Preparing For The Gmat 2009


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Akil Bello's ( presentation given at the PhD Project annual conference 2009. The slides have notes starting at about slide 25.

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  • You must create a preparation plan that you can stick with. You must account for expected events in your life (summer weddings), unexpected events (struggles with content), and frustration. You should also allot time to research and choosing providers, available classes or tutors etc.
  • Self-study like Do-it-Yourself projects can be effective but often take longer and cost more than just paying someone to do it right the first time.
  • Getting help means more than just paying for a course. Signing up for a course or tutor is the starting point. You must fully apply yourself to the program to be successful. You must BUY IN to whatever process is outlined by the program you sign up for. Buying in means you apply the techniques the program describes. Buying in means you accept that the instructor knows better than you and you take the advice offered. Buying in means you learn to apply techniques and use tools you may not love. Be ready to listen and learn.
  • You must change how you prepare and how you think about the test. If you follow the old habits and old paradigm the likely outcome will be the same. Actively develop a new approach to the test, a new opinion of the test, a new appreciation of the test, and you will achieve a different and better score. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back…. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill... you stay in wonderland and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.” — Lawrence Fishburne (Morpheus), - The Matrix
  • Proper preparation for the GMAT requires significant investment of time. You have to be willing to dedicate the time to learning not simply doing. You have to be ready for the GMAT to be your part-time job and significant other.
  • Consider the correlation between GMAT score and hours spent on task. More time on task means better scores.
  • When you sign up for a course or tutor, you need to demand the full value for your investment. Ask questions, ask for explanations, and seek clarification. Use your teacher’s email or phone number if provided. There is no pride only success and failure.  Don’t allow pride to stop you from asking for help. Don't be afraid to be the "annoying" student who is constantly asking questions. Question aren't the problem for a good teacher, questions that indicate you did no thinking or work on your own are the problem.
  • The GMAT tests clear specific content areas. The better you know that the better you will do.
  • The object of your study should be to learn how to think like the test. The GMAT tests basic rules in a sophisticated fashion, required logical reasoning in both quant and verbal settings. The goal of the GMAT is to test your “higher order thinking.”
  • Learn the content: there is no substitute. The test tests what it tests and so learn what it tests . There is no substitute for having a fully developed knowledge base that is deep, accurate, and GMAT specific. If you do not have the information tested memorized and immediately available, you will struggle when questions ask you to apply that information in unusual ways.
  • A prime number is an integer with exactly 2 distinct factors, one and itself. Not necessarily prime Must be prime Must be prime Must be prime Cannot be prime. This slide should make clear how the GMAT tests a concept, while the definition of prime is simple the application of that definition in each successive question above is increasingly complex. The more of the above questions you can understand and prepare your self to answer accurately the better you will do.
  • Focus on learning to recognize the typical ways the content will be presented. The GMAT tests your understanding of concepts and content by presenting it to you by camouflaging that concept. Hone your ability to recognize a concept tested. Learn to identify the rules the GMAT tests in all context both on the GMAT and outside of the GMAT. If you are unable to identify a concept being tested, it is unlikely that you will be able to answer the question correctly and efficiently. The more readily and easily you recognize the concepts tested the more easily you can answer a question.
  • Armed with the knowledge that the GMAT focuses on specific rules allows you to be come an active test-taker, rather than a passive one. Passivity during the test creates inefficiency and diminishes confidence, leading to panic and mistakes.
  • While doing a volume of questions is necessary , it is not sufficient to improve your score significantly. To improve your score you must learn content not questions. The content is fixed, however, questions on that content vary greatly. You must understand what each question is testing and how the GMAT “spins” a particular content area or concept. Only by truly understanding the content will the spin in the question become irrelevant. Don’t just do questions, work on discrete and specific skills. Use a set of questions to build your ability to recognize concepts, use a set to work on your ability to guess effectively, use a set to work on your ability to identify GMAT traps, etc.
  • You must develop, perfect (not review), and practice all your strategies before the GMAT in order to perform on the day of the test. Your strategies should be developed from the top down and become more and more question, content, and situation specific. You must know when and where to use each strategy. You must methodically and consistently apply these strategies in your practice in order to make them second nature and thus improve your efficiency on the real test.
