In simple words, when you have enough data given and you can infer something from it without doubt, it is called an inference/conclusion.

When you have author’s opinion (conclusion of the argument) and you need something to be true for the opinion to hold, that is an assumption.

Let us explain with a simple example.

All A are B.

All B are C.

You can conclude that: All A are C. This must be true. It is a conclusion.

If you conclude that ‘All C are A’ (your opinion, not necessarily a fact), you are assuming that A, B and C overlap i.e. they all have exactly the same elements.

Look again:

Argument 1:

Premises:

All A are B.

All B are C.

Conclusion: All A are C.

Argument 2:

Premises:

All A are B.

All B are C.

Conclusion: All C are A.

Assumption: A, B and C overlap.

The conclusion of argument 2 will not hold if the assumption is negated.

If you are wondering why we are emphasizing it again and again even though it looks really simple, here is an official question that might help you understand the reasons for our misgivings. We will give you the argument but not the question stem. We will also give you the correct answer. You will need to decide whether the question stem asks for a conclusion or an assumption.

Question: Among the more effective kinds of publicity that publishers can get for a new book is to have excerpts of it published in a high-circulation magazine soon before the book is published. The benefits of such excerption include not only a sure increase in sales but also a fee paid by the magazine to the book’s publisher.

(A) The number of people for whom seeing an excerpt of a book in a magazine provides an adequate substitute for reading the whole book is smaller than the number for whom the excerpt stimulates a desire to read the book.

(B) Because the financial advantage of excerpting a new book in a magazine usually accrues to the book’s publisher, magazine editors are unwilling to publish excerpts from new books.

(C) In calculating the total number of copies that a book has sold, publishers include sales of copies of magazines that featured an excerpt of the book.

(D) The effectiveness of having excerpts of a book published in a magazine, measured in terms of increased sales of a book, is proportional to the circulation of the magazine in which the excerpts are published.

(E) Books that are suitable for excerpting in high-circulation magazines sell more copies than book that are not suitable for excerpting.

The correct answer is (A). What is the question?

*Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the **GMAT** for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!*

Within the confines of the GMAT, the expectations for students are well known. You will be faced with 37 math and 41 verbal questions, have to select from five multiple choice answers, and complete each section within 75 minutes. However, sometimes certain questions will set up arbitrary rules within this game. An obvious example is data sufficiency: a question type that always provides two statements and asks whether a certain question can be answered using these statements. Why are there not three statements? Or four statements? The official answer will be to standardize the questions and allow for easier preparation, but the truthful answer is something most parents have had to utter countless times: “Because I said so”.

The only reason these rules apply is because they were established by the GMAC to test logical thinking. However, other rules could have been set up and test takers would have had to adhere to them. In fact, any question can set up arbitrary rules and then require you to analyze the situation and provide insight. Within the game that is the GMAT, a sub-game is created with each new question, and some of these questions have very specific rules (GMAT Inception).

The difficulty with some of the arbitrary question-specific rules is that the situation is only applicable to the exact question, meaning that you don’t have long to acclimate to the circumstances. Usually, the question will provide rules that are indispensible to solving the query, so we must adhere to them or risk falling into a trap.

Let’s look at an example that highlights the sub-game nature of certain GMAT questions:

An exam consists of 8 true/false questions. Brian forgets to study, so he must guess blindly on each question. If any score above 70% is a passing grade, what is the probability that Brian passes?

(A) 1/16

(B) 37/256

(C) 5/32

(D) 219/256

(E) 15/16

As always, let’s begin by paraphrasing the question. A student is blindly guessing on a True/False question, and thus will likely get half the questions right by default. It is conceivable that he could get 0% or 100% as well, meaning this is likely a probability question of sorts. However it’s a probability question within a probability question. Once we have accepted the premise that this exam will take place, we can only analyze the possible results of the student taking this test (the irony of which is enormous).

Another excellent trick is to look at the answer choices for easily removable options. If Brian did not study a single line of text, then the expected value of his blind guesses is 50%. This means it is possible that he can pass this test if he gets lucky, but he is not expected to do well. As such, any probability above 50% can be eliminated. We will need to do the calculations to determine exactly which answer is correct, but we already know it cannot be D or E as they are both too high.

Picking among the next three choices, each with a different denominator and fairly close values would be tricky. Statistically speaking, this question is identical to a coin flip question, where True is Heads and False is Tails (or vice versa if you prefer). The chances of getting all 8 correct, just as 8 straight Heads, would be (½)^8 or 1/2^8 or 1/256. This would yield a result of 100% on the exam. Brian would undoubtedly be surprised by such a result, but it is possible for him to pass the test without getting every question right. Since there are 8 questions, each question is worth 1/8 of the final score or 12.5%. Thus Brian could miss 1 question and still manage an 87.5%. He could even squeak by with 2 errors, giving him a result of 75% on the test. Anything lower would put him below the failure threshold.

