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Best GMAT Study Break Ideas: Re-boot Your Brain & Shake Off Fatigue!

GMAT study

Read time: 5 minutes

What does “working hard” look like to you?

Long hours of activity without a break? Powering through despite feeling tired, hungry, or frustrated?

Capitalist culture tends to glorify burning the candle at both ends. Many of us are taught the virtue of self-sacrifice in service of long-term goals. No pain, no gain! Sound familiar?

But when it comes to learning new things or actually being productive, pushing yourself too hard can do more harm than good.

A couple of years ago, The Atlantic ran a fascinating article on the benefits of taking strategic breaks during long periods of work.

The author cites several research studies that show how well-timed periods of relaxation, and certain kinds of rest activities, can truly re-boot the brain, improve cognition and memory, and help you return to work refreshed.

What’s the takeaway for your GMAT study plan?

Powering through endless hours of prep, without revitalizing breaks, is a waste of your precious time.

But what kinds of breaks should you take and how often?

Which activities will power-up your brain, fend off fatigue, and help you re-focus on those Quant and Verbal problems?

Use these 4 data-backed break ideas to study smarter, not harder (and preserve your sanity) during GMAT prep.

1. Follow the “52-Minute Rule” to Plan GMAT Study Breaks

Not sure how often you should be breaking away from the books? Data collected by DeskTime (a productivity app) shows that the best formula is precisely 52 minutes of work, followed by a 17-minute break.

Sound bizarre? Perhaps—but DeskTime has the data to back it up. They analyzed work logs from 5.5 million users to identify the break habits of the 10% most productive people.

DeskTime learned that the most productive workers (people who accomplished the most tasks in the shortest amount of time), took on average, 17 minute breaks every 52 minutes.

Several publications picked up on this story—Business Insider, Mashable, Lifehacker, Muse—spreading the idea of timed breaks as key to maintaining focus during long hours of work or study.

The Atlantic article points out that the theory isn’t exactly new. Back in 1999, Cornell University published a study proving the benefits of timed breaks.

They studied Wall Street workers, and found that those who took regular breaks were 13% more accurate in their work than colleagues who just “powered through”.

But, in all cases, people needed reminders to take those breaks. So, we suggest downloading an app that will do this for you, and trying out the 52-minute rule for yourself!

2. Walk Away From Your GMAT Study Area

So we’ve established that regular GMAT study breaks are key. But what you do with those 17 minutes of freedom is also important.

For maximum refreshment, step away from your desk, couch, or wherever you study, and completely clear your mind of anything exam-related.

Your best bet is to stretch and move your body—to get your blood circulating and your heart pumping after sitting still for awhile.

You have a whole 17 minutes, right? Go for a short walk, try a quick YouTube yoga routine, do a few sets of bicep curls.

Feel like you really need to watch cat videos on your phone for at least part of your break? Go for it.

Looking at cute animal pictures has actually been shown to boost mood and productivity. Just stand up and move around while you watch.

3. Plan Healthy Snacks for Each GMAT Study Session

Ok, we know it’s very tempting to fuel those long hours of GMAT prep with chocolate bars, candy, soda, energy drinks, and coffee.

Sugar and caffeine are go-to study aides many of us learned to depend on back in high school and university.

But at this point, we all know the devastating, roller-coaster effects of caffeine and sugar on our nervous system, mood, energy level, and overall wellbeing.

Do yourself a huge favour and stock some healthy snacks to eat during your GMAT study breaks.  Try these energy-boosting alternatives when you’re running out of steam:

  • mint gum (chewing a piece of gum for 15 minutes has been proven to increase heart rate, blood flow to the brain, and alertness)
  • protein bar or shake (just watch out for imposters that pack in the sugar)
  • apples and bananas (the anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and fibre will help you feel full and re-energized)
  • microwave popcorn (the fibre fills you up and it’s a whole grain—just go easy on the butter and salt)
  • trail mix (grab a generous handful and choose the unsalted kind)

4. When it’s Time to Re-Focus, Give it 100%

Find yourself distracted by your phone, Facebook, or wandering thoughts while in the middle of a GMAT study session? Of course you do—because you’re human.

But consider this: when DeskTime performed the study we mentioned earlier, the 10% most productive people were particularly good at focussing 100% on work after returning from those 17-minute breaks.

They channeled their renewed energy 100% toward the work in front of them, making a conscious effort to screen out distractions. They made the most of every 52-minute round.

This notion of total focus for short bursts of time is known by several names: The 100% Method; The Pomodoro Technique, and Purposeful Working.

To make the most of each GMAT study session, and really leverage the energy you get from breaks, you’ll need to shut out distractions as much as possible.

Don’t take “just a moment” to check Facebook or Twitter. Turn off your phone. Shut the curtains if you have to! Tell family and friends you’re off limits till break time.

Total focus for short bursts has been well-proven to help learning and retention. Make this (and the other strategies we listed here) the foundation of your smarter, healthier GMAT study routine—and you’ll hit your target score in no time.

Looking for more GMAT help? Check out our other blog posts, or attend one our free GMAT workshops for study tips, problem-solving techniques, and peer support.