  • Drawing visual aids will often assist you in guessing on geometry questions.
  • Not all practice is created equal. Ensure that you are practicing effectively and efficiently. The goal is not to “put in time” but rather to learn and develop test-appropriate habits. You are trying to practice in as efficient and effective way as possible. Be thoughtful about the work you do. Make sure you have a defined purpose before sitting down to do any set of questions or picking up any book. Practice and learning are not synonymous but are in most instances intricately linked. In order to do well on the GMAT you must first learn , then you must practice to lock in that learning. In order to ensure that your practice accomplishes its objective make sure you focus on the object of practice, which is reinforcement and application of learning. Effective practice is Organized Realistic Determined Analytical Patient
  • Accept the reality of situations and make the best of them. No one should be studying 4 hours after a full day of work, trying to take 3 practice tests in one weekend, or trying to focus effectively on GMAT homework while driving to VA or riding in a subway car. Choose tasks that can be accomplished well in the time and setting you have. Study flashcards on the train, do drills at your desk, use the OG on the plane, etc.
  • Reasons and excuses are very different things. If you don’t perform to your expected level either your expectation was inaccurate or your performance was flawed. Don’t make excuses, identify reasons for not performing to your expectation.
  • Don’t simply celebrate your successes and bemoan your failures, you must honestly analyze the root causes of each. Only by analyzing why you were successful or unsuccessful will you be able to prevent a repetition of the mistakes and start to develop practice strategies to improve your problem areas. You should also be honest with your coach and tutor about your successes and failures. You can’t get accurate, effective help if you don’t provide information. Finally, be honest with yourself. Owning your weaknesses is the only way to improve them. Practice thoughtfully: what's the purpose of the set: learn strategy? Apply strategy and assess time? Reinforce memorization ?
  • If you can learn, you can get over a 600 on the GMAT. The only impediments to that are how determined you are and how much you are willing to invest. Getting a good GMAT score requires investment of time, effort, brain power, pride, and potentially money. If you want a higher score, it is there to be had, the only question is are you determined enough to go get it. Do not expect to get instant improvement, improvements generally come in stages. Score changes tend to be incremental and match your learning style and pattern. Some changes come in floods, others in trickles. Learn to measure progress by your success with each question type, not only by your score change. Eventually, the two WILL align.
  • When walking down the street, reading a newspaper, or watching TV you should still recognize the rules that the GMAT tests when they are violated. This sign uses and incorrect idiom.
  • Focusing only on paper material is not in keeping with the format and delivery method of the test. This also extends to all other facets of your practice. You should consider the format, structure, and administration of the test and let that influence how you practice. You can’t practice solely on untimed sets if you are taking a timed test. Simulate the testing environment and rules when you take a practice test (use an erasable noteboard and marker, take the test in quiet but not silence, take the breaks, take the test in one sitting with essays, etc.).
  • Make sure you understand how you perform best given the time (are you more accurate if you slow down or not? ) Learn to understand when you are being efficient and when you are wasting time or staring fruitlessly Know when to let a question go. You should let the question go and guess if you cannot work productively towards and answer (not at some arbitrary pre-determined time) Confidence is a strong driver of performance and score, train yourself to be confident in your ability. Focus only on the question in front of you. Focus only on the things that help you get that question right. Worrying about the difficulty level of the question or whether you got the previous question correct are not helpful during your test.
  • Pacing is ultimately a question of determining who you are as a test taker and playing toward your strengths. Proper pacing accounts for not just the time allotted but also for individual skills and test-taking approaches. A methodical person will not answer as many questions as a more intuitive person but can achieve the same score. Develop a pacing plan that accounts for your strengths and weaknesses as well as for the format of the test. Pacing plans should be personal and take into account the adaptive scoring algorithm and, perhaps more importantly, your personal strengths and weaknesses. If you are a slow methodical test-test taker you need to maximize that and become more accurate. If you are a quick intuitive test taker you should maximize that tendency by supporting your intuition with information and completing as many problems as possible so that you gain greater exposure to the full scope of GMAT material.
  • This is the Hare’s test report. To learn more about the Tortoise and the Hare visit
  • This is the Tortoise’s test report. To learn more about the Tortoise and the Hare visit Accurately determining whether you are the Tortoise or the Hare will help you figure out your optimal pacing plan.
