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GMAT Scores: The Essay is Still Important

June 30, 2012 by

Often times, the portion of the GMAT most neglected by students is the writing sample.  While this section of the test is certainly less important than your overall 200 to 800 score, you still want to make sure that you know how to handle it.

The essay is graded on a scale from 1 to 6 and most business schools are expecting you to achieve a score of 4 or higher.  While the difference between a 4, 5, or 6 is not all that influential on your admissions prospects, receiving a score lower than a 4 can have a negative impact on your application.

While the integrated reasoning section, which was recently added to the GMAT, replaced the issue essay, the argument essay remains a part of the test.  In fact, it will be the very first section you see on test day.

The key to the essay … Read full post

GMAT Strategic Reading: Keywords Unlock Meaning

June 21, 2012 by

First see if you can use keywords to discern what these paragraphs are about:

It’s an hour before deadline, and I’m supposed to be writing a GMAT blog on keywords. However,____________. In fact, ___________________________. It’s true that _________________________, but on closer inspection, _________________________.

Keywords are vital to improving your understanding of complex passages in several ways. First, they serve as “road signs” to _____________________________.    ______ not only ______________________, but also _____________________________. Some keywords indicate _____________________, while others indicate _________________; still others ___________________________________.

Second, keywords can tell you what NOT to read. Contrast keywords such as _________________ indicate _____________, but ___________________ indicating continuation, such as ______________, _______in the most extreme cases, skipping ____________________________entirely. After all,_____________ ______________already read!


Then check out the completed thought:

It’s an hour before deadline. I’m supposed to be writing a GMAT blog on keywords. However, I’m going to leave some things blank to save time. In … Read full post

Taking the GMAT with Your Eyes Closed

June 18, 2012 by

The GMAT is a long test, but it can feel like it goes by quickly. You’re working straight through after all, at a rapid pace of 2 minutes per math problem, 4 minutes per quickly-scanned passage, and 1 minute per sentence correction question. You’re testing for three and a half hours, so your two eight-minute rests may not seem like enough. The solution?  Take more breaks.

This may seem like odd advice, especially given that I’ve written blogs about shaving mere seconds off math problems. And certainly, seconds do count. But taking breaks on the test is similar to paraphrasing question stems and taking notes or reading passages: spending time to rest can save you more time on the rest of the test.

For starters, humans blink less often when they are staring at computer screens. This can result in dry eyes and eyestrain—the last thing you want … Read full post

GMAT Essays: Avoid Fallacy Fallacy

June 13, 2012 by

Scene: a busy street. A businessman in a suit and tie stands before a cloth covered table. A fortune teller sits on the other side of the table, peering into a crystal ball.

Fortune teller: “I see danger in your future, you are at grave risk! For $20, I shall peer into this crystal ball and tell you how disaster can be avoided!”

Businessman: “What a load of $&#%! Fortune telling is nonsense, and there is no way you could see my future through the crystal ball. I’m certain I’m in no danger whatsoever!”

Businessman walks across the street without looking and is run over by an ice cream truck.

So, GMAT students, was the fortune teller right? Was she genuinely psychic? Did her crystal ball receive emanations from the spirits predicting the future?

Of course not. Scientific consensus is that psychic powers don’t exist, and even the superstitious … Read full post

New GMAT Transition Coincides with Venus Transit

June 10, 2012 by

June 5, 2012 has finally come and gone.  To those of us within the gravitational pull of the GMAT, this date was no less than a celestial event.  June 5th not only marked the transit of Venus across the sun, but also the launch of the New GMAT.

What has changed?  A new section called Integrated Reasoning (IR) has replaced the Analysis of an Issue essay and taken its time allotment.  Hence, the GMAT is still the same total length.  That is, you write a 30-minute Analysis of an Argument essay, then take the new 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section, then take the 75-minute Quantitative section, and finally complete the 75-minute Verbal section (note: you get two 8-minute breaks; one between IR and Quant, and then another between Quant and Verbal).

Integrated Reasoning questions appear in four different formats and across twelve questions total in the 30-minute time frame.  … Read full post

GMAT Essays: Computers score your work, and they are really good at it.

May 9, 2012 by

Here’s a fun fact:  An expert human essay grader spends 2-3 minutes per essay and is, thus, capable of scoring up to 30 essays in an hour.

Here’s another fun fact:  A computer can score 16,000 essays in 20 seconds (and does it just as accurately as the human).

A new study out of the University of Akron published some very intriguing findings on the efficiency and accuracy of automated readers (aka, robo-readers, e-Raters, e-graders, etc.).  A team of researchers used more than 20,000 essays across eight different prompts and nine different programs to evaluate our electronic counterparts and the algorithms that govern them.  Turns out, not only are these programs staggeringly more efficient, but they are also just as accurate as their human workmates.  Sorry, John Henry.

So does this mean that GMAC is keeping mere mortals on the payroll out of pity?  Or perhaps to protect themselves … Read full post

Seeing the Other Side on the AWA

December 12, 2011 by

At some point, everyone has been in an argument with a stubborn person. It can be maddening when you can’t get someone to see things your way. But the worst people to argue with are the ones who don’t acknowledge anything you say. In the best case scenario they’ll mention your reasoning just long enough to dismiss it out of hand; in the worst case scenario, they’ll fail to even address your opinions, doing nothing more than repeating their own views like a broken record.

If these people drive you crazy in real life, imagine how toxic they are in a corporate setting. When they’re wrong about important business decisions, they stubbornly cling to their ideas and can drag the rest of their company down with them. And even when these inflexible individuals happen to have a good idea, their bad attitudes can convince their mistaken co-workers to reciprocate the … Read full post

Taking the GMAT? One word: Kaplan

November 27, 2011 by

As a Kaplan instructor, I know we get people higher scores on the GMAT.  I literally see it all the time and I truly like helping people reach their goals.  Anyone that respects the test sufficiently to do what it takes to prepare (and prepare correctly) will be able to beat the GMAT on their terms.  Yet, one thing I consciously and continuously remind myself is that, at the beginning of the road, most people don’t understand and don’t always feel so confident.  A task of mine then becomes to get them over that obstacle.  But, it’s always nice to get a little help.

One of my new students fits the mold of many that I’ve worked with: a long time out of school, pretty rusty on the whole study thing, and notably daunted by the GMAT.  Our initial meeting was fairly short (about an hour and a half), … Read full post

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