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Are you Using GMAT Practice Tests Correctly?

GMAT practice

 

Read time: 5 minutes

Why are GMAT practice tests such an important part of your study strategy?

The answer is fairly obvious: practice tests reveal your strengths and weaknesses, and help build the endurance you’ll need to make it through GMAT exam day.

Less obvious is how best to leverage each practice test experience, so you can actually improve your technique and performance, and ultimately, boost your overall score.

Students can take numerous practice tests and still feel “stuck” with a plateaued score, or persistent difficulties in certain topic areas.

To see real improvements, you’ll need to approach each test strategically, analyze results effectively, and tweak your GMAT prep accordingly. As with all things GMAT-related, you need a smart plan to be successful.

Remember: every simulated exam you do takes up numerous hours of precious study time. Follow these steps to ensure you’re investing this time wisely—and getting the most out of each trial run.

How Many GMAT Practice Tests Should You Take?

This is a question we hear often from students. And it really depends on your score goal. Want a competitive score of 700+? You should aim to take 8-10 practice tests.

This means examining your overall study schedule, and building in time for tests at regular intervals. It’s a good idea to spread the simulations out evenly (say, about twice a month, if you’ve set aside 5-6 months for prep), so you can catch and correct performance problems at every stage.

Simulating the GMAT Exam Day Experience

Do you really need to mimic exam-day conditions when taking GMAT practice tests? Yes—if you want to truly fortify your test-taking skills, and get an accurate assessment of your progress (which is what it’s all about, right?)

Replicating an authentic exam experience means following the official rules, including:

  • sticking to the time allotted for each section (no extra minutes to complete one last problem)

 

  • removing all study aides from the room, including notes, books, manuals, calculators, and your cell phone

 

  • taking breaks only as allowed during the exam (you’ll get two breaks, of about 8 minutes each)

 

  • not using technology during your breaks (no social media, no phone calls, and no television)

 

  • eating only the kinds of snacks you’ll have available on exam day (note that smoking is not allowed during breaks at the exam centre)

 

  • wearing the kinds of clothes you’ll have on at the exam (so, probably not pajamas!)

 

  • taking practice tests during the time of day you’ll be challenging the real exam

Practising with real exam-day constraints is key for building up your mental, physical, and psychological stamina—and reducing unsettling surprises on test day.

Analyzing Your GMAT Practice Tests

How closely are you examining each GMAT practice test you take? Are you focusing mostly on your overall score, or how many questions you got wrong in each topic area?

You’ll need to go far deeper than surface results to get the most out of each simulation. In order to be truly beneficial, your practice test analysis should involve:

  • a close examination of incorrect AND correct answers (always look for ways to improve your process and efficiency, even if you got the answer right)

 

  • learning why you got an answer wrong (did you rush, read the question wrong, make a calculation error, have to guess?)

 

  • looking closely at pacing (did you run out of time, finish too early, rush through certain questions, or linger too long on some problems?)

Deeper analysis will help you spot patterns, identity recurring mistakes, and disrupt bad test-taking habits. An extra hour spent reviewing your results can save you significant frustration and wasted time down the road.

Continually Refining Your GMAT Prep

After every GMAT practice test you complete, take a moment to ask yourself two key questions:

  1. How will you put your analysis into practice, and use those insights to improve your GMAT prep strategy?
  2. What goals will you aim to achieve on the next simulation?

You might be working toward improved pacing, or looking to implement a new problem-solving technique. Perhaps you’ll focus on a certain question-type, or aim to improve your score on a particular section of the exam.

Note down your objectives, and make sure you’re adjusting your study plan to meet those goals. Your GMAT strategy should continually evolve to reflect the strengths and weaknesses revealed through each simulation.

If you’re not tweaking your strategy, you’re not using practice tests to your full advantage.

Looking for more free GMAT help, study tips, or practice materials?  We’ve got you covered.

