The GMAT is more than just a math or verbal test – it’s a reasoning test. And so it’s important to think not merely about content, but also about the strategy games that the authors of these questions play with that content. One mantra to keep in mind is “Think Like the Testmaker”, reminding yourself to pay just as much attention to why the wrong answer you chose was tempting (how did the author trick you) as to why the correct answer was right.
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Last year, I wrote an article for this blog discussing the pros and cons (and pros and cons and pros) of cancelling your GMAT score. At the time, you had to sit through an entire 3+ hour exam, go through every question asked and then be offered the possibility of cancelling your score without ever knowing what your grade would have been.
A student recently asked, “How do I learn to focus long enough to make my study sessions worthwhile? While studying for the GMAT I can only study for about an hour at a time.”
My response is, “This is a clearly a problem, not just for study sessions but also for the GMAT itself which requires 4 straight hours of focus.
Today we will bust some SC myths using a question. The following are the myths:
Myth 1: Passive voice is always wrong.
Active voice is preferred over passive voice but that doesn’t make passive voice wrong.
Myth 2: The same pronoun cannot refer to two different antecedents in a sentence.
The most common question type that people tend to waste time on is Reading Comprehension. More than any other question type on the GMAT, students report reading and rereading the same sections of a passage, only to find themselves at the bottom of the page having retained no information. There are many reasons for this, from fatigue to mental inertia to daydreaming about the end of this test. However, it’s fairly common to have not internalized all the information in the passage, and still be able to answer the question asked.
I recently had the chance to answer a question about overcoming Test Anxiety on the GMAT. The test-taker wanted to know how to avoid being so anxious on test day and how to stop obsessively thinking about the score before and even during the exam itself.
I wrote, “Your job on test day is to focus on the question in front of you. Not to guess at what your score might be or continually estimate how much time you have left per question.
Today, we have a very interesting statistics question for you. We have already discussed statistics concepts such as mean, median, range etc in our QWQW series. Check them out here if you haven’t already done so:
Totes McGotes. FML. Sorry for partying. I know, right? Of the common phrases that have permeated pop culture and everyday conversation, easily one of the most common is, wait for it…
Wait for it.
And that one phrase can totes make your GMAT score supes high. Like, for real.
One of the most difficult tasks on the GMAT is to properly interpret what the question is really asking. The GMAT is loaded with dense terminology, accurate but irrelevant prose and confusing technical jargon (and that’s just the instruction page!) The verbiage is dense on purpose, with the deciphering of the information part of the skills being tested. And since this task only gets more challenging as you get more tired throughout the exam, it’s important to recognize the vocabulary used on the GMAT. To borrow from geek culture, you need to understand the GMAT 1337 speak.
Today, as promised last week, we will look at a couple of questions involving participle modifiers. We will take one question in which you should use the participle and another in which you should not.
Some sentence structures seemingly stupefy scholarly students. One of the main reasons the GMAT chooses to test logic through sentence correction is that the rules of grammar are much more flexible than most students realize. We (hopefully) remember some of the basic rules of sentences. Sentences should have a subject and a predicate, but you can often shorten sentences in specific contexts. Like this. The rules we’ve learned in high school are relevant, but (to paraphrase Pirates of the Caribbean) they’re more like guidelines.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the topic of Participles so let’s take a look at it today.
Quite simply, participles are words formed from verbs which can be used as describing words (on the other hand, gerunds are verbs used as nouns, but that is a topic for another day!).
There are two types of participles:
1) What is the VIN number on your car?
2) What is your health insurance policy number?
3) What day does Daylight Savings Time start this coming spring?
If you’re like most people, your answer to all three is “I’d have to look that up.” And if you’re like most successful GMAT test-takers, that should be your answer to most Reading Comprehension questions, too. Particularly for questions like:
Succeeding on the GMAT requires a great many things. Firstly, you must be able to decipher and solve complex logic puzzles in mere minutes. Secondly, you must be able to maintain focus for many consecutive hours. (And thirdly, you must pay to take the exam). The exam can be particularly tricky because the questions asked are rarely straight forward. Indeed, all of these elements are often linked (except potentially the payment) on questions that ask you to decode functions specific to the question at hand.
Starting this Monday, October 6th, you can benefit from various sample GMAT prep classes taught by Veritas Prep’s course creator and Vice President of Academics, Brian Galvin. Over the course of next week, we will be offering an introductory session to the GMAT as well as sample Critical Reasoning and Data Sufficiency classes.
We have read a lot about one way of handling complex questions – simplify them to a question you know how to solve. Here is another way – first do what you do know, and then figure out the rest!
