Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog

You are not alone


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


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


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


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 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


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 seemed like it would be of interest to many of our students.  And we’re flexible and aim to please here at MGMAT!  🙂

Can the first questions on the GMAT be experimental?


Many people have heard that the early questions on the GMAT are crucially important because of the test’s adaptive nature; they have the (incorrect) sense that how you answer the first questions will determine the sort of questions you get for the rest of your test.

This belief is exaggerated and mistaken, as we have heard straight from GMAC.  But here’s another wrinkle – could the very first questions on the GMAT be experimental, and thus not count at all toward your score?

We recently heard second-hand from GMAC that every experimental item has been tested ‘in every position’ on the test.  That is, an experimental question will have appeared as Item #1, Item #2, . . . all the way up to Item #37 (on the math, or #41 on the verbal) before being added to the active item pool.  From this, it seems almost certain that yes, the very first questions you see may very well be experimental and not count toward your score.

What’s the concrete takeaway from this?  Among other things, it’s one more reason NOT to obsess too much about the early questions and maintain the correct pace throughout.  You don’t want to be spending extra time on a question that doesn’t count, and this applies as much to the first question as it does to one in the middle!  It also suggests the difficulty of trying to ‘read’ how you’re doing, as experimental items can appear at any time randomly, making it near impossible to gauge your own performance (though if you feel like you’re struggling with accuracy while keeping the right pace, it’s a good sign!).

mbaMission Interview Workshops in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, D.C.


This Thursday, October 30th, our friends at mbaMission will be running Interview Workshops in our New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles centers.  These workshops will prepare you for the sorts of questions your MBA Interviewers are likely to throw your way.  We’re very glad to be able to offer these events to the Manhattan GMAT community.  These workshops are FREE.  However, space is limited in each location; click on the appropriate link above to register.

mbaMission will also be running an Interview Workshop next Thursday, November 5th, in Washington D.C.  Thanks to mbaMission for putting these events on!

More from the GMAC Summit


Here’s more detail on the GMAC Summit from MGMAT Instructor Stacey Koprince:

Last week, I attended the GMAC Test Prep Summit, a biennial gathering held by GMAC specifically for test prep companies.  Most of the things we discussed are probably only of interest to those of us who work in the industry. There were a few things, though, that would be quite useful for students to know.

When Dr. Lawrence Rudner (GMAC’s Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Psychometrician) speaks, it’s definitely in all of our best interests to listen. He’s basically responsible for the construction and continued operation of a valid GMAT CAT. All data and quotes in this article courtesy:

Rudner, Lawrence M. (2009). GMAT Psychometrics. Materials presented at the 2009 GMAC Test Preparation Summit, New York City, NY. October 15, 2009.

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MBA Employers using the GMAT to Screen Candidates


BusinessWeek just posted an article that talks about a trend among employers using GMAT Scores as a proxy for ability, sometimes to determine which candidates to interview.  The article even includes accounts of Business School administrators and professors advising MBA students to re-take the GMAT (after they’ve already begun attending Business School!) in order to burnish their credentials.

Who knew?  Apparently, your GMAT score sticks with you and may matter even after you get your admissions letter.  It’s a good reason to do as well as possible.

The above also suggests that students and others in the job market may be well-served to take the GMAT to be able to stand out to potential employers.  E.g. if you’re a senior in college and get a 750, that score on your resume might catch a company’s eye.

All Aboard the GMAT Bus!


The organization that administers the GMAT, the GMAC, is always looking to make the test available to anyone who might be interested in graduate business education.  That’s why, once again, the GMAT bus is making the rounds, bringing the exam directly to students.

Originally launched in 2006, the bus will visit 32 schools in 14 states. Its 8-month cross-country tour begins in Stockton, California, at Humphreys College, on October 21 and will end with a visit to Bethune-Cookman University, in Daytona Beach, Florida, on May 7.  So if you’re far from a regular testing center, you should check out the tour schedule and see if it might be a fit.

The program aims to recruit more diverse business school applicants by bringing the exam to students who might have trouble getting to a testing location.  Kudos to GMAC for getting themselves out there.

Also, we’re just entertained that there’s actually a giant GMAT Bus!  Imagine seeing that on the highway . . .

The GMAT Bus

The GMAT Bus