10 Ways to Beat the GMAT This Year!

Preparing for tests, especially the GMAT, is no easy task! In between filling out MBA applications, applying for college scholarships, and researching the Best Business Schools, you have to carve out several months for GMAT test prep. These free GMAT tips will help you jumpstart your GMAT test prep!

Create an Error Log. An Error Log is a spreadsheet designed to help you track your incorrect questions for later review. Add to it on an ongoing basis. You will want to re-take GMAT practice questions multiple times to make sure you do not get them incorrect a second or third time. This will improve your GMAT score more than you think! Free GMAT Error Logs are available online at GMAT websites such as Beat the GMAT and GMAT Club.

Practice online. The GMAT is an online exam, so to ace the GMAT you will need to become an expert at negotiating between the screen and your scratch pad. GMAT test prep books such as the OG, or those made by Kaplan, Powerscore, and MGMAT are excellent sources of GMAT practice questions, but make sure you also do a significant amount of studying for the GMAT online. Mimic the test-taking environment as best you can as you study. Websites such as Grockit and MGMAT offer six free GMAT practice tests with their membership or purchase of one of their books. Ideal for adjusting to an online format!

Learn your grammar. Success on the SC portion of the GMAT entirely depends on your ability to recognize the most-tested grammatical errors. Use a good English-grammar book or a reputable GMAT online SC resource to review the basics of subject-verb agreement, independent/dependent clauses, and grammatical construction.

Take full-length tests. The GMAT requires a great deal of stamina. Even if you have limited resources, most test-prep companies such as Knewton, MGMAT, Kaplan, etc. offer one free GMAT practice test online.

Understand why you get questions wrong. Some students believe that more questions answered = better scores on the GMAT. Fundamentally, answered a ton of GMAT practice questions will only lead to faster pacing, but without solid strategies and disciplined reviewing, your overall score will not improve. Don’t be a lazy reviewer!

Study in shorter blocks. Don’t burn yourself out as you aim for better GMAT scores. It’s better to study in shorter 2-3 blocks, taking frequent breaks to eat, stretch, and exercise, rather than to park yourself in front of your computer and books for 10 hours at a time. The GMAT takes commitment, but you don’t want to become a GMAT zombie.

Don’t neglect AWA. Read through the free GMAT list of essay topics for each AWA essay provided for free on mba.com. You will want to practice writing at least 3 of each so that you are comfortable with the timing guidelines. Have a template in mind for each GMAT essay and get feedback from other GMAT students.

Take notes as you read RC passages. Keep it short and simple, but make sure to extract and write down the important information in each GMAT passage: topic, scope, author’s tone, function of each paragraph, and main idea. That way you already have predictions for most of the GMAT RC questions and you will save time by not having to constantly re-read the passage.

Use “12TEN” for Data Sufficiency. Instead of writing down ABCDE for the answer choices on your scratch pad. Use the acronym “12TEN” to represent each choice. T = together. E = either. N = neither. This will help you keep straight what each GMAT answer choice means, and allow you to cross off the options quickly and efficiently as you evaluate the statements.

Backsolve and Pick Numbers. Use these GMAT Quant strategies as much as possible on the more difficult GMAT Math practice questions. Remember that there is often more than one way to get the correct answer! Choose the method of least resistance.

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Argument Essay sample + feedback

Looking for a sample Argument Essay with some expert feedback? Here’s a real essay from a fellow GMAT-student!

PROMPT:

The following paragraph recently appeared in an editorial printed in the opinion section of a local newspaper:

The recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers and an absence of leadership on the part of the city council. In order to rectify the burgeoning growth of crime that threatens the community, the city council must address this issue seriously. Instead of spending time on peripheral issues such as education quality, community vitality, and job opportunity, the city council must realize that the crime issue is serious and double the police force, even if this action requires budget cuts from other city programs.

With the allotted time remaining, discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.

ESSAY:

The argument claims that the recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers and an absence of leadership on the part of the city council and hence the city council must react seriously to the situation by doubling the police force even if doing so requires budget cuts from other city programs. The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there is no clear evidence. Hence the argument is weak or unconvincing and has several flaws.

