GMAT Tip: Patterns

Many hard GMAT quantitative questions present problems because of the exceedingly time-consuming calculations needed to solve, or because the way to solve the problem isn’t easily apparent. One solution to these kinds of problems can often be found by identifying and using patterns. Here’s some helpful information to help you utilize the presence of patterns to improve your accuracy and efficiency (which is what you should seek rather than speed) on GMAT Quant:

How to Choose: GMAT versus GRE

With the GRE changing on August 1st, 2011, and an increasing number of business schools accepting the GRE for the application process, we thought it might be a good time to discuss the two to help people make a decision about which test to take.

There are a number of factors that should influence your decision about which test to take. Before we get into those, we’d recommend that your first order of business should always be to contact the admissions office(s) at the program(s) you’re interested in to gather information on how each test is weighted in the admissions process. At present, very little information is given about how the two tests stack up in the admissions process (for example, Columbia provides a link to the GRE Comparison Tool on their admissions website, while Darden at the University of Virginia simply says the GRE is accepted in lieu of the GMAT; neither school, it should be noted, gives any specific info on how the tests are weighted). Given this circumstance, any information you can gather from the programs you’re interested in would be beneficial in informing your decision on which test to take.

So, here are some considerations in deciding which test to take:

GMAT Strategy: Comb That Perm!

Statistics questions can be some of the most exasperating Quant questions on the GMAT. And among those, Combination and Permutation questions may just be some of the worst. The good news: statistics questions are some of the least frequently tested concepts on GMAT Quant. The bad news: you’re still likely to see at least 1 Comb-Perm question come test day. Because higher scorers will likely see a difficult Comb-Perm question, strategies to tackle them are needed. That being said, don’t let those tricky Comb-Perm questions make you want pull your hair out. Often times, there’s an easier way to smooth over those Comb-Perm cowlicks (sorry, I’ll try to reign in the hair jokes).

Evaluating Test Preparation Options

This is your last chance; after this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. - Morpheus to Neo from The Matrix

When people say “test prep,” what they mean varies greatly, and it’s usually limited to what they did themselves or what they’ve heard of. As part of this blog, we hope to provide a bit more insight into some of the options for test preparation. Our team has blogged quite a bit about free prep resources (check out our two most popular post on test prep here and here), so it’s high time we devote a little space to the commercial products.

Smokers Beware!

I smoke. That’s right, one or two of us, despite all the research and lecturing and (often) revolting anti-smoking campaigns, still exercise our free will and engage in a behavior we know is bad for us, and against which we’re too addicted or stubborn or ignorant to revolt.

I’m okay going outside to smoke, in the cold and wind and snow. I’m totally for not smoking around kids. I’m even okay with the constant “Tisk-tisk, don’t you know how unhealthy that is” and the “You should quit” and the looks of indignation, mortification, or disdain on the faces of passersby (not to mention my mom).

But before you ask what’s this got to do with the GMAT, let me go ahead and answer: Not too long ago I took the GMAT. I went in with a couple other Bell Curves instructors during the research study for the new in Integrated Reasoning section, and it didn’t go exactly according to plan. Why? Cigarettes. Or rather, the lack thereof.

The AWA Essay: 6 The Fun Way.

Nobody quite understands why GMAC requires that people write two 30-minute essays before test-takers get to the only thing that really matters, namely the Quant and Verbal Sections. Consensus even seems to be that business schools are rarely, if ever, using the GMAT essay in the admissions process.

When to Use the Bathroom, and When to Get out of Dodge!

Ed. Note: Taking the GMAT is an essential part of a good GMAT instructor’s job because it gives us a whole new perspective when advising students. Bell Curves requires all teachers to regularly take the actual GMAT in order to hone their skills in the actual setting of the test, discover new trends, and report back experiences that can benefit students. On an unseasonably warm Monday the third week of November, three members of Bell Curves GMAT development team took the GMAT in order to experience the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions first hand in the real setting. This is Jason C.’s experience on that particular day. To see reports of that same day from Akil or Ajani click either of their respective names. Keep an eye on this blog for an upcoming post about those aforementioned IR questions, as well as novel insights on cigarettes and the GMAT, and why NOT to sweat the AWA.  We love to hear from you about any questions you have about this experience or the GMAT in general .

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Recently, GMAC gave us a chance to beta test the new Integrated Reasoning section that it will be rolling out in 2012. Being the standardized test geeks all of us at Bell Curves are, we could not resist and found ourselves at a testing center two days before Thanksgiving.

Follow Through

Ed. Note: Taking the GMAT is an essential part of a good GMAT instructor’s job because it gives us a whole new perspective when advising students. Bell Curves requires all teachers to regularly take the actual GMAT in order to hone their skills in the actual setting of the test, discover new trends, and report back experiences that can benefit students. On an unseasonably warm Monday the third week of November, three members of Bell Curves GMAT development team took the GMAT in order to experience the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions first hand in the real setting. This is Ajani’s experience on that particular day. To see reports of that same day from Akil or Jason click either of their respective names. Keep an eye on this blog for an upcoming post about those aforementioned IR questions, as well as novel insights on cigarettes and the GMAT, and why NOT to sweat the AWA.

Last week, my curiosity got the better of me regarding the new Integrated Reasoning question types GMAC were going to test out as part of preparations for the Next Generation GMAT rollout in 2012. So I went along with a couple colleagues and sat for the test. Given the crowded waiting room at the Herald Square location (Manhattan), clearly I wasn’t the only one on pins and needles about the new IR questions. Okay, maybe most of the people there were to take the GMAT to get into Business School, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless.

Feelings, Difficulty, and the GMAT

[Ed. Note: Taking the GMAT is an essential part of a good GMAT instructor's job because it gives us a whole new perspective when advising students. Bell Curves requires all teachers to regularly take the actual GMAT in order to hone their skills in the actual setting of the test, discover new trends, and report back experiences that can benefit students. On an unseasonably warm Monday the third week of November, three members of Bell Curves GMAT development team took the GMAT in order to experience the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions first hand in the real setting. This is Akil's experience on that particular day. To see reports of that same day from Jason or Ajani click either of their respective names. Keep an eye on this blog for an upcoming post about those aforementioned IR questions, as well as novel insights on cigarettes and the GMAT, and why NOT to sweat the AWA.]

My latest round of competitive test-taking took place this past Monday as I, along with two of my colleagues, signed up to take the GMAT to get a glance at the new Integrated Reasoning questions, test out some testing techniques, and reacquaint ourselves with the joyful experience of taking a four hour exam. As always when I take the GMAT, I left tired, excited, and informed. This time my three big takeaways for you future test-takers are as follows:

Feelings…nothing more than feelings

How to Avoid Seeking “The Christmas Miracle”

This time last year I posted about the annual calls I get asking me to perform a “Christmas Miracle.” (The short story is potential clients asking for aid to engender huge changes in their GMAT score in a short period of time so that they can meet mid-January second round deadlines.) This year I’m hoping to help you avoid getting into that situation.

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