There are three ways to calculate the remaining options, so let’s look at a more likely scenario: the possibility of getting 7 correct answers on the test. This result could be achieved if Brian missed the first question and got the next 7 right, or missed the last question after getting the first 7 right, or any other such breakdown. Logically, you can deduce that there are 8 different spots where the error could be, and the remaining 7 spots are all correct. Thus if each combination of answers has a 1/28 possibility of occurring, we should end up with 8/28 or 23/28 (cancelling to) 20/25 or 1/32. We can also use the combination formula for selecting 7 elements out of 8 where the order doesn’t matter. The formula would be n!/k!(n-k)!, where n is the total (8) and k is the number of choices (7). This would yield 8!/1!*7!, which simplifies to 8. This means there are 8 possible choices to select 7 correct answers. The final step is to divide by the total number of possibilities, which still stands at 28. The last option is to determine the numerator with the repeating elements formula n!/t!f!, where t and f are the number of repeating True and False answers. The result will still be 8!/1!7!, so 8 possibilities out of the same 256 options.

Using the same strategies on 6 correct answers and 2 false answers, we can get 8!/2!6!, which is 8*7/2 or 28 possibilities. The denominator won’t change for any of these, so the probability of getting exactly 6 correct answers is 28/256 (a little less than 11%). While I’m on the subject, I’ll simply draw attention to the fact that picking two correct answers and six incorrect answers on a binary test such as this one will yield the same results as picking two incorrect answers and six correct answers. The nature of the exercise (and the formulas) makes it so symmetry is guaranteed. This may be helpful at some point on the GMAT or in life, so try to ensure you can shortcut some calculations in this manner.

Putting together our three results, the chances of passing this exam are 1/256 + 8/256 + 28/256. This sum gives exactly answer choice B: 37/256. Although it seems unlikely that going into an exam with absolutely no preparation could yield a 15% chance of passing, those are the rules stipulated on this question. The entire GMAT exam has fixed rules, so it’s important to know how to approach each question on the exam. Moreover, it’s also important to understand the adjunct rules on particular questions in order to correctly solve the problem. As Jigsaw would rhetorically ask in any Saw movie: “Would you like to play a game?”

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

*Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam. After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.*

I replied to the student by discussing the *Process Pyramid for Sentence Correction.* Here is what the pyramid looks like.

Brevity

Clarity Specificity

Logic Grammar

**Logic and Grammar Come First**

You can see that the bottom level – the foundation of sentence correction – is logic and grammar, (including proper comparisons and parallelism). This is where your analysis should begin. If the answer choice has a flaw in grammar, such as subject-verb agreement or an error in logic, such as an illogical modifier then that answer choice should be eliminated.

This type of error is less subjective than something like an ambiguous modifier. That is why you should begin with logic and grammar, these errors are not a matter of judgment and the rules are easier to master. In particular students get a tremendous return on investment from mastering the rules of the common modifiers, including participial phrases, prepositions, appositives, and relative clauses.

**Next Clarity and Specificity**

The initial level of analysis should eliminate most answer choices based on flaws in grammar and logic. However, sometimes there will be more than one answer choice that has (or seems to have) no errors in grammar or logic. At this point you can move to clarity and specificity as a way to distinguish between answers. This is when it is appropriate to eliminate answer choices that have pronouns that are not clearly matched to antecedents.

The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 13^{th} Edition (written by the people who make the GMAT exam) states that a correct answer should avoid being “awkward, wordy, redundant, imprecise, or unclear” and that an answer that is any of these things can **be eliminated** **even if it is “free of grammatical errors.”** This group of secondary errors is referred to as problems with “rhetorical construction.”

The following answer choice is from question #44 of the sentence correction portion of the Official Guide 13^{th} Edition:

“The plot of the Bostonians centers on the active feminist, Olive Chancellor, and the rivalry with the charming and cynical cousin Basil Ransom, when they find themselves drawn to the same radiant young woman whose talent for public speaking has won her an ardent following.”

This answer choice is eliminated not for a grammatical flaw, but because it is lacks clarity and specificity. It is unclear in this particular answer choice that “Olive Chancellor is a party to the rivalry” with Basil Ransom.

**Finally, Brevity**

At the top of the Process Pyramid is Brevity. Most sentence correction questions do not require you to climb so high on the pyramid. It is only when two or more answers are logically and grammatically acceptable AND are each clear and specific that you need to bring brevity into the equation. However, the Official Guide describes many answer choices as “unnecessarily wordy.” So if you do find that you have two or more answer choices that satisfy the first two levels of the process pyramid only then do you eliminate the one that is “wordy.”

