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Do You Have “Grit”? The Real Secret to Nailing the GMAT (& Every Other Life Challenge)

GMAT prep

Read time: 4 minutes

Have you ever wondered what makes successful people different? What special advantages propel them to perform better and achieve more than everyone else?

Most of us like to believe it’s natural talent, superior intelligence, the right connections, access to money—or sheer luck—that give some people an edge in life.

And while this may be true some of the time, there is a far greater force at work when it comes to beating the odds and achieving great things. And believe it or not, this force plays a key part in the quality of your GMAT prep, your performance on test day, and your success as a business leader.

Are you staring down the barrel of GMAT prep right now, wondering how you’ll find time to study, if you can score high enough, or whether you’re even up to the challenge of an MBA?

Do you feel certain that an MBA degree could completely transform your life—but at the same time, acutely aware of the many obstacles standing between you and that enhanced reality?

And the big question: Are you clever and talented enough to make it?

What if we told you that success on the GMAT, in business school, and in life in general, depends on something far more powerful than natural skill or intelligence.

We’re referring to the often-overlooked, yet immensely important quality, known as “grit.”

What is Grit & How Will it Impact Your GMAT Performance?

Angela Duckworth (CEO, professor of psychology, faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics, and 2013 MacArthur Fellow) pioneered the concept of grit with a groundbreaking study of 7th grade math students.

She looked at why some students succeeded at math, and why others failed. She documented success and failure patterns for so-called gifted students, those who really struggled with math, and every skill-level in between.

She collected overwhelming evidence that sheer persistence was the defining indicator of high grades—not intelligence or any special talent for math.

Students who simply stuck it out, and kept pushing to improve their skills, no matter how hard it was for them, consistently achieved the biggest bump in math grades—even higher than the kids who were naturally good at math!

She called this mindset of persistence “grit.” Here’s how Duckworth defines it:

” Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Instead, grit is about having…a goal you care about and holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. “

Listen to Duckworth describe the nature and power of grit at a hugely popular TED talk she delivered on the key takeaways of her research.

Duckworth has gone on to study the success stories of business leaders, military personnel, students of all ages and backgrounds, and dozens of world-famous high achievers.

She has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Duckworth’s work with Wharton People Analytics helps business leaders learn how to achieve their goals, develop their employees, and create organizations that perform at very high levels.

In short, this idea of grit has serious weight. It’s worth paying attention to.

Especially if you’re entering the field of business, want to become an effective leader…or at this stage, really need a high GMAT score, but aren’t naturally gifted in GMAT quant or verbal (who is?).

If natural ability isn’t the determining factor in your success, and neither is IQ, what’s really influencing your GMAT score?

GMAT prep
People with grit study harder, longer, and bounce back from setbacks more quickly

How Grit Predicts Your GMAT Score

It’s not a huge stretch to consider how perseverance will impact the quality of your GMAT prep, and ultimately, the score you achieve.

Anyone who has scored 700 or higher on the exam knows how much time and effort it took them to master all those quantitative and verbal topics, question-types, and GMAT traps.

Even people with high undergraduate GPAs—who’ve always done well on exams— have to work really hard to score high.

GMAC (the makers of the exam) actually did some research on this subject. Their survey of test-takers shows it takes a bare minimum of 120 hours of test prep to get a 700+ score.

How many people do you think actually put in that much time and effort?

Well, back in 2014, only 28% of test-takers even came close, clocking in at about 101 hours of GMAT prep.

GMAT prep

Take another look at that graph. An astounding 44% actually did less than 50 hours of studying. No wonder the mean GMAT score for all test-takers is an underwhelming 500 points.

Students simply aren’t putting in the required time and effort. They’re giving up early. They’re underestimating the difficulty of the exam. They’re overestimating their own skills, and assuming natural academic talent will be enough to earn a high score.

Many students are not doing the recommended 2000-3000 GMAT practice questions. They’re not completing 10-12 mock exams to build endurance, time-management skills, and pinpoint weak areas.

In decades of coaching students for the GMAT, we’ve seen this lack of follow-through sabotage even the smartest people, time and time again.

Harnessing Your Grit & Powering Through the GMAT

Nailing the GMAT really is a game of passion and perseverance—of sheer grit. How badly do you want that high score? How hard will you work to get it?

Over decades of coaching students, we’ve discovered it takes approximately  200 hours of prep to get a 700+ score. That’s a lot of study hours squeezed into evenings and weekends, between family obligations, and after long days at work. It takes serious commitment.

