Hello everyone! My name is Grant Brooks, and I am very excited to share my journey with you. I am a MBA applicant veteran (Fortunately or unfortunately? We’ll find out!).

I graduated from California State University, Long Beach on a full-ride, and got a finance job in a major company in the aerospace industry. I was hired into their leadership rotation program, and I absolutely LOVE what I do (space is still cool!). As much as I love California, I recently had an opportunity to move to the East Coast for work. Besides taking advantage of a great work opportunity, moving to the East Coast helped me be closer to many of the top ten business schools, making it is easier for me to visit schools and develop that critical network.

Besides my job, I have been involved in a LOT of non-profit work, developing a side consulting/workshop practice, finding new dishes to cook, and crushing mad weight at the gym (mad = modest).

If I’m not working, I’m not happy! And let’s just say I have a permanent smile on my face!

I applied to one school last year (I’ll get into that in future posts), and I was put on the waiting list. I decided to not apply to any other schools and beef up my resume and my GMAT. Speaking of which, **I have taken the GMAT once, and with Magoosh’s help, I got a 710!** However, I’m bit of perfectionist, and I know I can do better. So I’m studying again to improve my score (which will hopefully happen in about a month).

In the last year, I completed two MAJOR projects, picked up a side job at work, was promoted, and had a few other life changes. Applying to one school last year opened my eyes to how difficult it really is, as well as allow me one more year to prepare. I have a lot of great experience applying to schools, and I’m hoping to pass that on to you.

**I am targeting top ten (and beyond)!** I will be applying to schools like Harvard, Wharton, etc. this year. I have been working hard for the last five years to make this goal happen, and I feel REAL GOOD this year. In a future post I’ll talk about how I chose my schools.

I plan on blogging about my experiences from both last year and this year. What resources am I using? How am I completing my applications? How am I visiting schools? What is it like visiting different schools? What programs are out there? How am I preparing for interviews? All these questions and more!

I hope you enjoy this blog and have fun following my journey!

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Hello!

It’s true: there’s just something about dangling modifiers that makes them difficult and hard to spot! So this week, we’re practicing with examples so you can learn how breeze through, whiz through and do questions really fast.

If you’ve got questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below! And, you can take a look at the board work here:

Of course, it’s ironic that the student, falling into this predicament for the very first time, typically has absolutely no idea how frequently it happens. In my mind, the even sadder part is that a student who is properly appraised of this possibility can take concrete steps to avoid it, but these steps must be taken consistent for the months leading up the GMAT. These may do little to console the person who has already experienced a disappointing GMAT, although perhaps that person will benefit from applying this advice in a retake attempt.

First, let’s talk about why this happens.

It’s great to make the conditions of your practice test as “GMAT like” as possible, but no matter how successful you are at this, something deep in your psyche just knows: this isn’t for real. A failure on a practice test may be disappointing to you, but it’s entirely a private failure: nobody else has to know about it. You may pretend that it “counts,” but it doesn’t really count.

By contrast, when you in the real test, every cell of your body knows that it’s for real. You know without a shadow of a doubt that scores recorded on this GMAT will go on record and be communicated to adcom. Your real GMAT score can impact where you wind up going to school, which in turn can influence what kind of job you get after business school. The potential impacts of a good or bad score on the real GMAT are huge. No amount of practice can replicate the seriousness of the real thing. This creates stress. What exactly is stress and exactly how does it impact test performance? First, we have to look at the brain.

The brain has parts that are under our control, and then parts that run on their own, almost entirely independently of our conscious decisions. This latter part is called the Autonomic Nervous System, and it controls digestion, immune function, and many aspects of the body’s metabolism.

The Autonomic Nervous System has two complementary halves: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS revs us up, into excitement, high energy, and stress. The PNS is the “relaxation response”: it calms us down and makes us warm & fuzzy & comfortable.

