Update: New Integrated Reasoning GMAT Pill Launched

Earlier this year, I wrote a review of the GMAT Pill, which is a comprehensive online GMAT video course developed by former GMAT tutor Zeke Lee. Previously, the course had 5 sections covering each of the five question types on the GMAT. The company has now launched a 6th video section for the new Integrated Reasoning question type. Additionally, they have added a large set of online practice GMAT questions. The practice questions run directly through a web browser and don’t require any additional software; amazingly, they’re currently offered for free if you register on the site. Overall, these additions add up to a major improvement to the GMATPill. You can get a $40 on the complete program if you buy through this link and use promo code TUTORME40. This package includes the new Integrated Reasoning pill. (See my affiliate disclosure here.)

New Integrated Reasoning Pill

As far as I know, the Integrated Reasoning Pill is the first set of comprehensive instructional videos for this new question type. Like GMAT Pill’s other video sets, the IR pill has a lot of material - 12 hours of new video content. Combined with the rest of the course, that makes the GMAT Pill about 42 total hours of instruction.

I’ve spent some time watching the new videos this week, and I’m impressed with the both the quality and scope of Zeke’s teaching. He’s clearly spent a lot of time developing methods for solving each of the four IR question subtypes, and he wants the student to have a thorough understanding of his problem-solving techniques. This explains the extensive runtime of the videos. Twelve hours is definitely a lot, but an in-person class would likely spend 6-9 hours on IR. The advantage of the GMATPill, of course, is that the videos can be watched anytime at your convenience. The company has also just launched an iPad application, so the complete video set can be purchased and downloaded through the Apple app store. If you chose this option, you wouldn’t need an internet connection.

Practice Pill Platform

The free GMAT practice questions (called the “Practice Pill platform) are an area where the company really innovates. Right now, if you just register on the site, you can access about 60 practice questions of each GMAT question type. Since there’s 6 question types now, that’s about 360 overall practice questions. The really cool thing about this platform is that it displays the % of users that got each question correct, so you can judge the difficulty level. It’s likely that if only 40% of people answered correctly a question correctly, then it is a 700-level question.

GMAT Pill Practice Pill Platform

GMAT Pill Practice Pill Platform

In my original review, I discussed who I thought the GMATPill would be good for. It’s great for GMAT students who want directed self-study.  If you’re self-motivated and disciplined, but need an overall expert guide to cover all the important material and teach the best problem-solving techniques for each question type, then the GMAT Pill is a good idea. Keep in mind that you do have to watch all the videos and pay attention to really absorb the material.

Since my original review, I’ve communicated with Zeke through email about small suggestions for improving the course, and he’s always been very responsive. He actually has a 50-point score improvement guarantee, which is impressive for such a small company.

There is a $40 discount if you buy through this link and use promo code TUTORME40. This package includes the new Integrated Reasoning pill.

Overall, I am impressed that GMAT Pill continues to develop and update their product. Some of their innovations like the Practice Pill platform and the iPad application are features that I’d only expect from larger, VC-funded companies. As an entrepreneur running a small business, Zeke has shown that there’s an advantange to being a small, digital company which can quickly respond to changes on the exam.


Review Of The New GMAT Official Guide 13th Edition

GMAT Offical Guide TealYesterday I received my copy of the new GMAT Official Guide 13th Edition, which I had preordered. The book was originally listed as shipping in early April, so they moved the shipping schedule up by a week. I’ve spent a couple hours looking through the book and comparing it to the previous OG 12th Edition. Here’s my synopsis.

1. I scanned through the Quant section and tried to estimate the number of new questions. For Problem Solving section I counted 66 new questions out of 230; for Data Sufficiency it was 44 new questions out of 174. Overall, that’s 110 new Quant questions, which is about 27% of the total. I didn’t look at the Verbal too closely, but I’d imagine the percentage of new questions is about the same. Keep in mind I estimated these numbers (Edit: I’ve read elsewhere that’s there a total of 156 new questions out of 907 for the whole book, so my numbers for Quant might be too high). 

2. The overall difficulty of the questions doesn’t appear to have changed. I didn’t see any new Combinatorics or Probability questions in the Quant section. Thus, the chief complaint with the Official Guide remains the same – it doesn’t provide enough practice with 700+ level questions.

3. For Integrated Reasoning, there’s a 10-page brief synopsis that introduces the 4 different question types, but no examples within the book itself. Instead, for practice IR questions, you have to visit the publisher’s website and register with a unique code that’s found in the back of the book. Once you register and create a login, you have access for 6 months. On the website, there are a total of 50 example questions; however, each question can have multiple sub-questions, as per the screenshot below:

gmat integrated reasoning 2

4. Amazingly, the Integrated Reasoning sample questions allow you to use an on-screen calculator. This should help save some time on this section. I don’t think the calculator will be available in the regular math/ verbal section.

5. The Diagnostic Test at the beginning of the Official Guide hasn’t changed since the last edition

6. In the Analytical Writing section, the Analysis Of An Argument question is still in; the Analysis Of An Issue question has been removed.

That’s my first impression of the book; it’s available for order on Amazon here.

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GMAT Integrated Reasoning: An Improvement To The Exam

On June 5th, a new section called Integrated Reasoning will be added to the GMAT. At the same time, one of the 30-minute Analytical Writing essays will be removed. This change is unequivocally a good thing, and new GMAT students shouldn’t rush to take the exam before it changes.

The developers of the GMAT (the Graduate Management Admissions Council, or GMAC) have always emphasized that they’d like the exam to test the skills that are critical to succeed in MBA programs and the broader world of business, so this change was long overdue. The fact is that for many years, admissions committees haven’t cared very much about the Analytical Writing score. The essays are an annoying distraction that saps your mental energy at the beginning of the GMAT. Of course written communication is important, but the ability to write essays is not a critical skill in MBA programs or business in general. MBA programs are very diverse and have many international students for whom English is a second language, and nobody expects them to write grammatically perfect essays. One essay on the exam can be justified – admission officers might want to compare the writing quality to that of the student’s application essays. However, there’s no reason to have two.

The Integrated Reasoning section will involve questions that can be broadly classified as “data interpretation” – it will present graphs and spreadsheets, and ask you to draw conclusions and inferences from the data. Based on the Integrated Reasoning sample questions that the GMAC has published, I’d say this change moves the GMAT in the right direction. Interpreting data sets is a critical skill for business students and professionals. Some students are freaking out about the change, but I think that’s just because there’s “more math” on the exam. The new GMAT exam format is pictured below.

next generation gmat

Here’s a summary of the new Integrated Reasoning section:

1. It will consist of a variety of questions that relate to data interpretation: using spreadsheets, graphs, and tables to extract relevant information. There are four questions types: Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation, Multi-Source Reasoning, and Two-Part Analysis. Each set of data will have multiple questions – for instance, one table of data might have four true/ false questions that accompany it.

2. Integrated Reasoning will be 30 minutes long and will be graded separately from the regular quant/verbal score. The score scale hasn’t been published yet, but is supposed to be available on April 1st.

3. Admissions committees probably won’t consider it very important for the first year (the 2012-2013 admissions season), since they won’t have a solid basis for comparison. Jeff Sackmann had a good article about this.

4. The new GMAT Official Guide will apparently not have a section on Integrated Reasoning within the book itself, but there will a website that provides practice problems for the exam. I can confirm this once I receive the book in early April.

In a future post, I will provide solutions for the sample Integrated Reasoning questions that have been released already.

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