Looking for an error such as an ambiguous pronoun is fine; just make sure that you do so at the proper time. Use the process pyramid to organize errors and address those errors in the proper order: Grammar and logic, clarity and specificity, and finally, brevity.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

*David Newland* 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! Read more of his articles here.

Another method of saving time on simple questions – use data given in one statement to examine the other!

Now you might think we have lost it! After all, you know very well that in Data Sufficiency questions of GMAT, you must examine each statement independently. You CANNOT use data from one to analyze the other – absolutely correct. So you should ignore the other statement completely while examining one – hmm, not necessarily!

Sometimes, one statement could give us ideas about the next one such that we could save time while examining it. Needless to say, we need to be very careful but it certainly is a useful strategy. Also, it could help us verify that our calculations are correct. Here is why…

When we say DS question, think of a puzzle. The question stem gives you the statement of a puzzle ending with something like “What is the value of x?” or “Is x 7?” etc. You have to answer the question asked in the puzzle. Think of the two statements that come with the question as clues to the puzzle. So the puzzlemaster gives you the first clue (statement 1) and asks you: can you answer the question now? If you are able to, your answer is either (A) or (D).

Then he tells you to ignore the first clue and gives you another clue (statement 2). Again he asks you: can you answer the question now? Again, you may or may not able to. If you are able to, your answer will be (B) or (D) depending on how you fared in statement 1. If you are unable to answer the question, he tells you to consider both statements together and then try to answer. If you are able to, your answer is (C).

The point to note here is that both clues lead you to answer the same puzzle. Say if the puzzle is: What is x? If clue 1 tells you that x is 6, clue 2 cannot tell you that x is 9. They both must lead you to the same value of x. Clue 1 could tell you that x is either 6 or 8 and clue 2 could tell you that x is either 8 or 9. In this case, when we use both clues together, we find that x must be 8 to satisfy both. Hence the statements never contradict each other. This means, if we get possible values of x from statement 1, we know that statement 2 will also give us at least one of those values.

This is how one statement could give us a starting point for the next one. Now that you understand the “why”, let’s go on to “how”, using a question.

Question: If K is a positive integer less than 10 and N = 4,321 + K, what is the value of K?

Statement 1: N is divisible by 3

Statement 2: N is divisible by 7

Solution:

Given: N = 4321 + K

1 <= K <= 10

So N could range from 4322 (when K = 1) to 4331 (when K = 10). To find the value of K, we need to find the unique value of N.

Statement 1 tells us that N is divisible by 3.

4321 is not divisible by 3 since the sum of its digits is 4+3+2+1 = 10. It is 1 more than a multiple of 3. So the next multiple of 3 will be 4323. Hence N could be 4323. But there are some other multiples of 3 which could be the value of N. After 4323, 4326 and 4329 could also be the values of N since they are multiples of 3 too. We know this because if A is a multiple of 3, A+3, A+6, A+9, A-3, A-6 etc are also multiples of 3. So since 4323 is a multiple of 3, 4326 and 4329 will also be multiples of 3. We did not get a unique value for N so statement 1 alone is not sufficient.

Now let’s go on to statement 2. This tells us that N must be a multiple of 7. In 10 consecutive numbers, there will be either one multiple of 7 or two multiples of 7. If there is only one multiple of 7 in the range 4322 to 4331, statement 2 alone will be sufficient to give us the value of N. If there are two multiples of 7 in this range, then statement 2 alone will not be sufficient.

Recall that from statement 1, we already know that N will take one of three values: 4323, 4326 or 4329.

Let’s check for 4326 because it is in the middle. If 4326 is divisible by 7, there will be no other multiple of 7 in the range 4322 to 4331 because the closest multiples of 7 to 4326 will be 4326 – 7 and 4326 + 7. When we divide 4326 by 7, we find that it is divisible. This means that statement 2 gives us a single value of N. Hence statement 2 alone is sufficient.

Hypothetically, what if we had found that 4326 is not divisible by 7? Then we would have known that either 4323 or 4329 must be a multiple of 7. In both cases, statement 2 would have given us 2 multiples of 7 because both 4330 (7 more than 4323) and 4322 (7 less than 4329) are in the possible range. Then we would have known that the answer will be (C) i.e. we will need both statements to answer the question since the possible values from the two statements will have only one overlap in either case.

Note that what we gleaned from statement 1 helped us quickly examine statement 2 and get to the answer right away. But this is an advanced technique and you should use it only if you understand it very well. Else, it is best to stick to completely ignoring one statement while working on the other.

*Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the **GMAT** for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!*

]]>

-Schools only care about your highest score

-A frustrating GMAT performance can be a fantastic teaching tool to help you maximize the score on your applications

They key to bouncing back from a poor performance is to analyze it soon after you took the exam, and to do so in a way that helps you address all the items that contributed to a rough outing. To do that, you should ask yourself these five questions within a few days of having taken the test:

**1) Did you have any pacing issues?**

And to follow up more closely: Did you have to rush/guess/not-finish? Did you end with more time left than you thought you would? In either case, you didn’t pace yourself optimally, and you can learn from that. If you felt rushed the entire time, ask yourself why – did you spend far too much time on any one question? Were you just sluggish from the beginning and can’t account for the time? Did you make mistakes and have to go back to restart problems? Whatever the reason for a pacing problem, you now know what you need to address. If you need to get quicker, try timing yourself on practice sets to both get used to working more quickly and learn which mistakes you make when you’re rushing, so that you can avoid them. If you wasted too much time on just a couple questions, note their setup/content (involved-diagram geometry? long-winded word problem? multiple roots that you just couldn’t eliminate?) so that you can try to get more familiar with the content in practice, and so that, failing that, you can know when you may just need to guess on test day. Or if you had too much time at the end, you now know that too – which types of problems would you get right if you only had 15-20 extra seconds to slow down or check your work? Now you have that time to spare.

**2) Did any question or two get you down, waste your time, shake your confidence?**

Many who experience a frustrating test can just about pinpoint “It all seemed like it was going well, but then I saw ______________ and it all went downhill from there.” If you have a similar experience, you can learn from that – why did that problem get you down? How can you identify a “time-suck” problem and know when to guess and live to fight another day? If your confidence was shaken, why? Knowing the types of problems that you need to face a little more confidently or time-effectively – or just guess since no one ANSWER will ruin your day but one QUESTION can certainly do so if you let it – can help you avoid that pitfall on your next attempt.

**3) Did you see anything that you felt unprepared for? Any question types or content areas that you saw way too much of (and that you were kind of hoping you wouldn’t see much of)?**

Many students go into the GMAT feeling prepared, but then see questions that seem like they’re completely out of nowhere. Why is this so frequent? Because often they’re studying from a limited pool of questions (maybe those in the Official Guide for GMAT Review) and after seeing the same questions a few times each they’ve mastered the *study* questions but not necessarily the thought processes required for new questions. Or perhaps they’ve focused on certain content areas and forgot/avoided others, or studied content in a way disproportionate to what the GMAT actually tests (this happens frequently with Sentence Correction – people study tons of idioms, which aren’t often if ever tested, and don’t do nearly enough work on logical meaning). Either way, if you see concepts tested on your official exam and know you weren’t as prepared as you needed to be, now you have a blueprint for what you need to emphasize before you take it again.

**4) The night before your test as you struggled to relax and fall asleep, which 2-3 things were on your mind?**

Similarly, it’s not uncommon to cut a few corners when studying, doing one more set of number properties problems, for example, when we know we really should be focusing on geometry. That night before the test tends to be quite truthful…what you knew you should have studied but justified to yourself that you’d get to later, or what you could talk yourself into thinking you’d do well but really didn’t understand as well as you should – those things probably came to light as you laid down with your thoughts the night before the test. And now you have a new chance to address those.

**5) Given your test day experience, what do you wish you had studied more (or less)? What do you wish you had done differently?**

This catchall question should speak for itself – now that you’ve faced the real test under real conditions, you should have a better understanding of what you need to do. Practice tests and study sessions are extremely helpful, but there’s nothing like the experience of knowing that “this time it counts” to really teach you how you’re going to perform under pressure with the full experience. Many examinees fail to live up to their expectations when they’re first in that situation; those who end up at the schools of their dreams, though, learn everything they can from that experience and then add that to their study regimen to make the second (or third) time the charm.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

*By Brian Galvin*

Last week, I discussed timing issues on a quantitative question, and many of the concepts covered are applicable to the verbal section as well. Maintaining a good pace and avoiding spending undue time on perplexing questions are fundamental elements of a good GMAT score. However, I wanted to delve further into a particular type of question that often causes timing issues on the exam. Particularly when exhausted near the end of the test, students often dread coming across protracted Reading Comprehension passages.

Reading Comprehension (or RC for friends and family) poses a unique challenge on the GMAT. Every quantitative question and every other type of verbal question is entirely self-contained. A question will ask you about something, and then the following problem will be a completely different question about a completely different topic. Reading Comprehension questions ask you three, four and even five questions about the same prompt, and the prompts can be dozens of lines. Indeed, the first question on Reading Comprehension expects you to read through the entire passage, creating an inherent timing concern. Surely you can’t be expected to read through the entire passage in 2 minutes? (You are expected to do so, and don’t call me Shirley.)

