Understanding the New GMAC MBA Rankings Tool

scottbloomdecisionsWith so many different MBA rankings, it can be difficult for the typical applicant to understand why one business school may be ranked higher in one publisher’s ranking than in another’s. This can create a culture of bias and distrust around the rankings, which limits the value of the information they present, especially considering few applicants will actually dive deep enough to uncover the DNA of each specific ranking.

The new GMAC rankings tool seeks to shed light on the differences between the various rankings. This tool provides a “one stop shop” for finding the right rankings system for your personal school selection process. Here’s a brief summary of the topics the GMAC rankings tool evaluates:

Distinctive Emphasis
A quick summary headline describing the most important criteria influencing the rankings of the publisher. This quick information will help orient your criteria for pursuing an MBA with the most relevant rankings publisher.

Rankings Methodology
A visual breakdown of how the publisher determines its rankings. This is a deeper dive into the “distinctive emphasis,” showing the full spectrum of the ranking criteria.

Rankings Fluctuation
An estimate of how much the average schools’ position changes from edition to edition. This can provide good insight into how stable and reliable the rankings of a particular publication are.

Schools Included
Information on what schools are included and the criteria each publication uses to determine inclusion. There are many MBA programs around the world and some publications are more U.S focused, international focused, full-time, or part-time focused so this category provides information on the publication’s coverage area.

Regional Popularity
A visual map of the most popular regions for a specific publisher’s ranking. The influence of a particular publication can vary from region to region, thus influencing its value to candidates in other areas.

Rankings Lists
The actual publication-specific rankings. This is the ranked list of schools that have resulted from each publisher’s unique methodology. Once you have identified the right publisher based on your target program criteria and future goals, then this list can help inform your school selection process.

This new offering from GMAC is a great tool to kick start your school research and selection processes. Leverage this resource to find the right rankings system for your MBA goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and 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. You can read more articles by him here.

Corrections for The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 2017

Official GMAT Guide 2017

The below information about The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017 is from the Graduate Management Admission Council – the makers of the GMAT exam. This content was originally posted on The Official GMAT Blog.

We recently released The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017 and we have discovered that this version contains a number of typos that occurred during the publishing process.

We understand that these errors may make it difficult to understand certain content and could affect the study experience for the GMAT exam. Below, we’ve outlined options that provide updated materials. For complete details and a full list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit: http://wileyactual.com/gmat.

I have the 2017 Official Guide. What should I do?
You have the following options:

  1. Use the errata document to replace chapter 4 and make corrections in the other chapters of the Official Guide. (An errata is a list of corrected errors for a book or other published work.)
  2. Request a free replacement copy of The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017 which will be shipped when the new, corrected version comes out in mid-September at the latest. For more information, contact your regional Wiley customer support here.
  3. For a refund of your The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017, please reference and follow the refund policy for the retailer from which you purchased the Guide.

In addition to this, candidates have access to comparable study materials that enable them to prepare with official GMAT practice questions, such as the The Official Guide for GMAT® Verbal Review, 2017 and The Official Guide for GMAT® Quantitative Review, 2017, Free GMATPrep® Software, and more.

Both the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and Wiley deeply apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused individuals studying for the GMAT exam. We are committed to high-quality publication standards, and moving forward we will make every effort to ensure that our study products are superior.

GMAC customer care representatives are available to answer any questions or concerns at customercare@mba.com.

To inquire about a replacement copy of The Official Guide for GMAT® Review, 2017, contact your regional Wiley customer support here.

GMAT Rate Questions: Tackling Problems with Multiple Components

stopwatch-620A few posts ago, I tackled rate/work questions, which are invariably a source of consternation for GMAT test-takers. On the latest official practice tests that GMAC has released, these questions showed up with surprising frequency, so I thought it might be worthwhile to tackle a challenging incarnation of this question type: one in which a single machine begins a project and then multiple machines complete the partially-finished work.

To review, the key for dealing with this type of question is to apply the following rules:

  1. Rate * Time = Work
  2. Rates are additive in work questions.
  3. Rate and time have a reciprocal relationship.

For the questions involving partially completed jobs, we’ll throw in the addendum that a completed job can be designated as “1”’

And that’s it!

Here’s a question I saw on my recent practice test:

Working alone at its constant rate, pump X pumped out ¼ of the water in a tank in 2 hours. Then pumps Y and Z started working and the three pumps, working simultaneously at their respective constant rates, pumped out the rest of the water in 3 hours. If pump Y, working alone at its constant rate, would have taken 18 hours to pump out the rest of the water, how many hours would it have taken pump Z, working alone at its constant rate, to pump out all of the water that was pumped out of the tank?

A) 6
B) 12
C) 15
D) 18
E) 24

Okay, deep breath. Recall our three aforementioned rules. Next, let’s designate the rates for the pumps as x, y, and z, respectively.

If pump x can pump out ¼ of the water in 2 hours, then it would take 4*2 = 8 hours to pump out all the water alone. If pump x can complete 1 tank in 8 hours, then x = 1/8.

If x removes ¼ of the water on its own, then all three pumps working together have to remove the ¾ of the water left in the tank. We’re told that together they can do this in 3 hours. If x, y, and z together can do ¾ of the work in 3 hours, then x + y + z = (¾)/3 = 3/12 = ¼.

We’re told that y, alone, could have pumped out the rest of the water in 18 hours – again, there was ¾ of a tank left, so y = (¾)/18 = 1/24.

To summarize, we know that x = 1/8, y = 1/24, and x + y + z = ¼;  Not so hard to solve for z, right?

1/8 + 1/24 + z = ¼

Multiply everything by 24, and we get:

3 + 1 + 24z = 6

24z = 2

z = 1/12.

That’s z’s rate. If rate and time have a reciprocal relationship, we know that it would take z 12 hours to pump out all the water of one tank alone. The answer is, therefore, B.

Takeaway: The joy of seeing new material from GMAC (Is joy the right word?) is the realization that no matter how many additional layers of complexity the question-writers throw at us, the old verities hold true. So when you see tough questions, slow down. Remind yourself that the strategies you’ve cultivated will unlock even the toughest problems. Then, dive in and discover, yet again, that these questions are never quite as hard as they appear at first glance.

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

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

You’re Fooling Yourself: The GMAT is NOT the SAT!

StudentWhile a fair number of GMAT test takers study for and complete the exam a number of years into their professional career (the average age of a B-school applicant is 28, a good 6-7 years removed from their undergraduate graduation), you may be one of the ambitious few who is studying for the GMAT during, or immediately following, your undergraduate studies.

There are pros and cons to applying to business school entry straight out of undergraduate – your application lacks the core work experience that many of the higher-tier programs prefer, but unlike the competition, you have not only taken a standardized test in the past 6 years, but you are also (likely) still in the studying mindset and know (versus trying to remember) exactly what it takes to prepare for a difficult exam.

However, you may also fall into a common trap that many younger test takers find themselves in – you decide to tackle the GMAT like your old and recent friend, the SAT.

Now, are there similarities between the GMAT and SAT? Of course.

For starters, the SAT and GMAT are both multiple-choice standardized exams. The math section of the SAT covers arithmetic, geometry, and algebra, just like the quantitative section of the GMAT, with some overlap in statistics and probability. Both exams test a core, basic understanding of English grammar, and ask you to answer questions based on your comprehension of dry, somewhat complex reading passages. The SAT and GMAT also both require you write essays (although the essay on the SAT is now optional), and timing and pacing are issues on both exams, though perhaps more so on the GMAT.

But this is largely where the overlap ends. So, does that mean everything you know and prepped for the SAT should be thrown out the window?

