Let’s discuss one such trick today – a trick in which you need to realize that the situation calls for a complete U-turn of the usual.

Let’s take an example:

**Question**: Two cars run in opposite directions on a circular track. Car A travels at a rate of 6π miles per hour and Car B runs at a rate of 8π miles per hour. If the track has a radius of 6 miles and the cars both start from Point S at the same time, how long, in hours, after the cars depart will they again meet at Point S?

(A) 6/7 hrs

(B) 12/7 hrs

(C) 4 hrs

(D) 6 hrs

(E) 12 hrs

**Solution**: What would we usually do in such a question? Two cars start from the same point and run in opposite directions – their speeds are given. This would remind us of relative speed. When two objects move in opposite directions, their relative speed is the sum of their speeds. So we might be tempted to do something like this:

Perimeter of the circle = 2πr = 2π*6 = 12π miles

Time taken to meet = Distance/Relative Speed = 12π/(6π + 8π) = 6/7 hrs

But take a step back and think – what does 6/7 hrs give us? It gives us the time taken by the two of them to complete one circle together. In this much time, they will meet somewhere on the circle but not at the starting point. So this is definitely not our answer.

The actual time taken to meet at point S will be given by 12π/(8π – 6π) = 6 hrs

This is what we mean by unexpected! The relative speed should be the sum of their speeds. Why did we divide the distance by the difference of their speeds? Here is why:

For the two objects to meet again at the starting point, obviously they both must be at the starting point. So the faster object must complete at least one full round more than the slower object. In every hour, car B – the one that runs at a speed of 8π mph covers 2π miles more compared with the distance covered by car A in that time (which runs at a speed of 6π mph). We want car B to complete one full circle more than car A. In how much time will car B cover 12π miles (a full circle) more than car A? In 12π/2π hrs = 6 hrs.

Now we will keep the question the same but will change the figures a bit:

**Modified Question**: Two cars run in opposite directions on a circular track. Car A travels at a rate of 3π miles per hour and Car B runs at a rate of 5π miles per hour. If the track has a radius of 7.5 miles and the cars both start from Point S at the same time, how long, in hours, after the cars depart will they again meet at Point S?

So following the same logic as above,

Perimeter of the circle = 2πr = 2π*7.5 = 15π miles

The time taken to meet at point S will be given by 15π/(5π – 3π) = 7.5 hrs

But note that the two cars will not even be at the starting point, S, in 7.5 hrs. So this answer is wrong. Why? It has something to do with the word “at least” used in the explanation above i.e. “So the faster object must complete at least one full round more than the slower object. “

Try to put it all together.

Meanwhile, let’s give you **another method**. This will not fail you no matter what the figures.

**Using the original question**:

Time taken by car A to complete one full circle = 12π/6π = 2 hrs

Time taken by car B to complete one full circle 12π/8π = 1.5 hrs

So every 2 hrs car A is at S and every 1.5 hrs, car B is at S. When will they both be together at S?

Car A at S -> 2 hrs, 4 hrs, 6 hrs, 8 hrs …

Car B at S -> 1.5 hrs, 3 hrs, 4.5 hrs, 6 hrs …

In 6 hrs – the first common time, both cars will be at the point S together. So answer is 6 hours.

**Using the same method on the Modified Question**,

Time taken by car A to complete one full circle = 15π/3π = 5 hrs

Time taken by car B to complete one full circle = 15π/5π = 3 hrs

So every 5 hrs, car A is at S and every 3 hrs, car B is at S. When will they both be together at S?

Car A at S -> 5 hrs, 10 hrs, 15 hrs, 20 hrs

Car B at S -> 3 hrs, 6 hrs, 9 hrs, 12 hrs, 15 hrs

In 15 hrs – the first common time (LCM of 3 and 5), both cars will be at the point S together.

This all makes sense now.

*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!*

Through that lens, let’s discuss one of the most helpful “tricks” to avoid some of the most time-consuming types of problems on the GMAT, and we’ll lead with a problem:

*Whenever his favorite baseball team’s “closer” allows a hit, Sean becomes irate (just close out the game, Joe Nathan!). If the closer needs to get three outs to win the game, and each batter he will face has a .250 batting average (a 1/4 chance of getting a hit), what is the probability that he will give up at least one hit (assuming that there are no walks/errors/hit-batsmen)?
*

And for those not consumed with baseball, this question essentially asks “if outcome A has a 25% chance of occurring in any one event, what is the probability that outcome A will happen **at least once** during three consecutive events?”

