We began last week with a quant trick demonstrating the 1st Thing GMAT Testmakers Don’t Want You to Know: they can do quant problems entirely in their heads! This was no doubt a carefully guarded secret, but now that it’s out there, it should take the intimidation factor of those difficult-looking quant problems down a notch or two.
In addition to that quant trick, there’s another kind of psychological barrier to GMAT success that we can knock down. One the GMAT test makers certainly don’t want you to know:
2. Complex Language Isn’t Written To Confuse, It’s Written To Clarify
This applies largely to the Verbal section. It’s probably the one psychological factor that seems the least intuitive, but it is essential to overcoming the typical intimidation many have when faced with a difficult passage. Dense language and surgical word choices are not there to stun test takers and make them unable to cope with the meaning, they are really there to create as precise an understanding as possible. Every word is chosen to give you, the reader, the clearest possible sense of the situation.
Your goal, therefore, is to simplify and rephrase all the information into a neat package that makes the most sense to you, without losing the precision of your understanding. Take the following Critical Reasoning stimulus:
“It is proposed to introduce mosquitoes into the wild with genetic alterations that destroy their disease-carrying capacity. In this way, the dangerous wild population could eventually be replaced with a harmless one without leaving room for another disease-transmitting type to flourish. One candidate gene would interfere with the mosquito’s finding mates; another would cause destruction of a disease parasite before the stage at which it could be transmitted; another would disable the mosquito’s own resistance to disease, so that it would die before transmitting the disease.”
It’s not a bad idea to simplify in terms that make sense to you, as long as you can keep the original logic clear. “A new type of disease-free mosquito may replace the old diseased types –thanks to new genes that either block their mating, kill the disease parasite, or kill any mosquito with the disease.”
But even upon reading the original you might notice that, while dense, it is not really that difficult to wrap your mind around what is happening. In fact, hopefully you recognize that, while it would have been possible to use simpler language, the words and phrasing used weren’t chosen for their ability to confuse, but for the clarity and precision they give to the situation. This knowledge will give you a major leg up on every other test taker for whom this is not well understood, and will blunt the sword the test maker hopes to fell you with. Because they really don’t want you to know this.
Check back soon for the reveal of the 3rd Thing The GMAT Makers Don’t Want You To Know.
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Joseph Dise has been teaching GMAT preparation for Veritas Prep for the last 4 years in Paris and New York City.