First and most importantly, the argument readily assumes that the recent surge in violence in the southern part of the city is a result of a shortage of police officers. This statement is a stretch in a sense that it fails to establish that the shortage of police officers is the only reason for the recent surge in violence. Other factors such as poor economy, a lack of job opportunity and a declined in education quality can also result in a surge in violence. Take the US for example, its rate of violence crimes increases with that of the unemployment which is currently at 9.8%. Without establishing the root cause of the situation carefully, the argument may lead to corrective actions which will not produce the desired outcome.

Second the argument claims that the city council does not realize the seriousness of the recent surge in violence and therefore is not addressing the surge in violence seriously. This is again very weak and fails to prove that the city council is not addressing the surge in violence seriously enough. It could be a case whereby the city council is still working on the issue but there have been no concrete actions yet.

Finally, the argument claims that the city council should double the police force at the expenses of other issues such as education quality, community vitality and job opportunity to curb the recent surge in violence. This again is a far-fetch conclusion in that it did not explain how doubling the police force can help in curbing the recent surge in violence even if it true that indeed a shortage of police force is the cause of the surge in violence.

In summary, the argument is flawed and therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthen if the author clearing mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to ascertain the root cause and subsequently the solution to a situation, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors and weigh them appropriately before arriving at the conclusion.

FEEDBACK:

This essay is absolutely on the right track. It has clear, forceful writing & a good grasp of the task at hand! Here’s the bullet-points where it could be fine-tuned:

– Style-wise, “hence” is used twice in the opening paragraph; it’s hard to come up with good transition words, but varying up your diction can be impressive to the reader

– For this thesis, the reader is going to look straight at the last sentence of the opening paragraph: “Hence the argument is weak or unconvincing and has several flaws.”

Look for a way to combine this with the previous sentence to make it strong and more stand-alone. The word “or” weakens this thesis – why not use “and”? Always aim for the strongest language possible when criticizing the argument.

-1st paragraph – the phrases “in a sense” and “may lead” are a bit wishy-washy; excellent logic is displayed here and the link between crime and unemployment is strong. It could be improved by a more specific example, such as a case where someone unemployed committed a crime.

-2nd paragraph – There’s not enough of a reason why the city council doesn’t realize. As in the first body paragraph, can it be related  to the real world? How do city councils function? How could they be unaware?

– 3rd paragraph – “far-fetched” should be written instead of “far-fetch”  – What would be even more powerful here would be to discuss how lack of quality education, community vitality and job opportunity can lead to an increase in violence that would overwhelm even a doubled police force

– Conclusion – It’s excellent, with a nice adding in of how it could be strengthened!

Make sure to leave 1-2 min. at the end to proofread your Argument essay – A couple grammatical errors are not massively important, but they do detract from the overall reader impression, so practice writing several essays until you can effectively manage your time!

Quick Tips to Shift your GMAT AWA Score

1. Use effective transitions. Transitions are words or phrases that connect ideas. They are used by writers to assist the reader in understanding shifts in thought between ideas. They also reveal the relationship between ideas presented in an essay, and they reveal the role a paragraph plays with the rest of the essay. You’ve probably noticed a lot of Transition words in the Reading Comp passages in the GMAT Verbal section without even realizing it! This table provides an overview of most of the common types of Transitions!

2. Don’t try to “have it both ways. ” Choose a side for the Issue essay and stick with it. Don’t try to take a “middle of the road” approach. Even if you don’t 100% believe in the side you’ve chosen to defend, defend it to your full capacity. In 30 minutes, you won’t be able to address the full complexity of the issue.

3. Make a concession before reiterating your thesis. A great way to strengthen your own argument is to acknowledge that there is in fact complexity to the issue. However, if you bring up and describe the opposing side, make sure to criticize it effectively and reiterate that your side is the only one that is valid. This is a great tool to use in your conclusion and can work in either the Issue essay or the Argument essay.

4. Don’t make up examples. Made up statistics and facts won’t impress the GMAT graders, but strong organization, logical arguments, and specific supportive examples will. You can see from the GMAT rubric that the structure, logic, and clarity of your essay are what counts the most, not its level of scholarship. You can get a perfect score even if you know very little of the subject matter.

5. Leave time to proofread. Make sure to spend at least 2-3 minutes at the end re-reading and editing your essay. Are your transitions clear? Are there any spelling or grammar errors? Focus on conveying your argument succinctly and forcefully and look to eliminate long-winded or pedantic phrases/clauses. Also avoid any slang or colloquial speech. The argument essay needs to be formal, but more importantly, forceful, and a couple minutes of editing can really help improve your score!

10 Ways to Study for the GMAT in Just 30 Days

It’s possible to get a great GMAT score after only 1 month of study, but it requires hard work and discipline. In the middle of applying for scholarships and filling out MBA applications, you’ll need to devote a good amount of time to your GMAT practice as you’ll be cramming what is typically a 2-3 month process into just one! There are excellent GMAT resources online: from free GMAT practice tests to great Test Prep articles. Follow these GMAT study tips to maximize the free GMAT resources for better scores in just one month!

1. Start with the Official Guide. Learn the format, content, and do a general overview of the GMAT test itself using the OG 12th editions. Make sure to go to MBA.com and

2. Study every day, and don’t procrastinate! You will need to be disciplined about your studies. Work backwards from your test date. Don’t cram on the weekends only! With only one month to study, you’ll need to do at least some GMAT every single day.

3. Use MGMAT SC & Powerscore CR to supplement your materials. After the OG, these are two Verbal books that can take your score to the next level.

4. Join Grockit, and Beat the GMAT. These online GMAT sites are vital to building your comfort level with the computer-based format of the GMAT. Practicing in the test-format will only increase your chances of doing well!

5. Study in short, intensive blocks. GMAT study blocks that are too long will ultimately wear you down. Make sure to rotate your study topics often and abide by it, even if you’d like to squeeze in a few more hours. Staying up all night to complete yet another practice test is not always the best choice.

6. Track down success stories to get inspired. If you have a 600 and are eyeing a 700+ score, there are many people out there who have made that leap. Success leaves footprints. Find out what strategies are commonly used by 750+ students, what study plans they keep, and how they build their content-knowledge. Beat the GMAT is an excellent tool for this!

7. Create an Error Log. Re-take quizzes and practice tests from the very beginning of your GMAT studies. Do you find yourself getting the same questions incorrect? This can be a sign that you haven’t learned the content you think you have. Be honest with yourself about what is “sinking in” and what is not. Use an Error Log to assess. You can find many templates online

8. Review all questions. Use the 40/60 rule. 40% of your time should be spent actually answering questions. At minimum, 60% of your time should be spent reviewing.

9. Take at least 1 GMAT practice test per week. Don’t take your practice tests sitting cross-legged on you bed. Utilize your desk and scratch pad as you would on the actual test. Your body needs to adjust to what it feels like to take a 3+ hour test. Because you only have one month to prepare, you should plan to take 4 practice tests, although 6 would be ideal.

10. Use a strategy for each question type. Not only do you have to choose a strategy that works for you, but you have to implement it every time, practicing enough so that is becomes second-hand. Ballet dancers practice a pirouette millions of times, so that when they perform onstage they don’t have to think about it. You want to do the same thing for GMAT.

Learnist: How to Study for the GMAT in 30 Days

GMAT_30daysNeed to cram for the GMAT in only a month? Here’s how to get the most out of 30 days of study-time!

There’s only one “Official Guide,” so whether you have 30 days or 6 months to study, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy! Learn the format, content, and do a general overview of the GMAT test itself using the OG 13th edition. Make sure to go to MBA.com and take advantage of the official prep material provided there!

Study every day, and don’t procrastinate! You will need to be disciplined about your studies. Work backwards from your test date. Don’t cram on the weekends only! With only one month to study, you’ll need to do at least some GMAT every single day.

If you need a bit more structure, Magoosh offers a free 30 Day Study Schedule that you can amend to your needs.

If you struggle with GMAT Verbal and really can only emphasize one of the three question-types, you’re better off memorizing the tested-concepts for Sentence Correction:

  • Among/Between, As/Like
  • Correlative Constructions
  • Diction
  • Forms of Comparison
  • Fragments and Run-on sentences
  • Grammatical Construction
  • Idioms
  • Logical Predication/Modification
  • Mass/count words
  • Noun-verb agreement
  • Parallelism
  • Passive vs. Active Voice
  • Prepositions
  • Pronouns
  • Rhetorical Construction
  • Verb Form
  • Wordiness/Redundancy

If you can spot these errors, you’re likely to move through the SC questions quickly, and thus you’ll have more time to analyze the Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension passages. Learn more 30-Day Study Tips on Learnist!