Articles published in November 2009

Techniques for Managing GMAT Stress

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Stress and anxiety, for many people, are integral components of their daily lives. In fact, anxiety is a necessary human response. In manageable doses, anxiety protects you from life’s dangers. You naturally feel anxious standing on a cliff and looking over the edge. In essence, your body is heightening your awareness of this potential threat and emphasizing that some action might be necessary to protect your well-being. The same is true with performance or test anxiety. When you are asked to perform, the tension produced from normal anxiety heightens your awareness of the situation and helps you to focus on the danger (i.e. task as hand). With this additional focus, you are more easily able to successfully complete your goal, whatever it may be.

For many people, however, this natural, beneficial anxiety response is superseded by an uncontrollable feeling of dread. When asked to prepare for and then take a test, individuals manufacture feelings of such importance about the test that they become overwhelmed by the anxiety associated with it. Symptoms of test anxiety affect both the body and the mind. Hearts race, hands become clammy, breathing grows labored, minds go blank. Worse still, test anxiety is a vicious cycle: worrying about the test causes increased anxiety, which causes increased worry about the test. As GMAT instructors, we have seen or heard of this response all-too-frequently with our students. Recently, a student who was consistently scoring between 35 and 40 on the quantitative section of her practice examinations score a 6 on her actual test. That’s right, she dropped from a score of approximately the 60th percentile to the 1st percentile. When asked what happened, she simply said, I panicked. She explained she just couldn’t understand the first problem, and from there her mind just went blank. For the remainder of the section, she was unable to organize her thoughts or regain her focus. Although this case is extreme, many students have allowed test anxiety to undermine their test taking abilities, resulting in scores that are well below their true abilities. This strategy series will focus on methods to control your test anxiety as you ready yourself for the test.

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You are not alone

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Each year around this time, GMAC releases its annual report on GMAT test-takers.  The report this year counted a record 265,613 GMAT test-takers in 2009, up 7.55% from last year’s record 246,957.  So your imagination is not running wild – it is indeed a year during which many people are taking the GMAT and trying to gear up for business school.

Other facts from the report:

The fastest-rising age group of GMAT test-takers is under 24, rising 23.6 percent annualized over the last five years.  It seems young people are keeping their options open in this economy.

For the first time, non-U.S. citizens (135,105) outnumbered U.S. test-takers (130,508).  This is likely because of the increasing adoption of the GMAT by international business schools, which are themselves increasing in number.  If historical trends continue, this may continue to skew the GMAT’s math curve up (a subset of international applicants tends to be very good at math)  and the verbal curve down (a subset of international applicants tends to be poor at verbal).

After rising by 15 points over the preceding 3 years, the mean GMAT score dropped by 1 point, to 539.  This is a bit of a surprise, as we’d imagined scores to continue rising, though perhaps increasing the number of test-takers would logically result in stable average scores (so we should have thought differently).

39.5% of test-takers were women, the same proportion as last year.

If there are more interesting insights from GMAC’s report, we’ll look to post them here.

Manhattan GMAT in Forbes

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Manhattan GMAT was featured prominently in a Forbes story on growing companies this past week.  The article focuses on how picky we are about Instructors, which is certainly true!  The article did, however, mistakenly confer credit to Andrew for founding the Company, which we all know properly goes to Zeke Vanderhoek.  It also mistakes a ‘700’ for a ‘760’ as our score requirement, which is a pretty big gap/typo.  All in all though, it’s great to get some recognition!  🙂

Interpreting Manhattan GMAT Assessment Reports

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Looking for advice on evaluating your practice exams? Be sure to check out this article too.

First Steps

If you are just beginning to look into the GMAT, we recommend reading through The GMAT Uncovered before continuing. The same information can be obtained by attending our in-person or Live Online GMAT Open House Sessions. You can read more about these programs here.

If you feel like you have a good understanding of the exam, then it’s time to take a practice test! Until you’ve taken a full practice GMAT, there’s no way of knowing exactly how much you need to prepare for the exam. Fortunately, ManahttanGMAT makes this easy by offering a free computer adaptive exam that will serve as a useful diagnostic tool. Before you continue to structure your prep program, it is important to take a full exam. Additionally, in the scope of your business school application, it’s important to know the average GMAT score of the schools you are applying to. Here is a list of the top business school programs and their associated GMAT scores to get you started.

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Foundations of GMAT Math

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Our 8 Strategy Guides, organized by topic, have been around for several years.  However, we were seeing some students who hadn’t looked at math in a LONG time and wanted a refresher.

So, after months of development, we are very happy and proud to announce the publication of our brand new Strategy Supplement, the Foundations of GMAT Math!  This book starts from the basics to give students those “Oh yeah, NOW I remember how to FOIL” moments.  We start with Order of Operations/PEMDAS and algebra, and go from there to fractions, geometry, exponents, divisibility and other flashback-inducing topics.  If you’re confident in your math skills, you may not need this book at all.  But otherwise, you may like it a great deal.  You know who you are . . .

All Manhattan GMAT Course Students will receive this book for free as part of their course materials.  If you’ve already started your course and want this book, contact studentservices@manhattanprep.com/gmat/ and they’ll hook you up (you may have to pay shipping depending on your location, but the book will be free).

Kudos to our curriculum wizards for their latest contribution to the best in GMAT Prep!

Chat with Columbia Admissions Officer

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We generally stick to the GMAT over here and leave admissions stuff to the experts, but this transcript of a chat with a Columbia Admissions Officer on Businessweek.com seemed like it would be of interest to many of our students.  And we’re flexible and aim to please here at MGMAT!  🙂