  • On this question the Tortoise would probably just try to work it out and hope to find the pattern. The Hare would more likely than not eliminate A and B because they are too small to be viable answers and then guess. To do this question accurately and efficiently you should know the summation formula, then you can get it correct without doing a vast number of calculations.
  • Preparing For The Gmat 2009

    1. 1. Effectively Preparing for the GMAT Akil Bello | Co-Founder Bell Curves
    2. 2.  Learn the test  Get help  Learn the content  Learn the content  Learn the content 10 Steps to a better GMAT score
    3. 3.  Learn the content  Learn the content  Perfect strategies  Practice effectively  Create a plan 10 Steps to a better GMAT score
    4. 4.   “ Bell Curves will provide you with the necessary skills to achieve your goal, it is up to you to follow your study plan and put forth the effort to get the results.” BT, 150 pt. improvement. Learn the Test
    5. 5.  Format  Scoring  Administrative procedures  Physical setting  Tools provided Learn the Test
    6. 6. Know the Format SECTION AND QUESTION TYPES NUMBER OF QUESTIONS ALLOTTED TIME SCORING Analytical Writing Assessment Analysis of an Issue Analysis of an Argument 1 1 60 minutes 30 minutes 30 minutes 0 – 6 (half-point increments) 8 minute break Quantitative Problem Solving Data Sufficiency 37 75 minutes 6 – 51 (1-point increments) 8 minute break Verbal Sentence Correction Critical Reasoning Reading Comprehension 41 75 minutes 6 – 51 (1-point increments)
    7. 7. 200 - 800 What is the total scaled score range? Understand the Scoring
    8. 8. 400 What is a “GOOD” score? Understand the Scoring is the 13 percentile ?
    9. 9. 550 What is a “GOOD” score? Understand the Scoring is the 50 percentile ?
    10. 10. 640 What is a “GOOD” score? Understand the Scoring is the 75 percentile ?
    11. 11. 670 What is a “GOOD” score? Understand the Scoring is the 85 percentile ?
    12. 12. 720 What is a “GOOD” score? Understand the Scoring is the 95 percentile ?
    13. 14. Understand the Scoring 7 - 52 What’s the range of scores in each sub-section?
    14. 15. Understand the Scoring 28 What’s a good sub-section score? in Verbal is the 43 th percentile in Quant is the 23 th percentile ?
    15. 16. Understand the Scoring 38 What’s a good sub-section score? in Verbal is the 83 th percentile in Quant is the 51 st percentile ?
    16. 17. Understand the Scoring 49 What’s a good sub-section score? In Verbal is the 99 th percentile in Quant is the 87 th percentile ?
    17. 18. The GMAT is a CAT .
    18. 19.           Understand the Scoring
    19. 20. Understanding how to skin a CAT will increase your chance of success.
    20. 21.  Get questions right  Maximize early performance  Don’t leave questions blank  Be prepared for the setting Keys to great CAT scores
    21. 22. Don’t be surprised by the use of advanced security measures such as palm vein readers.
    22. 23. Learn about the atmosphere of the test center and practice in similar surroundings.
    23. 24. Know the tools you can and cannot have with you.
    24. 25.    “ Bell Curves will provide you with the necessary skills to achieve your goal, it is up to you to follow your study plan and put forth the effort to get the results.” BT, 150 pt. improvement. Get Help
    25. 26. <ul><li>Tutors offer the greatest instructional value </li></ul><ul><li>Courses offer significant financial value </li></ul><ul><li>Self-study requires the greatest personal investment </li></ul>Typical preparation options
    26. 27. Self-study can work, but working with experts usually saves time and money.
    27. 28. Don’t just pay for help, buy in. If you do not fully commit you will impede your progress.
    28. 29. Actively change how you approach the test.
    29. 30. If you want to get the score, you will do the time. Accept that proper preparation will require a good deal of your time.
    30. 32. You may need to be annoying.
    31. 33.    “ I was accepted into Wharton, Chicago, and NYU. … I hope that I serve as example that the GMAT can be beaten -- although it took me multiple tries :-)” OS, 150 pt. improvement - 680 Learn the content
    32. 34.  Grammar  Logical Reasoning  Reading Comprehension GMAT Verbal
    33. 35.  Algebra  Geometry  Arithmetic  Number Properties  Statistics GMAT Quant
    34. 36. The GMAT tests higher order thinking using basic math and verbal rules.