Indeed, you can read through the passage in about two minutes, but you’re unlikely to be able to both read the passage and answer the (first) question posed during that span. For RC questions, I often find the best strategy is to separate the passage from the questions. If you read the question first, you risk skewing the analysis of the passage towards the question you have in mind, so it’s best to read the passage first without reading the question on the opposite side of the screen. The goal of this initial reading is to be able to identify the main idea of each paragraph and the primary purpose of the passage as a whole. You can read the passage in about 2 minutes and then spend about 1.5 minutes on each question, yielding a total of 8 minutes for 4 questions, roughly what you’d expect to spend holistically.

Let’s try this approach on a GMAT Reading Comprehension passage. At the end of each paragraph, try to summarize the main idea in about 3-5 words. You can even write these words down if you want, but it should be sufficient to think about the ideas.

*Biologists have advanced two theories to explain why schooling of fish occurs in so many fish species. Because schooling is particularly widespread among species of small fish, both theories assume that schooling offers the advantage of some protection from predators. Proponents of theory A dispute the assumption that a school of thousands of fish is highly visible. Experiments have shown that any fish can be seen, even in very clear water, only within a sphere of 200 meters in diameter. When fish are in a compact group, the spheres of visibility overlap. Thus the chance of a predator finding the school is only slightly greater than the chance of the predator finding a single fish swimming alone. Schooling is advantageous to the individual fish because a predator’s chance of finding any particular fish swimming in the school is much smaller than its chance of finding at least one of the same group of fish if the fish were dispersed throughout an area.*

* However, critics of theory A point out that some fish form schools even in areas where predators are abundant and thus little possibility of escaping detection exists. They argue that the school continues to be of value to its members even after detection. They advocate theory B, the “confusion effect,” which can be explained in two different ways. Sometimes, proponents argue, predators simply cannot decide which fish to attack. This indecision supposedly results from a predator’s preference for striking prey that is distinct from the rest of the school in appearance. In many schools the fish are almost identical in appearance, making it difficult for a predator to select one. The second explanation for the “confusion effect” has to do with the sensory confusion caused by a large number of prey moving around the predator. Even if the predator makes the decision to attack a particular fish, the movement of other prey in the school can be distracting. The predator’s difficulty can be compared to that of a tennis player trying to hit a tennis ball when two are approaching simultaneously.*

*According to one explanation of the “confusion effect,” a fish that swims in a school will have greater advantages for survival if it *

*(A) **tends to be visible for no more than 200 meters.*

*(B) **stays near either the front or the rear of a school.*

*(C) **is part of a small school rather than a large school.*

*(D) **is very similar in appearance to the other fish in the school.*

*(E) **is medium-sized.*

This passage only has two main paragraphs, and really each one is mostly about a theory as to why fish form schools (theory C: to get business degrees). We can summarize the first paragraph as the evasion theory and the second paragraph as the confusion theory. Overall the passage is primarily concerned with differing theories as to why fish tend to regroup in many disparate situations.

Looking over the question, it is specifically concerned with the “confusion effect”, which was theory B in the second paragraph. We can now focus our attention on the second paragraph to answer the question about survival. Rereading the passage, nothing was mentioned about the front or back of a school, as well as the size of the school, which eliminates answer choices B and C. Answer choice E similarly makes decisions based on the size of the fish, which was only discussed in terms of small fish. We can fairly quickly eliminate this choice as being a medium sized fish was never even mentioned.

Only answer choices A and D remain. Answer choice A is mentioned in the general sense for all fish in schools, and so would be a dubious choice as a great advantage since it applies to all fish in a given school. This is equivalent to saying we should promote Bob because he breathes oxygen. Answer choice D offers a logical choice, which is almost verbatim in the middle of the second paragraph “*In many schools the fish are almost identical in appearance, making it difficult for a predator to select one.”* This answer lines up with the text and we’ve eliminated the other four choices, making D an easy selection (also possibly recalling memorable moments from Disney’s Finding Nemo).