Baseball makes for an excellent demonstration here, because if we take out the other “free base” situations, really only two things happen – a Hit or an Out. And since we need 3 Outs, we could have all kinds of sequences in which there is **at least one** hit:

Hit, Out, Out, Out

Out, Hit, Out, Out

Out, Out, Hit, Out

or episodes with multiple hits:

Out, Hit, Hit, Out, Out

Hit, Out, Hit, Out, Hit, Out

or even

Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit…(game called by mercy rule, Sean punches through his TV)

The GMAT-relevant point is this: when a problem asks you for the probability of “**at least one**” of a certain event occurring, there are usually several ways that **at least one** could occur. But look at it this way: the ONLY way that you don’t get “**at least one**” H is if all three Os come first. The opposite of “**at least one**” is “none.” And there’s only one way to get “none” – it’s “Not Event A” then “Not Event A” then “Not Event A”… as many times as it takes to finish out the number of events. In other words, in this baseball analogy, if there’s a 25% chance of a hit then there’s a 75% chance of “not a hit” or “Out”, allowing us to set up the ONLY sequence in which there isn’t at least one hit:

Out, Out, Out

Which has a probability of:

3/4 * 3/4 * 3/4

Do the math, and you’ll find that there’s a 27/64 probability of “not **at least one** hit” and you can then know that the other 37/64 outcomes are “**at least one** hit.”

To the baseball fan, that means “take it easy on your closer – .250 is a pretty lackluster batting average and that even takes out the chance of walks and errors, and even with *that* there’s a better-than-likely chance there will be baserunners in the 9th!”

To the GMAT student, this example means that when you see a probability question that asks for the probability of “at least one” you should almost always try to calculate it by taking the probability of “none” (which is just one sequence and not several) and subtract that from 1. So your process is:

1) Recognize that the problem is asking for the probability of “at least one” of event A.

2) Find the probability for “not A” in any one event

3) Calculate the probability of getting “not A” in all outcomes by multiplying the “not A” probability as many times as there are outcomes

4) Subtract that total from 1

(and #5 – make sure the problem doesn’t involve any unique probability-changing events like “if outcome A doesn’t happen in the first try then the probability increases to X% for the second try” – that kind of language is rare but does complicate things)

Probability factors into many autumn situations, so whether you’re a GMAT student or a baseball fan, if you know at least this one probability concept your autumn should be a lot less stressful!

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*By Brian Galvin*

What do I mean by vague? I do not mean that two possible answers could both be the correct answer to the query. Such divergence would be unfair in a multiple choice exam where only one answer can be defensible. What happens on the exam is that a question is asked, but deciphering what that actually means is a task unto itself.

Let’s look at a simple example. If a question asks: “X is twice as big as Y. Y is 5. What is X?”, then it would be considered painfully simple. Y is known to be 5, X is double that, so the answer is 10 (don’t forget to carry the 1). If the exact same question were phrased as “John has two pineapples for every pineapple that Mary has. Mary counted the number of pineapples she had, and the number was the smallest prime factor of 35. How many pineapples does John have?” This question essentially asks for the same result, but the wording is so convoluted that many people get lost in it and don’t reach the correct answer.

While you likely won’t get a question like the above example (unless you’re scoring in the low 200s), every convoluted question can be broken down to a similar simple problem. The simplification won’t always be easy, but the tricks utilized on the GMAT to make questions long-winded repeat over and over again. Hopefully, if you’ve seen a few of them during your preparation, you’re more likely to know how to translate the GMATese™ (Patent Pending) and get the right answer on test day.

