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Preparing to take the GMAT exam is a journey that requires patience, dedication and the ability to maintain focus over a long period. Taking the exam is the culmination of a long journey that may have lasted months if not years. The approaching test day has caused a few sleepless nights for many as that circled date on the calendar loomed ever closer. This entire experience might remind you of another similar rite of passage that many of us have gone through: The prom. (Unsubstantiated rumor: new American Pie movie will revolve around taking the GMAT)
On the GMAT, an exam about reasoning and logic, there are few things more frustrating than long sentences punctuated by a host of modifiers, particularly prepositional phrases, participial phrases and appositive phrases, to say nothing of relative clauses. Sentence correction questions are about making sure there are no mistakes in a given sentence, and the more commas and modifiers a sentence has, the more difficult it is to ascertain whether or not it is structured correctly (hint: ~80% of the time, it’s not).
It’s the last Friday in March, and all good things must come to an end, including Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space. But if you’ve been reading along with us all month, hopefully your iPod or car stereo has become your best study partner. While you’re driving home from work and the Kanye/Good Music track “Clique” comes on, you might hear Jay Z’s verse and immediately start thinking about sequence problems:
Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week column, where we created this week’s tip by quoting Too Short in our production meeting. In short dog’s classic “Blow The Whistle” (also central to this article) he rhymes the fact that he’s in Miami, Houston and ATL with the line “Ask Dave Chappelle”. So we asked Dave – Dave, who’s a rapper who has something important to say about GMAT performance? And while at first he listed his top five as “Dylan, Dylan, Dylan…” he eventually pointed out the foibles of a former up-and-comer named Fisticuffs, whose struggles as a rapper directly parallel many GMAT students’ battles with the GMAT. If you haven’t seen Chappelle’s Fisticuffs skit, take a look:
When reading through diverse texts, it is not uncommon to see various portions highlighted in different forms. The use of italics has become ubiquitous with citing references or proper names, and the GMAT has no reserved denotation for Italics. Generally, text that is underlined needs to examined carefully, and the GMAT uses this method exclusively for sentence correction. However, nothing draws the eye like the use of boldface. The additional thickness of the characters makes every letter seem more important than the paler doppelgangers that share the page with them. (Beware: a letter with tiny goatee may be an evil twin of that letter. G is the most likely evil doppelganger)
A student recently asked me how she could have gotten such a low score on the verbal section when the questions seemed so easy. Here is my response:
I have had students in your situation before and let me say that sometimes when things feel too easy on the VERBAL section, it is when a person allows herself or himself to get caught by assumptions and easy answers and does not dig as deeply as they should. This often happens when students finish the VERBAL section too quickly or feel like it was easy.
Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where we’re shocked that in the years of doing this every March we’ve never yet mentioned Vanilla Ice, perhaps the greatest Sentence Correction rapper of all time (with apologies to Method Man and Dr. Dre). Before we explain why, let’s give Vanilla a chance (yo Vanilla – kick it one time, boyyyyyy):
It’s Oscar weekend here in Los Angeles, and that can only mean one thing:
The winner is…your GMAT verbal score.
How can this year’s Academy Awards improve your performance on GMAT Sentence Correction? Let’s look at the odds-on favorite to win Best Picture, Argo. The title alone, Argo, brings up two important points about GMAT Sentence Correction:
Vivian Kerr is a regular contributor to several GMAT and SAT websites, allowing her to flex her intellectual muscle while she is in between film and stage projects as an actress.
Pronoun-agreement is a concept we see quite often on GMAT Sentence Correction. Pronouns must have clear antecedents, meaning they can only refer to one noun in the sentence, and they must agree with their antecedents in number. Relative pronouns are special pronouns often used to link a dependent clause back to the main independent clause in a sentence. Relative pronouns include “that,” “who,” “whom,” “which,” “where,” “when,” and “why.” Luckily, you won’t need to identify them by name, but there are two rules that you should remember to help you use relative pronouns correctly, and eliminate Sentence Correction options using them incorrectly.
Today’s guest post comes from New England-based instructor David Newland. David has been teaching for Veritas Prep since 2006, and he won the Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year award in 2008. Students’ friends often call in asking when he will be teaching next because he really is a Veritas Prep and a GMAT rock star!
Believe it or not, 2012 is almost over. If you’re reading this, it means that the world hasn’t ended, and that at least some of us still have electricity and Internet access, so we’re ending on a good note! As we at Veritas Prep wind down the year, we thought we’d share some of our biggest news, best posts, and most interesting topics from the past 12 months.
Today’s post comes from Seckin Kara, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor from Turkey. Before reading, be sure to check out Part I from last week!
So how can we train ourselves to master the Sentence Correction section of the GMAT? Lesson materials are not enough to make up for the natural speed disadvantage non-natives have against native English speakers. Here is a relatively understated fact: In order to create homogenous sentence correction questions in their data bank, GMAC is in general putting similar incorrect sentence structures into all SC questions. Therefore, if you practice solving many questions it could give you the edge you are missing. I will be bold here and suggest tackling 350 to 500 SC practice questions before exam day if you think you really need to improve your SC. The more the better, but don’t overkill yourself, after 300+ questions you should check your performance and decide at some point that you improved enough.
For many GMAT test-takers, one of the most challenging tasks on the exam is that of weeding through the clutter on Sentence Correction questions to arrive at an actionable decision point. So many Sentence Correction questions involve a lot of dense language and not-altogether-enjoyable subject matter, and as a result students spend a lot of time spinning their wheels trying to even get going.
Vivian Kerr is a regular contributor to several GMAT and SAT websites, allowing her to flex her intellectual muscle while she is in between film and stage project as an actress.
The best thing about Sentence Correction on the GMAT is that it’s easy to improve quickly by memorizing and reviewing certain grammar fundamentals we know the GMAT loves to test. The more familiar you are with the concept of singular/plural, parallelism, pronouns and their antecedents, etc. the better you’ll do! One of the most fundamental concepts you’ll need to understand about English grammar is what makes a complete sentence (i.e. an independent clause).
Today, we introduce a new guest contributor. Seckin Kara has been a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep since 2006. He began teaching in Providence, RI when he was a student at Brown and upon graduating, he went on to teach for us in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. After years of finance and banking, he left that career to pursue his passion of education forged largely from his interactions with Veritas Prep students, and can soon be found teaching GMAT classes in his homeland of Turkey.
Many test-takers lament the very presence of Sentence Correction questions, feeling overwhelmed as they study grammar rules and still overwhelmed as they look at practice questions and cannot determine where to start. Sentence Correction can be daunting – the English language is far from binary in its usage (“I before E except after C”…and even that has a bunch of extra caveats), and the questions themselves are specifically designed to make finding your Decision Points difficult.
As Twitter has confirmed, the real winner in this week’s U.S. Elections was Nate Silver, the statistician behind fivethirtyeight.com and the prognosticator who called nearly every national race correctly, save for one senate race in North Dakota. Famously, he predicted each state’s presidential race correctly and he’s risen to prominence with a role on the New York Times and with his new book “The Signal and the Noise.” So with Nate Silver taking statistical analysis to heights that Moneyball only hoped to, it’s only fitting that we close this week by summoning our inner Silver and taking a statistical dive at GMAT questions.
Polling isn’t new, nor is statistical analysis. So why is Nate Silver so much more successful than others when it comes to using statistics to project outcomes? If we understood completely, we’d be writing a different article for a lot more money on a more-heavily-trafficked blog, but the layman’s answer is largely that he takes time to determine which statistics are most relevant to the outcome, and focuses his energy on those. And that’s what you should do when you analyze your GMAT practice tests and consume information about the GMAT – cut to the most meaningful statistics and focus your energy there.
Part of delivering the world’s best GMAT prep course is offering the best tools and resources for our students. For the past ten years we have offered more GMAT practice tests than any other major GMAT preparation provider in the world (15 tests, to be exact). But practice tests are not a “set it and forget it” affair… The real GMAT constantly evolves, adds new questions, retires others, and (as as the case in June, with Integrated Reasoning) even introduces entirely new question formats. So no company can sit back and let its practice tests collect dust — if the tests aren’t changing, then they’re not the best in the business.
