Making the Jump, pt. 2 – Higher Scorers

As we discussed a few weeks ago in Making the Jump Part 1, there are some general rules that everyone can apply to improve their scores or break out of the range they’re stuck in. For each type of scorer (low, medium, high), however, a modified approach would also be beneficial. In today’s post, we’re going to tackle some strategies that higher scorers can use to help them break through the often difficult 650 point barrier.

First, we have a testimonial from a student was able to break out of his range and get the higher score that would get him into the schools he wanted:

SAT Writing: How the Essay is scored

Many parents I speak to ask me about the SAT essay, its weight in the total scoring, its role in admissions decisions and more importantly how to improve scores. Parents and students often are confused by the requirements of the SAT essay and how it differs from those most common to High School English classes. Many of you might have even heard test prep “experts” speak to strategies for improving SAT essay scores that seemed off the wall and far-fetched. I thought I’d shed some light on the issue.

First, here is what the College Board says:

Starting Test Prep Early: Smartasses are Smart

People often ask me how I became the Sultan of Standardized Tests, the Baron of the Bubble, and the Prince of POE, or they just ask how I got so good at taking tests. It’s taken me a bit but after ruminating on the question I think I’ve arrived at not only an answer but advice that will let others try to develop some of the same talent. The answer I’ve arrived at is “I was a smartass as a kid.” Now I know that sounds crazy but keep reading and I promise it will make sense.

Consider the skills that define a proper smartass:

Evaluating Practice Tests, Part Deux: A Case Study

Any given GMAT score for an individual is really a specific value that can (and should) be seen as part of a range. What this means is that when you “think about” or “talk about” GMAT scores, you should do so in the context of a GMAT score range. To better understand what we’re talking about, consider that GMAC indicates the standard margin of error for the GMAT is 40 points, meaning that a person with a certain defined ability will score within 40 points of that ability from one test to the next (assuming no additional preparation between tests).

For more, see the following link:

Evaluating Practice Tests, Pt. 1: What NOT to Ask an AO

Because we are engaged in the business of preparing people for the GMAT, an integral part of their business school application, we often speak with AOs (that’s trade talk for Admissions Officers) about various facets of GMAT testing, among them the role the test plays in admissions.

Recently we had a conversation with an AO from a top 10 school that went something like this:

That Age-old Question: What’s a Good GMAT Score?

So you started preparing for the GMAT and you’re perhaps wondering, “What is a good score?” While there is no simple (or absolute) answer to the question of what a
“good score” is, here are two ways to evaluate your GMAT score and assess how much preparation you should do (or if you have taken the test already, whether you should apply with the score you have).

Personal Best Effort

Your personal best effort means you have done all you can to achieve your highest possible score. Defining your best effort can be tricky, but you must consider whether you have invested all the resources at your disposal to help you achieve your score. You will have to look critically at what you’ve done in preparation for the GMAT and what you could have done. You have to consider what you have invested (not just financially but also mentally) in preparing for the test, and whether that is all you could have invested.

The chart below shows the correlation between time invested preparing for the test and GMAT scores.

Q&A Goes Virtual

Today we’re thrilled to announce the impending launch of Bell Curves’ Virtual Q&A’s. The classroom version proved so popular and beneficial we’ve decided to move the party to the virtual world.

Now ALL Bell Curves students past and present can attend a weekly Q&A session regardless of where they are in the world.

Here are the facts on the new Virtual Q&As:

The Last Hurrah

Here are some facts, reminders, and strategies to improve the last couple weeks or so of studying until you face off with (and hopefully destroy) the GMAT.

In the last few weeks you should be winding down your prep and spending most of your time accomplishing a comprehensive review. You should review all formulae, rules, approaches, strategies, and personal notes from the very beginning of your book/preparation materials, and ensure that everything is committed to memory.

Einstein Can’t Teach Me Physics


Einstein can’t teach me physics! And Michael Jordan can’t teach me basketball.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve put it on the internet for all to know. I don’t think these relative gods of their domain can teach me to succeed in that domain. Before you call me crazy and stop reading, let me make my case.

Einstein was as genius as Jordan was. Geniuses possess innate understanding of their respective fields that most of us do not. Because of this innate understanding, the way they approach that field is very different from that of the average man. This approach combined with their innate knowledge makes them achieve things that we probably can’t follow unless we have the same genius. To learn from this genius you must learn to think like him or he must learn to think like you. That’s a pretty daunting task to accomplish, and most likely a task requiring years of dedication.

Now what’s that got to do with the GMAT you ask?

What is “The Consortium?”


Each year about this time I travel to several universities and speak to undergraduates about B-School and the GMAT, and each year I’m surprised by how much people don’t know about existing graduate school opportunities. So today’s blog is dedicated to shedding some light on an organization that every aspiring B-School applicant should investigate: The Consortium.

The Word on the Street

First, let’s look at the word on the street about the Consortium. This is what a few of my GMAT students had to say about it:

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