Click here to access free, authentic GMAT practice tests

OR

Click here to explore free GMAT workshops & info sessions

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GMAT Prep: 3 Ways to Improve Your Reading Comp Score

GMAT prep

 

Read time: 5 minutes

The GMAT’s reading comprehension questions can pose a serious challenge for some students. Not used to reading complex material? Learning English as a new language? Tend to read slowly, or get distracted by unfamiliar vocabulary?

There are many ways to get sidetracked (and frustrated!) while wading through those notoriously dry passages.

But like any GMAT challenge, there are several techniques you can leverage to cut through the noise, optimize your approach, and improve your score.

Start by adding these 3 reading comprehension tactics to your GMAT prep strategy.

Do a Quick First Read to Grasp the Main Idea

You’re under tremendous time pressure when writing the GMAT, so it’s normal to feel a bit panicked when presented with a lengthy and convoluted RC passage.

Worried about losing time, students often rush through a first reading—and move on to the questions, without even the most basic understanding of what the passage is about.

Then, they encounter a question that confuses them, and end up having to start all over again, meanwhile the minutes tick by.

So how long should you spend doing that first reading? And what should you be looking to learn?

First of all, you don’t need to understand every nuance of the passage—just the main ideas and overall structure. Since the RC passages range from 200 to 350 words, this won’t take very long.

Strategy Tip

Set aside about two minutes to read the shorter passages, and three minutes to read the longer ones.

Time yourself during GMAT prep. Most students discover that 2-3 minutes is ample time to grasp the theme and main ideas, before tackling questions.

Streamline Your Note-taking (don’t go overboard!)

Many successful test-takers swear by taking notes while reading the RC passage for the first time. Others dismiss this tactic as an outright waste of time. But, it really depends on how you approach it.

If you’re going overboard and jotting down every little detail (essentially re-writing the passage), then yes, you’re definitely wasting time.

On the other hand, if your note-taking is disciplined and strategic, it can be beneficial on several levels. What do we mean by strategic?

Your notes should briefly summarize what’s going on in the text, namely:

  1. The author’s primary argument, point of view, or main idea
  2. The evidence presented to support the main idea

Strategy tip

While you read, summarize the main points of each paragraph in 10 words or less. Use abbreviations and symbols to save time (just make sure you can understand your own notes afterward!)

Why is strategic note-taking worth your time? It can help you:

  • better understand and remember what you’ve just read
  • identify where key information is located in the passage, so you can find these details quickly when answering questions
  • immediately determine the structure of the passage (two opposing sides vs. one sided; author’s opinion vs. informational)

Practice the “Search & Extract” Technique

Once you’ve completed the first two steps outline above (an effective first reading and strategic not-taking), you shouldn’t ever have to go back, and read the entire passage again.

Instead, you’ll use the “search and extract” technique to zero-in on the details that pertain to each question. This means quickly scanning parts of the passage and pulling out just the information you need.

Your initial reading and notes will help you know exactly where to look.

For example

Let’s say you need to identify the author’s stance on an issue, and the possible answers are “negative”, “positive”, “neutral”, etc.

Instead of re-reading the entire passage, quickly scan the text and extract keywords that reflect tone, and reveal how the author feels about the matter.

The truth is, you don’t need to understand every vocabulary word, factoid, or piece of data to answer questions quickly and accurately. What you really need to know is:

  1. How to locate and extract the most relevant details
  2. What the GMAT is looking for when it builds a “best” answer to a question

Incorporate these tactics into your GMAT practice, and watch your accuracy and speed improve significantly.

Need more help with reading comp, or other verbal challenges?

Consider a quality  GMAT course to learn a wide range of problem-solving strategies—or start by attending a free Verbal Refresher for a general overview and helpful study tips.

See a schedule of upcoming Verbal Refreshers near you

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Top 3 Reasons Students Bail on GMAT prep (& how to stay on track)

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 186, 000 people took the GMAT in 2016. Out of those, 38% were re-takers. Another 27% ending up cancelling their scores because of poor results.

Just imagine how many more GMAT contenders didn’t make it to exam day, having dropped out just before—or worse, given up on their MBA dream altogether, rather than face the exam.

Prepping for the GMAT is an undeniably daunting process. It takes a commitment of time, energy, and in many cases money, that for some people, proves too heavy to bear.

What are the top reasons students bail out on the GMAT?

These are the three core issues we see most often, along with some valuable tips for staying on track, and achieving your best possible score.

Postponing GMAT Prep Due to Lack of Time

Want to head back to school for an MBA, but work full-time, have young children— or both?

People who already feel pressed for time, and pulled in too many directions, are often the first to give up on the GMAT.

It’s completely understandable that given the time investment required (at least 100 hours of prep for a  competitive score), the exam seems totally out of reach.

But there is a way forward. Over the years, we’ve worked with thousands of  busy students who not only make it to the exam—they exceed their own score goals.

So, what’s the best way to beat the GMAT when lack of time is your greatest challenge?

 

This is what we recommend:

 

  • set aside at least 6 months to slowly prepare for the exam

 

  • take a mock exam right at the start, to quickly diagnose your strengths and weaknesses, and map out a targeted study plan (this will dramatically increase the efficiency of your GMAT prep)

 

  • seek expert help to kick-start your studying (take a quality GMAT course to access valuable study materials, learn proven problem-solving techniques, and avoid common pitfalls)

 

  • carve out a regular weekly study schedule (ideally, 4-5 hours spread throughout the week, and not crammed into the weekends)

 

  • every few weeks, take a practice exam to gauge your progress, tweak your study strategy, and steadily improve your score (aim to complete 8-10 practice exams)

For more tips and strategies, take a look at this post on GMAT tips for exceptionally busy people.

Perceived Weaknesses &  Academic Anxiety

Many students begin their GMAT prep with deep insecurities in certain academic areas, and a related apprehension around testing in general.

For some, there is great anxiety around math. For others, English grammar, reading comprehension, and essay writing skills are sore points, creating fear of the GMAT’s verbal and AWA sections.

But the truth is, with the right study materials and methods, almost anyone can learn the steps needed to crack even the toughest GMAT problems. It’s all about procedure.

But, anxieties around test-taking, failure, and perceived limitations often de-rail the study process, compelling students to give up on themselves, and their MBA goal.

 

Our best advice?

 

  • Go back to the simplest, most non-threatening math and verbal concepts and tackle those first (GMAT fundamentals)

 

  • Set aside all complex and intimidating problems until you’ve successfully mastered the fundamentals, and raised your confidence with promising results

 

  • Do not improvise solutions to unfamiliar GMAT problems: arm yourself with proven attack plans for every single question-type (this with help reduce feelings of panic by eliminating “unknowns”)

 

  • get support from your peers by joining online GMAT forums, and attending free local GMAT events designed to boost your confidence and test-taking skills

Check out this post on managing GMAT math anxiety for more tips and advice.

Browse this list of free GMAT events and support services available in Montreal and Toronto.

 Plateaued GMAT Practice Scores

Been working at GMAT prep for months already, but can’t get your practice scores to rise? On the brink of giving up? You’re certainly not alone.

Many GMAT contenders get disillusioned by plateaued scores and end up walking away from the exam. When you know you need a 700+ score to get a shot at a top business school, getting stuck at 600 can feel totally devastating.

How should students deal with disappointing GMAT practice results?

 

We strongly suggest the following:

 

  • Look much more closely at your practice test performance (the secret to boosting your score lies with your ability to deeply analyze practice results, and tweak your study plan accordingly)

 

  • Re-evaluate your study materials (are you using the best attack strategies for each topic and question-type?)

 

  • Take a mock exam and book a free assessment of your performance with an expert GMAT instructor (they’ll help you re-target your strategy, and start moving your score up again)

Click here to learn more about getting a free GMAT assessment.

We also recommend taking a look at this post on how to improve your GMAT practice test analysis.

The final takeaway?

There’s a solution to every GMAT roadblock. Don’t let anything stand between you and your best possible GMAT score. This exam is beatable—it’s simply a matter of strategy and strong resolve!

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3 GMAT Topics Students Struggle With Most (& How to Tackle Them)

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

Dreading a particular GMAT topic or question-type? Feel you’re destined to perform poorly in a certain subject area?

