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GMAT Course vs Private Tutoring: What’s the Better Deal for You?

GMAT course

Read time: 4 minutes

Can’t decide between a GMAT course and private tutoring? Wondering which route would be the most cost-effective, or give you biggest advantage on test day?

It’s not quite so black-and-white. Whether you’d be better off in a course, or with private sessions, really depends on your individual needs, current skill-level, and score goal.

Read on to dig deeper into which GMAT prep strategy makes the most sense for you, based on where you’re at right now.

Who Benefits Most from Private GMAT Tutoring?

To be honest, we don’t normally recommend people opt for tutoring right out of the gate. Because it’s one-to-one, tutoring will always be more expensive than a group GMAT course.

For example, you’re looking at, on average, about $30/hour for a course, versus $200/hour for a 10-hour tutoring package.

However, there are some test-taskers for whom private sessions do make sense, and are well worth the added expense.

In our experience, these are the three groups of students who benefit most from private GMAT tutoring:

1. People who already took a GMAT course (and want more support)

There are a couple of common scenarios here. In some cases, we see people who have completed a less than stellar GMAT course, and found themselves without the right tools and techniques to hit their score goal.

These candidates don’t want to risk taking another sub-par bootcamp, and instead go straight for the precision and security of personalized tutoring.

In other cases, we’ve had students complete a quality prep program, but still struggle in certain topic areas.

They opt for tutoring in order to target those weak areas, with the undivided attention of a GMAT expert.

Our advice: Start with a reliable GMAT course, and then study on your own, to practice and strengthen the techniques you learned in class.

Follow the 1:1 ratio approach. If your course was 50 hours, be sure to put in 50 hours of your own study time before seeking out tutoring. Do a couple hundred practice questions and take another mock exam.

At this point, if you’re still not seeing improvement, you may want to consider one-to-one GMAT prep.

You can show your tutor your mock exam results, the questions you’re struggling with, and develop a highly targeted strategy to reach your score goal.

GMAT course
GMAT tutoring is about customizing prep to your specific strengths, weaknesses, and score goal

2. Students who need help with a specific question-type

Let’s say you’re performing reasonably well on mock exams, except for one or two question-types—say, data sufficiency, advanced exponents, or reading comprehension—which consistently trip you up.

You’ve tried researching and applying problem-solving techniques for these topics, but aren’t seeing much improvement. Your score has plateaued.

At this stage, you don’t really need a comprehensive, 100-hour GMAT course.

Private tutoring makes more sense because you can customize the process to your needs, and target only those problematic question-types.

3. When you need a really big score increase

Did you score much lower than expected on a mock GMAT exam?

We often see students sign up for private tutoring to address a very large gap between their baseline score, and the result they need to apply to business school.

We’re talking about a mock exam score of about 350.

On average, business schools require a GMAT score of at least 650, so in cases like this, the student can really benefit from intensive, highly personalized tutoring. This is the most reliable way to close a really large score gap.

Quantum offers a few different tutoring packages, ranging from 5 – 20 hours.

If you’d like to learn more, or want to discuss your GMAT needs and goals, we welcome you to reach out for a free consultation.

Click here to easily schedule a phone call with one of our GMAT instructors

Advantages of Opting for a GMAT Course

So, if private tutoring doesn’t sound like the way to go for you, should you be looking at a GMAT course?

While you don’t necessarily need a course to do well on the exam, professional test prep offers some very clear advantages. In our experience, these are the most valuable takeaways for students:

  1. Working with an expert GMAT instructor, who knows the exam inside and out—and can teach you exactly how to maximize your scoring potential.

 

  1. Getting access to hundreds of authentic practice questions, mock exams, and the very best study guides. (It can take students ages to hunt these down on their own)

 

  1. Learning the most reliable problem-solving techniques for every topic and question-type, along with strategies for avoiding GMAT traps, and managing your time well on the exam.

 

  1. Having the chance to repeat the course for free, as many times as needed, to target weak areas. All of Quantum’s comprehensive GMAT courses come with a free 6-month repeat policy.
GMAT course
A Quantum GMAT course in session

We’ve also heard from students that taking a course helps jump-start their prep, increase their confidence, and keep them focussed leading up to the exam.

The structure of attending class, meeting other test-takers, and connecting with the instructor helps motivate students to buckle down, and work harder than they would have on their own.

But we would be remiss if we didn’t also mention some potential drawbacks to taking a GMAT course—like the expense (good courses don’t come cheap), giving up some weekends or week nights, and possibly having to travel to attend class (if the course isn’t offered where you live).

Need more help making your decision? Check out: Should You Take a GMAT Course? The Pros & Cons of Professional Test Prep

Finding the Right GMAT Test Prep Company

The very best way to find a reliable GMAT test prep company is by talking to previous customers, checking out online reviews, and if possible, seeing the instructors in action.

Many companies run free workshops, webinars, and trial classes for prospective students. You get to meet the team, experience their teaching approach, and get a feel for whether the training is right for you.

GMAT prep is such an important investment. We strongly recommend taking the time to attend a “preview” event, before committing to a course, or any kind of tutoring arrangement.

Want to see Quantum in action? Check out our schedule of upcoming, free GMAT events in Toronto and Montreal.

In the meantime, we’re happy to chat with you about all things GMAT: study strategy, courses, free resources, MBA admissions…just leave us a comment or book a phone consultation. We’re here to help.

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How to Study for the GMAT When You’re Still Learning English

GMAT prep for ESL students

Read time: 3 minutes

There’s no point in sugar-coating it. Preparing for the GMAT as a non-native English speaker presents a whole new level of difficulty.

Not only will you face tough math and verbal challenges, you’ll also have to deal with the tricky way GMAT questions are phrased.

That’s right: the GMAT actually uses language to mislead test-takers. Many of the questions are designed to confuse you, and require very careful reading to interpret correctly.

On the bright side, the GMAT’s traps are fairly predictable—and with the right techniques and plenty of practice, you can learn how to outsmart them.

What else should non-native English speakers know about successfully challenging the GMAT?

Here are 6 steps, tips, and resources that will help you beat this exam, even if you’re still learning English.

1. Test your English skills before you start GMAT prep

Before you invest time and money in GMAT prep, first make sure that your English skills are advanced enough to challenge the exam.

The best way to do this is by taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Chances are, you will have to submit a TOEFL score along with your graduate school application, so it makes sense to do this step first.

The TOEFL exam tests your reading, listening, writing, and grammar skills, with a total possible score of 120 points. If you score at least a 90, you should be ready to tackle the GMAT.

ETS (the makers of the TOEFL exam) offer some helpful prep resources on their website, including a free online course and practice quizzes. Take a look below.

Click here to learn more about the TOEFL, and access study materials

2. Review the content & structure of the GMAT exam

Before you jump into studying, make sure you know exactly what topics are tested on the GMAT—and what kinds of language challenges you’ll be up against.

Attend a free GMAT information session to get an overview of the Verbal, Quant, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. You’ll learn how each section is scored, work through some sample GMAT questions, and get some valuable study advice.

GMAT prep
Quantum Test Prep runs regular GMAT info sessions at top business schools in Toronto and Montreal

Many test prep companies run free GMAT info sessions year round. They’re usually held on university campuses. Click below to see upcoming events in Toronto and Montreal.

See a schedule of free GMAT Information Sessions near you

 

3. Take a GMAT mock exam to discover your strengths & weaknesses

Once you have tested your English skills, and attended an information session, your next step should be a GMAT mock exam.

Don’t make assumptions about which parts of the test will be easiest for you, or where you should focus your study (a common mistake).

The mock exam will reveal the topics and question-types that are most difficult for you, and from there you can build a personal study plan.

Whatever you do, don’t start prepping for the exam until you’ve taken a mock, figured out your baseline score, and mapped out a prep strategy.

See a schedule of free GMAT mock exams near you

 

4. Improve your English skills through targeted daily practice

If you want to quickly improve your reading comprehension, vocabulary, and speed, you’ll need to do daily reading practice. Use tough, academic-style articles, like the ones you’ll see on the GMAT.

Get started with these:

Scientific American

The New Yorker

The Economist

Work on summarizing what you’ve read, identifying arguments, and formulating your own opinions.

Test yourself by discussing each article with a friend—briefly explain what it was about, where you stand on the issue, and see if you can answer any questions that come up.

Come across words you don’t know? Take the time to look them up, and learn their meanings.

Work on your writing skills at the same time by noting down your article summaries, vocabulary definitions, and follow-up questions.

The goal here is to practice analyzing and thinking critically about what you’re reading. It’s not enough to just understand the words—you need to grasp the context and deeper meaning of these articles, and be able to explain it to someone else.

Do this kind of targeted practice each day, and you’ll see big improvements in reading speed and comprehension.

GMAT prep for ESL students
Take notes while you read to practice your writing, test your understanding, and learn new vocabulary

5. Don’t ignore GMAT Quant!

Many ESL students make the mistake of focussing all of their GMAT test prep on verbal topics. The truth is, the quant section of the exam presents its own unique challenges to non-native English speakers.

First of all, the way questions are phrased can be difficult to understand. You will need to learn specific GMAT math “vocabulary” to avoid losing easy points.

Secondly, GMAT quant is full of traps, just waiting to lead you astray. You’ll only have a few seconds to decode the question, spot the trap, and figure out which steps to take next. It will take serious practice to master these skills in a new language.

Ignoring quant, and focussing mainly on verbal, will definitely threaten your chances of a high score.

6. Consider a GMAT course or private tutor

Not sure you’ll be able to prepare for the GMAT, and improve your English skills, all by yourself? Worried you won’t be ready in time for the exam—or end up with a disappointing score?

You might want to consider a GMAT course or private tutor.

Your GMAT instructor will provide you with the best study materials and preparation strategies—plus help you master language challenges to improve your speed, accuracy, confidence, and overall score.

GMAT prep for ESL students
Working with a private GMAT tutor will help you quickly improve the English skills needed to challenge the exam

If a GMAT course or private tutoring is simply too expensive, your next best bet is free GMAT study help.

There are plenty of free quant and verbal workshops out there. Click below to see events happening near you, and save yourself a seat.

See upcoming free GMAT classes in Toronto & Montreal

Looking for more advice? Need help combining English study with GMAT prep? Give us a call, or leave us a comment. We’ll help you make a plan that works.

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How do You Choose a Business School? 6 Key Factors Every Student Should Consider

choose a business school

Enrolling in an MBA marks a key turning point in your life. Not only is business school a huge investment of time, money, and effort—it’s a tremendous opportunity to carve out a brand new professional identity.

Whether you’re seeking advancement, want to branch out into a new field, or just getting started in your career, an MBA can be a very powerful kick-starter.

But where you do your training is just as important as the degree itself.

Each business school comes with its own set of pros and cons, leaving students with the challenging task of researching, sorting, and comparing the many options out there.

How do you find your ideal MBA? Which school features and characteristics matter most?

The truth is, it depends on your particular needs, preferences, and career goals. This is a highly personal decision.

Start by considering these 6 key factors when evaluating prospective B-schools and MBA programs.

