Master of Energy Engineering

First Term

Power Systems

Power Electronics

Mechanical Drive Systems

Numerical Methods in Energy Sciences

Nuclear Energy: Basic Aspects 

Integrated Problem Solving in Energy

Second Term

Electrical Drives; Advanced Topics in Electrical Machines, Including Implementation Aspects

Power Systems Calculations

Energy Markets and Regulation

Energy Economics

Renewable Energy

Smart Distribution Systems

Energy Challenges

Thermal Systems

Integrated Project in Energy

2nd Year


Foreign Film Night!

FFN is an effort to get some culture from around the world – and have an excuse to stay in and eat popcorn, ice cream, and beer. Subtitled, never dubbed.

Upcoming Film Ideas

Dostana – Bollywood, recommended by Taylor

The Black Book

The Wind Rises – heart-wrenching WW1

More Studio Ghibli

More French, they have been good.

Das Boot

Past Films

Der Untergang – 3 star for the Germans. Film about the final months of Hitler. Includes famously-memed scene of Hitler exploding on his generals.

Coco avant Chanel – 3.5 stars for the French. Another great French film. The life of Gabrielle Chanel.

The Resistance Banker – 3.5 stars for the Dutch. WW2 Amsterdam Resistance finance.

Mongol – 4 stars for the Russians / Kazaks. About the rise of Ghengis Khan

Amélie – 4 stars for the French

Spirited Away – 3 wild stars for the Japanese, Studio Ghibli

Bullhead – 1 star for the Belgians. Traumatic scene not outweighed by the movie quality.

Edge of Deomcracy – documentary about Brazilian politics. Re-watch in person to keep track of characters. Where did the footage come from??

Man of the Year – 2 stars for the Brazilians. Nate’s favorite to learn Portuguese.

The Bird Cage – 3.5 stars for the French.

Force Majeure – 3 stars for the Swedish. Interesting. Deep? Funny?

The Farewell – 3 stars. Pretend Grandma isn’t dying. Chinese culture.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – cool fight scenes. Chinese.

La Sombra y La Tierra – 2.5 stars for the Colombians.

Dangal – 3.5 stars for the Indians for female wrestling!

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night –

Ratatouille – not really foreign but takes place in Paris.

Princess Mononoke

Hero – 3.5 stars for Zhang Yimou

Raise the Red Lanterns – 3.5 stars, Delaware Hayes classic for Zhang Yimou.

To Live – Nate’s favorite Zhang Yimou. 4 stars. What a period in history for the Chinese.

The Fall of the American Empire –

Energy News

All news here.

KU Leuven

Leuven Sustainable Earth

Energyville,sustainable energy tech in Genk

Vito, sustainability in Flanders research

KU Leuven Nieuws Interdisciplinariteit



IEEE Smart Grid

IEEE CommSoc Publications

IEEE PELS Education

IEEE Spectrum Magazine

Electrek: Electrek is a news and commentary site that is tracking, analyzing, and breaking news on the transition from fossil-fuel transport to electric transport.

European Institute of Innovation & Technology News

EIT InnoEnergy Facebook

EIT InnoEnergy LinkedIn

Energy Foundation Blog

European Battery Alliance News


IEEE Columbus Ohio

IEEE Smart Grid events page

IEEE Comm Soc events, search “smart grid” and “power line”

International Conference on Smart Grid

European Energy Innovation Events

Companies and Links

IEEE Learning Network

EDP Open Data

InnoEnergy Online Courses

InnoEnergy Top 10 Innovators Reports

Rage and Frenzy Report

5-Star and 4-Star Sources

Lokaal in Leuven

KU Leuven Student Council

KU Leuven Green Office

Energy News page here.

Local Delaware, Ohio

Delaware County

Delaware County Parks

Delaware County Sheriff

City of Delaware

Main Street Delaware


Delaware City Schools

Delaware Township

Delaware Gazette

Delaware Music Academy

DMA Events


Concord Township

Scioto Township

Buckeye Valley Schools

Olentangy Schools

Union County Ohio

Millcreek Township




S&P 500 Index, 5-star. The index is the news. It is a number set by market money. All the indexes are 5-star by default.

Hussman Funds Market Comment, 5-star. Market opinion, and stated as such. Consistent message.

Nate’s Stuff, 5-star baby!!

The Rage and Frenzy Political Blog here on Nate’s Blog Big News, only the absolute biggest stories of our lives

Check out my friends’ websites, they’re cool.


Sports Events 2020 – wow everything that isn’t happening.

Buckeye Basketball

Indians Baseball

Search Delaware Hayes Pacers

COVID-19 and Epidemiology in General

I consider this paper to be worth more than everything else written on COVID-19, combined. Literally.

Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, 5-star book, written in 2017. A must-read. It reads like it was written before the COVID-19 outbreak.

CIDRAP podcast, 5-star. Michael Osterholm does his job and reports the science.

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), 4-star source. Nearly 5-star. Highly relevant. Scientific. Critical when necessary.

Deaths data table from the CDC. 5-star data table. US government statistics are usually consistent and honest. COVID-19 cases are difficult to count and classify. Deaths are more straightforward. The last 7 years average annual flu deaths for the US is ~41,000. Reference. The reason the CDC doesn’t compare average past flu and pneumonia death data to COVID-19 is because they don’t have reliable weekly past flu and pneumonia data, only estimates.

EUROMOMO is the EU equivalent.


The Fall and Rise of China, 5-star lecture series. Covers the Opium Wars through 2010. Absolute must-listen to understand China.

The following “Chinese” are not the same. We must know the difference!
  • The CCP
  • China the country
  • Chinese people in China
  • Chinese people in America who will return to China
  • Chinese-American immigrants
  • Americans with Chinese heritage
  • Americans who look Asian

The CCP’s Website: 5-star propaganda. Whatever it says is what the CCP is saying. It is in Chinese of course, but you can paste the link into Google Translate and see it in English.

Current news on China? I lack a good source! Anybody?? Shoot me an e-mail. I’m open to suggestions.

Racial Issues

Keys to Black Wealth: here is a great black movement.

I will listen to black people on black people. Martin Luther King Jr. speeches are timeless. Malcolm X speeches are shocking but interesting and well-spoken. Muhammad Ali was controversial,  and he was a “draft dodger” but he appears to me to have been bravely speaking his mind, not a coward. I like Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder, you may not. Suggestions?

Internet Free Speech and Privacy DuckDuckGo is dedicated to privacy and they have a privacy blog. No star rating yet, but I have been using the DuckDuckGo search engine for a long time.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) blog: no rating yet. EFF produces Privacy Badger, a browser plugin – very easy to install – that blocks most tracking and shows you which sites are tracking.


Bovada sports gambling, 5-star, is popular in the US and offers odds on political races. Better than the polls. Money is on the line, so their goal is to report the odds as they actually are.

MoFreedomFoundation: 4-star. Rob is the most politically-biased 4-star source on this page. Rob is a one-man polemicist show with consistent message and historical background. Though biased, he makes no bones about it. He is there to state his opinion. I watched almost all his videos from 2016 through 2019 and they remain relevant. Disagree with him? Go ahead, start a video series then! That’s what he did!