The questions on Reading Comprehension tend to be somewhat less tricky than the other verbal sections (Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning). This difference is somewhat due to the fact that reading through passages takes time and inherently contributes to the difficulty of the question. The trouble isn’t just finding the right answer, it’s reading through 300 words of drivel without falling asleep and then isolating the important aspect to answer the given question. Especially since the verbal section is the last section of this test, it’s important not to waste too much time and get mentally fatigued. A good timing strategy is crucial to getting the best possible result on your GMAT.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Here are the Duke (Fuqua) application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

**Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Deadlines**

Early Action: September 17, 2014

Round 1: October 20, 2014

Round 2: January 5, 2015

Round 3: March 19, 2015

*Fuqua’a admissions deadlines are virtually unchanged vs. last year. On important note about the school’s Early Action deadline: Even though it’s called “Early Action,” which most schools interpret as “non-binding,” Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if Fuqua is clearly your first choice. If it’s not, then save your application for Round 1, which still gets you your final decisions from the admissions committee before the holidays.*

**Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Essays**

__Required Short Answer Questions (Just 250 characters each)__

- What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
- What are your long-term goals?
- Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

*This trio of short questions (and really, really short answers!) has not changed since last year, so our advice mostly remains the same. The three above short answers should add up to only about 150 words, if it’s easier for you to think about them that way. With the three short questions, the Fuqua admissions team really is just looking for the high-levels facts about you. In other words, they’re looking for less hand-waving and “big picture”-speak and for a more succinct, “to the point” story to help them quickly get a read on why you’re even applying to Fuqua in the first place. Think of this as your chance to make the admissions team’s job a little easier… Rather than making the admissions team sort through your application essays to figure out why you’re applying to Fuqua, here you’re spelling it out in three bold, unmistakeable headlines. *

*One more thought: It’s easy to look at the third question and think it’s meant to be a curve ball, but this sort of adaptability is important to show. No one knows how exactly their career will unfold, and with this question the Fuqua admissions team wants to see if you “get” that idea and have at least thought through some alternatives. *

__First Required Essay__

- The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

*Fuqua has used this fun, unique question for several years now. This exercise makes many applicants uncomfortable since it’s so far removed from the “typical” MBA admissions essay, but it’s one of our favorite questions in the MBA admissions world. While you shouldn’t generate a completely frivolous list, you definitely don’t want to rehash what else is in your application. Seemingly random facts such as “I once came in dead last in a karaoke contest” are relevant and reveal something important about you (that you’re fun!), whether you realize it or not.**Some admissions experts tell applicants that all 25 items must be “unique” and “aligned with their brand,” but it would be a mistake to apply that rule to all 25 items. If the favorite part of your week is playing pickup basketball with friends, then it would be crazy for that not to make it into this list, whether or not other applicants might possibly say the same thing. For us, a good rule of thumb is that approximately half of this list should reinforce your application themes (which you should have nailed down long before drafting this list), and the other half can be more “fun”… Don’t run the risk of putting the admissions committee to sleep with your list. Finally, take a look at these examples that Fuqua admissions officers and students have posted about themselves… You’ll see that they’re far from 100% serious!*

__Second Required Essay__

**Instructions:** Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

- When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

*This question also carries over unchanged from last year, and that’s a strong hint that the Fuqua admissions team likes what it’s been getting from applicants. The purpose of this question is really to assess your fit with the school. The school used to simply ask, “Why Duke?” in an essay, but this question is still about fit: This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its culture, and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community. The first eight words of this question are the Fuqua admissions committee’s way of saying, “Please don’t just tell us what you think we want to hear.”**Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, or has a specific research center that interests you, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. But the school wants you to go beyond rattling off lists of professor and course names from its website and convince them that you will be eager to attend Fuqua if you’re admitted.* - The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student. (You can read the rest of the question here.)

*This question is new this year, and it’s another example of how much emphasis Fuqua places on fit and a desire to find applicants who truly want to attend the school. Fuqua is the classic example of a top business school that’s not quite in the uppermost echelon of MBA programs — it’s ranked highly enough that it attracts a lot of applicants, but there are enough schools ranked higher that Fuqua often loses out to other schools when an applicant has multiple offers to choose from. That’s not a knock on the school at all; rather, it underscores how tough it is for the Fuqua admissions team to try to determine just how enthusiastic an applicant is for the school.**This question is your chance to show that you really, truly are enthusiastic about Fuqua, so much so that you see yourself embodying one or more of the traits that Fuqua’s own students have identified as the community’s core principles. Don’t just regurgitate what you read in Fuqua’s brochures and on its website: Bring out specific examples of your own past experiences that demonstrate how you embody one of these important traits. There are few more effective ways to show how much you want to be a part of the Fuqua community!*

__Optional Essay__

- If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).

*As we always tell applicants, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay!*

If Fuqua is on your list of dream MBA programs, download our Essential Guide to the Fuqua School of Business, one of our 14 guides to the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re ready to get started on applying, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

*By Scott Shrum*

1) The questions in the Official Guide 2015 series are the same as in the previous editions. So if you already have the Official Guide 13th edition or the Verbal or Quant 2nd editions, you won’t find new questions with the new books.