All test-takers have their strengths and weaknesses. But it’s surprising just how easy it is to fill the gaps, and achieve tremendous improvement, with the right techniques and study strategy.

We’ve seen students who claimed they were irredeemably “bad at math” make incredible strides with the most challenging Quant topics. And the same goes for students with insecurities around reading comprehension and grammar.

Once you have a reliable “attack plan,” you can decode and solve any problem the GMAT throws at you.

This week, we’re looking at three GMAT topics students tend to struggle with most, with some fairly straightforward solutions for how to improve your approach. (This post covers mainly Quant topics, so stay tuned for a follow-up piece on challenging Verbal questions.)

Integrated Reasoning: managing multiple streams of data

Integrated Reasoning (IR) is the newest addition to the GMAT. It was added back in 2012 to make the exam more reflective of real business school, and business world, challenges.

IR problems seem tough because they demand the integration and application of several key competencies: reading comprehension, logical reasoning, math skills, and the ability to interpret multiple streams of data presented in various formats (columns, tables, diagrams, graphs, etc).

One of the biggest challenges students face with IR questions is sorting through all of the available information to identify what the question is really asking, and what steps to take next.

The second obstacle is usually time management. You only have 30 minutes to complete 12 questions, which breaks down to 2.5 minutes per problem. Some IR questions come with several tabs of information plus charts or graphs to analyze, making staying within the 2.5 minute limit quite difficult.

What should students remember when prepping for IR?

  • reading comprehension skills are crucial (you’ll need to practice scanning information so you can quickly pick out the facts that matter most, and avoid getting mired in irrelevant details)

 

  • the math is no different from what you’ve seen in the Quant section (you won’t need “new” math skills to solve IR problems)

 

  • there are very specific ways to attack each of the four IR question-types (learn a reliable set of steps for each type to improve your speed and accuracy)

 

For an overview of IR question-types, and how this section is structured and scored, take a look at GMAT Help: 5 Things to Know About the Integrated Reasoning Section.

Advanced Geometry:  don’t deviate from the “process”

Overall, the primary goal of your GMAT prep should be learning reliable procedures for decoding and solving every kind of problem, across each topic area. In most cases, this means “unlearning” some of the inefficient approaches you’ve used in the past, say back in high school or university.

But old habits are hard to shake. Students often revert to previously learned (or improvised) methods when tackling certain problems. And in our experience, this happens most often with advanced geometry questions.

Students seem to forget process on geometry more than any other topic. Each shape has maximum three pieces of theory that go along with it. This means that for any given shape, the question has to be solvable based on one of those three principles.

Yet, rather than figuring out how the limited theory can apply to the question, students often try to come up with some other random solution methodology—an approach that invariably results in errors and wastes precious time.

Remember: once you’ve learned a set of reliable problem-solving techniques, stick with them. Don’t deviate from those processes during GMAT practice, so by the time exam day comes, they’ll be second nature.

Probability: it’s much simpler than you think

Many students say that out of all the GMAT topics, they dread probability questions the most. Having to predict the likelihood of events seems hopelessly complex to many test-takers—but the truth is, determining probability is far simpler than you think.

Once again, it all comes down to the strategy you use to tackle these problems. Students are always surprised to learn that, despite their differences, every probability question on the GMAT can be mapped out the exact same way and has the same solution methodology.

It’s an advanced, higher level topic that, if you follow a good process, is incredibly easy.

What’s the final takeaway for tackling challenging GMAT problems?

There is a proven methodology for deconstructing and solving every single type of GMAT question. At no point should you be left to your own devices, and forced to find “creative” solutions.

Take the time to learn and practice the right techniques, and you’ll immediately feel more confident across all GMAT topic areas—and far closer to achieving your target score.

Need some extra help learning attack strategies for certain Quant or Verbal topics? Looking for general GMAT help across all subject areas?

Quantum provides a wide variety of courses and workshops, designed to support students at every stage of GMAT test prep. To date, we’ve prepared over 10,000 successful MBA students in the GTA, and achieved the highest score improvements in Canada!

Click below to learn more about our unique approach, discounts offers, and free course repeat policy.

Explore Quantum’s GMAT Courses & Special Offers

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Retaking the GMAT? 4 Keys to a Successful Retake Strategy

GMAT practice

Read time: 5 minutes

Didn’t earn the score you wanted on the GMAT, and need to take the exam again? You’re definitely not alone.

According to mba.com, the GMAT exam is given more than a quarter of a million times each year—and approximately a fifth of those tests are re-takes.

In most cases, students fall short of their score goal because they underestimated the exam and didn’t prep hard enough, or used a study method that was less than ideal.

So, what tools and techniques should you rely on to ensure a better outcome? What will you do differently this time?

The first step is to leave the self-recriminations behind, and channel all of your energy toward a smarter, more targeted study plan. Start by ensuring your GMAT retake strategy incorporates each of these 4 key components.

1. Honestly Appraise Your Strengths & Weaknesses

This is an important step you may have skipped the first time around. Did you take a mock exam before you started studying to figure out where to focus your efforts?

Now that you have your GMAT exam results, you may gain some general insight into whether Quant or Verbal is your primary sore spot. However, an overall score won’t tell you which fundamental skills you’re lacking, which question-types tripped you up, or which topics need more attention.

Schedule yourself a free mock exam. Review the results carefully on your own, or enlist the help of a GMAT expert. Many test prep companies offer a free assessment of your mock exam result, along with a mini strategy session, to help you map out a study plan.

Learn more about Quantum’s free Mock Exam Assessment right here.

2. Make Time for More GMAT Practice Tests & Problems

Did you know that “cramming” for the GMAT means anything short of 100 hours of study? Or that to get a high score, most students need to do an average of 1500 to 2000 questions, study for 150 to 200 hours, and complete approximately 8 to 10 GMAT practice exams?

If your score was far below target the first time around, chances are you simply didn’t prep enough. Aim to set aside an hour or two each day for studying, several months in advance of your re-take date.

3. Re-evaluate Your GMAT Review Materials

Not all GMAT practice problems and sample tests are made equal. Are you sure you are using the highest quality materials?

What about the techniques and step-by-step approaches you’re utilizing for all of the various question types on the exam? You’ll need trustworthy, tried and tested formulas for tackling the GMAT’s uniquely challenging problems.

It’s quite possible that the techniques you relied on in the past simply weren’t up to par. Or, there were gaps in your GMAT review strategy.

Re-evaluate your materials, and seek out the most thorough and trustworthy prep resources.

4. Work Harder at Analyzing Your Performance

After each set of practice questions, and after every practice test, take the time to thoroughly analyze your performance. The stakes always feel a bit higher with a retake. There’s no time to waste, so it’s crucial to identify where you’re going wrong, and quickly get back on track.

Without careful analysis, there is no way to measure your progress at a granular level, and nip bad habits in the bud. You need to know much more than your total score on a practice test, or whether you got a problem right or wrong.

In order to make real progress, students must go deeper during analysis and:

  • categorize weaknesses by skill, question-type, and topic area
  • evaluate how pacing (speeding or going too slow) is impacting performance
  • look at correct answers (as well as mistakes) to see where the approach could be tightened and efficiency improved

For more in-depth advice, take a look at 5 Tips for Better GMAT Practice Test Analysis.

In addition to these practical strategies, it’s absolutely vital to keep your confidence high while gearing up for a GMAT retake. Remember, you’re in good company! Many talented and successful business school graduates took the exam more than once.

Seek out the support of peers by attending free GMAT events in your area, joining online GMAT discussion forums, and focussing on your ultimate goal: acceptance into an excellent B-school.

Check out free GMAT events happening in Toronto and Montreal

Best of luck from the Quantum study team!

 

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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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4 Best Ways to Jump-start Your GMAT Practice (& Stop Procrastinating)

GMAT practice

Read time: 5 minutes

There are so many reasons people put off studying for the GMAT—and some of them seem totally reasonable on the surface.