    35. 37. The most basic preparation requires memorizing the rules, terms, formulas, and operations that the GMAT tests.
    36. 38. <ul><li>x is a positive integer with factors 1 and x . </li></ul><ul><li>x is a positive integer with only factors of 1 and itself . </li></ul><ul><li>x is a positive integer with exactly one factor greater than 1 . </li></ul><ul><li>x is a positive integer with no factor y, such that 1 < y < x . </li></ul><ul><li>x is an integer and 13! + 2 ≤ x ≤ 13! + 15 </li></ul>Is x prime?
    37. 39. Successful preparation requires learning to recognize hidden application of basic concepts.
    38. 40. Sample Questions
    39. 41. A certain roller coaster ride has between 79 and 131 people waiting in line to board. If riders are let on only in groups of 5 there will be 2 riders that do not get on. If the riders are let on only in groups of 6 all riders will be able to get on the roller coaster. How many riders are in the line? (A) 84 (B) 90 (C) 100 (D) 102 (E) 142 Knowledge: <ul><ul><li>A number is divisible by 5 if it ends in 0 or 5. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A number that has a remainder of 2 when divided by 5 will end in either 2 or 7. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A number is divisible by 6 if it ends in an even number and the sum of the digits is a multiple of 3. </li></ul></ul>
    40. 42. What is the greatest possible integer value of x such that is an integer? (A) 4 (B) 5 (C) 6 (D) 8 (E) 10
    41. 43. Understanding of content is key . Doing a lot of questions is necessary, but not sufficient.
    42. 44.    “ Bell Curves taught me the basic math and the tricks to solve the tough problems.  However, most importantly, Bell Curves gave me the CONFIDENCE I needed to succeed.”  RR, 190 pt. improvement Perfect strategies
    43. 45.  GMAT strategies  Subsection strategies  Question type strategies  Content specific strategies  Guessing strategies Types of Strategies
    44. 46. Question Type Strategies
    45. 47.  Write the choices in groups  Translate the question and statements Data Sufficiency
    46. 48. <ul><li>If x and z are positive integers, is x a prime number? </li></ul><ul><li>(1) x = 2 z + 1 </li></ul><ul><li>(2) x < 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient. </li></ul><ul><li>Both statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient. </li></ul><ul><li>Each statement ALONE is sufficient. </li></ul><ul><li>(E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient. </li></ul>
    47. 49. If x and z are positive integers, is x a prime number? (1) x = 2 z + 1 (2) x < 4 AD B C E Real Question: is x prime? (2) x is 1, 2, or 3. (1 and 2) x is 3. (1) x is odd and greater than 1.
    48. 50. If integer x is greater than 1, does x have more than 2 factors? (1) x has exactly one even factor. (2) x has exactly one odd factor. AD B C E Real Question: is x prime? (2) x is any power of 2. (1) x is 2.
