May 10, 2012
In an earlier post, we kicked off a Kaplan GMAT student success story series. We want to share our students’ successes to inspire you to reach for your goals because they are attainable. In fact, your goals are so important to us that you can win cash and prizes just by telling us about them! We want to know: Where will you take you?TM
Jeff Gibbard never had a problem with creativity. But in order to get his social business agency off the ground, he needed to give himself a left-brain advantage. After preparing for the GMAT with Kaplan, he got a scholarship to Drexel’s fast-track MBA program and eventually founded his own social business agency.
Q: Why did you decide to get an MBA?
My undergrad degree was in film and media arts. During my studies I explored other creative outlets such as photography, graphic design and basic web development. I tried to start a few businesses, and it quickly became very clear that, in order to reach my full potential, I needed a business education.
Q: So after you decided to go for an MBA, what was the biggest surprise about what it takes to get into business school?
I can’t say that anything really “surprised” me, but it was definitely an adjustment trying to juggle work, a relationship, studying for the GMAT and getting everything together for my MBA application. I had done my research, so I knew what to expect, but knowing what needs to get done, and actually doing it, are not the same thing. I was also a bit nervous about how competitive my top schools were.
Q: What did you do to become competitive?
In all honesty, Kaplan helped a lot. My first GMAT score prior to my GMAT course did not cut it. A strong GMAT score was necessity to get into my top choice schools. I knew I could get a good enough score, but I also knew I needed help to get there. It was honestly the best decision I made on the road to business school. Kaplan’s GMAT prep course allowed me to raise my score to such an extent it translated into not only admission into the program of my choice, but also a scholarship to go there.
Q: And now?
Now I run my own company, doing exactly what I dreamed of doing one day. My company, TrueVoiceMedia, lets me apply my creative skills everyday while using everything I learned in graduate school to grow my business by virtue of helping others grow theirs. I love what I do, and I know I couldn’t have gotten here without getting my MBA degree. I also know that I wouldn’t have been able to receive that education if I hadn’t made the choice to get competitive and raise my GMAT score. So, sincerely, thank you for the role you played in my success. I am very grateful.
Now that you’ve read about where Jeff took himself, we’d like to hear from you! Where will you take yourself? Tell us what lies in your future, what your ambitions are, how you’re going to leave your mark on this world. In short, tell us what and who you’re going to be. We want to hear the story of the “future you”—in 120 characters or less—and give you the chance to win cash and a free Kaplan course. Click here to enter.
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I’ve been studying for the GMAT for some time now, and I’m fighting an uphill battle. My score increases a little bit each week, but I’m still not hitting my goal. Recently, I started to feel defeated, so I decided to take a break. I closed my books and took some time to rest my mind. As a result, I had to change my test date to the end of May. I also decided that if I don’t get the score I want, I will go ahead and study the new Integrative Reasoning section of the test and retake the GMAT again in August. I was so gung-ho in the beginning, I think I may have psyched myself out. I’m sure many test-takers have had this happen. I am writing this to let you know, you’re not alone.
My hiatus has allowed me to re-charge and re-focus. I’m getting back to my studies this week feeling confident and renewed. My fellow blogger, Eli Meyer, recently wrote that “the GMAT is a marathon, not a sprint.” He was talking about the experience of taking the test, but that assessment is just as true of GMAT prep. It is a long process, and we have to keep ourselves motivated. Time away worked for me.
What do you do to stay motivated and refreshed during the long process of studying for the GMAT?
Throughout my time teaching for Kaplan, I have found that the concept of overlapping sets can be confusing to some students. It is important to remember that overlapping sets refers to two groups of entities, some of which have one quality, some of which have a different quality, some of which have both qualities, and some of which have neither.
One of the keys to answering these questions is to identify what these qualities are. However, students who are first learning about overlapping sets questions will often misidentify these categories. It is essential to keep in mind that for the sets to be overlapping it must be possible for an element to be a member of both groups at the same time.
For example, students who are studying for the GMAT and students who are not studying for the GMAT, while two sets, cannot share any entities, and thus cannot be treated as overlapping sets. On the other hand, students who are studying for the GMAT and students who like cake are overlapping sets, since it is possible to both like cake and study for the GMAT at the same time. You should note that in the case of overlapping sets it will usually be possible to be in neither group – you can both not study for the GMAT and not enjoy cake. In sets that do not overlap, such as people studying for the GMAT and people not studying for the GMAT, it is usually the case that everyone must fall into one of the two categories.
