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99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 5: Procrastinate to Calculate

99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 5: Procrastinate to Calculate

Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms.  He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation.   In this “9 for 99thvideo series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Quant, GMAT Tips
The Importance of Recognizing Patterns on the GMAT

The Importance of Recognizing Patterns on the GMAT

In life, we often see certain patterns repeat over and over again. After all, if everything in life were unpredictable, we’d have a hard time forecasting tomorrow’s weather or how long it will take to go to work next week. Luckily, many patterns repeat in recurring, predictable patterns. A simple example is a calendar. If tomorrow is Friday, then the following day will be Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards (credit: Rebecca Black). Moreover, if today is Friday, then 7 days from now will also be Friday, and 70 days from now will also be Friday, and onwards ad infinitum (even with leap years). These patterns are what allow us to predict things with 100% certainty.

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The GMAT Shortcut That Can Help You Solve a Variety of Quantitative Questions

The GMAT Shortcut That Can Help You Solve a Variety of Quantitative Questions

One thing I’m constantly encouraging my students to do is to seek horizontal connections between seemingly disparate problems. Often times, two quantitative questions that would seem to fall into separate categories can be solved using the same approach. When we have to sift through dozens of techniques and strategies under pressure, we’re likely to become paralyzed by indecision. If, however, we have a small number of go-to approaches, we can quickly consider all available options and arrive at one that will work in any given context.

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The Easiest Type of Reading Comprehension Question on the GMAT

The Easiest Type of Reading Comprehension Question on the GMAT

Reading comprehension questions on the GMAT are primarily an exercise in time management. If you gave yourself 30 minutes to complete a single Reading Comprehension passage along with four questions, you would find the endeavour very easy. Most questions on the GMAT feature some kind of trap, trick or wording nuance that could easily lead you astray and select the wrong answer. Reading Comprehension questions, while occasionally tricky, are typically the most straightforward questions on the entire exam.

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The Importance of Sorting Answer Choices on the GMAT

The Importance of Sorting Answer Choices on the GMAT

On the GMAT, as in life, you have multiple choices you can make at every juncture you face. On the standardized test, your choices are limited to only five, which is more manageable than the plethora of choices you encounter every day. However, even five answer choices can cause a lot of frustration for people who have difficulty differentiating among them.

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99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 4: Think Like a Lawyer on Critical Reasoning

99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 4: Think Like a Lawyer on Critical Reasoning

Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms.  He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation.   In this “9 for 99thvideo series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, Gmat Verbal
Avoid the Tempting Trap Answer on GMAT Questions

Avoid the Tempting Trap Answer on GMAT Questions

When looking through answer choices on Critical Reasoning questions, there is always one correct answer to the question. After all, it wouldn’t be fair if two different answers were both legitimate responses to the query being posed. However, just because the other four answers are incorrect, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t tempting. In fact, there is usually one choice the exam is pointing you towards selecting, even though it isn’t the correct option. This is often referred to as the sucker choice.

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2 Ways to Improve Your Pattern Recognition on GMAT Questions

2 Ways to Improve Your Pattern Recognition on GMAT Questions

In 1946, a fascinating study about chess masters revealed that, for the most part, they had unexceptional working memories. This finding flew in the face of conventional wisdom, which held that chess masters must have had photographic memories to absorb thousands and thousands of scenarios they’d encountered throughout their years of training. Instead of relying on superior recall, it turns out that they were simply better than most at recognizing patterns.

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Don't Let Your Prior Knowledge Get in the Way on GMAT Questions

Don't Let Your Prior Knowledge Get in the Way on GMAT Questions

As a true Canadian, I’m always on the lookout for questions that are specifically about Canada. Sometimes a question is about trains travelling from Toronto to Montreal, and other times a Reading Comprehension passage deals with a certain Canadian prime minister. Sometimes, the question is just very polite!

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Fishing for the Right Answer to Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions

Fishing for the Right Answer to Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions

While preparing for the GMAT, there will be certain question types that will appear over and over again. If you’re studying math, you know that you’ll see at least a couple of exponent problems that you’ll need to solve through algebra. If you’re studying sentence correction, you know that you’ll see at least a couple of misplaced modifiers that need to be modified in the correct answer choice. Some question types are so obvious that you know you have to prepare for them, even if you somehow manage to not see a single one on test day (kind of like fishing).

