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6pm GMAT Test Time? Say What?

It’s the end of the GMAT as we know it! It’s the end of the GMAT as we know it (And I feel fine)!

We are down to the last two weeks of the GMAT B.I. (Before Integrated Reasoning) and people are scrambling to get their official test done before the switch on June 5th.

We’ve written frequently in this space about how people shouldn’t rush their prep just to avoid IR (i.e. you should not rush to take the test before the IR section gets added in June if you are going to get a lower score on the sections that matter – Quant and Verbal). That being said, there are a number of folks who have been prepping to take their test in the next couple weeks and are ready to do so.

I have a couple such tutoring students, and I found it interesting when one of them told me that her upcoming GMAT was scheduled for 6 o’clock. As in 6 o’clock PM. 1800 hours. Say what? Starting a GMAT at 6pm means ending your GMAT around 10pm. Not good times, but unavoidable it seems given the high volume of test-takers rushing to take test before the change to NextGen GMAT.

Another student taking the test before the change said he had a 4pm test appointment, which is better than 6pm, but certainly outside the ideal testing time for most people. It got me thinking that it might be beneficial to share some tips with people about how best to gear up for their official tests. People with particularly unorthodox testing times like 4pm and (gasp) 6pm should pay particular attention to numbers 1 and 3 below.

  1. Practice (Test) like it’s the Game – Your full-length practice tests should mirror your official test in every way possible: focus, intensity, start time, and components (meaning do the essays, even if you don’t want to). Your goal is both to increase your stamina and prepare your mind/body to be “on” at the same time you have to “on” for the real thing. The later your test is in the day, the more important this is, as people (even late-risers like me) are less fresh and sharp as the day goes on. 6pm, for example, is really pushing the limit of people’s endurance.
  2. Don’t Go Overboard – Practice tests are designed to be evaluative and help you hone your pacing and test management. They’re also designed to increase your test stamina. Doing a test every day isn’t a surefire way to get there. You need time to review, and time to recharge. For every person who says “I did a full-length test every day for two weeks and got a 700,” there’s a dozen people for whom that will not work as a strategy (not least of all because that 700-scorer was probably already ready to score 700). Find your happy medium for practice tests that will allow you enough time to increase your stamina AND give you time to thoroughly review your mistakes and hone skills.
  3. Seek Balance – Don’t disrupt your normal routines too much. We are creatures of habit, and if you all of a sudden stay up really late for a couple nights so you can sleep in later for your noon (or 4pm) test time, your body will NOT be pleased. Same goes for amending your diet or exercise routines. Find the balance between preparing for your test time and maintaining your normal life rhythms.
  4. Avoid Last-minute Practice Tests – Taking a practice test a day or two before your official tends to offer the potential of far more negative consequences than positive. GMAT Preparation is a marathon, not a sprint. Squeezing in that last-minute practice test is going to do very little for your chances on the real thing, largely because you have very little time to learn from and assimilate any insights from it. Conversely, a poor result a day or two before the test can really affect your confidence, and (again) leaves you with little time to redress that blow. Additionally, a 3.5-4 hour GMAT practice test is no joke. It drains you (or should if you’re doing it right). Recovering from that takes time, in the same way that recovering from a marathon session at the gym might for your body.
  5. Don’t Limit Your Prep to Practice Tests – You can do effective practice in small doses as well. In fact, some of the most effective practice comes in smaller doses, largely because you can more easily learn from those sets and then turn around to apply that learning on another set. Regardless of whether you’re doing a lot or a little prep, try to start around the same time you’re going to be taking the real thing (largely because of the reasoning outlined in number 1).
  6. Relax  - The final 24 hours before your test should largely be a stress-free affair. You’ve prepped. You’ve learned what you’re going to learn and have improved as much as you’re going to improve. Frantically running through a bunch of problems the night before (for a morning test) or day of (for afternoon/evening tests) is a recipe for disaster. It taxes you and drives your stress levels way up. You want to go into the test cool, calm, collected, and rested. Period.

For all those taking the test in the next couple weeks, good luck! May the GMAT be permanently in your rear-view when you’re done!

Graduate Management Education Events & Deadlines

Though it may seem like the “off season” in the world of GME, there’s actually quite a bit going on as people and schools gear up for a big fall of 2012. Check out some of these events to get face time with school reps, valuable application information, or test preparation advice.

April 26th

INSEAD MBA Master Class & Info Session in New York City
“The Essence of Leadership” – Discuss the psychological foundations of leadership, and what makes leaders emerge, appeal to followers, and on occasion derail. We shall also touch upon how leadership can be developed. More info.

April 27th, May 10th & 11th 

Northeastern University Evening MBA Coffee Chat
Gives prospective students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with an Admissions Officer in an informal setting. More info.


April 28th & May 9th

Northeastern University Information Sessions
Learn all about Northeastern’s MBA and MS programs, meet with admissions staff, and hear from an alumni panel. More info.

The Truth About Next Generation GMAT

As we’ve discussed several times in this space over the past few months, the GMAT will be changing on June 5th. There’s been quite a bit of uncertainty about Next Generation GMAT (NGG), not to mention a fair bit of conjecture and a little too much fear-mongering (see our last post, “Locking in Your 700+ Before the Test Changes?“, for more on the fear-mongering angle).

