One way in which the GMAT differs from most tests is that you only need to find the correct answer to the given question. There are absolutely no points for your development, your reasoning or indeed anything you decide to write down. This is completely contrary to much of what we learned in high school and university, where you could be rewarded for having the correct algorithm or approach even if you didn’t get the correct answer. On most math problems, if you got the wrong answer but demonstrated how you got there, you could at least get partial credit, especially if your approach was perfect but the execution lacked (like passing on the 1 yard line).
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In pretty much every class I teach, at some point I’ll get the algebra vs. strategy question. Which is better? How do you know? I sympathize with the students’ confusion, as we’ll use the two approaches in different scenarios, but there doesn’t seem to be any magic formula to determine which is preferable. In many instances, both approaches will work fine, and the choice will mostly be a matter of taste and comfort for the test-taker.
We know that Combinatorics and Probability are tricky topics. It is easy to misinterpret questions of these topics and get the incorrect answer – which, unfortunately, we often find in the options, giving us a false sense of accomplishment.
In many questions, we need to account for different cases one by one but we don’t really see such questions on the GMAT since we have limited time. Also, we don’t tire of repeating this again and again – GMAT questions are more reasoning based than calculation intensive. Usually, there will be an intellectual method to solve every GMAT question – a method that will help you solve it in seconds.
In my decade of teaching the GMAT, perhaps no single group has found the quant section on the test more exasperating than math nerds. Yep, math nerds. Engineers, financial analysts, Physics majors, etc.
This may seem somewhat paradoxical, but the quant section on the GMAT isn’t testing your math ability. The skills that allowed the quantitatively-inclined to ace their tests in high school and college not only have limited value on the GMAT, but actually undermine test-takers, prompting them to grind through calculations when the question is really about how to avoid those very calculations.
When preparing to take the GMAT, you often solve hundreds or even thousands of practice problems. As you solve more and more of them, you start to realize that almost every question is testing something specific. There’s a geometry question about right angle triangles that’s really all about Pythagoras’ theorem, and an algebra problem that is easy to solve if you expand the difference of squares. However, there are some questions that make you scratch your head and wonder: “What in the world?” Some questions make you think you missed a section of material that you need to review (are there triple integrals on the GMAT?), or at the very least that you don’t know the correct strategic approach. I will euphemistically call these “WTF” questions, which of course stands for “Want To Finish”.
It’s Grammy Weekend here in Los Angeles. All local sports teams have cleared out of the LA Live / Staples Center / Nokia Theater area and local citizens are humming along to the song of the year nominees. How can you (Taylor) Swiftly make your GMAT Quant score (Ariana) Grande, even without the help of an expensive GMAT (Meghan) Trainor? The process isn’t So Fancy, so take that stress and Shake It Off. When you see exponent-based questions, the #1 thing you can do:
Today, let’s look in detail at a relation between arithmetic mean and geometric mean of two numbers. It is one of those properties which make sense the moment someone explains to us but are very hard to arrive on our own.
When two positive numbers are equal, their Arithmetic Mean = Geometric Mean = The number itself
It’s Super Bowl weekend, one of the busiest gambling weekends of the year. Maybe you’ll play a squares pool and end up with the dreaded 6:5 combination, maybe you’ll parlay three prop bets and lose on the third, and maybe you’ll bet on your team to win and lose both the game and your cash. How can you turn your gambling losses into investments?
This is a problem that I have seen many times before. It leaves students bewildered because all of the signs that would lead them to expect a lower score are absent. They did not run out of time, they did not have to guess at lots of questions, and they did not feel overwhelmed. Even I have suffered from this a bit, my lowest Quant score came on the exam where I felt most comfortable – and my highest score on Quant came on the exam that felt the worst.
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of the GMAT is that you are not allowed to use a calculator for the quantitative section. This is uncomfortable because, throughout your everyday life, you are never more than about 5 feet from a calculator (yes, even in Death Valley). Almost everyone has a cell phone, a laptop, a desktop or a GMAT guru nearby to compute difficult calculations for them. Even high school students are generally allowed their calculators on test day. However, the lack of a calculator allows the GMAT to test your reasoning skills and time management skills much more easily than if you had access to electronic help.
We all know about the role of pre-thinking in Critical Reasoning and how anticipating the answer can be supremely beneficial in not just the physical aspect of saving time in analyzing options but also the psychological aspect of promoting our self-confidence – we were thinking that the answer should look like this and that is exactly what we found! Pre-thinking puts us in the driver’s seat and we feel energized without consuming any red bull!
We often tell you that if you are short on time, you can guess intelligently on a few questions and move on. Today we will discuss what we mean by “intelligent guessing”. There are many techniques – most of them involving your reasoning skills to eliminate some options and hence generating a higher probability of an accurate guess. Let’s look at one such method to get values in the ballpark.