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, Gmat Verbal
Expecting the Unexpected on GMAT Quant Questions

Expecting the Unexpected on GMAT Quant Questions

After studying for the GMAT for a few months (or years, in my case), you start to form expectations of exam questions. If you’re doing sentence correction, and you see a pronoun, there’s a good chance that the various answer choices will have different pronouns to ensure that you pick the correct one. If you’re doing math with three or four digit numbers, there’s a good chance that you have to deal with unit digits in order to shortcut the calculations. And if you’re doing geometry, there’s a good chance that the Pythagorean Theorem will show up, directly or indirectly. (My money is on directly.)

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GMAT Tip of the Week: Serenity and Sentence Correction

GMAT Tip of the Week: Serenity and Sentence Correction

If you’re reading this, you’re probably hoping for a 700+ score on the GMAT.  You’re probably wishing for a 700+ score on the GMAT.  And you may well be praying for a 700+ score on the GMAT.

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Watch Movies with a Critical Eye as You Study for the GMAT This Summer

Watch Movies with a Critical Eye as You Study for the GMAT This Summer

With the summer blockbuster season around the corner, it’s easy for your studying motivation to wane. After all, the GMAT doesn’t have the same allure as the big budget Hollywood movies people line up to see every summer. However, while seeing a movie can be a welcome distraction, there is a lot we can learn from movies when studying for the GMAT.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, Gmat Verbal
99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 3: The Long Way is the Wrong Way

99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 3: The Long Way is the Wrong Way

Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms.  He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation.   In this “9 for 99thvideo series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Quant, GMAT Tips
The Concept of Abstraction on the GMAT

The Concept of Abstraction on the GMAT

The concept of abstraction involves taking things from specific values to general ideas. On the GMAT, abstraction is one of the simplest ways to turn an easy problem into a difficult one. A simple example would be to ask someone what “5 times 6” would be, and then to expand that to “x times y” or “odd number times even number.” Abstraction helps by giving broad strokes to concepts, but it also requires a deeper understanding of the underlying principles. (This is the same principle as abstract art… apparently).

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Quant, GMAT Tips
99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 2: If the Answers Smell the Same, They Stink

99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 2: If the Answers Smell the Same, They Stink

Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms.  He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation.   In this “9 for 99thvideo series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, Gmat Verbal
Planning for Retirement (& the GMAT)

Planning for Retirement (& the GMAT)

When preparing for the GMAT, most prospective students start thinking about the schools they want to attend, the jobs they want to land and the opportunities they want to seize. After all, embarking on a new degree is an adventure that must be carefully prepared and thought out. Some students with long term thinking even begin thinking about something that most people dream of regularly: retirement.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, Gmat Verbal
Simplifying Algebraic Equations on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions

Simplifying Algebraic Equations on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions

In the past few weeks, I’ve written a couple of posts extolling the virtues of using strategies in lieu of doing difficult algebra. But over the course of the quant section, there’s no getting around it: at times, algebra will be an effective tool that you’ll want to deploy. The key is for us to use this tool judiciously.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Quant, GMAT Tips
99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 1: Drywall vs. Door

99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 1: Drywall vs. Door

Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms.  He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation.   In this “9 for 99th” video series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Quant, GMAT Tips
Start from the Beginning of GMAT Questions to Understand the Pattern

Start from the Beginning of GMAT Questions to Understand the Pattern

If you’ve ever walked into a conversation that was in progress, you know how hard it can be to figure out what’s going on without starting at the beginning. People often timidly ask “What are we talking about?” or “Could you please start over?” in such situations. This is because being parachuted into an ongoing conversation can be quite disorienting.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Quant, GMAT Tips
Simplify Your Calculations on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions

Simplify Your Calculations on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions

In a previous post, I emphasized the importance of minimizing the number of variables we assign when tackling word problems in Data Sufficiency. This philosophy also works quite well when dealing with complicated geometry questions. Let’s say, for example, that you had an isosceles triangle. We know that in isosceles triangles, two sides will be equal and the angles opposite those sides will be equal to each other. Rather than call the angles ‘x,’ ‘y,’ and ‘z,’ we can designate the two equal angles as ‘x.’ Because these two angles sum to 2x, the remaining angle must be 180-2x, as the interior angles of a triangle always sum to 180.  Now we have one variable to deal with, rather than three, and this greatly simplifies any future calculations we’ll have to make.

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GMAT Tip of the Week: Writing the AWA Without Engaging Your Brain

GMAT Tip of the Week: Writing the AWA Without Engaging Your Brain

Writing a Friday GMAT Tip of the Week post on a tight deadline is a lot like writing the AWA essay in 30 minutes.

30 minutes is not a lot of time, many say, and because an effective essay needs to be well-organized and well-written it is therefore impossible to write a 30-minute essay.

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Exploit the Gap in Logic on Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions

When dealing with strengthen or weaken Critical Reasoning questions, it’s important to have a rough idea of what the correct answer should look like. This process is often called “predicting” the correct answer, and it helps tremendously to avoid tempting but incorrect answer choices. It’s important to note that you won’t always be able to guess the exact answer choice provided, but you can get within the ballpark. After all, the correct answer is something that will hinge on the inevitable disconnect between the conclusion stated and the evidence provided in the passage.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips, Gmat Verbal
A Simple Shortcut to Help You on the Quantitative Section of the GMAT

A Simple Shortcut to Help You on the Quantitative Section of the GMAT

There are certain strategies that we all know, and yet, for whatever reason, sometimes hesitate to use during the exam. Some students are unusually skilled in algebra, for example, and so when we discuss the option of picking numbers, they dutifully nod and decide that this approach isn’t for them, that picking numbers is an unsatisfying shortcut that robs them of the opportunity to display their algebraic virtuosity.

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When Do You Have Enough Information on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions?

When Do You Have Enough Information on Data Sufficiency GMAT Questions?

Habitually, data sufficiency questions give students cause for concern on the GMAT quantitative section. This is primarily due to the fact that data sufficiency questions are rarely seen in high school and college, and are therefore relatively unknown to most prospective test takers.  If you remember the first data sufficiency question you encountered while studying for the GMAT, it may have looked like it was written in another language.

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Take Notes on Critical Reasoning Questions to Increase Your GMAT Score

Take Notes on Critical Reasoning Questions to Increase Your GMAT Score

Imagine that you were tasked with writing questions for the GMAT. You have to produce questions that have a clear answer but will trip up a certain percentage of test-takers. How do you do that reliably? The most straightforward way I can think of is to simply inundate the test-taker with information. What elicits the loudest groans during Reading Comprehension? Long, technical passages. What is the most unpleasant thing to see in a Data Sufficiency question? Lots of complex information in the question stem.

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Find Logical Meaning in Sentence Correction Questions on the GMAT

Find Logical Meaning in Sentence Correction Questions on the GMAT

One of the hardest things about Sentence Correction is that it tests so much more than just grammar. Many students erroneously conflate Sentence Correction problems with high school grammar problems, and this can lead to avoidable mistakes on test day. Indeed, the rules you learned in high school still apply, but you must be able to recognize them among various other potential problems.  It’s fairly simple to spot an agreement error on a verb (there are one problem) or a misplaced comma (good, job bro), but sometimes you have to eliminate an answer choice because the sentence just doesn’t make sense.

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Succeed on Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions with This Causation Tip

Succeed on Critical Reasoning GMAT Questions with This Causation Tip

Oh, causation on the GMAT.  Why do you cause so much stress in people’s lives?

Success on many Critical Reasoning questions really comes down to understanding whether one thing (“X”) causes another thing (“Y”) or not. For example, I moved to New York in 2007. Shortly thereafter, there was a huge drop in the New York stock market. Did I cause the crash (Y) simply by moving to New York (X)?

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How a 99th Percentile GMAT Instructor Approaches Sentence Correction Questions

How a 99th Percentile GMAT Instructor Approaches Sentence Correction Questions

The other night, in class, I had a student come up to me and ask how I really approached Sentence Correction. We’d done our Sentence Correction lesson a few weeks before, so the implication was that there was a little more to it than the framework we’d covered. The mundane truth is that there isn’t. Not really.

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How to Avoid Tedious Calculations on the Quantitative Section of the GMAT

How to Avoid Tedious Calculations on the Quantitative Section of the GMAT

One of the hardest things for people to get used to on the GMAT is that there is no calculator for the quantitative section. The reasoning behind this is simple: human beings will not be faster than machines at pure calculations. Human beings, however, will be better at logic, reasoning and deduction than a machine (at least until Skynet is developed).

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The Pitfalls of Confusing Correlation and Causation on GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions

The Pitfalls of Confusing Correlation and Causation on GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions

In Stephen Pinker’s book, The Blank Slate, there’s an entertaining discussion illustrating the pitfalls of confusing correlation and causation. Pinker cites an old Russian folktale in which a Tsar discovers that, of his many provinces, the one that has the highest disease rate also has the most doctors. So he orders all the doctors killed. I’ll often make reference to this passage when I’m teaching Critical Reasoning because the absurdity of the argument is immediately apparent. Just because two variables are correlated, it doesn’t mean that one is necessarily causing the other.

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What Figure Skating Can Teach You about GMAT Sentence Correction Questions

What Figure Skating Can Teach You about GMAT Sentence Correction Questions

Like many Americans, I get caught up in figure skating for exactly two weeks every four years. It’s a fascinating sport, but because I don’t follow it consistently, as I do with the NBA and NFL, I really have no idea how the figure skaters are being judged.

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Solving Inference Questions in Reading Comprehension on the GMAT

Solving Inference Questions in Reading Comprehension on the GMAT

One of the most common things you’re going to do on the GMAT is to infer things. Inferring things is something we inherently do on a daily basis as human beings. If your friend tells you they’re preparing for a big presentation, you generally automatically infer they’re presenting to an audience and are nervous about public speaking. However, on the GMAT, inferring carries a little more baggage than in your everyday life. What if your friend is in charge of logistics for the presentation, or running the slideshow behind the presenter? Perhaps they are being presented in the debutante ball definition of the term? (niche, I know). On the GMAT, inferences have a high threshold they must always attain: the inferences must be true.

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What the White & Gold, Blue & Black, Periwinkle & Whatever Dress Can Teach You About the GMAT

What the White & Gold, Blue & Black, Periwinkle & Whatever Dress Can Teach You About the GMAT

Over the past week, the online world has been consumed with discussions about one of the most mundane topics anyone could conceivably imagine. Indeed, for several days, the only discussion reasoned people seemed to be having was: “What color is this dress”?

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Seemingly Contradictory Advice for Increasing Your Score on Reading Comprehension GMAT Questions

Seemingly Contradictory Advice for Increasing Your Score on Reading Comprehension GMAT Questions

“Trust, but Verify” is an important piece of advice for diplomatic relations. It seems a contradiction at first: if you trust, why do you need to verify? The answer is that some things are important enough to take the extra time and effort to check. Even the small chance that your trust is misplaced is reason to investigate the situation in enough detail to confirm that what you believe to be true is actually true.

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Identifying the Correct Answer on GMAT Quant Questions

Identifying the Correct Answer on GMAT Quant Questions

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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Using Algebra vs. Logic on GMAT Quant Questions

Using Algebra vs. Logic on GMAT Quant Questions

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.

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How to Attack GMAT Sentence Correction Questions Like a Boss

How to Attack GMAT Sentence Correction Questions Like a Boss

Many people think that finishing the GMAT verbal section on time hinges on quickly solving Sentence Correction problems. This is because these questions tend to have the shortest stimuli of any question type. Even if you’re a speed reader (hopefully you never ordered Mega Reading by Kevin Trudeau), it will still take a minute or so to sift through a passage that’s a few hundred words long. Sentence Correction problems sometimes have stimuli that are two or three lines, and therefore are prime candidates for quick dispatching.

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How to Make the GMAT Quant Section Easier on Test Day

How to Make the GMAT Quant Section Easier on Test Day

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.

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WTF! Leverage Your Assets on These GMAT Questions

WTF! Leverage Your Assets on These GMAT Questions

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”.

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