2) The biggest new feature is that the practice questions in the book are also available in an online tool. If you love the GMAT Question Pack the way that we do, this is a fantastic feature, allowing you to carve up the ~900 problems into quizzes, delineate your practice by difficulty level, and take advantage of study tools like the ability to bookmark questions and type in notes to remember later.

3) The online tool includes ~20 question diagnostic quizzes for each practice type, using GMAC’s knowledge of question difficulty to help you gauge your ability level relative to your goals.

**To Buy or Not To Buy?**

If you already have the previous versions of the Official Guide (the 13th edition of the Official Guide for GMAT Review or the 2nd edition of the Official Guide Quant Review or Official Guide Verbal Review), don’t race out to buy the new Official Guide 2015 books. Instead, put that money toward the aforementioned Question Pack, which will provide you with new questions and increased computer-based functionality.

If you don’t have a previous edition Official Guide, by all means purchase the new one. There’s no better resource for practicing officially-written questions, and the new tech tools will enhance your practice sessions with diagnostic feedback and the opportunity to practice on a computer screen, just like you’ll attempt questions on test day.

**What to Watch For**

As with any unveiling of new technology, the current web interface includes a few things that may not be ideal and may end up being tweaked. But for this first phase of deployment, you should be careful to note that:

•The question delivery order online is not the same as the delivery order in the book. So if you’re planning to start online, then continue in the book (or vice versa) there isn’t an easy way to ensure you won’t see repeat questions.

•Reading Comprehension problems in the “Practice” and “Exam” modes are delivered without keeping passages together, so you’ll usually only get one problem for the passage you just read (and then the other problems associated with that passage will come at some point later). For this reason, it’s still likely best to do your RC practice out of the book and not online. (Note: the diagnostic quizzes deliver RC problems in order with their passages, so that functionality works well)

•Presumably since so much of the GMAT’s recent tech investments have been for Integrated Reasoning, the online tool includes an on-screen calculator for all problems. This does NOT mean that you’ll have it for quant problems on test day – ignore this tool as you practice the quantitative section!!

•The user interface takes a few quizzes to get used to; you’ll need to name each problem set that you begin (so think about meaningful names to keep yourself organized) so that you can review them later. Importantly, the diagnostic quizzes do not save once you’ve left the review screen, so when you take a diagnostic quiz make sure that you review it thoroughly before you click away!

•The online access is good for six months from activation, whereas the book lasts just about forever. Keep this in mind when you activate – the clock is ticking…

**Overall Review**

As always, the Official Guide for GMAT Review series remains the best destination for officially-produced practice problems and belongs on the bookshelves and in the backpacks of virtually all serious GMAT students. And GMAC continues to evolve into newer, more user-friendly ways of delivering practice problems, helping students to better simulate the test-day experience. The online tool is launching with a few little hiccups that will surely be cleaned up soon – among standardized tests GMAC has to rank as one of the most student-friendly and open-to-feedback – and should prove a useful resource. As we’ve said, the biggest “negative” to the new suite of OG books is that you won’t find any new problems, so if you’re currently studying with the “old” versions (13th overall, 2nd of subject-specific) don’t feel the need to rush out and buy the new ones. But if you’re ready to begin your Official Guide journey, the Official Guide 2015 series is an invaluable study tool.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

*By Brian Galvin*

Above Q48, the waters are pretty choppy! Questions are hard less because of the content and more because they look so unique – even though they’re testing the same concepts. Training yourself to see familiarity in the obscure is difficult, and that happens from seeing a lot of problems. There is barely any scope for making silly mistakes – you must run through all simple questions quickly and neatly, leaving you plenty of time to think through the tougher ones. It’s important to have enough time and keep your cool, which is easier to do if you have more time.

The question for today is: how do you handle simple questions quickly? We have mentioned many times that most GMAT Quant questions do not need Algebra. We can easily solve them by just analyzing while reading the question stem!

Here is how we can do that:

Question: School A is 40% girls and school B is 60% girls. The ratio of the number of girls at school A to the number of girls at school B is 4:3. if 20 boys transferred from school A to school B and no other changes took place at the two schools, the new ratio of the number of boys at school A to the number of boys at school B would be 5:3. What would the difference between the number of boys at school A and at school B be after the transfer?

(A) 20

(B) 40

(C) 60

(D) 80

(E) 100

Solution: This is a pretty simple non-tricky PS question. To solve it, most people use an algebraic method which looks something like this.

Girls in school A : Girls in school B = 4 : 3

So number of girls in school A = 4n and number of girls in school B = 3n

Since in school A, 40% students are girls and 60% are boys, number of boys is 6n.

Since in school B, 60% students are girls and 40% students are boys, number of boys is 2n.

If we transfer 20 boys from school A, we are left with 6n – 20 and when 20 boys are added to school B, we get 2n + 20 boys in school B.

