Meet Graham Van Schaik!
This week we're spotlighting Graham, a member of our GMAT tutor team. Graham graduated from MIT in 2012 with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. Graham completed multiple internships with boutique investment banking firms, spent a year developing the curriculum of his own Math and Science Camp in his home state of South Carolina, and is eager to help students prepare for the SAT, PSAT, AP, and GMAT. He is currently in his 3rd year of Medical School at Vanderbilt, and will begin MBA studies at Harvard Business School in the fall of 2016.
What’s beneficial about working with a private tutor for the GMAT?
The GMAT is a different exam to different people. Working with a private tutor rather than sitting for a large bulk course allows individuals to get real-time feedback and assistance in targeted areas. These one-on-one interactions maximize GMAT scores and optimize a candidate’s chances during the application process.
What would you say is unique about working with you?
The makers of the GMAT are constantly redefining the exam to ascertain which candidates will be strong performers in the business school environment and beyond. They are gearing the exam towards individuals who are comfortable and capable in a variety of situations and environments. My background as an engineering major at MIT, a Junior consultant with IBM, a 3rd year medical student at Vanderbilt, and admitted Harvard Business School student, provide me with a perspective not shared by many individuals.
What’s your overall philosophy to teaching the GMAT?
My philosophy to teaching the GMAT is to maximize areas of strength, to improve areas of concern, and to minimize unnecessary errors that cost candidates points.
What are the three most important things you think all GMAT students should know?
1) Speed and accuracy are key—The GMAT penalizes you for not completing a section. Attack the exam and don’t get bogged down if you don’t know an answer.
2) There will be questions that make you shake your head—The test is designed to have a mix of easy through very hard questions. Don’t let a tough question shake you.
3) Pace yourself and use your breaks—The exam gets tedious. Maximize your breaks and make sure you eat. Your brain needs fuel to work at its peak.
What’s the most common GMAT fear you see among incoming students?
The most common fear that I see among incoming students is that a bad GMAT score will prevent them from getting into their top choice program. While schools publish GMAT means, 50% of individuals accepted to these institutions have scored below that published mean. Yes, your score is very important, and bad days do happen, but you can always take the exam again. Make a plan for studying, stick to it, and do your best to not get bogged down by “what ifs.”
How do you accommodate different learning styles?
One-on-one meetings allow a tutoring team to get to know one another quickly. No two people learn in the exact same way and it is crucial to ascertain how someone learns best. I seek to do this as quickly as possible so that I may tailor my guidance to the individual I’m working with. This way, time spent with me is as efficient as it can be.
How much time should I dedicate to studying for the GMAT?
How much time you spend studying for the GMAT depends on a number of factors, both internal and external. Some candidates may do better with shorter study days and a longer overall duration of prep, others may wish to, and do better with, longer days over a shorter duration. Through conversation and productive exchanges, I get to know my clients and together we figure out their habits and preferences.
How do you recommend dealing with GMAT test anxiety?
The best way to deal with GMAT test anxiety is to set up a good study plan and to execute that plan. When you’re preparing to the best of your ability, and you trust your plan, anxiety is lessened and confidence builds.
Other topics on the GMAT: