Train The Brain, Nail The GMAT [Or GRE]

Listen to the show!What do sports and graduate admissions test have in common? More than you’ve ever imagined.

Have a GMAT or GRE coming up? Listen to our talk with Brett Ethridge, founder and CEO of Dominate the GMAT and Dominate the GRE for invaluable test prep insights and advice – – and a healthy dosage of sports allegories.

00:02:45 – How Brett got involved in test prep. (The honest answer.)

00:05:51 – The online education style at Dominate the GMAT.

00:08:23 – What happens when a student at Dominate the GMAT is just not picking up the info.

00:10:27 – Looking for test prep? Dominate the GMAT’s unique value.

00:14:44 – Comparing the GRE and GMAT.

00:17:20 – GMAT vs. GRE: Which test to pick!

00:28:21 – Brett’s top test prep advice. Prepare to un-teach.

00:33:44 – A surprising tip for raising your GMAT score.

00:39:13 – How much time to do you need to study to increase your score by 50 points?

00:43:18 – “Get dressed up” and other final words of advice.

Click here to listen to the show!*Theme music is courtesy of

Related links:

• Preparing for the GMAT: Video Tips to Live By
• Your 3-Part Game Plan to Dominate the GMAT

Related shows:

• How To Think Like A Dean Of Admissions
• To GRE or Not To GRE? That Is The Question
• The GMAC, the GMAT, and the MBA Degree
• The GMAT, the GRE, and the Guy Who Knows them Well
Chris Ryan of Manhattan GMAT on What MBA Applicants Need to Know

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How Meaningful Is The GMAT?

Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats! - Watch the webinar to learn how!

Can the GMAT predict the future?

The GMAT is important for b-school admissions. But does it predict success beyond that? GMAC never claimed that it does, and according to research from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, the answer is no: their data suggests that the GMAT is not predictive of employability.

Their study is based on a review of Rotman MBA grads’ admission files and employment outcomes over several years. They analyzed numerous factors, including students’ performance on admission interviews, their undergrad GPAs, their TOEFL scores, their Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) scores, their years of pre-MBA work experience, etc.  Each of these elements was found to be more meaningful for candidates’ future employability than their GMAT scores. For example, a strong AWA or admissions interview was found to be predictive of future employment success, while 10+ years of work experience proved to be a warning sign, with these candidates more likely to be unemployed 3 months after graduation.

Because of the significance of rankings that use GMAT scores, such as US News, the GMAT can take on an outsized importance, with schools often reserving scholarship funds for high scorers in a bid to boost their averages.

With this research in hand, Rotman plans to consider a range of factors as it builds its class—particularly achievements and qualities, such as communication skills, that indicate that a candidate has strong potential for success both in b-school and in his/her future career. While Rotman will continue to use the GMAT in admissions, and the admissions office will make sure that Rotman’s average GMAT does not dip below 660, the admissions staff will place increased emphasis on factors such as the AWA and the interview, especially when awarding scholarship funds."Your 3-Part Game Plan To Dominate the GMAT - watch the webinar today! Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

• The GMAC, the GMAT, and the MBA Degree 
• Low GMAT Score? Don’t Panic…Yet.
• Handling a Low GMAT Quant Score

The Unconventional Guide To Writing For The GMAT

Click here for GMAT study Tips

Prepare to think on your feet

Structure gets all the limelight.  Structure is undoubtedly a huge deal on the GMAT AWA. After all, you are being graded in part by a computer. But there is still much to be said for content, and the more you think about what to say before you say it, the less likely you are to run out things to say, besides simply repeating, “the argument is also weak because it fails to substantiate a number of points.” Remember, only one of the graders is a computer. The other grader will be very aware if your content is lacking.

Content is king

Much of the content, believe it or not, will come from your brain. All the advice you get about the structure and the exact wording will only help you so much. Generating ideas on the fly, though, can be difficult—especially on test day. A good tactic is to practice using the arguments in the back of the Official Guide. Your job: identify several assumptions and ways that those assumptions can be strengthened or disproven.

Official prompt from GMAT webpage:

“The following appeared in a memorandum from the business department of the Apogee Company:

“‘When the Apogee Company had all its operations in one location, it was more profitable than it is today. Therefore, the Apogee Company should close down its field offices and conduct all its operations from a single location. Such centralization would improve profitability by cutting costs and helping the company maintain better supervision of all employees.’

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion.”

The first step is to identify possible assumptions. This process might seem difficult at first, but with a little practice, you’ll become more adept at it.

Generating ideas means generating content

Questionable assumptions

1.  Profitability had one cause: having all operations centralized in one location.

2.  Even if that were the case, returning to a centralized operation does not ensure profitability.

3.  Supervision of employees is desirable and will lead to profit.

I probably could have come up with a few more assumptions, but I’d be stretching. The point of this exercise—indeed, the whole point of the AWA Argument task—is not to identify every questionable assumption, but to identify the main assumptions. From these few assumptions, you can build your essay. Remember, the instructions explicitly tell us to do the following:

“…what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion.”

Therefore, we need to take those first three assumptions and build off of them by offering alternative explanations and/or counterexamples.

1.  Profitability had one cause: having all operations centralized in one location.

Alternative explanation:

Profitability could have resulted from a number of different factors.


For instance, Apogee could have focused on just one product, one that did well in the market and boosted company sales. The fact that operations were all under one roof did not impact the success of the company’s product. Indeed, Apogee could have continued to be profitable when it expanded its operations. We only know that at some point it was no longer profitable.

At this point, I could list another counterexample for the alternative explanation and house it under the same paragraph. This will help you add the much-needed length that many students struggle to provide in the essay. By coming up with realistic counterexamples, you can not only write a longer essay, but also a more persuasive one.

A good approach is to repeat the above for each of the questionable assumptions so that you are able to come up with five paragraphs (introduction, three bodies, and a conclusion). First, practice writing one solid paragraph, containing alternative explanations and realistic counterexamples. Once you can confidently do that, repeat two more times and you will be well on your way to a competitive essay score.


You must be able to pinpoint questionable assumptions upon which the argument hinges and you must generate original counterexamples. No amount of learning cookie-cutter language (“the argument is unconvincing because it fails to account for several notable….”) will help you think of ideas specific to the argument you see on test day.

MBA 5 Fatal Flaws

This post was written by Chris Lele, resident test prep expert at Magoosh and a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.

Related Resources:

• The GMAC, the GMAT, and the MBA Degree
• Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats
• Analyzing Your GMAT Score: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

To GRE Or Not To GRE? That Is The Question

Listen to the show!Before your dream of getting accepted to graduate school comes true, you’ll have to face – and conquer – the GRE.

Listen in on our conversation with Dr. Lydia Liu, Managing Senior Research Scientist at the ETS and Tom Ewing, Director of External and Media Relations, for GRE advice, their perspective on the GRE vs GMAT debate, and more.

00:03:22 – An overview of the GRE.

00:05:18 – Don’t stick with your first instinct: The GRE’s changing score feature and how it helps you snag a higher score.

00:09:13 – Paid and free GRE study tools.

00:12:16 – The GRE as a predictor of success in b-school.

00:13:18 – Why MBA applicants should take the GRE and not the GMAT.

00:17:24 – GRE prep strategies.

00:19:57 – Ongoing research studies at ETS.

00:21:09 – The latest news from ETS (and it doesn’t reflect well on US grad students).

00:25:58 – Tips for graduate school applicants.

Listen to the show!

Related links:
Should You Take the GMAT or GRE?
GRE vs. GMAT: Trends
GMAT vs. GRE: Harvard Business School Weighs In

Related Shows:

The GMAC, the GMAT, and the MBA Degree
The GMAT, the GRE, and the Guy Who Knows them Well
GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep
Interview with Chris Ryan of Manhattan GMAT 

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