March 5, 2013
On Wednesday, February 27, 2013, the student loan ombudsman at the recently minted Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), Rohit Chopra, declared yet another systemwithin the U.S. economy ‘too big to fail.’ While Sen. Warren is grilling Ben Bernanke on what exactly the Federal Reserve is doing to remedy the unacceptable influence big banks wield on the health and state of our economy, the student loan debt market, comprised of public and private lenders, has shot past $1 trillion and continues its relentless climb.
Last year, students borrowed $117 billion from the federal government alone—our most inexpensive and forgiving education creditor. [Although, if our ever-competent and productive legislators [sic] fail to reach an agreement by July 1st of this year, interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans will be hiked to 6.8%.]But, is this any surprise? The cost of college is increasing at a rate of 8% per year, five times the current national rate. This tuition inflation rate translates to a doubling of tuition every nine years. Of course, tuition is nowhere near the entirety of the cost of higher education. In fact, an investigation by Business Insider estimates an average of $70,000 in additional costs above the tuition sticker price, and that is just an undergrad number.
Some are lucky enough to be able to cover the cost of undergraduate and graduate degrees, but more are unable to do so without incurring debt.As you look toward your MBA degree and the multi-faceted investment it involves, take the time to objectively evaluate where a graduate management degree from your targeted institution(s) have the potential to take you. Do not sell yourself short or the institution, but approach this analysis soberly. It may well be that you conclude that you need to set your sights higher and, therefore, incur even more cost in order to track your future in the direction it needs to go. If you have the drive and are willing to make the commitment to do what it takes to get into a top tier school, then go after it. If that does not make sense for your career path and goals, however, then get what you need at less cost.
The numbers surrounding student loan debt are terrifying, both macro and micro (I speak from experience here). But, just as a fledgling company needs investment to grow and prosper, so do individuals. If you decide to take the plunge, then go all in. Sign up for a GMAT class, take trips to universities, apply for scholarships and grants, accept loans if necessary. After all, where is the reward without the risk? Just be sure to do all of these things prudently and with a clear head. Do not be duped into a system that will not reward your risk.Defaults will hurt us all.
February 15, 2013
Due to some recent student interaction that is disturbingly similar and concentrated with respect to my total student body as well as a conversation I had this morning with my wife in regard to a few students in her Psych 101 class, it is time to resurrect an old post on the importance of your attitude during GMAT prep. Take a moment to click that link and read the story told therein.
Now, admittedly, upon reread, the story is pretty vague. What I was attempting to get across is that your perception of what you can do is a tremendously important variable in the type of score improvement you can yield with a GMAT test prep regimen.
I am often asked, “How much can I expect my score to increase after taking this class?” This is a valid query to pose, but one that simply cannot be answered with any precision. A score increase is a factor of several variables. Here’s a simplified equation:
Final GMAT Score = Diagnostic Score + Target Score + Quality of Prep + Quantity of Prep + Attitude
I call this a simplified equation because many of these variables are comprised of several other variables. Take, for example, Quantity of Prep. On its surface, this appears to be a straight forward, easily quantifiable metric. However, you can further break down quantity by total hours of study time spread over a total days of study time. A good rule of thumb is 120 to 150 hours spread across about three months. Then, of course, you can look at how many days per week and how many hours per day and the typical duration of a study session (note the implications of the word “typical”). At this point, it is easy to see how Quantity of Prep inevitably influences Quality of Prep. Like I said… it’s a simplified equation.
Despite the inherent complexity of the preparation levers mentioned above, let us focus on the final one listed: Attitude.
Coincidentally, in my last post about how Benjamin Franklin would kill the GMAT I included a quote by Henry Ford that says, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” The inimitable and profound truth in this statement cannot be overstated. I have seen, and am currently seeing, way too many students engaged in depressing self-fulfilling prophecies that involve their steadfast disbelief in their ability to learn something. Topics range from the micro, like learning how to set up the ever-useful chart for combined work problems, to the ultimate macro: the GMAT itself.