We know that basic concepts are twisted to make advanced questions. Our aim is to break down the question into two parts – ‘the basic concept’ and ‘the complexity’. You can either deal with the complexity first and then glide through the basic concept or you can glide through the basic concept first and then face the complexity. The method you use will depend on the question. If the question seems too complex at the outset, it means you will have to deal with the complexity first. If the question seems familiar but has some extra not-so-familiar elements, it means you should get the familiar out of the way first. Let’s take a question today to see how to do that.
It all looked so obvious: a storybook ending preordained from the beginning, some early success and a bit of good fortune leading to a glorious success story. But wait! Then fate intervened, and the easiest part of all had something different to say. And only then was true glory to be had, a glory much greater than that inevitable win ripped away just moments ago.
There is one feeling that hampers momentum and takes all the wind out of your sails on the GMAT. That feeling is the thrill of quickly eliminating three incorrect answer choices on a question, followed by complete uncertainty between the last two choices. This paralysis is very frustrating, because your progress is halted in dramatic fashion, and you’re left with two options that both seem to make perfect sense as the correct answer.
Most of us know that GMAT is a shrew, (euphemism for a more choice adjective that comes to mind!) and is very hard to tame. It is well established that it is able to give a pretty accurate estimate of aptitude with just a few questions, and that the only way to “deceive” it is by actually improving your aptitude! It has numerous tricks up its sleeves to uncloak a rather basic player.
Ah, autumn. The busiest GMAT season of the year as application deadlines and back-to-school nostalgia fill the air, and that season always coincides with Major League Baseball’s pennant races and playoffs. And whether you’re a baseball fan or not, as an aspiring MBA you’ll find a fair amount of overlap between the two, as both the GMAT (and business) and baseball prominently feature the art of probability.
Questions on the GMAT can be described in many different ways. I’ve heard them described as everything from juvenile to vexing, simple to impossible. One term that appears very infrequently as a characteristic of the questions on the GMAT is the word “clear”. Indeed, some questions are so convoluted that they appear to be written in Latin (or Aramaic if you happen to already speak Latin). This is not a coincidence or an accident; many GMAT questions are specifically designed to be vague.
Today we continue to look at ways to achieve that much desired score of 51 in Quant. Obviously, we don’t need Sheldon Cooper’s smarts to realize that for that revered high score, we must do well on the high level questions but the actual question is – how to do well on the high level questions?
I’ve often contemplated who would excel at the GMAT. After all, the exam is about logic, analytical skills, problem-solving abilities and time management. Surely to shine on the exam a test taker should be smart, methodical, insightful and perceptive (and blindingly handsome). Clearly, some people have done quite well on this exam, but others never got the chance because they never actually took the test. While some have been intimidated by the nature of the test, others simply were born too early to have even heard of this exam.
The GMAT is of course one of the most important components of the application process, so there is little else more devastating than not doing well on it. Often, applicants find their actual performance is below their practice exams, leaving them not only bewildered and shocked, but also desperate with anxiety. Schools know how tough the test is, and expect to see applicants who have taken it more than once, but a common question always seems to be: how many times is too many? It might help to first discuss how schools look at the test overall.
Read the following sentences:
- About 70 percent of the tomatoes grown in the United States come from seeds that have been engineered in a laboratory, their DNA modified with genetic material not naturally found in tomato species.
- The defense lawyer and witnesses portrayed the accused as a victim of circumstance, his life uprooted by the media pressure to punish someone in the case.
- Researchers in Germany have unearthed 400,000-year-old wooden spears from what appears to be an ancient lakeshore hunting ground, stunning evidence that human ancestors systematically hunted big game much earlier than believed.
Which grammatical construct is represented by the underlined portions of these sentences?
The GMAT is an intimidating test. Here are 3 strategies to help you succeed on test day:
1) Check your work and be thorough.
Because of the Item Response Theory powered adaptive scoring engine, the GMAT comes with a substantial “penalty” for missing questions below your ability level. As the test attempts to home in on your ability level, it knows that approximately 20% of the time when you completely guess on problems that are beyond your ability, you’ll guess correctly. So the system is designed to protect against “false positives.” So even if you don’t get that hard problem right “accidentally,” but rather by investing extra time at the expense of other problems, the algorithm will continue to hit you with hard enough problems to undo the benefit of your getting that one outlier problem right. The same isn’t as true for “false negatives’ – problems below your ability level that you get wrong. There, that’s all on you – and getting easy problems wrong hurts you more than getting hard problems right helps you. So while your energy and attention may well naturally go toward the problems you find the most challenging, you simply cannot afford more than 1-2 silly mistakes on test day. Those wrong answers give the computer substantial data that your ability is lower than you’d like it to be, and the system responds by showing you even easier questions to determine just “how low can you go?”.
