Navigating the GMAT Essays

Are you worried about setting yourself apart during the business school admissions process? One of your key opportunities is to deliver well-written GMAT essays. This guide will teach you the tricks to overshadowing your competitors with great essays.

The Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GMAT lasts for one hour and is divided into two essays: issue and argument. Consider the following top-tier advice:

  • Stay on topic. With only thirty minutes for each essay, you will not have time to go off onto tangents. Plan to make your points within 300 words or less.
  • Use supportive statements and cite facts whenever possible. Include your personal experience when appropriate but also rely on the evidence given by third parties.
  • Both a computer program and a human reader will review your essays. Make sure that your word choice, sentence construction, and overall flow appeal to both entities.

For the Analysis of an Issue essay, your job is not to prove that the issue is right or wrong; your job is to convince the reader to believe your position. The simplest format for the Analysis of an Issue section is the following:

  • Introduction with a background on the issue and reasons why you agree or disagree
  • Reason One with an explanation of the reason and an example
  • Reason Two with an explanation of the reason and an example
  • Acknowledgment of the opposing side’s arguments and ways to refute them
  • Conclusion re-emphasizing the issue and the arguments you have already presented

The easiest format for the Analysis of an Argument essay is below. For this section you must point out the flaws of the argument and convince the reader your conclusions are correct.

  • Introduction with a background on the argument and your stance on its validity
  • Point One with an emphasis on the argument’s positive aspects, using examples whenever possible
  • Point Two with an emphasis on the argument’s negative aspects (flaws), using examples whenever possible
  • Point Three listing ways in which the argument could be improved or strengthened
  • Conclusion reiterating the argument and its major advantages and disadvantages

Before your writing time is complete, review your essays. Make sure they are free of spelling errors, meet conventional grammar and formatting guidelines, respond well to the essay topic, and capture the reader’s attention.
Practice essay writing several times before you reach the testing center, so you will understand the pacing necessary to meet the time limits. GMAT test prep is available both online and in-person for essay assistance.
With advanced planning and GMAT test prep, you are on your way to furthering your education and propelling your job prospects well into the future.

Creating a SAT Prep Plan

Most high school students planning to attend college still take the Scholastic Aptitude Test, also known as the SAT. The test is usually taken during the junior year of high school, which can be a hectic time for most students, so creating time to study can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are some options for SAT prep.

The easiest way to sign-up for the SAT is to go to the College Board website. Students can search for the nearest testing location, which is usually at a local high school or university. The sign-up process is simple and only requires that the student give some basic personal information. College Board then provides instructions for testing day, including tips for a healthy breakfast and a good night’s sleep.

Many students know about existing weaknesses- a student who does not perform well in math generally knows this before it is time to take the SAT. However, to better determine areas needing improvement, sample tests can be used to identify particular sections that could use refreshing. For students wishing to sit through the whole testing experience, some high schools will provide the option of taking the PSAT, but this does not allow review of items missed. Sample tests can be purchased at most major bookstores. Additionally, online test prep materials are available via the College Board website and sites such as ePrep. Online and bookstore SAT test prep options allow review of items missed, and some online programs offer explanations for why the correct answer is the best choice.

When establishing a schedule for studying, the best option is to start early and work in small increments. Working through a practice book each day will get exhausting and expensive in no time at all. Devote no more than 15-30 minutes 3-5 days per week to do SAT test prep. This does not necessarily mean using an expensive practice book every day. For example, a student with vocabulary difficulties can generate a list of words and create flashcards, and practice like this is quite mobile, so practicing on the bus or during a break between classes is easy. When it comes to using practice books or online SAT prep, try to do just one section at a time. Also, alternate what is being practiced to prevent burnout. Finally, as the time to test draws near, start doing the full length practice exams. If possible have someone time you so that you can prepare for time constraints.

The SAT can be daunting at first glance, but success is not out of reach. With practice and confidence, a good score can be earned.

GMAT Study Tips

There are many different ways to study for the GMAT. As with any important test, you will want to think about the methods that have worked for you in the past and come up with a combination of the different approaches to create a plan that will work for you. Combining a few of the many strategies is a good way to ensure that you are well prepared for GMAT test day.

Online GMAT Test Prep
Online test prep is a great way to study for the GMAT on your schedule. Online test prep can fit into anyone’s hectic life and allow you to work at a pace that’s right for you. The GMAT is taken on the computer, so studying online is another way to get used to the format and comfortable with the test’s look. There are great options for online test prep available today and students are walking away feeling well-prepared for the exam.