1. Location: Will you travel for your MBA?

There are literally thousands of MBA programs worldwide. One way to quickly narrow down your search field is to consider your willingness to travel to attend business school.

If you have a family, a job you want to keep, or a lifestyle you’d rather not relinquish, you might quickly rule out travelling for your MBA. This will probably leave you with just a handful of options to choose from in your immediate area.

Keen to study abroad? Consider which destinations best suit your area of study/industry, which foreign languages you’d like to immerse yourself in, and where you’d build the most advantageous professional connections.

choose a business school
When choosing a study abroad destination, consider industry, language, and potential for networking

2. Program Flexibility: How much time do you have for study?

Flexibility is a top issue for many MBA students, specifically those with busy careers and/or kids at home.

If this is you, you’re probably prioritizing innovative part-time programs that offer weekend and evening classes, so attending school won’t compromise your work performance or family responsibilities.

On the other hand, you might be looking to fast-track the process with an accelerated, one-year MBA program.

When evaluating B-schools, consider your time constraints and scheduling needs, and see which institutions offer the best solutions for those requirements.

3. Industry connections: Need work experience with your MBA?

If you’re trying to climb the corporate ladder, break into a new field, or launch a business career from scratch, you’ll probably want to prioritize MBA programs that offer real work experience.

This might take the form of an MBA with co-op, or an “applied learning” curriculum that offers domestic and international field work, live client projects, and other ways to enhance your CV while studying.

This way, you’ll graduate with experience in your field, industry connections—and may even attract job offers before you finish your program.

choose a business school
Look at opportunities for real work experience and applied learning at each business school

4. Specialization: Looking for a niche MBA?

Many of the world’s top business schools are known for a particular area of speciality. Stanford for IT, Wharton for finance, Kellogg for marketing, etc.

Consider your career goals. Are you looking for a general MBA, or a program that focuses on a particular niche, such as health care, international management, or entrepreneurship?

Niche MBA programs are increasingly popular, with an ever-expanding array of options to choose from, including MBAs in real estate, art and design, and sports management. Take a look at this list of 7 highly specialized MBAs for more examples.

If you’re looking for a niche MBA, you’ll want to prioritize schools known for their expertise and industry partnerships in that particular area.

5. Reputation: How are alumni doing?

When you’re evaluating factors like reputation and prestige, it’s important to look beyond rankings. While you certainty want your business school (and program) to be well-respected and internationally accredited, you’ll find added value by considering the success of alumni.

Look at reviews, online forums, alumni networks, and if possible, connect with recent graduates (LinkedIn is a good tool for this).

Specifically, investigate alumni outcomes for the MBA program you are considering (part-time/accelerated/niche/co-op, etc.)

Contact admissions for statistics on alumni starting salaries and positions. Look carefully at the companies and organizations who have partnered with the B-schools you’re considering.

This information will be important as you evaluate the cost of each MBA and calculate your projected ROI.

choose an business school
If possible, meet with MBA alumni to get a clearer sense of student experience and program outcomes

6. Learning environment: What kind of school culture will motivate you?

Every business school has its own unique culture. Some are known for competitiveness, others for teamwork and community.

Some MBA programs attract students and professors from across the globe, while others are more local.

Never forget that your B-school experience is as much about classroom learning as it is about building your network. Plus, you’ll need to consider your own learning style when comparing campus environments.

Some students thrive in small, close-knit environments that feel personal and supportive. Others want a fast-paced, highly-charged campus where they’ll be driven by an atmosphere of competition.

One is not superior to the other; it all depends on how you learn best, and what you’re hoping to get out of the B-school experience.

Book a tour, enroll in a trial class, or sign up for an admissions appointment to get a feel for life on campus.

What’s next?

Now that you’ve considered some key criteria for choosing a B-school and MBA program, it’s time to rank these factors according to your own, very personal goals and needs. What is most important to you?

List your priorities and match them with the programs you’re eligible for, and you’ll be much closer to finding your ideal business school.

Made your choice and need help honing your application package and interviewing skills?

Click here to explore Quantum’s MBA Admissions Coaching services

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What Should You Expect From A Quality GRE Course? 4 Key “Takeaways”

GRE course

Read time: 3 minutes

If you’re seriously considering graduate school, you’re probably getting geared up to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

There are three prep options for GRE candidates:

1) Devise your own study plan and prepare by yourself

2) Enroll in a GRE course

3) Purchase private GRE tutoring sessions

Obviously, these three paths come with significantly different price points! And make no mistake, you can’t necessarily “buy” your way to a better GRE score.

However, not all students are cut out for self-study. It takes serious discipline, and considerably more time, to plot out your own GRE study plan.

You’ve got to hunt down the most reliable materials, identify (and learn) the most effective problem-solving strategies, and figure out how to accurately track your progress toward your score goal.

There are plenty of free resources online to help you along the way, but again, it will take additional time to sort through all the blog posts and GRE forums to find the answers you need.

GRE course
GRE self-study takes significant discipline & requires extra time to find reliable resources (Photo by Juliette Leufke on Unsplash)

Over the years, we’ve found that busy, working candidates—and certainly those with families—usually opt for a GRE course to expedite the whole study process.

But there are tons of test prep companies out there, and many, many GRE courses to choose from. What should you be looking to gain from a quality program?

These are the 4 key skills and competitive advantages you’ll walk away with after comprehensive, professional GRE prep.

1. Proven Problem-solving Steps for Every Topic & Question-type

A really good GRE course leaves no stone unturned. You will study each of the three main content areas on the exam (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing), and every single topic/question-type presented in those sections.