Click Here for a Schedule of Totally Free GMAT Events


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Starting GMAT Prep Right: 4 Steps Before You Hit the Books

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

Convinced GMAT prep is all about drilling as many practice questions as possible, in every single topic area? Ready to dive in and start working through problems? Hold on!

The secret to GMAT success is in the planning. Tackling practice questions before you’ve done the ground work will only waste time, and set you up for disappointment on exam day.

Exactly what kind of “ground work” are we talking about? We mean putting together a study strategy that truly reflects your individual needs, goals, and test-taking skills.

Follow these four steps to devise a plan that will maximize your study time, lower your exam stress, and yield your best possible GMAT score.

1. Get a Complete Overview of GMAT Structure & Content

Before you can begin studying for the GMAT, you’ll need to know exactly what you’re up against. Students often underestimate the variety and scope of content on the exam, or lack clarity on how the test is administered.

It’s crucial to get a complete picture of the whole process. You should understand exactly which topics are included in both the Quant and Verbal sections, how the exam is scored, how adaptive testing works, how to avoid common prep mistakes, and a host of other important details.

Getting thorough and accurate information on the GMAT is step number one of a smart study strategy. Don’t know where to begin? There are plenty of free GMAT info sessions at local business schools. Click below to find one near you.

See upcoming GMAT info sessions in Toronto and Montreal

2. Identify Your Baseline GMAT Score

Imagine trying to build a house with no blueprints. Or navigate a new city without GPS. Would you run  a marathon without knowing the route, distance, or even where the finish line is?

These frustrating (and totally avoidable) situations are akin to starting your GMAT prep without first identifying your baseline score.

The baseline GMAT score is determined by a mock exam, which should be taken well before you begin studying.  Your results will help you set a realistic score goal, understand exactly where to focus your study to reach that goal, and how many hours you should set aside for prep.

Essentially, this is your road map to GMAT success. Never skip the mock exam (it’s free!). Click below to see where mock GMATs are taking place near you.

see upcoming free GMAT mock exams in Toronto & Montreal

3. Map Out a Personalized GMAT Prep Strategy

Once you’ve taken a mock exam, you can create a truly personalized GMAT prep strategy. This plan will be based on your own unique strengths and weaknesses, as revealed by the practice test.

The strategy will include a timeline, your goal score, the topic areas you’ll be focusing on most, and the study materials you’ll be using to prepare for the exam.

If creating your own GMAT study plan feels daunting, there are ways to get some expert help for free. Quite a few test prep companies provide totally free assessments of your mock exam performance, which include help mapping out a prep strategy.

Quantum offers a one-hour strategy session to anyone who has taken the mock exam. Click below to learn more about it.

learn more about getting a free personal assessment and GMAT strategy session

4. Seek out Free GMAT Help for Your Weak Areas

Once you’ve created a study strategy, you will be well aware of which weak areas you need to address.  Next, you’ll need to gather reliable resources and practice materials to fill in those gaps.

Finding credible study guides takes time, and it can be difficult to know which problem-solving procedures work best for each question-type. There is a lot of information, advice, and techniques to sort through and test out.

Don’t know where to begin? Start with a math or verbal “refresher” class. Again, many test prep companies run these classes for free, and they’re incredibly helpful for targeting weak areas in the Quant or Verbal sections of the exam.

Refreshers usually run for 3-4 hours, provide an overview of the topic area, question-solving techniques, study tips, reliable practice materials, and a chance to get GMAT help from an expert instructor.

These workshops can be very helpful in guiding your study plan, and steering you toward the most reliable prep materials and approaches.

see a list of free math or verbal GMAT workshops near you

And there you have it. Four ways to ensure you’re set up for GMAT success from the very start. And a reminder that there are plenty of free supports out there for test-takers who need help with the planning process.

Remember: study smarter, not harder. Don’t hits the books until you have a plan that works!

Need more information? Check out our blog, drop us a line, or leave us a comment. We’re here to help!


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Top 4 GRE Myths & Study Blunders: Our Best Advice for Test-Takers

GRE test prep

Read time: 5 minutes

Emphasis placed on GRE scores varies from school to school. Your exam results are an important part of your applications package, but the weight they carry really depends on the institution.

That being said, no student wants to submit an embarrassing GRE result! What’s more, a low score could hurt your chances at admission to a top school, or jeopardize your eligibility for merit-based scholarships.

So if you’ve decided to take the GRE, it’s worth giving it your all. But before you hit the books, make sure you’re not holding onto any misguided ideas about what it takes to master this challenging exam.

Myth #1:  GRE Test Prep Can Be Crammed Into a Few Weekends

It’s true that you can take an intensive, weekend GRE course to jump-start your prep and learn problem-solving skills—but it will take time and practice to continue honing those skills, after the course has ended.

One or two months of study, just a few hours a week, probably won’t cut it. Actually, it’s better to think of GRE prep in terms of hours, not calendar days. Depending on your learning style and score goals, it could take anywhere from 50 to 200 hours to prepare for the exam.

Start with a practice test. Look at the results, see how far you are from your ideal score, and map out the hours of study you’ll need to get there.

