Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog

GMAT Focus


As I talk to students, it’s clear that the vast majority have not yet heard of GMAC’s new GMAT Focus math preparation tests.

As these tests are likely to help many students, and our write-up has been pushed off the front page, here it is again. Check out the write-up, as any students that are studying for the GMAT and concerned about the math portion of the test should consider using this new resource from GMAC.

MGMAT Expansion


We get frequent questions about ManhattanGMAT offering classes in areas where we’re not currently available. Questions vary from various major metropolitan areas here in the U.S. all the way to India. This is even taking into account our online course offerings, as some people (understandably) are eager for an in-person class in the vicinity

There is some good news – we’ve been fortunate enough to find some truly remarkable teachers in some areas where we haven’t been available before. Keep an eye out in Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston, for starters. Plus, one of our top Instructors is moving to Charlotte this summer. Another is moving to Montreal in the Fall. So we’re getting there.

Of course, we would like to be everywhere our students want us to be. But for us the issue is, and always has been, Instructors. Can we find an Instructor that knocks students’ socks off? Of course, the candidate in question has to have scored a 99th percentile on the GMAT (currently a 760+), and have teaching experience. If her or she sounds good on the phone, we then fly him or her to New York for a multi-part teaching audition. Of candidates that are flown in, we extend an offer to 1 in 5.

You can see why expansion is painstaking and deliberate. There have been candidates that have been tougher calls than others, but if anything, we’re rougher on candidates in new markets because we know what they’re inheriting – they have to be the Instructor that people have been waiting for.

We’re so eager to find Instructors that meet our standards, and our students’ lofty expectations, that we offer a $1,000 finder’s fee for anyone that refers us to an Instructor (in addition to the $1,000 signing bonus for the Instructor him or herself). So if you’d like MGMAT to come to your area, maybe you can even help by spreading the word! People in your neighborhood will thank you, and you may wind up the richer for it (literally and figuratively).

For Instructor application info, click here.

Current GMAT Trends


With all of the terrible headlines out there, conventional wisdom would hold that many more people (e.g. displaced individuals from the financial sector) would be applying to business schools this year.

A quick check of GMAT testing volume data for 2008 shows an 11.19% increase over the same period in 2007 – up to 101,039. So that would seem to agree with the overall picture.

However, the majority of that increase is actually accounted for by non-U.S. test-takers, as the growth rate among this group was 19.34% over the period. U.S. test-takers grew a more modest 7.01% in the first 5 months of the year, pretty consistent with the 6% year-over-year growth in the U.S. between 2006 and 2007.

So what’s the takeaway? Though it certainly seems competitive out there, the numbers don’t show a tidal wave of new U.S. B-school applicants in 2008, at least not yet.

If you’re curious, this data is taken straight from the GMAC website.

99th percentile?


I had a conversation today with an Instructor for another company who was interested in joining ManhattanGMAT (not uncommon). This candidate had received a 99th percentile on the GMAT in the early 90’s with a 720.

Yes, a 720 was a 99th percentile at a certain point in time. But this score was generated before the GMAT became computer-adaptive, in 1998. So the question is, is it fair to represent that this person is a 99th percentile Instructor? It’s literally true, but we don’t think that current students would appreciate the distinction. A student trying to learn how to tackle today’s computer-adaptive test would expect the Instructor to have gotten a 99th percentile on the same test, not yesteryear’s paper version.

Here at ManhattanGMAT, our standard is 99th percentile on the current computer-adaptive version of the GMAT. So this particular candidate was told to re-take the test and get the score in order to be considered.

The candidate’s current company is apparently okay with billing this individual as a 99th percentile Instructor, and perhaps it is open to interpretation. But we’d prefer to err on what we’d see as the students’ side on this one.

MBA Mission in New York July 12th and 13th (filled)


Note: Jeremy is now fully booked for July 12th and 13th. However, you can set up a phone consultation with him by visiting

We are proud to welcome to New York’s ManhattanGMAT Center, for at least one weekend in July, Jeremy Shinewald, founder of MBA Mission! MBA Mission is one of the leading admissions consulting firms in the industry, and we’re very fortunate to have Jeremy in to speak with our students here in New York.