You will learn proven, step-by-step techniques for solving every type of problem—standardized approaches the instructor has tested and vetted, and knows will work every single time.

By the end of the course, you will have seen and worked through every kind of problem the GRE can throw at you.

2. Access to Hundreds of Authentic GRE Practice Questions

Once you’ve learned the theory and problem-solving strategies for each GRE topic, you’ll need to practice applying those steps, over and over again, right up to the exam.

This means you’ll need authentic GRE sample questions and practice tests to refine your skills and track your progress.

A quality course will include hundreds of genuine GRE questions, numerous practice tests, and all the other materials you’ll need to keep on prepping after training has ended.

You shouldn’t have to invest more of your own time hunting down study guides or practice questions. Everything should be included in the cost of your course.

Your GRE course should include all the study materials & practice tests you’ll ever need

3.  How to Cope with Questions You Don’t Know at the Exam

Most students suffer from some degree of exam anxiety. With the stress of test day, it’s normal to “blank out” and forget a problem-solving step you learned in class. But it’s crucial to have a plan in place for dealing with questions you can’t solve, and those inevitable moments of panic.

A good GRE course will teach you how to deal with unknowns on test day. You’ll learn how to guess strategically, when to flag a question for later, and when it makes sense to just move on.

These tips will be invaluable for remaining calm, and managing your time well during the exam.

Related: How to Handle GRE Questions You Don’t Know & Moments of Panic

4. Additional academic support, even after the GRE course is over

One of the biggest advantages a good GRE course will offer you is the option to take the class again, as many times as you need, before the exam.

Look for a test prep company with a robust course repeat policy. At Quantum, we give GRE students 6 months to repeat their entire course—or any individual module—after their date of enrollment.

This is a real game-changer for students who require additional academic support in weak topic areas. Access to the instructor doesn’t just end once the weekend course or bootcamp is over; you can keep coming back for assistance until your practice scores improve.

The option to keep repeating the class also grants you access to a GRE community—fellow test-takers you can connect with during the study process. This is a major confidence booster for many GRE candidates.

GRE course
Connecting with fellow GRE candidates can help reduce stress & boost confidence (Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash)

Are you planning to take the GRE in Toronto this year, and need more information about local training programs and GRE test prep resources?

Your best first step is to explore free GRE workshops happening in the GTA. Click below for a schedule of events.

Browse free GRE math and verbal workshops in Toronto

Or, we welcome you to explore Quantum’s comprehensive 30-hr GRE course, delivered at our training centre in downtown Toronto.  Click here to learn more about the course.

 

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Is all the Prep Worth it? Do You Really Need to Take the GMAT?

GMAT prep

Read time: 4 minutes

We know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering if there’s some way you can possibly avoid taking the GMAT exam, and still get into a great business school.

You’re contemplating those long, dark hours of GMAT prep, hundreds of practice questions, and the insane marathon of the actual test, and thinking, surely there’s another way!

Exam-anxiety aside, this is a completely rational question to ponder. After all, you’re a busy person. You’ve got a job, possibly kids, and most certainly a personal life.

Getting an MBA will be hard enough—should you subject yourself to the GMAT as well?

Let’s unpack this question a little, shall we?

Here’s what to consider if you’re considering not taking the GMAT.

Do You Need a GMAT Score to Apply to Business School?

The quick answer is no, not every MBA program requires applicants to  include a GMAT score in their admissions package.

Some MBA programs offer GMAT waivers to students with exceptional academic credentials and/or professional experience.

Certain Executive MBAs require applicants to take a much shorter test, called the Executive Assessment, in lieu the GMAT. Columbia Business School, CEIBS (China), and INSEAD (France) all follow this model.

Another example is the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto). They’ll waive the GMAT for applicants who have successfully passed the CFA level III examination.

GMAT prep
Have substantial mid-to-senior level management experience? You may not need a GMAT score.

But…despite these exceptions, there’s no denying that if you don’t take the GMAT, you’ll almost certainly be limiting yourself to a smaller pool of MBA choices.

Dream of attending one of the world’s top MBA programs? Simply want to diversify your B-school options? It’s time to embrace GMAT prep.

Yes, you’re looking at months of arduous study, and the resurrection of dreaded high school math and verbal concepts—but you’ll need to face these challenges at business school, anyway, right?

So, think of GMAT prep as a warm-up…pre-season training for your brain, so you can jump into your MBA at full mental power.

How do B-Schools Weigh Your GMAT Score During Admissions?

Let’s say you’re a “reluctant” GMAT-taker (who isn’t, right?), and you’re wondering just how important a high score is during the admission process.

Do you really need to go hard at GMAT prep for hundreds of hours, or can you slip by admissions with a less-than-stellar result? How do B-schools weigh your score against other admission criteria?

There’s no simple answer to this one. Every B-school is different.

Officially, most schools say that they evaluate the whole student.

In others words, they follow a “holistic” model of assessment that includes looking at your undergraduate GPA, personal and professional profile, and overall “fit” with the program.

Other B-schools place a heavier emphasis on GMAT scores.

In a recent survey, 65% of MBA admission consultants said they believe B-schools are weighing GMAT scores more heavily than ever—with personal essays, interviews, and undergrad marks coming in second during the decision-making process.

Generally speaking, it’s safe to assume that a competitive GMAT score is your “foot in the door”. It won’t guarantee you acceptance, but it provides a benchmark that many B-schools use during their initial screening process.

GMAT prep
Admissions teams take your GMAT score seriously. If you’re challenging the exam, it’s worth aiming high.

Our advice: Research the average GMAT scores at the B-schools you want to attend. Take a mock GMAT exam, and see how far you are from those scores.

This will help you map out a realistic GMAT study plan, and achieve the result you need to be a competitive applicant at your target schools.

Learn about getting a free GMAT personal assessment with a Quantum expert

Does a High GMAT Score Mean You’ll be Successful in Business?

Nope. But more than 6,000 business and management programs worldwide agree that a high GMAT score means you’ll be very successful as an MBA student.

This is why most top programs require a GMAT score for admissions. They want to ensure applicants have the critical reasoning, quant, and verbal skills needed to survive the rigours of an MBA.

The GMAT is not designed to predict your success as a business leader. It is designed to assess your readiness for advanced business training. The rest is up to you!

GMAT prep
The GMAT predicts your success at business school, not your future career prospects

I want to Avoid GMAT Prep! Can I Take the GRE Instead?

Does buckling down to months of GMAT prep fill you with fear and loathing? Think you’d fare better with the GRE?

More than 1,200 MBA programs now accept scores from the GMAT or GRE for admissions—and that number is growing daily. But don’t forget, that’s a far cry from the 6,000 institutions that accept the GMAT.

If you’re considering swapping the GMAT for the GRE, the first thing you must do is check with your target schools to ensure they accept the GRE.

It’s also important to note that even if your dream school accepts the GRE, it may still favour applicants with GMAT scores.

A recent US News report reveals that 26% of B-school admissions officers give priority to applicants who took the GMAT, versus the GRE.

Plus, while the content and structure of the GRE is in some ways different from the GMAT, both exams test your quant, verbal, and writing skills.

So, don’t just run blindly from GMAT test prep—you may seriously limit your MBA options down the road.

Still uncertain about whether you should take the GMAT? Need help assessing your options, or mapping out a GMAT prep plan?

Don’t stress. Come out to a free GMAT information session to get some expert support and guidance.

See a list of upcoming GMAT Info Sessions near you

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Do’s & Don’ts for GMAT Exam Day: How to Maximize Your Last 48 Hours

GMAT prep

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Read time: 4 minutes

You’re almost there!  It’s your last 48 hours before the big day, and a much-anticipated end to many months of GMAT prep.

Those 100+ hours of toil and personal sacrifice are about to reap you an amazing GMAT score. That is, so long as you don’t overlook a few more key steps before the exam.

What should you be doing as the countdown begins? Follow these do’s and don’ts to get organized, pumped up, and mentally prepared for the GMAT marathon.

Plan your route to the test centre

Do you know exactly where your GMAT test centre is and how to get there? Whether you’re driving, walking, biking, or taking public transit, make sure you map out the route the night before.

It’s important to calculate how long it will take you to reach the centre, and include extra time to check-in. We recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before your exam time.

Consider factors like rush hour traffic, construction, subway stoppages, and other potential delays when creating your plan. Give yourself a buffer.

Organize your documents and test day snacks

The night before the exam, make sure you set aside the documentation you must bring to the test centre, including your identification. You definitely don’t need the stress of hunting down your misplaced passport at the last minute.

Also, it’s a good idea to plan what you’ll wear and prepare your test day snacks in advance. Have a lucky t-shirt/pair of boxers/socks/pants? Make sure they’re clean and good to go the night before.

Want a power bar, piece of fruit, or bag of trail mix to boost your energy on exam day? You get two 8-minute breaks during the GMAT. Think about what you want to eat or drink during those breaks, and prep those snacks the night before.

Resist the urge to do last-minute GMAT prep

Exam anxiety might prompt you to tackle additional practice questions, or feverishly review your notes, right up until the very last minute. Don’t be tricked into desperate, last-minute GMAT prep!

If you’ve studied effectively, you’ve already absorbed everything you can. During your last 24 hours before the exam, focus instead on getting into optimal physical and mental test-taking mode.

The GMAT is a marathon, so your final day or two should revolve around warm-up strategies—not yet another round of mind-bending Quant problems. See the next three tips for recommendations and ideas.

Eat clean the night before & day of the exam

Have long hours of GMAT test prep made it harder to eat healthy over the last few months? Found yourself relying on heavy doses of caffeine, sugar, and convenience snack foods? Now’s the time to break those habits!

In your last couple of days before the GMAT exam, focus on eating clean, healthy foods. Ditch greasy, heavy meals for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Know that the food you eat has a direct impact on your mood and cognitive function. Foods rich in essential brain nutrients will help improve memory, concentration, motivation, and overall mental “sharpness.”

Check out this list of healthy options for pre-exam meal ideas.

And remember: avoid going overboard on caffeine just before the exam. An extra cup or two will only add to your nerves, making it harder to focus and work deliberately through questions.

Consider a pre-GMAT exam workout session

There’s a strong body of evidence that proves the correlation between physical exercise and improved mood and cognitive function. Working out helps reduce stress, and helps our brains work better, too.

Worried anxiety will rob you of sleep the night before the exam? Plan a vigorous workout in the evening to take the edge off, and tire yourself out.

Same goes for the morning of the test—schedule a little gym time to get those positive endorphins circulating and keep the jitters under control.

And don’t forget to run your brain through a little pre-exam workout routine as well. Try a crossword puzzle or Sudoku—or read a challenging article. Anything that limbers up your brain and gets you into “thinking” mode, an hour or two before the exam.

Roll out your stress-management techniques

Hitting the gym isn’t your thing? No problem. But give some thought to how you will burn off anxiety and settle your nerves the night before, and day of, the exam.

For some, this means creating a playlist of inspirational songs they can dance around to (Eye of the Tiger; We are the Champions; Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger—you get the idea).

For others, it might be yoga, meditation, or a long walk in the park. A round of laser tag, anyone?