There are few things more alluring than shortcuts. Oftentimes we’re aware of how much work, effort or time is required to accomplish a task, but we naturally gravitate towards something that can accomplish that task faster. From buying readymade rice to taking elevators to go up two floors, we’re drawn to things that make our lives even a modicum simpler (including dictionaries). This is why so many people are disappointed when they first learn that the calculator is not allowed on the GMAT.
This week we will look at the question on races that we gave you last week.
Question 3: A and B run a race of 2000 m. First, A gives B a head start of 200 m and beats him by 30 seconds. Next, A gives B a head start of 3 mins and is beaten by 1000 m. Find the time in minutes in which A and B can run the race separately?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison, speaking about mistakes.
If you study for the GMAT for any appreciable amount of time (and you should) you’ll make mistakes. And that’s a good thing. People love to track their study progress with all kinds of metrics: percent correct, time per question, hours spent, problems completed – but in the end the only numbers that matter are the numbers on your official score report. So whether you were 10 for 10 on your homework or 0 for 20, whether you took less than 2 minutes per problem or spent almost an hour trying to figure it out, the key “metric” to your study sessions should be “what did I learn from this?”. And you can learn a lot from the mistakes you made, whether they’re silly (“I forgot to convert hours to minutes”) or confusing (“why does it matter that health care quality improved in the last three decades?”). You just need to know which questions to ask about the questions you missed. And there are four questions you should ask yourself any time you miss a problem:
There are many famous expressions in the English language. Many of them are clever turns of phrase that refer to commonplace ideas and concepts in everyday life. You obviously don’t need to memorize these for the GMAT (A house divided against itself is not an integer), however some expressions can be easily applied to various GMAT problems. One common expression is that you’re comparing apples and oranges. This expression typically means that you are attempting to compare two elements that are not analogous and therefore incomparable. This idiom can be particularly apt in sentence correction problems.
The following article comes from Eliza Chute, a motivated GMAT self-studier who scored an impressive 770 on the GMAT. Eliza utilized numerous resources to help her prepare for the GMAT, including Veritas Prep’s GMAT Question Bank and GMAT Practice Test. Here, Eliza describes her experience using both resources and makes strategic recommendations for how to get the most out of each resource to help you with your GMAT preparation.
Steven Wright is a comedian known for his deadpan delivery, and, it turns out, has a lot to say – in his dry, paraprosdokian way – about the logic of the GMAT. Never ones to let insight go to waste, we can (somewhat, perhaps) better understand the GMAT with his Wit and Wisdom:
Suddenly the chances of scoring in a top percentile don’t seem so bad.
Panic starts to creep in.
“How could this have happened? I was doing so well!”, you think. “What do I do now?”
A bad practice test can happen to anyone. In isolation, it’s certainly not the end of the world, but you should use the result to diagnose what went wrong and how to fix it moving forward. There are several potential causes worth considering. Let’s look at a few:
Let’s discuss races today. It is a very simple concept but questions on it tend to be tricky. But if you understand how to handle them, most questions can be done easily.
A few points to remember in races:
1. Make a diagram. Draw a straight line to show the track and assume all racers are at start at 12:00. Then according to headstart, place the participants.
GMAT Tip of the Week: Come On,Commas! 3 Reasons You Should Look Forward To Commas On Sentence Correction
Admit it – perhaps your favorite thing about the social media revolution is that you’re (or is it “your”?) almost done having to think about punctuation ever again. Hashtags don’t allow for punctuation, and with only 140 characters to express your point of view or challenge three friends to dump water on their heads, who can afford to waste a character on a comma or semicolon?
A common mantra heard when studying for the GMAT is that you have to be fast when answering questions. This is absolutely true, as the exam is testing not only your reasoning skills but also your time management skills. This does not, however, necessarily mean that you must solve every question quickly. Indeed, there may be times where you feel fairly confident in the answer choice you’ve selected, but you don’t feel 100% certain (maybe a strong 60%). In these situations, it’s perfectly acceptable to double check your answer manually.
For those considering higher education this week, Robin Williams’ memory looms large. The lessons he taught in Dead Poets’ Society and Good Will Hunting have made their way around the internet more quickly and in more contexts than even Williams’ genie character from Aladdin could throw out references.
The GMAT is known to be a demanding exam. Most students recognize that a lot of preparation is required in order to get the best score possible. Most students undertaking the GMAT are also used to studying for tests and have worked out their own strategies and their own methods of preparation. Indeed, people overwhelmingly study the GMAT in an orderly and structured way. This is a positive thing, but it can have its drawbacks.
As pointed out by a reader, we need to complete the discussion on a question discussed in our previous ‘Advanced Number Properties’ posts so let’s do that today. Note that the discussion that follows doesn’t fall in the purview of GMAT and you needn’t know it. You will be able to solve any question without taking this post into account but that has never stopped us from letting loose our curiosity so here goes…