Not necessarily, but it does require a fundamental shift in thinking. While applying your understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem, factorization, permutations, and arithmetic sequences from the SAT will certainly help you begin to tackle GMAT quantitative questions, there are key differences in what the GMAT is looking to assess versus the College Board, and with that, the strategy in tackling these questions should also be quite different.

Simply put, the GMAT is testing how you think, not what you know. This makes sense, when you think about what types of skills are required in business school and, eventually, in the management of business and people. GMAC doesn’t hide what the GMAT is looking to assess – in fact, goals of the GMAT’s assessment are clearly stated on its website:

The GMAT exam is designed to test skills that are highly important to business and management programs. It assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, along with the data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that are vital to real-world business and management success. In June 2012, the GMAT exam introduced Integrated Reasoning, a new section designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate information presented in new formats and from multiple sources─skills necessary for management students to succeed in a technologically advanced and data-rich world.

To successfully show that you are a candidate worth considering, in your preparation for the exam, make sure you consider what the right strategy and approach will be. Strategy, strategy, strategy. You need to understand which rabbit holes the GMAT can take you down, what tricks not to fall for (especially via misdirection), and how identification of question types can best inform the next steps you take.

An additional, and really, really important point is to keep in mind is that the GMAT is a computer-adaptive exam, not a pen-and-paper test.

Computer-adaptive means that your answer selection dictates the difficulty level of the next question – stacking itself up to a very accurate assessment of how easily you are able to answer easy, medium, and hard questions. Computer-adaptive also means you are not able to skip around, or go back to questions… including the reading comprehension ones. Just like on any game show, you must select your final answer before moving on.

As a computer-adaptive test, the GMAT not only punishes pacing issues, but can be even more detrimental to those who rush and make careless mistakes in the beginning. To wage war against the CAT format, test takers must be careful and methodical in assessing and answering test questions correctly.

Bottom line: don’t treat the GMAT like the SAT, or assume that because you did well on the SAT, you will also do so on the GMAT (or, vice versa). Make sure you are aware of the components of the GMAT that are different and where the similarities between the two tests end.

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

By Ashley Triscuit, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston.

Breaking Down Changes in the New Official GMAT Practice Tests: Unit Conversions in Shapes

QuadrilateralRecently, GMAC released two more official practice tests. Though the GMAT is not going to test completely new concepts – if the test changed from year to year, it wouldn’t really be standardized – we can get a sense of what types of questions are more likely to be emphasized by noting how official materials change over time. I thought it might be interesting to take these practice tests and break down down any conspicuous trends I detected.

In the Quant section of the first new test, there was one type of question that I’d rarely encountered in the past, but saw multiple times within a span of 20 problems. It involves unit conversions in two or three-dimensional shapes.

Like many GMAT topics, this concept isn’t difficult so much as it is tricky, lending itself to careless mistakes if we work too fast. If I were to draw a line that was one foot long, and I asked you how many inches it was, you wouldn’t have to think very hard to recognize that it would be 12 inches.

But what if I drew a box that had an area of 1 square foot, and I asked you how many square inches it was? If you’re on autopilot, you might think that’s easy. It’s 12 square inches. And you better believe that on the GMAT, that would be a trap answer. To see why it’s wrong, consider a picture of our square:






We see that each side is 1 foot in length. If each side is 1 foot in length, we can convert each side to 12 inches in length. Now we have the following:

DG blog pic 2






Clearly, the area of this shape isn’t 12 square inches, it’s 144 square inches: 12 inches * 12 inches = 144 inches^2.

Another way to think about it is to put the unit conversion into equation form. We know that 1 foot = 12 inches, so if we wanted the unit conversion from feet^2 to inches^2, we’d have to square both sides of the equation in order to have the appropriate units. Now (1 foot)^2 = (12 inches)^2, or 1 foot^2 = 144 inches^2.  So converting from square feet to square inches requires multiplying by a factor of 144, not 12.

Let’s see this concept in action. (I’m using an older official question to illustrate – I don’t want to rob anyone of the joy of encountering the recently released questions with a fresh pair of eyes.)

If a rectangular room measures 10 meters by 6 meters by 4 meters, what is the volume of the room in cubic centimeters? (1 meter = 100 centimeters)

A) 24,000
B) 240,000
C) 2,400,000
D) 24,000,000
E) 240,000,000

First, we can find the volume of the room by multiplying the dimensions together: 10*6*4 = 240 cubic meters. Now we want to avoid the trap of thinking, “Okay, 100 centimeters is 1 meter, so 240 cubic meters is 240*100 = 24,000 cubic centimeters.”  Remember, the conversion ratio we’re given is for converting meters to centimeters – if we’re dealing with 240 cubic meters, or 240 meters^3, and we want to find the volume in cubic centimeters, we’ll need to adjust our conversion ratio accordingly.

If 1 meter = 100 centimeters, then (1 meter)^3 = (100 centimeters)^3, and 1 meter^3 = 1,000,000 centimeters^3. [100 = 10^2 and (10^2)^3 = 10^6, or 1,000,000.] So if 1 cubic meter = 1,000,000 cubic centimeters, then 240 cubic meters = 240*1,000,000 cubic centimeters, or 240,000,000 cubic centimeters, and our answer is E.

Alternatively, we can do all of our conversions when we’re given the initial dimensions. 10 meters = 1000 centimeters. 6 meters = 600 centimeters. 4 meters  = 400 centimeters. 1000 cm * 600 cm * 400 cm = 240,000,000 cm^3. (Notice that when we multiply 1000*600*400, we can simply count the zeroes. There are 7 total, so we know there will be 7 zeroes in the correct answer, E.)

Takeaway: Make sure you’re able to do unit conversions fluently, and that if you’re dealing with two or three-dimensional space, that you adjust your conversion ratios accordingly. If you’re dealing with a two-dimensional shape, you’ll need to square your initial ratio. If you’re dealing with a three-dimensional shape, you’ll need to cube your initial ratio. The GMAT is just as much about learning what traps to avoid as it is about relearning the elementary math that we’ve long forgotten.

*GMATPrep question courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Updated GMAT Score Cancellation and Reinstatement Policies: What This Means For You

GMAT Cancel ScoresGMAC has updated its score cancelation and reinstatement policies for GMAT test-takers. A full description of these changes is included in GMAC’s recently published blog article, but here are some highlights and guidance on what this means for future GMAT test-takers:

What is Changing?
If you took the GMAT and felt like you needed more time to decide whether or not to cancel your score, then you’ll be happy with GMAC’s new policy. Test-takers now have 5 years to reinstate their scores and 3 days to cancel them. Before this, test-takers had to be much more rushed in making their decisions, with only 60 days to reinstate their scores, and a mere 2 minutes to cancel them.

The cost of these actions is also much more forgiving: it is now only $50 to reinstate your score (compared to the previous $100 fee), however you will have to pay a fee of $25 to cancel your score if you choose to do so after leaving the test center.

What is NOT Changing?
GMAC has kept several of its cancelation and reinstatement policies intact. For example, it is still true that if you choose to cancel your score, no one but you will know about it. There is also still no fee to cancel your score at the test center, and the period you must wait to retake the GMAT is still 16 days.

Why Does This Matter?
Why do we even care about this change in the GMAC’s policies? Well for one, it allows for much more flexibility in the test-taking process, as test-takers

who choose to cancel their scores now have much more time to prepare for their next test administration. (No more scrambling to prepare for a retest in 16 days!) However, it is still important to remember that the GMAT retest policy still applies, in that you cannot take the GMAT more than 5 times in 12 months, so it is important to build a “buffer” into your prep schedule. If you test too close to an MBA application deadline, you won’t have time to retest.

