The Sound(s) of GMAT: Inspiration

image courtesy of h.koppdelaney @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/

Anyone who has prepped – or is prepping now – for the GMAT knows that every little edge counts. We’d recently been boning up on our Mozart (knowledge, not performance) and came across a little gilt-edged nugget called The Mozart Effect. Popularized in the nineties, the Mozart Effect spoke to the increases in spatial-temporal reasoning ability witnessed in research subjects immediately after listening to a Mozart sonata* (guess which one? answer at bottom). More importantly, the Mozart Effect is the reason so many “sophisticated” and/or New Age parents find themselves playing classical music for children still trapped in the womb and therefore unable to voice their own musical preferences.

Overlooking the fact the 8-9 point increase on the spatial reasoning portion of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale was completely temporary (the boost lasted about 10-15 minutes), and also overlooking the fact that all subsequent attempts at replication of the experiment (except one done by the original researchers) failed to reproduce the reported increases of the original, we thought, “Well, everyone loves music. It’s inspiring, it’s motivational, it’s calming, so let’s publish playlists of GMAT tunes that could help students get excited, get ahead, and get their prep groove on.” Besides, the GMAT does require some spatial-temporal reasoning  beyond simply navigating your way through the pat-down and to your seat.

To get the most of this list, or ones you create for yourself, here are a few tips to use them most effectively:

Revised GRE, Anyone?

As you probably know, ETS unveiled its Revised GRE yesterday. We wanted to find out just how “revised” it was, so we signed ourselves up, and I spent a solid 4 hours taking it yesterday (8/2/11). Fun times, let me tell you (and no, we’re not masochists, just Test Prep dorks…er, studs). I got first crack at it, so here’s my commentary. We’ll have more to follow as others on the staff subject themselves to the same pain in the coming weeks.

Let’s start with a few particulars:

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.

Minorities and the GMAT

A few weeks ago, co-founder Akil Bello presented the above topic at GMAC’s Annual Industry Conference. The session was well attended and garnered positive responses from many of the industry professionals in attendance.

With over 20 years of test-preparation experience, as well as a focus in the last 10 on helping underrepresented minorities excel at standardized tests, Akil was well-positioned to provide the insights interested parties where there to hear. After significant research, and analysis of a wealth of survey data provided by GMAC, Akil brought his observations and conclusions to sunny San Diego.

Evaluating Practice Tests, Part Deux: A Case Study

Any given GMAT score for an individual is really a specific value that can (and should) be seen as part of a range. What this means is that when you “think about” or “talk about” GMAT scores, you should do so in the context of a GMAT score range. To better understand what we’re talking about, consider that GMAC indicates the standard margin of error for the GMAT is 40 points, meaning that a person with a certain defined ability will score within 40 points of that ability from one test to the next (assuming no additional preparation between tests).

For more, see the following link:

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