As we’ve reached the midpoint between buzzing over Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” intro over the weekend and Valentine’s Day next week, love is in the air. Which is a good thing in most respects, but can be a dangerous one on the GMAT. You might well say that one of the most common mistakes that test-takers make on verbal questions is “love at first sight”.
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If you’re like many this weekend, you’ll do some gambling on the Super Bowl. Whether it’s a squares pool at a Super Bowl party, some prop bets in Vegas, or a mayoral contest between the chief executives of Baltimore and San Francisco (Rice-a-Roni against some DVDs of The Wire?), you’ll have opportunities to either win or lose based on probability. So here’s a tip that can help you on both football bets and the GMAT:
If you’re a regular reader of this corner of the Veritas Prep blog, you should know that we like to take Friday mornings to identify something newsworthy and relate it to the GMAT. But this week, the trivial-enough-to-blog news cycle has seemed to take a break. Manti Te’o is old news, the NFL playoffs are in their bye week before the Super Bowl… When the world takes a break, what’s a GMAT blogger to do?
One of the more-dreaded types of GMAT Problem Solving questions is the “must be true” question with three statements; these questions often look like:
If 20x = 49y, which of the following must be true?
I. x > y
II. x2 > y2
III. x/7 is an integer
For many GMAT test-takers, one of the most challenging tasks on the exam is that of weeding through the clutter on Sentence Correction questions to arrive at an actionable decision point. So many Sentence Correction questions involve a lot of dense language and not-altogether-enjoyable subject matter, and as a result students spend a lot of time spinning their wheels trying to even get going.
Many test-takers lament the very presence of Sentence Correction questions, feeling overwhelmed as they study grammar rules and still overwhelmed as they look at practice questions and cannot determine where to start. Sentence Correction can be daunting – the English language is far from binary in its usage (“I before E except after C”…and even that has a bunch of extra caveats), and the questions themselves are specifically designed to make finding your Decision Points difficult.
Baby, it’s cold outside. Pretty much no matter where you are while you read this, it’s cold right now (even here in Los Angeles), and whether it’s by blankets, Starbucks holiday drinks, or thermal underwear, you’re probably hoping to warm up. Which is actually good advice for the GMAT, too, just in a slightly different way.
As Twitter has confirmed, the real winner in this week’s U.S. Elections was Nate Silver, the statistician behind fivethirtyeight.com and the prognosticator who called nearly every national race correctly, save for one senate race in North Dakota. Famously, he predicted each state’s presidential race correctly and he’s risen to prominence with a role on the New York Times and with his new book “The Signal and the Noise.” So with Nate Silver taking statistical analysis to heights that Moneyball only hoped to, it’s only fitting that we close this week by summoning our inner Silver and taking a statistical dive at GMAT questions.
Polling isn’t new, nor is statistical analysis. So why is Nate Silver so much more successful than others when it comes to using statistics to project outcomes? If we understood completely, we’d be writing a different article for a lot more money on a more-heavily-trafficked blog, but the layman’s answer is largely that he takes time to determine which statistics are most relevant to the outcome, and focuses his energy on those. And that’s what you should do when you analyze your GMAT practice tests and consume information about the GMAT – cut to the most meaningful statistics and focus your energy there.
So it is upon us. The much-anticipated final Jobs Report before the 2012 Presidential Election has been released, and its results will fuel debates all weekend and can have a significant impact on your GMAT verbal score if you pay attention to the arguments that surround it.
Here’s what happened – the American economy added 171,000 new jobs, beating economists’ predictions by a healthy margin (good news?) but the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point from last month’s figure (bad news?). And in full GMAT Critical Reasoning mode, pundits and political representatives immediately began using those statistics to draw unsupported conclusions. Check out these Critical Reasoning style Weaken questions you could make from today’s arguments:
Happy Halloween Weekend, readers (and, yes, we do find it odd that for this generation Halloween now spans several days and seems to have more relevance for 20-somethings than does pretty much any other holiday, but we’re not complaining).
As you put the final touches on your Halloween costume for the weekend – our ever-on-the-pulse-of-costume-popularity coworker, Jason (2010 – Antoine Dodson; 2011- Angry Birds. Every year he’s ahead of the curve on “most popular costume”) is going as Gangam Style – it’s not a bad time to keep your eyes one one of the next hallmarks of the fall-winter calendar, Round Two Application Deadlines. And here’s where the two coincide:
There’s a lot you can learn about your GMAT preparation everywhere you look… even in the cutthroat world of American politics. Yes, even watching two Harvard grads snarl at each other can help you become a better GMAT student and, ultimately, a higher score on the exam.
