It’s Hip Hop Month on the Veritas Prep blog, and no discussion of contemporary rap would be complete without mention of Eminem, the controversial emcee who has earned Grammy award and platinum records at nearly the same pace as he has earned criticism and backlash for his honest, edgy lyrics and demeanor.
Like many great artists — be they painters, poets, musicians, or filmmakers — Eminem pours himself into his work, giving listeners an open, honest, and oftentimes eerie glimpse into the life that inspires him. Eschewing the trend for successful rappers to forego gritty portrayals of their innermost thoughts to focus on the glamour lifestyle of the rich and famous, Eminem continually derives his creativity from his strained relationships with his mother and ex-wife, his reluctant comfort with celebrity and wealth, and his introspective thoughts on his role and his art.
Eminem’s unabashed honesty pervades each of his tracks, and even inspired a film, 8 Mile, that parallels his life. One of his first songs to offer an introspective look at his fame was The Way I Am; its lyrics detail the pressures that the artist felt from his fans and his record label after achieving success with his first album. In its chorus, Eminem attacks the celebrity culture that surrounds entertainers, with media outlets creating controversy and speculation around artists:
I am whatever you say I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am? … I don’t know, that’s just the way I am.
In addition to serving as an anthem of frustration for one of the world’s greatest entertainers, these lyrics may unlock for you a secret to success on the GMAT:
“I am whatever you say I am” can also be the anthem of any algebraic equation that the GMAT provides you on test day. That is, your success on math questions may depend on how you rephrase mathematical statements to serve your purposes (the same way that magazines reposition stories about Eminem to sell copies). As long as you “tell the truth” with an algebraic statement, you can rearrange it to fit your needs. Consider the question:
If x and y are nonzero integers, does x – y = y/x?
(1) y2 = x2y
With our full slate of March GMAT courses right around the corner, one of the most common questions we encounter at this time of year is, “When should I take the GMAT?” Many prospective MBA students know the GMAT is in their near future, but for a variety of reasons, they aren’t sure they want to deal with it just yet.
Sure, they could take a course in March and have the test done by May, but why not wait until July? We always encourage our students to look at their own individual situations first and foremost, but as a rule of thumb, we tend to encourage test-takers to tackle the GMAT early in the calendar year, whenever possible.
We offer five reasons for taking (and prepping for) the GMAT early:
- Taking the test early preserves all of your options. One major part of test-taking psychology is to prepare for success and treat your first GMAT examination like it will be your only examination. That said, having options is always a good thing. Given that MBA candidates who sit for multiple GMAT exams are generally not punished during the admissions process, it makes sense to preserve the possibility of taking a second test. The last thing you want to encounter is a timeline that gets jammed up because you want to take the GMAT again. The earlier your prepare for and take the test the first time, the more cushion you allow yourself to repeat the process if necessary.
- Having a score banked allows you to do proper research. The GMAT plays a major factor in determining admissions possibilities for an MBA candidate. A 30-point difference can send an HBS or Stanford hopefull back to the drawing board in search of a lower-ranked school that might offer a great fit. Alternatively, we’ve had many clients email us to announce that they “got a 730!” … but now they have “no idea which schools to look at.” The GMAT score serves as a critical benchmark for determining prospects and schools and it is difficult to dive into the school selection process without knowing that score. Late spring is often the best time to visit MBA programs and engage in exhaustive research, but unless you know that the schools are appropriate, that type of activity can wind up being wasted effort.
- The earlier you are aware of a quant weakness, the more time you have to address it. We talk a lot in this space about how test scores work on two levels: as a raw number and also as an indicator for key admissions themes. When it comes to that second consideration, there is much candidates can do to offset negative admissions themes derived from their GMAT score … but only if they act quickly enough. In particular, if the quant score is out of balance, an applicant can take some quant-heavy courses over the summer and help alleviate any concerns that the business school has about that student’s ability to do the work.
- No time like winter! It sounds ridiculous, but it can often be harder to buckle down and study during the summer months when the weather is great, the days are longer, softball leagues are happening … you get the idea. Summer is a season that competes for our time like no other stretch of the year save for the holidays. Avoid the conflict and chase out the final days of winter with some serious GMAT prep.
- Candidates are slaves to the GMAT. Above all else, the GMAT has the capacity to cripple an applicant’s entire operation. So many of our admissions consulting clients wait to start working with a consultant until the test is over. Many other candidates won’t even touch the essays until they have the GMAT squarely in their rearview mirror. Many applicants are linear thinkers and like to clear hurdles one at a time. Since the GMAT is often the first hurdle, and it is a task that people push off for later, it tends to set back the entire process. The sooner that you can tackle the GMAT, conquer it, and put it in your trophy case, the sooner you can address the rest of the process – essays, interviews, and everything else – with a clear mind and a sense of purpose.
It seems so simple, but Jeopardy! has built an empire out of giving “answers” as clues and requiring its contestants to provide the questions. This tiny twist on traditional trivia has created a mass following, which has kept the show as a mainstay of entertainment culture for nearly 50 years. Just mention Jeopardy! in social situations and nearly everyone will have an opinion, either regarding their own strategy, or their household rules for watching:
“My roommates and I have a rule that we’re not allowed to say anything until Alex has finished the question.”
“I’m actually pretty good at predicting the $200 question just based on the category, before Alex even reads anything.”
“Even if I don’t know much about the topic, usually they give you enough of a clue with the category and something in the answer that I can get the question.”
That last quote (and, in large part, the second quote, as well) is one that you may have experienced yourself, and an ideology that you can certainly translate to success on the GMAT. Often times on the GMAT, the answer choice provides you a valuable clue for how you can approach the question.