Myth #2: You Should Use the Calculator for Every Quant Question

Students are usually really excited to learn that an online calculator is provided during the GRE exam. This will make solving those challenging quant questions much easier, right? Not exactly.

Ironically, access to a calculator often trips up test-takers, creating problems instead of simplifying them. Students end up using the calculator at every step, where mental math or a scratch pad would make more sense.

The consequence? More opportunities to hit the wrong button and make computational errors that could have easily been avoided.

Yes, there will be a handful of GRE problems that require a calculator, but in most cases, you’re better off applying manual methods.

Myth #3: Taking Many GRE Practice Tests Boosts Your Score

We mentioned earlier that practice tests are an important part of your GRE test prep strategy. But too often, students believe that simply running through sample tests will be enough to boost their quant, verbal, and writing scores.

That’s not how it works. In order to be truly helpful, each test result must be carefully analyzed, and your study plan adapted accordingly.

If you don’t know exactly where you’re going wrong, how can you improve your performance?

Effective test analysis entails reviewing both wrong and right answers, identifying bad habits, evaluating pacing, and uncovering ways of solving problems more efficiently.

And don’t forget to do something with all those insights! Make sure you’re continuously tweaking your study strategy based on practice test observations.

GRE Myth #4: GRE Verbal Is All About Memorization,  Right?

No, not really. In fact, this approach will directly undermine your GRE performance. Rote memorization of thousands of obscure vocabulary words is simply a waste of  time. In order to do well on verbal questions, you need to understand what words mean in context.

Quantum GRE instructor, Jason Hornosty, has this to say about underestimating the scope of GRE verbal problems:

GRE Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion is not just a test of vocabulary. It’s true that if you don’t know what any of the words mean, you’ll have a very hard time answering these questions correctly.

That said, it’s equally true that identifying the relevant context in the question is an acquired skill and that the answer choices themselves have patterns that can be exploited. It’s equal parts knowledge and strategy.

It’s that balanced combination of knowledge and strategy that is so crucial for GRE success—and often overlooked by students at the outset.

Mastering the GRE requires a specific set of test-taking skills; techniques for avoiding pitfalls, spotting traps, and applying step-by-step procedures. Learn these strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to a competitive score, and an excellent graduate program.

Looking for a top-rated GRE course in Toronto?

Learn more about Quantum’s 30-Hr GRE course

Don’t need a course, but want help identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and devising a solid GRE test prep strategy?

Find out how to get a FREE expert analysis of your GRE mock exam results

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5 Tips for Better GMAT Practice Test Analysis

GMAT practice

Read time: 5 minutes

Have you recently taken a GMAT practice test to nail down your strengths and weaknesses?

Regardless of the result, rest assured that you’re already ahead of the curve. Many people skimp on practice tests, or don’t take a single mock exam in preparation for test day.

Meanwhile, others take numerous tests, but focus solely on their overall score, missing valuable details that can dramatically improve their study strategy and test-taking performance.

When analyzed thoroughly, practice tests tell a detailed story about your unique challenges and aptitudes—crucial insights students can use to map out a more finely tuned and efficient study plan.

Make the most of your trial runs. Follow our five best tips for better GMAT practice test analysis.

1. Delve Deeper into How & Why You Got It Wrong

When reviewing practice tests, students often neglect to delve deep enough into why they got a wrong answer. They usually take note of the topic and question-type, and then move on, vowing to spend more time studying similar problems.

Unfortunately, it’s not so much about what you got wrong—it’s how and why you made the mistake that really matters. Quantum’s expert GMAT instructor, Jason Hornosty, says focusing on “what” versus “why” is a very common mistake during practice test analysis. When reviewing wrong answers, he urges students to consider a range of contributing factors, including:

  • did you make a simple computation error (maybe caused by rushing?)
  • did you misread the question?
  • did you follow an effective process?

Uncovering the true cause of the error is absolutely key in identifying bad habits, and avoiding similar mistakes down the line.

2. Sort Your Mistakes into Categories to Identify Trends

Once you’ve analyzed each mistake, and understand how they happened, your next move should be to categorize those errors into groups.

For example, you may have a group of questions you got wrong because of silly and avoidable mistakes, another involving computational errors, or a category for problems that left you completely stumped.

Grouping your wrong answers will reveal patterns you can use to guide further study, and improve your test-taking skills.

3. Don’t Forget to Analyze Your Correct Answers Too

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you should never ignore the questions you got right when analyzing your GMAT practice tests.

Even with correct answers, there’s always more to learn about process and procedure. For example, did you use the most efficient problem-solving approach? Could you have saved yourself a few minutes? Was there a better way to map it out or solve it?

You need to see the whole picture to improve your performance.

4. Identify How Pacing Impacts Your GMAT Practice Test Performance

Pacing is a significant challenge on the GMAT. Whether you’re already in the 700+ score range, or working your way up from 500, time management is a common stumbling block for many students.

When analyzing practice tests, it’s important to keep track of problems that consistently take too long to solve, those you tend to rush through, and where you’re simply going around in circles.