These changes in policy also just go to show us that nothing in life is free (except canceling at the test center). If you want the convenience and luxury of having extra time to make your decisions, you’d better be ready to pay up for it. To minimize this cost, test-takers should have a target GMAT score in mind as well as a plan going into the test, and then actually stick to that plan upon receiving a final score. Think of this like buying an airline ticket – many airlines will let you hold a ticket for free, but it can cost an additional fee to hold it for up to a week. The same idea applies here. Additional time isn’t going to change your score and it shouldn’t impact what score you’re willing to accept, so have a game plan going into test day and stick to it to avoid unnecessary fees.

It is also worth noting that most business schools will still accept a candidate’s highest GMAT score (after all, it is in the school’s best interests to report having students with high average GMAT scores), so if you take the GMAT and score moderately higher than you did the last time you took the test, it may not be necessary to actually cancel your lower score. Talk to the schools to which you’re applying to understand the programs’ policies, but don’t overthink it. Unless there’s a significant gap between your old and new score (+100 points), or you achieved an extremely low score one of the times you took the test (below 500 points), save your money and keep all of your scores.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

New GMAT Undergraduate Pricing Initiative

featured_money@wdd2xIn an effort to attract more undergraduate test takers, GMAC is rolling out a tiered pricing structure for students who register for the GMAT before June 1, 2016 and complete the test by December 31, 2016.

While targeted undergrad outreach efforts and undergrad discounts on the GMAT aren’t new to GMAC, the scale and diversity in pricing is. (GMAC piloted discounting test registration fees a few years ago on select U.S. undergrad campuses as part of a partnership program with select test prep companies and universities.) But like any good sale, is the deal too good to be true?  Let’s take a closer look at the offers (and fine print):

Both options feature discounted registration fees, but limited score report options and more expensive additional score reports (ASRs). ASRs are currently $28 per report.

Option 1: $150 registration fee, No initial score reports (ASR: $50 each)

Option 2: $200 registration fee, 2 initial score reports (ASR: $50 each)

Option 3: $250 registration fee, 5 initial score reports (ASR: $28 each)**

**Current GMAT pricing

Keep in mind that the average GMAT test taker submits 2.7 score reports with their business school applications so GMAC is hoping to recover some of those initial cost savings down the road, but yes, that $50 ASR fee can create a little sticker shock.

So is there an upside to any of these options?

For students who aren’t thinking about grad school anytime soon and, more importantly, have time to prepare for the GMAT (think second-semester Seniors or students with a lighter course load), Option 1 does have a few merits. Because these students don’t have grad school or specific programs on their radar, the lack of score reports isn’t an issue. And since scores are good for five years, it gives students a chance to bank a good score early while not shelling out the full $250.

This is the population that GMAC is targeting with this promotion because the reality is most students will end up sending score reports to multiple programs. However, if the cost of an ASR increases down the road, at least this locks in a lower test fee and possibly a competitive ASR fee.

Students who are applying to a graduate program now (think Juniors or Seniors looking at a pre-work-experience programs) should definitely consider Option 2. Since these students already know which program they’re aiming for, the two free score reports at the test center are a bargain (and ultimately save the student $50).

What isn’t mentioned on the website but should be considered is the current GMAT registration fee of $250. This fee hasn’t changed in over a decade, and while GMAC hasn’t made any announcements about a price hike, it’s unreasonable to think that it’ll remain $250 forever. The odds of the fees increasing in the next  5- 10 years? Hard to say, but there’s likely some merit in locking in a lower priced test.

When you examine Option 3, or the current GMAT standard, you should also look at the GMAT’s primary competitor, the GRE, which is a more widely recognized brand at the undergrad level. ETS just increased GRE fees in the U.S. from $160 to $205 in January of 2016 (ETS does offer a reduced fee certificate to undergrads who meet certain criteria which reduces the cost by 50%). So by offering a variety of pricing options, GMAC is making the GMAT more financially competitive with the GRE.

Regardless of whether you take the GMAT or GRE, Veritas Prep is committed to helping you prepare to do your best on test day. You can find additional information about the GMAC tiered pricing here and information on Veritas Prep’s GMAT prep offerings here.  We also encourage students to sign up for one of our free online GMAT seminars, and to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

The GMAC Executive Assessment: Part 2

GMAT Select Section Order PilotIn our first post, we broke down the new GMAC® Executive Assessment which provides EMBA candidates with an alternative testing option to the GMAT. While on paper, the exam might resemble a “mini-GMAT,” a deeper dive reveals an assessment with GMAT roots, but a distinct personality of its own.

More Business Focus
A look at sample questions from the website suggests that the EA pulls from item pools that are similar, if not identical, to the GMAT. In fact, some questions seem to have more of a “business” feel compared to your traditional GMAT question. (The GMAT has long been touted as an exam that doesn’t reward or punish lack of a traditional business background, as it aims to test critical reasoning and higher order thinking skills that are industry-agnostic.)

This may be a coincidence, but one can’t ignore the fact that most EMBA candidates have significant work experience (10+ years typically) and most likely a stronger sense of business in general compared to their 24-year-old counterparts looking at full-time programs. Regardless, any leaning towards business (whether intentional or not) would likely be attractive to more EMBA candidates.

Integrated Reasoning Grows in Prominence
One other interesting aspect of the EA is the increased proportion of Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions. IR makes up exactly one-third of this assessment and is incorporated into the candidate’s total score. Conversely, IR is a small portion (30 minutes) of the GMAT exam. The GMAT quantitative and verbal sections are each 75 minutes in length, and the GMAT total score represents a combination of the quantitative and verbal sub-scores. GMAT IR scores are reported separately from the total score.

While GMAC has published survey research on the “relevance” of skills tested on IR, the deeper integration of IR into the EA assessment and total score seems to further support the notion that the skills tested are truly relevant and strong indicators of success in a graduate business program. And perhaps these skills are even more important at the EMBA level.

Pilot Program for Now
The Executive Assessment (EA) is currently in a Beta phase that will last at least 18 months (or a full admissions cycle and academic year) to allow for validity studies to be conducted. GMAC has long been committed to developing assessment products that are not only relevant, but valid predictors of success in a graduate management program. The six pilot programs were selected because they were willing to commit the necessary time, energy and resources to see this phase through.

The EA targets a different demographic than the GMAT (older, significant work experience, further removed from the undergrad experience) and the test doesn’t leverage computer-adaptive testing in the way that the current GMAT does. Thus, norms for this assessment will differ, further underscoring the importance of measuring exam outcomes against academic performance in an EMBA program.  At this time, there are no plans to add additional programs until after the Beta phase is complete.

Only “Modest Preparation” Required
One of the biggest differences between the EA and GMAT is the amount of preparation that GMAC is advocating for it. It’s no secret that candidates need to prepare for the GMAT, and GMAC survey research indicates that the average candidate spends between 60 and 90 days preparing for the GMAT.  However, the EA recognizes that candidates are less likely to have the bandwidth for preparation that traditional GMAT candidates might have.  The EA will help schools to differentiate competencies that are a little “rusty” versus those that are “ready” and enable them to prescribe pre-work to ensure all candidates begin their EMBA programs on an even playing field.

That being said, candidates looking to distinguish themselves from other applicants can certainly benefit from preparation. Given the overlap with GMAT content, leveraging current GMAT materials to gain a better understanding of question types is a good starting point.  Pacing, as always, will be paramount, and additional time and focus on IR will be crucial given its more significant role in the exam (and total score).