We have an SNS because, evolutionarily, we needed it. For most of the history of our species, we lived in the wild, when we might suddenly encounter direct threats to our physical well-beings (e.g. lions & tigers & bears). If you encounter a larger predator, you will need either to fight or to flee: for either one, you need a lot of blood directed toward the outer musculature. If you are facing a tiger, the SNS does just what you need: your breath becomes shallow & rapid, for lots of oxygen; heart rate soars; blood is directed toward outer muscles, and muscle tension increases; blood is directed away from digestion and immune function, because these don’t matter at all if you are about to be eaten by a tiger; thinking becomes rigid and simple and practical, and the mind’s capacity for imagination, creativity, abstract connections are significantly diminished — none of that would matter either if you are about to be eaten be tiger.

The PNS is for when the tiger is gone and you can relax. It does the exact opposite: breathing becomes long, slow, and deep; heart rate slows down to normal; the outer musculature relaxes, and internals processes such as digestion and immune function are enhanced; the mind expands and becomes subtle and creative. A life lived most of the time in PNS arousal would be a life high in physical and emotional well-being.

What does this have to do with taking the GMAT?

**Stress is the inappropriate activation of the SNS to something that is not actually a physical threat, a direct physical threat to your life.** I am going to guess that most of the folks who read this blog and prepare for the GMAT live under circumstances in which they do not face daily threats to their lives and their physical well-being. In the modern world, many folks live under conditions of relative safety, but we still have the SNS wired within us.

It’s as if the extraordinary pattern-matching capabilities of the mind implicitly takes all the potential bad consequences of a poor GMAT performance and carries them to their most absurd dismal conclusion (*I will fail the GMAT, and won’t get into any school, and won’t get any job, and will fall into poverty, and lose all my family and friends, and die drunk and alone in a gutter*.) That level of the mind perceives a direct threat to one’s physical well-being, so it fires up the SNS, and there you are, shallow breath, tight muscles, all ready to fight a tiger or flee from one, but there’s no tiger. There’s just the frustrating test on the screen, and the SNS has your brain partially or fully shut down. Some students express the feeling of being “brain dead” on the real GMAT: that’s precisely what the SNS does to higher thought processes. When you are faced with a tiger, things get very simple in a hurry, and simple direct practical thought is all you need, so probability questions or parallelism are far more than you can handle, even if you excelled at these topics before your SNS was activated.

Notice that the activation of the SNS is very subtle: it may be almost fully activated, and one may not “feel” stressed. Sometimes students will say: “I don’t understand. I wasn’t stressed at all, but I didn’t do well.” Well, I would say to that student: you probably didn’t “feel” stressed, but your SNS was probably quite activated.

Part of the problem is that, for entertainment, many people pursue high excitement activities: that is, activities that activate SNS (e.g. carnival rides, action movies, video games, etc.). In essence, this is a kind of practice: if you practice excitement, you are also practicing stress, because they run on much the same wiring, the SNS. It’s a sad fact that many modern people live almost their whole lives in SNS arousal, and this accounts for numerous poor health consequences found only in materially and technologically advanced cultures. If you are accustomed to a certain level of SNS arousal in everyday life, then the rise when you sit for the real GMAT may not feel that out of the ordinary, but this rise will still have a huge impact on your performance. This is precisely what causes the 50-100 drop between practice tests and the real test.

Suppose a student preparing for the GMAT said that he was studying in great detail all the other questions, but for some bizarre reason, he had decided simply to ignore Sentence Correction. “*I’ll just figure it out when I sit for the real test*.” Anyone who know anything about the GMAT would see: this is an exceptionally poor strategy!! Obviously, every content area and question type on the GMAT deserves considerable attention well before one walks into the test.

Well, of course, it’s hard to imagine any real student preparing for the GMAT who would say that. BUT, many folks give absolutely no attention to stress reduction techniques; implicitly, they are precisely like the benighted student in the previous paragraph, because they are in essence saying they will figure out how to deal with the stress of the test once they sit for it. Of course, that is often as spectacularly unsuccessful as learning nothing about an individual question type and trying to figure that out from scratch on the day of the test. As with many important things, we can’t figure it out just in the moment that we need it: we need to practice beforehand.