These insights will help you modify your pacing, avoid “rushing” errors, and identify key areas for further study and improvement.

5. Use Your Analysis to Optimize Your GMAT Prep Strategy

So, you’ve effectively analyzed your practice test or mock exam, and collected some truly useful insights about yourself as a test-taker. All done. Well..not quite.

It’s crucial to take those insights and turn them into action—concrete ways you will adapt your GMAT prep so you don’t repeat the same mistakes, fall into the same traps, or continue to ignore key areas of weakness.

Ask yourself: What are some practical strategies you will begin deploying immediately, during your next study session, and when you take your next practice test? How will you optimize your GMAT prep, based on your findings?

Make a list of revised tactics and reminders—10 or so points to keep in mind and build on as you work toward your score goal.

Remember, all the analysis in the world is useless if you forget to follow through with a targeted plan of action. Put those insights to work! Study smarter, not harder.

Have you taken a mock GMAT exam and need some help analyzing the results, and devising a solid study plan?

Click here to get a FREE personal assessment and analysis of your mock exam performance

Preparing for the GMAT in Toronto and need free advice, study materials, or a professional prep course?

Click here to explore Quantum’s free GMAT prep events (including free mock exams) in the Toronto area


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GMAT Help: 5 Things to Know About the Integrated Reasoning (IR) Section

GMAT help

Read time: 5 minutes

What should you expect from the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning (IR) section? What kinds of questions will you face, and what competencies are being measured?

Like the rest of the exam, IR questions are designed to test skills you’ll need during your MBA and throughout your business career.

IR problems are a natural extension of the concepts you will study for the Quant and Verbal sections. In other words, you will need to integrate and apply those critical reasoning, reading comprehension, and quantitative skills to analyze data and solve complex problems.

In this post, we focus on 5 things test-takers should know about the IR section, and how these questions relate to practical workplace skills.

1. Structure, length, and score value of the IR section

Students have 30 minutes to complete the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT. The section consists of 12 questions, and is non-adaptive—meaning the difficulty level of the questions will not change according to your performance.

The top score for IR is an eight, and is tallied separately from the rest of the exam. So, you will have an overall GMAT score for the Quant and Verbal sections (out of a possible 800), and separate scores for Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning.

We’ll talk more about how your IR score could impact your B-school application a bit later in the post.

2. There are 4 kinds of IR questions on the GMAT

The 12 IR questions on the GMAT break down into four main question-types. Each one asks you to sift through and interpret data in different ways, using different kinds of sources:

Graphic Interpretation

You’ll need to analyze information presented in a graph or chart, and answer two questions using a drop-down menu. There are usually three possible answer choices for each dropdown menu.

The types of graphics you may encounter include venn diagrams, pie charts, scatterplots, line graphs, and bar charts.

Table Analysis

You’ll be presented with a spreadsheet-type table, and will need to sort and analyze its contents in order to answer a series of questions. Each question will have two possible answers (for example, yes/no, true/false, inferable/not inferable).

Multi-Source Reasoning

You’ll navigate between three tabs, each containing different information on a subject. You must sort through the information and determine which data is needed to answer the questions. Multi-source reasoning may draw on both critical reasoning and quantitative skills.

Two-Part Analysis

You’ll be presented with two columns, and will need to select an answer from each column to solve a problem with a two part solution. Two-part analysis questions may be quant or verbal-oriented, and often account for four of the 12 IR questions you’ll encounter on the GMAT.

3.  IR answer formats and rules

The way answers are displayed in the IR section is a little different from the Quant and Verbal format. Answers may appear in drop-down menus, and most questions require several responses.

It’s important to note that no partial credit is awarded for IR problems. If a single question requires several answers, you must get all of them correct to receive full marks.

Also, you’ll need to submit answers to all parts of each question before you can move on to the next screen. And once you’ve entered your answers and moved on, you won’t be allowed to go back and make changes.

4. IR questions focus on skills considered crucial in business

While some of the Quant and Verbal problems you’ll drill during GMAT prep may seem a bit abstract, the IR section is often considered the most “realistic” part of the exam.

Integrated reasoning is something you’ll do every day at business school and on-the-job, as you sort through information, make sense of multiple streams of data, and extrapolate outcomes.

Now that we’ve moved into the era of “big data”, where virtually everything is tracked and measured, the ability to work with and make sense of all that data has become paramount in business. This is what’s being tested on the IR section of the GMAT.

5. Your IR score is increasingly important for B-school admissions

When the Integrated Reasoning section was added to the GMAT back in June, 2012, B-schools weren’t quite sure how the scores would impact admissions decisions.

But now that several years have passed, and more data has been accumulated on how IR performance correlates with business success, schools have begun placing more emphasis on your IR score.

2015 survey of 200 admission officers in the US and UK revealed that 59% consider the separate IR score “an important part of their evaluation of a prospective student’s overall GMAT score.” That’s up from 41% just one year before.

Of course, the degree of emphasis varies by school—but it’s safe to say that your IR result matters much more now than it did five years ago. The score may not “make or break” your application, but it can be a key factor in positioning yourself as a competitive, well-rounded candidate.