If you’re interested in learning more about GMAT preparation and customized options for EA preparation, please visit our GMAT Website or attend one of our upcoming free online GMAT seminars. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

The GMAC Executive Assessment: A New Way to Evaluate EMBA Applicants

GMAT Select Section Order PilotImagine a world where you could take the GMAT, but it was over in 90 minutes, and no advanced preparation was required. It sounds too good to be true, but the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®) launched a new product, the GMAC® Executive Assessment, on March 1 that is designed to give Executive MBA programs a new way to evaluate candidates.

EMBA programs have struggled with making standardized testing compulsory in recent years. Candidates typically have much more work experience than full-time or part-time applicants, and thus are further removed from an academic classroom experience (and often have even less time to prepare for and take a standardized test). The GMAC® Executive Assessment gives applicants another testing option that looks a lot like the GMAT, but may have an easier path to success.

Let’s take a closer look at how this is similar to and different from the GMAT:

Shorter Sections
The GMAC® Executive Assessment contains three (3) sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal and Quantitative. Each section is just 30 minutes long, and the exam is delivered on-demand at existing test centers around the globe. Scores are valid for 5 years, unofficial scores are provided at the test center upon completion, and the same basic registration guidelines hold true (compared to the GMAT exam). Candidates are required to register at least 24 hours in advance, ID requirements at the test center are the same as the GMAT, and while there is an on-screen calculator for IR, there isn’t one for the Quantitative section.

In terms of test structure, there are 40 questions: 12 Integrated Reasoning, 14 Verbal, and 14 Quantitative. Regarding pacing, there are no differences across Integrated Reasoning, but you do gain a little bit of time on the verbal and quantitative sections (compared to the GMAT). Also, the order of sections is slightly different than the GMAT, with Integrated Reasoning leading off, followed by Verbal and then Quantitative.

From a content perspective, the test seems to be consistent with current GMAT questions, but with a slightly more skewed focus towards business. If some of the practice questions posted by GMAC® look familiar, they are – they appeared in previous versions of the Official Guide which seems to suggest content that that is consistent with current GMAT questions.

Finally, once you start the test, it will be a race to the finish with no breaks between sections.

Bigger Price, Different Retake Policy
While the test is similar to the GMAT from a content perspective, there are definitely some significant differences. First, prepare yourself for a little sticker shock: you might think since you’re getting fewer questions and you’re in and out of the test center faster, there might be a discount, however, this shorter assessment will actually cost you more ($350, compared to $250 for the GMAT). However, there is no fee for rescheduling – unless you’re less than 24 hours from your appointment – or for additional score reports.

If you’re not happy with your score, you can re-test, but you can only do so once, so make sure you’re ready! Rather than waiting 16 days to re-test like the GMAT, the waiting period is only 24 hours.

Computer Adaptive? Yes, But…
This test is not computer adaptive in the way that the GMAT is, so your answer to a question does not dictate which question you’ll see next. Rather, questions are released in groups (based on your performance on the previous group). This type of testing is called multi-stage adaptive design. The score scale is different as well – total scores will be reported on a scale of 100-200, and individual sections on scales of 0-20.

How Do You Prepare for the Executive Assessment?
One of the benefits of the Executive Assessment being touted by GMAC® is the reduction in significant preparation for this test. GMAC® advocates minimal preparation and has not rolled out any preparation materials specifically designed for this assessment. While a shorter test might suggest less preparation required, it also give candidates an opportunity to truly shine and demonstrate mastery of certain subjects and critical reasoning skills.

Which EMBA Programs Accept It Today?
Just like currency, a test is only as good as the institutions that accept it. Currently, the exam is being touted as an EMBA admissions tool. Six schools have signed on to use it as part of their admissions processes:  INSEAD (France), CEIBS (China), London Business School (United Kingdom), the University of Hong Kong, Columbia University (New York, USA), and the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA). How the schools are using it varies by program.

In terms of preference, LBS’ website suggests that they’ll accept either the Executive Assessment or the GMAT while CEIBS indicates a preference for the Executive Assessment. Columbia, the University of Chicago, and the University of Hong Kong will accept the GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment, and INSEAD only lists the GMAT currently (as of 3/11/2016), but we can assume they’ll accept either  the GMAT or Executive Assessment for future applicants.

We’ll take a deeper look at the Executive Assessment and schools in our next article, but initial feedback seems positive. LBS’ blog touts it as a quality tool because it is “relevant to executives in terms of its content (much more focus on critical thinking, analysis and problem solving, and much less on pure mathematics and grammatical structures).” At Veritas Prep, we’re committed to staying abreast of the latest developments and trends in the graduate business space, and helping candidate identify the best assessment and mode of preparation.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

GMAC Reports European Business Schools Are on the Rise

European MBA ProgramsThe Graduate Management Admission Council recently released its statistics for GMAT exams taken through June, 2010, and the data show that applicants are sending GMAT scores to European schools in numbers never before seen. According to the GMAC report, European MBA programs received 85,000 GMAT scores in the one-year period ending June 30, 2010, compared to about 45,000 in the year ending five years earlier. That 90% growth compares to global growth of just 30% in the number of times the GMAT was taken, over the same period.

Have that many more Europeans recently decided to apply to business school? Actually, nearly two-thirds of the scores sent to these schools came from applicants outside of Europe, with India and China leading the way. It seems that the wave of Indian and Chinese applicants that hit the U.S. in the early and middle part of the last decade (and has since softened a bit) is now washing over Europe.
Continue reading “GMAC Reports European Business Schools Are on the Rise”

GMAC Release First Sample Integrated Reasoning Questions for the New GMAT

GMAT LogoThe Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has announced that those who take the GMAT between November 19 and November 24 will be among the first to see examples of the GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning questions in a live test setting. This will strictly be for the purpose of evaluating the questions, and will have no bearing on students’ official GMAT scores. Anyone who completes the sample questions and fill outs a short online survey the next day will receive a $25 credit for their time.

Fortunately, even if you’re not taking the GMAT this month, you can still get a taste of how the GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning questions will work. GMAC has released 10 sample Integrated Reasoning questions to get an initial read on test takers’ reactions to them. Note that these are question formats under consideration, and everything about them is subject to change. Some require you to read short passages, others have you gather information from a small spreadsheet, and others still require you to interpret a scatter plot. One question type even requires that you listen to an audio clip, rather than read a short passage.
Continue reading “GMAC Release First Sample Integrated Reasoning Questions for the New GMAT”

GMAC to Host Virtual MBA Fair in November

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has announced that it will host an online admissions fair featuring admissions representatives from dozens of top MBA programs next month, on November 22 and 23. The GMATCH Virtual Fair, which will take place entirely online, is being billed as the “the first truly global virtual fair” for business school applicants and admissions officers.

GMAC has lined up a rather extensive list of MBA programs around the world for the event, including London Business School, INSEAD, UVA (Darden), Georgetown (McDonough), UCLA (Anderson), the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Nanyang Business School.

To quote the GMAC web site:

The innovative GMATCH concept employs a rich graphical interface featuring virtual booths and a multimedia auditorium stocked with material about each participating school’s programs as well as management education in general. Participants will be able to use webcams to enable face-to-face interaction.

In some ways the “virtual” interface of the event reminds us of earlier attempts by some schools to capitalize on the popularity of online worlds such as Second Life to promote their schools and even teach courses. We have yet to see this “virtual world” concept (as opposed to a more straightforward lecture-and-slides-on-a-computer-screen format) take off in these scenarios, although we credit GMAC for giving it another go.

