Ah, autumn. The busiest GMAT season of the year as application deadlines and back-to-school nostalgia fill the air, and that season always coincides with Major League Baseball’s pennant races and playoffs. And whether you’re a baseball fan or not, as an aspiring MBA you’ll find a fair amount of overlap between the two, as both the GMAT (and business) and baseball prominently feature the art of probability.
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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?”.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison, speaking about mistakes.
If you study for the GMAT for any appreciable amount of time (and you should) you’ll make mistakes. And that’s a good thing. People love to track their study progress with all kinds of metrics: percent correct, time per question, hours spent, problems completed – but in the end the only numbers that matter are the numbers on your official score report. So whether you were 10 for 10 on your homework or 0 for 20, whether you took less than 2 minutes per problem or spent almost an hour trying to figure it out, the key “metric” to your study sessions should be “what did I learn from this?”. And you can learn a lot from the mistakes you made, whether they’re silly (“I forgot to convert hours to minutes”) or confusing (“why does it matter that health care quality improved in the last three decades?”). You just need to know which questions to ask about the questions you missed. And there are four questions you should ask yourself any time you miss a problem:
GMAT Tip of the Week: Come On,Commas! 3 Reasons You Should Look Forward To Commas On Sentence Correction
Admit it – perhaps your favorite thing about the social media revolution is that you’re (or is it “your”?) almost done having to think about punctuation ever again. Hashtags don’t allow for punctuation, and with only 140 characters to express your point of view or challenge three friends to dump water on their heads, who can afford to waste a character on a comma or semicolon?
For those considering higher education this week, Robin Williams’ memory looms large. The lessons he taught in Dead Poets’ Society and Good Will Hunting have made their way around the internet more quickly and in more contexts than even Williams’ genie character from Aladdin could throw out references.
After you read this post about what to look for before you begin reading a Sentence Correction problem, you’ll be an SC expert since this strategy will tell you when to shift your focus from whatever it’s on to timeline and tense. Ready to get started?
As our attention spans get shorter, the GMAT’s verbal section gets harder. Admit it – at some point in the verbal section of your latest practice test, and maybe earlier in that section than you’d like to admit, you just got bored, or at least lost in all the reading.
If you’re taking the GMAT with the intent of applying to a top-tier business school, there’s a relatively fair chance that you’ll end up having/wanting to retake the GMAT. Which may sound horrible, but it’s true – in fact, several top schools note that their average students take the test more than twice, so if you see a frustrating score pop up during your first, second, or even third attempt don’t let yourself get too down. Rest assured that:
GMAT Tip of the Week: LeBron James Says Don't Be Cavalier About Your Initial Data Sufficiency Decision
It’s all anyone can talk about today – LeBron James has decided to reverse “The Decision” and return home to play for Cleveland. In doing so he forced many people to change their minds.
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
So you’ve taken a practice test and want to know how to use it to improve. You’re not alone, but actually you’re a step ahead of much of the competition! Read the various GMAT forums and you’ll see a lot of data dumps:
On my most recent CATs I scored 640, 610, 630, 580, and 620. What must I do to score 750+ for H/S/W???? Please Help!
If you’re like…probably most human beings this week, you’re at least aware and likely excited for the 2014 World Cup, which began this week in Brazil. As this article is being written, in fact, the 2010 finalists, Spain and the Netherlands, are doing battle in the event’s third game (congratulations to Brazil and Mexico, winners of the first two). And if you’re streaming this game or others at work or if you’ve taken days off to enjoy, you can learn quite a bit from what’s going on in these early group-stage games – lessons that can help you better understand the GMAT scoring system and better plan your test-day and study strategies.
Some of the GMAT’s hardest Problem Solving problems can be made exponentially easier by keeping a famous Jay-Z lyric in the back of your mind. When you hear the phrase:
If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son?
What immediately springs to mind?
I got 99 problems but a b**** ain’t one.
While summer hasn’t officially started with the solstice coming in a few weeks, this post-Memorial-Day short week and a final farewell to winter weather has started the summer season in earnest for most Northern Hemispherians. And thus beginneth the season of sentences like:
It’s not only the heat but also the humidity.