Looking for more information about the GMAT exam structure, question-types, or general GMAT help?

Click here for a list of upcoming, free GMAT information sessions.

Interested in attending a free GMAT workshop on Integrated Reasoning?

Click here for upcoming, free “Integrated Reasoning Demystified” workshops in Toronto and Montreal.



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What to Expect from a 50-hr LSAT Prep Course (& is it worth it?)

LSAT prep course

Read time: 5 minutes

If you’re planning to take the LSAT, you’re probably grappling with a few very common dilemmas:

“Should I study on my own, enrol in an LSAT prep course, or go all-in with private tutoring?”

“What study strategy is most likely to get me a competitive LSAT score, the first time around?”

First of all, it’s important to know where you stand right now, in terms of LSAT readiness. If you’ve taken a practice test and are relatively happy with the result, you could probably study independently for a modest score increase of a few points.

On the other hand, if you need to boost your score by more than 10-15 points, then some form of professional help could be very useful.

An LSAT prep course or private tutor will help you maximize your study time and avoid common exam errors. You’ll also learn standardized approaches for answering each question-type, which can significantly improve performance in weak areas.

The support of an instructor is particularly helpful for people who work demanding jobs, and don’t have time to research and learn the best test-taking strategies on their own.

So, if you’re looking for a substantial score increase, and private tutoring isn’t an option, a quality LSAT prep course is your best bet for guided study that will get results.

Here’s what you can expect to cover in a 50-hr LSAT course (based on Quantum’s program), and a few tips for choosing a reliable test prep company.

Comprehensive Coverage of the 3 LSAT Question Types

The purpose of the LSAT is to test your readiness for law school by assessing your abilities in three key areas: logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension.

A 50-hr LSAT course is typically divided into three sections, with each part devoted to one of the three main topic areas. Spread over a few weekends, students delve into each topic, do hundreds of practice questions, and learn a wide range of strategies for approaching tough problems.

You’ll cover every type of problem, and tackle the full spectrum of logic games (perhaps the most dreaded aspect of the LSAT), including:

  • sequencing games
  • grouping games
  • hybrid games
  • mapping games
  • pattern games
  • pure logic games

Other than comprehensiveness, what else should you look for in a quality 50-hr LSAT course? Key markers of reliability include:

  • full-time instructors with 5+ years of experience teaching LSAT prep, and personal scores of at least 170
  • a “free course repeat” policy that allows you to re-take all, or part of the course, as many times as you need to refine your skills

Free Practice Tests & a Proctored Mock LSAT Exam

The 50-hr LSAT course should also provide students with free, sample LSAT exams, and the opportunity to sit a proctored mock exam.

Practice tests are essential for tracking overall score improvements both during and after the course, identifying areas for improvement, and continuing to refine your study strategy right up to the exam.

The proctored mock exam is also key because it gives students a realistic preview of what exam day will be like. The mock will help you cope with pressure and learn to pace yourself—and in general, prepare for the marathon-like experience of test day (the exam takes around 3.5 hours to complete, from start to finish).

What if You Don’t Need the Full 50 Hours of LSAT prep?

A 50-hr course is definitely worth it if you need comprehensive instruction in all three topic areas. However, if you’re struggling only with logic games or reading comprehension, it makes more sense to zero-in on those specific topics.

Some test prep companies will let you split a longer course into modules, and take only the classes you really need. For example, students can divide Quantum’s 50-hr LSAT prep course into segments, and sign up for just one or two modules:

  • Logical Reasoning (20 hrs)
  • Analytical Reasoning/Logic Games (20 hrs)
  • Reading Comprehension (10 hrs)

Of course, there’s usually a discount for bundling all three modules together, but students are under no obligation to do so. Each test prep company has their own policies on bundling and discounts, so it’s wise to investigate these before signing up.

Need more information about LSAT test prep, or the exam in general? Start by exploring these free resources and links to helpful study materials:

Click here for free LSAT prep resources


Click here to take a closer look at Quantum’s LSAT courses

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GMAT Prep for Very Busy People: Save Time, Study Smart

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

Planning to take the GMAT but have no idea how you’ll schedule prep around your full-time work schedule? Worried about juggling study time with family responsibilities?

This is a very common struggle, particularly for professionals with demanding jobs who have been out of school for a number of years. Getting back into “study mode” is difficult enough, without factoring serious time constraints into the equation.

While there’s no magical “short cut” to an amazing GMAT score, there are definitely a few strategies busy people can use to squeeze more study time into their packed schedules.

Start with these four key ways to save time—and study smarter.

Start GMAT prep early!

People who are really pressed for time usually end up postponing GMAT prep until the last possible moment. Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to master the material in time for the exam.

Skimping on prep, or attempting to cram right before the exam, almost always results in a disappointing score. And then students have to begin all over again, overhaul their study strategy, and challenge the exam a second (or third!) time.

If you want a competitive GMAT score, you’ll need to work through 1500 to 2000 practice questions, study for 150 to 200hrs, and complete approximately 8 to 10 practice exams.

Depending on your personal learning style and speed, this could mean you begin prepping six months (or more) before the exam. Spread out over a longer period, slow and steady GMAT study is easier to accommodate, and far more effective.

