Brave New Worlds

Check out our GMAT 101 pages!Helen Keller once wrote: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” This is an apt quote for many undertakings, and is particularly appropriate for folks setting out to pursue an MBA and entire all the risk and uncertainly of the modern global market.

In hero myths the world over, the hero who wants to attain some lofty goal (the Holy Grail, marriage to a beautiful maiden, etc.) must enter a region of uncertainty and challenge. Often, there’s some preliminary challenging figure at the outset, the Guardian of the Threshold, such as the Tuskan Raiders for Luke Skywalker.

For all who aspire to an MBA, that initial challenge is the GMAT. Standardized tests are always challenging, and this one reflects the uncompromisingly high standards of the business world. Certainly it’s very important to be aware of all the resources available from GMAC, the folks who write the GMAT. While those resources are expensive, the questions therein are by far the best preparation for the GMAT. In fact, I would recommend learning and warming up with other materials, and saving those official questions for relatively late in your studies, so they are the last things you do in the weeks leading up to your GMAT.

It’s also important to get acquainted with the simple logistics of the GMAT. How long is the GMAT? Where does one take it? What ID does one need? etc. etc. It’s very important to get all these little details sorted out well ahead of time, so that on test day, you can remain in your “game head” and not have to sweat niggling details.

Beyond this, it will be important to identify the best MBA Admission resources. There are some fantastic resources available for free, but unfortunately, there are others that so aptly fit the sarcastic description, “Free, and worth every penny!” It’s very important to have some wise guidance when wading through all these potential study aids, particularly if it is all new to you.

All this new information and all these new demands may be intimidating, but remember: how a person responds when facing the unknown is a defining aspect of that person. If you are the kind of person that easily gets overwhelmed and freezes in the face of the unknown, it’s somewhat unclear how you plan to make effective decisions in the ever-evolving electronically driven business world. This is a world that demands resilience and a lion-hearted confidence, and there’s no better place to begin exhibiting those traits than in your preparation for the GMAT.

Visit GMAT 101 for advice.

magooshThis post was written by Mike McGarry, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.

GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep

Bhavin-1-closeup-500x500GMAT, GRE, SAT… If one of these tests graces your future, tune in to our interview with Bhavin Parikh, CEO and founder of Magoosh, the leading online test prep company.

Listen to the recording of our conversation with Bhavin for great test prep advice and the lowdown on Magoosh.

00:02:17 – The story behind Magoosh and a word about it’s future.

00:04:10 – Why Bhavin is on a “mission to change the way people learn.”

00:06:09 – More effective than traditional test-prep: How do you know?

00:07:44 – What makes Magoosh different.

00:11:39 – The risks of self-study (Magoosh is like a gym membership).

00:14:24 – Best GMAT (and GRE) prep tips.

00:18:29 – The million dollar question: GMAT or GRE?

00:22:15 – SAT changes ahead.

00:25:43 – The Hansoo Lee Fellowship for Haas entrepreneurs.

00:27:58 – Bhavin’s stand on the debate about the value of the MBA to entrepreneurs.

00:30:18 – Last pieces of advice for applicants.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss a single episode! *Theme music is courtesy of

Relevant Links:

•  Magoosh
•  Should You Retake the GMAT?
•  How to Put Your Best Foot Forward on Test Day 
•  The Hansoo Lee Fellowship
•  7 Steps to a Successful MBA Application

Related Shows:

•  Interview with Chris Ryan of Manhattan GMAT
•  Linda Abraham on Overcoming Weaknesses
•  MBA Admissions According to an Expert
•  CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes!     Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

9 Fun Facts about the GMAT

Check out our GMAT 101 Page!

Happy 60th Birthday GMAC!

To celebrate GMAC’s 60th birthday, we’ve compiled the following fun GMAT facts from the GMAC site:

1. In 1953, nine b-schools met with ETS to create what would later become the GMAT. Those schools were Harvard, Rutgers, Columbia, Northwestern, Chicago, Seton Hall, Michigan, Washington University (St. Louis), and University of Pennsylvania.