We’re returning to the subject once more to present in the clearest terms what’s true for NGG and what’s not, so prospective test-takers have the best possible understanding of how it affects them and how it should affect their preparation. Here is what the new test will look like versus the old.

Section Old GMAT Next Generation GMAT
Analytical Writing Assessment 2 essay
60 minutes
1 essay
30 minutes
Integrated Reasoning 12 questions
30 minutes
Quantitative 37 questions
75 minutes
37 questions
75 minutes
Verbal 41 questions
75 minutes
41 questions
75 minutes
Total Testing Time 3 hours 30 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes

 

Let’s start with an unadulterated review of the facts…

Next Gen GMAT: “Locking in your 700+ before the Test Changes”?

Today I received an email from a test preparation company (no, I didn’t email myself…this time). The subject line of the email actually read “Locking in your 700+ before the test changes.” I won’t say which test prep company sent this email, but I will say that the subject line intrigued me…just not for the reasons you may think.

Let’s take a look, and along the way divulge what little information is available on the Next Generation GMAT (NGG) to help everyone reduce their stress a little bit regarding changes to the Big, Bad GMAT.

The Internets: Where Erroneous Lives

The internet is filled with interesting, informative, and helpful information. Lots of the time, that information is also factually accurate. Lots of times, it’s not. What makes the internet so fantastic a tool — its freedom of access and populist design — is also the thing that can often leave it riddled with factual potholes. The test preparation industry, like any other, struggles with this problem. Given all the companies, tutors, teachers, and individuals sharing information, anyone seeking info on the web should double check what they find.

GMAC Test Prep Summit 2011

On Thursday, September 15th, GMAC held the latest installment of its every-other-year Test Prep Summit. At the summit GMAC updates the test prep industry on the GMAT and business school. Bell Curves was happy to be in attendance, and the event was chock-full of info pertinent to anyone planning to apply to business school in the next year. Below is a blow-by-blow of the biggest news from the summit.

Smokers Beware!

I smoke. That’s right, one or two of us, despite all the research and lecturing and (often) revolting anti-smoking campaigns, still exercise our free will and engage in a behavior we know is bad for us, and against which we’re too addicted or stubborn or ignorant to revolt.

I’m okay going outside to smoke, in the cold and wind and snow. I’m totally for not smoking around kids. I’m even okay with the constant “Tisk-tisk, don’t you know how unhealthy that is” and the “You should quit” and the looks of indignation, mortification, or disdain on the faces of passersby (not to mention my mom).

But before you ask what’s this got to do with the GMAT, let me go ahead and answer: Not too long ago I took the GMAT. I went in with a couple other Bell Curves instructors during the research study for the new in Integrated Reasoning section, and it didn’t go exactly according to plan. Why? Cigarettes. Or rather, the lack thereof.

The AWA Essay: 6 The Fun Way.

Nobody quite understands why GMAC requires that people write two 30-minute essays before test-takers get to the only thing that really matters, namely the Quant and Verbal Sections. Consensus even seems to be that business schools are rarely, if ever, using the GMAT essay in the admissions process.

When to Use the Bathroom, and When to Get out of Dodge!

Ed. Note: Taking the GMAT is an essential part of a good GMAT instructor’s job because it gives us a whole new perspective when advising students. Bell Curves requires all teachers to regularly take the actual GMAT in order to hone their skills in the actual setting of the test, discover new trends, and report back experiences that can benefit students. On an unseasonably warm Monday the third week of November, three members of Bell Curves GMAT development team took the GMAT in order to experience the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions first hand in the real setting. This is Jason C.’s experience on that particular day. To see reports of that same day from Akil or Ajani click either of their respective names. Keep an eye on this blog for an upcoming post about those aforementioned IR questions, as well as novel insights on cigarettes and the GMAT, and why NOT to sweat the AWA.  We love to hear from you about any questions you have about this experience or the GMAT in general .

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Recently, GMAC gave us a chance to beta test the new Integrated Reasoning section that it will be rolling out in 2012. Being the standardized test geeks all of us at Bell Curves are, we could not resist and found ourselves at a testing center two days before Thanksgiving.

Follow Through

Ed. Note: Taking the GMAT is an essential part of a good GMAT instructor’s job because it gives us a whole new perspective when advising students. Bell Curves requires all teachers to regularly take the actual GMAT in order to hone their skills in the actual setting of the test, discover new trends, and report back experiences that can benefit students. On an unseasonably warm Monday the third week of November, three members of Bell Curves GMAT development team took the GMAT in order to experience the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions first hand in the real setting. This is Ajani’s experience on that particular day. To see reports of that same day from Akil or Jason click either of their respective names. Keep an eye on this blog for an upcoming post about those aforementioned IR questions, as well as novel insights on cigarettes and the GMAT, and why NOT to sweat the AWA.

Last week, my curiosity got the better of me regarding the new Integrated Reasoning question types GMAC were going to test out as part of preparations for the Next Generation GMAT rollout in 2012. So I went along with a couple colleagues and sat for the test. Given the crowded waiting room at the Herald Square location (Manhattan), clearly I wasn’t the only one on pins and needles about the new IR questions. Okay, maybe most of the people there were to take the GMAT to get into Business School, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless.

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