Take a GMAT mock exam to focus your study strategy

What’s the most efficient way to kickoff studying for the GMAT? Taking a mock exam.

Many busy people are tempted to skip the mock exam, or figure they’ll take it later, once they’ve studied a little. But in the end, this approach will only set you back.

The mock exam is key for saving time and studying smarter. It reveals your baseline starting score, and specific strengths or areas of improvement. You need this information to map out a study plan, know precisely where to focus your efforts, and set a realistic score goal.

Plus, once you’ve taken the mock, you are automatically eligible for a free assessment and strategy coaching session with a GMAT instructor.

Quantum gives away one-hour personalized GMAT assessment sessions to anyone who has completed a mock exam. An instructor analyzes your performance, helps map out a study plan that fits your learning needs, and connects you with reliable GMAT resources. This is a major time-saver—and it’s free!

You can learn more about Quantum’s Free Personal Assessment right here.

Use a GMAT app to squeeze in extra study time

Commute to work on the bus or train each day? Find yourself with some down time between meetings or over lunch?

Get yourself a GMAT app to capitalize on those free moments throughout the day.  You’d be amazed by how much extra study time you can squeeze in. A mere 20 minutes a day totals 10 extra hours of prep per month!

Plus, good quality apps actually make learning fun with daily quizzes, analytics to track your progress, ways to compete with your peers, and other motivating features.

If you’d like a quick round-up of some popular options, this list of top-rated GMAT apps is a great place to start.

Consider a GMAT course to accelerate learning

While a professional GMAT course does require a considerable financial investment, the training can be truly invaluable for people who are too busy to prep on their own.

Self-study requires many hours of gathering the right resources, teaching yourself the best techniques for a wide variety of topics and question-types, and analyzing your practice tests to understand where more work is needed.

And still, after all the time invested, you may not learn the most efficient test-taking skills, or manage to cover all topic areas thoroughly. A high quality, comprehensive GMAT course (100 hours or more) does all of that for you—and highly efficiently, over the course of a few weekends.

When comparing options, look for a test prep company that offers a “free course repeat” option. You’ll be allowed to re-take your GMAT course as many times as needed, within a certain time frame after enrollment (Quantum allows students to repeat courses unlimitedly within 6 months of their initial course registration date).

This way, you get the most out of your investment, gain expert help where you need it most, and waste zero time on inefficient self-study methods.

And there you have it! Four ways to maximize your study time, and achieve your highest possible GMAT score—even with a very busy schedule.

Need more support?

Click here to browse free GMAT resources that will help you with every stage of exam prep


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GRE Test Prep: 4 Daily Habits for Much Stronger Verbal Skills

GRE test prep

Read time: 5 minutes

GRE test-takers are often divided into two camps. On the one side you have the math enthusiasts, and on the other, the wordsmiths.

It’s quite rare to see an equal balance between these two skill sets. And even when students have strengths in both math and verbal, they often need targeted practice to prepare for the unique ways these abilities are tested on the GRE.

Feeling a bit concerned about your own verbal skills? More at home with algebra than literary analysis? Learning English as a second or third language?

Start by making time for verbal prep each and every day. Daily practice is absolutely essential for improving your vocabulary and analytical skills in time for the test.

Use these four trusted GRE verbal prep strategies to get the ball rolling.

1. Time yourself when practicing GRE verbal questions

Time management is a significant challenge for many GRE test-takers. We’ve all experienced that terrible feeling of being “frozen” in front of a difficult question, unable to make a choice between options A and B. Meanwhile, time ticks away.

It’s very easy to lose precious moments throughout the verbal section of the exam—especially when you’re not mindful of pacing, second-guess yourself often, or take too long deliberating over each question.

Pacing is key. But it’s not something you can implement at the last moment on exam day. You’ll need to determine how many minutes to allot to each verbal question type: text completion, reading comprehension, and sentence equivalence.

Be sure to use a timer during your GRE test prep to get used to working within limits, and slowly improve your reading and response times.

2. “Actively” read one GRE-type article each day

Many GRE training tips suggest reading as much as possible leading up to the exam, to get used to tackling sophisticated vocabulary and concepts.

However, simply reading through challenging texts won’t be enough to prepare you for the GRE’s reading comprehension section. You must practice “active” reading to build the skills tested on the GRE.

Active reading means interpreting and analyzing the text as you go, picking out important information and mentally summarizing key concepts. When you read actively, you’re able to absorb complex and unfamiliar concepts more quickly and thoroughly—which is exactly what you’ll need to do on the exam.

If you make a habit of actively reading unfamiliar material leading up to the exam, you won’t feel panicked by an obscure topic on test day. You’ll know precisely how to scan for and identify the information needed to answer each descriptive, interpretive, and analytical question.

Not sure which skills are needed to practice active reading, or how to build them? A GRE course can be extremely helpful for learning how to develop and apply a range of targeted reading strategies.

3. Every time you meet an unfamiliar word, look it up!

Part of active reading is acknowledging terminology and concepts you don’t understand, and taking a moment to seek out explanations. Sometimes this can be accomplished through context. The sentence surrounding the unfamiliar word helps you decode its meaning. You take an educated guess and move on.

Other times, you simply have to stop and hunt down a definition. And when your goal is to expand your vocabulary for the GRE, stopping to look up words is non-negotiable! You should keep a running list of new words and their explanations, and try to use those words as often as possible, to help memorize their meanings.

You don’t always have to use new words while talking out loud. Just incorporating new vocabulary into your thoughts can be helpful for cementing understanding and retention.

4. Use a GRE test prep app for daily vocabulary practice

Many test-takers swear by their GRE apps for squeezing in extra vocabulary practice during the day. More than just convenient, really good apps offer a range of helpful features that can help accelerate learning, encourage daily prep, and help track progress.

Quality GRE vocabulary apps offer a wide range of features for different types of learners. Many offer vocabulary training systems that integrate:

  • videos to illustrate word meanings
  • flashcards
  • mnemonics
  • sample fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and true/false questions
  • daily quizzes
  • detailed examples and even mini stories to explain each word

There are many GRE verbal apps to choose from, such as GRE Flashcard , GRE Vocab Trainer , and

GRE Vocab Genuis. It’s definitely worth trying out a few to find the ideal fit for your learning style and vocabulary goals.

Interested in learning more about effective GRE test prep strategies and resources? Looking for a professional GRE course in Toronto?

Click here to explore Quantum’s selection of GRE courses


       → Click here to browse free GRE study resources and materials


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6 Keys of LSAT Test Prep: Advice from LSAT Coaches & Successful Test-takers

LSAT test prep

Read time: 5 minutes

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is widely characterized as the hardest test you’ll ever take. Comparable only to the Bar exam, this test seeks to determine how well you are suited to study law, and pursue a legal career.

Many admissions officials consider your LSAT result a highly accurate indicator of how well you’ll perform in law school. Rest assured, your score will carry a lot of weight during the application review process.

Given the important role the LSAT plays in your acceptance to—or rejection from—law school, it makes sense to spend time mapping out a realistic and effective study plan.

Start by considering these six keys to smarter LSAT prep. This advice is based on observations from Quantum’s own expert LSAT coaches, plus the experiences of successful test-takers.

1. Make LSAT test prep a daily habit: avoid weekend cramming

Most test-takers are tempted to squeeze all of their LSAT studying into Saturdays and Sundays, for a few months leading up to the exam.

But this approach leaves you vulnerable to setbacks and weak prep in two important ways:

1) Weekend cramming is not conducive to the kind of methodical, consistent practice required to build LSAT-specific skills.

2) Relegating prep to weekends leaves too great a gap between study sessions, making it much easier to fall behind without even realizing it. A daily study plan is better for tracking your progress and staying on schedule.

In a guest post on the popular blog, The LSAT Diaries, contributor Brad says daily study was key to achieving a 179 LSAT score.

He recalls, “I cleared off my large desk calendar and wrote down everything that I needed to do, day-by- day… Having a daily guide kept my studying structured, and forced me to face when I was falling behind, and catch up.”

2. Set aside at least ­­­3 months for LSAT prep

Three months of disciplined, daily study is a respectable goal to aim for when mapping out your LSAT strategy. However, you may need to spread your studying out over a longer period of time—each of us learns at a different rate, and in different ways.

If you’d like more of a safety net (to protect against inevitable set-backs), set aside 3-6 months of prep time. Overall, you should plan to complete 150-300 hours of practice.

3. Don’t rely on re-taking the LSAT for a better score

Quite a few LSAT “tips” lists emphasize that test-takers can challenge the exam more than once. Readers are told not to worry if they do poorly on the first or second attempt, because each new exam is a clean slate.

Quantum LSAT coach, Daniel Yepes must often remind students that, unfortunately, this is not always true: “Some law schools look at all the exams you attempted, and average the scores together. Don’t take the test unprepared. A low score could come back to haunt you!”

4. LSAT practice tests only help if you know how to analyze them

Taking practice tests—many of them—should be a central part of your LSAT test prep strategy. However, it is crucial to note that no matter how many practice tests you take, they will only be helpful if you know how to analyze your results.

Results analysis is a lengthy, meticulous process. You must clearly understand where and how you went wrong on incorrect answers. If you don’t identify your weaknesses correctly, you can’t address them—and are doomed to repeat those same mistakes on every subsequent test (including the official exam).

5. Never underestimate the LSAT “Logic Games”

Over the years, Daniel has seen many students develop a false sense of security after learning the LSAT has no quant section. “They get really excited and say, ‘the LSAT has no math? Great!!’ ”

And then Daniel is forced to point out that, “this is not necessarily a good thing. Instead of math, the LSAT has the dreaded Logic Games section—very challenging problems that demand advanced diagramming techniques and other test-taking strategies.”

Students who don’t invest significant time practicing logic games will have a very hard time achieving a competitive LSAT score.

6. Consider an LSAT course to improve your score

Rather not go it completely alone? Months of LSAT test prep, and long hours spent studying in seclusion, can be very isolating for test-takers.