Let’s look at a typical vague question on the GMAT:

*A group of candidates for two analyst positions consists of six people. If one-third of the candidates are disqualified and three new candidates are recruited to replace them, the number of ways in which the two job offers can be allocated will:*

*(A) **Drop by 40%*

*(B) **Remain unchanged*

*(C) **Increase by 20%*

*(D) **Increase by 40%*

*(E) **Increase by 60%*

After reading such a question, you may still not be sure what to do, but you can start piecing together the issue at hand. There are six people interviewing for two jobs, but then some will drop out and others will join, and the overall impact must be gauged. The answer choices seem to offer various increases and decreases, so the answer must be in terms of the adjustment of job offer possibilities. This makes the question seem like a combinatorics or probability question.

Looking at the information provided, we have six applicants for two positions, and then one-third of them are disqualified. This leaves us with four finalists for the two jobs (like musical chairs), but before a decision is rendered, three more applicants join. There are now seven candidates for the two jobs, yielding a net change of one new contender. From 6 to 7 people, the change would be 1/6 of the old total, or 16.7%. This is closest to answer choice C, but there is no direct match among the answer choices. Since the GMAT doesn’t provide horseshoe answer choices (unless approximation is specified), this is our first hint that we may need to dig deeper in our approach.

The questions specifically asks about “*the number of ways in which the two job offers can be allocated”, *which should hopefully make you realize that the question is ultimately about permutations. In the initial setup, two positions are available for six candidates, meaning we can calculate the number of possible outcomes.

The only decision we have to make is about the order mattering, and since it’s not indicated anywhere that the jobs are identical, it’s reasonable to assume we can differentiate between job 1 and job 2. Let’s say that the first job is a senior position and the second is a junior position, how many ways can we fill these openings? Anyone can take the first position, so that gives us 6 possibilities, and then anyone of the remaining choices can fill the second position, yielding another 5 possibilities. Since any of these can be combined, we get 6*5 or 30 choices. Using the permutation formula of N!/(N-K)! yields 6! /4! which is still 6*5 or 30, confirming our answer.

If there were 30 possibilities at first, the addition of a new candidate will undoubtedly increase the number of possibilities, so we can consider answer choices A and B eliminated. After the increase, we can essentially make the same calculations for 7 candidates and 2 jobs, giving us 7*6 or 42 choices. We used to have 30 choices and now we have 42, so that works out to 12 new choices out of the original 30, equivalent to a 40% increase. Answer choice D is a 40% increase, and thus exactly the correct answer.

Some of you may be asking about the assumption I made about order mattering a few paragraphs back. “Ron, Ron”, you ask, “what happens if we assume that the order doesn’t matter?” Let’s run the calculations to see. If the order doesn’t matter and we’re dealing with a combination, then we have 6 candidates for 2 positions, we will get N! / K! (N-K)! which is 6! / 2! * 4! Simplifying to 6*5 / 2 gives us 15 options instead of the previous 30. Really, these are the same options but now we divide by two because the order no longer matters (i.e. AB and BA are equivalent). The updated scenario will have 7! / 2! * 5!, which becomes 42 / 2 or 21. This is exactly half the previous number again. The delta from 15 to 21 is 6, again 40% of the initial sum of 15. Since we’re dealing with percentages, both combinations and permutations will be completely equivalent. (Ain’t math grand?)

Regardless of minor assumptions made while solving this problem, the solution will always be the same. Indeed, the hardest part of solving the problem is often determining what is being asked. Remember that there can only be one answer to the problem, and that the answer choices can help steer you in the right direction. If you know what you’re looking for, the questions on the GMAT may be somewhat vague, but your goal will be crystal clear.

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.*

We will illustrate that with the help of a supremely beguiling official question today. We are sure you wouldn’t call an academician’s work exactly thrilling but questions like these do add a decent bit of joie de vivre to our lives. It’s hard to explain the gratification we get when it all falls into place in your mind and you light up with – “shoot, so simple, and yet, it seemed like a monster a few minutes back!” – we basically live for those moments!

Let us first give you some stats which indicate the difficulty level of this question:

95% of people find this question hard. Only 1/3^{rd} of respondents answer it correctly (which includes the ton of people who had tried it before and hence knew the correct answer).

Let us give you the question now:

**Question**: Each piglet in a litter is fed exactly one-half pound of a mixture of oats and barley. The ratio of the amount of barley to that of oats varies from piglet to piglet, but each piglet is fed some of both grains. How many piglets are there in the litter?