    49. 51. Question Type Strategies
    50. 52. <ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Proper use of modifiers </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pronoun agreement and clarity </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parallel construction of lists </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Proper construction of comparisons </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Verb tense and agreement </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Correct usage of idiom </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Sentence Correction
    51. 53. Balding is much less common among African American and Hispanic males than White males. (A) than (B) than among (C) than are (D) compared to (E) in comparison with Knowledge: <ul><ul><li>Comparisons must be between structurally and logically parallel. items </li></ul></ul>Recognition: <ul><ul><li>Comparison words (like, unlike, than, etc.) indicate that comparisons are being tested. </li></ul></ul>
    52. 54. <ul><li>Like Cordozar Calvin Broadus, the music of Christopher Wallace is honest, biographical, and complex – combining street vernacular with complex syntactic riffs. </li></ul><ul><li>Like Cordozar Calvin Broadus, the music of Christopher Wallace </li></ul><ul><li>(B) Like Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Christopher Wallace’s music </li></ul><ul><li>(C) Like Cordozar Calvin Broadus’, Christopher Wallace’s music </li></ul><ul><li>(D) As with Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Christopher Wallace’s music </li></ul><ul><li>(E) As is Cordozar Calvin Broadus’, the music of Christopher Wallace </li></ul>
    53. 55. Guessing Strategies
    54. 56. Figure PQRS, as shown above, is a square with sides of length 10. If A, B, and C are midpoints of the respective sides on which they are found, and O, R, and S are the centers of the arcs shown, what is the area of the shaded region? (A) 50 (B) 10π (C) 25π (D) 25 (E) 100 – 10π
    55. 57.    “ After 9 weeks of the Bell Curves method, I increased my score 150 points to a 660.  The only thing more fulfilling than raising my score was the feeling that throughout the program I felt like I was studying smarter not harder than before.”  DD, 150 pt. improvement Practice effectively
    56. 58.  Define specific goals  Focus on learning not doing  Be realistic about schedule and objectives  Analyze and learn from all results 4 Keys to effective practice
    57. 59. In the country of Slovenia, the average life expectancy for the population as a whole is 63.5 years. However, children born in the Manzia province will live an average of 68 years while those born in the Turkania province will live 61.5 years. It follows that if a newly married couple from Turkania were to begin their family in Manzia, their children would be expected to live longer than if the family stayed in Turkania. Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the passage’s conclusion? (A) Slovenia’s Census Bureau statisticians do not believe that moving to Manzia will significantly lengthen the average Turkanian’s life. (B) The Minister of Turkania has falsely alleged that statistics for his province are not accurate. (C) The longer life of Manzia’s current population is due mostly to factors of genetics. (D) Twenty percent of all Turkanians can expect to live past age 68. (E) Most of the cities in Manzia have levels of water pollution well below the national average for Slovenia
    58. 60. Takeaways Knowledge : <ul><ul><li>Statistical arguments assume that the part sampled represents the entire population. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Causal arguments assume no other possible cause. </li></ul></ul>Recognition : <ul><ul><li>Statistical arguments are based on polls, samples, or surveys. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Causal arguments provide justifications or explanations for events. </li></ul></ul>
    59. 61. Effective practice must account for your schedule and the test format, and must adjusts as you progress .
    60. 62. Don’t make excuses for poor performance.
    61. 63. Thorough practice requires that you be analytical . To be analytical you must be honest with yourself.
    62. 64. You must be determined . Though it may take longer than you want, anyone can get over a 600 , given the time and instruction.
    63. 66. Integrate GMAT prep into everyday activities.
    64. 67. Be realistic in how you practice. To effectively prepare for a computer-based test requires computer-based practice .
    65. 68.   “ Bell Curves will provide you with the necessary skills to achieve your goal, it is up to you to follow your study plan and put forth the effort to get the results.” BT, 150 pt. improvement. Find your zone
    66. 69.  Develop a personal pacing plan  Learn when you are working efficiently  Know when to move on  Eliminate doubt and second guessing  Live in the moment Get in the zone
    67. 70. Are you the tortoise or the hare ?
    68. 71. Quant section: 26 correct 11 incorrect Score: 49
    69. 72. Quant section: 25 correct 12 incorrect Score: 49
    70. 73. Sample question
    71. 74. The sum of the first 50 positive integers that are divisible by 2 is 2,550. What is the sum of the integers from 101 to 201, inclusive, that are divisible by 2? (A) 2,550 (B) 5,100 (C) 6,600 (D) 7,550 (E) 10,550
    72. 75.   “ Bell Curves will provide you with the necessary skills to achieve your goal, it is up to you to follow your study plan and put forth the effort to get the results.” BT, 150 pt. improvement. Create a plan
    73. 76.  Starts with a practice test  Includes research  Includes realistic budget  Acknowledges competition for your time  Has a plan B Your GMAT prep plan
    74. 77. Five day plan
    75. 78. Pray.
    76. 79. Go back in time.
    77. 80.  Take a practice test each Saturday  Review your test on Sunday  Memorize formulas/rules weekdays  Practice topics you missed on the test weekdays  Rinse and repeat One month prep plan
    78. 81.  Research course/tutors  Begin pre-course work  Take course and complete all work  Do post-course work Six month prep plan
    79. 82. Someone told me that...
    80. 83. Thank you Akil Bello | 877.223.3828 PhD Project Discount code: Bell Curves Live and Online | Classes and Preparation Resources