The responsible thing to do is to practice stress reduction techniques as consistently and as assiduously as you practice all the content & strategies for the GMAT. You need to practice stress reduction for at least three months, if not more. Ideally, you will be reading this article many months before you plan to take the GMAT, and you can start practicing stress reduction right away.

Precisely what does one do? Here is a series of four articles that introduce stress reduction techniques:

2) Mindfulness of One’s Thoughts

3) Mindfulness of One’s Stories

4) Many Practical Suggestions for Stress Reduction

Two other blogs that give suggestions in a similar vein:

At first, it may not be obvious what the skills recommended in those articles have to do with performing well on the GMAT, but the skills given there have been shown, both in many ancient traditions and in scientific research, to foster greater attention & focus & mental flexibility under conditions likely to induce stress.

If you continue to practice stress reduction as part of your life beyond the GMAT, it will make you more attentive in business school, and more perceptive of fleeting opportunities to seize the initiative in the business world. Many people can follow rules and procedures, but few people can be creative and insightful under pressure, and the rewards for these skills are great. This practice will also bring more balance to your interpersonal relationships and a deeper sense of intrinsic satisfaction. Compared to other tips for doing well on the GMAT, this one is by far the most valuable in the great scheme of things.

If you practice all the skills and perspectives discussed in those six articles, you are much less likely to be impacted by a huge drop between your practice tests and the real GMAT, because you will be able, through practice, to moderate the impact of stress. If you are finding out about all this long before you ever take your first GMAT, even better!

If you have any experience with using these practices to reduce stress, we would love to hear your stories. Please let us know in the comments section.

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Brain science is progressing rapidly, and we are gaining insights into brain functions that will help us be better students. Specifically, there are certain things that we can all do to improve our memory, regardless of age or history. What follows is a simplified look at how memory works followed by steps that will improve your memory and mental prowess.

Forming a memory is a three stage process:

**Encoding**

The first stage of the process involves paying attention to the thing that you want to remember, whether it be a name, a math formula, or an idiom. This usually involves reading, listening, or saying the thing out loud. All of this kickstarts the process. Also, this is the stage where so many memories are not made. There are so many things to pay attention to that our minds are very good at ignoring stuff.

**Consolidation**

The next step involves actually creating the pathway for the memory. You can imagine this as a stenographer recording events in a court room. People say things and do things, and the stenographer records them. So once the senses take in the stimulus the mind creates a pathway for that memory.

**Retrieval**

This is the actual process of remembering. At some point, to make a memory, we have to first recall it. If your mind goes through the first two steps, and you skip the last one, the memory really doesn’t become a memory. By working to retrieve a memory, to actually try to remember, we form that memory and reinforce it. The more that we retrieve that memory, the stronger the pathways for that memory become, and the easier it is for us to remember.

For a fun and educational look at memory, take a gander of this YouTube video.

Now that we have a handle on how memory functions, let’s see what we can do to facilitate remembering. Each of the recommendations below facilitates at least one stage of the memory forming process and are easy to incorporate into your GMAT prep.

Western science has long doubted the benefits of meditation. But as technology advances and we are able to more precisely measure the brain overtime, we start to see that meditation can have profound and lasting effects on our plastic brains.

For one, scientists have seen that meditation, focus on breath, and mindfulness can actually build brain tissue over a period of time, specifically in regions of the brain, like the hippocampus, which are directly involved with short-term and long-term memory. Also, cultivating mindfulness means that you are training your mind to be a better encoder of events that happen. You’ll be able to focus more intently on what you need or want to learn.

Merely sitting quietly, eyes closed, focusing on the inhale and exhale of breath for a mere 15 minutes a day can have profound effects not only on your ability to remember, but also on your general happiness and well being. All important to GMAT domination.

A recent study showed that caffeine facilitated the consolidation phase of memory formation. In the study, scientists showed participants different images. Afterwards, some of the participants were given caffeine and some were not. Twenty-four hours later, the people who received caffeine were better able to remember the images they saw. Thus caffeine played some role in helping those people remember the images.

