The Last Hurrah

Here are some facts, reminders, and strategies to improve the last couple weeks or so of studying until you face off with (and hopefully destroy) the GMAT.

In the last few weeks you should be winding down your prep and spending most of your time accomplishing a comprehensive review. You should review all formulae, rules, approaches, strategies, and personal notes from the very beginning of your book/preparation materials, and ensure that everything is committed to memory.

Einstein Can’t Teach Me Physics


Einstein can’t teach me physics! And Michael Jordan can’t teach me basketball.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve put it on the internet for all to know. I don’t think these relative gods of their domain can teach me to succeed in that domain. Before you call me crazy and stop reading, let me make my case.

Einstein was as genius as Jordan was. Geniuses possess innate understanding of their respective fields that most of us do not. Because of this innate understanding, the way they approach that field is very different from that of the average man. This approach combined with their innate knowledge makes them achieve things that we probably can’t follow unless we have the same genius. To learn from this genius you must learn to think like him or he must learn to think like you. That’s a pretty daunting task to accomplish, and most likely a task requiring years of dedication.

Now what’s that got to do with the GMAT you ask?

Jason Goes GMAT

Instructor: Jason Chan

Location: 500 Fifth Ave (at 42nd street), New York, NY

[Editor’s note: Bell Curves instructors are required to have taken the GMAT and scored above the 98th percentile before they were invited to train with Bell Curves. After successfully completing training, our teachers take the test at least once a year so they can stay current with the GMAT experience and provide feedback that will allow us to continually improve our teachers and materials. In the interest of research, Jason was asked to go into the test and be the “obsessive methodical student.” He was required to spend an inordinate amount of time on any question he thought would be tricky to an above average, yet not stellar, test-taker. The intent was to get a score in the 600 range and see what types of questions and content showed up most frequently in that range.]

So it’s a random Tuesday and here I am taking the GMAT. Yay me!

From China to the GMAT

For the better part of five months, the GMAT was the bane of my
existence. I don’t think an hour went by without me thinking about it.
It was everywhere I looked. I one time even figured out the possible
combinations of the food items offered at the restaurant I worked at.
Ironically, I didn’t come up with the right answer.

At some point the GMAT stopped being a test and started being a fight.
That is a development I am certainly thankful for. Because once I
stopped thinking of the GMAT as a test and more of a mountain that I
had to climb, thing became much clearer.

Looking back, I realize that the concepts that the GMAT tests are not
complex. There’s no calculus, advanced physics, or expectations of you
analyzing Shakespeare’s later works. The GMAT is simply high school
math and grammar meant to stump the smartest people alive. It’s
slightly ingenious really.

Aesop’s Fables and GMAT Timing

As I listen to the bloggersphere and twitterverse, attend conferences, and talk to test takers, there is a consistent concern about timing on the GMAT and how much it impacts their performance on the test. Survey GMAT test-takers and I bet that 90% of them will claim their biggest challenge is finishing the test (especially the Quant section). This fear is further propagated by test prep “experts” who cite the lofty goal of answering all Quant questions in 2 minutes or less and all Verbal questions in 1:45 minutes or less. I, however, have not drunk of that particular flavor of Kool-Aid and don’t recommend you do so either.To all those of the 2 minute cult, I’d point you to the wisdom of Aesop and the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.

Joe vs. the GMAT

Every few months Bell Curves teachers take the GMAT in order to assess our test taking techniques, evaluate the accuracy of our question pool, and experiment with different result patterns.

Interviewee: Joseph Kambourakis, Instructor and Developer

Interviewer: James Yudin, Online Support Manager

The Assignment

Joe’s assignment was to go all out on the math section, getting as many correct as possible after getting the first question wrong, and to get about 1 in 4 wrong on verbal.

My Career as a Hit Man is Over

The Story

Today officially marked the end of all my dreams of being a hit man. Today, I’m officially “in the system” and to be a top notched hit man you have to be off the grid. If you think of all the truly great hit men Leon (the Professional), Booth (In the Line of Fire), and Nikita (Point of No Return, hit woman really) all were off the grid no record, no bank accounts, no paper trail. I have to give up my aspirations, my dreams, my future.

But I get ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.

Today, January 3rd, 2006 I took the GMAT again. I periodically (if you’ve read my other postings you already know this) take the GMAT in order to explore whether its changed and if so how. This month’s testing is about exploring how the change to the new test administrator Pearson Vue would affect the testing experience.

Testing the test

The Assignment:

The assignment was to test out Bell Curves revolutionary test preparation techniques and evaluate how up-to-date our question pool is. While taking the GMAT he was required to answer incorrectly a portion of the quantitative section and guess blindly on a portion of the verbal section.

The Reporter: Ajani (Yanni) Burrell, Bell Curves teacher and developer

Current residence: Munich, Germany

Yanni now lives in Germany where he attends Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet in Munich and studies for a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature. He has worked in test preparation for the past 5 years, of which the last year has been as materials developer and teacher for Bell Curves.

A real-time look at taking the GMAT


Ah it’s a lovely spring day and my morning starts when my alarm rudely reminds me that I should rise and dress so that I’ll be on time for my latest bout with the Graduate Management Admissions Test®. Unfortunately, today’s test is occurs at the ungodly hour of 8:30 thus my early start to the day (yes, early being a professional test prep guru for the last 15 years has meant that I’m almost never awake before 9 am and very rarely out of my day before 8:30).

Q and A with a GMAT Test-Taker

Q and A with a GMAT Test-Taker

(aka an interview with a schizophrenic mad scientist)

AB: Who are you and why is your rambling recount of a self-admitted waste of time and money interesting or informative for our readers?

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