I have said before in uncountable forums that one’s success on the GMAT is borne of tenacity above all else. And tenacity, as it happens, is built on the back of a positive attitude. So, the next time you find yourself engaged in self-deprecation and making defeatist proclamations, STOP! Remind yourself, instead, that you are highly educated, highly intelligent, and eminently capable of beating the GMAT, for it is the truth.
February 8, 2013
Read this article. It’s about how Benjamin Franklin, a notable and influential founding father of the United States, structured his life so as to be as productive as possible and always live knowing tomorrow is, in fact, today. In the article, the author, Samuel Bacharach, a labor management professor at Cornell University, lists five habits Franklin employed to ensure procrastination was not part of his personal description.
In this post, I will apply each habit as listed by the author of the article in order to provide a framework for a productive GMAT study schedule—one that begins today and does not relent until Test Day!
1. Start a group and share knowledge. GMAT study is too often a very lonely endeavor. Despite my encouragement, it is with rare frequency my students organize study groups. I could speculate reasons as to why—busy schedules, different strengths/weaknesses, not wanting to exhibit weakness in front of others, lack of an idea about how to actually structure group study—and all are totally understandable. However, I really wish this were not the case. I have had groups jump at the chance to meet with their peers and have received a lot of positive feedback about the benefits.
Surrounding yourself with others plodding along a similar road to yours helps stimulate ideas, expand understanding, derive opportunities to learn by teaching, and motivate you to show up and get to work. Create a GMAT Junto!
2. Attack opportunities. You will never recognize opportunities if you do not look for them. A constructive attitude about what constitutes an opportunity during GMAT prep is a wondrous and invaluable thing. Really, several items on this list are opportunities all GMAT test preppers can expect to find. Starting a study group, making mistakes, and planning are all opportunities to get the most out of your study time.
As we discuss each, view them through the lens of opportunity and continue to approach GMAT prep in this way. For example, freaking out during a practice test gives you the chance to learn to recognize stress when it arises and devise a plan to overcome it. Test prep classes and the resources that accompany them are an opportunity to learn how to get the score you deserve to get. A previous misstep in calculating the tremendous challenge of the GMAT is an opportunity to make sure round two is the last round.
3. Time is a commodity in short supply. Time management, study schedules, and respect for the test are common themes in my writing on Kaplan’s GMAT Blog. For some thoughts on the matter, read these three posts: The GMAT Needs a Runway, How to Get Ready for the GMAT, and MBA Decision: The Financial Times Explores the Process.
4. Make a list. Beyond the pro-and-con list described in the article, plan out everything with regard to GMAT prep. So you can see for yourself, definitely take the time to list the good and bad aspects of a top notch study regimen, but continue to utilize lists during the prep cycle to maintain momentum and efficiency.
Something I tell all of my students to do is take the last 5-10 minutes of every study session to plan what they will do when they sit down for the next session. Doing this ensures you will hit the ground running and not be overwhelmed under the weight of all the stuff you could be doing. The latter situation usually results in a useless foray of social voyeurism on Facebook—something that definitively will NOT help improve your GMAT score.
5. Fail often; fail hard; but don’t expect to. Quite simply, celebrate mistakes. Each stumble on Preparation Road makes it that much more likely you will not make the same mistake on the only day it matters: Test Day. A mistake is an opportunity to learn.
Did you get it wrong because you got the right answer to the wrong question? Did you miss it because you searched outside the scope of the passage or argument? Did you run out of time because you gave two “tough nut” questions ten minutes of effort?
If I have said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: tenacity is what builds high GMAT scores. After all, in the immortal words of Henry Ford:
”Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”
January 15, 2013
If you have not yet started reading www.PoetsandQunats.com and you are interested in pursuing a graduate management degree, then you need to start
right after you read this blog post. It was actually one of my Kaplan GMAT students who first turned me onto it and it has been a regular feature in my internet reading ever since.
How about the Wall Street Journal? Have you ever heard of that? I know, I know… absurd question. Here’s the problem, though: according to poetsandquants.com founder and regular contributor, John A. Byrne, WSJ is promulgating some unfortunate misinformation. As popular as I know P&Q is, Mr. Byrne’s article, titled “Silly News,” will reach a very small fraction of those who have read the WSJ article it is attacking.
In sum, the Journal makes a classic argumentative flaw; one that is tested profusely on the GMAT. It is called ‘representativeness.’ For those of you who have studied Critical Reasoning questions, specifically those CR questions within the argument family (aka, the assumption family), you may well have heard of this flaw.
We know that when we are presented with an argument on the GMAT, we will always be given two of the three component parts of an argument. We will always be given a conclusion and we will always be given evidence that presumably allows the author to reach that conclusion. What we will never be given is the author’s assumption(s). They are of course inherent in the argument, but we can only derive them by using the primary core competency tested by the GMAT: critical thinking. Incidentally, representativeness is such a common flaw, pattern recognition (another of the GMAT four core competencies) is all you’ll need after this and several other flaw types are on your radar.
Basically, if an argument uses statistical data as evidence to drive a conclusion, your immediate question should be, “Is the group studied representative of the group in the conclusion?” Think about size of the study, time duration of the study, who specifically was studied, and whether there might be any inherent biases in how the study was set up or conducted.
In the real life example provided by the exchange between WSJ and P&Q, John Byrne identifies a mismatch between the group in the study and the group in the conclusion. I want you to read both articles. In fact, I want you to read the WSJ article first and try to derive the critical question that weakens the argument. In other words, try to identify how John Byrne is going to attack it. This will be excellent practice for making predictions—a requisite skill for Critical Reasoning question success! Then, read the PoetsandQuants.com article. Finally, come back here and post your comments!!
December 18, 2012
The holidays are upon us, and with them come a flurry of seasonal activities: shopping trips, parties, and visits with family and friends. If you’re planning on taking your GMAT in January, you’re probably struggling with the challenge of fitting your studies into your holiday schedule. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this busy time.
First, acknowledge your limitations. Because of your holiday obligations, you’ll probably need to scale back your GMAT study time. The holidays provide you with a great opportunity to recharge mentally and emotionally, so there’s nothing wrong with cutting back a little on your studies to give yourself some more personal time. You’ll be able to create a study schedule–and stick to it–if you’re realistic with yourself about how much time you’ll actually have for studying over the holidays.
Second, since you’ll have less time to study, plan out carefully what you’re going to study and when. A specific agenda for each study session will help guarantee that you use your productively. If you’re used to longer study sessions (two or three hours), but you’ll be studying for shorter periods during the holidays, limit your agenda to one key topic at a time. For instance, you might spend an hour reviewing just proportions, rather than two hours reviewing proportions, averages, and ratios. This is also a good time to give yourself short quizzes (5 to 10 questions at time); in an hour, you can complete a short quiz in 15 to 30 minutes, giving you an equal amount of time to use for review of the quiz. As always, though, be sure to balance your studying between Quant and Verbal. A good plan is alternating between the two every day, or depending on your individual strengths and weaknesses, spending two days on one, followed by one day on the other.
Finally, recognize that there are benefits to a mini-vacation from your studies. Taking time away from intense studying gives you time to digest the material. There’s a lot to learn for the GMAT, and all that material takes time to “settle in” to your brain. Slowing down for a little while allows you to master concepts and helps prevent burn out. So take advantage of the pleasures of the holidays: enjoy your time spent not studying, maximize the time you do spend studying, and rest assured that your brain will benefit from the holiday as well.
July 11, 2012
You might guess that I’m on a diet, perhaps, or maybe that I’m lactose intolerant. Or maybe it’s not the milk that’s the problem; I could be deathly allergic to chocolate. Or, you might infer (correctly) that I just don’t like the flavor.
What could you infer if the GMAT told you that I don’t eat chocolate ice cream?
You can infer that if I eat ice cream, I will always choose a flavor other than chocolate. And that’s about it.
The Inference category of GMAT Critical Reasoning questions asks you to make logically supported inferences. You take the text of the stimulus at its word (recognize these questions by language such as “If the statements above are true”), and find the answer choice that must be true on the basis of the prompt.
In your GMAT prep, you will find that the biggest challenge to solving Inference questions is that there are lots of things that could be true. Sometimes, you can cleverly piece together a puzzle and make a solid prediction. But unlike argument-based Assumption questions, Inference Q’s don’t always lend themselves to knowing the answer before you look at the choices. For instance, if I don’t eat chocolate ice cream, you can infer that I wouldn’t eat chocolate ice cream cake (which contains chocolate ice cream), that a friend who knows my dietary preferences wouldn’t buy me a scoop of chocolate ice cream (which I wouldn’t eat), and that I am more likely to be seen eating vanilla ice cream than eating chocolate ice cream (because I may or may not eat vanilla ice cream, but I certainly will not eat chocolate ice cream). Since any of these would be an acceptable answer, but only one can appear in the answer choices, trying to pin down the right answer without looking at the choices can be inefficient. Inference questions are the only CR question type where you should plan to go through all five answer choices looking for one that sounds good.
But be aware of out-of-scope traps. You have to go by what the text tells you, and nothing else. And you must be able to determine the correct answer with certainty. In the chocolate ice cream example, you don’t know if the “chocolate” or the “ice cream” is the reason that I don’t eat chocolate ice cream (or something else entirely!). You might guess that I prefer vanilla ice cream, but maybe I can’t digest the milk in any type of ice cream. You might suppose that I don’t like chocolate, but it’s possible that chocolate only tastes bad to me in ice cream form and I’m fine with chocolate bars and chocolate chips. These are the types of reasonable suppositions you might make in real life, but not the type of Inference that the GMAT requires you to make.
A new electronic security system will only allow a single person at a time to pass
through a secure door. A computer decides whether or not to unlock a secure door
on the basis of visual clues, which it uses to identify people with proper clearance.
The shape of the head, the shape and color of the eyes, the shape and color of the
lips, and other characteristics of a person’s head and face are analyzed to determine
his or her identity. Only if the person trying to open a secure door has the required
clearance will the door unlock. Because this new system never fails, an unauthorized
person can never enter a secure door equipped with the system.
If the statements above are true, which of the following conclusions can be most
(A) The new system is sure to be enormously successful and revolutionize the
entire security industry.
(B) The new system can differentiate between people who are seeking to open a
secure door and people passing by a secure door.
(C) No two people have any facial features that are identical, for example,
(D) High costs will not make the new security system economically unviable.
(E) The new computer system is able to identify some slight facial differences
between people who look very similar, such as identical twins.
Step 1: Identify the Question Type
Since the stem asks us to accept the statements as true
and draw a conclusion on the basis of them, this is an
Step 2: Untangle the Stimulus
The stimulus tells us that a new electronic security system
is completely failsafe and will never allow an unauthorized
person through a door equipped with the system. And the
system allows an authorized person to enter solely on the
basis of the person’s appearance and facial features.
Step 3: Predict the Answer
Attempting to predict the correct inference could waste
time, but on the GMAT, to make an inference means to
determine what must be true, not just what could or might
be true. It’s crucial to approach the answer choices with
this in mind.
Step 4: Evaluate the Choices
(A) is out of scope. We have no evidence of how the
security industry is going to respond to the new system.
(B) doesn’t need to be true. The new system doesn’t need
to differentiate between people passing by the door and
people trying to enter, as long as it lets authorized people
in and keeps unauthorized people out.
(C) is too extreme.
We don’t know that any one feature cannot be the same.
All we know is that all of the features can’t be the same.
According to the stimulus, the security system examines
multiple facial features to determine identity.
(D), costs are outside the scope of this stimulus,
since the stimulus only discusses the likelihood that
unauthorized people will be able to get past the security
system and through a secure door.