**Statement 1**: Piglet A was fed exactly 1/4 of the oats today.

**Statement 2**: Piglet A was fed exactly 1/6 of the barley today.

First think, what concept does it test? Fractions? Ratios? Or is it just a word problem requiring algebraic manipulation?

Actually, none of these. We can look at the question and say straight away that the answer is (C). It needs no manipulation and no calculation. Of course, what it does need is a solid understanding of the weighted averages principle!

For now, forget the data given in the question.

Consider this:

Say, 10% of total Oats and 20% of total Barley was fed to a piglet.

The question now is – Of the total food (Oats + Barley) what percentage was fed to this piglet?

We hope you agree that it will depend on the ratio of Oats and Barley. If the mixture was only oats, the piglet was fed 10% of the total food. If the mixture was only Barley, the piglet was fed 20% of the total mixture. If the mixture was half oats and half barley, the piglet was fed 15% of the total mixture. If the mixture was 1 part Oats for every 4 parts of Barley, the piglet was fed 18% of the mixture (it is just weighted average with weights being the amount of initial quantity of Oats and Barley). Whatever the case, the piglet was fed more than 10% of total food and less than 20% of total food if the mixture consisted of both Oats and Barley.

If this is not clear, look at this example:

Say a meal consists of a sandwich and a milkshake. You eat 1/2 of the sandwich and drink 1/2 of the milkshake. Can we say that you have had 1/2 of the meal? Sure.

If you eat only 1/4 of the sandwich and drink 1/4 of the milkshake, then you would have had only 1/4 of the meal.

What happens in case you eat 1/2 of the sandwich but drink only 1/4 of the milkshake? In that case, you have had less than 1/2 of the meal but certainly more than 1/4 of the meal, right?

Go through this again till you are satisfied with this logic.

If this sounds good, consider data given in the question – piglet A was fed 25% Oats (1/4 Oats) and 16.66% Barley (1/6 Barley). So definitely, the piglet was fed more than 16.66% (which is 1/6) of the total mixture and less than 25% (which is 1/4) of the total mixture (as reasoned above). Stay with this idea.

Another piece of information from the question stem: the total food mixture was split equally among all the piglets. Since all piglets got the same quantity of food, we can say that all piglets were fed more than 1/6 of the total mixture but less than 1/4 of the total mixture. Number of piglets has to be an integer, say n. Then, each piglet gets the same amount of food i.e. 1/n of the total mixture. This 1/n must lie between 1/4 and 1/6. Note that the number of pigs i.e. n, must be a positive integer. What integer value can n take? Can it be 7? Will 1/7 lie between 1/6 and 1/4? No. 1/7 will be less than 1/6. Can n be 3? Will 1/3 lie between 1/4 and 1/6? No, because 1/3 will be greater than 1/4. n cannot be greater than 6 or less than 4 because it goes out of range. Only 1/5 lies between 1/4 and 1/6 (such that n is a positive integer). Hence n must be 5.

Notice that we did not need to do any calculations – just looking at the two statements, we can say that 1/n must lie between 1/4 and 1/6 and hence n must be 5.

Questions such as this one set GMAT apart from other tests. It tests you on basic concepts but how!!!

*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!*

The GMAT was first administered in 1953, and roughly 250,000 students take this exam on a yearly basis. Every year, I see students studying for the exam, hoping that a good grade gets them accepted to the business school of their choice. However, I believe one person who would have fared well on the test died about 40 years before the first exam was even introduced. I’m referring to noted American author Mark Twain.

Mark Twain is often referred to as the father of American literature, but his off colour remarks made him something of a celebrity in the 19^{th} Century. He was known for quotes that could be construed as inconsiderate, but often were just humorous observations on everyday minutiae (like a historical Seinfeld). As a renowned author, he undoubtedly could have excelled at the verbal section of the GMAT by noticing little details that others could overlook.

As this blog is nothing if not introspective, let’s look at a sentence correction problem about Mark Twain, and solve it in the way Twain likely would (Inception).