Lack of time, for example, is an understandable excuse, particularly for people who work full time and/or have families. Over-confidence is another culprit. High academic achievers often feel they don’t need to study much for the exam.

On the other end of the spectrum we have test-anxiety, which naturally leads to putting off prep.

Regardless of the reason, procrastination will directly undermine your capacity to earn a competitive score on the GMAT.

If you’re stuck in a study-avoidance loop, these are the steps you should take to jump-start your prep and get moving toward your MBA goal.

1. Attend a Free GMAT Info Session: Get the Ball Rolling

Many test-takers have only a general idea of what the GMAT actually entails. They know the test evaluates math and verbal skills, but they’re not familiar with the GMAT’s many topic areas and question types.

For some, this lack of clarity intensifies feelings of anxiety and low self-confidence, which according to Psychology Today, are two main drivers of procrastination.  Not knowing what to expect just makes it harder to get started.

Save yourself the stress and attend one of the many free GMAT information sessions held at local business schools. You’ll get a complete overview of the exam structure, explore each topic area, learn how adaptive testing works, and even tackle a few practice questions.

Most importantly, you’ll get tips from GMAT experts on how to approach studying, as well as some pitfalls to avoid. This is an ideal way to get the ball rolling.

Click here to see a list of free GMAT information sessions near you

2. Take a Mock GMAT Exam: Figure out Where You Stand

Far too many students skip the mock GMAT exam, or put off taking it until they’ve already begun studying. The GMAT coaches at Quantum Test Prep recommend taking the mock exam first thing, before you’ve done a single practice question.

Quantum GMAT instructor, David Baird points out, “It’s important to know your baseline score so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses, and set a realistic goal score. Then, you can compare performance on future practice tests with the mock exam, to track your progress.”

Taking the mock exam jump-starts your prep by giving you a concrete goal to work toward. Plus, it will open your eyes to the endurance and skill-level required to successfully challenge this exam.

See upcoming GMAT mock exams (they’re free!)

3. Book a Free Personal Assessment: Map Out Your Study Plan

Did you know that once you’ve taken a mock exam, you qualify for a complementary coaching session with a GMAT expert?

Test prep companies sometimes offer personal assessments for free, to promote the expertise of their instructors and the benefits of professional GMAT support.

The coaching session is usually about one hour long, and includes a thorough analysis of your performance on the mock exam. Based on your results, the instructor will explain where you should focus your GMAT practice, how to map out a study plan, and what score goal you should aim for.

You can also expect to receive some free study resources, tips, and advice—all in all, a personalized strategy designed to kick start your prep.

Learn more about getting a free personal GMAT assessment

4. Create a Daily GMAT Practice Schedule: Hold Yourself Accountable

A wide range of successful test-takers, prep coaches, and GMAT experts recommend setting daily study goals, rather than cramming exam prep into the weekends.

It’s completely understandable that busy, working professionals would relegate study time to weekends; however, this approach fails to account for the steady, consistent practice you need to master tough GMAT content.

The smarter, procrastination-proof approach? Make GMAT practice a regular part of your daily routine.  Spend an hour each evening doing review. Use an app to squeeze a few practice questions into your daily commute (check out this article on three top GMAT apps).

In an interview with mba.com (the official website of the GMAT), current MBA student Medha Gupta reminds test-takers that the “rigour” of exam prep is a “precursor to what you’ll face in business school.”

She points out that the discipline of daily practice has benefits beyond the GMAT. You’re preparing yourself for the even bigger challenge of the MBA (which obviously, you won’t be able to cram into weekends).

Gupta also said that since she’d been out of school for several years, she decided to take a professional prep course to help prepare for the exam. She found the expert support invaluable in “becoming a student again” and building those test-taking skills.

An intensive GMAT workshop, held over a weekend or two, can be hugely beneficial for targeting weak quantitative or verbal skills, and learning proven exam strategies.

→ Click here to explore Quantum’s GMAT course in Toronto

Interested in more advice on jump-starting your GMAT practice? Looking for free resources to help you tackle weak areas?

Take a look a Quantum’s free verbal and math refreshers, and other free GMAT events right here.

We’re here to help!

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3 GMAT Study Apps for Anywhere/Anytime Prep

GMAT study

Read time: 5 minutes

Looking to squeeze in more GMAT study time between work, family, and other commitments?

Anxiety around the GMAT exam is often related to lack of prep time. Long work weeks, family responsibilities, and other obligations make fitting in sufficient study time seem next to impossible.

Many prospective test-takers feel defeated before they do a single practice question! Sound familiar?

Don’t give up just yet. There is a way to integrate more GMAT prep into your busy schedule. A tool that actually  brings GMAT prep to you, while you ride the train, stand in line, or wait for that work meeting to start. You guessed it. There’s an app for that.

Imagine: an extra 20 minutes of study per day equals 10 additional hours per month. Those extra hours can make a real difference in score gains.

In this post, we profile the features of three helpful GMAT study apps. Download one of these tools, and discover prep time you didn’t know you had.

The Official GMAT Study App from GMAC (iOS & Android)

This app was developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)—the makers of the GMAT exam. Choose this tool and get real practice questions, anywhere and anytime, straight from the source.

The Official Guide for GMAT Review app costs $4.99 and includes the following features:

  • access to 50 Quantitative and Verbal questions, plus four Integrated Reasoning questions (taken from The Official Guide book)
  • option to upgrade to Pro-Pack to access over 800 Quantitative and Verbal questions and 50 IR questions (costs $39.95)
  • option to customize the number of questions presented during each practice session (1-40 questions, depending on how much time you have)
  • full answer explanations to guide learning
  • analyses of each test result to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses
  • an option to time each practice session to simulate real test conditions
  • integration with the GMAC blog and official Facebook page (for updates and study tips)
  • countdown to exam day, based on the data you provide

Here’s a screenshot of the app, courtesy of iTunes.

GMAT study

Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank (iOS & Android)

The free Veritas app connects users with hundreds of realistic GMAT practice questions and solutions. No paid upgrade is needed to access the full bank of practice questions.

The latest version of the app, released in July of 2016, promises fixes to some of the bugs reported on the previous version, a new Facebook login feature, and a re-designed homepage.

How will this app help you maximize your prep time? Benefits include:

  • sample questions representative of all five question types
  • option to customize quizzes by question type and length
  • access to detailed solutions to all questions
  • option to see how your performance stacks up against other app users

Here’s a look at the app interface. Note the “performance” feature that allows you to compare answer accuracy and pacing against other users. This could be an excellent motivational tool for test-takers with a competitive streak.

GMAT study

Ready4Gmat (iOS & Android)

This self-proclaimed “GMAT brain trainer” is free, with the option of in-app purchases. Ready4Gmat (formerly known as Prep4Gmat) provides access to over 1000 practice questions, hundreds of flash cards, and customizable tests.

The latest version came out in April, 2017 with deeper performance analytics and a wide range of strategy lessons covering IR, Analytical Writing, Verbal, and Quant topics.

Other stand-out features include:

  • access to a list of top MBA programs and their average GMAT scores (so users can set a target score based on their preferred B-schools)
  • detailed answer explanations to over 1000 verbal and quantitative questions
  • a School Matcher algorithm that helps users find schools that match their background and goals
  • detailed performance reports on strengths and weaknesses
  • intuitive lessons that walk through GMAT concepts, step-by-step
  • option to bookmark flashcards for later viewing
  • Question of the Day to keep users engaged

Here’s a look at the Ready4Gmat app, with its sophisticated performance tracker.

GMAT study

Several reviewers hail Ready4Gmat as a “perfect” and “favourite” study app—the ideal companion to a GMAT prep course, or other online/print study resources.

Interested in learning more about smart GMAT study strategies, courses, and prep materials?

Click here for a list of free GMAT events and resources near you

OR

Click here to learn more about Quantum’s GMAT prep courses

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Top 3 Worst GMAT Study Mistakes: Expert GMAT Tutors Share Insights & Advice

GMAT study

Read time: 5 minutes

What does it take to earn a competitive GMAT score? Experts will tell you it’s all about strategy.

Strategies for each question type. Strategies for spotting and avoiding traps. Strategies for pacing yourself on test day. And of course, perhaps the most important strategy of all: effective GMAT prep.

The quality of your exam day performance will be a direct result of your study strategy (and not necessarily of your natural intelligence and aptitude, as many students believe).

So, where do students tend to go wrong when preparing for the GMAT? How do the most well-meaning and intelligent test-takers end up with disappointing exam scores?

In this post, an expert GMAT instructor from Quantum Test Prep reveals three of the most common GMAT study mistakes. We’ll explain why these errors are so dangerous, and offer practical ways students can avoid them.

1. Underestimating the Nature & Complexity of the GMAT

Underestimating the GMAT is perhaps the most serious of all GMAT study errors, because it sets students up for failure from day one.

Over the years, veteran Quantum GMAT instructor David Baird has observed, “many high academic achievers tend to believe they can successfully tackle the exam with minimal prep. They overestimate their ability to assimilate all the best knowledge and strategies for each question type, while optimizing speed and accuracy. It’s so important to recognize that the GMAT is very different from other standardized tests and exams you have taken before.”

Another common problem is lack of general GMAT knowledge. Many students have misconceptions about the structure of the exam, the various question types and content areas, or how computer adaptive testing works. These gaps in understanding lead to incomplete prep, and some very unpleasant surprises come test day.

GMAT Study Tip

Attend a free GMAT information session or introductory workshop in your area. You’ll get a complete overview of how the exam is structured, see a variety of question types, and learn some GMAT study tips. Know what you’re up against. This is key for developing a comprehensive study strategy.

See free GMAT information sessions in your area

2. Cramming for the GMAT & Skimping on Practice Questions

In the world of GMAT prep, “cramming” means anything short of 100 hours of study. This is a big shock for students who believe an intensive 20, 30 or 40 hour GMAT course will be enough to prepare them for the exam.

David says, “the truth is that you may have to do 1500 to 2000 questions, study for 150 to 200hrs, and do approximately 8 to 10 GMAT practice exams to get a high score.”

Last-minute cramming techniques, like memorization, simply don’t work with the GMAT. Completing 200-300 practice questions won’t be enough either. Students need considerable time to master many different question-types and strategies to achieve their best score on this exam.

GMAT Study Tip

Consider a 100 hour GMAT course that comes with a free repeat policy. A good test prep company will provide you with all the GMAT practice questions and tests you’ll need—and the option of repeating the course multiple times, free of charge.

Learn what it’s like to take a 100-hour GMAT course

3. Not Taking a Mock Exam Before Beginning to Study

Taking a mock GMAT exam is a stressful proposition for many people. Most students want to study a bit before sitting a full-length mock exam, because they’re nervous about scoring low and losing confidence.

But when students skip the mock exam, they miss out on a key piece of exam prep data: their baseline GMAT score. You need this information to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and create a personalized study plan.

Quantum GMAT Study Team Member, Vivek points out that in addition to revealing your baseline score, taking a mock exam can lead to other important realizations: “Many students are shocked by how much endurance is required to make it through the exam. In addition, they realize that although the exam is long, it is a challenge to answer all the questions in the allotted amount of time.”

GMAT Study Tip

Investigate free GMAT mock exams in your area. After taking the exam, consider scheduling a personal assessment with your test prep company. These are often free, and include an analysis of your mock exam performance, and a customized study strategy for reaching your GMAT score goal.

Click here to see free mock exams in your area

What’s the overall takeaway for prospective test-takers? Remember that effective GMAT study relies on three key factors:

1) A thorough understanding of how the GMAT exam works;

2) An accurate assessment of your skills and weaknesses; and

3) A comprehensive, customized strategy to achieve your score goal

Want to learn more about preparing for your best GMAT?

Explore the links we included in this post, sign up for a free GMAT prep event, or check out the Quantum blog for more tips and advice. We’ll help you get started!