Consider geometry problem that includes the answer choices:
Even without looking at the question itself, you have some clues as to what may appear. The square root of 3 is part of the 30-60-90 right triangle ratio, and also a number that appears when calculating the area of an equilateral triangle (which can be bisected in to two 30-60-90 triangles). On this question, because the answer choices feature the square root of 3, if you are unsure of how to approach the question, one logical step is to try to identify a potential equilateral or 30-60-90 triangle, as it’s quite likely that the square root of 3 will be derived from one of those triangles.
Geometry questions often feature these types of clues in the answer choices — pi implies that you’ll need to use a circle; the square root of 2 often appears in conjunction with isosceles right triangles (45-45-90) and squares (the diagonals of which are the hypotenuses of isosceles right triangles). Other questions provide clues, as well; if the answer choices are spread far apart in number, you can likely estimate. If the answer choices provide simple “plug-ins,” like 0 or 1, you can use them to plug back in to the problem and determine how the equation will react.
Most importantly, know that, like with Jeopardy!, the GMAT embeds subtle clues in its answers to help you with the questions. Learn to use them to your advantage, and you can reduce your workload and increase your score.
Starting January 26, when you enroll in a Veritas Prep GMAT prep course or MBA admissions consulting service through GMAT Club, you will not only save 10% (up to $180 savings), but you’ll also get free access to all 30 of GMAT Club’s online tests — a $79 value!
Here’s how this special offer works:
- Be sure to use the link referenced in the above pages on gmatclub.com
- Select the GMAT course or admissions consulting service you would like
- Enter this promo code on the check out page to get 10% off: GMATC10 (enter this at the bottom of the page) — this is good on all Veritas Prep GMAT class and admissions consulting services!
- Finish the transaction and receive your confirmation email from Veritas Prep
- Fill out this form and you will receive free access to all 30 GMAT Club tests!
Also, while you’re at it, stop by the “Ask Veritas Prep” thread at GMAT Club and get free advice from one of our admissions experts. For more GMAT prep tips and resources, give us a call at (800) 925-7737. And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!
With our GMAT prep classes starting around the world this week, we were so hard at work that we almost missed a huge milestone: Our Veritas Prep GMAT Practice Quiz iPhone App has been downloaded more than 50,000 on the iTunes store!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the app, it lets you practice all five GMAT question types — Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving, Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension — and do it on your own terms with multiple customization features.
With the GMAT Practice Quiz, you can:
- Take timed practice exams or focus on subject mastery without worrying about time
- Use the complete diagnostics provided to better understand your strengths and weaknesses
- Customize the quiz to practice all five types of GMAT questions or focus on one question type.
The Veritas Prep iPhone GMAT app is 100% free… All you need is an iPhone or an iPod touch and an iTunes account.
Also, we should address the question that we get a lot: “When will the GMAT Practice Quiz iPhone App be available on Android and Blackberry?” Don’t worry… We hear you loud and clear… Stay tuned!
In an article on BusinessWeek.com yesterday, BW’s Francesca Di Meglio dug deeper into the “GMAT or GRE?” question. She interviewed several leading experts on the subject, including our own co-founder and CEO, Chad Troutwine.
Di Meglio referred to the battle between the two tests as a “Coke-or-Pepsi debate,” an appropriate comparison given that they are two tests that seem similar (at least on the surface), and that each one has its ardent backers. However, everyone interviewed for the story (including Chad) had a very clear take: If you’re serious about getting into business school, don’t over-think it. Doing well on the GMAT is still the best way to prove that you have the aptitude to excel in business school.
According to Chad (via the article):
In general, Troutwine says, the GRE is not taken as seriously as the GMAT in the B-school world. He tells clients to take the GMAT unless they are applying to other graduate programs that require the GRE. “If you can take on the challenge of what may be a slightly more demanding exam, the score will have more value,” says Troutwine.
If you’re dead set on getting into a top business school, keep in mind the schools’ rationale for starting to accept the GRE — to attract applicants who might not otherwise have considered applying to business school. MBA admissions officers’ image of the typical (or even ideal) GRE-taking applicant is the one who has an impressive background but maybe an unclear career path. Maybe he just took the GRE to prepare to apply for a graduate program in public policy, but now he learns about the HBS 2+2 Program or a similar program designed for younger or somewhat unusual applicants. Since he can apply with his existing GRE score, he says “What the heck,” and applies, helping Harvard sprinkle some more diversity into its MBA class.
Not all GRE-taking applicants must look like this, but contrast this with the more “typical” business school applicant, who goes to a top-20 university, works for a prominent New York bank for two years, and is now ready to apply to business school. He has a great undergraduate transcript, impressive work history at a blue chip firm, essays that convincingly describe why an MBA has been in his plans for the last four years, and… a great GRE score? Why would someone like this not take the GMAT if he’s so serious about getting into a top MBA program? Is he hiding a bad GMAT score? Is he trying to “game the system” and take the GRE since he thins he can do better on it than on the GMAT?
Admissions officers’ minds are not quite swimming with so many conspiracy theories, but remember that your entire application does need to hang together as a whole. If anything jumps out as a big inconsistency vs. the rest of your business school application, that’s a chink in the armor as you try to get accepted ahead of literally thousands of other great applicants. If you’re serious about getting into a top-ten MBA program, stick with the GMAT, at least until the GRE is better proven in the graduate business educations space.
If you’re ready to get started with your own GMAT prep, take a look at the free resources available at Veritas Prep, including our free practice GMAT. Or, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a GMAT expert today!