(6n – 20)/(2n + 20) = 5/3

You get n = 20

Boys at school A after transfer = 6*20 – 20 = 100

Boys at school B after transfer = 2*20 + 20 = 60

Difference = 40

Answer (B)

This method gives you the correct answer, obviously, but it does take quite a bit of time. On the other hand, this is what should go through your mind while reading the question if you are focused on using logic:

“School A is 40% girls and school B is 60% girls.”

School A – 40% girls

School B – 60% girls

“The ratio of the number of girls at school A to the number of girls at school B is 4:3”

When we read this line, we should take a step back to the previous line with the % figures. We see that school A has more girls than school B (4:3) but its % of girls is lower (only 40% compared to 60% in B). This means that school A has more students than school B. Say something like school A has 200 students while school B has 100 (use easy numbers). So school A has 80 girls while school B has 60 girls. This gives us a ratio of 4:3. (If you do not get 4:3 on your first try, you should tweak the assumed numbers a bit but you should stick to simple numbers.) Then verify the rest of the data against these numbers and get your answer.

School A has 120 boys and school B has 40 boys. Transfer 20 boys from school A to school B to get 100 boys in school A and 60 boys in school B giving us a difference of 40 boys.

This takes lesser time but requires some ingenuity. That could be the difference between Q48 and Q51.

Hope this gave you some ideas. Try the reasoning approach on other simple questions. With practice, you can save a ton of time!

*Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the **GMAT** for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!*

Let’s take a look at some of those people:

-LeBron himself, who once decided to leave and now comes home as the prodigal son

-Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who once wrote a scathing letter about James the week he left the Cavs for South Beach

-Cavaliers fans, who once burned LeBron’s jersey and rallied against him

-Dwayne Wade, who just last week opted out of a $40 million contract to restructure his deal to create space to attract more players to his and LeBron’s Heat team

-And hopefully you, in the way that you approach Data Sufficiency

What does that mean? Consider this question:

A Miami-based sporting goods store is selling LeBron James #6 jerseys at a deep “everything must go” discount. If each jersey sells for (not one, not two, not three, but…) four dollars, how much revenue did the store earn from the sale of discounted LeBron James jerseys on Friday?

(1) On Friday, the store sells 100 of the white jerseys LeBron wore for home games, and 80 of the black jerseys that LeBron wore for away games.

(2) On Friday, the store sold 50 of the red jerseys that LeBron wore for nationally-televised Sunday games.

After statement 1, you were probably thinking “sufficient” and taking your talents to A or D, right? “Home” and “Away” seem mutually exclusive, so shouldn’t that tell you that there were 180 jerseys sold total at $4/each? If you made The Decision to pick either A or D, you’re not alone…and you have a lot of reason to feel confident. But like LeBron has shown us, it’s never too late to change your mind. Statement 2 supplies information that *should* give you reason to change your mind about statement 1 – there’s a third type of jersey that the store sold, and so statement 1 didn’t tell the complete story. Statement 2 helps to prove that statement 1 actually wasn’t sufficient, allowing you to change your mind and reconsider your answer*.

(*This problem probably doesn’t have a valid solution since there’s no great way to tell mathematically if there might be a 4th type of jersey; this wouldn’t appear as a question on the actual test, but the logic of “statement 2 should prove to you that you didn’t know everything you thought you did on statement 1″ is absolutely fair game)

The lesson, really, is this – although “the book” says that you should treat the statements as completely separate, wisdom will show you that often one statement will give you a clue about the other and allow you to change your mind. Typically this happens when:

-One statement is OBVIOUSLY not sufficient

or

-One statement is OBVIOUSLY sufficient

In either of these cases, that obvious piece of information will likely shed some light on what may be important for the other statement. For example:

Is a/b > c?

(1) a > bc

(2) b < 0

Here statement 1 may well look sufficient…but look how obviously unhelpful statement 2 is. Why is it there? To alert you to the fact that b could be negative – in which case you would have to flip the sign when dividing by b in statement 1:

Statement 1 when b is positive: a > bc becomes a/b > c (YES!)

Statement 2 when b is negative: a > bc becomes a/b < c (NO!)

So while you may have quickly made The Decision – in a youthful spirit of hubris – that statement 1 is sufficient, patience and maturity should lead you to reconsider after statement 2 offers useless-by-itself information that can only serve as a clue: maybe you should change your mind!

Such is the game of Data Sufficiency – much like in NBA Free Agency, hasty, youthful decisions can be reversed, and often on challenging questions the correct answer requires you to let “the other statement” convince you that you’ve made a mistake. So learn from LeBron – it’s okay to change your mind; maybe, in fact, that’s The Decision that’s correct.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

*By Brian Galvin*