As part of our ongoing commitment to build, maintain, and refine the best computer-adaptive GMAT practice tests available anywhere, earlier this month we launched our new GMAT Question Bank. This new resource contains hundreds of realistic, completely free GMAT practice questions.
We’re back with the next installment in an occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam. Today we feature another post from Jen Begasse, a GMAT instructor in New Brunswick.
My GMAT students tend to be busy people juggling a lot of responsibilities and activities, and so I am always looking for ways to help them be hyperefficient… especially on GMAT problems! So with efficiency on my mind, I’d love to be able to figure out a way to help my students shortcut their way through Sentence Correction. For example, if we read a Sentence Correction passage and the underlined portion of it sounds reasonable enough, can’t we avoid reading the four other possible answer choices, select “A” (the original answer choice), bank a couple of minutes to save for the next tricky Critical Reasoning problem, and move on with our lives?
We’re back with the next installment in an occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam.
What does it take to be successful on the GMAT? What habits do successful test takers employ? Well, we asked Veritas Prep instructors worldwide to see what they had to say.
Jill Witty – San Francisco, CA
“Sometimes I’ll encounter a question that makes me angry or that riles me up in some way. For instance, I’ll read a Sentence Correction problem in which I believe all of the choices are poorly worded. In those situations, I have to remind myself to take a deep breath. The GMAT is a completely rational exercise, and allowing your emotions to interfere will only inhibit your ability to find the right answer. Even if I don’t like any of the answer choices, one of them has to be the most right (or least wrong) among them, and it’s my job to find that one answer. My getting angry at the writers of the test is not going to change that!”
We’re back with the next installment in an occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam. This new series brings some of their best insights to you. Today we have another installment from John Chismody, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor in Pittsburgh.
Give this GMAT Sentence Correction question a try:
From studies of the bony house of the brain, which is the cranium, located in the back of the skull, come what scientists know about dinosaur brains.
We’re back with the next installment in an occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam. This series brings some of their best insights to you. Our latest tip comes courtesy of Brian Prestia, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor in New York.
Studying for the GMAT is a cumulative process. The problem is that most people study for 3 months or more, usually balancing studying for the GMAT with working full-time. So gains that you make in your studies today may very well be forgotten in a few weeks time, especially given that the kind of thinking that is required on the GMAT is not the kind of thinking that you do on an every day basis.
We’re back with the second installment in an occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam. This new series brings some of their best insights to you. Our second tip comes courtesy of Bobby Umar, a Veritas Prep GMAT prep instructor in Toronto.
“You got big dreams? You want Fame? Well Fame costs, and right here is where you start the pain…and sweat”
– Debbie Allen, Fame TV show
I came up with this model after having taught thousands of different GMAT students over the past decade. In every case, students who have had trouble with the GMAT have done so due to one of the following issues. If you want to succeed on the GMAT, you need to make sure that you covered your bases with each of the elements in the model.
Today we introduce a new occasional series on the Veritas Prep Blog, called “GMAT Gurus Speak Out.” Veritas Prep has dozens of experienced GMAT instructors around the world (all of whom have scored in the 99th percentile on the GMAT), and it’s amazing how much collective experience they have in preparing students for the exam. This new series brings some of their best insights to you. Our first tip comes courtesy of Brian Kalar, a Veritas Prep GMAT prep instructor in St. Louis.
On the GMAT, Sentence Correction can seem intimidating if you don’t approach it correctly. Each of us makes several mistakes each day in grammar and usage. In fact, I try to point out to my classes in the first meeting that it would be nearly impossible to speak with GMAT-perfect grammar and usage even in teaching the class! So, how then can we be expected to strive for perfection on test day?
Today Veritas Prep GMAT prep instructor extraordinaire David Newland provides some insights on overcoming anxiety on test day. Read on… This is really interesting advice that can significantly improve your performance and help you reach your maximum potential on the GMAT!
For the last 15 years a wave of laughter has swept across one of the largest countries in the world. Why are so many people in India laughing? Is it because they have just spoken to some American and are amazed at the crazy way that most Americans speak “English”? No. The laughter is coming from “laughing clubs” where people practice “laughter yoga.” Now maybe those of you who have not heard of laughter yoga are laughing a bit at the whole concept… That would be music to the ears of Dr. Kataria the founder of laughter yoga.
Repeatedly in this space, you’ve read the theme “Think Like the Testmaker,” an important mantra for success on the GMAT. Also important – knowing precisely what that means, and what it doesn’t. The Veritas Prep emphasis on “Think Like the Testmaker”:
- DOES NOT mean that you somehow need to play mindreader, that GMAT questions are subjective and if you don’t share the testmaker’s opinion or style you’ll get questions wrong. GMAT questions are binary – there are four incorrect answers and one correct answer every time. Even if a question asks you to select “the best” answer, you’re really trying to select “the correct” answer. The other four will be fatally flawed.
All of the hoopla leading up to the introduction of the GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning section makes this month feel very much a part of 2012. Every four years we hear all about the summer Olympics, and then roll from that right into the U.S. presidential elections… And don’t forget that it’s a leap year.
It seems that the world saves special events for years that are divisible by four, and GMAC went along with the plan by waiting until 2012 to introduce its biggest change to the GMAT is nearly two decades. The new Integrated Reasoning section goes live on June 5, but judging by all of the chatter, it feels like it’s been here for months already. “Why the big change to the test?” everyone has been asking.
Read that sentence from the title again (please…in honor of Mothers Day we should certainly mind our Ps and Qs!): Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Does that make any sense?
Not at all, but grammarians have to admit that *grammatically* it’s not a flawed sentence, in that it proceeds with Adjective, Adjective, Plural Noun, Plural Verb, Adverb. This sentence, coined by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures, shows the necessity in language of not merely grammatical correctness, but logical meaning as well. And as you’ll note, this concept of “logical meaning” is one that has become increasingly common in these GMAT-themed blog circles of late, and one that has traditionally appeared on this blog in years past. Consider another, more GMAT-relevant sentence:
As you study for the GMAT, it is important that you recognize that the GMAT is not a test of memory or knowledge, but rather of higher-order thinking, problem solving, and true understanding. If you’ve begun studying at the memorization/knowledge level, you may already be appalled at the title of this post (“Being! It’s wrong…it’s wrong!”). But that title – which employs correct usage of “being” – should indicate a better way of studying for a reasoning-based test. In this post, we’ll explain how.
First things first: Dr. Lawrence Rudner is considered by most to be the guru of the GMAT. He oversees the administration of the GMAT for the Graduate Management Admissions Council, shaping the scoring algorithm and the direction of question creation and implementation. So as you aspire to “Think Like the Testmaker” to fully understand the GMAT and how to succeed on it, in a way you’re hoping to think as much like Dr. Rudner as possible. Hopefully you learned in high school and college that the topics most favored by your professor were the most likely to appear on the exam; similarly, on the GMAT, if you can understand how questions are written and what they are trying to assess, you can become a much more effective studier and examinee.
If you have not yet encountered the term “intended meaning” in your GMAT study, you are free -and encouraged – to skip this post! But if you have, this point is worth learning. While many GMAT books and websites – including the Official Guide for GMAT Review in some of its solutions – provide as rationale for eliminating answer choices that they “distort the intended meaning” of the sentence, beware that the concept of “intended meaning” is dangerous if you use it to solve problems. Consider, as evidence, the following answer choices from an official GMAT problem:
It’s hard to believe that 2011 has already come and gone. Why do these years seem to keep going by faster and faster? As we at Veritas Prep wind down the year, we thought we’d share some of our most popular posts and most interesting topics from the past 12 months.
We hope that this blog has provided you with some useful insights as you’ve studied for the GMAT or slaved over your grad school applications. Sometimes we have a little fun, and sometimes we veer off topic to talk about what interests us, but everything written here comes from the same place: We want to help you be successful in your pursuit of grad school and in your career overall!
Watching the Republican Party presidential primary race take shape over the past six months, we can’t help but think of one of our favorite GMAT sentence correction lessons. Seemingly forever, Mitt Romney has been the lead horse in the race, but voters have never quite seemed to embrace him. One month it was Michele Bachmann who seemed to be a more popular alternative, the next it was Rick Perry. Then, Herman Cain uttered the phrase “9-9-9″ and became the next candidate to potentially overtake Romney, and now it’s New Gingrich’s turn. Before we finish writing this post, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman will probably get their turns, too.
There seems to be the pervasive feeling about Romney that, while many Republican voters like him, not many love him as their nominee. They keep one hand on the “Romney” lever in the election booth, but always have an eye out for someone who’s potentially better. If you’ve done enough Sentence Correction problems on the GMAT, this may sound familiar to you.
This is a big week here at Veritas Prep! We’ve just announced the availability of our new GMAT on Demand app for the iPad, the first full GMAT course from an established GMAT prep company that can be completed on any iOS device! There is no shortage of flashcard apps and games for people who want to study for standardized tests on their mobile devices, but this is the first real, complete GMAT course for the iPad.
Veritas Prep has been a pioneer in the mobile prep space. We launched our free GMAT Practice Quiz app in early 2009, and to this day it remains the most widely download GMAT prep app of its kind. That app is great for practice — as are many other apps on the market — but it doesn’t provide real instruction, which is where our new GMAT on Demand app comes in. Our new app covers the same exact content that we cover in our 42-hour Veritas Prep on DemandTM self-paced online GMAT course. This is the real deal.
In today’s blog post, our author describes how to get what you need from your GMAT preparation… even if you don’t always find that you get exactly what you want.
“I saw her today at the reception…”
As an aspiring MBA reading a blog about the GMAT and MBA admissions, you may read that quote and immediately wonder: Who was “she”? Was it Dee Leopold, dean of admissions at Harvard? Or Soojin Koh, dean of admissions at Ross? What did she say? Did she give away the secret to a good career-changer essay? Is round two actually better than round one? And what was this reception? Why wasn’t I invited?
As we’ve noted often in this space, the GMAT is a test of higher-order thinking, one of “how you think” and not “what you know.” Even in our recent debrief of a conference hosted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, we highlighted GMAC’s emphases on reasoning and higher-order thinking.
Much has been made of the recent “revelation” from this month’s GMAT Summit, in which the Graduate Management Admission Council provided some updates on the recent evolution of Sentence Correction problems on the GMAT. What was stated as (we’ll loosely paraphrase here) “years ago we starting moving away from questions that unduly put emphasis on idioms, especially those that give native English speakers an unfair advantage,” was misinterpreted by some to mean, “Effective now, we’re no longer testing idioms on the GMAT! Ready, set, GO!”
The GMAT prep world is a small, incestuous one. It was only a matter of hours before chatter picked up on various message boards and in other online channels. And boy, did it ever. We did our part to spread the word, but today GMAC’s Dr. Lawrence Rudner posted an official statement on its blog to clarify any misconceptions that are still out there.
In this week’s GMAT Tip, our instructor shows how thinking about the test as a whole can accelerate your understanding of its individual parts, and more importantly how that can help you study efficiently and effectively.
At Plymouth-Salem High School in the 1990s, a chemistry teacher by the name of Mr. Barnes was a divisive character. He may not have been anyone’s absolute favorite teacher (read: he never brought in candy, showed movies, or held class outside, the three cornerstones of favorite-high-school-teacherdom) but he was most certainly some students’ least and a beloved figure for others. He challenged students with rigorous standards and assertive discipline.
Last week, representatives from Veritas Prep attended the biannual GMAT Summit, hosted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). The following is a report, focusing on what you can learn that will help you on the GMAT.
In the 1980s there was E.F. Hutton (corporate ad slogan: “When he talks, people listen”). In the 1990s, it was Alan Greenspan, whose mere words could shake the financial markets in nearly any direction. In the GMAT industry, that “when he talks, people listen” voice belongs to Dr. Larry Rudner of GMAC, and Dr. Rudner last week hosted a full-day’s event in which he and other GMAC representatives offered valuable insight into the GMAT today, tomorrow, and beyond. The highlights:
The GMAT is a REASONING test, not a knowledge test