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GMAT Study Tips for International and ESL Students

May 5, 2014 by

I started my Kaplan career teaching in the Puerto Rico center, where most of my students knew English as a Second Language. The GMAT can be especially daunting when not the just the content or strategy, but the language itself intimidates you. Never fear – I’ve got some action steps to help you out.

1. Aim for total English immersion between now and GMAT Test Day.

Immersion means only English movies, English music, English radio, English-speaking friends, and English newspapers. You can absorb grammar and get a better ear for the language even in the short time between now and GMAT Test Day if you immerse yourself. Free resources abound on the internet: nytimes.com for reading, npr.org for radio (Fresh Air, Diane Rehm, and This American Life are great picks), free podcasts on iTunes, English music on pandora.com. The New York Times is especially important, since you need … Read full post

GMAT Data Sufficiency Tips: A Breakdown

April 4, 2014 by

Data Sufficiency (DS) questions are unique to the GMAT. When first encountered they are cumbersome, confusing, and generally frustrating. Admittedly, Data Sufficiency questions often remain cumbersome, confusing, and generally frustrating, but such is the nature of the GMAT. After all, the better you do, the harder the test gets! However, thorough understanding of the characteristics and attributes of these questions coupled with a proven method of attack will allow you to handle just about anything the GMAT has to offer. In this blog entry, I will offer some GMAT Data Sufficiency tips to help you master this challenging question type.

The prescribed task for Data Sufficiency questions is straightforward enough: based on provided information, determine whether a posed question can be answered. The structure of these questions is unwaveringly consistent: a question is asked, two statements of additional information are provided, and the five answer choices that follow are always … Read full post

Don’t Fall for Common Misconceptions About the GMAT

April 1, 2014 by

April 1st is here, and you know what that means: pranks, jokes, and odd press releases in which companies make outrageous claims, like: “Wow, Google says they’re going to set up a colony on Mars!” . . . “Hey, Nike has invented an anti-gravity shoe!” . . . “Whoa, did you see that Taco Bell is going to start serving breakfast?” (Wait, that one is true.)

On one level, most of us are naturally skeptical of any seemingly suspicious claim made on April Fools’ Day. One another level, what harm is it to entertain the thought? Perhaps some of us choose to believe these stories simply because we want them to be true.

When it comes to the GMAT, be careful to separate what you want to be true, and what is actually true. Don’t fall for the common misconceptions that so many test-takers believe.

Common GMAT Misconceptions

Spring Study Tips for the GMAT

March 20, 2014 by

Today is the Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere. This marks the beginning of spring, which is a great time for change and celebration – and for us to share some study tips for the GMAT.

Springtime Studies

When we think of the spring, we think of new beginnings. The trees and flowers are waking up (for better or worse, where allergy sufferers are concerned), the birds and frogs start singing again, and we’ve got new, longer hours of daylight now that we’ve changed the clocks. I’ve got a tray of seedlings going, and the tomatoes, basil, and okra are starting to poke their heads out of the soil, reminding me that it’s time to start new things.

Use this time of year to restart or kick-start your GMAT studies, if needed. Are you stalled out, slacking, or just plain burned out? Take a cue from the verdant vernal changes … Read full post

GMAT Roman Numerals Questions Revisited

March 13, 2014 by

We covered GMAT Roman Numerals questions recently, and like any good teacher, I want to review this topic again to help solidify it in your mind. So, we challenged students on Facebook with a practice question yesterday that combined Roman Numerals with properties of exponents, and got some great responses.

Take a moment to check out the question and the original blog entry on the shortcut strategy for Roman Numerals questions.

Now, let’s tackle this!

