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7 Things you didn't know about the GMAT test

Tell me something I don’t know…
The GMAT - you heard of it, but what do you really know? We thought of 7 things you probably don’t know about the test and put them all in one place to make sure that you'll know it all. 

1. The GMAT is fundamentally different from exams you are used to.

Most tests you know, whether from high school or from your bachelor’s degree, require that you solve problems in a linear fashion: read a question, understand all the info, and add to this some knowledge you previously memorized (such as rules or formulas). All of this will give you an exact solution.
Those are most tests. The GMAT is a different story: it isn’t based, by and large, on prior knowledge. Yes, you will have to use a formula or two (like calculating the area of a triangle), but we’re talking about school-level knowledge. You already know it, and if you’ve forgotten it, it’s easy to remember.
In the GMAT, on the other hand, what is a big issue is time. This means that often, solving a question the straightforward way is not the way to go: something quicker is needed.

2. Each question can be solved more than one way.

Most GMAT questions, whether Verbal or Quantitative, can be solved using any one of three different strategies:

  • Precise – using all the information in the question so as to arrive at an exact answer on your own.
  • Alternative – using tools to select the right answer choice quickly, without necessarily figuring out the solution on your own. These can include estimation, comparing the answer choices, using number instead of variables, etc.
  • Logical – implementing a logical rule ‘from outside’ which brings you straight to the answer. Examples of this are using the logic behind causation, pricing or ratios.
These can be remembered by the acronym PAL: Precise, Alternative, Logical.

But if there are three different strategies, which do you use? This, it turns out, is the million dollar question. Which brings us to our next point…

3.            What the GMAT really tests is mind flexibility.  

Mind flexibility is the ability to quickly find the fastest way to solve each question, and apply it. This starts with identifying the optimal PAL strategy and continues with figuring out how to implement it.

You can base this in part on clues that the question gives you: does it require me to make an approximation? Does it look as if a precise calculation will take a long time? Is there a logical reason I can eliminate some answers without even fully taking in all the information?
The decision will also depend a lot on your self-knowledge: what you personally are good at when it comes to the different strategies.

4.            Optimal preparation time: 100-120 hours.

100 to 120 hours of effective studying should be enough. Optimally, this should occur in a 6-to-8-week span, but it can be spread over longer amounts of time as well. Any less time is too little, but you could go wrong the other way too: a 3-to-4-month studying routine will cause you to forget the early material by the time you’ve finished studying.
In general, more studying is correlated with higher scores. But nothing is guaranteed: what’s important is the quality, not the quantity, of the time.
5. Guessing is a good idea… sometimes.

On the exam, when running out of time, you may find yourself faced with the dilemma: guess or skip? The answer depends on the situation:

  • 1 or 2 items left in a section? Guess or leave it blank – it doesn’t matter much.
  • Verbal section with fewer than 5 question left? Guessing won’t hurt you, but it won’t help much either.
  • Quantitative? Guess! Don’t leave any questions blank here.
  • In general, feeling insecure? Leave it blank. Feeling confident? Guess.

6. Not happy? Cancel.

Immediately after the test is over, on your screen will appear a preview of your Verbal, Quantitative and Integrated Reasoning scores. You will have two minutes to decide whether to keep your score or cancel it. Keeping it means it will be reported to the schools you’re applying to. Cancelling it means it won’t be reported at all, not now or in the future when you do report other scores. Neither will schools even know that you even took the test. The only person who will know is you.
If you don’t immediately cancel, you can still do so for the next 72 hours (for a $25 fee), and for the next five years you can reinstate a cancelled score (for $50).

7. Improvement is possible… but keeps getting harder.

According to official GMAT statistics, the average re-taker improves his score by 30 points. That’s a lot, but wait: it’s just an average. Some people improve by much more, and others see their scores fall. Obviously, simply retaking won’t lead to success; you have to fix problems you had the first time. Another important thing to note is that the higher your score, the harder it is to improve: re-takers with scores of 700 and higher improve their score by only 10 points, on average.

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4 Reasons why universities need international students now

In the midst of the recent shift in political current in the United States and in the UK, the united academic community stepped forward to show their appreciation of international students. Campaigns like #WeAreInternational show the community’s support for international students in aim of encouraging them to keep applying to colleges and universities and study abroad. Maintaining a global reputation is a big part of institutions' overall motives. The value which international students bring to these institutions is paramount to their existence and here's why: 

1. Diversity = Quality 

Diversity on campus serves a dual propose – touching the lives of foreign students as well as affecting host communities. During their study abroad experience and after graduation, foreign students serve as ambassadors for the university they studied in. On the other hand, the local communities also benefit from these interactions. Local students learn about different cultures and become more tolerant to other mentalities. 

2. International students = Booming economy

NAFSA’s latest analysis shows that just last study year, the overall contribution from international students was $32.8 billion to the economy while also adding hundreds of thousands of jobs to the market.

Wherever international students go – they bring profit to the local economies.  

Take Australia for example – the third largest export revenue just last year came from international students who moved from countries like India, China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mexico and more.

International students not only help the countries’ economies but also the institutions themselves. Universities which were able to recruit international students over the years have also been able to grow and develop. International students pay higher tuition fees than local students, greatly contributing to the university’s incomes.

3. Bigger market = More (and better) competition

Providing access to prospective students all over the world rather than just within borders raises the bar for competition during the admissions phase as well as throughout the semester. This means that universities have a wider range of students to choose from, with varied strengths. This also means that the students that do get selected will work harder alongside their high-achiever colleagues.

4. Foreign students = Global reputation: 

strong correlation exists between top ranking study institutions and numbers of international students enrolled. In fact, in the process of ranking universities, a certain ranking percentage is dedicated to reviewing how successful the university is in attracting an international crowd – students, staff and faculty. 

Having the capability to recruit international students also hints, to a certain extent, about the university's facilities to handle students from varied backgrounds. It's a sign of tolerance towards foreign cultures, mentalities and a meaning to collaborate with foreign entities. It shows that the universities are willing to adapt to become flexible to students' needs.  

To learn more about how you 
can study abroad go to