Now I don’t recommend that you drink liters of coffee with tons of cream and sugar, but a healthy and balanced regime of caffeine in the form of black coffee or black tea can help you to remember what you are studying.

Exercising regularly is absolutely beneficial in many facets of your life. Energizing your body, raising your heart rate, and delivering oxygen-rich blood to the organs of your body is going to have a huge benefit on your happiness, attitude, sleep, and ability to form memories.

Dr. John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School wrote *Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain* (2008) showing that “exercise … stimulates brain regions that are involved in memory function to release a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF rewires memory circuits so they work better.” Basically, when a person exercises, more brain cells are used, which in turns stimulates the production of BDNF and increases memory function.

Sleep is a crucial part of consolidating memories. There is much about sleep that we still don’t understand, but more and more we are seeing why getting the right amount of sleep is important for brain healthy and memory. During sleep, the brain actually repeats nerve-signaling patterns from the day, which helps to encode and consolidate memories from the day.

It is vital that you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep during your studies. Do not stay up late studying. Make sure that you are getting to bed early and are rising early. All these patterns have been shown to benefit our brain health, and if you want to dominate the GMAT, you best rest up.

This is my favorite recommendation for increasing brain function and memory creation. You just have to eat! By consuming a moderate amount of parsley, berries, dark chocolate, and citrus, you take in a chemical that will help you to learn—flavonoids. This chemical is in each of these food items, and each food item has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain and aid in memory and learning.

Flavonoids are thought to increase the ability for neurons to speak to each other, which is an important part of encoding. Further, molecular changes may take place that allow for the creation of new neurons, thus reversing any neural deterioration that may have taken place.

A small note: eating these things is beneficial, but only in their freshest form. Avoid highly processed versions of these foods with lots of additives. Also be wary of your sugar intake because that can easily negate any benefit you may receive from the flavonoids.

The final and perhaps the most important step towards improving memory is space repetition. This is not a complex concept. It means exactly what you think—learn something, take a break, and try to remember what you learned later. As you can see from the graph below, returning to a concept recalibrates the forgetting curve. And the more that time passes, the less you have to return to the concept.

The final stage of building a memory is that act of remembering. We must be prompted to retrieve a memory to make a memory. Thus spaced repetition should be a crucial part of every study plan.

To improve your cognitive abilities, remember more, increase well-being, and dominate the GMAT, take the steps that I have recommended. Remembering something does not have to be tantamount to the voodoo arts or soothsaying. These strategies time and again show themselves to be effective tools for improving memory and cognitive function. Take the extra step to make your preparation easier!

Happy studying and happy living!

*I’d like to give a nod to **this article** for inspiring the article you just read. *

One of the most distinctive and beneficial aspects of MBA education — compared to most other graduate disciplines — is that the most prestigious schools prefer that applicants have a few years of full-time work experience before they enroll. By comparison, most grad students in fields like law, medicine, psychology, etc. transition into their master’s programs immediately following college graduation.

There’s no magic number of years that everyone should consider when timing an MBA education. As an admissions consulting resource for over 3,600 applicants since 1996, The MBA Exchange has had successful clients who ranged in age from 20 to 50. Finding the “ideal” point in your life to pursue business school is a much more subjective, qualitative decision.

So, how does one know when to go for an MBA? By addressing these four questions, the “right” answer will emerge:

1. What would I love to be doing professionally at key milestones in my life: 10 years, 20 years, 30 years from now?

2. On my current non-MBA trajectory, will the next 3 years (i.e., the same time frame that I could be attending business school) provide me with substantial knowledge, perspective and relationships that will get me closer to that vision?

3. Are the personal limitations (e.g., financial resources, family obligations, geographic constraints, etc.) that impact my ability to enroll in business school more of a challenge now or in the future?