It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as it diffuses tension and makes you feel good. One caveat though: don’t rely on illicit substances or alcohol to relax pre-exam.

These will only make your brain foggy and slow you down. Don’t worry—there’ll be plenty of time for cocktails after the test!

Have other questions or concerns about your GMAT prep routine? Interested in learning more about intensive GMAT courses, or free GMAT info sessions and workshops?

Start here for helpful resources and support: See upcoming free GMAT events near you

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Should You Take a GMAT Course? The Pros & Cons of Professional Test Prep

GMAT course

Read time: 4 minutes

Do you need to take a GMAT course to score high on the exam? No. Plenty of students study on their own and do very well.

But do you have the self-discipline, confidence, and academic skills to structure your own GMAT prep? If you’ve been out of school for a while, or have significant math or verbal challenges, this is where self-study becomes more risky.

Add a fulltime work schedule to the mix, and you’ve got a strong case for professional GMAT help.

A GMAT course can’t guarantee your success on test day—but it can offer a competitive advantage to busy people with rusty study skills.

So is it worth it? Let’s look at the top pros and cons of professional GMAT prep, and you can decide for yourself.

Pro: A Good GMAT Course Takes the Guesswork out of Prep

This truly is the biggest benefit to taking a comprehensive GMAT course. A quality training program of 100 hours or more absolutely takes the guesswork out of prep.

This type of course will cover every inch of the exam, and prepare you tackle every type of question, across every topic.

You won’t have to spend hours researching and test-driving problem-solving strategies—your instructor has already identified proven techniques, and will teach them to you.

The certainty you get with a good course can really boost your confidence. Plus, it’s a guaranteed time-saver. Everything you need to know is condensed into a few classes, and then you just need to keep practicing those techniques up until the exam.

Con: What if Your GMAT Course Doesn’t Boost Your Score?

This is a question of return on investment—and it’s definitely worth asking. What if you pour time and money into a GMAT course, and your practice scores don’t budge?

First off, if you’re putting in maximum effort, and see little to no score improvement, you’re probably not taking a quality course.

Most test prep companies carefully track score improvement rates among their students—to ensure the courses they provide yield consistently positive results.

The company can’t guarantee you a bump in score, but they should provide hard evidence of a solid track record.

We also recommend looking at user experiences (such as Google Reviews) to see whether students are getting real results from training, before you enroll in any GMAT course.

Extra tip: Some companies offer trial classes so you can test-drive training before buying. Look for this option on the company website.

Pro: A Quality GMAT Course Comes With Tons of Study Resources

This is another time-saver for busy students. Prepping for the GMAT involves a lot of leg work. You need to find authentic practice questions and mock tests, research all the content areas on the exam , and identify the best step-by-step procedures for solving problems.

A good GMAT course does all of this for you. Your training should include all the study guides and practice tests you could possibly need. You won’t have to find these resources on your own, and figure out which materials can be trusted.

Con: A Quality GMAT Course Won’t Come Cheap

Affordability is perhaps the biggest “con” for prospective GMAT course students. These training programs are indeed pricey. The best way to protect yourself from over-spending, is to find a program that offers the best bang for your buck.

Look for things like an unlimited course repeat policy. Some companies will let you take your entire GMAT course again and again, free of charge, so you can keep practicing tough topics and continue to improve your score.

It’s also key to look at other benefits that add value to your training, such as:

  • instructor experience (look for at least 5+ years of fulltime test prep experience)
  • small class sizes
  • high average score improvements
  • high-quality training materials
  • availability of special discounts

Remember: not all GMAT courses are created equal. Your dollars will stretch further with some companies than with others. Do your research, and ensure you’re getting the best all-around value for your tuition.

Pro: You’ll Get Access to a GMAT Expert + Peer Support

Studying on your own for the GMAT can be isolating and stressful. While some students thrive on the solitary approach, others find it difficult to stay motivated, and suffer from anxiety.

Gaining access to an expert GMAT instructor, and working with likeminded peers, can help diffuse some of the stress of test prep. There’s strength in community, and something to be said for sharing the prep experience with fellow test-takers.

Con: You May Have to Travel to Take the GMAT Course

Don’t live near a major GMAT test centre? You may find you’ll have to travel to take a quality GMAT course. If you don’t have friends or family to stay with, this means incurring additional costs for a hotel or Airbnb.

Your best bet is to find a weekend intensive, rather than a program that spreads classes out over several weeks, so there’s less back-and-forth required. Online training is also a viable option, but tends to feel less personal and motivating.

Another solution is to find a friend who is also interested in taking the GMAT course, so you can split the costs of travel and accommodations.

Struggling with other pros and cons related to GMAT prep?

Can’t commit to a course right now, but need help with a topic?

Click here for a list of free GMAT workshops and prep resources

Taking the GMAT in Toronto and looking for a reliable course?

Click here to explore Quantum’s #1-rated GMAT course

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4 Things To Do Before You Start LSAT Test Prep

LSAT test prep

Read time: 4 minutes

So, you’ve decided this is the year you’ll tackle the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Good for you!

Have you given some thought to how you’ll approach test prep? Decided whether you’ll study independently or seek out the support of an LSAT course? What about prep materials?

Do you know where you’ll look for quality problem-solving techniques and authentic practice questions?

Ultimately, the strength of your final score depends on how you approach these fundamental elements of LSAT test prep.

Nail down the four steps outlined in this post, and you’ll be well on your way to a smarter, more competitive study strategy.

1. Learn the Structure & Content of the LSAT

Step number one of successfully preparing for the LSAT is finding out exactly what you’re up against. Take a look at this quick overview of exam structure, content, scoring, and time limits.

Note that there are two sections of Logical Reasoning, and two exam sections that are not scored.

Structure & Content of the LSAT

LSAT test prep

A quick note about those unscored sections:

The “experimental” section is full of questions the LSAT-makers are testing out and refining. It will take the form of another logical reasoning, reading comp, or analytical reasoning (logic games) section.

You won’t know which section is experimental, so plan to devote equal effort to every section.

As for the writing sample, it isn’t scored, but a copy is included in your law school admission package.  Schools will consider the strength of your writing along with your overall LSAT score.

Total test time

In total, you’re looking at about 3.5 hours of test time, plus a 15 minute break. But don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to check-in to the test centre, which could be anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Make no mistake: the LSAT is a marathon. But knowing what to expect puts you ahead of the curve—and helps you develop realistic study goals.

2. Create a Personalized LSAT Test Prep Strategy

Before you dive into prep, it’s really important to map out an LSAT study plan that accurately reflects your strengths, weaknesses, time constraints, and score goal.

Without this roadmap, your prep will lack structure, direction, and efficiency. You’ll end up wasting time on fruitless techniques or neglect to address serious skill gaps.

Avoid the struggle, and do a mock LSAT exam and analyze your performance. Determine your baseline score (to track future progress), set an achievable score goal, and figure out which sections you need to focus on most.

If you want, once you’ve taken a mock, you can get help with the analysis for free. Many test prep companies (including Quantum) offer a free LSAT Mock Exam Assessment.

You get one hour with an expert LSAT instructor who evaluates your mock, maps out your study plan, and points you toward helpful test prep tools.

Learn more about getting a Personalized LSAT Assessment here

3. Assemble Your Arsenal of Quality LSAT Test Prep Materials

Planning to study for the LSAT on your own, instead of taking an LSAT course? No problem. Just be sure to gather reliable, high quality materials before you dive in.

Learn more about each section of the exam, collect sample questions, download practice tests, and get the Official LSAT Handbook™.  Join an LSAT discussion forum for practical advice and peer support.

Many students swear by their LSAT apps for drilling vocabulary words, watching instructional videos, and practising logic games on-the-go. Find a list of best LSAT apps right here.

Remember, your performance on test day relies heavily on the quality of your prep materials, and the problem-solving techniques you’ve learned. Do your homework. Start strong with resources you can trust.

Click here to browse Quantum’s collection of LSAT prep materials

4. Considering an LSAT Course?

Think you might not have the time or self-discipline to do LSAT test prep on your own?  Wondering if an LSAT course is the way to go?

This is a tough question many students face at some point during their study journey.

Our best advice?

Look at the results of your mock exam and personal assessment. How far are you from your score goal?

How confident are you in your ability to address your weak areas, and steadily improve within the timeframe you have for prep?

For some students, the answer is simple: they’re ready to go it alone. For others, there are gaps in confidence and knowledge that make independent study more complicated.

Evaluate your own situation early on.

Struggling through months of self-study only to end up in an LSAT course can be really frustrating—not to mention, you’ve learned quite a few bad habits by then, which must be “unlearned” during the course.

Not sure which way to go?

Take a look at Should You Take a Professional LSAT Course? 3 Things to Consider

Wondering how a typical LSAT course works, and what you’d cover during training? We suggest reading What to Expect from a 50-Hr LSAT Course (& is it worth it?)

Have other questions about how to start LSAT prep right? Check out our blog, or just drop us a line. We’re here to help!

 

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GMAT Prep: Smart Time Management Strategies Every Test-Taker Should Know

GMAT prep

Read time: 4 minutes

You will have exactly 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete the GMAT exam. There are 4 sections to work through, each with a fixed number of questions and a predetermined time limit.

This handy chart from mba.com breaks it all down:

GMAT prep

If you decide to take the two 8-minute breaks you’re allowed during the exam, your total time gets closer to 4 hours. That’s a serious test-taking marathon!

In order to stay on track and finish on time, students need to manage their minutes very carefully. Without good pacing and time management strategies in place, it’s all too easy to rush unnecessarily (and make careless mistakes), or linger too long on tough questions (and be unable to complete the exam).

What kinds of time management techniques should you be developing during GMAT prep and implementing on exam day? Here are some straightforward approaches we recommend.

1. Budget a specific number of minutes for each question

When it comes to pacing, some students try to “wing it”, and never really nail down a time-budget for each question-type.

They figure they’ll simply move as quickly as they can through each section—perhaps spending a bit longer on some problems than others—but it will all even out in the end.

The problem is, under pressure, it’s very likely that your sense of time will feel distorted. If your go-to time management strategy is just glancing at the clock now and then, you’re in for a nasty shock on exam day!

If you want to get smart about pacing, you’ll need to be aware of your “time position” at every stage of the test.

In other words, whether you’re behind, ahead, or right on schedule, in relation to where you are in the exam.

To do that, you’ll need to set a maximum time limit for every single question, and get used to how those limits feel during GMAT prep.

This chart from TopMBA.com provides some helpful guidelines:

GMAT Time Management Per Question-type

GMAT prep

2. Have a plan for when you get stuck

If all goes perfectly, your diligent GMAT prep will pay off, and you’ll know exactly how to tackle every single question that comes your way on exam day.

But since things rarely work out as planned, it’s safe to assume you’ll get stalled by a few really tough problems. Having a smart plan for these moments is key for managing time.

Getting “frozen”  by panic, or stubbornly going around in circles without settling on an answer, are common—and very dangerous—time-wasters.

If you spend more than 3 minutes on a question, you’re in the danger zone!