When you do encounter a true overlapping sets question, such as the problem below, you have multiple options to solve, which are detailed in the explanation. Try this question on your own and then check out the solution to see how you did.
A magazine survey of its subscribers finds that 20 percent are male. If 70 percent of the subscribers are married and 10 percent of these are male, what percent of the male subscribers are not married.
When we see an overlapping sets question we have a few strategies that we can use. On problem solving questions that feature overlapping sets, the first option you should consider is the overlapping sets equation, which is group 1 + group 2 – both + neither = total. You should only use this formula when the information you are provided fits into it neatly. In other cases, you should set up a chart, if you have two sets that overlap, or a Venn diagram, if you have more than two sets that overlap.
In this question we have two sets – male subscribers and married subscribers – that overlap, since some subscribers are both male and married, while others or neither, and still others are only one of the two. We should first check to see if the information fits into the equation. If it does, that will be the fastest approach. Because our information is all in percent terms, we know the total will be 100. Group 1 is male subscribers, which we are told is 20%. Group 2 is married subscribers, which we are told is 70%. 10% of the married subscribers are male, which means that 7% are both. The missing piece to the equation is neither male nor married, but that is not what the question asks us for. Instead, we are supposed to find the percent who are male, but not married.
Once we have determined the equation will not work quickly, we set up a chart, since we have two groups that overlap. We can draw it as follows:
Remember that the columns and rows must sum to the total column. In order to find our answer, we must fill in the portion of the chart for males who are not married by subtracting 7 from 20, which gives us the correct answer of 13.
You should also note that you could solve for all the remaining cells, so we would have enough information no matter which particular cell the question asks for. To see this result, I have filled in the remainder of the chart below. Though, keep in mind that on test day you would not want to spend time filling in unnecessary information.
January 9, 2012 by Lucas Weingarten
When a runway is too short, the plane will either crash on landing or crash on takeoff. Either way, the plane is gonna crash.
With applications to b-school looming over many of you, the GMAT is an ever-present and perhaps overwhelming new reality. If you have started studying, then you now know what you wish you had known before: somewhere along the line, the expectations you set for GMAT prep were set entirely too low. That can be a very frustrating realization, especially when you’ve already scheduled your test date—four weeks from the first time you opened a book or attended a prep class.
A current student is living this issue right now. I learned of her test date during class 1 and I planted the seed then that if it is at all possible, considering a pushback might be a good idea. The thing is, I have seen this many times before. A student feels that since their smart and driven, prepping for the GMAT won’t be much of an issue. Then, as they trudge down Preparation Road, the slog starts to take its toll. They’ve lost their shoes in the mud of gross underestimation and are seeking refuge on which to nourish themselves with a tasty piece of humble pie.
When they do stop to assess the best way out of this mess, students will either escalate commitment to their original Test Day, or have an epiphany about things within their control. Your test date is one of those things.
The aforementioned student is scheduled to take the test in five days. In reality, her first application isn’t due for another four weeks. After our second-to-last class session last night, she stayed behind to get some essay feedback and talk about her situation. I stood firm in my opinion that, based on her practice test performance to date and the target school average of her top choices, she should postpone her test date and give herself more time.
“I know, but I’ve been giving this everything I have! I’ve really worked hard over these last four weeks. I just wonder if this is as good as I’ll ever do. I mean, if I do postpone test day, will I really get that much better than I’ll be five days from now?”
“Yes!” I returned. “An extra month of prep time is vastly different than another five days. You have the power to give that gift to yourself.”
In the end, I think she’s going to take the test. I am not super optimistic that she is going to hit her target this time around, but I am very optimistic that she will hit in when she takes the GMAT again a month from now. The takeaway? When you realize you are asking too much of yourself, stop. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed.
Recently, a colleague of mine emailed me about a previous post. It is always nice to learn that someone out there is reading my blogroll and even nicer when it strikes a chord deep enough to warrant an unsolicited email! The post is about the importance of keeping up with your study schedule for maximum GMAT performance. Basically, I want all you test prep warriors to “clean as you go.”
I always ask my GMAT students who are nearing the end of their Kaplan course if they have any recommendations for incoming students. While not all of you are or will be Kaplan students, the Top 5 pieces of advice that come from this survey are absolutely generalizable to everyone on the road to Test Day. Read them and take them to heart, especially because this counsel was borne from the trials and tribulations of people who have been there.
- Don’t underestimate how long it takes to go through a completed practice test. Set aside at least as much time as it took you to take it to go back over it.
- Start making flashcards from day 1. There’s a lot to memorize.