*A letter by Mark Twain, written in the same year as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were published, reveals that Twain provided financial assistance to one of the first Black students at Yale Law School.*

*(A) **A letter by Mark Twain, written in the same year as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were published, *

*(B) **A letter by Mark Twain, written in the same year of publication as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,*

*(C) **A letter by Mark Twain, written in the same year that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published,*

*(D) **Mark Twain wrote a letter in the same year as he published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that*

(E) *Mark Twain wrote a letter in the same year of publication as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that*

An astute observer such as Mark Twain would first notice that there is a clear 3-2 split between answer choices that begin with “A letter by Mark Twain” and “Mark Twain wrote a letter…” It is possible that either turn of phrase could be correct, but it is more likely that we can eliminate one selection entirely because it does not flow properly with the rest of the sentence.

The original sentence (answer choice A) postulates that a letter by Mark Twain reveals that he provided financial assistance to an aspiring young law student many years ago. This phrase makes logical sense and does not have to be automatically discarded. The other options begin with “Mark Twain wrote a letter that reveals that Twain provided financial assistance…” Even without the redundancy of “that reveals that”, the timeline of this sentence does not work properly. If Mark Twain wrote a letter in the past, then the letter would have “revealed” the information, and would have needed to have been conjugated in the past. An author like Twain would eliminate answers D and E as the timeline construction does not make sense.

With only three options remaining, Twain would examine the differences between answer choices A, B and C more closely. The only real difference between answer choices A and C is the verb agreement of the publication of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Answer choice proposes that the verb be plural, while answer choice C contains the singular conjugation of the verb. While “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” sounds plural, it is actually the title of a single book and therefore must be treated as a singular noun. Answer choice A can thus be eliminated because of the agreement error.

Having narrowed the quest down to only two choices, Twain would likely contrast the two choices again and note the construction of answer choice B is faulty. If we follow the logic: “*A letter by Mark Twain, written in the same year of publication as Huck Finn…”* doesn’t make any sense. Grammatically, the letter is supposed to have been written in the same year that the novel was published, yet the grammar indicates that both the letter and novel were published in the same year. This change in meaning eliminates answer choice B, and leaves only answer choice C as the correct option.

Eliminating incorrect answer choices is the name of the game in Sentence Correction, and a shrewd reader can easily differentiate between turns of phrase that are acceptable and garbled prose that doesn’t mean anything. Remember that only one answer choice can be correct, so you must eliminate incorrect answer choices by any means you have available to you. It’s fine to think of yourself as a 19^{th} Century author and begin to decimate the given answer choices. Just because most people don’t think of themselves as Cosplayers during the GMAT (they just can’t pull off the elaborate costumes), that doesn’t mean you can’t use your imagination to your advantage. To quote Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”.

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!

Most schools will only consider your best score, so no matter if you take it once or 100 times, you will list only the score with which you are applying and none other. The wrinkle will come when the schools get the official report from GMAC, where every score you have logged over the past five years will be recorded. Again, the schools will only consider one score, and you have the choice as to which one it is, but all the others will still be there, so they will indeed know how many times you took it. There is a common misconception that schools look at only your most recent score, but this is not true. What if you scored the same on two different tests? Submit the score with the higher quantitative section, yes, even if your writing assessment and inductive reasoning score is higher on another one. These two ancillary scores are not yet being considered in earnest by business schools, and since they must only report the core Quant/Verbal score to the rankings boards, they are not yet caring much how well applicants do on these sub sections.

It is a good rule of thumb to shoot for your target score within three attempts over the five year window on your GMAC record. Schools recognize that it sometimes takes a couple of sittings before you “get the drill” on how to master the exam, but after the third time, studies have shown very little improvement in scores overall, so schools begin to wonder why you are choosing to beat your head against a wall which has very little chance of caving in. Remember that every little thing in your application sends a message, and taking the GMAT five times could be communicating that you have poor judgment or worse, that you can’t be contributing much on the job if you have time to study and take the GMAT every month.

My recommendation is to sign up for a tutoring class, spend time taking practice tests, and then relax and take the first sitting seriously. If you bomb, try some different preparation methods including possibly hiring a private tutor such as Veritas Prep offers. The most important thing to improve is your quant score, so if you at least do that, and your score is within the 80% range of your target schools, you could possibly call it finished. If not, feel free to give it one more try, but remember that your score can also go down! Try to balance your time and ensure you save enough for the actual application. In the end, a marginal 10 or 20 points on the GMAT will not mean much if you write a poor application.

Learn about top MBA programs by downloading our Essential Guides! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

*Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.*

- 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?

These are called **absolute phrases**. They often confuse people but once you understand properly what they are and what they do, they will not be intimidating.

**What is an Absolute Phrase?**

An absolute phrase is a type of modifier that modifies an independent clause as a whole.

**Structure of an Absolute Phrase**

Often (but not always), this is the structure of an absolute phrase:

noun + participle (could be -ing or -ed) + optional modifier or object

**Usage of an Absolute Phrase**

It is often useful in describing **one part of the whole person/place/thing or in explaining a cause or condition etc. **

For example:

There was no one in sight and Sanders, his hands still jammed in his pockets, scowled down the empty street. (The underlined absolute phrase describes just the hands of Sanders)

We devoured the yummy pastries, our fingers scraping the leftover frosting off the plates. (The underlined absolute phrase describes just our fingers)

The underlined absolute phrase in sentence 1 above describes the DNA of the seeds.

The underlined absolute phrases in sentences 2 and 3 above describe conditions.

**Some Alternative Structures of Absolute Phrases**

Some absolute phrases have a different structure.

- The participle
*being*is often omitted in an absolute phrase, leaving only a noun and a modifier:

The boys set off for school, faces glum, to begin the winter term.

- Also, an absolute phrase may contain a pronoun instead of a noun, or an infinitive (
*to*+ a verb) instead of a participle:

The customers filed out, some to return home, others to gather at the piazza.

[pronoun ‘some’ + infinitive ‘to return’ ; pronoun ‘others’ + infinitive ‘to gather’]

Now let’s look at the sentence correction question which uses statement 2.

**Question**: 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.

(A) circumstance, his life

(B) circumstance, and his life

(C) circumstance, and his life being

(D) circumstance; his life

(E) circumstance: his life being

**Solution**:

“his life uprooted by the media pressure to punish someone in the case.” and “his life being uprooted by the media pressure to punish someone in the case.” are not independent clauses because they have no finite verbs in them.

With the coordinating conjunction (‘and’) and semi colon, you need an independent clause.

Accuracy wise, the use of ‘being’ is still suspect. ‘Being’ is not used to describe a state; it is used to describe an ongoing action such as ‘the tree is being uprooted’.

Colon is used if you need to give a list and hence, is not suitable here. Hence, options (B), (C), (D) and (E) are wrong.

Only option (A) describes circumstances suitably using the absolute phrase: his life uprooted by the media pressure to punish someone in the case.

Answer (A)

*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!*

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?”.

So make sure that if you’re on the verge of getting a problem right, you leave no doubt. Whatever silly mistakes you’re susceptible to – solving for the wrong variable, answering in the wrong units, miscalculating certain cells on the multiplication table – take the extra 10 seconds to double check and solidify your work. Yes that may mean that you have less time available for other questions, but the biggest score-killer out there is the “leaky floor” via which you’re in such a hurry to save time for hard questions that you make mistakes on easier ones. If you know that you should get a problem right, you have to make sure that you do.

**2) Know when to give up and guess.**

By the same token, you can’t get stubborn on hard questions. Everyone misses problems on the GMAT – the adaptive algorithm ensures it, by continuing to throw you challenging problems to test the upper limit of your ability. If you’re doing the little things right – double checking your work, being patient to avoid careless errors – you’ll see hard problems throughout the test. And no one hard problem will determine your score – the test expects that you’ll miss several, and you know that you’ll guess correctly on at least a few, so you can’t afford to spend 3-4 minutes on a question particularly if you’re not likely to get it right anyway. Often you have to lose the individual battle to make sure that you win the war – if your conscience starts to tell you “you’re spending a lot of time on this problem” and you can’t see a direct path to the correct answer at that point, it’s wise to give up and strategically guess so that you save the time to work on problems that you can or should get right later.

**3) Have a pacing plan – and make sure it comes with a Plan B.**

One of the easiest ways – and a surprisingly common way – to waste time on the GMAT is to try to calculate your pace-per-question as you’re going through the test. Which is crazy if you think about it – if you’re that worried about how long you’re taking, why would you spend *extra* time doing additional math problems that don’t count? So have a pacing plan well before you enter the test center. For most, it will look similar to:

Quant Section

After question 10 you should have approximately 53 minutes left

After question 20, approximately 33 minutes left

After question 30, approximately 13 minutes left

Verbal Section

After question 10, approximately 56 minutes left

After question 20, approximately 37 minutes left

After question 30, approximately 18 minutes left

If you find that you have less than that amount left at any point, it’s certainly not time to panic, but it is time to start thinking of how you’ll earn that time back. And by a fair margin the better way to do it is NOT to start rushing (which leaves you vulnerable to silly mistakes on several problems) but rather to give yourself one “free pass” over that next set of 10 problems. There, if you see a problem that after 15-20 seconds just doesn’t look like it’s one you’d likely get right, then guess. That saves you the time and means that you’ll probably (but not definitely) get that problem wrong, but it also allows you to continue to be thorough on future problems and avoid those score-killing “leaky floor” mistakes.

Students often get in a hurry when they start to feel the pressure of the ticking clock, and that pressure and haste leads to multiple mistakes. If you strategically make one big mistake instead of several small ones, you’ll maximize the likelihood that that big mistake doesn’t matter (it’s on a crazy hard problem) because you’ve done the little things well enough to have earned monster problems that are assessing your ceiling.

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*

From the time we’re in elementary school, we’re encouraged to use our calculators to solve even the most mundane equations. If John is buying six dozen eggs, how many total eggs is John buying? Many people instinctively reach for their calculators, even if they can do the simple multiplication in their heads. Calculators provide safety and accuracy. The little machine says that the answer is 72; I won’t even bother double checking the result manually because I know the machine won’t make a mistake. This is even more prevalent as the math involved gets harder (a dozen dozen eggs?). Indeed the lure of the calculator is very strong.

Why does the GMAT not allow for calculators on the exam? Quite simply, the exam is trying to test how you think, not how quickly you can type on a calculator. This allows for questions to include relatively simple math that you must solve manually, or for rather difficult math that you must understand in order to reach a conclusion. Both types of questions show up on the exam, but the answer choices always provide some sort of hint as to what to do, since the correct answer must be among the five choices given.

Let’s look at two simple interest rate questions to highlight the methods we can free ourselves of our calculator addiction:

*Marcus deposited $8,000 to open a new savings account that earned five percent annual interest, compounded semi-annually. If there were no other transactions in the account, what the amount of money in Marcus’ account one year after the account was opened?*

*(A) **8,200*

*(B) **8,205*

*(C) **8,400*

*(D) **8,405*

*(E) **8,500*

Many students (especially those in finance) immediately recognize this as a compound interest problem, which can be solved effortlessly with a financial calculator. You only have to plug in the term, the interest rate, the principal and the rate of compounding, and the calculator will spit out the correct output in a matter of seconds. However, the underlying concept is what the GMAT is really testing. The authors of this question want to ensure you comprehend how to make the calculations, so the question is asking about only one year.

In this case, we can easily calculate the amount without a calculator. We have 8,000$ making 5% annually, which translates to 400$ in one year. Thus, if the interest were compounded annually, the answer would be 8,400$. If we don’t notice that the interest is compounded more frequently than that (or we don’t understand what that entails), then we might pick answer choice C and move on. However, that would be incorrect because the question indicates that the interest is compounded twice a year.

If the interest is compounded twice a year, that means that after 6 months you make 2.5% of the 8,000$, or half of the 400$ we’d previously calculated. If you’re trying to calculate 2.5%, it’s easiest to take 10% and then divide it by four. Multiplying by fractions can be tedious without a calculator, but GMAT questions are set up in such a way that the answers are almost always integers. You just have to determine the best way of getting to that integer without getting bogged down in tedious math.

Whichever method you used, you should have 8,200$ after 6 months. After another 6 months, you need to calculate another 2.5% on 8,200$. The simplest way to do this is to recognize that the 8,000$ will still yield 200$, and only the extra 200$ must be adjusted for. Since we need ¼ of 10%, that’s ¼ of 20$ or exactly 5$. The interest accrued in the second semester will be 205$ instead of simply $200 (#winning), making the total for the year 405$. The correct selection is thus answer choice D.

However, we don’t even need to get this precise on most GMAT questions. Look at the answer choices again. Once we’ve determined that we need slightly more than 400$ in interest because of the compounding, the only answer choice that makes any sense is D. Oftentimes the simple fact that the answer must be slightly higher or lower than a known benchmark eliminates all answer choices except for one. The complete calculations can be accomplished, but a rough estimate will work in 99% of cases.

Let’s look at a similar question where the estimation is our best approach:

*Michelle deposited a certain sum of money in a savings account on July 1st, 2012. She earns an 8% annual interest compounded semi-annually. The sum of money in the account on January 1st, 2015 will be approximately what percent of the initial deposit?*

*(A) **117%*

*(B) **120%*

*(C) **121%*

*(D) **135%*

*(E) **140%*

In this case estimation is the best approach because the answer choices are far apart. If Michelle is earning 8% per year compounded semi-annually, then every six months she’s making about 4%, which over 30 months is 20%. Answer choice B is thus close but ultimately too low for the compounding interest. It must be ever so slightly higher than that, which leads us inexorably to answer choice C. We need a little more than 120%, but there’s no way we can get to 135%. The answer must be C, and we don’t really need to do any verification to know that this is the correct answer (you can do the math and get to 121.67% if you’d like).

While the calculator is an ever-present tool in the real world, the GMAT remains a test designed to test how you think. The shortcuts and instruments you use in everyday life should only serve to accelerate your calculations, not replace the thought processes that allow you make calculations. Remember that if everything you do can be replaced by a calculator (or spreadsheet or abacus), then sooner or later you might be too.

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**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?

(A) 8, 10

(B) 4, 5

(C) 5, 9

(D) 6, 9

(E) 7, 10

**Solution**: Now this question is a little tougher than the previous ones we saw last week.

There are two scenarios given:

1 – A gives B a head start of 200 m and beats him by 30 seconds.

2 – A gives B a head start of 3 mins and is beaten by 1000m.

Let’s study both of them and see what we can derive from them.

Scenario 1: A gives B a start of 200m and beats him by 30 seconds.

As we suggested before, we will start by making a diagram.

A runs from the Start line till the finish line i.e. a total distance of 2000 m.

A gives B a head start of 200 m so B starts, not from the starting point, but from 200 m ahead. A still beats him by 30 sec which means that A completes the race while B takes another 30 sec to complete it. So obviously A is much faster than B.

In this race, A covers 2000m. In the same time, B covers the distance shown by the red line. Since B needs another 30 sec ( i.e. 1/2 min) to cover the distance, he has not covered the green line distance. The green line distance is given by (1/2)*s where s is the speed of B in meters per minute. The distance B has actually covered in the same time as A is the distance shown by the red line. This distance will be (1/2)*s less than 1800 i.e. it will be [1800 - (1/2)*s].

Scenario 2: A gives B a head start of 3mins and is beaten by 1000m.

A gives B a head start of 3 mins means B starts running first while A sits at the starting point. After 3 mins, B covers the distance shown by the red line which we do not know yet. Now, A starts running too. B beats A by 1000 m which means that B reaches the end point while A is still 1000 m away from the end i.e. at the mid point of the 2000 m track.

In this race, A covers a distance of 1000 m only. In that time, B covers the distance shown by the green line. The distance shown by the red line was covered by B in his first 3 mins i.e. this distance is 3*s. This distance shown by the green line is given by (2000 – 3s).

Now you see that in the first race, A covers 2000m while in the second race, he covers only 1000m. So in the second race, he must have run for only half the time. Therefore, in half the time, B would also have covered half the previous distance.

Distance covered by B in first race = 2*Distance covered by B in second race

1800 – (1/2)*s = 2*(2000 – 3s) (where s is the speed of B in meters/min)

s = 400 meters/min

Time taken by B to run a 2000 m race = Distance/Speed = 2000/400 = 5 min

Only one option has time taken by B as 5 mins and that must be the answer.

If required, you can easily calculate the time required by A too.

Distance covered by B in scenario 1 = 1800 – (1/2)*s = 1600 m

In the same time, A covers 2000 m which is a ratio of A:B = 5:4. Hence time taken by A:B will be 4:5.

Answer (B)

*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!*