Jeremy has agreed to conduct one-on-one FREE consultations with up to 24 of our students on the weekend of July 12th – 13th, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sign-ups are on a first-come-first-serve basis, and we expect that slots will quickly fill up, so if you’re here in New York contact Dan McElroy ( to get your name on the list.

If you make the list, you’ll then submit your resume and other info so that Jeremy can review them ahead of time before meeting with you.

We’ll post an update here when the slots fill up. So if you’re reading this and you’re a student here in New York, you may be in luck!

MBA Admissions Events in Chicago, Los Angeles


As you gear up to apply for business school in the Fall, MGMAT is proud to provide you with some of the biggest experts in the field in the month of June.

First, in Chicago on Thursday, June 19th, we are very proud to host Graham Richmond, co-founder of Clear Admit. Graham is a Wharton MBA himself and worked in the Admissions Office at Wharton, so people are always excited to hear from him. Graham is going to let our students know what they need to have in mind when applying this Fall, in one of the most competitive seasons in recent history. To sign-up to meet Graham, click here.

The very next week, on Thursday June 26th, we will be hosting Linda Abraham, founder of in our Santa Monica center. Linda is an MBA from UCLA, and is one of the founding figures of Admissions Consulting. Attendees will have the opportunity to sit down with Linda and her staff to get personalized input concerning your individual applicant profile. To sign-up, click here.

If you live in Chicago or LA, we’ll see you soon! We’re also going to be putting together an event in New York in the coming weeks as well, come back to this space later in the summer for more info.

Last week to apply to BTG!


ManhattanGMAT is proud to be sponsoring the Beat the GMAT Scholarship!  It’s an opportunity to be awarded the best GMAT Prep AND top-notch admissions consulting, just by demonstrating your personal merit.


Deadline is in 2 short days, so hurry!

Researching MBA Programs


From our friends at

Researching MBA Programs

Isn’t it ironic? Schools complain students write with a sameness that tends to blur them into one amorphous blob, and students struggle to understand the distinctions between schools because school brochures, presentations, and web sites sound stunningly similar. It can all numb the mind.

Accepted offers many tips and articles on distinguishing yourself in your essays, but this piece presents resources that will help you understand the distinctions among schools.

MBA programs are as unlike each other as you are unlike other applicants. You just need to know where to look to appreciate the differences:

  • School web sites. Go beyond the admissions section. Make sure you understand the curriculum at each and every school you consider, as well as the recruiter profile and hiring patterns for recent graduates. Check out professors’ recent research.
  • Student newspapers. Read them to get a feel for campus life and issues.
  • Student blogs. Check out The League of MBA Bloggers. Student-written journals give you a sense of student satisfaction and campus life, plus they provide a means for you to get in touch with current students.
  • B-School Forums. The granddaddy at this point is the BW Forum, but it can induce neurosis. I am really referring to the school-sponsored forums like Wharton’s S2S, Chicago’s Full-time MBA Discuss Forums, Yale SOM Admissions Forum, and CMU Teppers Admissions Forum.
  • School guides. Businessweek, The Wall St. Journal, and others publish annual and bi-annual guides. These are introductory in nature and can be a good place to start your research. When you have narrowed your choices, or if you are short on time and can’t do all that I suggest above, I recommend Clear Admit’s guides.
  • Visit the school. This is by far the best form of research, but it isn’t always practical. If you can visit, do so. If you can’t, rely on the other steps mentioned above.

If you do your homework, by the time applications are out you will know exactly why you want to attend Dream School #1.

Researching MBA Programs? is presented by Accepted, one of the oldest and most respected admissions consultancies in the world. If you would like to obtain more tips, explore its inventory of MBA admission ebooks, discover its MBA Interview Feedback Database, sign-up for one of its free e-courses, or learn more about its experienced editors, visit // And if you don’t have the time to do all the research recommended above, consider Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting. You will save tons of time by taking advantage of our research and experience.