- Make it to every class. Things happen, sure, but don’t let avoidable situations keep you from going to class. The Lessons On Demand are good, but it’s much better to learn in class with other students and the teacher. (Note: if you aren’t in a test prep class, treat your scheduled study time the exact same way—don’t skip it.)
- Ask questions. Never be afraid or hesitate to ask about anything. If no one is around you at the time a question arises or you don’t want to interrupt your “groove” with a Google search, then jot it down and find the answer later.
- Keep up with your homework. There is more than you think and when you get behind, it is really difficult to catch up. (Note: to those not in a class, you will be assigning yourself homework. You’ll make lists that include items like “Take a practice test” or “Learn about combinations and permutations” or “Memorize all triangle properties.” Same thing applies—don’t fall behind.)
Quite simply, I couldn’t agree more. GMAT prep is a long, arduous road. Doing well on the test is not going to happen without a lot of hard work. As folks walk into my classroom, I like to find out how their studies are coming along. It pains me when one or two folks are consistently replying with, “Too busy this week,” or, “I went to a Brewers game,” or, “Yeah, I really need to get on it, but…” It pains me because I know exactly what’s going to happen. At some point, as their test day draws nearer, it will dawn on them that they are not ready and have a lot of ground to cover. They’ll hear my voice echoing in their head, “I understand that the GMAT isn’t the only thing you have going on, but you really need to set aside the time to study…you really need to set aside the time…you really need to set aside the time…”
You really need to set aside the time. Schedule it, be hard-nosed about it. Just walking into a classroom or picking up a book now and then isn’t good enough. You have to do the work, and there’s a lot of work to do.
I’ve got a new crop of eager test-preppers just starting out on their road to GMAT success. Often, my classes will contain one or two folks with at least some prior GMAT experience, but this group is all green and it’s gonna be fun. However, before the fun can really get rolling I have to spend time drawing blood.
Many of the battles I must wage (and win) in the GMAT classroom are focused on preconceptions. Whether a student has GMAT history or is coming in blind, all will inevitably have several strongly held beliefs about the test and everything that comes along with it, including their ability to crack it. Sometimes, these beliefs will be their most significant road block on the way to hitting their target.
After last night’s class, a student stayed behind for some clarification on Data Sufficiency questions. This student—let’s call her Jane—believes that she does not know/remember how to do any math whatsoever. I have worked with many students that hold this belief, and I am always right about how ludicrous it is. Jane may well not remember much; she may not have had to use any of this kind of stuff since she was a sophomore in high school. The last time Jane was messing around with quadratic equations might not have ended so well. But, regardless of past experience, regardless of how rusty and dusty this content knowledge is, Jane can absolutely learn (or re-learn) what she needs to in order to become successful in her bid for b-school acceptance.
Jane and I covered the Data Sufficiency concepts that were tripping her up and she is now ready to move forward on those little buggers. But, I couldn’t let the conversation end there. Unless she gets over her preconception about her perceived lack of GMAT potential and ability, moving forward will be much harder than it could be. In addition, she simply won’t get as far.
So, we talked. We talked about her education, work, past, future, etc. We talked about what her application package is going to look like and where she wants to submit it. We talked about ways she can get up to speed on some of the content so she can really push on the core competencies, methods, and strategies she needs to learn in order to excel on the GMAT.
By the end of the conversation, she felt better—a little more confident, a little more capable. I am not going to let this go, however. Jane is not where she needs to be. But, she did end by saying something that was absolute music to my ears:
“I know that my biggest problem is my attitude. I know that. I’m gonna work on that.”
The mere fact that you are even entertaining the idea of going to b-school, much less that you will actually get there, is reason enough to give thanks. Sure, we all stumbled along our own circuitous routes. For some, that route has been more treacherous than others. But, in each of our own ways, we’ve navigated our respective paths of life and it has brought us to this point, peering at the mountain of graduate education saying confidently to ourselves, “Yep, I got this.”
I sincerely believe in the potential of all people. If given the right set of circumstances, every one of us can aspire and achieve great things. Unfortunately, some of our brothers and sisters are not given such a set of circumstances. Through the course of happenings and structures that are far outside their realm of control, some people of the world are born into situations that are not charted through the great waters of formal education.
Give thanks for the knowledge you carry around in that healthy brain of yours. Give thanks for the sense self-efficacy which fuels the words, “I got this.” Give thanks for having to go through the trouble of studying for and taking the GMAT. Give thanks for what you’ve got, and give thanks for the opportunity to make the best of it.
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