(E) If one twin is authorized and the
other isn’t, we know the door must be able to tell them
apart, because the stimulus tells us that the security
system never fails. Thus, (E) must be true.
June 14, 2012
Studying for the GMAT is not something that most test-takers take lightly and is usually a commitment of 2-3 months or more. While most students studying for a test like the GMAT often know what to study, they have many questions about how to study. Study schedules can definitely vary depending on your particular situation such as goal score, starting score, work schedule, school schedule, and family obligations, but, based on a long history of working with students and studying how we learn, here are some general rules of thumb to remember as you begin to form your personalized study schedule.
The first thing to know about studying for the GMAT is that the GMAT is not a test that you want to cram for. Studying for the GMAT is like preparing for a marathon. You want to build up to test day with a plan that builds your skill and stamina. Because the GMAT tests your critical thinking skills and various content skills, you need to know how to think flexibly and thoroughly about the material tested. Flexibility and critical thinking are skills that ideally require knowledge of the patterns in the GMAT. Therefore, it is best to build this type of depth and flexibility in a gradual way.
Next, remember to be deliberate in your study schedule. Make dates with your GMAT books and practice tests and keep them! The easiest thing to do is to procrastinate because the deadline is weeks away and nothing is naturally there to keep you accountable. Therefore, find a way to stay accountable by setting a date reminder and/or having someone help you stay on track with your schedule.
Along with deliberate study times, be purposeful with your GMAT dates. Instead of just putting “study GMAT” on the calendar add specifics about the purpose of the session; for instance, June 13th could be your night to spend some quality time with right triangles in geometry and subject-verb agreement in sentence correction. At the beginning, the purpose of your session should be aimed at mastery of specific topics. Closer to test day, start to incorporate timing sections and mixed practice into the goal of your sessions.
Studying for the GMAT takes time. As Lucas mentioned previously, plan to spend about 2-3 months and 100-120 hours studying for the GMAT. The top scorers on the GMAT spend 120+ hours, on average, studying for test day over a period of time. The length of each study session will vary based on your specific situation; however, most students aim for sessions between 1 and 3 hours in a sitting. If you take the average 120 hours of studying for a top scorer and divide that over the course of the average 10 weeks of studying, you get approximately 12 hours per week. This includes time spent in class sessions and tutoring sessions for the GMAT. If you spread those hours equally, it’s best to do about 2-3 hours per day, 6 days per week and to take one day off per week.
During each incremental session, it’s also important to take periodic breaks. There is quite a bit of research to support spaced learning, which, in essence, means to set up to chunks of study time with short breaks built in. Give your brain periodic breaks to process the information that you are taking in. The frequency and length of your breaks can vary a bit; however, a 5-10 minute break every 25-30 minutes of studying is a good rule of thumb. Time of day can matter as well. Know your good times of day and try to study during those times in which you are most alert. There is research that suggests students learn best in the evening; however, know yourself and when you work best.
In a typical studying chunk of time over one particular subject, here is my favorite way to arrange your early studying when you are building content mastery. Each chunk takes about 1 hour and 20+ minutes with 1+ hour devoted to study. Ideally, you will get 2 chunks in a normal day and 3-4 chunks in on a completely free day.
Each Studying Chunk – For the entire chunk, stay within one area (i.e. Number properties, geometry, etc…)
1) Set a timer for 20-25 minutes
2) Review Notes on that particular topic (5 minutes)
3) Practice Questions with immediate review or online workshop/tutorial (15-20 min)
TAKE A 5-10 MINUTE BREAK – NO GMAT – DO SOMETHING DISTRACTING
4) Set the timer for 20-25 minutes – stick with the same subject area
5) Review Notes (2 minutes)
6) Practice Questions with immediate review or online workshop/tutorial (18-23 min)
TAKE A 5-10 MINUTE BREAK– NO GMAT – DO SOMETHING DISTRACTING
7) Set the timer for 20-25 minutes – stick with the same subject area
8) Review Notes (2 minutes)
9) Practice Questions with immediate review or online workshop/tutorial (18-23 min)
END OF CHUNK ONE — CHANGE SUBJECTS FOR THE NEXT CHUNK
Even if your studying chunks vary a bit, it’s important to review your notes on the topic at the beginning of each session to reinforce the proper technique and approach. You also want to review every question, even those that you get right. The more you compare your reasoning with expert reasoning, the more you adopt the expert reasoning. Also, as you walk through the questions, practice asking yourself those critical questions that your instructor or tutor asks you as you navigate questions in your sessions. So, now that you know the “when,” what about the “where”?
Most people have preferences about study location. However, it’s good to vary your study location periodically. Information that you learn can become context dependent if you study in the same location over and over. If you vary the location and even the noise level a bit, the content and skill that you learn will be more flexible and the unfamiliar context of the testing room won’t hinder your ability to access that information.
Finally, keep a positive attitude about your progress. Progress on the GMAT can be an up and down road with periodic spikes and dips. Through it all, keep your eye focused on improving your skill and critical thinking approach. Always give yourself action steps and make mistakes with a growth mindset. Use your mistakes as learning opportunities instead of letting them diminish your confidence. Attitude matters! Give yourself the grace and time to stumble and grow. Now, it’s time to strap on your tennis shoes and start training for this marathon of a test!
June 6, 2012
One of our wonderful student guest bloggers, Candice Batts, recently wrote about her on-going fight to conquer GMAT word problems. Translating word problems into quantifiable, workable information is her GMAT Achilles’ heel. Candice called me out at the tail end of that post and my response to her is something everyone wrestling with the same GMAT Problem Solving demon should hear.
First of all, the strategies Candice lists in the last paragraph of her post are spot on. Creating and taking quizzes in her online account (who doesn’t love the Quiz Banks tool?!?) and then reviewing BOTH the right AND wrong answers is critical to increasing your problem solving (PS) question skill level. Also, making flashcards for the “Big Two” strategies (Picking Numbers and Backsolving) is a good idea to help train up on what type of PS question set-ups are good candidates for these strategic approaches. Further, it sounds like Candice is exhibiting an even more effective prep behavior: looking for opportunities to employ these strategies. After all, the more you look for them, the more you’ll see them.
Keep this in mind for GMAT word problems, as well…
Your approach to GMAT word problems is limited to just five options:
1. Do the math.
2. Pick some numbers to use in place of variables.
3. Use the numbers in the answer choices to solve.
4. Critically think our way around the math.
5. Guess strategically.
That’s it. You will have to use each one of these on test day, but the infrequency of which you’ll use #1 compared to the frequency of which you’ll use #4 might surprise you. Approaches #2 and #3 will get you through about half of the problems you’ll see on Test Day. Also, never be afraid of #5. No one knows how to do every single question on the GMAT. At some point during the test—at several points, actually—you are going to have to guess. The trick to guessing is to not do it blindly. It is very likely that after a modest amount of critical thinking you’ll be able to whittle down the five answer choices to four, three, or even two. And 50% is much better odds than 20%.
In terms of preventing multiple re-reads of a word problem, I suggest unpacking the information from the question onto your scratch paper as you go. Test takers will often read a problem in its entirety, have a look at the answer choices, and do some thinking about it before ever doing any work on it. Always put your pen to work. Don’t make the GMAT any harder than it already is by trying to do everything in your head. Plus, working through the information on paper may very well lead to insights you would have missed had you only been using gray matter.
Often times, students are left stunned by a problem, like a deer in headlights. As I mention in that linked post, I recommend Step 1 drills (Step 1, by the way, is problem analysis). Step 1 drills will increase your command, deepen your insight, and decrease your overall time spent on a word problem. Here’s how you do it:
Compile a bunch of challenging questions covering all sorts of content and concepts, then focus only on taking control of the question. As you read and record info, ask the problem some questions: What is happening? What information are you giving me? What information are you missing? What do you want me to figure out? What do your answer choices look like? What type of math are you testing (e.g., algebra, arithmetic, geometry)? What math concept will I need to use to solve you (e.g., linear equations, percents, volume)?
Talk out loud. Jot down notes. And then, move on to the next problem as quickly as you can. Go back and solve these problems later. Here, I don’t care about you turning the crank; I just want you to get the machine loaded. The focus of this exercise is to get you moving, get you working, and avoid standing still. Learn how to take the first step on a GMAT word problem no matter what it says quickly and confidently. After all, you can’t find the gold in the mud without getting dirty, right?
What is your Achilles’ Heel? Post in the comments below, and we’ll talk about how you can overcome it on test day.
June 3, 2012
A little thing here or there doesn’t usually make a whole lot of difference. But when you aggregate, knowing some of the little things about the GMAT can be a big help on Test Day. In this blog post, I am bringing some perhaps unexpected or otherwise novel little GMAT tidbits to your attention in hopes you find them useful or at least interesting. This list is not comprehensive, of course, but is rather whatever sprang to mind as I thought about it. If you, dear reader, have anything you’d like to add then please do so in the comments section below. Thanks!
- Your photograph taken at the testing center on test day will be sent to schools. That’s right, folks. Just when you thought it was safe to wear your lucky shirt—you know, the one with the crass cartoon of a feral dog at a cocktail party—Big Brother steps in and spoils it for you. According to GMAC’s website, your test day photograph as well as any voluntarily reported background information (e.g., undergrad GPA, phone number, intended area of graduate study, etc.) will be sent along with your score report to any of your selected recipients if they have requested to receive such information.
- Full copies of your Analytical Writing Assessment essay will be sent to schools. Whether admissions officers actually read these essays we can never know, but we do know that those officers can read them if they want to. What does this mean for you? Eh, not much. You are going to learn how to write a top scoring essay way before you sit for the exam and the one you write on test day will be one of several well-composed writing samples you’ve completed. In fact, you’ll want people to read it because it will be that good!
- The unique pattern of the veins in your palms will be used to identify you. Who doesn’t love a good biometric identification device? We don’t live in the future just to offer up a driver’s license or a finger print. Come on! We want computers to scan our veins!! In addition to having both palms scanned, you will also have to bring valid photo identification, allow your picture to be taken at the test center, and sign a digital signature pad. Oh, and you’ll have to scan your palms every time you re-enter the testing room—for example, after using the rest room during one of the two 8-minute breaks.
- You receive your GMAT score instantly. You will have to wait to receive your AWA and IR scores as well as a breakdown of your total score, but as soon as you choose to accept your scores… TA-DA!!! Your 200-800 point GMAT score will appear on the screen in front of you instantaneously. When I took the GMAT, this took me completely off guard, actually. I knew I’d get my score on the same day, but the speed with which it flashed on the screen startled me. I think I actually jumped and gasped in the same way I would at the unanticipated sight of a latex zombie in a haunted house at the state fair. However, unlike the zombie, my score looked beautiful.
- You can only take the GMAT once per every 31 days and only up to 5 times per year. The good news is that since you did such a wonderful job preparing for the exam the first time, this information won’t apply to you. However, I do recommend a thorough understanding of what taking the GMAT twice really means [please link the phrase “taking the GMAT twice” with the blog article of the same name (post #110)] and what it doesn’t. This knowledge about the frequency at which you can sit for the exam may be of some help when planning your b-school application timeline. By the way, it’s once per 31 calendar days and 5 times per twelve month period. Basically, you start your own clock on the day you initially sit.
- Preparing for the GMAT takes longer than you think. I wrote about this in a previous blog article that I suggest you read right now. This may well be the most vicious of the unexpected and is arguably quite out of place on a list of “little things.” However, since we’re talking about aspects of the GMAT that may surprise you, a long prep runway is something you can and should plan to lay out for yourself. Respect the test.