If you watched the U.S. Presidential Debate this week, you hopefully saw a lot of similarities between you and the candidates:
Within hours of the Detroit Tigers’ blown Game 4 lead against the Oakland A’s, ensuring a fifth and decisive game of the American League Divisional Series, devastated (and exhausted) Detroiters started watching their Facebook and Twitter feeds fill with an internet meme that would prove prophetic:
Justin Verlander the Game Five pitcher, with the slogan “Everybody Chill Out…I Got This”
And “got this” he did, pitching a complete and dominant game, shutting out the A’s and seemingly inspiring run support from what had been dead bats all series. And in doing so, Verlander showed you how to raise your game for the GMAT. He made it known loud and clear – not necessarily from his words but from his actions, demeanor, and commitment, that he was finishing the job no matter what — he wouldn’t hand the ball off to a relief pitcher if there were any way to avoid it.
It’s Friday, so if you’re in the GMAT’s general demographic range (20-something, college grad, young professional) there’s a good chance you’ll hit a bar tonight. And there you may have a chance to witness (or experience) an age-old phenomenon that just may help you avoid a common pitfall on the GMAT:
If you’re like many GMAT test-takers trying to bump up against that “glass ceiling” of 700, you may be frustrated that you keep studying and drilling math concepts and problems but you’re still not improving on Data Sufficiency questions. Does that sound like you?
If so, there’s a reason. While Data Sufficiency both involves math and appears on the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT, it’s not simply a math question. It’s a logic puzzle that hinges on math concepts, and your ability to embrace that subtle difference might just be the difference between reaching your goal score and falling short. For example, consider a few Data Sufficiency questions that employ Geometry principles – as Geometry tends to be among the topics for which students study the most “stuff”.
If the political convention season had one theme in its most-talked-about speeches, it was essentially this: interviewing presidents. Last week, Clint Eastwood owned the Twittersphere with his interview of an invisible Barack Obama, who responded to those questions with exactly zero words (largely because he wasn’t actually there).
And in this past Wednesday’s most-Tweeted-about speech of the DNC, Bill Clinton talked about a question that he’s frequently asked in interviews, and one of his signature lines of the night was his one-word response: Arithmetic.
If Clint Eastwood went ahead and made anyone’s day last night, it was probably Jon Stewart’s or Stephen Colbert’s, as the legendary film star stole the show at last night’s GOP convention and launched himself to the top of social media trend charts. It can be debated whether Eastwood’s unique speech hit or missed the mark; whether those that invited him were pleased or disappointed with his performance; or whether Saturday Night Live’s forthcoming impression will be one for the ages.
But what cannot be debated is this – by spending some time holding a conversation with an empty chair, Clint Eastwood taught you an important GMAT test-day lesson:
With this week’s Lance Armstrong news and this blog’s history of rolling cycling news into GMAT tip posts, it’s only natural that today’s GMAT tip will involve that news. We’ll reserve judgment on the Armstrong case, specifically, but let’s use the situation to talk about GMAT Critical Reasoning and the way that it often uses statistics in arguments to assess your ability to think critically.
Consider an argument such as:
A test to denote the presence of a particular performance enhancing drug is known to be accurate in 95% of its cases. A certain athlete’s sample has tested positive for the presence of that drug. Therefore, by virtue of this test, we can conclude that it is far more likely than not that the athlete used that drug.
One of this weekend’s most popular barroom debates will be this: Is Usain Bolt the greatest sprinter of all time? The greatest Olympian of all time? The Muhammad Ali for this generation?
If you missed it, Usain Bolt tacked on another gold medal last night, winning the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds having eased up to celebrate in the waning meters. While this on-the-run celebration certainly cost him an Olympic record (19.30) and potentially even a world record (19.19), it didn’t cost him the race as he remained ahead of teammate Yohan Blake en route to the win. In doing so, Bolt laid claim with his back-to-back 100 AND 200 meter titles to his place as the Ali-esque Greatest of All Time. And, inadvertently, he may have helped you better understand how to perform on the GMAT with regard to pacing, as the 200 meter dash provides a nice parallel to how you should pace yourself on the GMAT.
This week’s GMAT Tip of the Week comes from David Newland, a Veritas Prep GMAT prep instructor based in Boston.