2. Pre-1976 the GMAT was known as the Admission Test for Graduate Study in Business (ATGSB).

3. The question formats on the 1954 exam were Best Arguments, Quantitative Reading, Verbal Omnibus (Sentence Completion, analogies, Antonyms), and Quantitative Reasoning (Problem Solving, Data Interpretation). On today’s exam we have Integrated Reasoning, Verbal (Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Sentence Correction), and Quantitative (Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency). As you can see, Problem Solving is the only question format present on today’s exam that was also used on the original test.

4. In 1997 the GMAT exam became computerized.

5. The GMAT was the first standardized test to use palm vein readers – this analyzes specific hand vein patterns of users to ensure security and catch proxy test takers. This was introduced in 2008 and 2009.

6. The first five countries to offer the GMAT (which was then the ATGSB) were the U.S., Canada, England, France, and India.

7. The exam was offered in Hawaii five years before Hawaii became a state.

8. The GMAT is currently available in 113 countries – on every continent except Antarctica.

9. The Official Guide for GMAT Review was introduced in 1978. It’s now in its 13th edition.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

GRE vs GMAT [Infographic!]

Magoosh just released an excellent new GRE vs. GMAT Infographic that presents a side-by-side comparison of the GRE and the GMAT. Check it out, share it, and decide which test is right for your b-school applications!

Magoosh GRE vs GMAT Infographic

Canceling the GMAT: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My GMAT Score

 If you left a few blank you shouldn’t panic and cancel your test

If you left a few blank you shouldn’t panic and cancel your test!

As soon as you finish taking the GMAT, before you see your score, a question will appear that could seem tempting: “Would you like to cancel your GMAT score?” If an initial wave of panic rushes over you after finishing the test you might be wanting to cancel your GMAT score. But in most cases, you definitely should not cancel your score!

There are just a few instances where you should cancel the score; here are some of those cases:

 1. You had poor time management and left a majority amount of questions blank.  You could have spent way too much time on some questions which caused you to not be able to finish a section.  If you left a few blank you shouldn’t panic and cancel your test but if you only were able to do a small fraction of the questions, this could be one of the few times where it is a good idea to cancel your score.

2. You had an illness that caused you to perform poorly. If you woke up in complete pain and could not perform up to your standards or if you had the flu which caused you to not focus. These would be one of the extreme cases where you should cancel your GMAT score.

3. You had a personal crisis that made it impossible for you to concentrate.  If you just had a death in the family or another similar event that was more important than the GMAT. If this is the case you should consider cancelling your score.

There are also some reasons why shouldn’t you cancel the test:

If you think you should cancel your score for any other reason than listed above you are probably overreacting. The GMAT is a tough score to guess based on speculating your performance.  The GMAT is an adaptive test, meaning that if you have gotten a question right the next question will be tougher, and the GMAT gives more points to difficult questions. This makes it tough for you to have a good perception of what your score will be.

If you do cancel your score, schools will see that you did and some schools could look down on it. Further, there is no guarantee that you will do better the next time and you might have done great, but just have convinced yourself otherwise. Also you might not be able to schedule it in time again, and you’ll have to pay the fee!

All in all, it’s very likely that you should NOT cancel your GMAT score!

Check out our GMAT 101 page!

Written by Frasier Malone, tutor at For more free GMAT resources, check out

Comparing the GRE and GMAT

Visit GMAT 101 for advice.


Since business schools started accepting GRE scores for admissions, prospective students are now faced with a choice—what standardized test do I take?

Each student arrives at an answer in her own way. It’s not as simple as a straight head comparison—GRE versus GMAT. That said, it does help to know the similarities and differences between the two tests before making a decision.


Both tests have Reading Comprehension questions, requiring students to read through a passage and answer questions, such as main idea, structure, tone, author’s purpose, and inferences.

Since the revisions to the GRE, the two tests have questions that test a student’s ability to deal with arguments. The GRE has only a few of these question types whereas the GMAT has a sizeable number of these questions, about ⅓ of the verbal section. But both ask students to do similar things with an argument: strengthen or weaken the argument, choose a conclusion, evaluate the argument, or find a conclusion.