Over the course of your GMAT exam, you’ll read thousands of words. Each Reading Comp passage, for example, will have ~300 of them; each Sentence Correction prompt will have ~40. And while you won’t spend much time reading the words in the Data Sufficiency answer choices, having long since internalized what each letter means, you’ll spend plenty of time poring over keywords in the question stem. You’ll need to process tons of words as you take the GMAT, but on most questions one word will make all the difference:
On nearly every GMAT, you’ll see at least one of the “Min/Max” variety of word problems, a category that’s difficult for even the brightest quant minds largely for one major reason: these aren’t your typical word problems, and they don’t lend themselves very well to algebra. They tend to be every bit as “situational” as “mathematical” and in fact are labeled “scenario-driven Min/Max problems” in the Veritas Prep Word Problems lesson. Why? Because they’re almost entirely driven by the situation, including:
So it’s Mother’s Day weekend, and all of us should be thanking our moms this weekend. For all kinds of things, of course, but for one that you may not have realized all these years growing up:
Your mom taught you one of the greatest Sentence Correction lessons you’ll ever learn.
If you’ve studied for the GMAT for a while, you likely have a decent understanding of the answer choices:
(A) Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked;
(B) Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked;
(C) BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient;
(D) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked;
(E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data are needed
What makes the GMAT difficult? For most examinees, the time pressure is arguably the biggest factor; given unlimited time, most 700-level aspirants could get most problems right, but with that clock ticking and time of the essence we’re all vulnerable to silly mistakes, mental blocks, and the need to give up on hard questions.
One of the great benefits of the Veritas Prep Question Bank is that with its 4 million user responses to GMAT practice questions it does an excellent job of highlighting test-taker trends. These statistics can point out trap answers that examinees too readily fall for, conceptual areas that students need to address, and other valuable insights into the way the world takes the GMAT. And this week, one particular trend caught our eye in a major way:
As Hip Hop Month draws to a close in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, it’s time to pass the torch to the new school; while Eminem, Tupac, the Wu Tang Clan, and other classic acts have taught you some important lessons about the GMAT, it’s time for the young bucks to impart some wisdom. So today we bring you an important message from A$AP Rocky, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar, who will show you one of the most common (f****g) problems that test-takers encounter while taking the GMAT.
Where the Venn Diagram of “Hip Hop Month in the Veritas Prep GMAT Tip space” and “Guy who Photoshops all the preview images for these posts does so for the last time before leaving for an amazing new opportunity” intersects, you’ll find a lot of Boyz II Men, rap ballads, and other assorted slow jams playing bittersweetly in the background. And as it so happens, arguably the best of those slow jams – Tupac’s “Life Goes On” – is a perfect metaphor for GMAT test-day strategy:
As Hip Hop Month rolls along in the GMAT Tip space, we’ll pass the torch from classic artists to the future, today letting Drake take the mic.
March has traditionally been “Hip Hop Month” in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, so with March only hours away and winter weather gripping the world, let’s round up to springtime and start Hip Hop March a few hours early, this time borrowing a page from USC-Marshall Mathers. There are plenty of GMAT lessons to learn from Eminem. He’s a master, as are the authors of GMAT Critical Reasoning, of “precision in language“. He flips sentence structures around to create more interesting wordplay, a hallmark of Sentence Correction authors. But what can one of the world’s greatest vocal wordsmiths teach you about quant?
As the Sochi Olympics enter their final weekend, we all have our lists of things we’ll miss and not miss from this sixteen-day celebration of snow and ice. We’ll almost all miss the hashtag #sochiproblems, the cutaway shots of a scowling Vladimir Putin, the bro show of American snowboarders and TJ Oshie, and the debate over whether the skating judges conspired to give Russia the team gold and the US the ice dancing gold.
The Winter Olympics start tonight in Sochi, and while journalists tweet about the less-than-ideal living conditions in the Russian resort town the athletes themselves have a job to do. Whether they’re skiing or luging or bobsledding, the vast majority of athletes will share one goal:
Get downhill quickly.
The crisis has largely been averted. As we approach Sunday’s Super Bowl, our collective eyes are no longer intently watching the thermometer in East Rutherford wondering how a polar vortex might affect the most American of all holidays, Super Bowl Sunday. We can now get back to the number we all REALLY care about:
By now you’ve seen the interview heard round the world – Richard Sherman’s immediate post-game interview with Erin Andrews – and all the fallout from it: Twitter hysteria, discussions about what that Twitter hysteria says about culture, little kid parodies, and everything else. And regardless of what you think about Richard Sherman, if you’re reading a blog post about MBA admissions you want to be Richard Sherman:
Twenty years later, the figure skater you’d never have called “trendy” was trending last night. As ESPN aired its 30 For 30 special on Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, the biggest pre-OJ story of 1994 became the hottest topic of early 2014. Heading into the 1994 Olympics, both Nancy and Tonya were Olympic veterans, having placed 3rd and 4th, respectively, at the 1992 Games. With 1992 gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi out of the way, the table was set for a Nancy vs. Tonya showdown and both were up to the task, Tonya having been 1991 U.S. Champion and Nancy having won that title in 1993.
-You can’t win them all – in fact, with Item Response Theory scoring much like with democracy you can achieve a resounding “victory” with even 55-60% success in many cases.
It’s a new year, which is often a good time for a new mindset. And if you’ve already decided that 2014 is the year for you to get serious about graduate school, the “hard work pays off” mindset is one you’ve already adopted. So before the year gets too old and habits get too hard to change, try adding one more new outlook to your study regimen (and your life) this year:
So you have a few more days to commit to your New Year’s Resolution, and if you’re like most people you have something like 35 days until you break it. Resolutions don’t often stick, but if your New Year’s Resolution is to apply to business school in 2014, and if as part of that resolution you’re planning to get a high GMAT score, you’re in luck:
One of the things that makes Reading Comprehension difficult is the inclusion of so many words that you either don’t know or don’t spend much time thinking about. Triglyceride, germination, privatization, immunological.
But by the same token, certain words – those that you should think about regularly if you don’t already – can make your job exponentially easier. Consider, for example, these sentence fragments from the beginnings of official GMAT passages:
The axiom has been tweaked and twisted so often that perhaps no one knows the exact term, but we all know the definition.
The definition of insanity is…
The definition of stupidity is…
(WAIT! Google confirms that it’s insanity, but you’ve probably heard it as any number of terms)
While it’s certainly not the score you care about most, the Analytical Writing Assessment can bring with it some stress and even despair. Why? For one, it comes first on the test, and for two it’s the only section that isn’t multiple choice. The answer isn’t already in front of you, but rather you have to create it yourself. And like this blog post (author’s note – I’m attending a conference with the folks from the Graduate Management Admissions Council and have a dinner in an hour with some of our partners in the industry before the conference, so I have 30 minutes to write something intelligible here), the AWA can lead directly to that panic you’ve likely felt on blue book exams and the night before book reports: writer’s block.
Do some of your best ideas come while you’re driving, running, taking a shower or just about to fall asleep? Have you ever spent what felt like an eternity reading a solution over and over again to no avail, only to revisit that problem a few days later and know how to do it almost so intuitively that just feels easy?
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, and amidst all of the memorial articles and TV specials and conspiracy theories, you’ll undoubtedly see that email forward that details the eerie similarities between the two presidents assassinated almost 100 years apart, Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln:
If you’ve been following the strangest story to hit the NFL since Manti Te’o did, you’ve probably noticed that Richie Incognito is nowhere near incognito. There’s nothing subtle or understated about the guy. He’s Rob Ford in a different jersey. But there’s something about that name…
On a timed test like the GMAT, test-takers often fall victim to a simple fact about the way the English language works: we read from left to right.
Why is that? We’re often in such a hurry to make a decision on each answer choice that we make our decisions within the first 5-10 words of a choice without being patient and hearing the whole thing out. A savvy question creator – and rest assured that the GMAT is written by several of those – will use this against you, embedding something early in an answer choice and baiting you into a bad decision.
Some stories are best told in the first person, so forgive me for the break from journalistic standards. As a longtime GMAT instructor – 10th anniversary coming up next month actually – I most empathize with my students when I’m preparing for any big event of my own, usually running and triathlon races. The months of grinding preparation, the sleepless night before the event, that helpless “if I’m not ready by now I guess I’ll never be ready, so here goes nothing” last week before the big day… I get to feel what my students feel leading up to their GMAT, and symbiotically I can both learn more about that experience and benefit from the advice I’ve always given about the GMAT.
Have you ever finished a GMAT problem, read the explanation (or listened to your instructor give it), and thought “well how was I supposed to know ___________?!”?
If so, you’re not alone. Many test-takers become frustrated when the key to a tricky question falls outside the normal realm of math. How was I supposed to know to estimate? How was I supposed to know to flip the diagram over to notice that side AB could also be the base of this triangle? How was I supposed to know that the word “production” next to “costs” was going to be so important?