GMAT Tip of the Week: Prepare for the GMAT Using the Study Plan Rule of Thirds

GMAT Tip of the WeekHere on the first Friday of April, we’ve officially ended the first quarter of the year and fiscal reports are streaming in. But who’s in a hurry to finish 2015?

We’re still firmly entrenched in the first third of the year, and if 2015 is the year that you plan to conquer the GMAT you’re in luck. Why?

Because your GMAT study plan should include three phases:

 

1) Learn

One of the most common mistakes that GMAT studiers make is that they forget that they need to learn before they can execute. Are you keeping an eye on the stopwatch on every question you complete? Are you taking multiple practice tests in your first month of GMAT prep? Have you uttered the phrase “how could I ever do this in two minutes???”? If so, you’re probably not paying nearly enough attention to the learning phase. In the learning phase you should:

  • Review core skills related to the GMAT by DOING them and not just by trying to memorize them. You were once a master of (or maybe a B-student at) factoring quadratics and identifying misplaced modifiers and completing long division. Retrain your mind to do those things well again by practicing those skills.
  • Learn about the GMAT question types and the strategies that will help you attack them efficiently. For this you might consider a prep course or self-study program, or you can always start by reviewing prep books and free online resources.
  • Take as much time as you need to complete and learn from problems. You’ll learn a lot more from struggling through a problem in six minutes than you will from taking two minutes, giving up, and then reading the typewritten solution in the back of the book. Let yourself learn! Again, it’s critical to learn by doing – by actively engaging with problems and talking yourself into understanding – than it is to try to memorize your way to success. The stopwatch is not your friend in the first third of your preparation!
  • Embrace mistakes and keep a positive attitude. The GMAT is a hard test; most people struggle with unfamiliar question formats (Data Sufficiency, anyone?) and challenging concepts (without a calculator, too). Recognize that it will take some time to learn/re-learn these skills, and that making mistakes and thinking about them is one of the best ways to learn.

2) Practice

Regardless of how you’ve studied, you’ll need to complete plenty of practice to make sure you’re comfortable implementing those strategies and using those skills on test day. Once you’ve developed a good sense of what the GMAT is testing and how you need to approach it, it’s time to spend a few weeks devouring practice problems. Among the best sources include:

In this phase, you can start concerning yourself with the stopwatch a little and you’ll want to identify weaknesses and common mistakes so that you can emphasize those. Particularly with GMAT verbal, the more official problems you see the more you develop a feel for the style of them, so it’s important to emphasize practice not just for the conscious skills but also for those subconscious feelings you’ll get on test day from having seen so many ways they’ll ask you a question.

3) Execute

Before you take the GMAT you should have taken several practice tests. Practice tests will help you:

  • Work on pacing and develop a sense for how much time you’ll need to complete each section. From there you can develop a pacing plan.
  • Determine which “silly” mistakes you tend to make under timed pressure and exam conditions, and be hyperaware of them on test day.
  • Develop the kind of mental stamina you’ll need to hold up under a 4-hour test day. Verbal strategies can be much easier to employ in a 60-minute study session than at the end of a several-hour test! Make sure that at least a few times you take the entire test including AWA and IR for the first hour.
  • Continue to see new problems and hone your skills.

While it’s not a terrible idea to take a practice test early in your study regimen and another partway through the Practice phase, most of your tests should come toward the end of your study process. Why? Because the learning and practice phases are so important. You can’t execute until you’ve developed the skills and strategies necessary to do so, and you won’t do nearly as effective a job of gaining and practicing those if you’re not allowing yourself the time and subject-by-subject focus to learn with an open mind.

So be certain to let yourself learn with a natural progression via the GMAT Study Rule of Thirds. Learn first; then focus on practice; then emphasize execution via practice tests. Studying in thirds is the best way to ensure that you get into a school that’s your first choice.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin

My Test Prep Journey to Scoring a 710 on the GMAT

Wood Veritas Prep PictureThe Veritas Prep program allowed me to reach my GMAT goals and re-learn all of the quantitative skills that I had forgotten over the past several years. I am an Army veteran, six years out of college, and Veritas Prep was the perfect program to teach me the skills I needed to succeed on the GMAT. I am thankful for the quality of the curriculum, and also very appreciative of the generous scholarship from Veritas Prep through the Service2School organization. Throughout the self-study lessons, I could always count on the on-demand videos to deliver engaging, thoughtful content and guide me through the lesson of the day. I particularly enjoyed Brian’s humorous references (the “alge, brah” joke stands out): The human element to the videos definitely helped me to remember many topics and leverage them on test day.

My goal was a score over 700, and I knew that I needed a structured, high-quality program to help me to get a top 10% score. After looking at several programs, Veritas Prep stood out as the one that would work for me. On day one of the program, I was contacted by Colleen Hill, who told me how to get started and offered her time for any questions I had throughout the course. I have to admit, I did not expect an actual person to contact me; it was a pleasant surprise! Upon receiving my materials in the mail and logging on to check out the online resources, I was again impressed by the quality of the materials. I found that I was more and more excited to begin the course. With everything organized and a thirty-day plan ahead of me, I began the course.

The curriculum was demanding, as I worked through it over a thirty-day period, and well-balanced to where I didn’t feel that I was ever losing ground in either quant or verbal. While working through the lessons, I could also always take comfort in the fact that if I didn’t understand a specific question, I could use the online homework help as a resource. Homework was challenging, which was great, and I found the explanations covered anything that I had missed when it came to why the correct answer was right, and why the wrong answers looked tempting.

When my test day finally came, I felt confident. I felt that the Veritas Prep practice tests had provided a very accurate measure of the difficulty of questions that I faced. Throughout the test, I remembered the lessons, always looking for logical ways to answer the question and leveraging a mastery of the content. I felt calm and confident throughout the test, and when I finished I had a 710. I am ecstatic at that score, especially as it is my first attempt, and I can attribute it to nothing but the exceptional quality of the Veritas Prep curriculum.

For someone who is looking for high-quality, comprehensive preparation for the GMAT, Veritas Prep should definitely be their first choice. I want to give a sincere “thank you” to Colleen and the rest of the Veritas Prep organization; you have helped me get a head start on my journey towards an MBA.

Veritas Prep is a proud sponsor of Service2School.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By US Army Captain Chuck Wood

Use Anxiety to Your Advantage on Test Day

GMAT PrepAt some point during the first session of each new class I teach, I’ll write my phone number on the board and mention that I take emergency calls. When I first started doing this, I figured that every now and again I’d get a call from a frantic student the night before the exam because he or she was running through some practice problems and was stumped on a concept that had previously been clear. I could then talk the student through a concept or strategy as a kind of pre-test boost. It turns out, these emergency calls happen far more often than I’d suspected, and they’re never about content. They’re always about anxiety. And the refrain is always the same. “When we’re doing the questions in class, I understand them. When I’m working on my own with no pressure, I’m fine. But when I see the timer…” The implications are clear: the issue often isn’t the content of the question, but the psychological mindset of the test-taker when he encounters it.

In fact, the link between anxiety and standardized testing is so prevalent that a Google search of ‘test anxiety’ yields well over 100,000,000 results. You want to make a parent nervous? Say something about Common Core. Want to freak out a high school student? Invoke the SATs. And if you’re reading this article, you are likely well acquainted with the pernicious effects that the GMAT can have on the ‘ol nervous system. It isn’t hard to see why. These tests not only have tangible academic and professional consequences that can reverberate for years, but they shape our fundamental self-perceptions. Someone who scores in the 98th percentile on a standardized test will, no matter what he says, walk out of that test feeling different about his abilities than someone who scores in the 7th percentile, despite the fact that there are literally dozens of variables in play that have little or nothing to do with underlying intelligence. (And this supposes that there is such a thing as underlying intelligence, as opposed to a host of complexly intersecting domains of intelligence, all of which may be difficult to measure with any kind of accuracy or consistency.) This is all to say that testing anxiety is both real and inevitable. It’s impossible to talk about preparation for an exam like the GMAT without addressing it.

Though this connection isn’t new, much of the science behind how the brain works under pressure is quite novel, and as we learn more, this knowledge will invariably seep into how teachers and tutors prepare their students for the exam.

First, consider the physiological process by which stress makes it make more difficult to perform well on exams. We enter what psychologists call a threat state. Here is a relevant quote from Barry Mendes, an associate professor of psychology from UC San Francisco, culled from a New York Times article on the subject. (The article is itself well worth a read).

The hallmark of a threat state is vasoconstriction — a tightening of the smooth muscles that line every blood vessel in the body. Blood pressure rises; breathing gets shallow. Oxygenated blood levels drop, and energy supplies are reduced. Meanwhile, a rush of hormones amplifies activity in the brain’s amygdala, making you more aware of risks and fearful of mistakes.”

And it turns out that the physiological processes in play are even more complicated than we’ve thought. Recent research has revealed that there is a gene that codes for the speed at which enzymes remove dopamine from various regions in the brain. Some remove dopamine quickly. Others remove it more slowly. In and of itself, this isn’t terrible interesting, but what is fascinating, and relevant to this discussion, is that those who had the gene that coded for the enzymes that removed dopamine more slowly did better than the other group on IQ tests in normal conditions, but worse than the other group on tests with significant time constraints. In other words, the gene that makes you smarter in a low stress environment causes you to underperform in a stressful situation. Suddenly, we have a scientific explanation for the dozens and dozens of students I’ve had over the years who maintained a 3.9 GPA in college, but could not, for the life of them, understand why they struggled on standardized tests!

The implications from the above discussion may sound fairly straightforward. Stress is bad. It can hurt test performance. But it isn’t that simple. It turns out that stress is one of those maddeningly elusive phenomena that we actually alter by focusing our attention on it. (Fans of quantum mechanics will recognize this as a version of the Observer Dilemma. In the quantum world, observing a particle alters the very characteristics we’re attempting to observe, so there’s no way to derive uncontaminated data. Scientists and philosophers have been puzzling over this for the better part of a century, and the phenomenon is no less strange now than it was when it was codified). This is best illustrated by a study conducted at Harvard. Half of the subjects were simply told that the purpose of the study was to examine the effect of anxiety on test-taking. The other students, however, were told that the anxiety during a test could actually boost performance. Sure enough, the group that was told that anxiety could boost performance did significantly better than the control group.

In other words, when we think stress is bad for us, it is. And when we think stress can be beneficial, it is. How we frame the issue in our minds has a direct and material impact on our response to trying conditions.

Moreover, there are things we can do to improve our performance in stressful situations. Pilots, for example, will practice dealing with artificial problems during test runs, and this practice yields benefits when these same problems happen during commercial flights. I’ll often encourage students to create a simulated stressful environment during a practice exam so that if a similar situation should befall the student during the real test, she’ll have an experience to draw on when attempting to adapt. For example, you can allow 10 minutes to elapse during a practice test so that if there is a time crunch on the real test, you’ll have already practiced how to address this potential crisis.

Last, you can practice mindfulness in the weeks leading up to the exam. A study performed last year demonstrated that students who began a mindfulness practice for only two weeks demonstrated improvements in working memory and concentration, benefits that translated to significantly higher scores on standardized tests. (The students in the study took the GRE, but there’s every reason to believe that mindfulness meditation would confer comparable benefits on the GMAT.) Here is an article distilling the main points of the study.

There is no avoiding stress on test day, but there is a lot we can do to reshape how we perceive this stress, and this reshaped perception can actually serve to improve our performance.

Takeaways:

  • Remind yourself that stress is not inherently bad. It can be a source of energy and focus that you can harness. Moreover, your belief in the bracing qualities of stress can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Repeat that to yourself like mantra: stress can be helpful, but only if we tell ourselves so.
  • Simulate stressful conditions when taking practice tests so that these situations will be less alarming should they happen during the actual exam.
  • Consider starting a consistent mindfulness practice. The research indicating that mindfulness can boost test scores is promising, and the tangential health benefits are enormous.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston.

Veritas Prep’s Top-Rated Instructor Comes to India on March 29!

Ravi SreeramaFor some time now, Veritas Prep team member Ravi Sreerama has been regarded as the best GMAT instructor in the industry (see for yourself!) Whether he’s leading GMAT courses in Los Angeles or training students worldwide in our Next-Generation Live Online GMAT Course, Ravi keeps growing his legion of loyal followers. They want to score in the 99th percentile on the GMAT, and Ravi knows how to help them do it.

No, for the first time ever, Ravi will take his show on the road: Starting March 29, Ravi will lead a seven-day Immersion Course in New Delhi! Our Immersion Course format is entirely unique — you cover all 36 hours of the traditional Veritas Prep Full Course GMAT curriculum, but do so over seven straight days. Six of those days feature six hours of GMAT instruction each, with a break in the middle of the week.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Sunday: Foundations of GMAT Logic & Arithmetic
  • Monday: Critical Reasoning, Algebra
  • Tuesday: Sentence Correction, Geometry
  • Wednesday: Review Session and Office Hours
  • Thursday: Reading Comprehension, Data Sufficiency
  • Friday: Advanced Verbal Strategy, Statistics and Combinatorics
  • Saturday: Word Problems, AWA & Integrated Reasoning

Pay special attention to that Wednesday schedule — that day is dedicated to review and to office hours in which you can get one-on-one GMAT coaching from Ravi. Need to catch up? Stuck on a particular area? Have specific questions that you’ve been saving to ask a GMAT expert? Wednesday is when you can take advantage of Ravi being in New Delhi to brush up on the skills that matter most to you.

And, of course, you get all of the other benefits of being in a Veritas Prep Immersion Course, including the camaraderie that comes from spending seven days with a group of like-minded, ambitious GMAT students. You also receive:

  • 36 hours of live, instructor-led class time
  • 12 GMAT lesson booklets
  • 12 computer adaptive practice tests
  • Online student account with study plan
  • 3,000 practice problems and solutions, including video
  • Live homework help 7 days a week for a year
  • Every lesson pre-recorded in HD for review

Hurry… March 29 is coming quickly! Learn more about Ravi Sreerama’s New Delhi GMAT course, and enroll as soon as you can so that you’re ready when class starts on the 29th!

By Scott Shrum

3 Ways to Improve Your Timing on the GMAT

stopwatchThe GMAT presents several challenges for test takers. For many people, the issues are focused around aptitude and the ability to simply get answers right. For others, timing is a big challenge. The GMAT is as much a test of mental endurance as it is an aptitude test.

With over 90 questions in 3+ hours the GMAT requires test takers to not only answer questions correctly, but to also do so quickly. In a vacuum many test takers could answer most GMAT questions correctly under normal conditions but the time constraints imposed by the GMAT make this one of the toughest standardized tests for graduate education.

All hope is not lost however; let’s discuss a few ways to prepare for the GMAT that will pay dividends on the timing front on test day.

Problem Sets

Every practice question you solve should be timed based on the average time you will have per question on the exam. Answering questions under unrealistic time scenarios does little to improve your performance especially if you are already struggling with pacing. Take the questions in sets (1, 5, 10, 20, etc.) and have your phone or stopwatch handy to make sure you are comfortable answering questions in realistic time constraints. If you are a Veritas Prep GMAT student, the Problems tab in your online account allows for the timed answering of homework questions!

Practice Exams

Too often test takers don’t start taking practice exams until too close to their test date. Practice exams are an integral part of your test prep game plan. I recommend taking your practice test at a similar time of day as your test date, if possible. If your test date is Saturday morning make sure you are taking practice tests on Saturday mornings. This is a good way to get your body synced up with the physical and mental side of taking such a long and difficult test. Once you take the test make sure you are including some time for review. Getting a problem wrong can be even more valuable than getting a problem right, focus on learning from your mistakes. You should spend a considerable amount of time figuring out why you got a problem wrong so you will never get a similar problem wrong again.

Problem Recognition

For most test takers who struggle with pacing, you will also want to work on problem recognition. Pacing is about quickly identifying the question type as well as how to approach it and then answering it quickly. Spend some time finding ways to quickly identify different question types and how to approach them. Finally, be able to move on if you realize that you don’t have a strong chance answering the question accurately in a reasonable amount of time. Spending an exorbitant amount of time on a question you will eventually get wrong is a death sentence on the GMAT; so don’t be afraid to move on after making an educated guess.

Incorporate these GMAT prep strategies into your studies and kiss pacing issues goodbye!

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. Find more of his articles here

3 Things You Need to Know About Your GMAT Test Day Experience

You’re probably going to spend considerable time preparing for the GMAT exam, but many students spend so much time on practice exams and questions, they often overlook one of the most important pieces of that equation: scheduling their actual GMAT exam!

You’re probably thinking you just visit mba.com and take what you can find, but there’s definitely an art to scoring your preferred appointment.

Did  You Know?

  • GMAC releases appointments six months in advance, so if you plan early, you can score an appointment date and time that’s most convenient for you.

There’s a little known tool on mba.com called “Find Test Dates” that lets you peruse available appointments in real time without making a commitment. Think of it as the Tinder of the standardized testing world. Well maybe not exactly since there’s no collaboration allowed on the GMAT.  “Find Test Dates” lets you view six months of available GMAT appointments at up to 10 test centers near you.  All you have to do is enter your address.  If you’re hyperventilating and having high school flashbacks to bad fluorescent lighting, a high school gym with 300 of your closest friends and strangers at SAT testing at 8:00 AM on a Monday, those days are gone!  The GMAT is offered “on-demand” which means that while you can’t control much when it comes to your actual exam, you do have several choices around where and when you test.  Not a morning person?  Book a 1:15 PM Saturday session. Don’t see anything that you like at first glance? If you start searching early and have some flexibility with your timing, check back. Just like airlines constantly update their inventory in realtime, so do the folks at GMAC. Just remember, if that Saturday afternoon session sounds appealing to you, it’s probably appealing to others. Weekend testing appointments are the most popular among GMAT test takers so learn the scheduling patterns of the test centers near you early.

Did You Know?

  • GMAC guarantees that you’ll be able to find an appointment within 30 days at any test center around the globe? It might not be your first choice, but there will always be available appointments.

It pays to do your homework. You’d never buy a car by just looking at a picture and name, right?  You have to take it for a test drive and see if it’s built for you. Just like cars, test centers come in all shapes and sizes.  They can have as few as 4 or as many as 15 work stations. Remember, you’re going to have one proctor keeping tabs on everyone, so you’ll likely get greater attention (and quicker response time during your exam) if there are fewer candidates in the room.  Also, many test centers deliver several other exams in addition to the GMAT exam.  There may be speaking components involved, and even though you can be given ear plugs, that murmur might sound like nails on a chalkboard if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.  While there isn’t a Yelp for test centers, ask your friends where they tested and what their experience was like. Remember, crowd sourcing for test center feedback is acceptable; crowd sourcing for GMAT questions they saw on their test is not.

Depending on where the test center is located, getting there may be half the battle. In larger metropolitan areas, there may be limited or no parking. You may be looking out on a busy street where you’ll test to the symphony of street and city sounds.  Once you decide where you want to test, do a dry run (preferably before you book your appointment).  See how long it will take you to drive or use public transportation to get there. If you’re testing on a weekend and relying on public transportation, double check schedules to make sure trains/cars/buses use that route. They  may operate on reduced or altered schedules.

Did You Know?

  • There are several types of test centers: Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs), third-party owned test centers, university-based test centers and DoD military installation centers.

The biggest difference between PPCs and every other test center is consistency of environment.  Every PPC is designed to look and feel the same from the carpeting to the paint and artwork on the walls.  GMAC and Pearson Vue wanted to create a fair and equitable experience for  all tests. What does this mean for you as a test taker? The candidates testing in Sydney, Australia are staring at the same paint and artwork as the test takers in Beijing, China; the test takers in Paris, France are sitting in the same chairs as the test takers in Washington, DC.  There’s no edge to testing in Paris except that you might be able to drown your sorrows… err celebrate your victory… with a warm buttery croissant after you’re done testing.

The third party owned sites are located outside the U.S. and must meet the same set of standards established by GMAC.  Just know they’re free to pick their own paint and carpeting, so they won’t look quite the same. University based centers often run on the academic schedules of their home universities, so if you’re not a student make sure you check schedules as they’re often closed for extended periods of time around holidays or campus breaks. Finally, DoD (Department of Defense) centers are located on U.S. military bases and installations around the globe. These centers are only accessible by active duty military, retired military or civilians who hold credentials that grant them access to that particular base.  Chances are, the type of test center will have the least impact on your testing experience, but again, it pays to RESEARCH and research early and often!

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you start planning for your test appointment. Practice and preparation will prepare you for what you see inside the test center, but make sure you’re equally well prepared so there are no surprises as you travel to or settle in at the test center.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

3 Similarities Between the Hobbit and the GMAT

Over the holiday season, you may have taken the time to go see the Hobbit, the much-hyped precursor to the Lord of the Rings movies which breathed life into the seminal Tolkien books published over a half century ago. If this sentence looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same one I used two years ago to begin an article about the similarities between the first Hobbit movie and the GMAT. Lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago I was watching the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy, and I noticed more parallels to the GMAT. I decided then to pen a follow up to my original article to finish the comparison between the two disparate, yet often overlapping events.

To quickly recap some of the main points from the original article, I mentioned that both the GMAT and the Hobbit movie require a significant allocation of your time and that both should contain very few surprises. The Hobbit (pick any of the three movies) is about three hours between run time and previews, whereas the GMAT is just short of four hours if you take all the breaks (which I recommend). Since you know you’ll be there for a while, you should plan accordingly in terms of snacks, medication and fatigue. Bring anything you might need to manage the lengthy endeavour.

The other main point I brought up is that the Hobbit movies should contain very few surprises because the source material is already known. If you want to know what happened in the Hobbit, you could read the book first published in 1937. If you want to know what’s on the GMAT, you can read the OG (or other specialized GMAT study guide). All the material you need to know is contained within. The only thing that will change is the execution. Indeed, just knowing there will be a question about triangles doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the right answer, but you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself using the Pythagorean theorem to solve the second quant problem. If you don’t want to be surprised, do your research.

However, while watching the newest installment of the franchise, I noticed more elements that are similar to the GMAT. Specifically, I was struck by how the first sequence of this movie was essentially a warm up for the main event, how the protagonists constantly had to think strategically, and how the entire movie was the culmination of an arduous journey. For the purposes of this analogy, I will assume you have seen the movie (or at least read the book). It’s hard to spoil a book published during the great depression, but I want a disclaimer noting that there might be some minor spoilers ahead (#spoilers).

The Warm Up Section

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies begins with the dragon Smaug unleashing his fury on nearby Laketown. This continues from where the last movie leaves off, but even though there is much action from the start, viewers know that this scene will not take very long to conclude. Why? Because the movie is called “The Battle of the Five Armies”, and not “Smaug Burns Everything” (or even “Smaug Gets his Comeuppance”). The scene certainly looks frightening, but we know it is just a matter of time before one of the dwarves gets his mystical arrow and shoots it perfectly at a specific weakness on the dragon whizzing around at hurricane speed. The movie will then get on with the gathering of multiple armies to face off in a grandiose climax of sword and steel.

Similarly, the opening act of the GMAT, the AWA and IR, are simply warm ups to the main event commencing at around the one hour mark. Certainly no one wants to do poorly on these early sections, but just doing okay on them and performing well on the verbal and quant sections of the GMAT will do just fine. The score out of 800, which is really what most people look for, is composed entirely of your blended verbal and quant scores. You still have to go through the first two sections, but if you could conserve mental energy for the final two sections, you’ll typically see your score improve. (I could see this exam being called “GMAT: the Struggle of Verbal and Quant”).

Strategic Thinking

Having never engaged in warfare (beyond Starcraft), I cannot say definitively that having one opponent is easier than having four, but it certainly seems that way. If you only have one enemy to deal with, you can focus all of your attention on them. However, if five separate armies are entering the fray, as was the case in the movie, you had to coordinate strategically among your allies and adjust to your enemy’s changes rapidly. If the orcs suddenly overrun the dwarves, then the elves have to switch strategies and defend their vulnerable flank. Similarly, if a new army appears from a different direction, you may have to redeploy to avoid being surrounded.

The GMAT is very similar, as the exam is designed to test your mental agility. If you are great at algebra, that can help you with a lot of questions, but some questions will be almost impossible to solve purely through algebra (and without a calculator). You must consider other options such as backsolving or using the concept to avoid wasting time and getting frustrated. Some questions are designed to be time-consuming if approached in a straightforward way, so you always have to think strategically. If your approach looks like it will take 4-5 minutes, you might be better off thinking of it in another way.