GMAT test prep is hard, there are setbacks, and the process can be exhausting. Such is life, right?

Your willingness to tackle the GMAT challenge head-on, and see it through to the very end, leaving no stone unturned, is what ultimately determines your success on this exam.

The grit you develop during GMAT prep will continue to bear fruit, as you face new, and probably even more difficult challenges at business school. Ultimately, grit is what will shape you as a leader.

The way you face the GMAT, and persevere to master those mind-bending quant and verbal problems, is a reflection of how you’ll tackle every other high-stakes challenge you’ll meet in life.

Remember: Duckworth has proven that grit is the great equalizer: it’s not about smarts, past academic performance, or even being the best at something—achieving your goals is all about pushing harder when the majority of other people simply give up.

That’s your edge. Use it to power through your GMAT prep, master the exam, and make your MBA dream a reality.

Have the motivation and commitment, but need practical help in a particular GMAT topic area? Browse the resources below for targeted support.

Resources to help you persevere through GMAT prep

1. Study with an expert GMAT coach at Quantum: Browse our top-rated courses and private tutoring options

2. Access free GMAT Quant & Verbal workshops in Toronto & Montreal: See a list of upcoming free GMAT workshops

3. Talk directly with a Quantum GMAT expert about structuring your study strategy, how Quantum courses work, or the MBA admission process: Request a free phone call here

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Free GMAT Prep in Toronto: 4 Totally Free GMAT Workshops to Attend this January

GMAT prep

Read time: 4 minutes

Live in Toronto and plan to take the GMAT in 2018? Chances are, getting down to some serious GMAT prep is one of your top new year resolutions.

But once the holidays are over, the decorations come down (and the frost sets in), studying is probably the very last thing you feel like doing!

Don’t give up just yet. There are numerous GMAT events happening in the city—each one designed to help kick-start your prep (and resist the urge to hibernate).

The best part? They’re all totally FREE.

Free GMAT resources and workshops are truly excellent ways to get practical, proven support from experts—without the cost of a professional GMAT course.

It’s amazing how many test-takers either don’t know about these events, or simply don’t take advantage.

Get ahead of the curve! Take out your calendar, and reserve yourself a spot in at least one of these incredibly helpful upcoming GMAT events.

Free Event #1: Introduction to GMAT Workshop

The Introduction to GMAT Workshop should be your top priority and first stop. It offers a complete “GMAT orientation” to anyone who is new to the exam (hasn’t taken it before).

During the 4-hour event, students get a guided tour of the exam, including its overall structure, the contents of each section, and how scoring works.

Not sure how to approach studying? At the Intro to GMAT workshop, an experienced instructor walks students through a 5-point study plan, including how to find quality study materials.

You’ll also work through several practice questions as a group, and learn some helpful problem-solving techniques and tips.

Overall, this event is the best way to beat procrastination and really get the ball rolling on your GMAT prep.

The January Intro to GMAT Workshop fills up fast though, and the registration deadline is almost here—so grab a seat before it’s too late.

Register for the Next Intro to GMAT Workshop in Toronto

Free Event #2: GMAT Mock Exam

Were you planning to take a mock GMAT exam at some point during your prep?

Many students wait until they’ve studied a bit before taking a mock, to improve their chances at a promising score—but this approach defeats the true purpose of the practice test.

Mock exams should be taken before you’ve done even a single practice question, as a way to measure your baseline score, and identify key strengths and weaknesses.

You’ll need this information to map out a targeted GMAT prep plan. The baseline score is also crucial for tracking future progress.

So don’t wait to take the mock. Reserve your spot at the upcoming January exam happening at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

See when the next Mock GMAT Exam is scheduled

Free Event #3: GMAT Math Refresher

Many, many students feel anxious about tackling GMAT math questions. Even though the exam tests only middle school and high school math concepts, the Quant section can be very intimidating.

In fact, “math anxiety” scares away a sizeable number of test-takers every year—smart, capable people who would rather give up on attending a top B-school than face the exam.

Don’t be one of them! Attend a free GMAT Math Refresher and get a complete overview of every type of Quant problem you’ll face on the exam.

Work through basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry problems as a group, and learn some helpful techniques for tackling Quant questions.

This is a great event for building up your math confidence, debunking GMAT math “myths”, and learning how to prepare for this part of the exam.

See when the next GMAT Math Refresher is taking place

Free Event #4: GMAT Integrated Reasoning Workshop

Integrated Reasoning (IR) is one of the toughest sections on the GMAT. IR questions ask students to analyze multiple streams of data by applying several skills at once: logical reasoning, math, and reading comprehension.

Out of all the problems you’ll face on the exam, IR questions are considered the most reflective of real-world business challenges.

But this section is also the newest on the exam, having been implemented just a few years ago in 2012. Since then, it’s been a source of confusion for both test-takers and B-school admissions teams.

Why is it scored separately from the rest of the exam? How much weight does your IR score carry? What’s the best way to attack each type of IR question?

If you’re not sure how Integrated Reasoning works on the GMAT, or how to approach prep, do yourself a favour and attend a free workshop.

The Demystifying Integrated Reasoning Workshop is the ideal way to understand each of the four IR question-types, work through some problems, and find reliable study tools.

See upcoming dates for January IR Workshops

And there you have it. Four genuinely helpful, totally free events to jumpstart your GMAT prep. There’s no better way to shake off January fatigue and get moving toward your B-school goals.

Bonus Event:

So busy that you can’t attend a live GMAT workshop? No problem. There’s even something for the over-booked, over-worked student. Get yourself a spot at the Secrets of a Successful GMAT Study Plan Webinar.

Attend online and get all of the tips and practical advice available at the live, Intro to GMAT workshop.

Didn’t see what you needed here? Looking for a complete list of free Toronto GMAT events, or workshops taking place in other cities?

Click here for a comprehensive schedule of upcoming free GMAT events

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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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Does the GMAT Really Measure Your Business Skills? 3 Examples

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

For many people, big standardized tests like the GMAT lack real-world relevance. It’s hard to figure out how the abstract problems you’re asked to solve reflect your true intelligence or professional potential.

Looking at the list of topics tested on the GMAT, you might be scratching your head thinking, What do algebraic exponents have to do with my leadership skills or business acumen?

How does my knowledge of misplaced modifiers prove my potential as an entrepreneur? What is a misplaced modifier, anyway?!

Lack of clarity on these points can cause a major motivational problem for test-takers.  After all, it’s hard to get amped up to study for a test that seems irrelevant, or even unfair.

So let’s clarify the true intent of the GMAT. Let’s look at how these seemingly random problems really do test your readiness for business school, and the challenges of a career in business.

1. Critical Thinking: It’s More than Just a Business Buzzword

“Critical thinking” is a term that gets tossed around a lot when describing the GMAT, and it’s become increasingly associated with business success as well.

The Washington Post recently reported that mentions of critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009. They cited 21,000 healthcare and 6,700 management postings all containing some reference to the skill. But what exactly is critical thinking?

Definitions vary, depending on where you look. However, descriptions of critical thinking almost always include:

  • the ability to work through a problem logically and identify the most reasonable solution
  • the ability to evaluate your own analytical strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to improve
  • the ability to consider multiple view points and integrate data from several sources while problem-solving

When we think of critical thinking in these fundamental terms, all of the GMAT quant and verbal questions suddenly become far more relevant and reasonable.

The way GMAT questions are structured forces students to learn very specific problem-solving strategies—techniques that focus on logical reasoning, systematic procedures, and continuous self-improvement.

These are precisely the skills you will need to succeed in business school, and at work, while performing tasks such as:

  • analyzing and explaining risks
  • assessing opportunities and competition
  • using and managing information systems
  • communicating with team members, clients, and other stakeholders
  • evolving long-term goals and plans
  • evaluating the success of initiatives
  • analyzing markets
  • allocating resources
  • analyzing and resolving human resources challenges

You may not need to become an expert in algebra or English idioms, but you absolutely do need the critical thinking skills it takes to break down and solve those math and verbal problems.

2. Big Data Makes Integrated Reasoning a Top-rated Business Skill

There is no question that the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions get very close to the challenges you will face in, and beyond, business school.

All of those graphs, tables, and texts you have to analyze on the exam? They are very similar to the mini case studies you will encounter during your MBA.

Business schools want to see that you can integrate data from several different sources, make sense of it all, and pull out the information that matters most.

And after business school? The applications of integrated reasoning go far beyond the classroom.  Now that we’ve entered the age of “big data”, this type of analytical skill has become increasingly sought-after by hiring managers.

Companies need new hires who can work with enormous streams of incoming data, and turn them into meaningful, actionable insights. Otherwise, all that feedback is just noise.

These survey findings by GMAC prove just how relevant integrated reasoning and analytics are to today’s business employers:

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3. Focus, Time Management & Grit: Key Soft Skills Tested by the GMAT

In the world of business, soft skills are often considered just as important (or even more important) than technical competency.

More than ever, candidates for a career in business are told that certain intangible qualities can be crucial for long term success. But which qualities matter most?

To answer this question, Forbes recently surveyed over 100 HR managers, CEOs, and recruiters to discover the top four most important soft skills in business. Which skills ranked high on the list?

  • the ability to focus on a challenging task for prolonged periods of time
  • the ability to manage time effectively
  • the ability to work under pressure, cope with change, and persevere in the face of challenges (otherwise known as “grit”)

Consider what it takes to successfully prepare for and excel at the GMAT. Sustained focus, time management, and grit are crucial components of every exam success story. Business schools want candidates with those skills, and so do top companies.

In this sense, it’s not so much about the individual questions you face on the GMAT, but the overall dedication, grace under pressure, and perseverance you prove by nailing the test.

Feeling a bit more convinced that the GMAT really does measure your business skills? Ready to tackle GMAT prep with renewed zeal?

Get started by attending a free, informational GMAT workshop near you.

See a list of upcoming free GMAT events here

Or, find a professional GMAT course to strengthen your logical reasoning and analytical test-taking skills.

Browse available GMAT courses here

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GMAT Study Strategy for Non-native English Speakers: 4 Key Steps

GMAT study

Read time: 5 minutes

Not sure your English is advanced enough to tackle the GMAT? Concerned about performing well on the verbal sections of the exam?

On the one hand, you might have stronger skills than you realize. Where native speakers learn English “by ear”, non-native speakers often study the building blocks of English first—like the parts of speech and grammar rules. Your knowledge of structure could help you do well on the GMAT’s Sentence Correction questions.

On the other hand, reading comprehension and critical reasoning may be weak spots for you, due to a limited vocabulary, and lack of experience reading complex English texts.

In the months leading up to the exam, there are several ways you can strengthen your performance across all of these areas.

With the right strategies and consistent practice, non-native English speakers can achieve a competitive verbal score. Here are four steps to get started.

1. Attend a Free Verbal Refresher at a B-School Near You

Before you create a GMAT study plan, ensure you know exactly what kinds of questions will appear on the verbal sections of the exam.

Look for a free GMAT verbal refresher class, most likely held at a business school near you. Quantum partners with B-schools to run free verbal workshops on a regular basis. They are designed to help students understand the verbal skills they must learn to successfully challenge the exam.

The verbal refresher will provide an overview of GMAT verbal topics and question types. An experienced GMAT instructor will explain the rules of usage and principles of composition most often violated on the exam.

This is an excellent way to understand what you’re up against, and start identifying your own verbal strengths and weaknesses.

See a list of upcoming GMAT Verbal Refreshers

2. Read, Talk & Think in English Every Day

Immersing yourself in the English language is an important key to improving your verbal skills. Immersion means talking, reading, and even thinking in English as often as possible.

An excellent first step is to set daily goals for reading in English. Challenge yourself to read one short story, essay, or news article each day.

Talk about what you’ve read, in English, with a friend or colleague. Discuss the subject or argument, offer your own point of view, and ask your friends what they think.

This is the ideal way to study idioms, structure, argumentation, and new vocabulary in context—rather than simply memorizing concepts from a study guide or grammar book.

Plus, daily reading practice will dramatically improve your reading comprehension in English, which is crucial for performing well on both the verbal and quant sections of the GMAT.

Not sure where to look for quality material? Try publications like The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Economist for articles and essays on a wide range of topics, including politics, business, technology, culture, and international news.

3. Keep Your Dictionary Close: Never Ignore an Unknown Word

On the popular GMAT forum,, one non-native English speaker shared the study techniques she used to boost her exam score from 460 to 760. In particular, she emphasized the importance of using a dictionary:

it is important to have a dictionary with you when studying, especially for the verbal part. Do not ignore any unknown word; check the meaning from a dictionary for any such word. Do that even when you don’t remember the meaning of the word the second time you see it. This helped me a lot, especially for Critical Reasoning questions when knowing the meaning of a single word can make a significant difference…

It’s a good idea to make a list of the new words you have learned, and use flashcards to test yourself. But don’t stop there. Whenever possible, challenge yourself to use those new words while speaking, writing, and thinking in English.

4. Consider a Verbal GMAT Course for Extra Support

Self-study can be especially challenging for non-native English speakers. Finding the best study materials and collecting authentic practice questions is time consuming. Figuring out which strategies work best for different verbal questions is tricky, and analyzing your performance after practice tests can be particularly difficult.

One of the top advantages of a professional Verbal GMAT course is getting personalized help from an expert instructor. Courses generally take place over two or three days, and review every aspect of each verbal section: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

All of the study materials and practice questions are provided. And most importantly, students learn proven strategies for approaching and solving each verbal question type.

Of course, it is possible to prepare for the GMAT without taking a course—but the extra support and guidance can offer a real strategic advantage (and confidence boost) to non-native English speakers.

Looking for more information on GMAT prep? Want to take a free verbal or math refresher, trial class, or enroll in a GMAT Workshop?

Click here for a list of free GMAT events and resources

Check out Quantum’s Comprehensive Verbal GMAT Course

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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 (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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GMAT Prep & Math Anxiety: Practical Tips for Defeating the Beast!

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

Is “math anxiety” throwing off your GMAT prep? Thinking you might abandon the exam altogether because of those dreaded quant sections?

You’re definitely not alone. Studies show that math-related stress is on the rise. In fact, a recent survey commissioned by Change the Equation (an education advocacy group), found that a whopping 29% of Americans say, “I can’t do math.”

Survey participants reported strong feelings of inadequacy and fear when faced with everyday math problems.  These feelings run so deep, that a full 30% said they’d rather scrub a dirty bathroom then attempt a simple calculation! This might be funny if it wasn’t so worrying.

Math anxiety is a formidable beast. It feeds on avoidance, negativity, and a grievous miss-judgement of your own quantitative abilities. Low confidence in math takes out many smart, capable GMAT challengers every year.

So how can you defeat the beast, uncover your true math skills, and achieve your best possible score on the GMAT’s quant sections?

Here are a few proven strategies to get started.

1. Start With Basic, Non-threatening GMAT Math Topics

If math stresses you out, don’t pile on the pressure by tackling advanced GMAT topics like quadratics, probability, and exponents, right out of the gate. Set those aside for now.

Go back to the basics. Build your confidence by reviewing simple, foundational GMAT math, such as fractions, decimals, and percents.

Professor Paula Sloan from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business works with GMAT candidates who show potential, but are weak in math. She advises them to go back to when they first lost their way in math, and start with those basic concepts.

Sloan says, “I don’t believe that there is a math gene that can be turned on, but you can go back and then build up from there…go back to what you’re comfortable with and then go forward. This always seems to work.”

2. Don’t Isolate Yourself: Seek out GMAT Prep Support

A big part of Professor Sloan’s strategy involves talking through students’ past struggles with math. Not only is this process therapeutic, it also helps identify bad habits and potentially helpful study techniques for each student.

You may not have access to Professor Sloan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek out some personalized help from other sources. Ideas include:

  • joining a GMAT forum, like BEATtheGMAT or GMATclub (there are many discussion threads on math anxiety, which offer tips from test-takers, admissions experts, and prep coaches)


  • attending a free Pre-GMAT Math Refresher, hosted at local business schools by test prep companies (these are great for math-averse students who need help creating a study strategy)


  • signing up for a professional GMAT course or private coaching (you’ll work through hundreds of practice math questions with an expert, and build an arsenal of strategies for tackling tough problems)

Methodical practice, scaled up over time, combined with export support, is ideal for defeating math anxiety. As you begin nailing more and more difficult practice questions, this idea of yourself as “math incompetent” will shrink away.

Using this technique, Sloan has seen GMAT scores improve by as much as 100 points.

3. Demystify the True Source of Your Math-Panic

Are you plagued by sweating palms, darting eyes, and a racing pulse every time you sit down to try a few GMAT math questions? Drawing a blank when faced with challenging problems?

Many students believe these responses are rooted in some complex psychological problem—like a math “phobia” it could take years to get over. This is generally not true.

Your math-panic has a very simple source: lack of familiarity with the topics and question-types you are attempting.  Uncertainty mixes with low self-confidence and sets off a chain reaction, leading to total math meltdown.

What can you do about it? Consider the following:

1) Make sure you set aside enough time to prepare. Plan to study for 150-200 hours, and aim to complete 8-10 practice tests. Inadequate prep leads to uncertainty and panic, because you’re left with gaps in your knowledge.

Check out this post to avoid other, stress-inducing GMAT study mistakes.

2) Don’t just blindly do and re-do practice math questions. You need specific strategies for each topic and question-type. The way you’re approaching tough questions could be the source of your errors—and your mounting frustration.

We all have bad study habits. Flush yours out with some expert help. Sign up for a free GMAT workshop to get the ball rolling.

3) Don’t forget simple stress-reduction techniques, like deep-breathing during practice sessions, making time to burn off anxiety with exercise, and guarding against negative (self-deprecating) thoughts. These are good strategies for anyone tackling the GMAT, not just the math-averse!

Remember, you are likely far better at math than you currently realize. Don’t give up on the GMAT. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to taming the math monster, once and for all.

Check out the links below for some truly helpful (and free) resources.

Click here to see a list of FREE GMAT Math Refreshers happening near you

Click to here to browse all FREE GMAT workshops and events




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Top 5 Free GMAT Prep Events & Why You Should Attend Them

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

Considering challenging the GMAT exam this year? Already mapping out your study plan?

Before you enroll in a GMAT course, or crack open a study guide, make sure you do what so many students don’t: take advantage of the many free GMAT resources available near you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re still deliberating over business schools, or have fully committed to taking the exam—there’s a free GMAT event to support every stage of the process.

In this post, we break down five of the most valuable (and free!) GMAT events for potential test-takers. You’ll learn what goes on at each event, and what you can expect to gain from attending.

At the end of the post, look out for links to these (and other) free GMAT events at a location near you.

1. Free GMAT Prep Information Sessions

Attending a free GMAT info session should be priority number one for anyone who’s considering taking the exam. Why spend days researching how the exam works and what it covers, when you could attend a 3-4 hour event and get the details directly from a GMAT expert?

Many students underestimate or misunderstand the full scope and nature of the GMAT. The purpose of the info session is to demystify the process, and provide students with a clear and complete picture of what to expect from the exam.

What exactly do information sessions or GMAT workshops offer test-takers? Benefits include:

  • a complete overview of the GMAT exam structure and format
  • an introduction to each of the math and verbal content areas
  • the chance to get your questions answered by an expert GMAT instructor
  • the opportunity to learn some general test-taking strategies
  • the chance to work through some real GMAT practice questions
  • advice on how to build a truly effective study strategy (and avoid common pitfalls)

2. Free GMAT Webinars

Too busy to attend a local info session? Look for a test prep company that offers a similar experience in a webinar format.

Webinars are typically quite a bit shorter than in-person events, but you will still get a complete overview of how the exam works.

You can also expect to examine a range of test topics and question types, and will learn helpful study strategies from experienced GMAT instructors.

3. Free GMAT Mock Exams

Far too many students skip the GMAT mock exam. They’re either anxious about scoring low, or feel overconfident in their abilities. Others prefer to wait and take the mock exam after studying a little, to boost their score.

Unfortunately, in order to be helpful, the mock exam must be taken before you start studying. This is how you discover your baseline score, strengths and weaknesses.

Proceeding without this information is like navigating in the dark. You won’t know which topics or question types to focus on most, or how to set a reasonable score goal.

Take a free mock exam. It will act as a compass, guiding and focussing the rest of your GMAT prep.

4. Free GMAT Personal Assessments

Once you’ve taken a mock exam, you can request a free personal assessment. You’ll find that good test prep companies offer the assessment for free because it helps students understand where to focus their study, and which GMAT prep course would be most helpful.

There’s no obligation to sign up for a course though. You can take the information you get from the assessment and use it however you wish. What can you expect to gain from a one-on-one assessment?

Takeaways include:

  • an analysis of your mock exam performance by an experienced GMAT instructor
  • a breakdown of your strengths and weaknesses
  • which study strategies you should use to achieve your target score
  • how long you should plan to study to reach your score goal

5. Free GMAT Math & Verbal Refreshers

Several test prep companies run free math and verbal “refreshers.” These are intensive 3-4 hour classes that run through the topics and question types you’ll encounter in the GMAT math and verbal sections.

If you’re anxious about your math skills, or want to learn more about the questions you’ll face on the exam, you should definitely consider a free math refresher. These are run by GMAT instructors who walk you through the algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and word problems featured on the exam.

Concerned about the grammar and composition skills tested on the GMAT? Is English your second (or third) language? Attend a free verbal refresher before you start studying. You’ll get a valuable overview of which verbal question types to expect on the test, plus tips for avoiding common traps and errors.

Both refreshers offer insights that will help you plan your study strategy, and feel much more confident about challenging the GMAT.

Ready to find out more about these and other free GMAT events happening in Quebec and Ontario?

Click here for Quantum’s list of upcoming free GMAT events

Already attended an event and taken a mock GMAT exam?

Click here to learn how you can get a free personal assessment