The GRE and GMAT ask students to analyze an argument containing flaws. Students have 30 minutes to analyze the logic and reasoning of the argument, explain why the conclusion is weak, and suggest ways to improve the argument.

Both tests contain “typical” standardized test math questions. These are the types of word problems and logical reasoning questions that students see in high school—but obviously more difficult. Both tests provide five answer choices and cover arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

Both tests are computer-based, although a paper version of the GRE does exist. Unless you are taking the GRE outside of the U.S. and Europe, you’ll take a computer-based test. The rest of you will take the test a paper-based test. Everyone who takes the GMAT takes it on a computer.


The GRE has a second essay—Analyze an Issue. Students are given a prompt on a contemporary topic and are asked to form an opinion about the topic and support their opinion with reasons and examples.

Quantitative Comparison is a unique question type to the GRE. Students are given two columns with accompanying information and they must determine if one column is bigger, if they are equal, or if there is not enough information to know which is bigger.

Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence are core questions to the GRE Verbal section. Basically, these questions are fill-in the blank sentences that test a student’s vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. Students need a rich vocabulary and discerning eye for the intended meaning of a sentence based on structural and semantic clues.

Both tests are adaptive; the GRE adapts section-to-section. After a student works through the first verbal and first math section, the subsequent sections will populate with questions based on the previous performance in the first sections.


In the Quantitative section, Data Sufficiency questions contain two statements, and students need to decide which statement provides sufficient information to solve the problem. Sometimes one statement works, sometimes both statements are needed, and sometimes there is not enough information to solve the problem.

Where the GRE emphasizes vocabulary, the GMAT emphasizes grammar and style in Sentence Correction questions. Each question contains a sentence with all or part of it underlined. Students must decide if the sentence is fine as is, or if one of four options is a better formulation of the idea in the sentence.

The GRE and GMAT used to be exactly the same when it came to the writing section until recently. The GMAT removed the Issue essay and introduced Integrated Reasoning. This section tests students’ ability to reason and make conclusions about data and information presented in multiple formats—emails, announcements, tables, diagrams, charts, and graphs.

The GMAT, like the GRE, is adaptive, but on a more granular level. The test adapts question-to-question, so that the difficulty level is constantly changing based on whether the student answered the previous question correctly or not.

Finally, the GMAT is more expensive, making prep materials and classes more expensive. This becomes more important too when you consider that many students take these tests more than once.

What Really Matters

Now that you have a better idea of what is similar and what is different between the tests, it’s time to figure out what test to take. The best way to decide is by taking a complete practice test for the GRE and GMAT. You can download the GRE’s free software, PowerPrep II Software, and the GMAT’s free software, GMAT Prep.

Whichever test you do better on, that’s the test you prepare for and take. Use a GMAT/GRE score conversion chart to compare your performance on each test since they have their own scoring systems.

Visit GMAT 101 for advice.

magooshThis post was written by Kevin Rocci, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.

Your GMAT Study Plan: Get More Right Answers in Less Time

Be Prepared for GMAT Test Day.I got a call yesterday from a prospective client who sounded equal parts awestruck and discouraged. He explained that he had shown one of the sample GMAT math problems from my YouTube channel to his colleague who looked at it and proceeded to answer it, in his head, in about 20 seconds. The same problem had taken this caller several minutes to figure out, and that was with the help of my answer explanation in the video. After relating this story, his question to me was very simple:

“Will I ever be able to solve GMAT problems that fast?”

I responded like any good politician might: “Yes and no.” (Why take a stand when you can equivocate, right?)

All kidding aside, the reality is that some of us may never develop a true “math brain” that enables us to solve seemingly complex GMAT word problems in mere seconds. And even if we could, it probably won’t happen in the few weeks or months that we’ll be studying for the GMAT.

But here’s the good news: You don’t have to become a math (or verbal) savant to score high on the GMAT.

