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September 8, 2012 by

The GMAT is in some ways a technological marvel. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, thousands of locations across the globe are instantly reporting scores on the same test. The computer-adaptive test adapts to your skill level, adjusting difficulty on a question by question basis. Every center is equipped with a state-of-the-art scanner that records examinees’ handprints as a security measure.

Unsurprisingly, technology can also help you prepare for this test. Every GMAT student knows that paper-based quizzes can’t produce a test-like experience. Full-length practice Computer Adaptive Tests, like those offered by Kaplan and from, are key to success. But you can take the online prep a step further; most GMAT prep books, like Kaplan’s or the Official Guide, are also available as PDFs. Learning your lessons from a tablet or computer screen get your eyes used to reading on a monitor, and forces you to … Read full post

GMAT Prep: Be Assertive to Make Time

August 23, 2012 by

A few weeks ago, a group of break-dancers started dancing outside my GMAT classroom at a local university.

Now, a part of me thought this was very fun. I like to pretend I’m still cool to college students. So, I was smiling and trying not to bop my head to the music when I went out and asked them to turn down the music. They were pretty nice about it, too, and turned down their music. For about fifteen minutes. The second time I asked them to turn it down, I was a little less nice—and they were a little less happy to comply.

The third time, I didn’t ask. I called the Campus Police and had them rousted.

I felt bad about it. I was becoming “The Man.” I was an authority figure.  I was stern.  I wasn’t a “cool guy” anymore.  But I got over my guilt quickly, … Read full post

Tough GMAT Probability Questions

August 16, 2012 by

Tackling some of the tougher GMAT probability questions efficiently relies on both steady practice and your ability to make two key decisions well. First, you will need to quickly and accurately assess the total number of possible outcomes (the denominator of your probability equation). Second, within a multitude of possible approaches, you will need to determine the most efficient route to calculate the number of desired outcomes (the numerator of your probability equation).

With the clock ticking away on your GMAT CAT, figuring out the total number of possibilities can be time-consuming and fraught with room for error. For instance, if a question asks about the probability of getting at least 2 heads on 5 coin tosses, you could sit there all day writing out possibilities:




So forth and so on. I know I got dizzy with the possibilities just writing those three out.  There is … Read full post

Three GMAT Challenges

July 25, 2012 by

Piecing together the time to study for the GMAT can be challenging.  In today’s blog, I’m going to talk about three students (whose names I’m changing to protect their identities).  Each had a major obstacle to studying, and each overcame it in a different way. I hope these students’ examples can help some of you reach your GMAT and MBA goals.


Case Study 1: Vincent, the Entrepreneur

The Challenge: Vincent was a busy man when I was tutoring him. His schedule was very flexible—his main source of income was a business that he started and ran himself—but he was distracted at all hours by emails and phone calls related to his work.

The Solution: Vincent needed a time and place where he could study in peace.

Because of his flexible work schedule, it was easier for Vincent to find time than it is for some other students. He … Read full post

GMAT Critical Reasoning Inference Questions, Part 2

July 18, 2012 by

Listen to a politician speaking, and you’ll hear a lot of platitudes and vague statements. Occasionally, a senator or congressman will make a statement about a specific number or an exact proposal; rarely, those statements will even be correct. But mostly, you’ll hear things like, “the hidden costs will total billions,” or “this program will have far-reaching negative impacts,” or “some have suggested that this proposed law will do nothing but enrich corporations.”

When you think about it, these claims make perfect sense. With a claim as vague as the ones above, it’s hard to be proven wrong or caught in a lie. For instance, “hidden costs” could refer to net costs, but it also could refer to gross costs even if the proposal actually netted a profit. “Billions” could refer to two billion, or it could refer to two hundred billion!

In other words, the vaguer the claim, the … Read full post

GMAT Practice Accuracy

July 5, 2012 by

One of the most common questions I field from students posting on MBA forums, is whether Kaplan CATs are accurate.

Some people see official scores so far above or below their expectation that they assume a math error is the only explanation. Others hear that a batch of Kaplan tests from around 2007 had some scoring irregularities, and assume (incorrectly) that we haven’t fixed things in the past five years. And still others just haven’t practiced enough to understand the ins and outs of the GMAT’s adaptive testing. But the question is always the same: are Kaplan tests mathematically representative of the real GMAT?

The answer is “yes.” Kaplan uses the Official GMAT tests to normalize our scores; students who take a Kaplan test and the Official GMAT in the same weekend usually get scores no further apart than the test’s statistical margin of error, 29 points.

But that’s … Read full post

Kaplan’s GMAT Course Undergoes Continuous Improvement

June 16, 2012 by

One thing I like about Google is that they are constantly churning out both new products and improvements to additional products.  Google knows that in order to stay relevant and lead the market, innovation is fundamental.  Kaplan does, too.

For more than 70 years, Kaplan has been training ambitious individuals to reach and exceed their goals on standardized tests so they can reach and exceed their goals professionally.  We have been teaching the GMAT to prospective business students almost since its inception in 1954.  In short, Kaplan Test Prep is a product leader and, like Google, we have multiple teams devoted to continuous product improvement and innovation.

Instead of letting all this hard work and commitment go unnoticed, I want our students to know what is going on behind the scenes.  Not only do the smart people behind these projects deserve some recognition, but it is also important that … 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 Fences

June 4, 2012 by

In my years of teaching, I’ve seen all kinds of clever solutions to GMAT math problems. I’ve also seen all kinds of errors. Some are utterly bizarre—and fortunately, seldom repeated, because the students who make those mistakes usually face-palm when they review their tests and go on to learn from their missteps. But some errors are so common and so often repeated that they earned their own names. One such example is the “fencepost error.”

Here’s a simple example: Say we are setting up a straight fence that’s exactly 100 ft long, with posts every 10 feet. How many posts do we need?

Did you say 10? Tempting, but that’s the right answer to the wrong question. There are 10 sections of fence, each 10 feet long.  But there are actually 11 fenceposts, because you start with a fencepost, at 0 feet!




This error can trap the … Read full post

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