I recently received the following question from a student. “I often get into trouble with ambiguous pronouns. If it is not clear what “they” or “it” refers to I eliminate the answer choice. I like to do this because it seems easy, but I keep getting burned using this technique. So my question is, if it is not clear what a pronoun refers to is that answer choice wrong?”
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Introduction, body paragraph, body paragraph, body paragraph, conclusion. Once you’ve mastered the basic five-paragraph format for short essays, it quickly begins to feel tiresome and overly basic. Fortunately, though the main themes of the five-paragraph essay are important to nearly all levels of academic or professional writing beyond high school. The five-paragraph essay itself becomes less and less relevant to school and work after graduation. However, there are plenty of things you can do to make simple five-paragraph essays (like the one assigned by the SAT) more impressive, interesting, and intricate. Here are a few.
If you’re taking the GMAT with the intent of applying to a top-tier business school, there’s a relatively fair chance that you’ll end up having/wanting to retake the GMAT. Which may sound horrible, but it’s true – in fact, several top schools note that their average students take the test more than twice, so if you see a frustrating score pop up during your first, second, or even third attempt don’t let yourself get too down. Rest assured that:
One common complaint that people have when finishing the GMAT is that they are mentally exhausted. Indeed the exam is a marathon that tests your overall endurance, but also your time management skills. You have about two minutes per question in the math section, and slightly less than that on the verbal part. Since timing is such an integral part of the exam, it’s important not to lose too much time on any specific question type on the exam. It’s perfectly natural to be more at ease with certain question types and thus process them faster than others, but you don’t want to have entire categories of questions you’re trying to avoid (or at least, not too many of them).
So you’ve taken a practice test and want to know how to use it to improve. You’re not alone, but actually you’re a step ahead of much of the competition! Read the various GMAT forums and you’ll see a lot of data dumps:
On my most recent CATs I scored 640, 610, 630, 580, and 620. What must I do to score 750+ for H/S/W???? Please Help!
Studying for GMAT sentence correction questions can seem like a primer on grammatical rules. This is because any given phrase could have a pronoun issue, or a verb agreement issue, or even a logical meaning issue. Most GMAT preparation involves at least some amount of time on the specific issues that are frequently tested on the GMAT. There is, however, one important rule that must always be adhered to and that cannot be easily pigeonholed. This rule should cross your mind on every single sentence correction problem you may see, and is often overlooked when speeding through practice questions. Quite simply: the underlined portion of the phrase must work seamlessly with the rest of the sentence.
While summer hasn’t officially started with the solstice coming in a few weeks, this post-Memorial-Day short week and a final farewell to winter weather has started the summer season in earnest for most Northern Hemispherians. And thus beginneth the season of sentences like:
It’s not only the heat but also the humidity.
Over the course of your GMAT exam, you’ll read thousands of words. Each Reading Comp passage, for example, will have ~300 of them; each Sentence Correction prompt will have ~40. And while you won’t spend much time reading the words in the Data Sufficiency answer choices, having long since internalized what each letter means, you’ll spend plenty of time poring over keywords in the question stem. You’ll need to process tons of words as you take the GMAT, but on most questions one word will make all the difference:
Sentence correction questions are among the least understood questions on the GMAT. Many native English speakers feel they can get by using their ears on sentence correction. However, the questions chosen on the GMAT generally have specific logical elements that must be evaluated in order to get to the right answer. Simply put, the grammar matters, but it’s more about the meaning than about the grammar.
So it’s Mother’s Day weekend, and all of us should be thanking our moms this weekend. For all kinds of things, of course, but for one that you may not have realized all these years growing up:
Your mom taught you one of the greatest Sentence Correction lessons you’ll ever learn.
When answering sentence correction problems on the GMAT, it’s very common to use your ear as a barometer of how the answer choice sounds. Particularly for native English speakers, this is often the number one way they approach any given sentence. The problem with this strategy is that sentence correction is often much more about the meaning than about the grammar. By extension, the test makers of the GMAT know they can fool many students by simply making the correct answer choice unappealing to the students’ ears (Won’t get fooled again!).
When preparing for the GMAT, there are many different types of questions that you must master. You know the verbal section will force you to answer questions about tedious passages, strengthen dubious arguments and correct unclear sentences. The ability to juggle these three elements will be paramount to your success as the question types are interspersed throughout the 75 minute verbal section. You cannot break down the exam into 25-minute sections each based on one broad topic and then move on. You don’t know what type of question is coming next, so you have to constantly be ready for any of the three major topics.
Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the Tip of the Week space, where today we’ll cover Sentence Correction’s most devious wordplay with the rap god of wordplay himself, Eminem. Fans of Slim Shady and connoisseurs of Sentence Correction alike will note the similarity between the two: sometimes, when you least expect it, a word all the way at the end will tie back so beautifully to one all the way at the beginning that it’s just mindblowing. In Eminem’s case, you have to rewind the track to listen to it again – did he really carry that rhyme all the way back like that?! – but on the GMAT you can’t rewind, so it’s important to heed Marshall’s advice well before you put on those noise-reduction headphones (Beats by Dre?) at the test center and zone into the verbal section:
Two weeks ago I wrote an article about whether the GMAT was hard. It is a question I get asked regularly from many different students with many different interpretations of what “hard” actually means. On test day, you may get a question that seems impossible to solve, and yet most other students get it right. This means that the question wouldn’t be considered difficult by the GMAT (say a 500 level question), but for you it seemed exceptionally difficult. The notion of difficulty is thus subjective, and while many would argue that the GMAT is hard, I have a much simpler explanation I have been postulating for the past couple of years:
As Hip Hop Month rolls along in the GMAT Tip space, we’ll pass the torch from classic artists to the future, today letting Drake take the mic.
March has traditionally been “Hip Hop Month” in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, so with March only hours away and winter weather gripping the world, let’s round up to springtime and start Hip Hop March a few hours early, this time borrowing a page from USC-Marshall Mathers. There are plenty of GMAT lessons to learn from Eminem. He’s a master, as are the authors of GMAT Critical Reasoning, of “precision in language“. He flips sentence structures around to create more interesting wordplay, a hallmark of Sentence Correction authors. But what can one of the world’s greatest vocal wordsmiths teach you about quant?
Everyone who takes the GMAT wants to get a good score. The exact definition of “good” varies from student to student and from college recruiter to college recruiter. However no one can argue that scoring in the top 1% of all applicants can be considered anything less than a good score. Getting into your local university’s business program may not require a terrific score, but it can’t hurt to have one.
Happy Valentine’s Day, a day when we honor the soulmate, that one special someone, the concept of true love and destiny. Valentine’s Day is about finding “the one” and never letting go, and this day itself is about being with that one you love, your one true destiny.
But if you think your destiny includes Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton, your Sentence Correction strategy should be a lot less “Endless Love” and a lot more “Love the One You’re With”. As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing directly about the art of GMAT Sentence Correction:
If you read part 1 of this article you know that multitasking can result in attention difficulties and problems with productivity. You may not think that all of this talk about decreased productivity and being distracted would apply to the GMAT; after all there is no chance to update your Facebook status and “tweet” during the test right? So this must have no impact. However, when it does come time to concentrate on just one thing – for example, the GMAT – researchers have found that multitaskers have more trouble tuning out distractions than people who focus on one task at a time.
The Winter Olympics start tonight in Sochi, and while journalists tweet about the less-than-ideal living conditions in the Russian resort town the athletes themselves have a job to do. Whether they’re skiing or luging or bobsledding, the vast majority of athletes will share one goal:
Get downhill quickly.
Properly identifying incorrect modifier constructions, which are common errors in Sentence Correction, is a key component in achieving a high score on the GMAT. Knowing that modifier errors are among the most common errors seen on the GMAT, the astute student carefully studies the rules of correctly using modifiers. These grammatical constructions, among the most difficult to spot at a glance, confuse students and frustrate test takers who haven’t adequately prepared for the exam.
One of the Critical Reasoning questions that students struggle with the most is the Roles of Boldface questions. This may be because they’re scarce (like diamonds), and therefore you aren’t likely to practice them as much as other question types. Or it may be because they ask you to differentiate among multiple definitions that all start to sound the same after a while. Is the first a position or is it an opinion, and is there any difference between those two? (Hint: there isn’t).
It’s a new year, which is often a good time for a new mindset. And if you’ve already decided that 2014 is the year for you to get serious about graduate school, the “hard work pays off” mindset is one you’ve already adopted. So before the year gets too old and habits get too hard to change, try adding one more new outlook to your study regimen (and your life) this year:
It has been said that everything is relative. Without getting too deep into the theory put forth by my friend Al(bert Einstein), your relative position and situation shapes your perception of things. A very common example of this is when students ask me “what difficulty level is this question?” I may find a question difficult and proclaim it’s a 700 level question. Another question seems more straightforward so I deem it a 500 level question. Granted, I have some credibility vis-a-vis GMAT difficulty level, but my opinion will be tainted by my relative strengths. I tend to consider arithmetic problems as simple and geometry problems as difficult primarily because of my personal preferences and abilities.
There goes another year. Faster than you can say “99th-percentile instructors,” 2013 has come and gone, leaving in its wake a trail of excellent Veritas Prep blog articles. As we start to wrap up the year here at Veritas Prep HQ, wrap our Secret Santa gifts, and prepare to break in the new hires at our annual holiday party, we thought this would be a good time to share some of our biggest news and most popular articles from the past year.
One of the things that makes Reading Comprehension difficult is the inclusion of so many words that you either don’t know or don’t spend much time thinking about. Triglyceride, germination, privatization, immunological.
But by the same token, certain words – those that you should think about regularly if you don’t already – can make your job exponentially easier. Consider, for example, these sentence fragments from the beginnings of official GMAT passages:
Do some of your best ideas come while you’re driving, running, taking a shower or just about to fall asleep? Have you ever spent what felt like an eternity reading a solution over and over again to no avail, only to revisit that problem a few days later and know how to do it almost so intuitively that just feels easy?
The SAT is a standardized test, which means that it aims to be an objective measure of performance for test-takers regardless of whether the test is taken in October or May and regardless of which version of the test is taken. The actual questions on the test might change, but the SAT needs to allow college admissions officer to confidently compare the score of a student who took the October SAT to the score of a student who takes the May SAT even though the two students will see different questions on the tests.
The holiday season is upon us in much of the world, and in the U.S. there is a special holiday this year called “Thanksgivikkah!” This is a combination of the words “Thanksgiving” and “Hanukkah” (The first full day of Hanukkah happens to be on November 28th this year – the same day as Thanksgiving in the U.S. This has never happened before and will not happen again in any of our lifetimes).
On a timed test like the GMAT, test-takers often fall victim to a simple fact about the way the English language works: we read from left to right.
Why is that? We’re often in such a hurry to make a decision on each answer choice that we make our decisions within the first 5-10 words of a choice without being patient and hearing the whole thing out. A savvy question creator – and rest assured that the GMAT is written by several of those – will use this against you, embedding something early in an answer choice and baiting you into a bad decision.
In many ways, critical reasoning questions best exemplify what the GMAT is all about. The exam is primarily an exercise in applying logic to various different situations. In the quant section, you must either find the correct answer or determine whether you have sufficient information to make a decision. On the verbal section, you must find the answer choice that logically completes the information given in the question stem. Even on the AWA and the IR, logic is again paramount to knowing how to proceed and getting a good score.
Some stories are best told in the first person, so forgive me for the break from journalistic standards. As a longtime GMAT instructor – 10th anniversary coming up next month actually – I most empathize with my students when I’m preparing for any big event of my own, usually running and triathlon races. The months of grinding preparation, the sleepless night before the event, that helpless “if I’m not ready by now I guess I’ll never be ready, so here goes nothing” last week before the big day… I get to feel what my students feel leading up to their GMAT, and symbiotically I can both learn more about that experience and benefit from the advice I’ve always given about the GMAT.
Have you ever finished a GMAT problem, read the explanation (or listened to your instructor give it), and thought “well how was I supposed to know ___________?!”?
If so, you’re not alone. Many test-takers become frustrated when the key to a tricky question falls outside the normal realm of math. How was I supposed to know to estimate? How was I supposed to know to flip the diagram over to notice that side AB could also be the base of this triangle? How was I supposed to know that the word “production” next to “costs” was going to be so important?
It’s the first day of class, and students are volunteering what they think of the GMAT. The typical sentiment goes something like: “Tough!” “Tricky stuff, hard to get a grasp on the logic,” or “I like ___ but really have trouble with ___.” Some just have a knowing smile that says “yeah, it’s a clever exam, but I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
Some concepts on the GMAT are absolute, while others can be a little nebulous. For example, the fact that there are 37 quantitative questions and 41 verbal questions is uncontestable. However, not all issues are as cut and dry.
I’ve read a strategy guide that recommended spending extra time on the first 10 questions because they’re worth more. I’ve read other guides saying that all the questions are weighed equally. Of course none of these books are the Official Guide, but even when I put it down, you know I’ll be back. When studying for a known test like the GMAT, it’s important to know what to look for and what to avoid (and also to be literate).
So we all know the GMAT is a “hard” exam, but just how hard is it supposed to be? Less hard than climbing Mt. Everest? Well, it depends what type of climber you are. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the GMAT and are hesitant about whether to even get started, let’s face a few home truths that will hopefully leave you feeling encouraged!
Did I just use “GMAT” and “fun” in the same sentence? While months of prepping for a standardized test may not sound like a weekend at Disneyworld, it doesn’t all have to be drudgery and disappointment. Here are some quick study ideas to make your GMAT sessions a little more entertaining.