Plus, despite the availability of quality study guides and resources, many students need extra help to master difficult exam topics and question-types.

Key benefits of taking a quality LSAT course include:

  • help with approaching and mastering hundreds of practice questions
  • proven strategies for tackling difficult problems (and avoiding common errors)
  • quality study materials and free resources

Some test prep companies offer “free course repeat” policies, meaning you can take a single LSAT course multiple times within a certain time period, without paying again.

This is ideal for students who need extra help in certain areas, as they proceed with independent study following the course.

Interested in learning more about strategic LSAT test prep? Looking for a quality LSAT course in Toronto to support your study efforts?

Click here to learn more about Quantum’s Premium 50 Hour LSAT Course


Click here to learn how you can get a FREE coaching session with an LSAT instructor

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What to Expect from a 100 Hour GMAT Prep Course: Score Gains & Study Strategy

GMAT prep course

Read time: 5 minutes

“How long do I need to study to achieve the highest possible GMAT score?”

This is quite possibly the most common question we hear from prospective business school students.

Of course, the temptation is to choose a 25-48 hour GMAT bootcamp; a course you can squeeze in between work, family, and other responsibilities. But if you need a truly comprehensive review, and solid exam strategies, will a weekend or two really be enough?

A quick online search will confirm what some test-takers already know: it takes at least 100 prep hours to achieve a GMAT score of 600 or more.  So what does 100 hours of GMAT training look like, and is there any real proof that studying longer produces higher scores?

In this post, we get to the bottom of both questions by breaking down the structure and curriculum of a 100 hour GMAT prep course (using Quantum’s program as an example). Then, we’ll take a look at some compelling evidence that proves longer prep truly does enhance GMAT performance.

100 Hour GMAT Prep Dives Deep into the 4 Main Content Areas

What is the most significant difference between a shorter GMAT prep course (under 50 hours) and a 100 hour course? Short courses can cover only general strategies and commonly tested topics. By contrast, 100 hours of training allows for a complete review of virtually every question type and topic, plus a wide range of test-taking strategies. Nothing is left to chance. Here’s a  look at what to expect from each 25 hour module of a 100 hour course:

Module 1 – Foundational Math (25hr)

This section focuses on math fundamentals you probably haven’t seen since high school. Students can expect a refresher on key concepts like exponent and root theory, order of operations, lines and angles, and divisibility rules. Then you’ll move on to more challenging concepts and problems in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry—and learn specific strategies for recognizing and approaching a wide selection of foundational math question types.

Module 2 – Intermediate Math (25hr)

This module covers the GMAT’s two main intermediate math topics: data sufficiency and word problems. Many students struggle with data sufficiency because it’s a question format unique to the GMAT. And since 40-50% of all math questions on the exam are related to data sufficiency, much of this module is spent coaching students on the most effective strategies for breaking down and resolving these problems.

Module 3 – Advanced Math (25hr)

The advanced math module delves into statistics, exponents and roots, and integrated reasoning. Statistics is currently the least weighted section of the GMAT, but it’s also the fastest growing. In this section, students learn specialized techniques and tools for tackling permutations and combinations, probability, standard deviation, factorials, and more. Next they cover multiple exponent and root rules, and master some of the most complex and challenging math questions on the entire GMAT. Finally, students are led through the four main integrative reasoning (IR) question types on the exam: table analysis, graphics interpretation, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis.

By the end of these 75 hours, you’ve seen, studied, and practiced virtually every math problem the GMAT will throw at you.

Module 4 – Comprehensive Verbal (25hr)

These final 25 hours of prep are spent reviewing and practicing the three main verbal question types on the GMAT: sentence correlation, critical reasoning, and reading comprehension. You’ll learn a standardized technique, process, or approach to each question type, at every level of difficulty. Topics include grammar rules, sentence correction, idioms, and argument theory.

Does Longer GMAT Training = Higher Test Scores?

So it’s clear that a 100 hour GMAT prep course covers a great deal of ground, and in very fine detail. But is there any real proof that studying for longer actually yields a higher GMAT score?  Is there an “ideal” study time for this exam? A few years ago, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) set out to answer this question, and turned up some very compelling data.

In 2014, GMAC surveyed 4,271 GMAT test takers about their study habits and score outcomes.  They found a distinct correlation between longer GMAT training and higher scores. One hundred or more hours of training consistently yielded scores between 600-700+.

GMAT prep course

While GMAC emphasizes that each student is unique, and will approach exam prep somewhat differently, it’s hard to ignore the clear link between 100+ study hours and higher scores. To push students over the 100 hour study mark, we often recommend an additional 10 hours of individual tutoring. One-to-one coaching is tremendously helpful for filling any lingering learning gaps and boosting confidence before the exam.

Are you interested in learning more about 100 hour GMAT prep in your area— or need general information about the preparation and test-taking process?

Click here to see a list of free GMAT workshops, mock exams, and information sessions in your area.

Looking for personalized GMAT help so you can create a study plan that meets your specific needs? Start with a free assessment. Learn your baseline score and how to increase it.

Click here to learn how you can get an insightful GMAT assessment with no cost or obligation.