MBA Podcaster & ManhattanGMAT


ManhattanGMAT’s very own Chris Ryan is a guest speaker on the newest installment of MBA Podcaster. This podcast is perfect for anyone who is just starting to ask questions about GMAT Prep and wants to know what steps are next. Still, at 33 minutes, the podcast offers many tips even for students who have already begun preparing for the exam.

Right click here to download the full version (33:06 – 30.2MB).

As always, you can view a full listing of ManhattanGMAT’s podcasts, visit our News and Media page.

GMAT Focus Review


As promised, from the mind of Instructor Josh Braslow, here’s a review of GMAC’s newest preparation product, GMAT Focus:’s new GMAT Focus provides a unique bank of retired GMAT quantitative questions in an adaptive GMAT-like format. The material is organized in mini 24-question quant sections, which are available for purchase through the website by following the tab on the home page for Take the GMAT. Each diagnostic costs $25, unless you buy a pack of three for $65. According to GMAC, There is no limit to the number of exams you can purchase. However, if you take the GMAT Focusâ„¢ exam more than four times you may see questions repeated. The following review summarizes my initial impressions of the software after test-running two diagnostic sections. I took the diagnostic once at full-speed (i.e. best effort), and then a second time at what felt to me around a mid-650 ability level. I also culled some statistics from 6 diagnostics taken from 2 advanced private students.

The Advantages:

1. The questions are top-notch and all of them are unique to any of the questions from other sources (Official Guides, GMAT Prep Software). In other words, you can see excellent REAL GMAT math questions that you can’t find anywhere else.

2. The questions have solution explanations, not just answers (in contrast with the free tests at When you review questions, you can click on individual questions to see the solution. You can also review only missed questions or the whole set.

3. The interface provides the test-taker with an analysis of his/her performance. Performance is gauged across three criteria, Item Type (DS vs. PS), Content (Algebra vs. Arithmetic Operations), and Application (Real/Applied vs Pure/Formula Based).

Based on your performance in these areas, a probability (as a %) of scoring below average/average/above average/excellent in each area is forecasted. From these percentages, a final most likely rating is posited. I will speak more about the Content and Application criteria below.

4. The diagnostic provides statistics (correct/incorrect and average time) for the set of 24 questions. These statistics are also shown across the 3 criteria (Item Type, Content, and Application). The interface provides the student with an active link to review only questions which were INCORRECT or on which the student GUESSED.

5. A per item breakdown is displayed so that the student can click on specific missed questions or see results across a specific criterion by filtering with one of the buttons. You can select only questions from a particular category to review (e.g. algebra). You can also flag only questions that you guessed on and see what the average time was, which can be very useful.

Some potential drawbacks:

1. The Accuracy of the Prediction is not established. The software scores you by giving you a predicted range for your raw quant score based on your performance on the 24 questions (assuming that there are no experimental questions). The raw score is a range: i.e. 49-51, 37-45, etc. Besides the fact that they assert only an 80% confidence in the interval, the size of the range can vary quite a bit. In the eight diagnostics I have looked at thus far, I have seen ranges from 2 points to 8 points. The general trend, as expected, seems to be that as the performance goes down, the size of the range gets bigger. When I scored perfect 24/24, I received a 49-51 prediction. When I answered 13/24 correctly, I received a 37-45 prediction.

I can report that for one of my students, the diagnostic proved to be rather predictive. He scored 46-50, 47-51, 43-49 on his 3 diagnostics and last week scored a 48 on the actual GMAT.

2. The explanations are not stellar (in a typical Official Guide kind-of-way). The explanations leave something to be desired. In many cases, they are very algebra-heavy and unintuitive. They are highly reminiscent of the Official Guide explanations, which many students haven’t found entirely helpful.

3. The criteria of Content and Application don’t appear to be that helpful. The Content criterion will not be immediately useful to many students, as the categories are taxonomically too broad (e.g. Arithmetic Operations) to recommend concrete steps. The same is true for the Application criterion, as it’s not very helpful to know if a problem is practical or theoretical.

Final Note – Overall I would recommend the GMAT Focus product to my students. The appropriate time for its use seems to be after one has done ALL Official Guide problems, and during the final weeks before one’s exam.