More important than the format is the content of the event itself — this is a great way for you to interact with admissions officers from programs that you might never have considered, simply because they’re on the other side of the globe and your chances of being able to visit the school are remote. We recommend using the GMATCH Virtual Fair as a chance to go outside your comfort zone (after all, you’re in the comfort of your own home!) and explore some programs that you might not have otherwise considered.

You can register for the event here.

Thinking about applying to a top-ranked MBA program this year? Give us a call at (800) 925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions consultant today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Understanding the GMAT Scoring Algorithm

As you likely know, the GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT), in which your score is calculated by an algorithm that provides you with harder questions (and higher score returns) when you answer previous questions correctly, and with easier questions (and lower returns) when you’ve answered previous questions incorrectly.

Through this method, the GMAT can ascertain your ability level in a relatively short period – 37 math and 41 verbal questions – and provide you with an immediate score upon completion of the test. On the flip side – and unintentionally – the GMAT can cause you a great deal of stress as you try to find ways to better understand and game its scoring system. To save you that stress, here are some important things you should know about GMAT scoring:

1) Good news: You can get a lot of questions wrong and still do well!

The job of the GMAT scoring algorithm is to determine your ability level by asking you questions that begin to close in on it. Think of how you’d play a game of 20 Questions as you attempt to zero in on the historical figure that your “opponent” has selected:

Was this person famous in the era BC? (No – too early)

Was this person famous before the Middle Ages? (No – still too early)

Was this person famous before the Declaration of Independence? (Yes – 1776 is too late)

Was this person famous before 1600? (Yes – 1600 is still too late)

Did this person become famous before 1500? (Yes – now we’re getting close to that period between around 1300-1500)

Was this person famous in the late 1400s? (Yes – now we’re getting close to really knowing the answer)

Was this person famous for something that happened in the 1490s? (Yes)

Is it Christopher Columbus in 1492? (Yes – once you get to the 1490s, you can be pretty sure that you’re talking Columbus. We’ve managed to narrow down our assessment of the figure in question by getting some “yes” and “no” answers)

Essentially, that’s what the GMAT is trying to do with the questions it feeds you. “Is this person above a 700? Yes.” “Is this person above a 750? No.” Because the test needs to get those “no” answers at the upper limit of your ability, it will continue to feed you harder questions that you will likely answer incorrectly as it tests your upper threshold, and at the lower end it will feed you easier questions to test your minimum ability.

The upshot for you? You’re supposed to answer a fair number of questions incorrectly. Everyone does. Akil over at BellCurves wrote up a pretty extensive analysis of official practice test scores that demonstrated some trends in the ways that scores are calculated. If you don’t want to sort through the dense analysis to draw your own conclusion, know this: those scoring in the 46-50 scaled score range on the quant section (the upper limit of high scores) answered between 21 and 26 of the 37 math questions correctly. You can score well above the 90th percentile on math and miss more than a dozen questions! (And if you’re good enough at math to do that, you’ll note that it equates to your missing roughly a third of the questions)

2) The first ten questions are no more important than the last ten.

The Graduate Management Admissions Council goes as far as to spell this out clearly in the Official Guide for GMAT Review and on its blog, but the rumors still persist. Let’s go back to the game of 20 questions; if it’s that easy for you or I to correctly guess “Christopher Columbus” in just 20 questions, why does the GMAT need 37 or 41 to determine your score? After all, GMAC is run by a sophisticated team of statisticians and psychometricians.

The answer? The GMAT needs to account for false positives and false negatives. In a game of 20 questions, it’s in unbelievably poor form to lie about the answer to a question, but on the GMAT you’ll “lie” about your ability whenever you guess correctly or make a silly mistake and answer incorrectly. The test needs to account for that, and so more questions are needed.

Going back to Columbus, say that the 20 questions proprietor had forgotten that catchy rhyme “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”, and tried to estimate your line of time-sensitive questioning by thinking “Jamestown was in the early 1600s, so Columbus must have reached the Americas in the 1500s.” He’d have answered your question “before 1500?” as “no”. But your subsequent questions – “was he an explorer/sponsored by the Spanish crown/etc.” – would eventually bear out that the answer to the pre-1500 question was false.

The GMAT knows that you’ll have some false positives/negatives in your answers, and accordingly it’s equipped to filter through those. And, accordingly, it can’t make any major decisions about your ability level that early in the test. If you’re taking the GMAT soon, hopefully you’re studying probability concepts thoroughly enough to recognize this – 1 out of every 525 test-takers who guesses blindly on the first four questions will get them all right. The GMAT can’t hand that person a 700-ish score on the basis of pure guessing and then some mediocrity for the rest of the test. With well over 200,000 GMATs taken per year, the overseers of the test (statisticians to boot) know that they’ll see quite a few tests that include sets of 3-4 consecutive correct guesses, and the algorithm is set up to mitigate those and accurately reflect your scores.

3) Knowing how the scoring algorithm works neither significantly impacts your score nor excuses you from having to answer questions correctly!

Of the time that most examinees spend preparing for the GMAT, among the least-value-added is the time beyond that first, say, 20 minutes that they spend thinking about the scoring algorithm. Consider this quote from Dr. Eileen Talento-Miller, one of the chief psychometricians behind the GMAT, in her blog post about guessing on the exam:

“And because no one knows what item you would have gotten next if you don’t complete the items at the end, then there is no good way to estimate how that would affect your score.”

If the creators of the exam are willing to admit that they’re unsure how they’d game the test, it’s unlikely that you’ll somehow crack the code on your own. The psychometricians at GMAC are tasked by business schools with, above all else, the job of ensuring that the test is a valid assessment of a student’s performance. Quite frankly, they do that incredibly well, and so even if they did spot an opportunity to beat the system, rest assured that they’d identify and correct it before you would have the opportunity to use it.

The GMAT measures your score differently, but not entirely differently, than Omega measures the results of the Olympic 100 meter dash. Like GMAC, Omega has a job to ensure that the results of the race accurately reflect the performances of the athletes. Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive and defending Olympic sprint champion, could spend hours understanding the nuances of electronic timing, the ways in which a second is calculated, etc., but in the end he’ll only defend his championship and potentially lower his world record if he simply runs faster than everyone else. In fact, Omega and the international track & field governing bodies have even instituted a system that punishes runners
who try to beat the system. As it is scientifically understood as impossible for an athlete to react to the starter’s pistol in less than 0.10 second, any athlete who tries to time the start and begins his motion after the gun but before that natural reaction time has elapsed is charged with a false start (notably, 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie was disqualified from defending his title in 1996 under this rule). When the stakes are high, those who perform the assessment of your performance have greater incentive to validate that numerical assessment than you have to beat the system.

Accordingly, like Bolt, you can spend your time much more effectively by preparing to succeed than by trying to fully understand the nuances of how you’ll be assessed. Ultimately, you should trust that the scoring system will accurately value your performance, and that the only thing you can control is that performance itself.

Photo courtesy of William Warby, under a Creative Commons license.

GMAC Wants YOU to Help Drive Innovation in Management Education

Have an idea for how the world’s top MBA programs should train the business leaders of tomorrow? Think you can do it better than business schools currently do it? Your idea could be worth $50,000. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has invited anyone to answer this question: What one idea would improve graduate management education?

The GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow (MET) Fund will award a total of $250,000 in prizes to 15 people whose ideas rise to the top, with the most promising proposal taking home $50,000. All you have to do is submit three paragraphs making the case for your idea is the one that can best revolutionize management education.

GMAC will accept entries to the MET Fund’s Ideas to Innovation (I2I) Challenge at www.gmacmetfund.org from Wednesday, July 21, until Friday, October 8. After rounds of review and voting by a panel of educators and business leaders from around the world, the prize winners will be announced in mid-December.

But that’s just Phase 1 of the process. During Phase 2, to begin in 2011, GMAC will post the winning ideas online and ask schools and other nonprofit organizations to develop ways to implement them. GMAC will underwrite one or more of the best proposals using funds dedicated to the MET Fund, a $10 million initiative to invest in the development of management education worldwide.

What is “innovation,” for the purposes of the contest? GMAC defines innovation as the implementation of an idea that improves management education in a meaningful way—for students, for schools, for societies. GMAC seeks ideas that are achievable, easily understood and able to demonstrate measurable results within one to three years. GMAC is particularly interested in proposals that show potential to broadly impact management education in either a specific part of the world or globally.

If you’ve got an idea that will get GMAC’s attention, visit www.gmacmetfund.org and get started. Good luck!

Thinking of applying to business school this year? Give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our business school admissions experts today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

New GMAT in 2012: Our Take

Last Friday the Internet was buzzing with news that the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) will drop one of its AWA essays and replace it with a new question type, called Integrated Reasoning, in June, 2012. The new question format was designed, in GMAC’s own words, to “measure people’s ability to evaluate information from multiple sources.” (BusinessWeek and Inside Higher Ed both turned to Veritas Prep’s own Chad Troutwine for his take on the new question type.)

Last year we reported that GMAC was working on a whole new GMAT that was to be unveiled in 2013. At that point GMAC had embarked on an ambitious plan to talk with business schools and get to bottom of what they would really want to see in a whole new GMAT. Although many top schools now accept the GRE, our sense is that the schools ultimately said, “It could be improved a bit, but overall we like the GMAT.” So, the changes will be more subtle than a complete overhaul of the exam, and will come a year earlier.

So what exactly is the new Integrated Reasoning section? In short, it asks students to take a small pile of data — presented various forms, including words, charts, and tables — and pull out key insights to asnwer multiple questions about the data. The questions will vary by type, and may ask the test taker to judge whether a statement is true or false or to interpret the cause of a certain trend in the data.

Overall, we love this new question type, because it gets even closer to measuring the type of analytical skills that truly matter in business school and beyond. If you doubt that’s true, just consider that the new Integrated Reasoning format actually looks very similar to the mini-case studies MBA students get when interviewing for management consulting or brand management jobs. This sort of exercise — “Here’s a pile of information. Can you pull out the two or three things that matter and tell me what’s going on?” — is a great measure of someone’s analytical abilities. So often applicants hear “analytical” and assume this means “quant” or “numbers,” but great analysis is actually goes much deeper and is much more challenging than just crunching numbers. That skill is just what many recruiters at top business school look for. And if they look for it, you can bet that MBA admissions officers look for it in applicants, too.

This video from GMAC gives a very brief overview of the new question type. Even if you’ve seen it already, watch it again and pay attention to the words and phrases that GMAC uses to describe the new Integrated Reasoning section:

While much of the chatter has been about the exact format of the question (Spreadsheets? Oh my!), we’re much more interested in what skills GMAC is trying to evaluate. Notice the phrases they use in this video:

  • “evaluate information from multiple sources…”
  • “identify relationships between data points…
  • “recognize trade-offs in given situations”
  • “assessing the reason for, or likelihood of, certain outcomes…”

These are the skills that really matter in business school (and, more importantly, in business in general). And the good news for GMAT examinees is that these skills are consistent with those that already lead to success on the GMAT. As the exam has involved, it has included, among other things, greater emphases on Number Properties and Data Sufficiency on the quantitative section, and on statistical premises in Critical Reasoning and logical accuracy in Sentence Correction on the verbal section.

Similar phrases to those above that explicitly describe the new section can describe the current emphases on the multiple choice sections:

  • Number Properties: “recognize patterns in data and use them to make decisions on more complex situations…”
  • Data Sufficiency: “determine the most efficient way to solve a problem with limited resources…”
  • Critical Reasoning: “analyze the relationship of statistics and the conclusion that they purport to prove…”
  • Sentence Correction: “assess the validity of a statement before spending time on the details within it…”

As fans of the recent direction of the GMAT as a test of “how you think” and not as much “what you know,” we at Veritas Prep welcome and applaud the announcement of the new GMAT section, which will allow us to continue to teach the skills that we love to teach and that we know make a difference in business school and beyond. Similar skills in a seemingly different way sounds just like a well-written standardized test to us, and as with any new challenge, we say “bring it on!”

Thinking of applying to business school this year? Then the new GMAT won’t matter to you. But, either way, we’ve got you covered with GMAT prep courses in more than 90 cities around the world. Give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our business school admissions experts today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

GMAC Says New MBAs Growing More Confident About the Economy

Despite an employment environment that remains stubborn, new MBA grads are growing more confident about the economy, according to a new survey released by GMAC this week. Somewhat surprisingly, this increase in optimism actually comes despite a drop in the percentage of grads who have jobs compared to last year.

According to the latest GMAC Graduate Management Education Graduate Survey, the percentage of full-time two-year MBA program grads who had an offer of employment prior to finishing school dropped to 40% this year, down from 50% in 2009. The numbers are even worse for part-time MBAs: 22% of part-time grads had a job offer before graduation, down from 38% in 2009.

Despite these gloomy numbers, about one-third of grads who said they felt the global economy is stable or strong, up from just 9% a year ago. So, what gives? How could optimism bounce back while the job picture actually gets worse by some measures?

GMAC’s news release was mostly mum on this matter, although it may simply be a matter of “bad news fatigue,” and our tendency to doubt that things can stay this bad for that long. Hardly any MBA grads (other than perhaps a handful of older part-time MBAs) are old enough to remember the last time the U.S. or global economy last went through an extended rough patch, in the late 1970s. So, for most of these grads, two years into a recession, one can’t help but ask, “This thing has to be over soon, doesn’t it?”

That’s just one theory. It could also be that they’re going on more than just faith. They may notice that more companies are returning to campuses to interact with students, even if the job offers aren’t yet flowing more yet. GMAC echoed this idea in its announcement, mentioning that the increased optimism among graduates mirrors the trend highlighted in the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, which found that employers are finally shifting their attention back to expanding their businesses.

Thinking of applying to business school this year? Give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our business school admissions experts today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

GMAC Expands the GMAT Fee Waiver Program

GMAC recently announced that it has expanded its GMAT fee waiver program for the coming year. The new program builds on an existing initiative that helps people cover the cost of taking the GMAT.

The expanded program permits business schools that use the GMAT to offer free access to the standardized entrance exam to a limited number of prospective students whose financial situations prevent them from paying the $250 fee on their own. Participating MBA programs will determine rules to select people to receive the fee waivers.

Interestingly, although GMAC underwrites the fee waivers (i.e., GMAC just forgoes the revenue; the school’s don’t have to pay anything), it leaves it to each school to determine who among its applicant pool is “economically disadvantaged.” That means that you only need to make your case to your target school, rather than to GMAC. And, although GMAC only allows business schools to request up to 10 fee waivers at one time, they sound pretty open-minded about accepting more if a school has more applicants who have demonstrated need.

So, how do you get a GMAT fee waiver? Contact your target school and see if they have an official program in place to help underrepresented minorities or economically disadvantaged applicants. If they do, then just follow their instructions. If not, though, just send them to this page at GMAC.com and show them how easy it is. GMAC does a nice job of taking almost all of the administrative burden (not to mention the cost) off of the schools’ shoulders, so for the schools, it’s almost a no-brainer.

If you’re just starting your GMAT preparation, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our GMAT course advisors. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

More on the Coming Changes to the GRE

Much has been made of Educational Testing Service’s announcement that it will introduce significant changes to the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test in 2011. With the market for grad school-related standardized testing heating up as GMAC and ETS butt heads, these changes are sure to be closely watched.

Interestingly, ETS planned a big change to the GRE in 2007, but later canceled its plans, blaming computer problems for the aborted effort. Clearly, with the stakes being raised as ETS and GMAC (the people behind the GMAT) battle fort he hearts and minds of admissions officers, competition has brought out the best in ETS.

The big changes to the test include (adapted from Inside Higher Ed):
  • People who take the new version of the GRE on the computer will be able to skip questions and come back to them later, and revisit answers before submitting an entire section. While test takers will surely like this, it’s hard to envision there being much of a computer-adaptive component to the test with this model.
  • The scoring range for each section will change from 200-800 (with score increments of 10 points), to a scale of 130-170, with score increments of one point.
  • The section of antonyms and analogies in the verbal section will be removed, with more reading comprehension added. We think this reflects ETS’ push to make the GRE more like the GMAT in what skills it tests.
  • The geometry section in the quantitative section will shrink, with additional questions being added related to data analysis. This is another push to test more of the skills that the GMAT also tests.
  • A calculator will be provided, to shift the emphasis from how quickly someone can calculate a number to that person’s actual analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  • The time of the exam will increase from around 3 hours to 3 hours, 45 minutes.

If you’re applying to business school and are wondering which test you should take, our advice remains the same: We agree with GMAC that the GMAT is still the most proven measure of the skills an MBA applicant needs to succeed in the classroom. If you’re thinking about grad degrees and general and are only somewhat interested in earning an MBA, then perhaps the GRE is the better place to start. If you’re sure that a top-tier MBA is what you want, however, the GMAT is still your best bet.

For more GMAT prep assistance, take a look at the free resources available at Veritas Prep, including our free practice GMAT. If you’re ready to start working on your own 700+ score on the GMAT, give us a call at (800) 925-7737!

Five Things GMAC Wants You to Know About the GMAT

A couple of weeks ago we posted some key learnings from the GMAC Test Prep Summit in New York City. While we wanted to post the most GMAT-relevant information as quickly as possible, there were a few more insights that we picked up that we wanted to share here.

All of the information below was provided by GMAC’s Dr. Lawrence Rudner (pictured), the “brain behind the GMAT,” as we like to call him around the office. These insights give you an idea of how closely GMAC monitors the GMAT and the graduate management education space overall. These are the highlights, but there’s a lot more publicly available information available on GMAC.com.

In the meantime, here are five more important things that you should know:

  • GMAC will stay aggressive in preventing cheating on the GMAT. From “secret shoppers” to software that evaluates other companies’ practice questions to find plagiarism, GMAC will continue to aggressively thwart cheaters or those who make money off of helping students cheat. Palm vein readers are its newest weapon in this fight, but its strongest weapon may be its lawyers.
  • … but is emphatic that cheating won’t actually help someone on the test. They rolled out some compelling numbers (based on modeling) that show that a student could only affect his score by less than 1% by knowing five questions on the real GMAT. This is a testament to how robust the test is — even with a few false positives, it can still accurately assess one’s level.
  • Full-time MBA programs are becoming more selective. In 2006, more than a quarter of schools had acceptance rates in the 40% – 49% range. In 2009, only about 12% schools accept that many applicants. Meanwhile, the percentage of schools that accept 20% – 29% of applicants has increased from 8% to about 18%. As more people apply to business school each year, schools can afford to get choosier.
  • More preparation yields better scores. Amazingly, nearly 1/3 of applicants spend three weeks or less preparing for the GMAT. Not surprisingly, the majority of those people score below 600 on the test. However, more than 60% of those students who prepare over 10 weeks or more score better than 600 on the GMAT. This is one reason why we offer the longest GMAT prep course of any major company.
  • Only 15% of GMAT takers have undergraduate business degrees. For any potential applicant who’s considering pursuing an MBA but thinks that it’s just for “business types,” it’s interesting to note that business major make up a small minority of the applicant pool. In fact, more than 50% of GMAT takers majored in sciences or humanities.

For more GMAT prep help, take a look at our web site, or give us a call at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with a GMAT expert today. And, as always, be sure to follow us on

For more GMAT prep help, take a look at our web site everything Veritas Prep has to offer. And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Thoughts from the GMAC Test Prep Summit

Last week dozens of key players in the test preparation space converged on New York City for the Graduate Management Admission Council’s third biennial Test Prep Summit. Four members of the Veritas Prep team flew to New York to attend what some of us called “The Oscars of Test Prep.” While there were no red carpets or $10,000 dresses, we really enjoyed attending this “who’s who in test prep” event to meet our peers and to hear directly from GMAC about what they have planned for the GMAT and other programs.

We spent a good part of the morning talking about the new English language test that GMAC will roll out with Pearson next week, The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic). While we wonder how much of a dent the new test will make in TOEFL’s and IELTS’s market dominance in the short term, it’s clear that great deal of work has gone into this exam, and we wonder if what we saw last week is a glimpse of some new GMAT features that GMAC will introduce in 2013.

While the GMAT has been computer-adaptive for some time now, its individual questions don’t currently take advantage of the computerized format — they could also be completed on a paper test. These new PTE Academic questions, however, make good use of a computers graphical interface (asking test takers to “drag and drop” answer choices, for example), making this a real step forward. While GMAC was reluctant to talk at all about the new GMAT coming in 2013, we have to believe that some of these innovations will make their way into the new test.

Dr. Lawrence Rudner from GMAC (pictured above) also shared a lot of data about how many people are taking the GMAT, where in the world people have recently taken the test, etc. There was lots of useful information, but we’ll spare our readers from wading through the pages and pages of notes that we took. One interesting takeaway: Amazingly, nearly one third of students (29%) spend less than 20 hours preparing for the GMAT. Think about it… This test has a big, big impact on what business school someone may be admitted to, and almost a third of applicants don’t even put a long weekend into studying for it! We’re certainly biased since our 42-hour GMAT course is the longest that any major player offers, but there’s no substitute for preparation. Extensive GMAT prep yields significantly improved results, and GMAC’s own numbers bear that out. (We’ll share more on that in the coming weeks.)

Finally, we would have done a disservice to our students if we hadn’t asked GMAC a lot of questions about the test’s methodology for penalizing students for getting easy question wrong, and rewarding students for getting difficult questions right. While we can’t share everything that was discussed, you can take comfort in knowing that the test was designed to account for the fact that a great test taker can occasionally slip and get an easy question wrong. So, you can safely ignore all of the bad advice out there about spending extra time on the first few questions to make sure that you absolutely don’t miss one of them. As we have said many times before, you should treat those questions the same as any other question.

We’re constantly working to improve our GMAT prep courses, and what we learned last week reinforces our belief that we’re on the right track: The GMAT is is designed to test your critical thinking abilities more than your ability to spot grammar errors or do basic algebra. Understand the concepts that they’re testing and practice extensively, and you will be ready on test day!

GMAC Works to Attract More Black MBA Students

Late last week the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced a new partnership with the nation’s Historically Black College and University (HBCU) business schools to attract more African Americans to MBA programs nationwide. The partnership will include more recruiting efforts by schools, more marketing of the value of an MBA to black students, and fee or significantly discounted GMAT preparation services for those students.

GMAC President David A. Wilson, in his keynote address at the annual HBCU Deans Roundtable Summit, noted significant increases in African American students taking the GMAT exam. According to GMAC, the number of African American test takers has doubled in the past decade, with a 26 percent increase in just the past four years.

As part of this partnership, GMAC will offer GMAT fee waivers (currently it costs $250 to take the GMAT) for each of the HBCU business schools to use at its discretion to make sure that no student is denied access to the exam for financial reasons. In addition, GMAC will provide each school packages of test preparation materials, including copies of the new 12th edition Official GMAT Guide and GMAC’s own GMAT Prep software on CD.

Building on this outreach effort, Wilson also announced a cross-country tour of the GMAT Mobile Testing Center to HBCUs and Hispanic-Serving Institutions from October 2009 to May 2010. The 32-school bus tour will reach all U.S. based four-year HBCU and HSI members that are at least 40 miles from the nearest GMAT test center, thus further enhancing student accessibility to the exam.

If you are just starting to prepare for the GMAT, take a look at the GMAT prep options that Veritas Prep offers, and try a free practice GMAT exam.

GMAC Announces the Next Generation GMAT

Perhaps motivated by ETS’s push into the MBA admissions market with the GRE, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently announced that it will introduce an upgraded GMAT in 2013. Dubbed the “Next Generation GMAT,” the new exam will be designed to overcome the business school community’s largest objections to the current exam.

One common criticism of the GMAT is that has a strong bias in favor of Western culture, in part because it is only offered in English. While this does create some built-in unnatural advantages and disadvantages based on a student’s native language, one strength of this “single language” approach is that it makes it easier to compare GMAT scores of students from anywhere in the world. If, with the new exam, Student A scores a 720 in English and Student B scores a 720 in Mandarin, will an MBA admissions officer really be able to make a direct comparison between the two? It will be interesting to see how GMAC tackles problems such as these.

The GMAT has also recently been plagued other problems, such as last year’s Scoretop scandal and issues with “proxy test takers” that prompted GMAC to introduce pal-scanning technology to its GMAT test centers. It’s not clear how a new exam by itself will overcome these issues, although one solution could end up involving more face-to-face evaluation (which would be time-consuming and expensive).

GMAC has promised to include business schools in its discussions for what the next generation GMAT should look like. As the world’s fastest-growing GMAT prep and admissions consulting provider, we think we also have something to add to the discussion. How about you? What do you think would make the GMAT a fairer and more effective measurement tool for business school applicants?

GMAC’s New MBA Alumni Survey Results

According to the results of a new survey published by the Graduate Management Admission Council, most business school grads agree that an MBA is well worth the investment.

In the 2008 MBA Alumni Perspectives Survey, nine out of 10 grads from the Class of 2008 reports that their graduate business education met or exceeded their expectations. Additionally, 80% of MBA grads in the workforce believe that they couldn’t have obtained their first job without their degree.

Even more encouraging are the numbers regarding job satisfaction. According to the survey, two out of three alumni reported that their first job was the one they wanted, which actually represented a rise in job satisfaction vs. previous years.

Another point of interest was the average number of job offers that each Class of 2008 grad received — 2.7 job offers per person. Unfortunately, this number will likely trend down as the economy suffers, but the survey overall confirms the value of an MBA, regardless of whether a grad receives one, two, or ten job offers.

If you’re applying to business school this year, be sure to check out the Veritas Prep MBA admissions resources page.

In the Media: The GMAT vs. GRE Question

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik just wrote a story about the Educational Testing Service’s push to replace the GMAT with its own GRE exam as the standardized test for business school admissions, and he turned to our own Chad Troutwine for his take on this budding competition:

Chad Troutwine, CEO and co-founder of Veritas Prep, a high-end test-prep service for the GMAT, said that the the news from ETS could be significant. Troutwine said that ETS has faced “two big liabilities” in trying to promote the GRE. One has been a fear that minority test takers do not perform as well as white students

New GMAC Survey Explores Women’s Interest in MBA Programs

According to a recently released survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the growth in applications from female applicants continues to be strong.

In this year’s survey, 65% of full-time MBA programs said application volume from women grow vs. last year, compared to 57% of programs saying this in 2007. That growth was especially strong in several core disciplines, including part-time master’s programs in accounting and master’s programs in finance.

The gender gap in graduate management education still remains, however. Men outnumbers women by more than two to one in applications to executive MBA programs, and women only represented approximately approximately 30% applications to full-time, part-time programs, and accelerated MBA programs. And while the overall number of full-time MBA applications grew 10% in the past year, the number of applications from women only grew by 8.5%.

Interestingly, while the average number of applications to part-time MBA programs overall was flat vs. last year, the average number of applications to part-time programs from women grew by more than 13%. Now, more than 40% of applications to part-time MBA programs come from women. These self-paced programs are more flexible, which likely drives their appeal for women seeking to get back into the workforce or trying to manage their work/life balance.

Also, many of these programs have been making an increased effort to reach out to women over the past several years. It looks like it’s starting to pay off, which we’re glad to see!

And So It Continues…

Apparently, the Scoretop scandal isn’t the only case of cheating that the GMAT has experienced lately. Another form of cheating has been going on, where students pay others to take the GMAT for them. GMAC president David Wilson won’t let on the extent of this form of cheating, but he did say that 590 cases of “proxy” test-taking broken up by federal authorities “underscored the problem.”

So, to counteract this problem, GMAC is planning to introduce palm scanning technology at their testing centers, starting with Korea and India next month, US centers in the fall, and full integration at all centers in the world by next May. These new scanners take a scan of the vein patterns in a person’s palm, which is unique to each person (like fingerprints).

This new technology has a couple of benefits, namely that it is harder to trick these than fingerprint machines, and that the scans are better for privacy than fingerprinting (police can’t take advantage of these scans in investigations, for example).

The other good thing about these new machines is that they aren’t terribly expensive to add to test centers (under $1000 for the technology & training), and the GMAC will NOT be raising the fee to take the GMAT as a result.

You can read more about this here.

Scoretop Update

(If you haven’t heard about the Scoretop scandal yet, you might want to check out our earlier posts on the subject: GMAC Addresses GMAT Cheating Scandal and More on the Scoretop Scandal)

One of the biggest areas of concern for past users of Scoretop, and an area of interest for many outsiders to this whole situation, is how schools will react to the canceling of scores. Yesterday afternoon, BusinessWeek posted an article with responses from top-ranked business schools on this topic.

I found the responses to be an interesting mix. Most schools either refused to make any speculative comments, or said they would wait to see what GMAC’s investigation turned up before deciding on action. But a few schools were more outspoken about taking action against anybody who is considered to have cheated.

You can read the BusinessWeek article here.

If you’re looking for legitimate resources for GMAT preparation, take a look at Veritas Prep’s online GMAT courses and practice GMAT tests.

Recruiter Demand for MBA Grads Remains Strong

This month the Graduate Management Admission Council released a report showing that demand for business school graduate remains strong even as the economy shows signs of weakness.

The report, produced by GMAC in partnership with the MBA Career Services Council and European Foundation for Management Development, shows 6% growth in the percentage of employers making offers to MBA grads, and an 11% increase in the average number of hires by each hiring company.

The results for compensation growth also looked encouraging. Three-quarters of employers reported that they expect to increase the annual base salary of 2008 grads vs. last year’s hiring class. The projected starting base salary for all business school graduates is $89,621, about 4% more than last year. Not surprisingly, consulting (over $111,000) and finance (over $110,000) offer the highest average total compensation.

What does this mean for you? Most of all, it suggests you should stay the course. No radical changes to the hiring outlook suggest that you, if you’ve been planning to apply for business school, don’t stop now. If you haven’t been planning on doing so, then these numbers probably won’t change your mind.

It will be interesting to see what next year’s numbers look like, and what impact the overall economy has to the number of people applying to business school in 2008-2009.