There is a show on ABC on Monday nights that — in my opinion — has almost no redeeming qualities. However, this show does demonstrate a very important facet of data sufficiency. The show is called “The Bachelor” and it features one unmarried man, the bachelor, who claims to be tired of being single and looking to get married. The process of selecting a bride is conducted like a game show. Dozens of women are brought out and the bachelor slowly sifts through them eliminating them or keeping them around by giving them a rose. At the end the bachelor proposes to the chosen woman and they live happily ever after…that is until a few months later — surprise, surprise — we learn that the relationship did not work out. What could have gone wrong? Isn’t this the way all successful relationships begin — on a game show?
Back in February, the entire sporting world succumbed to (Jeremy) Linsanity. But, alas, the GMAT world was months away from the perfect Lin-guistic technique, using “Lin” as a Lintroductory term for “Integrated Reasoning.” So it was with great fanfare this week that Jeremy Lin leaped right back to the top of the news wire, signing with the Houston Rockets and not only creating an opportunity for a fantastic pun with Lintegrated Reasoning, but demonstrating — to the dismay of the world MBA capital, New York City – how to think strategically on Integrated Reasoning questions.
Many IR questions will involve the use of not just math, but “strategic math.” The Houston Rockets’ offer sheet to Lin – a sheet that could have been matched by the Knicks – wasn’t entirely noteworthy in its size. $25 million over 3 years isn’t at all an unconscionable contract for a starting point guard, and Lin is a special case in his marketability. Overseas broadcast rights, jersey sales, ticket sales – Lin has the potential to recoup that investment quickly.
On the GMAT, Critical Reasoning problems often ask you to strengthen a conclusion, weaken a conclusion, or determine an assumption necessary for the conclusion to hold true. In any of these cases, it is of prime importance that you know exactly what the conclusion is saying; otherwise, it can be easy for your answer choice to miss the mark.
It’s therefore important to ensure that you correctly identify the conclusion of the argument, and to make doing so a priority. There are four clues to determine the conclusion of a Critical Reasoning argument, any of which should help you determine which statement is the argument’s conclusion:
1) Conclusion language such as “thus” or “therefore”
2) A call for action, such as “they must…” or “we should…”
Now that Integrated Reasoning is here to stay on the GMAT, it’s time to, as Outkast would say, “hush that fuss” about how to avoid IR for your fall application or why IR is a new behemoth worthy of fear. As we’ve mentioned many times in this space, IR isn’t as “new” as the hype would suggest. And to conquer it, it’s probably best to heed some other advice from Outkast and specifically from Andre 3000 (not his SAT score) in the song “Roses”:
If you’ve spent more than ten minutes researching the GMAT, you probably know that it’s a computer-adaptive test (CAT). As the name suggests, the GMAT is administered via computer, and it adapts to you based on how you do on each question. By “adapts,” we mean that it decides what question to show you next based on how you’ve done on your previous questions. At any given point in the exam, the test has a best guess as to your ability level, and it keeps serving questions to try to get an even more accurate read on you.
A more simplistic way to phrase that last statement would be: “Get a question right, and the next question gets harder.” But what’s “harder” to one person may not be for another person. The GMAT has a humongous (that’s the technical term) bank of questions, and each one is effective teasing out differences among test takers around a certain ability level. A given question might be too basic to tease out the difference between 700- and 750-level test takers, while another might be too advanced to tell apart 580- and 630-level test takers. When we say that a question is “easier” or “harder” than the last, that’s what we mean.
Today Veritas Prep GMAT prep instructor extraordinaire David Newland provides some insights on overcoming anxiety on test day. Read on… This is really interesting advice that can significantly improve your performance and help you reach your maximum potential on the GMAT!
For the last 15 years a wave of laughter has swept across one of the largest countries in the world. Why are so many people in India laughing? Is it because they have just spoken to some American and are amazed at the crazy way that most Americans speak “English”? No. The laughter is coming from “laughing clubs” where people practice “laughter yoga.” Now maybe those of you who have not heard of laughter yoga are laughing a bit at the whole concept… That would be music to the ears of Dr. Kataria the founder of laughter yoga.
Repeatedly in this space, you’ve read the theme “Think Like the Testmaker,” an important mantra for success on the GMAT. Also important – knowing precisely what that means, and what it doesn’t. The Veritas Prep emphasis on “Think Like the Testmaker”:
- DOES NOT mean that you somehow need to play mindreader, that GMAT questions are subjective and if you don’t share the testmaker’s opinion or style you’ll get questions wrong. GMAT questions are binary – there are four incorrect answers and one correct answer every time. Even if a question asks you to select “the best” answer, you’re really trying to select “the correct” answer. The other four will be fatally flawed.
If you’re reading this post in preparation for the GMAT, you are in luck:
You’re taking the Integrated Reasoning section.
After a few months of handwringing over whether to rush to take the “old” GMAT or to instead take the “new” GMAT, those taking the test after today have just one choice: take the GMAT. Which happens to include Integrated Reasoning. Queme los barcos.
With just over a week to go until the debut of the Integrated Reasoning section, “Integrated Reasoning” Google searches are up just about as much as Facebook stock is down. With that in mind, let’s discuss the Graphics Interpretation question type through the lens of the stock market to show you how the creators of the GMAT will use your mind’s natural tendencies against you.
Do you have an iPhone? If so, pull up the “Stocks” app and look at the graph at the bottom of the page. What you see will look something like this:
Sun Tzu is famous for saying, in The Art of War, “know thy enemy, know thy self” (a loose translation, but that’s the famous quotation that has lasted centuries). And while at Veritas Prep we hesitate to call the authors of the GMAT “thy enemy,” we still advocate that you learn to Think Like the Testmaker, much as Sun Tzu would advise, and to think about how well the testmaker knows yourself.
Know this about “thy enemy” — the makers of the GMAT will admit that theirs is a test of “higher order thinking”, of your ability to think critically, solve problems efficiently, and otherwise demonstrate not merely that you have knowledge but that when you do have knowledge you can leverage it to greater gain. For this reason, the test is obligated to use tricks, shortcuts, and partial knowledge against you if that’s all you bring to the table on harder questions; at some point in the 500s/600s, the test has to determine not just “who studied” but “who can really think and problem solve”. And for that reason, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Read that sentence from the title again (please…in honor of Mothers Day we should certainly mind our Ps and Qs!): Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Does that make any sense?
Not at all, but grammarians have to admit that *grammatically* it’s not a flawed sentence, in that it proceeds with Adjective, Adjective, Plural Noun, Plural Verb, Adverb. This sentence, coined by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures, shows the necessity in language of not merely grammatical correctness, but logical meaning as well. And as you’ll note, this concept of “logical meaning” is one that has become increasingly common in these GMAT-themed blog circles of late, and one that has traditionally appeared on this blog in years past. Consider another, more GMAT-relevant sentence:
On the GMAT, Data Sufficiency questions can be tricky. But perhaps most frustrating about Data Sufficiency questions are those that somehow trick you when, upon further review, they gave you absolutely everything you needed. When you look back at them, you can’t believe that you got them wrong – but you should also notice patterns in why you did. One common way that an in-hindsight-pretty-straightforward question can be extremely challenging involves the “hiding” of pertinent information in the question stem itself, where the testmakers know that you’re apt to read quickly in your haste to get to the statements. Consider the question:
If xy < 0, is x/y > z?
(1) xyz < 0
(2) x > yz
As you study for the GMAT, it is important that you recognize that the GMAT is not a test of memory or knowledge, but rather of higher-order thinking, problem solving, and true understanding. If you’ve begun studying at the memorization/knowledge level, you may already be appalled at the title of this post (“Being! It’s wrong…it’s wrong!”). But that title – which employs correct usage of “being” – should indicate a better way of studying for a reasoning-based test. In this post, we’ll explain how.
First things first: Dr. Lawrence Rudner is considered by most to be the guru of the GMAT. He oversees the administration of the GMAT for the Graduate Management Admissions Council, shaping the scoring algorithm and the direction of question creation and implementation. So as you aspire to “Think Like the Testmaker” to fully understand the GMAT and how to succeed on it, in a way you’re hoping to think as much like Dr. Rudner as possible. Hopefully you learned in high school and college that the topics most favored by your professor were the most likely to appear on the exam; similarly, on the GMAT, if you can understand how questions are written and what they are trying to assess, you can become a much more effective studier and examinee.