There are a handful of key GMAT content areas and test-taking strategies that, once learned and mastered, will enable even the most average of test takers to get more right answers on the GMAT in less time.

In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to be teaching in my live online GMAT Bootcamp beginning March 1st. I’ll be tackling the most essential question types, strategies, and time management considerations that will enable you to dramatically boost your GMAT score after just a few hours of instruction. If you’re interested in accelerating your GMAT prep, click here to get all the details.

The GMAT in many ways is a balancing act, learning to weigh your desire to solve every problem you think you’re capable of solving with the very real time constraints placed on you by the test itself. For this reason, many of the questions I receive from my students concern time management on the GMAT — specifically, how to get more right answers in less time.

This video (below) addresses just those questions and also gives you a step-by-step study plan for preparing for the GMAT. As you’ll see, there are four parts of the progression toward learning to solve GMAT questions more efficiently. Again, it’s not about how smart you are. Rather, it’s a matter of adopting these four mindsets and practicing them until they’re second-nature when you go to apply them on test day. Enjoy!

Note: The deadline for registering for our GMAT Score Booster Bootcamp is midnight on Thursday, February 27th. For more details, visit

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Brett Ethridge is the founder of Dominate the GMAT, a leading provider of GMAT courses online and topic-specific GMAT video lessons. He has taught the GMAT for 10 years and loves working with students to help them achieve their highest potential. Brett is an entrepreneur, a triathlete, and an avid Duke basketball fan.

Review of BenchPrep’s Online Test Prep Site

Check out BenchPrep!I just logged into the BenchPrep test prep website and am welcomed with their greeting of “Gain an unfair advantage on test day”; I like this – a test prep site with an edge! Let’s continue exploring…

After you sign in and choose your test (see list below), you’ll then choose your target test date. The program then generates a study plan of week-by-week tasks that you’ll need to complete to achieve your optimal preparedness for your chosen exam. Each task has a timeframe next to it, indicating the expected amount of time the exercise should take – a nice touch.

As you move through the little icons on the left side of the screen, you’ll encounter some nice features – games (mainly flashcard games – pretty simple and straightforward), practice tests, discussion boards, study groups, and others. Another organizational feature is the table of contents icon which, when you click on it, gives you a very clear outline of your study plan with links to other parts of the site.

There is also a BenchPrep mobile app (Android and iPhone), making this program excellent for test-preppers on-the-go!

One thing I’d like to see more of on this site are videos. There is certainly no shortage of written prep resources here – there are loads of practice tests and explanations and tips, which of course are extremely important. For some people, this may be exactly what they’re looking for, but others – those auditory/visual types – the absence of video will be noticed.

Tests (a sampling):

• AP Exam • GRE • Police Officer Exam
• CFA Level I Exam                       . • LSAT • Postal Exam
• CLEP • MCAT • Praxis Test
• EMT • Nursing School Entrance Exams        . • SAT
• Firefighter Exam • PE Exam


• Ask-a-tutor, and receive an answer within 24 hours
•  Bookmarking and highlighting features
•  Ratings/tracking of your confidence level (so you can go back to review those weak areas)
•  Games
•  Practice tests
•  Discussion boards
•  Study groups

Head to BenchPrep now to check out these features on your own!

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Should You Take the GMAT or GRE?

Check out our GMAT 101 Page!Many b-schools now accept the GRE (including Stanford, HBS, Wharton, Booth, and MIT Sloan, among others), so MBA applicants will need to decide whether the GMAT or GRE will better increase their chances of acceptance. Here are some factors you should consider when making this decision:

1. GMAT: Take the GMAT if at least one of the b-schools you’re applying to doesn’t accept the GRE.

2.  GMAT: If you plan on a post-MBA career in investment banking or management consulting, then you should take the GMAT since such recruiters sometimes use GMAT scores as a screening tool.

3. GMAT: If the wording on the school’s website indicates that the GRE is accepted but clearly a lower-class citizen, than take the GMAT. We’re seeing this less frequently.

4. GRE: If you’re fresh out of college and aren’t sure exactly what to do next, but feel prepared to take the GRE, then you may as well go ahead and take it – the scores remain usable for up to five years. Maybe you’ll use your scores for a future b-school application, or maybe for some other grad program.

5. GRE: If you score higher on practice GRE tests than on practice GMAT tests AND if your target schools accept the GRE, then you should definitely take the GRE.

6. GMAT: The same is true (as #4) if you score higher on the GMAT – in short, take whichever test you score higher on!

7. GRE: If you want to save money (about $100) and/or will have trouble getting to a GMAT testing center, then you should take the GRE (obviously provided that your target schools accept the GRE). The GRE is cheaper and there are more testing centers throughout the world.

For top GMAT advice, please check out the following FREE resources:

•  Top 5 GMAT Test-Taking Strategies
•  3 Tips to Reduce GMAT Test Anxiety
•  The GMAT in MBA Admissions: Fact and Fiction
•  Should You Retake the GMAT?

Join us live for "The Secret to MBA Acceptance"!

5 Reasons Not to Be Scared of the GMAT

Check out our GMAT 101 page!

The more practice tests you finish, the better.

The GMAT – shudder. The majority of business school hopefuls concur that sitting for the GMAT is one of the most dreaded components of the business school application process. If the mere thought of completing the GMAT (or re-taking the GMAT) torments you at night, read on.  Much emphasis is placed on this exam, but it’s not as horrible as you may think.

1. The GMAT is not the be-all, end-all in business school admissions

Yes, the GMAT may be one of the most discussed factors in business school admissions, but it is not the only item admissions committees consider. Business schools seek well-rounded classes, and this detail cannot be stressed enough. Business schools are interested in your work experience, your goals, your personality, and your community involvement. If your GMAT score is not as high as you’d like it to be, you can compensate with other parts of your application. Institutions are particularly interested in the GMAT in order to evaluate your quantitative abilities. Demonstrate these skills in other ways, perhaps through your essays or recommendation letters, or even by enrolling in a calculus course at a local community college.

2. You can train in order to achieve a higher GMAT score

In all honesty, the GMAT will not tell admissions how well you’ll do in business school. It doesn’t measure your business acumen. It simply tests your ability to successfully complete standardized tests. This may not be fair, but you can use it to your advantage: with appropriate practice, you can improve your performance on the GMAT. You can strengthen both by reviewing the key concepts and acclimating to the test itself. The more practice tests you finish, the better. A wealth of information is available; you just need to develop a study plan to boost your score accordingly.

3. There are a limited number of concepts examined on the GMAT

As difficult as some individuals find the GMAT to be, it does not test too wide a range of subjects. The Quantitative section, for instance, includes mainly arithmetic, algebra, and geometry – no trigonometry or calculus will be found here. Granted, the test is not simple, because it will combine several concepts in one problem. But if you can master the basic fundamentals of the mathematics, you are prepared to succeed. Similarly, the sentence correction questions usually test less than 10 grammar concepts.

4. You can sit for the GMAT more than once

Few students find themselves satisfied with their score after taking the test the first time. You can, however, sit for it again. All marks within the past five years will be included in your official score report, but that shouldn’t deter you. Admissions committees will appreciate the determination required to continually strive for improvement. It may be wise to incorporate enough time into your business school plan to allow yourself to take the GMAT more than once.

5. The GMAT is not the only test that business schools acknowledge

A number of institutions accept a GRE score in lieu of the GMAT. If you’ve already taken the GRE or you strongly suspect that you will perform better on this exam, you may want to consider submitting this score instead. Peruse the full list of universities that accept the GRE on ETS’ website. The GRE, while a different format than the GMAT, tests many of the same skillsets – critical reasoning, quantitative skills, and analytical writing. Yes, the GMAT can seem daunting at first, but perhaps you now understand why it’s not something that should frighten you!

Learn how to steer your way through the 9 critical points of the MBA admissions process!

Maureen Spain is a professional GMAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Northwestern University and received her MBA from Duke University.