4. If I prefer to postpone business school until later, but unanticipated factors make it impossible to enroll at that time, will I deeply regret not having attended now? This kind of introspection will enable you to see your true priorities, weigh the pros and cons, and develop a timeline for making one of the most important decisions of your life. However, there’s still one very important question left for you to address:

5. Will I be admitted to the business school that I want to attend when I want to enroll? This unknown is best examined with the benefit of professional experience and expertise. So, I invite you to request a free evaluation of your MBA candidacy so you will have a clear sense of your potential for and the probability of b-school admission.

*This post was written by Dan Bauer of The MBA Exchange, provider of admissions consulting and career services. This post is intended to inform and benefit business school applicants worldwide. For more information, please visit www.mbaexchange.com *

Hello!

There’s an easy and straightforward 3-step process to making multipliers, but that simple skill will come in very handy on the GMAT! This week, learn how this 3-step process and then put it to work on an actual problem.

You can take a look at the final board work here:

And, you can also learn more about GMAT multipliers here.

When you’re done watching the video, leave me any questions or comments you have below! I’ll be happy to get back to you. See you next week!

]]>1) In the diagram above, O is the center of the circle and angle AOB = 144º. What is the area of the circle?

Statement #1: The area of sector AOB is 40% of the area of the circle

Statement #2: Arc ACB has a length of .

2) In the diagram above, ABC is an equilateral triangle. D is the midpoint of AC. BD is a diameter of the circle. If AD = 4, what is the area of the circle?

3) In the diagram above, O is the center of the circle. What is the length of chord AC?

Statement #1: chord BC = 14

Statement #2: the circle has an area of

4) Points P, Q, R, S, and T all lie on the same line. The larger circle has center S and passes through P and T. The smaller circle has center R and passes through Q and S. What is the ratio of the area of the larger circle to the area of the smaller circle?

Statement #1: ST:PQ = 5/2

Statement #2: RT:PR = 13/7

5) A square and a circle intersect at more than one point. Does the square have more area than the circle?

Statement #1: there are exactly four intersection points

Statement #2: at least two of the intersection points are on vertices of the square

6) In the diagram above, all the points are on a line, and the number of each point indicates how many units that point is from zero. The points #1 – #6 are the centers of the six circles, and all circles pass through point zero. What is the total area of the shaded region?

7) In the diagram above, JKL is an equilateral triangle. Point M is the midpoint of segment JL, and M is the center of a circle that passes through points J and L. The shaded regions in the diagram indicate all the regions inside the circle that are outside the triangle. What fraction of the total area of the circle is outside the triangle?

8) In the diagram above, angle C = 90º and AC = BC. Point M is the midpoint of AB. Arc AXB has its center at C, and passes through A and B. Arc AYB has its center at M and passes through A and B. The shaded region between the two arcs is called a “lune.” What is the ratio of the area of the lune to the area of triangle ABC?

Ah, the beauty of the circle, the most symmetrical of shapes! For more information about circles, see these blogs:

4) Inscribed & Circumscribed Circles

5) Circles, Arclength, and Sectors

If you have any insights while reading those blogs, you may want to give the problems above a second look. If you find any typos or anything on this page is unclear, please let us know in the comments section.

1) First of all, we should think about the prompt a bit. This angle, 144º, is what fraction of a full circle? Well, both 144 and 360 are divisible by 4: 144 ÷ 4 = 36 and 360 ÷ 4 = 90, so

This angle is 2/5 of the whole circle, so the arc is 2/5 of the whole circumference. Also, remember that if we can find anything about the whole circle, for example, the circumference, then we can find the radius, which would allow us to find the area.

Statement #1: This is a tautological statement. A tautological statement is a statement that, by definition, has to be true, and because of this, it contains no information. Statements such as “My car is a car” and “My employer employs me” are verbal tautologies: they contain no useful information. Much in the same way, we already know from the prompt that the angle takes up 2/5 of the circle, so of course the sector would take up 2/5, or 40%, of the area. This statement repeats information in the prompt, and contains no new information, so it doesn’t help us at all to figure out anything else. This statement, alone and by itself, is **not sufficient**.

Statement #2: We already know this arc is 2/5 of the whole circumference, so we could set up a proportion to find the circumference. From that, we could find the radius, and that would allow us to find the area. This statement, alone and by itself, is **sufficient**.

Answer = **(B)**

2) Because ABC is an equilateral triangle, right triangle ABD is a 30-60-90 triangle, one of the GMAT favorite triangles. From the ratios of that triangle:

Half of that is radius of the circle:

Use that to find the area:

Answer = **(B)**

3) The fact that AB is a diameter guarantees that angle C = 90º. If we had two sides of right triangle ABC, we could find the third using the **Pythagorean Theorem**.

Statement #1: this gives us only one side of a right triangle: not helpful. This statement, alone and by itself, is **not sufficient**.

Statement #2: this allows us to solve for the radius and, hence, the diameter, so we can determine side AB. Nevertheless, this gives us only one side of a right triangle: also not helpful. This statement, alone and by itself, is **not sufficient**.

Combined statements: We get the length of BC from the first statement, and the length of AB from the second. Now, we have two sides of the right triangle, so we can use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve for the third side, AC. Combined, the statements are **sufficient**.

Answer = **(C)**

4) Call the radius of the larger circle y, and y = PS = ST. Call the radius of the smaller circle x, and x = RS = RQ. If we took a ratio of the areas, the factors of would cancel and we would be left with the ratio (y/x) squared. If we could solve for this simpler ratio, y/x, then we could find the ratio of areas.

Statement #1: ST = y and PQ = y – 2x, so

This allows us to solve for the ratio y/x, which would allow us to find the ratio of areas. This statement, alone and by itself, is **sufficient**.

Statement #2: RT = y + x and PR = y – x, so

Cross-multiply.

This allows us to solve for the ratio y/x, which would allow us to find the ratio of areas. This statement, alone and by itself, is **sufficient**.

Answer = **(D)**

5) Statement #1: this information, with nothing more, could mean that the circle is either smaller or larger.

This statement, alone and by itself, is **insufficient**.

Statement #2: this information, with nothing more, could mean that the circle is either smaller or larger.

This statement, alone and by itself, is **insufficient**.

Combined Statements: One possibility is the circle that intersects the square four times by passing through all four vertices:

That circle is clearly bigger than the square. The circle absolutely cannot pass through exactly three vertices. If it pass through two vertices, it would have to intersect the side two more times. Possibilities include the following (point C is the center of the circle).

Notice that, as point C approaches the top side of the square, it gets closer and closer to the circle that has this top side as a diameter, equivalent to the first circle in the statement #1 diagram. That circle is clearly has less area than the square. Well, that circle won’t work here, because it intersects at only two points, but because point C could get closer and closer to the top side without touching it, which means the area of the circle in this diagram could get closer and closer to the area of the first circle in the statement #1 diagram. This means that we could make the circle in this diagram have less area than the square has.

Thus, even with the constraints of both statements, we can construct a circle that has an area that is either greater than or less than that of the square. Even with both statements, we cannot give a definitive answer to the prompt question. Both statements combined are **insufficient**.

6) First, let’s look at the outer “lobe,” the one between 10 and 12. The circle through point 12 has a center a 6 and radius of 6, so its area is . The circle through point 10 has a center a 5 and radius of 5, so its area is . If we subtract the latter from the former, we an area of for this lobe.

Now, let’s look the middle lobe, the one between 6 and 8. The circle through point 6 has a center a 3 and radius of 3, so its area is . The circle through point 8 has a center a 4 and radius of 4, so its area is . If we subtract the latter from the former, we an area of for this lobe.

Now, let’s look the smallest lobe, the one between 2 and 4. The circle through point 2 has a center a 1 and radius of 1, so its area is . The circle through point 4 has a center a 2 and radius of 2, so its area is . If we subtract the latter from the former, we an area of for this lobe.

Add the areas of the three separate lobes: .

Answer = **(B)**

7) This is a difficult one. For the sake of argument, let’s say that JM = ML = 1. Then the area of the total circle would be . That’s the denominator of our ratio.

Clearly, part of the shaded region is the semicircle beneath JL. That part has an area of . That’s the easy part.

The circle intersections sides JK and KL: call these points A & B.

Point A must be the midpoint of JK, and point B, the midpoint of KL. Triangle JAM must be an equilateral triangle, with sides equal to 1. First, we will compute the area of the sector:

The angle at M is 60º, so this is one sixth of the area of the circle.

To get the area of that small shaded part, known as a circular segment, we need to subtract the area of equilateral triangle JAM from the area of the sector. See this blog for the area of an equilateral triangle.

area of segment = (area of sector) – (area of triangle JAM)

We have two circular segments, so we double this to get both:

Now, add the area of the semicircle to get the area of the whole shaded region:

Divide this by the area of the circle, , to get the ratio:

Answer = **(E)**

8) This problem is based on a famous theorem of Hippocrates of Chios (c. 470 – c. 410 BCE), a predecessor of Euclid. The easiest way to see this is as follows.

Let AB = BC = 2S. This is the radius of the larger circle, which has an area of , so that the quarter circle:

must have an area of . Hold that thought.

Now, notice that triangle ABC is a 45-45-90 triangle, so that the length of the hypotenuse must be

and the radius of the smaller circle is

The area of that whole circle would be , and the area of the semicircle:

would be half of that, . Thus, the quarter circle of the larger circle and semicircle of the smaller circle **have the same area.** That’s a very big idea!

Now, look at the circular segment:

We don’t need to know that area: simply call it J.

If we subtract the circular segment, J, from the quarter circle of the bigger circle, we get the triangle:

– J = area of triangle ABC

If we subtract the circular segment, J, from the semicircle of the smaller circle, we get the lune:

– J = area of the lune

Because those two areas equal the same thing, they must equal each other.

area of triangle ABC = area of the lune

The two are equal, so their ratio is 1. Answer = **(A) **

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But what are the chances that their score will improve? How much will it improve? What can they do to ensure their score goes up and not down? Are their similarities between retakers that students should know about?

The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) wondered the same thing. They conducted a study with approximately 28,000 students who took the GMAT in 2003 and then retook the test later in 2003 or in 2004. By looking at student performance on two tests and collecting demographic information about the test takers, they were able to find some interesting correlations.

One interesting aspect of the study was the analysis of how many people retake the test and what was similar between them. Of 161, 221 test takers in 2003, they found that a little less than 18% of them retook the test before August 31, 2004.

When compared to one-time test takers in this period, the retakers tended to have lower Verbal and Quantitative scores, were less likely to have completed the test, and were more likely to have a GMAT much lower than would be expected when compared to their undergraduate grade point average (UGPA).

One of the most astounding points that is made in the study comes at the end. The study states that fluctuations in scores from test to test are expected due to measurement errors.

“For the GMAT®, the standard error of the difference between two scores is about 40 points. In other words, when comparing two scores, differences of up to 40 points are to be expected by chance fluctuations…”

They recommend looking at two scores from two students and consider this margin of error. That means a student with a score of 640 and a student with a 600 should be considered more similar than not.

And the study continues, looking at individual scores and changes that occur test to test.

“For individual scores, the standard error of measurement is about 28 scaled-score points. With no learning between testing sessions, one should expect an individual’s score to fluctuate up or down by as much as 28 points. About 40% of those who retake the GMAT® see gains within that one standard error of measurement.”

When I first read this, I found it astounding! Students can see a shift of 28 points with no learning between a test, and 40% of the test takers they looked at fell in this range. That means, you could do absolutely nothing and see gains in your score. Or you could see your score drop.

Often students want to bump their scores in big ways—from 600 to 700, or sometimes even greater, such as 500 to 700. The study did look at bigger gains, but they found that “a small portion of examinees who retake the GMAT®, about 10%, obtain a significant gain of 100 scaled-score points or more.” So it seems that likelihood of a big jump is low, especially if you are looking for a 200 point gain. Not to say that this doesn’t happen or can’t happen—it’s just hard to do.

Although the study was able to identify students with big gains, they were unable to identify any meaningful pattern or correlation with these test takers and their characteristics.

“Test takers with different characteristics tend to obtain higher gains, but the effects do not appear to be cumulative and, based on this data, it is not possible to predict which examinees will be in this high-gain group.”

The study, ultimately, concludes that retakers should expect modest gains. Yet according to the summary findings of the study, the biggest gains for students retaking the test fall into the following groups:

- the youngest examinees,
- examinees whose native language is English,
- examinees who did not finish the Quantitative section on their first sitting,
- examinees with below average first-time scores, and
- examinees whose self-reported UGPAs were relatively higher than their first-time GMAT® Total scaled scores.

So if you find yourself meeting many or all of these criteria, it may be worth retaking the test, especially if you were not able to complete the test the first time you took the test.

I should also note that not meeting these requirements is not an indication that you won’t improve your score. Students who were not in theses groups had score increases too.

At this point, you may feel like you won’t see any difference in your score if you retake the test. Or you might feel like you are only going to see modest gains. Fret not! There are definitely some things that you can do to ensure that you do see improvements.

First off, the fact that you already took the test is a huge benefit. You now have a clear idea of the look, feel, and content of the test. You have experience to lean on.

Second, preparation will absolutely make a difference. Just taking the time to prepare more will definitely make a difference. Make sure that you are preparing properly for your retake.

Third, use materials as similar to the real test as possible or use official materials. We work extremely hard at Magoosh to make our questions as similar to the test as possible. When students take the test, they provide us feedback and we make changes. Our content team takes the test on a regular basis too.

Finally, use a lot of different materials. We recommend using Magoosh in concert with Official materials and other test prep books, such as Manhattan. The variety and breadth of practice has been shown to improve scores for retakers.

Some of this might have been surprising. The GMAT is not a perfect measure and score fluctuations of 28 points are to be expected. Also, it will be hard to have significant gains of 100+ points on a retake. But that is not to say it is impossible. Hard—Yes! Impossible—No! Just make sure that you are taking all the necessary steps to improve your score.

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Today, we are happy to unveil our first TOEFL infographic!

If you’re a non-native English speaker planning to pursue a business degree from a university in an English-speaking country, then this new resource is for you.

The TOEFL Scores Infographic provides the required minimum TOEFL scores for top programs, in an easy to understand format.

Check it out, and discover what TOEFL score you need to get into the university of your dreams.

(Click the preview below to go to the full-size infographic!)

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Goals are not an afterthought in MBA admissions. They are front and center in the minds of many admissions directors. Put them front and center in your mind as you prepare to apply. Coming to MBA events with a clear goal will make you a much more appealing candidate to business schools.

A strong, clear MBA goal should guide your admissions research and your choice of target schools. A goal is something you want to **do **(not just study), and for MBA admissions purposes it should relate to a specific industry. For some applicants, geography is also an important element in their goal. Your goal should be based on your experience, not television, not what your parents/significant other or friends think you should do, and not simply what will make you a lot of money.

I am not saying that you can’t change careers. You clearly can because roughly 50% of MBA students are career changers, and many estimates place that number much higher. But you need to have a realistic vision of your future based on skills and character traits you have developed and experience that you have had.

Clear, well-defined goals are as much a requirement of MBA admissions as the GMAT, GPA, and work experience. Define your goal in terms of the function you want to perform and the industry in which you want to perform it.

To define your objectives for b-school:

1. Look inward: What do you enjoy and where do you excel?

2. Examine what you have done off the job and see if there are lessons in your non-professional life for your professional life.

3. Clarify and mine interests and past experiences.

Then look outward:

1. Examine professional paths that will take advantage of your strengths and give you more of what you find satisfying.

2. Research the schools to find those that support your professional goals and provide an educational environment where you can thrive.

3. Establish specific goals you want to achieve within a given program **and **a career direction for your post MBA years.

*This article was originally published on the Accepted **Admissions Consulting Blog**.*

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