A question that we get here a lot, especially from our international clients, is about standardized testing in general. As Americans ourselves and any Americans that might be watching you’re pretty familiar with them in fact in some countries they even call them American tests. They’re so heavily associated with us. For everyone else saying what the hell is this? It’s something that I’ve never seen before, let me freak out about it. There’s really no need to freak out, there are some commonalities among standardized tests but I think if anything the important thing for you to get about this is that the GMAT is not a standard standardized test. That was clever. Thank you, I do what I can.
Not having experience with standardized tests is not at all a disadvantage for the GMAT and in fact, it could be an advantage, the case that having too much experience with standardized tests is going to lead you down the wrong path for what you should be doing for the GMAT itself. If you’re an American, the way you prepped for the SAT or ACT or similar test is really going to do your great disservice when you try and approach the GMAT because there are loads of vocabulary lists to memorize, there are no formulas and everything else, and the GMAT is a lot harder.
Computer Adaptive Test
Also, it might technically be a standardized test, but it’s a much more apt name to call it what it is which is: a computer adaptive test. That actually has a much, much greater effect on how you prepare. Computer Adaptive Test, James, what does that mean? Let’s talk about that. Computer adaptive test, I’d say first the biggest difference between standard standardized tests and the GMAT is in some standard tests you typically can go in whatever order you’d like, within a section, right, within one section you can start with question 1 or with question 10. You can skip through it and you should when doing those other tests. Those are very important strategies but that’s not the case on the GMAT.
Tell them about the GMAT, Mike, lay it on them. Okay, computer adaptive test is a lot what it sounds like, computer: it’s on the computer. Adaptive: it changes according to your response, more on that in a moment, and Test: because it’s testing. It is a test, that’s right, in case you didn’t know. It is a test, but you’re testing my patience. I am? Well, thank you. The main difference I think from this is that you have to go one question at a time, you do not get the skip, you do not get the chance to go back and look at them, and the reason for this is because the computer adaptive test basis what it’s going to give you on how you have performed on previous questions.
How It Works
By in large the rule is, you got the last question right, they’re going to give you one that’s a bit more difficult. A little higher. You get a question wrong, one that’s a little less difficult, and eventually, they bounce around until they get to where you’re at and they’re actually pretty good at it. They’re very good at and just so you know if you’re sitting there thinking how evil is this that this test is going to adapt itself to become my worst nightmare. Well, it’s this evil, it’s going to make it so that you’re always going to feel off your footing. When you come out of a great exam, that is a great performance on the exam, you’re going to be like what the heck did I just look at I didn’t feel comfortable at all through that entire thing.
This brings up a point that I like to reiterate in my classes. You’re going to be surprised by this but it’s a sports metaphor, and that is from question to question you need to have shooters amnesia. Now just briefly indulge me because I love Kobe, doesn’t matter what your opinion is on him. The basketball player, not the massaged Japanese beef. We’re vegetarians here at Apex, we believe all lives are valuable. We’re vegetarians… is news to me. The best thing for a basketball player to do is to shoot the ball and it doesn’t matter if he missed the last shot or made the last shot that has no bearing on whether or not he will make or miss the next shot, so they just forget it completely. If you are constantly thinking about all the shots that you’ve missed it’s going to affect your performance.
Be Process Oriented, Outcome Agnostic
Sure and if you do it right – and this is really a deep thing even though it’s not may become seem so deep – if you’re doing it right you shoot the ball, you shoot the puck, you do whatever it is you can do, you throw the dart, and you don’t need to look at the result because once your action is over, whatever the result was is what it’s going to be either you shot it well or not. Yeah. Be Process Oriented, Outcome Agnostic. First of all, excellent, excellent phrase! That was: Process Oriented, Outcome Agnostic, for those of you who missed it the first time.
I think another great aspect of this is that when you start to think about whether or not you’ve got the question right or wrong you are wasting energy. Yeah, really distracting your attention to something that you can’t change and we all do this. I wish Jaymes wasn’t my coworker but I can’t reflect on that I just have to move forward … There’s nothing you can do about it… and deal with the train wreck yeah that’s sitting next to me. Day by day. Day by day.
Unused Test Strategies in the GMAT
Just for those of you who are familiar with standardized tests something else to keep in mind, a strategy that you can use not very often on some of the standardized exams like the SAT or ACT, but a strategy that you might have adopted during your education for standardized tests is using answer choices from one question to help you answer other questions. Can’t do that. That will never apply on the GMAT, ever, so there’s absolutely no reason to carry any of your thought process, any information from one question to the next on the regular quantum verbal sections. Oh, the last two answers have been C’s, the third one must be a C or must not be a C. They call that a gambler’s fallacy, look it up, Wikipedia’s got a great thing on it.
Every question is like the first question. Wow, you make it sound so sweet. Well then your entire test and your entire obligation to the test is one question, it’s not this huge three-hour test. The math section, the quant section, is thirty-one single question tests anything that happened before and after, doesn’t matter.
How Is The GMAT Different From Other Standardized Tests?
Just to change your frame of mind about this evil test. The fact that it is adapting itself to be difficult for you, is actually what allows the GMAT to have so few questions. Traditional standardized tests have to have scores of questions, hundreds of questions sometimes. That’s because they have to give weaker students the chance to show that they’re capable, and they have to provide difficult questions for stronger students to show that they’re capable, and they have to give both the weak students and the strong students the same questions.
The GMAT: A Customized Test
The GMAT can skip a lot of that process and streamline it and customize the test for you. The test itself is going to be customized for you which is again supporting our strategy. The GMAT preparation that you choose needs to be customized for you.
The adaptive test is vital for the GMAT’s very challenging job of differentiating among high performers. Make no mistake other tests you’ve taken – whether standardized tests in the States, other exams in just about any country’s academic system – have you up against your entire cohort for your age or your school. The GMAT is self-selecting. Meaning that the pool of people that you’re competing against and the percentile within that cohort is much more challenging. All the success you’ve had for better or for worse is a function of what you’ve done.
If the tasks before you, and this happens a lot in school, good school, bad school, doesn’t matter. If the task before you is, do as we’ve shown you, then the moment you’re in a place like the GMAT puts you on something new, something unexpected. Yes, something that’s not really new, right, but it’s in a new packaging, it’s wrapped up in a different way, and it’s a puzzle. New presentation, what we call perspective shift. The moment you’re off your footing then all of a sudden you’re very unpracticed. Yeah, you’re prepared for a specific path and not for being able to choose the right path. Unless you’re preparing with Apex of course. Of Course! You’re prepared for that. And preparing to prepare is very good preparation. It’s also similar to other standardized tests, the GMAT doesn’t really test how good of a student you are.
Are You An Excellent Student, Test Taker, or Both?
Absolutely. I can tell you this because well, I’m an excellent test taker, I’m not an excellent student. My sister, my younger sister she’s an excellent student, terrible test taker. So I’m not trying to say this to stress you out about something. I’m saying that just because you are a good student doesn’t necessarily mean that you will succeed unless you prepare adequately. Yeah and there are very different skills, that’s not to say that we don’t have plenty of 4.0 s that just wreck the GMAT. Wreck! Wreck in a good way. Wreck, yeah, like just yeah destroy, render it innocuous. Destroy in a good way. Yeah, these are good things! Did I go too vocab-y there? No, I think it might be just too American-centric.
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