Star Rating System

5-star: Near perfect source. Totally unbiased, well cited, self-regulating. I have never found misinformation. Gold standard of information. Often says, “we don’t know …” when they don’t know. Often very boring, require a long time to understand. Demonstrates conscious and consistent attempt to be objective. When there is opinion, clearly labeled as such. Science and statistics used responsibly. Usually reserved for individual stories rather than sources because one must always be wary.

4-star: Great source. No consistent bias, but some misinformation and bias rarely. If opinion, clearly stated as opinion and supported by cited 5 star sources. Consistent, independent, individual opinion makers often receive 4 stars even if biased if they identify as opinion and consistently reveal their sources.

3-star: Usually good information. Information selected with some consistent political bias. Often more entertaining than 4 or 5 star sources.

2-star: clear bias with thin attempt to conceal. Information usually true, but heavily selected to fit a narrative. Often appear to be attempting to create newsworthy thought rather than objectively reporting news or stating opinion. Sources often receive 2 stars rather than 1 star, ironically, because so many people follow these sources that they become news. Often quote science and statistics in a weak superficial manner to support their narrative.

1-star: comical and entertaining. If reality is ridiculous, as it sometimes can be, 1 star sources will be the first to report. 90% of the information reads like historical fiction. Conspiracy theories abound.

3-Star, 2-Star and 1-Star Sources with Explanation

These sources can be useful, but should combine to less than 10% of your information unless you just want entertainment, want a quick explanation of a current “thought” movement, are starting a search for a “4-star plus” source, or you are preparing for war for some reason.

NPR: 3-star. The most publicly-funded US news source. Their bias sometimes goes both ways, so difficult to pin them on one side. Government funded. Though unbiased, they just aren’t that good. Very connected to US universities. My personal peeve is that their necessity to interview the “downtrodden” turns into endless whining and complaining.

BBC News: 4-star or 3-star. Very connected to the British government, but I usually find their stories dispassionate and concise. They must support the British government but English culture is popular – I believe – because the English value truth and transparency.

Joe Rogan, 3-star, is a great source of sources. Joe Rogan often interviews great sources and you can go directly to his interviewees as your source.

US Mainstream Media: 2-star.

Search Thomas Jefferson quotes on newspapers and you will know exactly what I think about mainstream media. The most useful thing the mainstream media has done in my lifetime is help name this post.

Fox News, 2-star.

CNN, 2-star.

New York Times, 2-star.

MSNBC, 2-star.

Washington Post, 2-star.

Their stories are based in truth but they immediately spin them. They sprinkle in just enough truth and “science” to make you feel smart and informed. However, they pick only sources that drive their agenda and usually the most shocking and enraging sources possible. Watching just one side yields a very skewed world view. Watching both sides yields an extreme view that the two sides hate each other and one side is right or the answer is in the middle. None of these things are true. The “right answer” or “solution” appears neither in the battle between these “two sides” nor in the middle. No link here because of the crippling number of ads on their sites. As an American, their bias is pretty easy to pick out but as a foreigner you might just be confused by the chaos.

US Presidential Election 2020

Compelling Trump victory factors

  • Incumbent
  • Strong economy / jobs … (?)
  • Weak Democrat candidates
  • Trump is social media leader.
  • COVID-19 emphasizes social media.
  • Trump picking up minority votes?
  • Bernie splitting Democrat vote, complicating things.
  • Media is so negative, Democrats happy to passively allow Trump to remain in hot seat. Not excited about getting slammed with Biden in charge.

Compelling Democrat victory factors

  • Anybody but Hillary could have beaten Trump in 2016. Hillary was only candidate bad enough Trump could beat
  • Anti-Trump base is energetic and will vote
  • Trump support base is complacent.
  • Trump barely won in 2016, lost popular vote.
  • COVID-19 killing “Trump’s” economy. Bad for incumbent.
  • Media is so negative, Trump supporters will be happy to see Democrat return to hot seat. Tired of constant berating.
Coronavirus Dates

30 Mar: US Government 15 day plan expires. Go back to work, America?

~3 Apr: UK starts mass testing for active and past COVID-19

~9 Apr: Osterholm says major testing shortages because of reagent chemicals required. Confidence crisis.

~9 Apr: check from US government for ~$1200 / adult.

12 Apr: Trump target for re-opening (Easter Sunday).

16 Apr: JP Hussman says grace period up for health system preparedness.

8 May: lawyers say Franklin County courts re-open?

~July – August: Osterholm says peak in the summer six months after emergence. No seasonality.

  • 25 March 2020: with S&P 500 down only 27% – S&P ~=2,500 – I don’t think the market has priced in the effect of ongoing trade issues with world’s #2 economy. China already had probable forced child labor, oppressive propaganda-pushing government, taking over Hong Kong, “re-education” camps for Uighur Muslims, now wet markets + CCP delay and cover-up have caused a pandemic. CCP has arrived on the world’s doorstep. No matter your politics, governments will sanction and this will affect global economy.
  • Feb 2020: predict Trump wins reelection in 2020 due to being incumbent, strong economy, social media use, and weak Democrat candidates.

Twitter, link goes to your Twitter home. Twitter is news by default depending on who you follow. If enough people think it’s news, they’re right. Get it off your chest. Participate. … Update: I don’t know, even good sources turn to trash on Twitter.

DrudgeReport, 1-star, collection of the newest and most alarming stories by link from around the web. Unvetted. Everything that anybody is saying. Entertaining.

World Economic Forum: Pro-globalization. I’m not familiar enough to rate.

List of definitely un-reliable sources without links: New York Post, Intellihub, Breitbart, …

2020 Archive

Coronavirus 2020 back-story and reading

1918 Flu Pandemic book

2002-2003, SARS

2012 first case, MERS virus

2017: Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, book

24 Jan 2020 Medical Report on Coronavirus including comparison to others like SARS and MERS


The World Health Organization is is influenced by Chinese Communist Party propaganda, reports their numbers as fact, holds China as a model (based on false numbers), and is advertising a concert in the middle of a pandemic. Stop the funding. Embarrassing. Even Michael Osterholm at CIDRAP called them out for failing.

The Wuhan Virology Lab, even if just a coincidence, is part of the coronavirus story, see below

Wuhan lab director considered the possibility in this interview.

Update on the lab story, probably not! Click here.

What a BSL-4 lab is, Wuhan is only one in China

1977 Russian flu very likely accidental release from Soviet lab, see Chapter 10 of this book, Deadliest Enemy

1977 Russian flu, see Wikipedia article

1978 Smallpox Outbreak in UK

1989 Reston, Virginia laboratory monkey Ebola scare book

2015, Wuhan Virology Lab inaugurated

2017 SARS Virus in Bats by Wuhan Virology Lab Director Zhengli Shi and others

Current: Wuhan Virology Lab Website

Current: Zhengli Shi is the lab director

3 Feb 2020 paper (quickly) says bat origin, lab director Zhengli Shi one of authors

2020 according to this article we are taking the lab director’s word that the virus doesn’t match anything her lab studied. Case closed? Really? To me this is an irresponsible misunderstanding of the situation and of China. We know lab releases have happened before. We know China lies and covers up when necessary.

Update Oct 2020: I believed an accidental lab leak was a possibility, too large a coincidence to ignore. The lab director herself considered the possibility. Her “investigation” was complete bullshit. See the links. It could have come from the lab. It would not have been the first virus outbreak from a lab. However, after weeks of digging, I stumbled upon a much better explanation for which, after several months now, I have yet to hear a serious challenge.

The lab remains a source of mystery still because we know the CCP lies and creates “reality.” The CCP knew the lab was going to be a PR nightmare and so probably delayed informing the world about the virus even more than they otherwise would have. The existence of the lab certainly influenced the CCP reaction.


Raw Data

Ohio Data

English Lesson 12: Music Lyrics

Let’s learn the English:

Have you ever?

Have you ever been?

Have you yet?

Yes, I already did.

with music lyrics.

Step 1: Find good music.

Search YouTube for music and add the word “lyrics.”

For example, search, “have you ever lyrics” on YouTube. You find:

Step 2: Find the English text.

Google, DuckDuckGo, or search AZLyrics for the sing lyrics.

For example, you find:

Step 3: What does it mean??

Now, copy-paste the text into Google Translate. Learn the whole meaning of the song in your own language!

Step 4: Repeat!

If you like the music, repeat, practice, and learn… in English only!

Some More English Music to Learn

have you ever been

haven’t met you yet


Customer Experience Feedback

I provide this rating system as an end user. Businesses always asking my feedback, here it is systematically. This is what I look for. This applies to everything from brick and mortar stores to websites. This is largely technology driven.

1. Minimum Technology

Technology can enable efficiency, but it often does the opposite. I am an engineer. I can figure out your technology – but I do not want to. Do not give me a job when I’m trying to spend money with you. Do not explain your tech to me. If your tech is not self-evident, you have already failed.

2. Version Control

Misinformation is worse than no information. One calendar, one web page, a web page instead of an e-mail. We do not need more information. We need the right information, concisely, current, dated, clear, verified.

3. Identifying Me

I do not want another number, account, password, etc. You know this. My name is unique. Use that. My e-mail is more unique, use it. E-mail is better than using my phone number, which is better than using a tracking number, which is better than a QR code, which is better than having me sign up for an account, which is better than having me sign up for an account with ridiculous password requirements. Use the ID that exists already. Start with my name!

4. Simplicity

One that works is better than two or three or however many failures.

Businesses Rated

UPS, 1 star. You have to go out of your way to get 1 star. UPS goes out of its way

  • Minimum tech? No. I don’t need an account, a QR code, and a bar code to receive a single brown package with $200 worth of stuff in it.
  • Version control? Multiple blatant failures. One package includes two addresses 1. my home where I know I will not be at noon for the delivery attempt and 2. the UPS Access Point. One package includes three methods of identification 1. a QR code, 2. a tracking number, 3. an “InfoNotice” number. The UPS Access Point had hours posted on the store partially in one location and completely in another less-visible location. An extra address, two extra package IDs and an extra partial hours posting. That is five strikes against version control. FIVE. Abysmal.
  • Identifying me? UPS, you know my address (you know where I live!!), and my e-mail address. Ask me for my phone number and I will give you that. ID me with any of those things. Nope. You need me to create an account. Fail.
  • Simplicity? No. All you have to do is deliver a package to a human being. It is not complicated – but you manage to make it so.

How can you succeed? My package enters your system and you e-mail me the tracking number and the address / hours of the UPS Access Point where my package will arrive. No home delivery. No “InfoNotice” bar code. No message saying, “Shocker! You weren’t home today at noon!” No QR code scavenger hunt. No running down a brown truck. No “out for delivery.” Get it close at a stationary target, tell me where it is, give me a deadline, and I’ll do the rest.


Websites Below

Organizing Online Events and Conferences

When people attend an in-person conference, they want to know the address, possibly where to park, where the sign in desk is, and a calendar of events with locations perhaps room numbers. They want to know the following for the conference and each sub-event:

  • Who: event name / who is hosting the event / presenter’s name.
  • What: subject of the event / presentation.
  • Where: location.
  • When: date and time.
  • Why: because.

I don’t make this list because the information is usually lacking. The information is usually available somewhere. I provide this list because there is usually so much extra information that attendees can’t find these basic requirements!

The online / virtual version of this is currently Zoom meetings. Attendees need the following information and no more! For each presentation:

  • Who: single web address with the most current information / name of the conference / name of the host / name of presenters.
  • What: subject of the event / presentation.
  • Where: the Zoom access code / meeting ID.
  • When: date and time in Zulu or always with a specific time zone.
  • Why: because.

If the event can be conducted without attendees registering that is best. If the attendees must register, let them use their e-mail addresses for a username.

Do a run-through the day prior with a friend or colleague who is not in on the planning. If he / she cannot attend withing 5 minutes then your system is a failure and you probably need to delete extraneous instructions and eliminate steps.

Information, Categories, Items

Pretty much all information falls into categories. Each item within a category has the same questions associated with it. For example, if you are a university and you list degree programs along with the number of years of study for the degree program and even just one of those degree programs is part-time instead of full-time, you absolutely must list “full-time / part-time” for all the degree programs – or you have left doubt and failed to communicate.

Therefore, for all categories, you list the possible questions for each category and your site is not complete until all the answers are available for each item within the category. Example:

  • Degree Program category:
    • Full name of degree
    • Years of study to complete
    • Full-time / part-time
    • Accreditation
    • Which campus if multiple
    • Credit hours with units of measure of credit hours
    • Language of study if there could be doubt
    • Link to course list / curriculum
    • Prerequisites for study
    • Start date(s)
    • Application process including deadlines and associated decision dates listed by type of applicant or explicitly stated “for all applicants”
    • Tuition information or link to tuition information
    • Motivational video for the program as applicable
    • Testimonials as applicable
    • Contacts such as dean, admissions, student ambassadors, etc.
    • Date of last update.

This is one list for one category for one type of site. This type of list applies to all sites that present information at all, which is almost all sites. Do not start your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page until you have created your list and systematically answered all the questions for each item within each category. Especially do not e-mail me for feedback. This is my feedback right here. Do your job. Anticipate your users’ questions and provide the appropriate information no matter how obvious you believe the information to be.

Payment Units

Units of payment must always conform to the following rules or you have failed to communicate:

  • Payments always include the currency.
  • A one-time payment is assumed if not stated. However, if there can be doubt as to whether a payment is one-time or periodically repeated, it is always called “one-time.” There is no exception. There is no substitution for this phrase. No other wording is appropriate.
  • Repeated payments always
    1. include a period stated in an amount of time
    2. explicitly state a beginning and an end
    3. explicitly state what period the payment applies to.


The tuition is 10,000 dollars per year and is paid in monthly installments during the time you are studying. The academic year being 9 months, you make 9 equal monthly payments per year that lead the month of study and total to the annual tuition. Other taxes and fees apply, see the list at this link for taxes and fees.

  • The word “fee” is typically reserved for something that is extra or unusual. For example, “tuition” already implies payment, so you do not say “tuition fee,” or use the word “fee” under the heading of “tuition.” “Fee” makes it sound extra or unusual. You should say, “the annual / monthly tuition is…,” Writing “fee” is redundant and confusing.
  • “Fee” can be added on to a word that is not automatically a payment, such as registration. For example “registration fee.” This says it is a payment and that the payment is for registration.
  • A “registration fee” would almost never be a repeated payment because one only registers one time. Once registering, you are registered and don’t keep registering.

Time and Time Zones

I don’t care how smart you think your website is. I don’t care if your website thinks it knows where your visitor is and therefore “conveniently” tells the user in his personal time zone. No matter how smart your website is, the internet is still global. You could be using my IP address for location and I could be using a VPN. My GPS location could be erroneous. There is one simple rule for posting times:

Post the time with its associated time zone, including whether it is daylight savings time, and including the +/- relative to Zulu.

This especially applies to sporting events. I see times given properly less than 10% of the time for sporting events. If pilots suddenly became this bad at global time communication, the world would come to an instant standstill with aviation accidents, delays, missed flights, etc. Follow this rule and you have properly posted a time. Do it not, and you have failed to communicate.


This feedback assumes you want your visitors to leave your site informed. If your goal is that your visitors click around your site looking for information you purposely hid or omitted, then this does not apply. If you are trying to force users to contact you if they really want to know something, then by all means ignore this and keep playing your games. I am not a marketer and I know some counter-intuitive strategies work when it comes to selling to people. This feedback applies to those whose goal is to honestly inform site visitors.

Impetus for this Post

Unfair as this may be I am picking one site that finally drove me to write this post. Their site was actually pretty good but as usual lacked basic information that I am fairly certain was omitted or hidden inadvertently. I clicked around London Business School’s site for probably an hour trying to confirm which courses were full-time and which were part-time. I never found it. I sent them feedback but I am tired of submitting basic feedback like this. I feel like I work for free giving feedback while companies constantly spend money to change and update complicated sites that fail at the basics – and then spend more time and money requesting my feedback. Here it is! Here’s my feedback!

When LBS, a top business school, clearly does not follow the basics outlined in this post, the post needs to be written because they, if anybody, should be good at this. Now it is written.

If Your Product Costs More Than $1000

I pick $1000 for an arbitrary cut-off. The point is, this feedback always applies to sites for products that could be considered an investment like, for example, real estate or education. Investments are life decisions and clients need solid info to make a decision.

You aren’t selling a pack of gum. Answer all questions. Is the course full-time or part-time? Maybe it’s obvious to you. Maybe I should know and be able to assume. Maybe I should have contacts within your school who can tell me and if I am not resourceful enough to find the info then you don’t want me anyway. Fine, but if you wanted me informed to make a decision and consider your school, you failed. I left confused, alienated, and ultimately decided against business school (OK I was leaning against biz school anyway not trying to be too dramatic). Now my last memory is the frustration of your website that could have been avoided if you had heeded the basic advice on my humble individual blog here.

Brazil Now What 6, 7, 8: Game Reset to Dream Job to Master’s Programs

Game Reset

On the 3rd of January, I arrived in Brazil with one mission: to find a job. I was also studying for the GMAT to enter business school – to help me find a job. It was simple, a full-time job search, 8 hours per day (or more). I rented a desk at a coworking space so I could have a public place to work, reliable internet, and not worry too much about where I was actually living.

I enjoyed the challenge of studying for the GMAT so I preferred that, but I knew it would be prudent to get the job search rolling as well so I could get some responses and some information.

Dream Job / Career

I found a posting for a job that I had thought of throughout my years in other types of work and never thought I would return to. It was like a dream that had passed. I found the posting within a week, probably ~10 January. I applied, but knew (probably correctly) that I would not be very competitive without recent technical experience and the job would have hundreds of applicants. It doesn’t do any good to be even top 10, you have to be #1. See job description below:

Check Out These ABB Videos

As I studied for the GMAT and applied to other jobs I kept thinking about this one posting and even found another similar posting with ABB Group in a different location. Finally, I started searching technical continuing education to see if there was a program that could refresh my degree and help me be competitive for such jobs on the power grid. Indeed there are such programs.

Master’s in Electrical Engineering

There are many master’s programs related to Electrical Engineering. They are geared for increasing one’s knowledge in a specific portion of the field and also open to refreshing outdated knowledge (my case). The large number of jobs in the field have moved universities to offer many programs and there is even a separate European institution called EIT InnoEnergy that coordinates joint programs among the universities of Europe.

About EIT InnoEnergy

I have applied to the following programs through InnoEnergy, links below. They would take place at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, KU Leuven near Brussels, ESADE and Polytechnic Universtity of Catalonia in Barcelona, and / or possibly some others:

Master’s in Smart Electrical Networks and Systems

Masters in Energy for Smart Cities

and also the following program directly through KU Leuven in Belgium:

Master of Electrical Engineering: Power Systems and Automation

Master of Engineering: Energy

Now What?

They release their admissions decisions in mid-April and the programs start in September. Now I keep job searching, but to be honest the master’s programs look even better than the dream job right now because I would be educated for two years and put in front of the various companies with jobs like the one I found and would love to have, including ABB Group specifically as an industry partner.

If I am accepted to a EE master’s program, I will go. There will be lots of prep work to do. Until then: GRE, GMAT, back-ups, and further job search just in case…


I finally completely switched from a desktop to a laptop. What a game-changer.

Mission: GRE

My score: Writing 4.5, 81%ile, Verbal 164, 94%ile. Quantitative 161, 76%ile.

GRE Basics, Official Source

The GRE is made, administered, and scored by Educational Testing Services, ETS. ETS is the largest private nonprofit educational testing organization in the world and it is based in New Jersey with a Princeton address. GRE stands for Graduate Record Examinations.

Exam Structure and Prep Material

ETS provides a lot of prep material, click here. In my one week of preparation, I did not venture beyond their site and the free material they provide.

Is the GRE adaptive? That question is answered here on the ETS site.

When will I get my score?

Check the website for current information, but they showed me an “unofficial” quant / verbal score at the test center. I had to remember it if I wanted to know what it was. They said 10-15 days, I received my score with the writing score included on the 9th day after the test.

GRE Strategy by Section

  • Mark questions throughout each section. Better to mark too many, as in 5-7 of 20 rather than not mark any at all. Being able to return is a big advantage. If you finish with extra time, you want to be able to utilize the extra time productively by returning to marked questions.
  1. First 5 minutes: pick 3 examples and categorize them first thing.
  2. Ensure that you can support your argument before you start making it.
  3. 25 min remaining: start writing.
  4. 10-5 minutes remaining, you should be starting the closing paragraph.
  5. Time expiring: finish the closing paragraph and return to edit until time is up.
  • 30 minutes is enough time to write, but not time to make huge changes once you have started writing. Picking examples first is critical. It is easier to adjust your argument to your examples than it is to think of examples once you have decided on your argument.
  • Throughout the essay, glance at the prompt and ensure you are sticking to the specific subject and answering exactly what they ask. You should spend the whole time adding relevant support to your stance.
  • Practice-write essays while studying. Even though they aren’t scored it’s worth getting an idea of how long 30 minutes feels like when writing. To review, read the examples of 6 and maybe 5.5 scores along with the grader’s explanations. I found them informative.


  • On the vocabulary questions, the correct choices will be supported by the sentence around it. The sentence fill-in questions are good ones to return to because it is easy to err on just one of the three words and get the whole question wrong.
  • Reading comprehension that describes confusing locations or categories of items, make a map or diagram.
  • Reading comprehension that presents two sides of an argument, jot quick marker words of each side in a diagram to keep opposing sides separate and like sides together. Possibly jot a quick flow of the argument.


  • They give you a calculator on the GRE. Remember to use it! Complex response checking becomes much quicker!

GRE Time Strategy

The GRE being adaptive per section, your time strategy depends on which category you fall into: 1. below average, 2. average, 3. above average. If you are below average, the earlier sections, 2 and 3, will be more difficult. If you are above average, the later sections, 4 and 5, will be more difficult. On the more difficult sections, you should expect to skip (or guess quickly) some questions to return later if you have time. On the easy sections, you can proceed deliberately and be very careful to check your work because you will likely have extra time.

GRE Contrasted with GMAT (My Perception)

Because of indecision, I took the GRE followed by the GMAT 11 days later. I am therefore somewhat qualified to compare and contrast. They are both standardized tests, mostly multiple-choice, with writing sections. Now to contrast:

  • The GRE is not as time-intense. For this reason, I have listed a few more detailed note-taking strategies that take some more time. Unlike the GMAT, on the GRE there may be time to utilize more detailed notes.
  • GRE verbal is more focused on vocabulary, while GMAT heavier on grammar. On the GRE, honestly, they use many words I don’t know and I miss questions because of it. On the GMAT, some of the sentences to analyze are lengthy brain-twisters with just minute differences among the answers. They are difficult, but on the GMAT I rarely see words I don’t know.
  • The GRE verbal correct answers seem more straightforward. They are not necessarily easier but there are a lot fewer instances of selecting the “best” answer with multiple possibilities like on the GMAT.
  • The GRE math is more straightforward. I dare say “easier.”
  • They give you a basic calculator on the GRE, not on the GMAT.

GRE Study Diary 2020. Test Day = Monday, 3 February 2020

27 Jan, 7 days to test: registered for the test. Looked up location. Started notes right here on this post you’re looking at. Read a description and viewed samples of each question type.

28 Jan, 6 days to test: took un-timed practice test throughout the day. The essays seem pretty straightforward – stay on subject!

Score : Verbal 163, 93%ile. Quantitative 166, 89%ile.

Score data from ETS. Notice that 4% of testers ace the quantitative. Highest %ile is 96.

29 Jan, 5 days to test: None, applied to master’s programs.

30 Jan, 4 days to test: None, applied to master’s programs.

31 Jan, 3 days to test: took second practice test. Of note, I forgot that a calculator is provided so that certainly impacted my math score by wasting time. I ran out of time with 2 questions remaining. At this point, I suppose the lesson learned is use the calculator, do your best, and I’m as ready as I’m gonna be. Of course, I consider my essays perfect but the computer has no opinion on that.

Score: Verbal 160, 86%ile. Quantitative 161, 76%ile.

1 Feb, 2 days to test: None.

2 Feb, 1 day to test: Re-took just the math portion of test 1, this time with time and with the calculator that I forgot to use the first time. This time I got all 40 questions correct for a 170 (calculator helped but also helped to already have seen the questions).

3 Feb, Test Day

Ate a huge breakfast and I’m glad I did. There were 6 sections:

  1. Writing
  2. Verbal 1
  3. Quantitative 1
  4. Verbal 2
  5. Quantitative 2
  6. Verbal 3

Score: Writing 4.5, 81%ile, Verbal 164, 94%ile. Quantitative 161, 76%ile.

4.5 / 6 on writing – what?!?! My essays were better than that! That’s what I always said in English class anyway.

Overall, good enough I think. Pay attention to time on the second section of each test!! I think my strategy was good, especially focusing on food. You gotta get brain food during a test that long. The only strategy “mistake” I made I would say was starting the second math section a bit slow – or a bit too deliberately. I ran out of time and that is not good.

The second sections of each portion clearly indicated that I did well on the first – they were very difficult. On verbal 2 there were many vocabulary words I did not know and on which I was forced to guess. On math 2, I left 2 or 3 questions unfinished. Verbal 3 was considerably easier again and I finished it with 7 minutes remaining. It was enough time to review all of my answers and I did, I believe, correct one error I made so I was glad I returned to check.

Test Day List

  • ETS, What to Bring Test Day
  • Passport
  • Snacks:
    • Nutsbars
    • Bananas
    • Gatorade or juice.
  • Eat and coffee at 1 of many restaurants just east of test center.
  • Test center: Rua George Eastman Suite 98, Sao Paulo, BR 05690000
    • Close to estação Morumbi
    • ~1 hour from Bela Vista by Metro, 40 minutes by Uber.
  • Leave apartment at ~6:30 to arrive near test center ~7:45 in time for breakfast and coffee, test starts at 9.
  • Write down the codes of the schools you want to send the score to! If they do not allow you to reference it, you at least may be able to remember better.

GMAT Printable Strategy Sheet

For general GMAT prep information, click here.

Overall Strategies and Notes

  • Write out ‘A’ for each question with space for B, C, D, E, to use process of elimination explicitly. The small time commitment per question is worth the big time savings on difficult questions when you really need the visual aid to process of elimination.
  • Using a time strategy is important to keep on track. A simple time strategy is under the heading for each section below. Must be simple otherwise you are wasting time and energy calculating time.
  • Even though the GMAT is an adaptive test, do not try to evaluate your progress based on the difficulty of the questions you see. Don’t freak out if you see an easy question. There are unscored experimental questions interwoven so you may be seeing an easy experimental question. Just answer them right! (Princeton Review)

Strategies by Question Type

The specific categories of verbal questions are straight from the Kaplan GMAT 800 study book.

Verbal Reasoning, 36 questions 65 minutes

Time plan: arrive at question 15, 25, 36 at the 40, 20, 1 minute remaining marks.

  • Critical Reasoning, 7 types ~12 questions
    1. Numbers and Stats
    2. Surveys and Studies
    3. Scope Shifts
    4. Causation
    5. Alternative Explanations
    6. Explain / Paradox
    7. Odd Man Out

Critical reasoning questions appear on the LSAT as well. “LSAT recycle”

  • Reading Comprehension, 3 types ~12 questions
    1. Business
    2. Social Science
    3. Natural Science

Draw a quick horizontal line for each paragraph of a passage and jot a word or two describing the purpose of each paragraph. This helps organize the information and helps return for reference.

Common error: sometimes GMAT will ask for something that the passage “implied” or “can be inferred.” Sometimes I will ignore the correct answer because I believe I remember it being actually explicitly stated when actually it was only implied. If you think explicitly stated, it has good chance to be right answer, go back and check.

If you don’t understand an answer option at all, don’t pick it just because you can’t find the right answer and you assume you are stupid and don’t understand.

Sometimes correct answers will have a word that is not found in the passage and you have to make a small leap to the answer.

“React” means “take issue with” or “disagree.” Hence “reactionary” movement WRT revolutions et cetera.

Don’t get tired of searching because you can’t eliminate all wrong options. Find the right one!

  • Sentence Correction, 8 types ~12 questions
    1. Modifiers
    2. Idioms
      • “in contrast to” not “in contrast “with”
      • “sum lower than” not “sum less than”
    3. Parallelism
    4. Comparisons
      • Comparisons must be grammatically consistent.
      • Must be direct comparisons, apples to apples.
    5. Verb Tense
    6. Subject / Verb Agreement
    7. Pronouns
      • A pronoun cannot have multiple antecedents to possibly refer to.
    8. Expression

Sentence Correction Priorities

  1. Must be grammatically correct.
  2. Clarity, especially clarity of what pronouns / adjectives / modifiers refer to.
  3. Succinctness
  4. Active over passive
  5. Maintain meaning but sometimes the sentence must become more specific to be clear. More specific is not considered altered meaning and therefore okay.

Choice A is always the unchanged sentence. As soon as there is an error, eliminate A. Even if A is possible, the others are equal possibilities. Favor the better answer, not the unchanged answer.

You can select an answer with a generic noun in place of a pronoun if the sentence should have a noun. E.g. “Jessica” in place of “she.”

A semi-colon can only separate two phrases that can stand as independent and complete sentences. If semi-colon, then a period must work also.

Kaplan GMAT 800 page 161 question 27 says to change the wording because “are bringing” is “unnecessary,” and therefore change to just “bring.” It is grammatically correct but they alter why? Maybe to be more succinct? The top of page 176 says, ” an unnecessary alteration is always wrong.” These seem to contradict.

Be able to identify modifiers and participles.

If 3-4 of the options say almost the same thing, best to pick the most specific because it will likely be considered more clear. This sometimes appears to alter the meaning but more specific is not necessarily considered altered meaning.

Error: Pronoun – noun agreement. On question 65 I selected the pronoun “their” to refer to the country of Turkey. Incorrect.

Subjunctive: 1. Desire / wish, 2. “if” senetences, 3. “that …”

“fewer” and “number of” go with countable objects while “less than” and “amount of” go with non-quantifiable

Quantitative Reasoning (AKA Math), 31 questions 62 minutes

Time plan: arrive at question 12, 22, 31 at the 40, 20, 1 minute remaining marks.

Optimal time per question ~~ 1-3 minutes. Less than one minute, and you should check for a tricky question. More than 3 minutes and you should move on because you are likely doing it wrong. More than 4 minutes, emergency jettison! Cut your losses and move on.

Quantitative “Shortcuts”

These are not really shortcuts, but even though you could solve many of these types of problems by “figuring them out,” you get a higher score by maximizing your time by knowing the rules for these specific items. The following concepts are highly represented on the GMAT:

  • Permutations and Combinations, familiarity with the formulas and concepts is critical.
  • Double something squared is x4. Double something cubed is x8.
  • Remember that square root has a positive and negative result.
  • Any number squared is always positive.
  • For inequalities, the only time the sign flips is when you multiply (or divide of course) by a negative number.
  • Least common multiples, greatest common factors, and prime numbers.
  • Division remainders, and remainder tricks.
  • Sequences, arithmetic mean, median.
    • In any evenly-spaced sequence, mean = median = first + last term / 2.
    • Arithmetic mean = sum of sequence / number of terms. GMAT often refers to the sum of a sequence and requires you to recognize that it can be taken as a variable by itself ignoring its component sequence.
  • Absolute values


  • Straight Math ~8 questions?
  • Word Problems ~8 questions?
    • Pay attention to exactly what question is asking: part vs. part of whole, fraction remaining vs. time remaining at rate to finish, ratio vs. fraction.
    • Make a table sometimes for multiple quantities of multiple categories within a group.
    • Use very clear variables with lots of subscripts as required!
    • Common error: not separating first period cost (or any fixed value) from ongoing cost (or any repeated value).
  • Data Sufficiency ~15 questions?

Integrated Reasoning, 12 questions 30 minutes

(not part of main score, added to test ~2013)

Time plan: arrive at question 4, 8, 12 at the 20, 10, 1 minute remaining marks. Of note also, finish 6 at 15 minutes remaining. The halfway point is hard to ignore as you look at the clock ticking.

Analytical Writing Assessment, 1 question 30 minutes

(not part of main score)

Mission: Crush the GMAT

My score: Verbal 40, 90%ile. Quantitative 44, 49%ile. Total 690, 85%ile. Writing 6.0, 88%ile. IR 8, 92%ile.

Didn’t crush it, but did alright!

For printable strategy sheet, click here.

GMAT Basics, Official Sources

  • GMAC = Graduate Management Admissions Council. GMAC makes the GMAT and also advises business schools in utilizing the GMAT for their admissions process.
  • Pearson VUE is the Minnesota-based company that physically administers the GMAT, operates the testing centers.
  • GMAT = Graduate Management Admissions Test
  • both the GMAC and Pearson sites link to has many resources for test takers including registration and practice tests.

Exam Structure

Don’t take my word for it. Now that you know who administers the test and where they post information, go straight to the official source, is Official

According to the Princeton Review course book, the GMAT makers have never allowed outside companies to use actual past questions for practice. This tells me that my first source for practice questions is whatever is available on should be your first source! Fortunately they sell official practice exams and thousands of questions. Do their questions have good explanations? Don’t know yet. They also sell the “Official Guide” in electronic and print formats. also happens to be the cheapest.

I would take only official practice exams from The GMAT is so detailed it would be hard to reproduce without the official version. Also, there are 6 of them available and being computer-adaptive they are not the same every time. The most practice exams you could realistically take would be one per day and one per week is more realistic.

Prep Material I Used

  • official practice tests
  • Official Guides
  • Kaplan GMAT 800 9th Edition (2014)
  • Manhattan Prep video of first class available for free.
  • Princeton Review _____

Unofficial Prep Courses Reviewed

These courses are all unofficial. I did not review because it needs no review. is your official source. Only where it lacks should you seek further information.

Kaplan GMAT 800 was my favorite book. It is geared toward good test takers. They talk about “an 800 test taker” throughout the material and they give practice questions that are supposed to model the most difficult test questions. Their answer explanations are very good. I spent the first 3 weeks with this book. I read the answer explanations even if I got the example problem right because they give compressed ways of thinking and shortcuts that make you more efficient and make the material more familiar.

The Princeton Review spends a lot of time on very basic testing techniques. It even mentions “fairness” a few times. This to me is coddling test takers. Is there a right answer to each question? Do all test takers get the same test? Then the test is “fair,” move on.

According to Wikipedia, The Princeton Review is not associated with Princeton University.

One preparation technique I did not take advantage of is an in-person class. I heard this was effective for friends I talked to and I do believe this could be helpful together with self-study. It did not fit into my situation. I heard the Manhattan Prep is the best in-person class. Manhattan Prep is partnered with Kaplan according to Kaplan’s website. I watched the Manhattan Prep first class that they provide as a free video online. I can tell the class would have been waaay to slow for me. The first class has a good description of how the test is scored and especially how it relates to your time strategy.

EMPOWERgmat has a lot of online presence and I admit spent a lot of time looking at them because their reviews are good. I was close to buying the course then I read a Quora post that said they are heavy on marketing in the GMAT prep groups and reviews but light on actual GMAT prep. After I read this, their presence made sense. I do not know how they claim to have obtained 6 official practice exams when The Princeton Review says GMAC has never allowed this, but who cares? officially offers 6 practice exams for cheaper. I imagine it is not a coincidence that offers 6 exams and EMPOWERgmat claims to offer 6. I really do not know. I moved on.

