Monday, May 26, 2008

GMAT Math - Algebra

Algebra on GMAT Problem Solving
This type of problem is based on making equations and solving for a variable.
Algebraic expression is a mathematical expression that contains a variable is called an algebraic expression.

Example: 2x+7 = 0
x = -7/2

Algebra can farther be divided into the following:

1. Simplifying Algebraic Expressions

Example:

 3x + 6ax2 + 15xa2 3x

Here you would have to reduce this to a simpler form to solve. We can see that 3x is a common factor in both denominator and numerator and thus solve it to 1+2ax_5a. This one is easy but you might see something tougher on GMAT.

2. Equations: Linear Equations & Solving Equations

A linear equation is an algebraic equation in which each term is either a constant or the product of a constant times the first power of a variable. Linear equations can have one, two, three or more variables. A common form of a linear equation in the two variables x and y is
$y = mx + b.\,$
Solving this type of equation has been explained above with an example. You have to take x on one side of the = and the rest of the expression to the other side as follows :

x = (y-b)/m

3. Exponents

The power n is called the exponent and a is called the base in an. For example in 74, 4 is the exponent and 7 is the base.

The rules or laws of exponents are:

MUST-KNOW:

Rule 1 : an × am = an + m
Rule 2 : an
× bn = (a b)n
Rule 3 : (an)m = anm

Examples:

Rule 1 : 22 × 25 = 4 × 32 = 128 and 22 × 25 = 27 = 128
Rule 2 : 23 × 43 = 8 × 64 = 512 and 23 × 43 = 83 = 512
Rule 3 : (32)3 = 93 = 729 and (32)3 = 36 = 729

MUST-KNOW : a−n = 1/an

Example:

2−4 = 1/24 = 1/16 and (¼)−1 = 1/(¼) = 4

You would think that a question like x2 = 25 would be simple, but it is not because there are two answers: -5 and +5. Any number raised to an even numbered exponent will always be positive. The reason for this is that -5 × -5 is 25.

 The "no answer" trick x2 + 25 = 0This is a "trick" statement because there isn't an answer to it.This breaks down into x2 = -25. x2 can't be a negative number.Therefore, x2 + 25 = 0 can't have a real answer.
4. Inequalities

An inequality is simply a comparison of two quantities or expressions.
 a a is less than b a < b a is less than or equal to b a > b a is greater than b a > b a is greater than or equal to b

Example:
Solve for x:

4 - x/2 ≤ 2

-x/2 ≤ -2

-x ≤ -4

x ≥ 4

x can be any number greater than or equal to 4.

5. Absolute Value

The absolute value of a number, | |, is always positive. In other words, the absolute value symbol eliminates negative signs.

For example, | -7 | = 7. Caution, the absolute value symbol acts only on what is inside the symbol, | |. For example, -| -7 | = -(+7) = -7. Here, only the negative sign inside the absolute value symbol is eliminated.

Example:

If a, b, and c are consecutive integers and a <>

I. b - c = 1
II. abc/3 is an integer.
III. a + b + c is even.

(A) I only (B) II only (C) III only (D) I and II only (E) II and III only

Let x, x + 1, x + 2 stand for the consecutive integers a, b, and c, in that order. Plugging this into Statement I yields b - c = (x + 1) -(x + 2) = -1. Hence, Statement I is false.

As to Statement II, since a, b, and c are three consecutive integers, one of them must be divisible by 3. Hence, abc/3 is an integer, and Statement II is true.

As to Statement III, suppose a is even, b is odd, and c is even. Then a + b is odd since even + odd = odd. Hence, a + b + c = (a + b) + c = (odd) + even = odd. Thus, Statement III is not necessarily true. The answer is (B).

Another example for dual answer problem

 6 - 5|x - 1| = 1 -5|x - 1| = -5 Subtract 6 from both sides. |x - 1| = 1 Divide by -5 from both sides.Once you have isolated theabsolute value, get rid ofabsolute value sign bycreating two scenarios(one negative and one positive). Set to negative Set to positive -(x - 1) = 1 Negative scenario (x - 1) = +1 Add 1 -x + 1 = 1 Minus 1 from both sides x = 2 x = 0

Here x can be 0 as well as 2.

6. Functions

Defined functions are very common on the GMAT, and most students struggle with them. Yet once you get used to them, defined functions can be some of the easiest problems on the test. In this type of problem, you will be given a symbol and a property that defines the symbol.

Example:

Define x # y by the equation x # y = xy - y. Then 2 # 3 =

(A) 1 (B) 3 (C) 12 (D) 15 (E) 18

From the above definition, we know that x # y = xy - y. So all we have to do is replace x with 2 and y with 3 in the definition: 2 # 3 = 2(3) - 3 = 3. Hence, the answer is (B).

Example:

Define the symbol * by the following equation: x* = 2 - x, for all non-negative x. If (2 - x)* = (x - 2)*, then x =
(A) 0
(B) 1
(C) 2
(D) 4
(E) 6

(2 - x)* = (x - 2)*
2 - (2 - x) = 2 - (x - 2)
2 - 2 + x = 2 - x + 2
x = 4 - x
2x = 4
x = 2

Well, so much for Algebra on the GMAT quantitative section. The key again is practice practice and practice. The rules are simple and so is the math. The only thing you are being tested on is your presence of mind and understanding of the concept! Happy practicing!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

GMAT Math : Problem Solving (PS)

The quantitative section on the GMAT consists of two parts :
1. Data Sufficiency - Discussed in the earlier post)
2. Problem Solving - We are going to talk about it today

Quantitative Problem Solving on GMAT :
The Problem Solving questions make approximately 2/3rd of all the questions on the GMAT Quantitative Section. They are therefore of utmost importance to get you a higher score. Although the Problem Solving questions belong to the easy category of maths, you need to be very careful while solving them as they would be quite tricky.

On this question you will be given a math problem and five answer choices. You would have to work out the problem and choose the best answer. Timing is very critical on this question. You would have 75 minutes to solve 37 question in the quantitative section of GMAT. Hence you need to be very quick on the Problem Solving section as this is the easy one. Another important point here is taking shortcuts. With the time limit of 75 minutes you would be in a comfortable position if you try solving problems in less time rather than trying to solve them methodically. Therefore techniques like plug in and back tracing would be useful here. I will discuss them in more detail later. The problems on this section would be divided into basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry and word problems. We will discuss each of them in subsequent sections.

TIPS and Strategies for GMAT Problem Solving

This section requires you to solve problems on algebra, geometry and arithmetic, simple probability and permutations and combinations. There are around 17 problem questions out of 37 quantitative questions.

• Most Imp Tip : Based on our students experience, some questions are very easy so one should only spend only about half a minute and some 4-5 questions are tricky and one has to spend 3-4 minutes to crack those tough questions. Some students couldn't complete the quantitative sections and most of them felt that they should have done the easier questions faster rather than revising those easy ones again and again

• Read the question carefully. Some times they just add negate the positive statement say for example they may ask which of them was not true? By making this a habit one can save 2-3 silly errors.

• Use paper and pencil for short calculations and for taking note of eliminated choices.

In GMAT answer choices are arranged in ascending or descending order so while guessing an answer or while working backwards one should always start from choice b or d as it will tell u in which direction u should move and may save a step or two ( same principle is followed in Binary index searching).

• Do not waste time on lengthy calculations as GMAT questions are mostly based on tricks and they do not expect you to go on lengthy calculations. One may spend some time on trick else it is better to leave the question. Sometime it may be a test question for future GMAT ( Out of 37 question in gmat only 28 are evaluated and rest are future test questions to understand their difficulty level based on your correct answers and time spent).

• GMAT expects to you to do approximations as answers choices are rarely close. say 9.5 can be rounded of to 10 or 22/7 can be assumed to be 3.

• In GMAT if you are weak on certain specific question types then do make notes and just practice those questions again and again so that one can save time on those questions. Some examples are given below

- Practice the set question up to 3 level example three sets of people doing different things etc say 20 people do x and y, 10 people y and z and 5 people x,y and z

- Practice downstream and upstream questions for example one elevator going down and other coming up when they will meet.
- No of diagonals in a polygon ( N* C* 2 - N )
- Questions on probability. 5 coins are tossed together etc
- One people finish work in x days, 2 people in y days how many days the other person will do etc-2.

There is a big difference between a question asking "Which of the following may be true?" and one asking "Which of the following may not be true?" The test writers deliberately include answer choices that correlate to common misinterpretations of the questions.

Use your scrap paper for every question. No matter how easy a question appears, you should utilize your scrap paper. Seeing a calculation on paper will help you avoid.

Do not get bogged down with complicated or lengthy calculations. We have looked at hundreds of GMAT problem solving questions and found that they are.

The "guesstimating" technique is extremely effective on this exam. Most of the time, the answer to a problem-solving question is a value, and the values given in the answer choices will not be very close to each other. As a result, you can save time by 'guesstimating.' For example, if you know the value you're looking for is about 30%, and the answer choices are 4%, 13%, 29%, 47%, and 81%, you can safely guess that the correct answer is 29%. Congratulations - you just saved yourself a lot of time on this question, and avoided getting caught up in a longer calculation that might have resulted in a math error!

Convert quantities freely. There are often shortcuts available to you if you can recognize relationships between the numbers used in the problems. Keep in mind, the GMAT test writers never haphazardly select numbers for their questions. This technique is especially useful in narrowing down likely answer choices when you feel the urge to pull out a calculator. One easy conversion to remember is that, at least for purposes of the GMAT, p = 22/7.

How to conquer Data Sufficiency (DS) on GMAT

DATA SUFFICIENCY (DS)

Data Sufficiency (DS) is a part of the quantitative section on the GMAT exam. As the name suggests you have to find out whether the given data is sufficient to answer the question or no. The data sufficiency question in GMAT exam is slightly different from the regular CAT data sufficiency question. It is comparatively more tricky and forms a major part of the quantitative section on GMAT.

The data sufficiency (DS) problem consists of a question and two statements, labeled (1) and (2), in which certain data are given. You have to decide whether the data given in the statements are sufficient for answering the question. Using the data given in the statements plus your
knowledge of mathematics and everyday facts, you must indicate whether
A. statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the
B. statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the
C. BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but
NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient;
E. BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are not sufficient to answer the question asked;

The easiest way to solve this question and to avoid any confusion is to take one statement at a time. There are two parts to this questions. One is the data that is already given and the other partial data given in statements (1) and (2).

Now you have to imagine that say statement (2) does not exist and only statement (1) does. Will you able to solve the given problem now? Let me give you an example here :

1. At a certain picnic, each of the guests was served either a single scoop or a double scoop of ice cream. How many of the guests were served a double scoop of ice cream?

(1) At the picnic, 60 percent of the guests were served a double scoop of ice scream.

(2) A total of 120 scoops of ice cream were served to all the guests at the picnic.

The question asks you how many guests got a double scoop. The information you already have is that there were only two type of scoops : double and single.
Now just cover up statement (2) and see if the information in (1) is enough to answer this question. You can see that it gives only a percentage and total number of people is unknown. Hence (1) is not sufficient to answer this question.

For the same example now cover up statement (1) and see if you can answer the question. Again you can easily see that (2) gives only the total number of ice creams served. Therefore (2) also is not sufficient to answer this question.

Now see if you can answer the question using both (1) and (2). Viola!!! you can.
(1) gives you the percentage being served one kind of ice cream and (2) gives you the total number of ice creams. Using these two you can find the number of ice creams of both kinds and answer the question.

Remember you are not supposed to find the answer in DS questions. Hence don't go about solving the whole problem and waste your time. The key is to just plug in the data given and see if you can solve for a single variable. To achieve sufficiency, there must be as many equations as there are variables.

TIPS and TRICKS for DS :

• In Data Sufficiency questions, you are usually being asked 1 of 3 things:
1. A specific value - like in the example above
2. A range of numbers
3. Yes/No or True/False whatever you may like to call it
• Start with each statement separately to see the sufficiency and if they do not satisfy the question then look at both the statements together.
• Eliminate wherever possible. For Instance if (1) is not sufficient A and D cannot be the answers so you can do better guesswork out of BCE.
• On harder DS questions, answer choices tend to be more sufficient than they might appear.
• DON’T CHOOSE (E) if you have to guess.
• Pick between (A) or (C), if you can eliminate (B).
• Historically, (A) is slightly more common as the right answer.
• About 1/3 of DS questions are YES/NO questions.
• Only about half the time do you have to look at both statements in combination.
• Do not make unwarranted assumptions. For instance for the following question :
Did Person A get over 50% of the vote?

(1) Person C got 49% of the vote.
(2) Person A got 25,000 of the 100,000 votes cast.

Most people would assume here that there are only 2 persons A and C and take (1) as sufficient. Be very careful with such type of questions and do not make this mistake of assuming the data not given.

Another common mistake people make is assuming the information given in statement (1) in solving the problem with statement (2). This is a very common exam trick and most people fall for it atleast in their initial study period. Hence view statements separately first and only when you are unable to answer the question this way take both the statements together.

On YES/NO DS questions, if a statement answers the
question conclusively in the affirmative or in the
negative, then IT IS SUFFICIENT.

Example :
Is it true that a>b?
(1) 2a > 2b
(2) a + c > b + c

You can see that both (1) and (2) can answer this question independently. Hence you should not care about any real values here. I am assuming you would be able to solve this on your own and hence not putting the explanation here.

These tricks really helped me in scoring well on DS and I hope they would be useful for you too.

To download problems for DS you can go to the download section of the blog. It contains more than enough for you to get good practice on this section! All problems come with detailed solutions and in case you find any difficulty understanding any problem you can always ping me!

Currently the download section is not ready but if you need the material immediately you can ping me again!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My GMAT study plan

I am sure by now you would want to know how I studied and fared in my GMAT exam. Well I scored a 710 (93%tile) overall. The breakup was
Verbal - 37 (82%)
Quant - 50 (95%)
Analytical writing - 6.0 (89%)

I studied for about 2 and a half months for the exam. From mid-may to July end (My exam date was 31st July 2007). I used to study for about 3-4 hours on weekdays and maybe slightly more on weekends, say about 6 hours. I had reserved my weekends for analytical writing practice and test taking.

I suggest that you start studying about 3-4 months in advance. More than 4 months of study is not required unless you cannot study for more than 1-2 hours a day.
Make your study plan such that you can study each section comfortable without rushing through it. Remember that working on each section is important and going ahead with the myth that its standard 10th English and math would land you in trouble.

I divided my time between verbal and quant based on my areas of weakness. For instance I found sentence correction and data sufficiency a little tough compared to the other sections. Hence I put in more time for practice on these sections. I gave time on understanding the technique in solving each type of question so that I do not have to go back to the theory once I start my practice tests.

It is also important to understand the given explanations for any questions you don't answer correctly so that you don not make the same mistake again. All questions on GMAT fall into defined categories and hence if you know each category well you would face no problem answering these questions.

You should take one practice test before starting your study to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. If you are good in math and score well on that section you can probably channelize your energies to verbal and analytical writing. This would be the starting point of your study program. Once you have identified difficult areas concentrate on strengthening them with the help of the tips and tricks available in the books. With time you would be able to make your own tricks and tips on solving particular type of problems!

The analytical writing section requires a different practice regime compared to the other two sections. With no fixed answers to any questions you are being tested on your thought process, writing ability, coherence, consistency and paraphrasing. You would be able to perfect all of these only by writing as much as you can. The analytical writing questions on GMAT would come from this big pool of questions already available to the students. The format of writing is also well defined in the books.

Although I myself did not practice writing everyday, I would suggest you to write atleast one essay everyday. More importantly getting the essay reviewed by an experienced person is a must. I use to get my essays reviewed by my friends who were writing GMAT too. You could also do the same or send them across to me too and I promise to review them If I do get time!

Start studying early and practice practice practice. Thats the key to conquer this exam!

Monday, May 19, 2008

GMAT - Books that would really help!

You would be thoroughly confounded when you go to a book store to buy GMAT books for your study. Today there is a plethora of books that are available in the market for all kinds of aptitude tests including GMAT. Here I am going to tell you about some books that I found useful and would be enough to get you through GMAT smoothly.

The Official guide for GMAT review

Currently the 11th edition is out in the market for your reference. However even if you get hold of a previous version it would not make much of a difference. This being the official guide is the best place to start with your GMAT preparations. It contains section wise and chapter wise study of various subjects that are required for GMAT. After chapter study it offers a vast variety of questions on each section to give you enough practice.
Apart from this the official version comes as two separate books for the verbal and quantitative section also.
This book also contains about 5-6 full length tests covering the entire GMAT exam.
The book is useful to begin your study but I would not recommend it as the only source for your GMAT study. The reason being this book has slightly easier questions when compared the real GMAT examination. Hence, it would definitely give you practice but not help much in taking you above a score of 700. I would thus suggest starting with this book and once you are confident with the basics moving on to the tougher and more real questions!

Princeton Review - Cracking the GMAT

Frankly I am personally not very fond of this book. I would not recommend this book if you already have the official guide mentioned above. This book does not offer anything new technique wise or questions wise. In case you do not get hold of the official guide you could use this book as a start point for your preparations. This book also has section wise study and many questions. However, it lacks enough data for professional GMAT study. The tests in this book have been rightly divided as easy, medium and difficult so that you have enough practice for all these type of questions but the questions themselves are too less in number to give you enough practice! The full length tests are not at all useful and should be used only for practice early in your preparation cycle.

Kaplan GMAT 2008 Premier Program with DVD

This is the ultimate guide to GMAT according to me. When I read this book I realized I did not have to use any other material except for more practice questions. This book explains the basics of each type of question in a very easy to understand manner. It also gives you a lot of tricks and tips to solve the not so easy questions. Another important thing is that the difficulty level of the questions in this book is slightly higher when compared to other GMAT books. When I wrote my GMAT exam I realized that this was the only book that came close to the real questions on GMAT. The tests in Kaplan are very exhaustive and give you enough practice to take the computer simulated GMAT. I never really scored very high marks on Kaplan tests - that is above 700. In fact the marks used to be around 640-680 but managed to get a 710 on my final exam. I would recommend this book as a must have for GMAT studies.

Well, these are the only three books that I recommend for your GMAT studies. Remember that the key is not having ten books and studying only two. You should get two good books and thoroughly study each section of both books with diligence. Apart from these books I have a lot of practice questions for all sections that I would be posting here. The trick is to understand each type of question very well and then do atleast 500-600 questions of each for practice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

GMAT - Format and sections

GMAT is an aptitude test conducted worldwide as a selection criteria for entrance into many B schools. It is a computer adaptive multiple choice test. By adaptive i mean that based on your answer to a previous question, right or wrong, your next question will be tougher or easier. The GMAT consists of 3 sections :
1. Verbal

2. Quantitative

3. Analytical Writing

The GMAT is a three-and-one-half hour computer adaptive test (CAT). The exam time is divided as follows:

 Section Time Writing Analysis of Issue Essay 30 minutes Writing Analysis of Argument Essay 30 minutes Math 37 Questions 75 minutes Verbal 41 Questions 75 minutes

Verbal Section

The verbal section is again divided into three parts :

(ii) Sentence Correction (SC)
(iii) Critical Reasoning (CR)

The RC section will consist of a write up of about 4-5 paragraphs (350-400 words) and you will be asked to answer questions based on the RC. The RC can be related to any topic and you need not have prior knowledge of the same. The questions will test your understanding of English words and your power to comprehend data in a given span of time. Some questions will be directly based on the passage and you just have to pick up the data from the right places in the passage. Others will be inference based and you would have to draw certain conclusions based on the data in the passage.
Here is a list of sample questions to get you a feel of the way such questions would be asked : -Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?

-The primary purpose of the passage is to....?

-The passage supplies information that would answer which of the following questions?

-Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s assertion?

Sentence Correction

This question of the verbal section of GMAT is to test your English Grammar basically. And believe me you would really want to go back to third standard and study Wren and Martin again!!!
You would mainly be asked to correct a sentence, that is see if it is grammatically correct in standard written English language.
The other question type will be making a sentence as compact as possible (does not mean the shortest) by removing any unnecessary words or expressions.

Some examples for the two type of questions :

Despite pleas from consumer advocate groups, the high gasoline prices of late seem like it is indicative that gasoline prices, although they have almost doubled in the past year, have not yet reached their peak.

A. like it is indicative that

B. as if to indicate

C. indicative of

D. to indicate that

E. like an indication of

The correct answer here is D according to standard English rules that I will talk about in my later posts. Remember that in SC questions the first option will always be the repetition of the exact phrase in the given sentence. It may or may not be correct. There would be questions where the given phrase is the correct phrase.

Critical Reasoning

This question on the verbal section of the GMAT tests your logic and reasoning skills. It tests whether you can understand a given set of logically connected sentences and can draw inferences based on them.

You could be asked to draw conclusions, evaluate underlying assumptions, point out any erroneous argument, correct an argument, analyze the given options and see if any of them strengthen/weaken the argument.

Let me give you a simple example here to help you understand this section better.

Monthly employee evaluations are an excellent tool for managers. With them, employees that are not productive can be removed from the company, and efficient workers rewarded, and all within the space of a month.

The argument above logically depends on which of the following assumptions?

A Workers do not in turn complete evaluations of the management of the company.

B Unproductive employees often refuse to co-operate with the managers doing the evaluations, because they see these evaluations as a violation of their privacy.

C Most studies indicate that employee evaluations have no bearing whatsoever on worker satisfaction.

D Evaluations can identify with some accuracy whether an employee is productive or not.

E Employee evaluations are a better source of information about employee grievances than are monthly staff meetings.

The correct answer for the above question is D. Now lets understand how.

Monthly employee evaluations are an excellent tool for managers - This statement is actually the conclusion of the argument(It need not be the last statement)
With them, employees that are not productive can be removed from the company, and efficient workers rewarded, and all within the space of a month. - This statement is the premise which is nothing but a statement which when combined with a logical assumption leads to the conclusion. The question asks us to find the underlying assumption on which this argument is based. On scanning through the choices you will find that only D - The most logical assumption is that this tool is infact capable of finding non productive employees. More details on the verbal section in my next post. I hope this is enough to get you started!!! Quantitative Section The GMAT quantitative section consists of two type of questions - Problem Solving(PS) and Data Sufficiency(DS) Both type of questions require basic knowledge of arithmetic, algebra and geometry.
Below is an example of a PS type question.

6. If XYZ in the figure above is a right angle, what is the value of x?

(A) 155

(B) 145

(C) 135

(D) 125

(E) 110

The answer is B - 145. This was a very basic question but you might get some tricky questions on your actual GMAT paper. More on that in the detailed section later.

Let me now give you an example of a DS type of question. You will be provided with some data in the main question and some partial data in two separate options. Now you have to check whether you can answer the main question with the help of these two sub options. The question can be answered with both options exclusively, with any one of them, both of them put together or by none of them. Thats exactly what you need to find out in this question.

Here is the example :

A. statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone
B. statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone
C. BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient
ALONE is sufficient;
D. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the
E. statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient
the problem are needed.

1. If today the price of an item is \$3,600, what was the price of the item exactly 2 years ago?

(1) The price of the item increased by 10 per-cent per year during this 2-year period.

(2) Today the price of the item is 1.21 times its price exactly 2 years ago.

Here you can see that both options 1 and 2 can be used to answer this question exclusively. Hence you choose answer option which says that both statements can answer the question exclusively that is D.

Thats all on the format and the type of questions on all sections in GMAT. I would get back with more details and question banks on each section in my later posts.

I guess this is enough to get you accustomed to the format and sections of GMAT as of now!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GMAT - Not that tough but not that easy too!!!

Welcome back!!
So I guess you have taken the big decision and want to do an MBA. Well all the best!!!
Now, to get into a business school you have to start with your entrance exams to the schools. Most of the schools in India have their own entrance examinations like CAT, XAT, etc etc. However, schools across other countries and some in India too accept GMAT as their official entrance examination. GMAT - Graduate Management Admission Test is one of the selection criteria across the world for selection into a B-school.

GMAT is held throughout the year across almost all the countries. It is basically an aptitude test that tests you on your analytical, mathematics and English skills together with your writing skills. It is a totally computer based adaptive test now. There was a paper based non-adaptive version earlier. The test is divided into three parts - Mathematics, English and Analytical writing. You are marked on a total score of 800 for math and English and on a 6 point on the analytical writing system.

GMAT is a widely accepted test and hence taken by millions of aspiring students every year. Obviously you need to book your test dates at the nearest test center well in advance. For instance, if the school you want to join has an application deadline in September then you need to have the GMAT results by atleast mid September. The official GMAT scores take atleast a month to come and most schools do not process applications unless they have the official GMAT scores. By official I mean the score report that is directly sent by GMAT authorities to your chosen schools. So you can choose 5 schools you want to apply to when you start writing your GMAT exam and GMAT sends score reports to these five schools without charges. Any additional score reports will be charged about 40\$ each. The test itself will cost you about 250\$.
You can get further details about the test and also register for the same at : http://www.mba.com/mba/TaketheGMAT

Remember to take your studying capacity and your application deadlines into consideration before booking the test date. You can reschedule your test date but that will again cost you a few dollars.

Once you have booked the test date come back for GMAT preparation tools and my experiences.
All the best!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Big Decision - To do an MBA or not

I know I know!!!! You have read this a thousand times before on every site possible. But you are still not able to make that decision! Well, I faced the same dilemma an year back and now I can confidently say that I made the right choices. An year back I was like any of you - an Engineer, earning a good salary and doing a decent job. However, there was something amiss and I was not wholly satisfied with my job and my career progress. I had been in the semiconductor industry for four years but had not moved more than an inch or two in my job responsibilities. And I want to clarify, I was and am good at my job and got constant hikes and promotions. This does not always have to be equivalent to job satisfaction though. I realized I was not enjoying the work I did for two reasons - First, I was not making decisions in my job and Second, I was not able to utilize my brain enough to do something innovative/creative. After a lot of thought I realized I wanted to move out of an engineer's shell and move into a new world where I could make decisions and also take responsibility for them. An MBA is an obvious path for my goal isn't it? But this decision was not as easy as it sounds here. I did a lot of research trying to match my interests with the job responsibilities of an MBA. This together with a whole lot of brain storming(brain-eating rather) sessions with my family/friends ultimately led to this decision.
I heard a lot of what if's and but's about leaving a well paying job and age and going back to school stuff. Today, I know I have taken the right decision and I am here to tell you how you can take this crucial decision in your life.
First of all, its your decision, about your life and career, and you need to justify it only to yourself. If you are satisfied with your choice, you do not need to explain it to anyone. Which leads me to another important point - an MBA is an important step in any one's life but its not for everyone. You have to do a lot of self-analysis to understand your needs and suitability for an MBA. A particular kind of course that your friend did may not be as good for you. This comes from the fact that your friend and you are two different people and have different skills and aspirations in life.
While money is an obvious factor on every one's mind it should NOT be the most important factor in your choice of MBA or schools.
So first and foremost you need to understand your need for an MBA. It may be to climb the career ladder in your current job if you are lacking the required skills to reach a higher position. In another case it could be your lack of interest in your current field of work and your interest in another field which requires you to have skills of an MBA.
And in case you do not have a reason to do an MBA-DO NOT just because your best friend is doing so. Its highly possible that you are doing quite well in your current position and enjoy your work well enough but are being influenced by the decisions of someone else.
Hence, as I said earlier an MBA is an important and critical decision and should be taken with utmost care.
Some Do's - Analyse your needs, current skills and skills if any you want to acquire. Will an MBA help you acquire those skills and is it the only option?
-Do you want to come back to what you are doing with new skills or want to do a different job altogether with a completely new skill set.
-Going back to school is tough after years of work. Are you really ready for it?
-MBA is an investment and you have to give it time to reap the benefits. Are you ready to wait for it?
Some Dont's - Do not do an MBA only to earn a few bucks more. You might be better of here with a few thousands less than with an MBA degree and no clue as to what you want to do.
-You are an individual and hence don't get influenced by the decision of others who are doing an MBA. It is not a rat race and should not be mistaken for one.

I hope you will make a better and hopefully right decision regarding an MBA after reading this!!
More to come once you have decided to do an MBA. Don't forget to come back here!!