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Someone unfamiliar with the GMAT might think it’s a straightforward test. After all, most of the questions address basic mathematical, grammatical, and analytical concepts that most of us were exposed to in middle school and high school. But, despite the superficial simplicity of the topics tested, most GMAT test-takers find that the questions are anything but straightforward. The explanation for this is simple and encompasses my philosophy: The GMAT is a reasoning test.

If you’ve taken a large class or read one of the many GMAT books out there, you were probably led to believe that success is simply about memorizing some math formulas, re-learning some grammar rules, and implementing a few tricks. I look at things differently.

My tutoring takes a content-based, foundational approach, with two key cornerstones at its base:

#1) Developing a solid conceptual understanding of the academic areas the exam tests (for example, Number Properties, Modifiers, Rates, etc.). Using official GMAT questions as our guide, we will examine every type and sub-type of GMAT question, analyze the underlying content, and work to ensure that there are no gaps in your conceptual knowledge. If you lack a deep grasp of the core concepts that the GMAT tests, all other components of your preparation will be for naught.

#2) Developing a systematic, airtight methodology for tackling each question type. Ultimately, the GMAT is concerned with much more than your knowledge of rules and formulas. It’s a reasoning test, and I focus on teaching my clients the style of thinking that the GMAT rewards. Most test-takers, for example, have substantial difficulty with Data Sufficiency because they don’t understand what skills the test-makers are trying to assess. Once students understand that the underpinning of success on these questions concerns rigorous use of deductive and inductive reasoning, they’re able to make swift gains in both their efficiency and accuracy.

So, if you’re looking for a GMAT tutor who will simply give you some formulas and superficial shortcuts, I’m not your guy. My sessions focus on breaking down questions and answer choices, understanding the ins-and-outs of the content addressed, challenging your assumptions, and providing you with skills that will extend to a variety of situations that you will face on test day. I don’t believe that there’s a magical formula to acing the GMAT or that it can happen overnight, but experience has shown that GMAT success combines content-mastery, analytical thinking, and the development of strategies that exploit the exam’s underlying structure.

All of the above addresses the “hard” skills required to succeed on the GMAT. But other obstacles often present themselves. Doing homework efficiently, knowing how to review questions, using the appropriate materials, understanding the scoring algorithm, and overcoming test anxiety are key components of successful and efficient preparation for the exam. To address the myriad difficulties that confront test-takers, I emphasize a holistic approach. Instead of viewing myself as a tutor or teacher, I view myself as a GMAT guide — as someone who, through thousands of hours of experience, has seen every obstacle that confronts test-takers and knows what it takes to overcome these hurdles. Over the years, scores of students have benefited from this approach, and I’m confident that you will, too.