There is a “Manhattan Review” that does GMAT test prep, not to be confused with Manhattan Prep. They are separate. I don’t know much about this Manhattan Review. It seems Manhattan Prep is the one you want.


I have heard people say, “I have to listen to music while I study,” or “I like to have the TV on while I study.” These translate to me to, “I prefer to listen to music and watch TV than to study.” Of course you prefer music and TV to studying, so do I. If you want to do well, study. Don’t listen to music or watch TV.

The GMAT as an Adaptive Test, Your Testing Rate, and Your Time Strategy

The GMAT is famous for being an “adaptive test.” There is a mountain of information out there about what this means, and it is mostly about how it complicates things and makes things more difficult. I would argue that although it is true that there are difficulties to an adaptive test, the main difference is with respect to time and rate. If you recognize this and use it to your advantage, you can implement an effective strategy and you can glean valuable information during the test with an awareness of your rate of answering.

Normal versus Adaptive

Normal tests test your ability to be correct on a fixed number of fixed questions, which means a fixed amount of test material. All tests have a time limit, but a normal test usually has a max time long enough to reasonably finish. If you are very good on a normal test, you can finish early and still know that you did your best. You can even get a perfect score. If your knowledge is complete and you do not make mistakes, you get a perfect score. Finishing early is common, but the speed is not scored. On an adaptive test, the test makers – GMAC in this case – can adjust the amount of time per question to adapt to each test taker by making the questions easier or more difficult based on your responses. Therefore, on an adaptive test like the GMAT, you process a variable amount of test material in what is designed to be a fixed amount of time – the max time. The test adjusts for you to finish with zero seconds remaining by adjusting the test material. Again, this contrasts with a normal test, where you process a fixed amount of material in less than a maximum time.

Information from Your Testing Rate

You can glean information from your testing rate. What I mean by this is, the GMAC test makers are good at their job. They know based on your responses how to give you a problem that takes you about 2 minutes to solve. Therefore, if you arrive at an answer in 10 seconds, be suspicious and check for a trick or something you missed. You are rarely correct in 10 seconds. If you think you see the answer in 10 seconds, invest another 10 seconds verifying yourself before answering and moving on. If you are reaching 3 or 4 minutes on a problem, you are likely doing it wrong and you should select among the answers you haven’t eliminated and move on. They say, “Nothing good happens after midnight!” Similarly, nothing good happens after 4 minutes on the GMAT. Move on. Time is scored just as much as being correct on the GMAT; use time wisely.

One Small Set of Time / Rate Testing Data

When I started timing myself, but I was not yet using my time as information, look at the first 15 practice questions I answered:

  1. Wrong in 4:20
  2. Right in 3:55
  3. Wrong in 0:10
  4. Wrong in 1:00
  5. Right in 2:00
  6. Wrong in 1:00
  7. Right in 2:40
  8. Wrong in 4:20
  9. Right in 2:40
  10. Wrong in 1:00
  11. Right in 1:20
  12. Right in 2:30
  13. Right in 0:55
  14. Right in 2:25
  15. Right in 2:20

I got 9 / 15 correct. Notice, all 6 of the wrong answers were under 1:00 or over 4:00. 7 / 9 of the right answers were in the range of 1:20 – 2:40. There is clearly a “sweet spot.” Is there some confirmation bias because I “quit” after 4 minutes? Possibly, but it is still the right strategy. Even if I could have been correct in 6-10 minutes, it is a risky waste of time.

Good Test Takers “Crippled” on Adaptive Tests

Good test takers know when to skip a question to return to it later. Good test takers use information from one question to answer other questions on the test. This is not possible on the GMAT because you cannot skip questions and return. This “cripples” good test takers theoretically. However, I would argue that you can get an “extra” advantage by being at least passively aware of your rate of testing. On a “normal” test, maybe you can take the test in the right order, skipping around as necessary. On the GMAT, you should take the test at the correct rate, recognizing a tricky question that didn’t take long enough and educated guessing at the onset of diminishing returns on complex problems.


Good test takers like to believe that standardized tests are entirely indicative of intelligence, “smartness,” and future success. There is some truth to this or they would not administer the test. However, there are a few nuggets of information that are WAAAYYY over-represented on the GMAT when compared to their actual value in real life. Similarly, if you have played Scrabble, you know that two-letter words are WAAAYYY over-represented in Scrabble compared to their actual use in real life. Just like knowing two-letter words in Scrabble, you must know the reliable “shortcuts” for GMAT questions. See the printable strategy sheet for a list. Even if you are “smart enough” to figure it out, you need the shortcut. You must get the answer in time. You must get the answer efficiently. Correct in 2 minutes is better than correct in 6 minutes.

Test Day Preparation

On an adaptive test, you must test under your personal optimal test conditions on test day. You must eat properly, have enough sleep, and take the test the right time of day to get your maximum score. If you are under less-than-optimal conditions, you will get a less-than-optimal score for you. The adaptive test does not test your brain’s grasp of knowledge or information. The adaptive test tests your brain’s meaningful output for a specific two-hour period of a specific day. You must maximize your brain’s output for the two hours by preparing properly.

A Standard Note Taking Strategy

The GMAT is adaptive and fluid, but the types of questions are very standardized. You should have a specific strategy for dealing with each type of problem including exactly what you will write down and how. The test is very heavy on organized efficient information processing, so keeping information organized is critical. Often the answer is obvious, but hidden among extraneous information. If you have the information organized, you can reach the answer fast, which is just as important as being correct.

You must stick to your note taking strategy. You will be tempted to try to answer a question that looks easy without writing down your standard quick notes. By the time you realize you cannot answer in your head, you have wasted time, which means you already lowered your score. Start each question off right with good quick notes. Process the GMAT efficiently with standardized note taking.

Notes make every piece of information you process valuable. Say for example you can only narrow down to two possibilities. As you frustrate yourself over the remaining two possible answers – forgetting which two answers are possible! – and decide to guess because of time, if you have taken good notes, then you know for certain which two answers to guess from and raise your odds of answering correctly in the minimum possible time, efficiently. Get credit for all of your work with good notes.

The GMAT is a Brain Race

The GMAT tests the speed at which you process information. To this extent, it is a race. However! We all know that racing leads to mistakes. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Disciplined speed is key. Efficiency is the name of the game. Easy question ≠ easy and easy question ≠ fast. Easy question = time for the next question = time for you to score points on higher-difficulty questions later, but you have to get it correct first.

Practice with a Timer, Always

Time is such an important factor on the GMAT, you should always practice with a timer. On each practice question, you should know whether you were right or wrong and you should know how long it took you. Whether you were right or wrong, you should be looking for ways to be right faster. Time is score. You can only improve your rate and efficiency if you know what your time is.

Critically, practicing with a timer is more fun.

Use GMAT Testing Material to Take the GMAT!

The GMAT quantitative test has a bunch of rate questions on it. Use testing rate in your GMAT testing strategy! Who ever said this stuff doesn’t have real-life applications?!?!

Practical Time / Rate Strategy

You want to “think like a test maker,” but at the end of the day, you are a test taker so you want to implement a practical strategy. My printable strategy page is here. As you can see, time is just a small portion and is very simple, but it is important and you should always be passively aware of the time.