GMAT Roman Numeral Tip

Remember that when you see a Roman Numeral problem, you should think: “I should start with the answer choice that shows up most frequently so that if I can eliminate it, I can mark out the most answer choices.” This will save you time and effort. Remember, every second is valuable on the GMAT, and learning time-saving strategies is every bit as important as (some would argue even MORE important … Read full post

GMAT Success is in the Details

March 4, 2014 by

A little thing here or there doesn’t usually make a lot of difference.  But when you aggregate, knowing some of the little things about the GMAT can be a big help on Test Day.  In this blog post, I am going to highlight some unexpected or otherwise novel little tidbits.  This list is not comprehensive, of course, but I believe you’ll find it contributes to your GMAT success on test day.  If you have anything you’d like to add, please do so in the comments.

  • Your photograph taken at the testing center on test day will be sent to schools.  That’s right, folks.  Just when you thought it was safe to wear your lucky shirt—you know, the one with the crass cartoon of a feral dog at a cocktail party—Big Brother steps in and spoils it for you.  According to GMAC’s website, your test day photograph as well
  • Read full post

GMAT Strategy and Time Management: When to Guess

February 24, 2014 by

Guessing on the GMAT is a painful decision – especially for advanced test takers.  In the past, sometimes you were punished for guessing (like on the SATs) and sometimes you were made to feel like you weren’t fully prepared (remember college Spanish classes?). However, on the GMAT, while you want to minimize the amount of guess you do, realize that having a guessing strategy in place is important.  A guessing strategy is more important in the Quantitative sections since most test takers have a more difficult time finishing that section.  However, it is also important not to lose track of time on the Verbal section.  For sound GMAT strategy, primarily there are two distinct times when you want to guess:

When You Don’t Know the Concept

Let’s face it, on GMAT Test Day, you have a chance of forgetting one of the many equations you have memorized.  Additionally, sometimes … Read full post

Set Your GMAT Score Goal

January 2, 2014 by

Do you know what your GMAT score goal should be?  Do you know how to figure that out?  Look, you need a target score and I need you to set it.  Here’s how:

  1. Do some research.  Compile a list of all the programs you’d like to attend.  Be thorough in your research and clearly identify why you would like to attend each institution that makes it onto your list.
  2. Find out what the average GMAT score is for admitted students to each of your listed programs.  If, for some reason, you cannot find that information online, call the admissions office and ask.
  3. Take the highest score and make it higher.  Add on twenty points or so and set that as your target score.  Remember, an average is comprised of scores that are higher and lower than the mean presented.  You want to be on the top side of that range. 
  4. Read full post

Top 5 Secrets of GMAT High Scorers

December 31, 2013 by

It’s the time of year for countdown lists, so I’m sharing with you my advice for how to become a high scorer on the GMAT. It takes serious drive and dedication, and these five tips will help you on the path to success.

The Top 5 Secrets of GMAT High Scorers…

#5: Average test-takers see the GMAT as a fearsome roadblock, or a nuisance. 700+ test-takers see the test as an evenly matched competitor, and not something superior, and thus look at it as an exciting challenge.

#4: They balance strengths & weaknesses; quant and verbal.

#3: They welcome mistakes, because mistakes are where new points will come from. They look for patterns of holes or flaws in their game on every question, and find a resolution that’s achievable under test conditions.

#2: They train rigorously (instead of studying). They have a set training schedule in a conducive environment, and … Read full post

Beat GMAT Verbal by Making Predictions

December 19, 2013 by

In Part II of my series on the Verbal section of the GMAT, we are going to cover the necessity of predicting correct answers to Verbal questions before evaluating the answer choices available. Predicting is a skill one must learn and practice over time. Start now, do it consistently, and you will make a breakthrough.

Let’s first take a moment to appreciate a simple GMAT truism: for every question on the exam, there is always one right and four rotten answers. Always. All answer choices that are not the correct one are definitively incorrect.

Understand that the GMAT is written by human beings. Just like the questions, answer choices are deliberately composed. In every list of five GMAT answer choices, the test makers thoughtfully construct the four wrong answers. Each of these wrong answers will, in some way, address a possible misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the original stimulus or … Read full post

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