Jose Ferreira, GMAT Expert

Jose FerreiraJose Ferreira is the founder of Knewton Test Prep, and had thought about starting this company for 18 years prior to doing so while working for Kaplan. He said, "I saw a lot of unproven instructors teaching students at local test centers. I got tired of telling students that they needed help in broad areas like geometry. I wanted to be able to target students weaknesses at a much more granular level." In addition to his work with Kaplan, including time at the executive level, Mr. Ferreira spent time as a derivatives trader with Goldman Sachs and was a partner at New Atlantic Ventures, investing in new media and SaaS companies, all the while thinking about what he describes as "the possibilities of adaptive learning," before starting Knewton Test Prep in 2008, about which he says, "Now the technology has caught up to the vision. Were able to bring the best teachers available to any student anywhere in the world. For Knewtons curricula, weve tagged literally hundreds of concepts in each subject area. Were able to tell students with certainty that theyre in full command of the fact that all radii in the same circle are equal, but that they need more strategies for 3-4-5 right triangles, and here are some practice questions on that specific topic. Thats adaptive learning, and its a very powerful tool."

Jose graduated from Carleton College with a BA in philosophy and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

What do college admissions officers want to see from a GMAT score? How does it affect a prospective student’s total application?
The GMAT score is second only to work experience in terms of importance in the application process. As most applicants have most of their work experience already behind them, the GMAT score becomes the most important thing they can still change. The admissions officers want to see top performance on the GMAT to simply make their decision easy. Beyond that, the GMAT can help to answer questions about the applicant’s background: good quantitative performance can vouch for someone who hasn’t had analytic job experience or good verbal performance can bolster an international student’s credentials.

What is the biggest mistake that students make before taking the GMAT?

Simply that they have not adequately prepared themselves for success on the exam.

How much time should students spend preparing for the exam before test day? How much time should they give themselves when registering? Should students plan enough time between the test date an application deadline to take the test a second time if their scores aren’t high enough?
To really prepare for the exam most students will need to allocate a minimum of 2-3 months. The test itself can be taken throughout the year, so registration a few weeks ahead of the desired test date is usually fine (exceptions are students who live far from a test center and the popular Nov/Dec testing period). Taking the exam at least several months before the deadline is good for two reasons: it affords time to retake if necessary, and if successful allows plenty of time to focus on the applications by themselves.

In your opinion, what is the best way for one to prepare for the GMAT? There are many books, classes, practice tests, etc., available. Is one method preferable to another? Why?
The best way to prep is one that you can fully commit to. Whether that is a book or a course is a second issue, but a great portion of students don’t hit their goals because they simply don’t follow through on their plan. A course is nice in that if offers structure that a student can use to pace themselves. The great thing about the Knewton course is that it not only offers incredible resources and teachers, but it guarantees results – 50 points or your money back. With access to the top master teachers at your convenience and at half the cost of a typical prep course, many students have found Knewton to be an excellent choice.

What advice do you have for students the night before and during the test?
The entire day and night before the test, the student should relax. Catch a movie, go for a run, do anything but study the GMAT. You won’t learn anything new that last day, and you may only stress yourself out. The morning of, while you’re eating breakfast, glance over your notes or study sheets just to prove to yourself that you’ve put in the work, you know your stuff and you’re ready for success. Then go ace the exam.

To find GMAT study materials, visit our GMAT Directory. To learn more about the GMAT, read our GMAT Guide.


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