Practice Tests
One of the most important ways to prepare for the GMAT is by taking practice tests. Practice tests allow you to get a feel for the way the test works and how you will work best on test day. Feeling comfortable with the format of the test, a new thing for many test takers, and allow test-takers to feel more confident on test day. Practice test scores can also help you to identify areas that need more work and narrow your focus when you go back to your other methods of studying for the GMAT.

Flashcards
For many people, flashcards are a useful study tool. There’s a reason flashcards have been a mainstay of studying since grade school, they work. Flashcards are good to help you learn new terminology and master new information in a quick and easy way. Flashcards are also great for people who are studying on the go because they can go with you to work, to school, or even on public transportation for your commute.

Test Strategies
Learning some basic test taking strategies can be extremely helpful for the GMAT. Learning how to work through questions, read questions quickly and accurately, and work through process of elimination the answers can help you on test day. Time management is another important skill for the GMAT and practicing skills can make a big difference in your final GMAT scores.

Combining several study methods as you prepare for the GMAT is a sure way to learn information and be sure that you go into the test prepared and confident.

Overcoming Testing Anxiety

Testing anxiety can affect even the best students and have a strong impact on students’ abilities to perform well on tests. Finding ways to overcome testing anxiety will help you to do better in school, stay calm before exams, and perform better on big tests like the SAT too.

There are many causes of testing anxiety. Some students become anxious during the hours before a test fearing that they have not studied enough. The best way to combat this is to start studying early and not leave anything to the last minute. When you feel comfortable with the material, its easier to put the books and notes away knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare. When preparing for bigger tests, like the SAT. It is even more important to start early and stay calm. A solid SAT test prep schedule will help you to budget your time and know that you have done all that you can to prepare.

The more tests you take, the better you will become at keeping calm before a big exam. When preparing for the SAT, taking practice tests as part of your online test prep can be a big help to students who are anxious. Similarly, if your textbooks have practice tests or questions to check your work, go back and look at them before a test. This is a good way to anticipate potential questions and identify trouble areas. Answering questions about test material can also help you to feel confident going into the test.

If you have questions, make the time to talk with your teacher. Similarly, if you find yourself experiencing severe anxiety, it may be worthwhile to talk with a parent or guidance counselor about ways to feel better, handle your emotions, and find ways to lessen your anxiety.

The day before the test, read over summaries of the material and then put your books and prep work away. Take some time to relax and be sure to get to sleep at a decent hour the night before a test. Feeling well rested and not spending the evening cramming for the test will help you to relax. Going into the exam calm and confident counts for a lot and will help you to recall information and follow directions on the test.

If you feel yourself getting anxious, try taking deep breaths and reminding yourself of the work you put into studying. Learning how to calm yourself down before a test is a skill that will be useful throughout your academic career.

The Value of the SAT

Everyone knows that the SAT is important, but in recent years, its value has only increased. Close to 1.6 million students graduating from high school in 2010 took the SAT, this is a higher percentage of graduates than ever before. Minority participation in the SAT is also up compared to past years. The SAT is increasingly becoming an assumed part of the high school to college transition and can be a valuable resource for college admissions.

Studies have revealed that performance on the SAT is an excellent predictor of college readiness. High school grade point average and SAT scores are of equal value in predicting students’ first year college grade point average. By looking at the combination of the two, colleges can get a fairly accurate reading of how prepared a student is for college coursework.

While having a strong knowledge base from high school classes is certainly part of good SAT scores and being prepared for the college, the SAT tests a lot more than that. By taking time to study for the SAT through SAT prep and online classes, students can demonstrate their ability to prepare for a big test and retain information. These are skills that will continue to serve students well in college and contribute to better grades and a higher likelihood that they will finish college.

SAT scores matter, now more than ever, and college admissions offices will be looking at them for a glimpse into how well a student will handle college-level work and how well students can budget their time, follow directions, and prepare material for a test.

In 2010, 80.8% of the students graduating who took the SAT also took the PSAT. The PSAT can provide an opportunity for students to see how the test day will work so that they feel comfortable for the SAT. PSAT scores are also a good way to get a better idea of which areas of the test will need the most work during SAT prep.

