Don’t Be “That (flashcard) Guy”

Greetings and welcome to another installment of Akil on the GMAT. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and advice on how to study for the test. It seems more and more I encounter people who are studying wrong (oops I mean ‘incorrectly,’ since an adverb is needed to modify ‘studying’).

First, to understand how to study properly you have to understand the nature of the GMAT. The GMAT is an adaptive test that assesses quantitative and verbal REASONING. As such, the GMAT is not a test that you get a great score by simply memorizing facts, since a reasoning test requires logic supported by facts, rather than simple fact regurgitation.

Regurgitating facts will most likely only allow you to get a score in the low to mid 500s (in the best case scenario). If you are satisfied with a score in the 500s, you should just get a list of formulas and rules tested and memorize them. [My marketing department requires that I insert a shameless plug here for Bell Curves flashcards, which give you a succinct, comprehensive list of the rules and formulas tested on the GMAT - all in a nice, pretty package.]

If you want to have a realistic shot at the higher scores, you will need to memorize the facts necessary for success on the test and then, more importantly, develop your ability to use those facts in context.

Are you Flashcard Guy/Girl?

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

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.

GMAT Strategy: Geometry Hybrids

One way the GMAT ramps up the difficulty of questions is to combine multiple concepts in a single problem. Geometry questions that do this can be challenging, particularly for test-takers who struggle to visualize alternative structures or orientations of a given figure.

Some of the most challenging of all Geometry Hybrids are those that fuse multiple figures into one larger figure and then ask about some facet of it. We call these Mixed Shapes, and categorize them into three groups: Overlapping Figures, Strange Shapes, and Shaded Areas. Let’s take a look at a sample problem to identify strategies to conquer these Geometry Hybrids.

Two identical circles of area 36π overlap as shown above. If the distance from point A to point B is 6, what is the area of the shaded region?

On the Record: Q&A with BC Alumnus Rhomaro Powell

Recently, we thought that many people out there battling through the business school application process might benefit from some thoughts and insights from others who went through the experience. To that end, we started On the Record: Q&A with BC Alums. Last time around we spoke with Radina Russell. This time around, we got insights from the funny and talented Rhomaro Powell.

BC Alumnus Rhomaro Powell

Rhomaro graduated from the S.C. Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, and currently works in the financial services sector.

Why did you go to business school?

Business School was the next logical step for my career progression.  My ultimate goal is to operate my own private equity firm; however I felt I was lacking some core skills, i.e. finance and accounting. Additionally, I felt I needed the proper brand and network that would provide me access to enter the private equity universe.  Johnson at Cornell University gave me the brand, network, and knowledge I needed.

Business school as accelerated my career tremendously, mainly because it has helped me grow as an individual, expanded my network, and provided opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.  For example, I went into business school with the main goal of improving my technical skills, but learned that the softer skills were at least as important – and perhaps even more important – to my career.  I learned that knowledge only gets you so far, but being able to lead, influence, and build relationships with individuals will get you farther.  In regards to expanding my network and opportunities, I was able to do so through organizations such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow and The Robert Toigo Foundation.  These organizations have expanded my network from outside the business school I attended.  Additionally, I studied in Madrid, Spain for 5 months.  My network now spans all the top business schools and companies around the world.

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.

On the Record: Q&A with BC Alumnus Radina Russell

Recently, we thought that many people out there battling through the business school application process might benefit from some thoughts and insights from others who went through the experience. To that end, we present On the Record: Q&A with BC Alums. Over the next few months we’ll be sharing stories in Q&A format from some of our favorite Bell Curves alumni.

Today’s featured Bell Curves alumnus is Radina Russell.

BC favorite and all-around superstar Radina Russell

Radina graduated from Columbia Business School and now works as an Investor Relations and Financial Communications consultant. Here is what she has to say about her business school experience, the GMAT, and more:

Why did you go to business school? My family was always trying to get rid of me as much as possible when I was a kid. When I was 16, all the cool kids got to go to fun camp, but I attended LEAD Summer Business Institute at The Darden School of Business at UVA (aka business summer camp). Ever since then, I’ve known I wanted to attend business school.

I was able to completely reinvent myself. I made the switch from technology to finance and developed a brand new set of skills in b-school.

Study Tips: Don’t interfere!

We (we, the world, not we Bell Curves – which is singular anyway but that’s another story) know more now than ever before about the workings of the human mind and memory, thanks to the field of cognitive neuroscience. What does this mean for you, you ask? These advances have very practical applications, especially for students who wish to improve the efficiency of their studying.

GMAT Tip: Patterns

Many hard GMAT quantitative questions present problems because of the exceedingly time-consuming calculations needed to solve, or because the way to solve the problem isn’t easily apparent. One solution to these kinds of problems can often be found by identifying and using patterns. Here’s some helpful information to help you utilize the presence of patterns to improve your accuracy and efficiency (which is what you should seek rather than speed) on GMAT Quant:

How to Choose: GMAT versus GRE

With the GRE changing on August 1st, 2011, and an increasing number of business schools accepting the GRE for the application process, we thought it might be a good time to discuss the two to help people make a decision about which test to take.