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?
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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.
Heading into this weekend’s giant Alabama vs. Texas A&M game, college football fans are probably as sick of hearing about Johnny Manziel as aspiring MBAs are of studying for the GMAT. But both, at least to some degree, are necessary evils – Manziel represents the best chance that football fans have of seeing someone other than Alabama playing for the national championship, and the GMAT is essential to a well-rounded MBA application. And there’s an overlap between the two – Manziel’s playing style can help you learn to beat the daunting GMAT the same way that he’s the only recent QB to beat that daunting Alabama defense. Here’s how summoning your inner Johnny Football can help you become Johnny (or Jenny) GMAT:
If you’ve had grand plans all summer of taking some time to focus on the GMAT so you can apply to business school, but you’ve gotten sidetracked with barbecues and weekends at the beach and other outdoor activities, you’re not alone. Summertime was made for procrastination and recreation. But as sure as every Target and Wal-Mart ad out there is advertising “Back to School” specials on notebooks and backpacks, whether you’re entering kindergarten or hoping to enter Harvard Business School soon, it’s back-to-school time, time to get on a more regimented study routine. If, like most students, you’ve let your study habits wane over the endless summer, here are five ways to get back in gear to hit those October Round 1 deadlines or the January Round 2 deadlines with a positive GMAT experience this fall:
The past perfect tense in a GMAT Sentence Correction question can subtly change the meaning of a sentence, making an answer choice incorrect, even if the verb agrees with its subject in number. The past perfect tense is often used to describe an action that was completed prior to another past action:
The Veritas Prep Question Bank offers unique insights in to the habits of GMAT test-takers; while students from around the world answer free GMAT practice questions, the Question Bank tracks patterns in the answers that the world selects, and in this series we’ll highlight valuable lessons that you can learn from the statistical analysis of how people choose their answers.
Studying for the GMAT in just one month is nobody’s idea of a party, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you’re locked in to your test date and need to make the best of a bad situation, wipe that perspiration off your brow and take a deep breath: it is possible to significantly improve your score in one month! In fact, depending on your latent test-taking, grammar, algebra, number properties, time management, and general cool-as-a-cucumber skills, you probably already have a LOT of the needed requirements found in a 700+ scoring GMAT test-taker. Here’s some quick tips to conquer content, strategy, and pacing in only 4 weeks.
Many concepts covered on the GMAT come up in every day conversation. One of the common mistakes frequently tested on the GMAT that people make mistakes with in colloquial speech is that lack of agreement between a subject and verb when the verb is placed before the subject (There’s a lot of reasons this happens…) People make this mistake regularly and no one really seems to notice it, but the GMAT thoroughly tests this type of mistake, so you likely will have had sufficient exposure to this scenario by test day.
A common question we get from students who have just completed our free GMAT practice goes something like this: “I just got a score of X, but I see that I got Y questions right and Z questions wrong… How can my score be so low/high?” Embedded in this question is a bit of a lack of understanding of how a computer-adaptive test (CAT) works. Let’s dig in…
There is a lot of value in keeping things simple. Simplicity is a beautiful thing, especially when combined with functionality. Think of the designs Apple comes up with (or at least did when Steve Jobs ran the show): products were simple, sleek, stylish, and routinely worked flawlessly. The appeal and popularity of these machines is steeped in how effortlessly they perform their functions, combining reliable functionality and timeless elegance.
Ah, summertime. Perhaps you’re spending this first-weekend-of-July at the Jersey Shore, or perhaps you have plans to watch baseball. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll run into an MVP comparison, and if you do you’re helping your GMAT verbal score more than you’ll ever know. Because the key to Sentence Correction success is the MVP comparison.
Last week, I introduced the idea of timing on the GMAT. Today, we will look at the technique which helped me a lot in reducing my stress and improving my time management. Have a look, take away the main methodology and please feel free to adjust certain parts of it to suit your own purposes.
GMAT students can now benefit from a new blog series featuring video tips from Veritas Prep’s own Director of Academic Programs, Brian Galvin. Last week, Brian helped us spot pronoun errors in Sentence Correction by ‘minding the gap.’ This week, we’ll learn about the adaptability and scoring of the GMAT.
GMAT students can now benefit from a new series featuring video tips from Veritas Prep’s own Brian Galvin. Last week, Brian reminded us to ‘mind the gap’ in critical reasoning, and today he’ll give us a look into pronoun errors.
Summer blockbuster season is upon us, and one of the joys of the movies is to go see an ambitious motion picture on the big screen and get immersed in a world of make-believe for a few hours (this kind of sounds like taking the GMAT, doesn’t it?). If you’re going by yourself or with another person, you can usually agree on a movie pretty quickly and be on your way. However, if you’ve ever tried to go see a movie with like six friends, it often becomes a case of Process of Elimination.
Not sure how to make adjustments in your GMAT study plan? Take this short quiz to find out what kind of student you are! Once you determine your study style, you can make small adjustments in your study plan to help you become more efficient in your GMAT prep!
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.