The College Board anticipates that upcoming studies will reveal the impact that SAT scores have on college performance after the first year and college retention for all four years. This is valuable information that can be gleamed from test performance early in student’s academic careers.

Choosing a college major

As you prepare for the SAT with online practice exams, complete SAT test prep, and prepare for test day, many students begin to think seriously about college and their options for the future.

For some students, choosing a major will not be a difficult decision. If you have known what you want to do after college for awhile, you can take this knowledge into account as you are choosing a college. Knowing your major early on gives you the opportunity to speak with professors in your intended major, ask about the program and find out what alumni from that major are doing now.

For other students, choosing a major is a decision that can feel overwhelming. At most colleges, it is completely normal for students to be undecided during the first year of college. This is something that you can ask about during college visits. Many schools have required classes that will fill up your first few semesters and allow you to try courses from many different departments. This is a great way to try new things and find the major that will be the best fit for you.

When choosing a major, it is important to consider the type of job you would like to have after college. If your career path is undecided or could accommodate many different majors, your best plan is to consider your academic strengths and interests. Choosing a major that you love will ensure that you put a lot of effort into your classes and finish college with a strong academic record. This will help you as you apply for graduate school, apply for fellowships after college, or look for your first job.

It’s also important to plan your course schedule to be sure that you will graduate on time with your major. Good planning will also allow you the option of adding a second major, minor, or concentration if you would like to take courses in different areas. These are all great ways to add another interest to your academic track and a good way to set your resume apart from others.

It is also common for students to change majors during college. This is always easier to do sooner rather than later, while you still have plenty of time to complete the course load. Before changing your major, you will want to speak with your current academic adviser and a professor in the department that you are considering. Find out just what the switch will entail and then you will be able to decide if it the right choice.

How many times should I take the SAT?

There is no limit to the number of times that a high school student can take the SAT. While it will be different for everyone, most people will want to take the SAT two or three times during junior and senior year of high school. Your highest SAT score will be the one that colleges use, regardless of whether it is the first or the third time that you took the test.

Spring of junior year is a good time to take the SAT for the first time. This will allow you to have plenty of time to study both before and after this test. Having a first set of SAT scores will help you to focus in on problem areas and also set up a senior year plan to get the best SAT scores possible.

Your SAT scores will show you exactly how well you perform on the math, reading, and writing portions of the test. Many students are surprised when they receive their first scores and find that they performed significantly better or worse on certain parts of the test than they expected. When you plan ahead and take the SAT for the first time junior year, you have plenty of time to improve your scores.

The summer before senior year of high school is a great time to focus on SAT test prep. Once you have your first set of scores, you have a guide to what you will need to focus on during your next round of prep. Taking an SAT prep course, meeting with a tutor, and taking online practice exams can all be part of a comprehensive plan to raise your scores when you take the SAT for a second time.

Focus on trouble areas during this round of studying. Think back to any questions that took you a long time to solve, or areas of the SAT where you could not answer a lot of questions. This is your chance to go into your next SAT prepared to handle these areas. Having taken the SAT once also allows many students to relax about the test-taking experience.

Plan to take the SAT again at the earliest test day in the fall of senior year. Many students will be happy with this score, while some will still have time to take the test again later in the fall. Check with your top colleges to find out when they will need your scores. Most will have a deadline in December or January.

Having a plan to take the SAT multiple times is a great way to get the best score possible. Spacing out your tests between junior and senior year will allow you plenty of SAT prep time to study and improve on your earlier scores.

GMAT Analytical Writing Section

The Analytical Writing Assessment is one of the three parts of the GMAT exam. It is designed to test critical thinking skills and to measure the test taker’s ability to communicate information effectively. GMAT test prep is important to get test takers prepared to handle each of the Analytical Writing Assessment sections. Online test prep is often a particularly good option as it allows individuals to make their own schedule and complete GMAT test prep whenever they have free time.
The Analytical Writing Assessment is divided into two 30-minute essays. The first is the Analysis of an Issue and the second an Analysis of an Argument. Each essay is deigned to gauge the test taker’s ability to write analytically and present cohesive ideas. While the essay topics generally cover topics related to business, they should not require any prior knowledge of the subject. Taking GMAT practice tests is a great way to become familiar with the type of essay prompt that will appear on the exam.

The Analysis of an Issue section requires test takers to analyze an issue and form a point of view. There is no correct answer to this section and it is important to consider perspectives. The essay should express an articulate, thought-out position on the given issue. Test takers should draw from their own experiences, reading, and prior knowledge base t back up their opinion.

The Analysis of an Argument section tests the ability to read and critique an argument that is given in the prompt. Test takers should not bring their own views into this essay, but simply analyze the opinion that is given in the argument. The essay should consider what assumptions have been made in the argument and cite any information that could weaken the argument.

It is important to manage time effectively throughout the exam to be sure that you have time to complete each essay to the best of your ability. Preparing for the Analytical Writing Assessment can be challenging, but with the right GMAT test prep plan, you can enter the exam feeling ready to handle any essay prompt with ease.

Should I take the SAT II?

The SAT II is made up of subject tests that students choose to take individually. Deciding whether or not to take any SAT II tests will depend largely on your academic strengths and the colleges to which you are applying. Some colleges will have requirements about SAT II exams while others will not require them at all.
Even if you are not required to take the SAT II, strong scores will only add to your college applications. Online test prep, including plenty of practice tests to get familiar with the subject tests, will help students prepare for each SAT II exam.

The Literature subject test is designed to measure how well students can read and interpret passages of literature. The test is made up of about 60 multiple choice questions in six to eight sections. The content is approximately half poetry and half prose and approximately half British authors and half American authors. Students taking the Literature subject test should know terminology used to interpret literature.

Two history tests are given: SAT II World History and SAT II US History. The US History test is made up of approximately 90 multiple choice questions covering political, social, economic, and cultural history, as well as foreign policy.

French, Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese are all available as a foreign language test and as a language with listening test. Italian, Modern Hebrew, and Latin are available only as exams without a listening section. The language exams are made up of approximately 85 questions that cover reading comprehension, vocabulary, and structure. The listening exam is made up of 35 percent listening section where test takers will listen to passages and answer questions based on the information.

There are two levels of SAT II math tests available. Math I is for students who have taken at least two years of algebra and one year of geometry. Math II is for students who have also taken courses in pre-calculus and trigonometry. Each math test is made up of 50 questions.

There are three SAT II science exams. Students taking the SAT II Biology can opt on test day to take Biology Ecological or Biology Molecular based on which type of biology questions they would like to answer. 20 out of the 80 multiple choice questions on the exam will be specialized towards either ecological or molecular biology based on the selection. The SAT II Physics exam covers all basic areas of physics and has 75 questions. SAT II Chemistry is made up of 85 questions covering major topics in Chemistry. Students should be prepared to recall knowledge as well as apply knowledge and synthesize information.

Each exam takes one hour to complete and is scored on a 200-800 point scale. If you excel in one or more of the subject areas that can be tested on the SAT II, it can often be beneficial to demonstrate this knowledge by performing well on the SAT II subject tests.

GMAT prep: No calculator? No problem!

One big difference between the GMAT and other standardized tests is that calculators are not allowed on test day. For many test takers, it can be intimidating to go into the GMAT without a calculator. It is important to put away your calculator from the beginning and get comfortable doing all of the necessary math for the GMAT on your own. With a comprehensive GMAT test prep plan, including plenty of time spent brushing up on basic math skills; it is possible to do well on the GMAT math section.
One of the best things you can do early on is to review basic math skills during your GMAT test prep. This is particularly critical if it has been a few years since you have taken a math course and even longer since you have worked without a calculator. Being able to manipulate fractions and decimals will be helpful on test day. You should also be sure that you are comfortable performing long division and other tasks that are typically done with a calculator. Reviewing the basics can make a big difference on the GMAT.

Once you have gotten familiar with your basic math skills again, you should work through online test prep and GMAT prep books. Take as many GMAT practice exams as possible and go over sample math questions until you can quickly decide how to attack a problem and move through the necessary steps. The more comfortable you are with the questions, the quicker you will be able to move through each problem on test day. It is important to work quickly, but carefully, as you are not able to go back and check your work or change answers on the GMAT.

It is also important to remember that the GMAT is designed to be completed without a calculator. You can use this to your advantage when completing math problems and always consider the simplest way to do your work. If you cannot complete a problem or come out with numbers that are difficult to work with, you may want to go back and check your work again. You should always look for the simplest and smartest way to complete the problem. With some critical thinking, there will not be any math problem on the GMAT that cannot be completed without a calculator.


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