In short, a tough GMAT question can be a real rabbit hole. Your GMAT test prep should include guessing techniques, answer analysis strategies, how to strategically skip questions to make-up for lost time, etc.

Remember: you can miss a few questions and still get a 700+ score. The biggest penalty of all comes from not finishing the exam.

3. Be on guard for pacing problems during GMAT prep

Good pacing is not something you’ll be able to master at the last minute. In fact, learning how to pace yourself effectively should be an integral part of your GMAT study plan—just as important as learning good problem-solving procedures.

How can you systematically improve your time-management skills during prep?

An obvious approach is to time yourself while doing practice tests and question sets. Use a stop watch app to track how long it’s taking you to complete problems, and compare results over time.

You’ll begin to get a sense of what one minute feels like (your halfway point for most questions), and when you’re getting close to your maximum time allowance.

Drilling with a timer is key for recalibrating your internal clock to “GMAT settings” so the process feels very familiar on exam day.

It’s also crucial to analyze every practice test (or mock exam) for warning signs of pacing problems and bad habits.

Look at the questions you got wrong. Were some of those mistakes caused by rushing? Could you have solved the problem if you took a bit more time?

On the other hand, did you get some problems wrong despite taking additional time? Did you fall down the tricky problem “rabbit hole”?

Did a particular section or question-type seem to drain your time more than others?

Being aware of your time position during practice tests, and analyzing your pacing after the fact, are key to understanding your individual time management strengths and weaknesses.

As always with the GMAT, your prep must be tailored to your unique needs.

Figure out where your time is going on each section of the exam, and you’ll be in a far better position to improve efficiency (and avoid stressful surprises!) on test day.

Looking for a little more help with GMAT test prep?

Check out Quantum’s free GMAT workshops and info sessions, coming up in January and February:

Click here for a schedule of free events

Considering enrolling in a GMAT course?

Click here to explore courses, special discounts, and upcoming start dates

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Should You Take a Professional LSAT Course? 3 Things to Consider

LSAT course

 

Read time: 5 minutes

Taking a professional LSAT course comes with pros and cons. For many students, price is the biggest detractor. Quality test prep does not come cheap.

For others, the issue is time and distance. There may not be a live course near where they live, which means travelling to another city for a weekend LSAT bootcamp.

On the benefits side? A good LSAT course equips students with a solid repertoire of problem-solving skills, which in most cases, results in a significant score increase on exam day.

And that bump in score could make all the difference for your law school application.

So should you, or shouldn’t you, invest in LSAT training?

Ask yourself these 3 questions to figure out if professional test prep makes sense for you.

1. How much time do you have for LSAT prep?

Many prospective law school students work full time, have family responsibilities, or are juggling other obligations in addition to LSAT prep.

When weighing whether or not to take a course, time is often the deciding factor. Start by mapping out how many hours each week you could set aside for prep.

It takes most students about 4 months to learn the skills tested on the LSAT—which breaks down into at least 6-8 study hours each week.

There is no reason you can’t tackle this process on your own, but you must be willing (and able) to invest extra time researching and gathering the best study materials.

Plus, you’ll need to test out, and narrow down, the most effective problem-solving strategies for each type of LSAT question.

On the other hand, taking an LSAT course shaves time off your prep schedule, because all of these resources are provided for you. And the instructor simply shows  you which approach is best for solving each question-type on the exam.

Training is usually condensed into a weekend, and you leave with all of the materials, techniques, and practice questions you’ll need to prepare for the test.

You’ll still need a few months to practice and refine your skills, but you’ve gained a significant head start.

2. How strong are your self-study skills?

In addition to time, self-study takes discipline and a very particular set of skills. Some students are completely confident in their ability to structure, and stick to, a highly effective LSAT study plan.

These individuals are typically high academic achievers who have always done well on standardized tests. They’re comfortable learning new material, tracking progress, and figuring out how to achieve a competitive score.

On the other hand, some students have been out of school for quite some time, and it’s been years since they’ve taken a difficult exam.

Others may have graduated recently, but struggled with this kind of testing during their undergraduate years and in high school. Confidence is a significant issue, and they’re not even sure how to approach LSAT prep.

Where do you fall on the self-study spectrum?

If the idea of tackling prep on your own fills you with dread, you’re probably better off enrolling in an LSAT course. The instructor will break it all down for you.

A quality course will explain everything from the structure of the exam and test-day procedures, to how to solve the most difficult problems, avoid traps, and target your personal weaknesses.

Comprehensive training will prepare you to answer every question-type for each section of the exam (reading comp, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning).

The benefit? Predictability and a greater sense of control. Nothing will feel unfamiliar on test day. And for under-confident students with rusty study skills, this can be a powerful game-changer.

3. Are you struggling in a particular LSAT topic area?

Feeling particularly worried about those notoriously difficult “logic games”? Not sure your reading comprehension is where it needs to be? Don’t know how to strengthen those skills?

If you’re dealing with a significant weakness in a certain topic area, targeted LSAT training could be your best bet for fast improvement.

In this case, you may not need a comprehensive LSAT course, which will cover all of the content on the exam. Instead, you might opt for a shorter course that deals specifically with your area of weakness.

Most test prep companies offer mini-courses (or modules) for each section of the LSAT. Or, you might consider a few hours of individual tutoring.

This is usually the best way to quickly target your weak points, and learn more effective problem-solving techniques, before continuing to study on your own.

Still not sure about which prep plan you should pursue?

Looking for more information on LSAT test prep strategies, resources, and professional courses? We’re here to help.

Browse our collection of LSAT study guides & practice tests

OR

Explore Quantum’s LSAT Courses in Toronto