Conclusion and Summary of GMAT Time

This looks like a lot of strategy, energy, and preparation time for a small advantage. However, the point is to implement a practical strategy to ensure you have the appropriate time on the test to demonstrate all the other studying and preparation you have done. Your time strategy is a tiny portion of each problem on the test, but it affects every problem on the test. Implement a simple time strategy to ensure you

  1. pace yourself on the test as a whole and
  2. watch for outliers on each question by having a passive awareness of the time.

GMAT Study Diary 2020. Test Day = Friday, 14 February 2020

4 Jan, 41 days to test: general search, exam format, course reviews

5 Jan, 40 days to test: 3 hours of critical reasoning and Reading comprehension practice from GMAT 800.

6 Jan, 39 days to test: None.

7 Jan, 37 days to test: 3 hours sentence correction intro and practice.

8 Jan, 36 days to test: 1 hour math basics from Princeton Review book and 2 hours sentence correction in Kaplan GMAT 800.

9 Jan, 35 days to test: 2 hours of sentence correction practice.

10 Jan, 34 days to test: first practice exam. Exam 1 purchased from

Score : Verbal 45, 99%ile. Quantitative 44, 52%ile. Total 710, 91%ile. IR 4, 40%ile

The Kaplan GMAT 800 book definitely improved my verbal score compared to what it would have been. I did not think it was possible for me to do better on verbal than on quantitative. This week will definitely be focused on the quantitative portion. Going to go through the quantitative section of Kaplan GMAT 800 this week.

11-12 Jan: None, weekend.

13 Jan, 31 days to test: reviewed the 10 math answers I missed from Friday with a fresh brain. I missed some silly ones but there are two I still do not understand.

14 Jan, 30 days to test: None, (increased font of book).

15 Jan, 29 days to test: 3 hours practice math problems, planned out test day and day prior to test.

16 Jan, 28 days to test: spent morning applying to a job. Watched Manhattan first class. It was mind-numbing-ly slow and I had to skip through it although it had some neat tips (see description under prep materials review).

17 Jan, 27 days to test: second practice exam. Exam 2 purchased from

Score : Verbal 42, 96%ile. Quantitative 43, 50%ile. Total 690, 86%ile. IR 7, 82%ile.

I scored lower on both sections but I feel better about it overall. Snack plan worked great, need a bigger breakfast. The verbal was more realistic for a normal day. I feel like I can repeat it and it is still a good score. I finished verbal with 7 minutes remaining, maybe should have slowed down. Verbal: keep re-reading verbal strategies to strengthen. The quantitative was lower by one point, but I knew it was a bad run. I wasted 10 minutes on problem #3 that should have been medium-difficulty. I did at least get it right. I had to educated-guess throughout the remainder of the test to catch up. Bad run, near the same score, so on track. Still need to improve quantitative. Quantitative: 1. Must improve on data sufficiency. 2. Must improve inequalities (>, <) I am uncomfortable with them for some reason, especially in combination with square roots (+/-) and absolute values. 3. Must stick to writing clear variables with subscripts! 4. Permutations / combinations with and without repeats.

Thinking back on the four days to study, I only really studied two of the days because Tuesday I reformatted my book, Thursday I spent the morning taking a test for a job application. Moving future practice tests to Saturday morning to get an extra study day and more quiet for test.

18 Jan, 26 days to test: some review of math.

19 Jan, 25 days to test: none, Sunday.

20 Jan, 24 days to test: geometry word problems from GMAT 800.

21 Jan, 23 days to test: 4 hours of math, fully reviewed all math problems missed on both practice tests with Aaron.

22 Jan, 22 days to test: full 5 hours+ of math, especially data sufficiency. Today began using “time per question” / “testing rate” as useful test taking strategy.

23 Jan, 21 days to test: 1 hour of quantitative practice, mostly data sufficiency, almost finished with GMAT 800 book. Printed strategy sheet to continuously review over the next 3 weeks.

24 Jan, 20 days to test: third practice test. I was very tired taking the test, 4 hours of sleep. Verbal dropped a little again, but it was a bad run with little or no practice. I can get back to where I started with a good run. The first run really was a great run that is verified. Math improved a lot and I finally felt comfortable. I am on the right track. More practice on specific points will improve math again for sure. The time strategy was critical and I executed it very well on this run. I quit on 3 or 4 of the math problems at just the moment of diminishing returns and finished all three sections comfortably with under a minute remaining. I felt like I used my time wisely. The next run should be over 710 or something went wrong. Integrated reasoning improved again just by being familiar with the question types. I have not practiced IR at all outside the tests.

Score : Verbal 41, 94%ile. Quantitative 47, 63%ile. Total 710, 91%ile. IR 8, 93%ile.

25 Jan – 9 Feb: took a detour and studied for the GRE. Took the GRE on 3 Feb then finished applications to engineering grad school.

10 Feb, 4 days to test: finished math portion of the GMAT 800 book. Completed the data sufficiency word problems.

11 Feb, 2 days to test: took practice test 4. The math is really tough to improve. Felt like it was a decent run on both.

Score : Verbal 42, 96%ile. Quantitative 44, 52%ile. Total 710, 91%ile. IR _, __%ile.

13 Feb, day before test: review notes and strategies in order to stick to the plan.

14 Feb, Test Day

My score: Verbal 40, 90%ile. Quantitative 44, 49%ile. Total 690, 85%ile. IR 8, 92%ile.

It felt like a bad verbal run and it was indeed my worst. To be honest, it felt like a good quant run but it was my worst! The integrated reasoning felt like a good run and it was tied for my best. IR is closely tied to paying attention I would say so I think that factored in. I’ll have a writing score, we’ll see in a few weeks!

What could I have done to improve my score? I would say an in-person math prep course would have been good. There are some tricks to the math that I could have picked up a lot of points on.

  • Passport
  • Snacks:
    • Nutsbars
    • Bananas
    • Gatorade or juice.
  • Eat and coffee at 1 of many restaurants just east of test center.
    • Rua Pequetita, 5 – Vila Olímpia, São Paulo – SP, 04552-060
  • Test center: Rua Helena, 260 – Vila Olímpia, São Paulo – SP, 04552-050, Brazil
    • Close to estação Vila Olímpia
    • ~1 hour from Bela Vista by Metro, 40 minutes by Uber.
  • Leave apartment at 5:45 to arrive near test center ~6:45 in time for breakfast and coffee, test starts at 8.

Why I Wrote This

It took time to write this. Was it worth it? Yes. Because:

  1. Organized my notes and solidified my strategy.
  2. I can send the link to help future test takers.
  3. The GMAT is testing strategy, not just math and English!

The Best Things in Life are Free

I spent a lot of time and energy preparing for the GMAT, but not a lot of money. Considering the amount of time I spent, I was willing to invest a lot of money to maximize the preparation value. However, I found that the best resources were also the cheapest.’s material is by far the least expensive and it is also the most representative of the real thing as the official source. Kaplan’s courses cost a lot of money, but the Kaplan GMAT 800 book gave me weeks of the best preparation I could ask for. I scrutinized every strategy they outlined in detail, at my own pace, and in a book that doesn’t have the distractions of a computer.

Produce. Persevere. Own. Succeed. Fail. Care. Do. Learn. Win.