If you’re like many of us at Veritas Prep Headquarters in Los Angeles, you spend an undue amount of time driving, and driving in heavy traffic. But if you find that you’re spending too much time driving and that you need to spend more time studying for the GMAT, you’re in luck! Driving and the GMAT go hand in hand, in a way, and there are two major ways that you can use your drive time to become a better GMAT test taker:
1) Driving lets you use a lot of mental, GMAT-style math
2) Driving is a metaphor for GMAT reasoning
Let’s start with mental math. You should know that the GMAT tests a lot of Number Properties, Divisibility and Factors, Rate Problems, and calculations that are done much quicker without doing problems fully by hand. And you should also notice that, while you’re driving, you’re absolutely bombarded with numbers in that GMAT style. So even if you’re just driving from Santa Monica to San Diego for the weekend, you can sharpen your mental math skills by nothing things like:
For Major League Baseball fans, this week marks Opening Day, the dawn of a new season and the unofficial beginning of spring. For GMAT test-takers, Opening Day of the new Integrated Reasoning section is two months away…and sadly most GMAT examinees don’t quite see that Opening Day with as much hope and promise as baseball fans have for their opener. But the two Opening Days have some direct similarities, and understanding those similarities can help you to see the IR Opening Day with much more promise and excitement.
Welcome to the final day of Hip Hop Month here in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where like any good radio station we’re letting our listeners have a say through the request line. Sean in Wayne, Michigan requested an old-school cut that should have a tremendous impact on your GMAT study regimen and test-day strategy. So we’re going to take you back to 1999 with a study message from Sporty Thievz.
Like you as a GMAT test-taker, Sporty Thievz found themselves chasing a big career jump (they weren’t getting much airplay; you want to get an elite MBA) and being held down by a powerful, acronymed entity (GMAC for you, TLC for them) that seemingly wrote all the rules. TLC had taken a shot at Sporty Thievz types with their hit single “No Scrubs,” decrying the low-on-cash, high-on-themselves types of wannabes. The overarching message – “don’t have a car so you’re walking”; “if you live at home with your mama”; “wanna get with me with no money” – was “impress me, then we’ll talk”. Which, if you think about it, is exactly the GMAT’s message to you:
Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where this week we’re taking it old school with a GMAT Quant lesson courtesy of the much-karaoked (and poorly Weird Al Yankoviced as you’ll see below) Young MC:
This here’s a post for all the students
Trying to finish the quant section with wit and prudence
But waste a lot of time ’cause they’re overzealous
Question’s too abstract is what they tell us
More quant section, another tough question
Full of classic GMAT misdirection
You need to post a score of which schools will approve
So don’t just stand there, bust a move
We’re back with another GMAT Tip of the week for Hip Hop Month – with a side note that an eye for the number line should show you that this looks to be a Hip Hop month for the ages with five Fridays! (You could probably check a calendar, too, but knowing that today is the 9th, that gives us 16, 23, and 30 as Fridays to follow before the calendar flips to another month and another theme.)
This week, let’s talk about GMAT difficulty, and especially quantitative problem difficulty. Search online and you’ll probably find quite a few “GMAT-style” quant questions in forums and on blogs that are simply diabolical, requiring a dozen steps and some obscure mathematical knowledge. In most cases, those questions really aren’t GMAT-style. Check the harder questions in the Official Guide for GMAT Review or the GMAT Prep practice tests, and you’ll find that they tend to resemble this Lil Wayne lyric:
Paper chasing, tell that paper “look I’m right behind ya”
If it’s March, it must be Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where this week we’re going to skate to one song and one song only.
What can Jay and Ye teach you about your GMAT study and test day strategy? Let’s call their message “Scholars in Paris” (perhaps their mission is to attend HEC or INSEAD, or to just take an international spring break trip from Kellogg, Booth, Stern, or Columbia in their hometowns). And let’s have Kanye deliver the first lesson with one of his lyrics from that song:
As the political primary season nears ever closer to Super Tuesday, all eyes are on the race between Mitt Romney and his field of challengers. In the interest of fair time, we planned in this space for thematic GMAT Tip posts for each of them (an “exponent rules of 9 to the 9 to the 9″ for Herman Cain; something completely unsearchable by Google so that our Santorum post wouldn’t tarnish our brand; and a post in honor of that third guy… can’t remember his name. Oh, right. Rick Perry). But as Romney nears ever closer to the nomination and holds the Harvard Business School MBA relevant to this space, anyway, we’re prepared to declare him the presumptive winner, at least of our choice for the subject of this post. How can you use Mitt Romney’s style to achieve Mitt Romney’s level of business school acceptance success?
If you have not yet encountered the term “intended meaning” in your GMAT study, you are free -and encouraged – to skip this post! But if you have, this point is worth learning. While many GMAT books and websites – including the Official Guide for GMAT Review in some of its solutions – provide as rationale for eliminating answer choices that they “distort the intended meaning” of the sentence, beware that the concept of “intended meaning” is dangerous if you use it to solve problems. Consider, as evidence, the following answer choices from an official GMAT problem: