Seeking a GMAT Quant 45 for the golden ticket to IESE
I teach the GMAT to people from all over the world. Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, England, Kuwait, Greece, India… Ten years ago I did zero online tutoring. Today, online GMAT tutoring comprises 90%+ of my GMAT work. In terms of my GMAT tutoring, of all the places in the world, besides Africa, Europe is the most underrepresented. Why? Maybe there isn’t as much of a test preparation culture or a standardized test culture? Or maybe the dearth of European GMAT students is due to the fact that education in Europe is often free. So Europeans are less motivated to pursue an egregiously expensive (from their perspective) MBA in the good old USA. Still, the GMAT has become something of a standard for admission to most prestigious business programs in the world. So, even if you want to attend a European university, the GMAT is still relevant. And, with GMAT scores creeping up, even our European friends occasionally need a helping hand.
In comes Dora – a rare European student. She had taken a “big box” online GMAT class and put a real effort into her studying only to score a 570 (q34 v34) on GMAT day. She was distraught and confused as she had done so much better on the “big box” practice tests (beware third party questions and scoring algorithms) she had taken during her preparation. Now she was a 100+ points away from a safe score for application to Europe’s finest MBA programs and way off from the GMAT quant 45 considered “good enough” for many top tier schools. Feeling overwhelmed with studying and underwhelmed with her previous GMAT preparation, she took a shot in the dark and contacted me for some guidance. In our consultation, she made it clear that she couldn’t afford to spend much money on private tutoring. I immediately hung up the phone. Just kidding!
GMAT Critical Reasoning eureka and a shaky Quant
Although Dora was a non-native english speaker she excelled at verbal. After an intense session of assumption based critical reasoning she exclaimed “I get it!”. Something had popped in her brain. I had a tough time believing that the CR approach had improved so quickly but her LSAT work reflected a sea change. She was scoring 90%+ on some brutal critical reasoning! It was great to find a strength. If you’re looking for a way to boost your GMAT verbal take a look at this LSAT for GMAT article.
The GMAT Quant was another story altogether. She was afraid of it. She would start a question and even when headed in the right direction would quickly break down. In her mind, the numbers were probably swirling all over the page, mocking her. We worked on pushing through that initial anxiety and of course gave her a solid method for approaching all of the major GMAT question types. I ignored the oddballs and the toughest of the tough (these questions aren’t very important for most people) because if you’re already feeling anxious why focus on things that don’t have a huge impact on your score and are only going to make you more anxious?
The Quant clicks and GMAT day 1.0
With some solid organizational strategies and a bit of encouragement, Dora could solve most official GMAT questions. On quant, she was scoring in around a 45 on her practice tests. We were on target! Test day came. 640 (q39, 37v). We were both happy to see the 70 point jump but disappointed about the Quant score. It just wasn’t representative of the work she had been doing. Still, the 640 put her in a decent place in terms of admissions.
An Unconventional GMAT Prep (guided self-study to save some cash)
Fast forward a few months – an email from Dora floated into my inbox. She was dead-set on improving the Quant percentile. Why? An admissions person from her dream school had told her that moving the needle closer to a quant 45 would win her the golden ticket. Again – she made the budget very clear:)
This preparation was a bit unconventional. I set up a two month GMAT study plan for her without any tutoring. She was to work through the schedule on her own and then we would have three meetings in the weeks leading up to the exam to give her a final boost. The schedule took some real effort and planning but it helped that Caroline was extremely organized and had provided me with exactly how much time she had each day (for 60 days in advance!) to study. If you would like an idea of how detailed these schedules are take a look here: GMAT Study Plan
She muscled through this second preparation, walking right over some real GMAT monsters without breaking a sweat. No more of the panicky, trembling voice. Just one foot in front of the other no-muss no-fuss critical thinking. Yes! Test day came. Another 640. Ah c-r-a-p. The Quant had improved from a 39 to a 42. The verbal had dipped. After our post GMAT wrap up we decided to do another 5 week blast, this time with a bit more verbal work. Once again, Dora was a trooper and diligently completed her GMAT assignments. She tackled questions that would have left her in tears only months earlier. On test day she registered a GMAT quant 45! (660 q45 v35). Victory: Two weeks later she was admitted to IESE.