We know that speed is important in GMAT. We have about 2 mins per question and we always have questions in which we get stuck, waste 3-4 mins and probably still answer incorrectly. So we are always trying to go faster, rush, complete the easy ones in less time! In our bid to save time, sometimes we sacrifice accuracy. We should know that accuracy is most important. No point running through questions and completing all of them before time if at the end of it all, most of our answers are incorrect – there are no bonus points for completing the test before time, after all!
The GMAT is an exam that evaluates how you think. The test is designed to measure your reasoning skills and gauge how successful you will be in business school. This means that the test is not simply trying to ascertain how much you already know. This is similar to the mantra of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. If you happen to already know that 144 is 12^2, then any question that asks about this specific number becomes much easier. However, if the exam starts asking about 13^2 or 14^2, and you only know 12^2, then you must find some method to take your knowledge and apply it to new and unscripted problems.
Those of you who have seen the previous version of our curriculum would know that we had tips and tricks under the heading of ‘Lazy Genius’. These used to discuss innovative shortcuts for various questions – the way very smart people would solve the question – without putting in too much effort!
Studying for the GMAT can take over your life. I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads as you read this. If you’re not, you probably haven’t gotten there yet. I sincerely hope that you never do, but it is an almost unavoidable part of studying for this test. Eventually, you start correcting artists in songs (I got one less problem without you… more like one fewer problem) and wondering if your table number is a prime number (how about table 51… oops that’s divisible by 3). The first time you catch yourself using a GMAT specific term, you know you’re really deep in studying for this exam.
As promised last week, we will look at another question which involves finding the last two digits of the product of some random numbers. In this question, along with the concepts discussed last week, we will assimilate the concept of negative remainders too discussed some weeks ago.
With the winter solstice behind us here in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re probably noticing that the daylight is starting to return; this week we begin the steady climb toward summertime and you’ll see a few extra minutes of daylight after work each week from here until June. For many GMAT applicants, the darkest days of the year in December and early January match with the darkest days of their admissions journey, hustling to post a competitive GMAT while also scrambling on essays for Round 2. But this, too, shall pass.
Let’s continue the discussion of last two digits we started last week. We discussed the concept of pattern recognition and how it can help us determine the last two digits in case of numbers raised to some powers. Today we look at what happens when there is no pattern to determine! What if we are asked to determine the last two digits of the product of a bunch of numbers. We know that getting the last digit in this case is very easy – just multiply the last digits of the numbers together. But last TWO digits would seem much more complicated.
Like most offices in the United States today, Veritas Prep’s headquarters had its fair share of water cooler and coffemaker discussions about yesterday’s final episode of the Serial podcast. Did Adnan do it? Did Jay set him up? Why does Don get a free pass based on a LensCrafters time-card punch? Does Best Buy have pay phones? The one answer we can give you is “we used MailChimp” so there’s that at least.
We all know how to find the last digit using cyclicity when we are given a number raised to a power. Last digit of a number depends only on the last digit of the base. You must be quite familiar with something like this –
Last Digit of Base:
0 – Last digit of expression with any power will be 0.
Min/Max problems can be among the most frustrating on the GMAT’s quantitative section. Why? Because they seldom involve an equation or definite value. They’re the ones that ask things like “did the fisherman who caught the third-most fish catch at least 12 fish?” or “what is the maximum number of fish that any one fisherman caught?”. And the reason the GMAT loves them? It’s precisely because they’re so much more strategic than they are “calculational.” They make you think, not just plug and chug.
One topic that always makes me think on the GMAT is geometry. It’s not that geometry is particularly hard, or even particularly easy, but rather that it’s particularly irrelevant! Having done an MBA in the past few years, I can virtually guarantee you that you will never have to calculate the area of a rhombus or the volume of a cone during your graduate studies. It’s possible that you have to calculate various geometric shapes in your career after graduating (say you run an ice cream shop!), but during your education the entire discipline seems somewhat superfluous.
You must have come across questions which you thought tested one concept but later found out could be easily dealt with using another concept. Often, crafty little mixture problems belong to this category. For example:
Mark is playing poker at a casino. Mark starts playing with 140 chips, 20% of which are $100 chips and 80% of which are $20 chips. For his first bet, Mark places chips, 10% of which are $100 chips, in the center of the table. If 70% of Mark’s remaining chips are $20 chips, how much money did Mark bet?
Today is December 5, or in date form it’s 12/5. And if you hope to score 700+ on the GMAT, you should see those two numbers, 5 and 12, and immediately also think “13”!
There are certain combinations of numbers that just have to be top of mind when you take the GMAT. The quantitative section goes quickly for almost everyone, and so if you know the following combinations you can save extremely valuable time.
We have discussed weighted averages in detail here but one thing we are yet to talk about is how you decide what the weights will be in weighted average problems. It is not always straight forward to identify the weights. For example, in a question such as this one,
When going through the quantitative section of the GMAT, you will often be confronted by numbers that are, shall we say, unwieldy (some people refer to them as “insane”). It is common on the exam to see numbers like 11!, 15^8, or even 230,050,672. Regardless of the form of the number, the common mistake that many novice test takers make is the same: They try to actually solve the number.
First, let us give you the link to the last post of this series: Post IV. It contains links to previous parts too.
Today, we bring another tip for you to help get that dream score of 51 – if you must write down the data given, write down all of it! Let us explain.
This week’s video post brings you a tip for taking a closer look at the data in Data Sufficiency. Is what you know about Data Sufficiency statements really sufficient? There are certain points of information that are necessary to know for Data Sufficiency, but knowing those doesn’t mean you have sufficient information to correctly solve the problem.
If you’ve ever built a puzzle, you probably know that you can’t expect to start at a certain point and build the entire puzzle without moving around. You may find two or three pieces that fit together nicely, but then you find three pieces that fit together nicely somewhere else, and then work to connect these disparate sections.
First, we would like to refer you back to a post we put up quite a while ago: The Holistic Approach to Mods
In this post, we discussed how to use graphing techniques to easily solve very high level questions on nested absolute values. We don’t think you will see such high level questions on actual GMAT. The aim of putting up the post was to illustrate the use of graphing technique and how it can be used to solve simple as well as complicated questions with equal ease. It was aimed at encouraging you to equip yourself with more visual approaches.
When dealing with questions that ask us to compartmentalize information, there are two major sorting methods that we can use on the GMAT. The first, and perhaps more familiar concept, is the Venn diagram. This categorization is very useful for situations where information overlaps, as it allows a visual representation of multiple categories at once. However, if the information provided has no possible overlap, such as indicating whether something is made of gold or silver, or if they’re male or female (Bruce Jenner notwithstanding), the preferred method of organization is the matrix box.
A couple of weeks back, we looked at a 750+ level question on mean, median and range concepts of Statistics. This week, we have a 750+ level question on standard deviation concept of Statistics. We do hope you enjoy checking it out.
Before you begin, you might want to review the post that discusses standard deviation: Dealing With Standard Deviation
Today, we have a very interesting statistics question for you. We have already discussed statistics concepts such as mean, median, range etc in our QWQW series. Check them out here if you haven’t already done so:
One of the most difficult tasks on the GMAT is to properly interpret what the question is really asking. The GMAT is loaded with dense terminology, accurate but irrelevant prose and confusing technical jargon (and that’s just the instruction page!) The verbiage is dense on purpose, with the deciphering of the information part of the skills being tested. And since this task only gets more challenging as you get more tired throughout the exam, it’s important to recognize the vocabulary used on the GMAT. To borrow from geek culture, you need to understand the GMAT 1337 speak.
Succeeding on the GMAT requires a great many things. Firstly, you must be able to decipher and solve complex logic puzzles in mere minutes. Secondly, you must be able to maintain focus for many consecutive hours. (And thirdly, you must pay to take the exam). The exam can be particularly tricky because the questions asked are rarely straight forward. Indeed, all of these elements are often linked (except potentially the payment) on questions that ask you to decode functions specific to the question at hand.
We have read a lot about one way of handling complex questions – simplify them to a question you know how to solve. Here is another way – first do what you do know, and then figure out the rest!
We know that basic concepts are twisted to make advanced questions. Our aim is to break down the question into two parts – ‘the basic concept’ and ‘the complexity’. You can either deal with the complexity first and then glide through the basic concept or you can glide through the basic concept first and then face the complexity. The method you use will depend on the question. If the question seems too complex at the outset, it means you will have to deal with the complexity first. If the question seems familiar but has some extra not-so-familiar elements, it means you should get the familiar out of the way first. Let’s take a question today to see how to do that.
It all looked so obvious: a storybook ending preordained from the beginning, some early success and a bit of good fortune leading to a glorious success story. But wait! Then fate intervened, and the easiest part of all had something different to say. And only then was true glory to be had, a glory much greater than that inevitable win ripped away just moments ago.
Most of us know that GMAT is a shrew, (euphemism for a more choice adjective that comes to mind!) and is very hard to tame. It is well established that it is able to give a pretty accurate estimate of aptitude with just a few questions, and that the only way to “deceive” it is by actually improving your aptitude! It has numerous tricks up its sleeves to uncloak a rather basic player.