The Culmination of a Long Journey

The final installment of the Hobbit has a runtime of about 2.5 hours, but it is the conclusion of something much greater. Two other movies (some might argue five) are closed at the end of this spectacle, so even if it only took a few hours to complete, it is the ending of months or even years of preparation. Few people spontaneously decide to take the GMAT without studying or at least researching the exam a little. For most, hundreds of hours are devoted to the 3-4 hour endeavour that is the exam. Just because the exam is over in the blink of an eye (more or less), doesn’t mean that there weren’t hours of studying, of wondering, of panicking and of persevering that all concluded in one day at the Pearson center.

You can learn a lot about the GMAT from this final Hobbit movie, most remarkably that the beginning is just a set up for the second portion. You should also recognize that you must always think strategically on this test, for it is designed to trick people who consistently depend on one single approach. Finally, you can also note that the GMAT, like the Hobbit is the last step on a long (and unexpected) journey. Ironically, in both cases, it is often the beginning of an even greater journey, but I’ll save that analogy (LotR/MBA) for another day.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.

GMAT Tip of the Week: New Year, New You, New Study Plan

GMAT Tip of the WeekHappy New Year!  If you’re reading this on January 9, our publication date, and your New Year’s Resolution is still intact, you’re probably in the majority.  But within the next few weeks that will change… This week the gyms, yoga studios, pools, and health food stores of the world were packed with people for whom 2015 is the year to become great; by Valentine’s Day, however, Netflix usage, Frito-Lay sales, and Taco Bell drive through volume will be back to their normal levels, while GMAT class attendance will start to wane, too.

As a GMAT student who wants to make 2015 the year of the elite MBA acceptance letter, how can you be among the disappointingly-few who keep up this week’s excellence exuberance?

Keep it simple.

The problem with most New Year’s Resolutions and GMAT study plan’s is that they’re far too ambitious.  Hatched over eggnog and 7-10 days of paid vacation, these plans are destined to failure because they’re way too much for anyone to adhere to in the long term.  They often read like:

“I’ll get up 90 minutes before I normally do and study over a healthy breakfast, then after work three days a week I’ll go the library, and every Saturday I’ll take a practice test and spend Sunday mornings with a tutor reviewing it all.”

“I’ll take a leave of absence from work so that I can study 40-50 hours a week for three months, then I’ll take the GMAT in the spring and get a high score, then volunteer all summer to demonstrate my community service, then apply round 1 to Harvard/Stanford/Wharton, and maybe throw Yale or London Business School in the mix as a safety school.”

“I’ll turn off my smartphone and give up social media for the next few months, study at least 90 minutes a day, and….”

And the problem with those study plans? You’ll resent them within a week, just like most New Year’s Resolvers resent their no-carb / all-lettuce diets and overpriced gym memberships.  You have to come up with a study plan that:

1) You can fit in to your lifestyle so that you can keep to it.

This means that you factor in your hobbies and, yes, limitations.  If you’re not a morning person, you won’t keep to a schedule of studying every morning before work.  If you thrive on a good workout, giving up your soccer league or gym regimen completely won’t work either.  And friends, family, work functions, etc. are always important.

2) You can build on.

The best study plans are those that start a bit smaller and build into something more robust, like a “Couch to 5k (or marathon)” training program.  If you want to run a marathon, you start with a couple miles and build up to 18-20 milers as your body is ready for it.  If you want a 700 on the GMAT, you start with a handful of study sessions per week and build into longer sessions when they’re more purposeful and you know what you’re using the time to work on.

3) Focus on achievement, not activity.

Veritas Prep emphasizes the famous John Wooden quote “never mistake activity for achievement”, meaning that simply spending 4 hours studying Sentence Correction, for example, isn’t going to get the job done; it’s the quality of study that helps.  So hold yourself accountable for goals, not time spent.  Think in terms of “I want to do 25 SC problems focusing on major error categories first, then thinking of logical meaning second”

or “I’m going to practice applying right triangle principles to geometry problems” or “I’m going to do a timed drill to force myself to think more quickly.”  Give your study sessions themes and achievement goals, and they’ll not only be more productive but they’ll also be more fun.

So what does a productive, sustainable study schedule look like?

*It’s firm but flexible.  Plan to study at least 3 times per week, but let yourself move Tuesday’s session to Wednesday if you get tickets to a Tuesday concert or you work late and just need to blow off steam with a run.  You have to get those sessions in, but you don’t have to resent them or go through the motions just to stick to your (probably arbitrary) schedule.

*It’s achievement-driven.  Your study sessions have themes and goals, not just durations.

*It’s reasonable. Know yourself and your preferences and limitations.

Very few people can study for hours every day, so schedule something you can commit to – a few sessions per week, maybe two weeknights and one weekend morning, or something that you know you can hold yourself accountable to.

*It’s custom-built. Think about when you’ve been most successful in other academic pursuits and try to replicate that.  Do you study better in the morning?  In the evening?  With friends or music?  Alone?  After a good workout?   With a snack?  Build your plan around your own successes.

*It’s built to expand.  2-3 study sessions a week may very well not be enough for you, so be honest with yourself once you’ve up and running.  Do you need more time to master algebra?  Do you need to build in a class or On Demand program to supplement your practice?  Do you have enough time for practice tests?  Once you’re committed to a bsseline study regimen, you need to be honest with yourself about what you need, and at that point it’s often easier to bite the bullet and dive into something more intense.

But in the beginning, make sure you have a schedule/plan that you won’t quit before your neighbors even take their Christmas lights down.

January is a great time to make plans for self-improvement, but most of those plans never live to see February.  To ensure that your New YEAR’s Resolution to succeed on the GMAT isn’t limited to one month or less, resolve to plan on something that will last.  If you can do that, we’ll see you back in this GMAT Tip of the Week every Friday until you have that score you’re looking for.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin

The 411 on GMAT Testing Accommodations

GMACSeveral of my students have asked about the process of requesting testing accommodations for the GMAT, so I thought it’d be helpful to organize the relevant information in one place, along with a brief overview of what to expect.

Who is eligible for testing accommodations?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  The GMAC recognizes several categories of disabilities that may warrant testing accommodations, including:

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning and Cognitive Disorders (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia)
  • Physical and Systemic Disabilities (e.g., multiple sclerosis, mobility impairments, cerebral palsy, cancer, AIDS, muscle dystrophy)
  • Psychological Disabilities
  • Sensory Disabilities (e.g., vision and hearing impairments)

If you have a documented disability, then you may be entitled to testing accommodations on the GMAT.

What kinds of accommodations are offered?

The most common accommodations are:

  • Additional testing time (+50% or +100%)
  • Extended or additional rest breaks
  • Someone to read items to you
  • Someone to record your responses
  • Screen-reader software and/or enlarged type font

How do I apply for testing accommodations?

Read the GMAT Handbook Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities and follow the instructions about creating a profile and submitting the appropriate documentation to Pearson VUE (which administers the GMAT) via fax or snail mail only.  There is no extra charge for testing accommodations, but you must submit the standard $250 test fee along with your application.

Keep in mind that the GMAC requires more than just an official diagnosis before granting testing accommodations; they need an in-depth examination of how your disability is affecting you currently, and why the requested accommodations are necessary and appropriate relative to your disability.  Documentation guidelines for the various categories of disabilities are available here.

Once your application is received, you’ll get an email confirming that the process is underway, and then it’s time to play the waiting game.

How long does the application process take?

Usually they will get back to with their decision within 7-10 business days, but officially they give themselves a cushion of 26-30 calendar days.  It’s important to note that you must apply for accommodations before scheduling your test date; they will not grant testing accommodations to an already scheduled test date.  If you want to check on the status of your application, the GMAC Testing Accommodations Department can be reached via email at testingaccommodations@gmac.com, or via phone at 1-800-466-0450.

Once a decision has been made regarding your application, you’ll get an email notification with the results.  If accommodations are granted, then it’s time to actually schedule your exam.  Only certain testing centers are designated to handle testing accommodations, and there are a limited number of slots available at any given time, so you can’t schedule the exam online yourself.  You’ll have to call to leave a message for a scheduling specialist, and then someone should call you back within 3 business days to find an appropriate test location and date for you.

I don’t have a disability but I’m always running out of time on the GMAT.  Can I get extra time?

Pretty much everybody would love some extra time on the GMAT, myself included.  It’s a challenging test, and lots of people have issues with pacing.  Accommodations are designed to provide equal access to people who are truly disabled relative to the general population.  Pacing issues alone don’t qualify someone for extra time.

Some other things to keep in mind

Don’t want until the last minute to apply for accommodations.  The whole process of getting the proper documentation, submitting it to Pearson, awaiting their response, and then scheduling the exam is fairly involved, so give yourself plenty of time to do it.  I had one student with a diagnosed learning disability who decided to apply for testing accommodations only after he had already taken the GMAT twice and hadn’t gotten the score he wanted.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time before his b-school application due date to apply for accommodations, so he had to take the exam without any.  (Fortunately, we got his score up to where it needed to be anyway—yay!)  The point is, if you think you might be eligible for accommodations, start getting your documentation together and submit the application as soon as possible.

Some accommodations can be a double-edged sword.  Extra time is great, right?  Except that more time on the GMAT also means more time to get fatigued and stressed out.  Another student of mine had double time, meaning that he took the test over two consecutive days.  But after the first day, he was convinced he had bombed the quant section (which turned out not to be the case), and as a result he barely slept that night and was exhausted for the verbal section on day two.  Whatever the accommodation you’re applying for, just don’t expect it to be a panacea.

Helpful links

http://www.mba.com/us/the-gmat-exam/about-the-gmat-exam/why-take-gmat-exam/register-test-taker-disabilities.aspx

http://www.gmac.com/gmat/prepare-candidates-for-the-exam-classroom/accomodations-for-test-takers-with-disabilities.aspx

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Ryan McGorman

A Student Perspective: My Jump From a 580 to a 750

Matt Hamilton is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was commissioned as and engineer officer in the US Army. He has served in Afghanistan and is currently preparing to transition to a full-time MBA program. He just completed the GMAT and with the help of Veritas Prep, he raised his score from a 580 to a 750!

How did you hear about Veritas Prep?

 I signed on with Veritas Prep via Service to School, a non-profit that helps veterans make the transition from the military to both undergraduate and graduate school. Veritas Prep has teamed up with Service to School and is awarding free GMAT prep scholarships to select candidates. My Service to School Ambassador, a fellow veteran who is an MBA candidate at the Booth School of Business, thought I was a good fit for the Veritas Prep program and that’s how the process started! I ended up using Veritas Prep and only Veritas Prep to prepare for the GMAT.

What was your initial experience with the GMAT? How did you first feel going in?

I took the diagnostic CAT a week before starting the Veritas Prep course and walked away with a 580 and a bruised ego. Not that I expected a great score on my first test, but it was still a good reality check, and it let me know how much work I had ahead of me. I know I’m definitely not alone when I say this, but finding study time with a busy work schedule is tough, even more so if you have a family. It took me a few weeks to nail down my rhythm. I also took a little longer than I should have to schedule the official test, so by the time my appointment came around I feared that I had forgotten a bunch of material I’d learned in the Veritas Prep course. Regardless, my CAT scores were right around my target range (710-730) and this gave me enough confidence going into the actual test. Even though I’m still a ways off from beginning the school application process, I honestly wanted to be “one and done” with the GMAT as I’m about to take a job with a significantly higher demand on my time.

How did the Veritas Prep course help prepare you?

In my opinion, one of the most devilish aspects of the GMAT is that it stresses thought processes more than concept mastery. The Veritas Prep course hammered that fact home within the first five minutes of study and continued to stress it in each of the lessons. I feel that the value in prep courses lies in the foundation of fundamental concepts for future individual study that they establish. In that regard, the Veritas Prep course (and instructor) did a great job in developing my ability to think through questions so that when I eventually moved to self-study I could look at all the math and verbal concepts through a more logical lens. I should also mention the quality of Veritas Prep’s materials – the lesson books, online problem sets (with solutions), and CATs are all extremely easy to use. In particular, the CATs were pretty spot-on in terms of difficulty and content when compared to the actual GMAT.

Tell us about your test day experience and how you felt throughout the experience?

I had a healthy mix of nerves and confidence. I’d already scouted the test location so I didn’t have to worry about finding the place in the beehive that is downtown Honolulu. Once the test got started I felt like I was back at my house doing another Veritas Prep practice test: equal amounts of “I’ve got this” reactions and “I’m screwed” reactions to the questions that came up on the screen. I didn’t notice too much test fatigue – I did a few full practices on the Veritas Prep site – although about halfway through the verbal section I really wanted nothing more than to finish and see my score. When I clicked past the last page of admin data verification and saw the 750 on the screen I was so excited that I couldn’t get out of my chair for almost three minutes.

Veritas Prep is a proud sponsor of Service 2 School.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Compiled by Colleen Hill

Free Live Online GMAT Classes

Starting this Monday, October 6th,  you can benefit from various sample  GMAT prep classes taught by Veritas Prep’s course creator and Vice President of Academics, Brian Galvin. Over the course of next week, we will be offering an introductory session to the GMAT as well as sample Critical Reasoning and Data Sufficiency classes.

All classes will be delivered online via Veritas Prep’s live online course platform.  They will be taught  live and will include time for students to ask questions about the course material being taught.  You will receive supplemental articles and videos, homework sheets, and a full length computer-adaptive GMAT practice test.

Throughout the week, you’ll learn about the most crucial strategies that you will need to know to achieve your desired GMAT score.

Course Syllabus:

  • Monday, October 6th at 11:00am Pacific – Introduction to the GMAT
  • Tuesday, October 7th at 11:00am Pacific – Critical Reasoning Lesson
  • Wednesday, October 8th at 11:00am Pacific – Data Sufficiency Lesson

These free live online sample GMAT classes are provided by Veritas Prep and PrepAdviser.

Interested? Click here to reserve your spot now! 

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We also have full GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Colleen Hill

How Veritas Prep Helped me Reach a 770 on the GMAT

The following article comes from Eliza Chute, a motivated GMAT self-studier who scored an impressive 770 on the GMAT.  Eliza utilized numerous resources to help her prepare for the GMAT, including Veritas Prep’s GMAT Question Bank and GMAT Practice Test.  Here, Eliza describes her experience using both resources and makes strategic recommendations for how to get the most out of each resource to help you with your GMAT preparation.

The Veritas Prep Question Bank and GMAT practice test helped me find my weaknesses and focus my study so that I could break the 700 barrier and ultimately helped me reach a 770.

The Question Bank was an essential part of my study plan.  I could pick which topics I wanted included in each quiz and could set the amount of questions, so I used it to help me hone in on specific skills I learned.  For example, after completing a sentence correction lesson, I used the  Question Bank to help me practice the skills I just learned and solidify the strategies in my mind.  Also, it was a great resource to help me keep up with subjects I wasn’t currently studying.  If I was having a particularly quant heavy few days, I would use the Question Bank to practice with 5-10 verbal questions to make sure I was keeping up with the topics I wasn’t actively studying at the time.

Question Bank shows you a comparison of your accuracy vs. other test takers, which is extremely valuable considering you are scored based on how well you do in relation to others on the actual GMAT.  I used this to ensure that I was up to snuff as far as my accuracy on each topic.  I was aiming for above a 700, so I needed to be well above average for everything.   After a few months of study, I saw that I was still only at average for Sentence Correction and above for everything else.  After identifying Sentence Correction as my weakness, I was able to correct it by doing a lot of review of grammar rules.

The Question Bank also showed me the progression of my accuracy over time, which I used to help plan future study.  For example, I saw that I had an increase in Data Sufficiency and then I began to plateau at an accuracy level below what I wanted for my goal score.  This showed me that I needed to go back to the books and work with more advanced problems to help me increase to where I needed to be.

Finding the right pacing strategy is such a key part of doing well on the GMAT and the Veritas Prep practice GMAT test helped me identify key areas where I was going wrong.  After you take the test, you can look at how long it took you to answer each type of question on average and how that compares to other test takers.  It also shows you a comparison of how long you spend on questions you get wrong versus how long you spend on the ones you get right.  Not only did my practice test reveal that I was taking much longer than average on problem solving, but that I spent longer, on average on the questions that I got wrong.  This helped me see that I needed to make a change and learn to let go of some questions that I just was not capable of answering.  By trying to answer these questions, I allowed myself less time to answer other questions and I wasn’t even getting them right anyway, making it a complete waste of time.  After seeing this, I adopted a strategy of guessing on 1-3 questions on the quant section to save me more time for the rest of the questions; a strategy that helped me earn a 51 in quant.

I took over 20 full length practice tests during my study and I found the Veritas Prep practice GMAT test one of the most accurate test experience and score simulators.  Not only that, but it opened my eyes to something I hadn’t thought about previously in my study: my score balance.  Though it is something that is pretty important, it is something that is not often emphasized.  Veritas Prep helped me see that while my score was pretty good, it was also very unbalanced towards the verbal side and in order to make my GMAT score more competitive, I needed to step it up in the quant department, so I did.

To learn more about how Eliza prepared for the GMAT, visit http://bestgmatprepcourse.com!

Breaking Down the 2015 Official Guide for GMAT Review

GMACThis month, the Graduate Management Admissions Council began offering new versions of the popular Official Guide for GMAT Review series, now labeling by year (OG 2015) as opposed to edition (the last was the 13th). For the nuts and bolts we’ll let you read the official press release or visit the official website, but here’s what you should know about the new resources:

1) The questions in the Official Guide 2015 series are the same as in the previous editions. So if you already have the Official Guide 13th edition or the Verbal or Quant 2nd editions, you won’t find new questions with the new books.

2) The biggest new feature is that the practice questions in the book are also available in an online tool. If you love the GMAT Question Pack the way that we do, this is a fantastic feature, allowing you to carve up the ~900 problems into quizzes, delineate your practice by difficulty level, and take advantage of study tools like the ability to bookmark questions and type in notes to remember later.

3) The online tool includes ~20 question diagnostic quizzes for each practice type, using GMAC’s knowledge of question difficulty to help you gauge your ability level relative to your goals.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

If you already have the previous versions of the Official Guide (the 13th edition of the Official Guide for GMAT Review or the 2nd edition of the Official Guide Quant Review or Official Guide Verbal Review), don’t race out to buy the new Official Guide 2015 books. Instead, put that money toward the aforementioned Question Pack, which will provide you with new questions and increased computer-based functionality.

If you don’t have a previous edition Official Guide, by all means purchase the new one. There’s no better resource for practicing officially-written questions, and the new tech tools will enhance your practice sessions with diagnostic feedback and the opportunity to practice on a computer screen, just like you’ll attempt questions on test day.

What to Watch For

As with any unveiling of new technology, the current web interface includes a few things that may not be ideal and may end up being tweaked. But for this first phase of deployment, you should be careful to note that:

•The question delivery order online is not the same as the delivery order in the book. So if you’re planning to start online, then continue in the book (or vice versa) there isn’t an easy way to ensure you won’t see repeat questions.

•Reading Comprehension problems in the “Practice” and “Exam” modes are delivered without keeping passages together, so you’ll usually only get one problem for the passage you just read (and then the other problems associated with that passage will come at some point later). For this reason, it’s still likely best to do your RC practice out of the book and not online. (Note: the diagnostic quizzes deliver RC problems in order with their passages, so that functionality works well)

•Presumably since so much of the GMAT’s recent tech investments have been for Integrated Reasoning, the online tool includes an on-screen calculator for all problems. This does NOT mean that you’ll have it for quant problems on test day – ignore this tool as you practice the quantitative section!!

•The user interface takes a few quizzes to get used to; you’ll need to name each problem set that you begin (so think about meaningful names to keep yourself organized) so that you can review them later. Importantly, the diagnostic quizzes do not save once you’ve left the review screen, so when you take a diagnostic quiz make sure that you review it thoroughly before you click away!

•The online access is good for six months from activation, whereas the book lasts just about forever. Keep this in mind when you activate – the clock is ticking…

Overall Review

As always, the Official Guide for GMAT Review series remains the best destination for officially-produced practice problems and belongs on the bookshelves and in the backpacks of virtually all serious GMAT students. And GMAC continues to evolve into newer, more user-friendly ways of delivering practice problems, helping students to better simulate the test-day experience. The online tool is launching with a few little hiccups that will surely be cleaned up soon – among standardized tests GMAC has to rank as one of the most student-friendly and open-to-feedback – and should prove a useful resource. As we’ve said, the biggest “negative” to the new suite of OG books is that you won’t find any new problems, so if you’re currently studying with the “old” versions (13th overall, 2nd of subject-specific) don’t feel the need to rush out and buy the new ones. But if you’re ready to begin your Official Guide journey, the Official Guide 2015 series is an invaluable study tool.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin

G-Matt Mondays: Free Online GMAT Q&A Session

GMAT NewNow every GMAT student in the world can take a class with Worldwide Instructor of the Year Matt Douglas – Veritas Prep is proud to announce G-Matt Mondays, a free live online study session featuring one of the world’s most-requested instructors.

Every other Monday, Matt will answer your GMAT questions, using each question as an opportunity to teach one of his famous mini-lessons that’s sure to echo in your mind on test day.  Whether it’s quant or verbal, difficult or something you know you should know but just can’t quite train yourself to remember, submit your question when you register for each session and Matt will choose the most teachable problems to create engaging lessons that will improve your score.  Even if you don’t have a question to ask, Matt encourages drop-ins – listen to the questions of others and absorb Matt’s lessons to take with you as you study.

G-Matt Mondays will last for one hour every other week – Mondays at 8pm US Eastern Time – and students can attend as often as they’d like, free of charge.

Registration is completely free and takes less than 1-minute to complete. The next G-Matt Monday session is this coming Monday, June 17th at 8:00pm, US Eastern Time.

Click here to register, and see for yourself why Matt remains among the highest-rated and most-requested instructors in GMAT history!

Try Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand for Free!

We are very excited to announce that you can now register for a free 7-day trial of our self-study course, Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand. This trial gives you free access to over four hours of high-definition video GMAT instruction!

Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand is our  all-online GMAT course delivered in high-definition streaming video, using the same course materials and curriculum that students cover in every live Veritas Prep GMAT course. Taught by the co-author of the Veritas Prep GMAT course curriculum, Brian Galvin and co-hosted by Lissette Padilla, Dean’s Fellow at the MIT Sloan MBA program, Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand  is the most comprehensive self-study program available.

The course comes with over 20 hours of streaming video, broken down into easily digestible lessons that correspond with the Veritas Prep lesson books.  Brian and Lissette are engaging and thorough in their coverage of the course.  You’ll come to think of them as your own personal tutors who are just as invested in your success as you are.

We’re especially proud of the fact that Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand can be accessed across a host of devices, including your computer, iPad, or any other iOS device.  Our goal with Veritas Prep on Demand was to create a program as user friendly and accessible as possible.  No other self-study program is delivered across so many platforms or offers the amount of  expertise and depth as Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand.

We are so confident that you’ll love Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand that we’re making it available to everyone for free through a 7-day, no risk free trial.  You’ll get access the first full lesson and then you will be able to view selections of the remaining eleven lessons – that’s more than four hours of instruction, all in HD video!  All you need to do is provide your name and email address (no credit card  is required) and you’ll get immediate access to the program.  Try it out now!

New Veritas Prep Computer Adaptive Practice Test!

GMAT NewAbout seven months ago we embarked on one of the most ambitious data-collection efforts ever undertaken in the test preparation space. When we introduced the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank in October, we wrote:

We’ve created this tool and opened it up to everyone so that we can collect loads of data on our questions. We’ll use the data we collect to measure and refine our questions, which will then go into new generations of our GMAT practice tests. In effect, by answering these questions, you’re helping our system learn about the questions — which ones are easy, which ones are hard, which ones are confusing and need to be refined, etc. The system is also learning about each user (this is one reason why the system asks you to create an account and log in)… It’s an iterative process that helps it measure users by seeing how they did on certain questions, and it assesses those questions by seeing how well certain users performed on those questions.

Now, after collecting more than 450,000 GMAT question responses from more than 12,000 students (thank you!), we have entered the next phase of our ambitious project of creating the most accurate, realistic GMAT practice tests in the industry: When you take our free GMAT practice test, you benefit from all of this collective work by getting what we believe is a true measure of your ability to navigate challenging GMAT questions in a realistic testing environment.

How do we do it? There is a bit of secret sauce in there that we’d rather not share, but the new Veritas Prep computer-adaptive testing (CAT) system was built using Item Response Theory (IRT), the same theory that underpins the real GMAT. Based on your entire pattern of responses and the estimated difficulty level of each question you answer, you are assigned a score. We do this for each section, and then translate that performance to a total score and percentile ranking vs. other GMAT students around the world. (We don’t know the exact details of GMAC’s scoring algorithm, but we know ours is a powerful implementation of IRT based on hundreds of thousands of responses!).

Our tests truly are adaptive – compare your test to someone else’s, and you two will notice that you saw a lot of different questions from one another. And the Veritas Prep CAT system assigns a unique fingerprint to each question. That last point is important: While other test prep companies crow about having adaptive GMAT practice tests that don’t really differentiate questions beyond “easy/medium/hard” labels, our system measures each question on a handful of attributes. And, it updates these attributes frequently, based on students’ performance.

There are other small conveniences that we’ve added to our new practice tests, such as the ability to pause a test (since we know life dares to get in the way of your GMAT prep) and detailed feedback about how other students have performed on each question that you saw in your practice test.  And with a new test come new questions – our curriculum experts have added dozens of new questions designed to keep the tests current with regard to what is being tested on the GMAT today.  Plus with a sophisticated tagging system to complement our research on GMAT content distribution, you’ll see a test that very closely approximates the question mix that you’ll see on your official GMAT exam. We think you’ll appreciate just how sophisticated this new GMAT practice test is.

So go ahead… Try it and tell us what you think!

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Sentence Correction for Non-Native Speakers

Today, we introduce a new guest contributor. Seckin Kara has been a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep since 2006. He began teaching in Providence, RI when he was a student at Brown and upon graduating, he went on to teach for us in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. After years of finance and banking, he left that career to pursue his passion of education forged largely from his interactions with Veritas Prep students, and can soon be found teaching GMAT classes in his homeland of Turkey.

Sentence Correction is one of the key subjects of the GMAT verbal section. It is also a subject most of my non-native students feel uneasy about the first time they hear it is on the GMAT.

Once you’ve checked some sample questions, the feeling could get worse. After all, you (and back in the day I) thought we left painful grammar classes behind in high school, hoping not to face them again.
Continue reading “GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Sentence Correction for Non-Native Speakers”

Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank… Now with Integrated Reasoning!

Last month we created a bit of a splash when we launched the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank, an entirely source of hundreds of realistic GMAT questions that allows you to practice with any number of questions, review your accuracy vs. that of other students, and even track your pacing vs. worldwide averages. In less than a month, thousands of students have logged tens of thousands of responses in the Question Bank. We’re swimming in data!

When we launched, we said, “We will add Integrated Reasoning shortly,” and now we make good on that promise. On Friday we turned on the ability for students to select and answer dozens of Integrated Reasoning problems. Students can then review their results, see a detailed solution for each problem, and use the feedback to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses.
Continue reading “Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank… Now with Integrated Reasoning!”

Tales from the GMAT Question Bank: When You Assume You Make… A Big Mistake

This blog post is one in a series of lessons that come from the free Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank and the statistics gathered from its user base. For each question, the data behind correct and incorrect answers tell a story, and many of these stories hold in them great value for you as you prepare to take the GMAT. In each of these posts, we’ll take a question from the GMAT Question Bank and show you what you can learn from the trend in correct/incorrect answers submitted by other students.

When Veritas Prep hosts its free seminars online — 1.5 hour sessions that introduce prospective students to the GMAT and to several strategies for succeeding on the test, as well as introducing them to the Veritas Prep program — one of the first items that the presenter covers is a Data Sufficiency question that highlights the GMAT “penalty” for making assumptions about numbers. Through that demonstration, students quickly realize their own propensity for thinking in terms of positive integers, and are taught to write down a quick checklist to ensure that they consider both negative numbers and nonintegers.
Continue reading “Tales from the GMAT Question Bank: When You Assume You Make… A Big Mistake”

Introducing the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank!

Part of delivering the world’s best GMAT prep course is offering the best tools and resources for our students. For the past ten years we have offered more GMAT practice tests than any other major GMAT preparation provider in the world (15 tests, to be exact). But practice tests are not a “set it and forget it” affair… The real GMAT constantly evolves, adds new questions, retires others, and (as as the case in June, with Integrated Reasoning) even introduces entirely new question formats. So no company can sit back and let its practice tests collect dust — if the tests aren’t changing, then they’re not the best in the business.

As part of our ongoing commitment to build, maintain, and refine the best computer-adaptive GMAT practice tests available anywhere, earlier this month we launched our new GMAT Question Bank. This new resource contains hundreds of realistic, completely free GMAT practice questions.
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Veritas Prep and Poets & Quants Bring You a New Integrated Reasoning Online Seminar

We are excited to announce that Veritas Prep and Poets & Quants have teamed up to bring you a free online seminar to help you learn what you need to know to excel on the new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT. If you are just beginning to start your GMAT prep, this is the perfect time to understand the “lay of the land” and familiarize yourself with Integrated Reasoning before you are far along in your GMAT studies.

Despite what some applicants seem to think, there’s no reason to fear Integrated Reasoning. Study for it the right way, and you’ll be in great shape on test day. Even better, learning how to think through Integrated Reasoning problems will sharpen your overall analytical and critical reasoning abilities, helping you on the entire GMAT (you read that right) as well as in business school and beyond.
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GMAT Prep Courses Start Around the World Next Week!

So here you are… It’s summer, you want to apply to business school this coming fall, and you still don’t have a great GMAT score under your belt. We have good news… Veritas Prep GMAT prep classes start around the world next week!

Now is the perfect time to start preparing for the GMAT. In fact, the summer is our busiest time of the year — many applicants are working on the GMAT right now, with the goal of being done with the GMAT by September. Starting your prep now puts you in position to take the GMAT more than once, if needed, and still be ready to apply to top MBA programs by the Round 1 deadlines.
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How to Avoid Common Traps on the GMAT

Last week we wrote about three mistakes every GMAT rookie makes at some point in the GMAT prep process, along with some advice on how to avoid them. Today we’ll build on what we wrote last week and go a bit deeper into what you can do to avoid these and other common mistakes on the exam.

Simple awareness of the score-killers we discussed last week will provide you with additional points on the exam. With enough practice (specifically, the right kind of practice!), you can turn these common pitfalls into a competitive advantage. While the GMAT traps other students with high-600-level traps, you can think through these pitfalls and move into higher levels of GMAT ability.
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3 Mistakes Every GMAT Rookie Makes… And How to Avoid Them

The GMAT is not an easy test. It’s not meant to be a diabolical one, but it is designed to get to your true ability level, whatever that may be. Sounds fair enough, but what if you true ability level is in the low- or mid-600 range (on the GMAT’s 800-point scale), when you’re aiming for a score above 700? What can you do to move yourself up the scoring scale?

One way to get immediate results is to recognize the mistakes you’re likely going to make along the way. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) needs some way to separate good GMAT takers from great ones, and one way of doing this is to allow students to trick themselves and walk right into easy traps. If you know that you’re prone to making these three mistakes, you can train yourself to be on the lookout for them as you prepare for the GMAT:
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Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Integrated Reasoning

There has been a lot of chatter about the new GMAT coming in June, especially the Integrated Reasoning section that will replace one of the Analytical Writing Assessment essays. Much has been made about the change, with some self-styled gurus reporting that you may see a difference of as much as 30 points between the old test and the Next Generation GMAT, given the same amount of studying. Take the test now, they say, or risk being in a world of hurt starting in June.

The arguments about how the new Integrated Reasoning section will negatively impact one’s 800-scale GMAT score cover a range of reasons, the most common one being that the new section will be much more taxing for test takers than Analysis of an Issue essay was. Even with a lot of preparation, the argument goes, someone will just be more fatigued on test day, such that by the time they get to their last dozen or so Verbal questions, their eyes will be bloodshot and they’ll be nodding off at their testing terminals. Workers at the test centers will have to hand out Red Bull and Visine to help test takers get home safely from the big test!
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Announcing the Veritas Prep 2011 Worldwide GMAT Instructor of the Year Winners

As if there weren’t enough good reasons to live in Southern California this time of year, we can officially add “the world’s best GMAT instructors” (at least for 2011) to that list. The 2011 Veritas Prep Worldwide Instructor of the Year winners both teach and reside in the greater Los Angeles area, a treat for those of us at Veritas Prep headquarters but certainly not a reason to infer regional bias in the selection process!

Both Mia Groves and Travis Morgan stand a cut above on their own merits, having posted outlandishly-high student evaluation scores and, more importantly, having delighted dozens of students who have raved about both their experiences and their scores. Without further ado, we present the 2011 Veritas Prep Worldwide Instructors of the Year, Mia and Travis!
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Introducing Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand for the iPad!

This is a big week here at Veritas Prep! We’ve just announced the availability of our new GMAT on Demand app for the iPad, the first full GMAT course from an established GMAT prep company that can be completed on any iOS device! There is no shortage of flashcard apps and games for people who want to study for standardized tests on their mobile devices, but this is the first real, complete GMAT course for the iPad.

Veritas Prep has been a pioneer in the mobile prep space. We launched our free GMAT Practice Quiz app in early 2009, and to this day it remains the most widely download GMAT prep app of its kind. That app is great for practice — as are many other apps on the market — but it doesn’t provide real instruction, which is where our new GMAT on Demand app comes in. Our new app covers the same exact content that we cover in our 42-hour Veritas Prep on DemandTM self-paced online GMAT course. This is the real deal.
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Idioms on the GMAT: Separating Truth from Rumor

GMACMuch has been made of the recent “revelation” from this month’s GMAT Summit, in which the Graduate Management Admission Council provided some updates on the recent evolution of Sentence Correction problems on the GMAT. What was stated as (we’ll loosely paraphrase here) “years ago we starting moving away from questions that unduly put emphasis on idioms, especially those that give native English speakers an unfair advantage,” was misinterpreted by some to mean, “Effective now, we’re no longer testing idioms on the GMAT! Ready, set, GO!”

The GMAT prep world is a small, incestuous one. It was only a matter of hours before chatter picked up on various message boards and in other online channels. And boy, did it ever. We did our part to spread the word, but today GMAC’s Dr. Lawrence Rudner posted an official statement on its blog to clarify any misconceptions that are still out there.
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The GMAT’s New Integrated Reasoning Calculator Is Not Necessarily Your Friend!

We have good news and bad news for you: The Next Generation GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning Section (debuting in June, 2012) will feature an onscreen calculator, marking the first time the GMAT will allow students to use a calculator on the exam. The good news is that, when you might need it, the calculator will be there to help you do some quick math, and you don’t need to waste valuable time “carrying the 1” and that sort of thing.

So what’s the bad news? It’s the fact that the calculator’s very presence will likely tempt many test takers into using it when they don’t need to. While using a calculator is usually a quick exercise, it still represents time spent doing calculations that may be unnecessary. In today’s video, Brian Galvin explains how this may prove to be yet another trap for less savvy test takers:
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The 5 Strategies That Helped Me Score 780 on the GMAT

Last week I wrote about the day I scored 780 on the GMAT. That post was purely about my experiences on test day — from what I ate in the morning to how I kept my mind sharp during short breaks in the exam. Today I’ll dig into some of the specific strategies I used to ace the GMAT.

Note that many of these strategies overlap heavily with Veritas Prep’s own GMAT prep philosophy — I do work for Veritas Prep, after all — so regular readers will probably see some overlap between this post and the advice they read on this blog on a regular basis. Here I describe how the “rubber met the road” for me as I put these strategies to work.
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The Day I Scored 780 on the GMAT

So I’ve been working for Veritas Prep at headquarters for over 4 years now and I’d been reluctant to actually take the GMAT. One, I felt pressured to score in the 99th percentile like all our instructors have, and two, because I hadn’t found the time to really get down and study in earnest. In addition to that, most of the practice tests that I had taken had me scoring between 680 and 720 — still quite a bit of work left to get past that 99th percentile threshold. I’m happy to report however, that over this past weekend, I took the test and scored a 780!

I wanted to share with everyone my test day experience as well as some of the Veritas Prep strategies that I found most helpful in getting through that last scoring barrier. Although the strategies helped me jump into the 99th percentile, I think they will be very helpful for anyone trying to significantly improve their score at any level.
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GMAT Video of the Week: Working with Ratios in Data Sufficiency Problems

Continuing our GMAT prep video series, today we break down a common type of ratio problem that you will often see in Data Sufficiency problems. As Brian says, many people are not comfortable working with ratios. Add in unknown variables, and intuition often goes out the window. But, if you look closely, often the problem does indeed give you enough information to solve the problem.

Fortunately, being grounded in basic Data Sufficiency strategy can help. Remember that there will be many instances in which you’ll be tempted to select answer choice E (insufficient information), but upon further inspection, you may realize that you do in fact have what you need. Watch the video to learn more:
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Veritas Prep GMAT Courses Now Available in India!

Every week we receive multiple inquiries from business school applicants in India, and they all want to know the same thing: Are Veritas Prep GMAT courses available in India? While we have offered GMAT courses in select cities in India in the past, a long time ago we decided that we couldn’t keep up our high teaching standards in that market with our partner at the time. So, we exited India, and promised ourselves that we would only return once we found a partner who believed in the Veritas Prep mission.

We’re happy to announce that we have found that partner. Effectively immediately Veritas Prep India, a new partnership between Veritas Prep and New Delhi-based White Glow Consulting, offers GMAT courses in New Delhi. Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai locations will open early next month!
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GMAT Video of the Week: Critical Reasoning and Statistics

Continuing our new GMAT prep video series, today we look at how statistics can easily mislead you in Critical Reasoning problems. As Brian says, people tend to make bad decisions when dealing with statistics. It is far too easy — either deliberately or not — to mislead others (or yourself) with statistics-based arguments. Any time statistics enter the picture, you want to be especially critical when evaluating an argument.

Today’s video analyzes a debate between two people, and tests whether or not you can find the identify the link in logic that would most weaken the argument presented. Pay attention to the arguments and any gaps that might be hiding in the logic!
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Veritas Prep GMAT Classes Start Around the World Next Week!

GMAT PrepStill need to land a great GMAT score before you start working on your business school applications? Good news… We have GMAT prep classes starting around the world next week!

If you’re applying to business school this coming year, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the GMAT. In fact, the summer is our busiest time of the year — many applicants are working on the GMAT right now. Starting your prep now puts you in position to take the GMAT and still be ready to apply to top MBA programs by the Round 1 deadlines.
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GMAT Video of the Week: Sentence Correction Decision Points

Continuing our new GMAT prep video series, today we take a look at some common traps that the GMAT sets in Sentence Correction problems. As Brian states at the start of the video, simple content knowledge is virtually everywhere these days. What separates great managers from good ones is not the ability to call up facts, but rather the ability to interpret information and make good decisions.

Today’s video takes a look at a Sentence Correction problem that preys on many test takers’ dogmatic search for idioms, leading many of them to make the wrong choice. This is a good example of the type of logic that can keep you from earning those last critical 50 points on the GMAT!
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Prices Are Going Up on July 1!

If you plan on enrolling in a Veritas Prep GMAT course or MBA admissions consulting service, there are only a couple of days left to lock in our old prices! This Friday (July 1), prices will go up on most GMAT prep classes and on all admissions consulting packages.

Summer is always the most popular time of year for our GMAT prep and admissions consulting services. Starting now puts you in a great position to apply in the fall. Now, as if you didn’t need more reason to get started now, enrolling in June will save you some money!
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GMAT Video of the Week: Working with Shapes within Shapes

The Veritas Prep blog just added another weapon to its GMAT arsenal! This summer Veritas Prep will roll out a new series of video tips on this blog and on YouTube. We plan to explore all aspects of GMAT prep in the same witty, easy-to-understand way that we normally do on our blog. These video tips will provide a great way for you to get a quick explanation on something or to brush up on a key skill needed for GMAT success.

Our first video tip is actually a two-for-one affair: Brian Galvin, Veritas Prep’s Director of Academic Programs, shows you key relationships to remember when working with squares inscribed inside circles, and when tackling circles inscribed inside squares.
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GMAC Launches New “Official GMAT” Mobile App for iPhone and iPad

While there’s no shortage of GMAT prep apps available for the iPhone and iPad (including our own free iPhone GMAT app), until now test takers haven’t had access to a course of official GMAT questions that they can use on their mobile devices. That changed this week as the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced that its “Official GMAT” app is now available on iOS devices. This of it as a portable, more interactive version of the Official Guide for GMAT Review.

The basic app costs $4.99, and gives users access to 50 questions. From there, users can pay $9.99 each for additional sets of 250 verbal or quant questions (or pay $9.99 for one blended set of 250 questions).
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GMAT Prep Courses Start Around the World Today!

GMAT PrepWant to secure a great GMAT score before you start working on your business school applications in the fall? Good news… We have GMAT prep classes starting around the world today!

If you’re applying to business school this coming year, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the GMAT. Doing so puts you on track to take the exam by late July. We always recommend planning for success, but you should also be smart and build in enough time just in case you don’ get the GMAT score you want. Missed 700? No problem… You’ll still have plenty of time to take the GMAT again before you start devote your full attention to your Round 1 applications.
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