GMAT Tip of the Week: Why Tom Brady Went To Michigan and Rex Ryan Went To SW Oklahoma State

As though Snooki and Glenn Beck weren’t enough proof that America is a sucker for a loudmouth, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has made himself a household name (and a YouTube sensation) this season by talking.  Accordingly, you probably know that the Jets will play the New England Patriots this Sunday in the NFL Playoffs, and you may well perceive this as a huge rivalry game between two AFC powers, the way that Ryan wants you to see it.

If you’ve followed the press this week, you’ve likely seen that the Jets have launched a war of words on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, trying to drag the unflappable signal caller into a whirlwind of mudslinging.  Predictably, Brady would rather beat the Jets by slinging touchdown passes instead of mud, but to the rest of the world the one-sided exchange is at the very least entertaining. And to you, as a GMAT examinee, it can prove educational, as well.  Should you rather attend Ross, on the University of Michigan campus at which Tom Brady went to school, instead of Southwestern Oklahoma State, where Rex Ryan… can you call it “studied?”… you can take a lesson from how the two approach this weekend’s game.

Famously this week, Ryan criticized Brady for not watching the live telecast of the Jets-Colts game on Saturday, choosing instead to attend the football-themed Broadway production of “Lombardi” (evidently Andrew Lloyd Webber has not yet scored “Ryan: The Musical!”; or maybe it should be called “Footloose”).  Never mind that Brady attended a show named after the trophy he seeks to win, or that he earned the right to take a day off by winning enough games in the regular season to earn a bye in the playoffs.  What Brady was doing — and what will help you on the GMAT to attend a similarly-renowned university for your business studies — was being infinitely more efficient than Ryan.  While Ryan was appalled that Brady didn’t spend 4+ hours watching a live football game, Brady was intelligently waiting for his film crew (or his DVR) to cut out commercials, timeouts, halftime, huddles, coin flips, instant replays, special teams and Jets offense (Brady will only compete against their defense), and  the over 80% of the telecast that doesn’t pertain to Brady’s objective — pick apart the Jets defense like he did a couple weeks ago.

Ryan may not understand, but you should — the GMAT (and business as a discipline) rewards working smarter, not harder.  In Data Sufficiency form, we can better exemplify Brady’s decision:

Tom Brady needs to comprehensively analyze the Jets defensive alignments and tendencies from the Jets-Colts playoff game.  Will Tom be accordingly prepared by practice on Monday?

1) On Sunday, Tom will watch every defensive play and pause each defensive alignment from the Jets’ game.

2) On Saturday, Tom will watch every special teams and offensive play of the Jets’ game, along with commentary from Phil Simms and Greg Gumbel and a special halftime performance by the Goo-Goo Dolls.

Naturally, the answer here is A — Statement 1 ALONE is sufficient.  Choice C — Ryan’s choice — is incorrect, as it reads “Statements 1 and 2 TOGETHER but NEITHER ALONE is sufficient.”  The GMAT specifically rewards efficiency in Data Sufficiency choices — if you can accomplish your task with fewer resources, you must do so.

The Tom Brady method for taking the GMAT includes:

- Attempting to answer a DS question with one statement before settling on choice C and using both

- Using number properties and patterns to avoid tedious, time-consuming calculations

- Checking the answer choices before attempting a math problem so that you can determine whether an estimate or a plug-in of choices will be a more efficient method

- Preparing thoroughly so that you can  be calm and confident when pressure arises

As you prepare for your own Super Bowl against the GMAT, reflect on how Tom Brady has won Super Bowls and earned prestigious degrees: He’s done it with efficiency, working just as hard as anyone but getting more value out of his time by preparing smarter as well as harder.

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