precise, effective on-the-go learning. Keep your eyes and ears open. We’ll let you know when it launches.

Jason Goes GMAT

Instructor: Jason Chan

Location: 500 Fifth Ave (at 42nd street), New York, NY

[Editor’s note: Bell Curves instructors are required to have taken the GMAT and scored above the 98th percentile before they were invited to train with Bell Curves. After successfully completing training, our teachers take the test at least once a year so they can stay current with the GMAT experience and provide feedback that will allow us to continually improve our teachers and materials. In the interest of research, Jason was asked to go into the test and be the “obsessive methodical student.” He was required to spend an inordinate amount of time on any question he thought would be tricky to an above average, yet not stellar, test-taker. The intent was to get a score in the 600 range and see what types of questions and content showed up most frequently in that range.]

So it’s a random Tuesday and here I am taking the GMAT. Yay me!

Yale School of Management (SOM) Explore Diversity 2009 Event

This past Sunday and Monday (the 8th and 9th of November), the Yale SOM hosted it’s annual Explore Diversity event.  I was invited to attend and give a GMAT Presentation, and had a chance to meet many of the people directly involved in selecting candidates from the large pool of SOM applicants.

I have to say, first off, I was pleased to find that when Yale’s SOM touts a diversity weekend, they mean more than just ethnic or racial diversity. Their notions of diversity extend to include a great many parameters that would distinguish candidates, including career choices, country of origin, undergraduate education, and employment history, among others.

I also have to say I found the members of YSOM Admissions Committee to be a great bunch of people. Smaller, more intimate events such as this one give attendees a better opportunity to meet the people behind those the email addresses. The Admissions Committee seems as committed to diversity as the school is, with members clearly expressing very different personalities and perspectives. I imagine committee discussions about applicants are always interesting, and probably quite often heated. If you’re considering Yale, you should definitely meet some of these folks, and if they are any representation of the YSOM, it seems a great place to be!

Sitting in on the various events and talking to other people there, I got a few insights about the Yale SOM application/selection process.

From China to the GMAT

For the better part of five months, the GMAT was the bane of my
existence. I don’t think an hour went by without me thinking about it.
It was everywhere I looked. I one time even figured out the possible
combinations of the food items offered at the restaurant I worked at.
Ironically, I didn’t come up with the right answer.

At some point the GMAT stopped being a test and started being a fight.
That is a development I am certainly thankful for. Because once I
stopped thinking of the GMAT as a test and more of a mountain that I
had to climb, thing became much clearer.

Looking back, I realize that the concepts that the GMAT tests are not
complex. There’s no calculus, advanced physics, or expectations of you
analyzing Shakespeare’s later works. The GMAT is simply high school
math and grammar meant to stump the smartest people alive. It’s
slightly ingenious really.

Aesop’s Fables and GMAT Timing

As I listen to the bloggersphere and twitterverse, attend conferences, and talk to test takers, there is a consistent concern about timing on the GMAT and how much it impacts their performance on the test. Survey GMAT test-takers and I bet that 90% of them will claim their biggest challenge is finishing the test (especially the Quant section). This fear is further propagated by test prep “experts” who cite the lofty goal of answering all Quant questions in 2 minutes or less and all Verbal questions in 1:45 minutes or less. I, however, have not drunk of that particular flavor of Kool-Aid and don’t recommend you do so either.To all those of the 2 minute cult, I’d point you to the wisdom of Aesop and the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.

The GMAC Test Prep Summit

A few days ago the world had their eyes focused on New York City, where the biennial GMAC Test Prep Summit was held. Okay, so maybe the whole world wasn’t watching, but we at Bell Curves were, as were a great many others in the test prep community. Over ten hours, attendees were treated to a wealth of information (some new, some not) from GMAC, the company that develops the GMAT.

Presentation topics included world-wide GMAT testing volume and new developments for the test and its administration (by the end of 2009 every test center will require you to use the vein patterns in your palm as identification – and no, I’m not kidding, it’s called ‘Palm Vein Recognition’).

MLT, a Bell Curves Partner, featured on CNN online

A recent feature on Management Leadership for Tomorrow Founder, John Rice. Watch for the Bell Curves mug at 1:47 into the video.

B-School Profiles – The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Buiness at Rice University

In this installment of our MBA school profiles, we will be looking at the Jesse H. Jones School of Management at Rice University. Established in 1974, the Jones School has consistently ranked in the top 30 business graduate programs in the United States. Rice University, a highly regarded undergraduate institution, is located in Houston, Texas. Houston is home to a large number of Fortune 500 Companies (second only to New York in the category), which has helped Jones graduates find jobs on par with many top tier b-schools.

Admissions at Jones are competitive, with students scoring a GMAT mean of 667 and Jones accepting 31% of their most recent round of applications (according to BusinessWeek). Application deadlines are November 10, January 12, February 23, and April 6.

To find out more, visit business.rice.edu

A feel good story to start off your Tuesday

We’ve chronicled the current anti-MBA rhetoric, but what about the good guys? There must be some. The Economist chronicles a few MBA do-gooders that don’t get quite as much press as everyone else.

Check it out here - http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/businesseducation/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13892606

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