Many GMAT students have likened themselves to Sherlock Holmes at one point or another while studying for this test. It is a natural comparison: you are a detective looking for clues in order to reach a conclusion that must be true. Unfortunately there’s no Dr. Watson to help guide your efforts, but you can inspire yourself from the super sleuth in your quest to solve the nefarious puzzles of Professor G. MoriArTy.
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Welcome to the third and final installment of GMAT’s secrets revealed! We now know 2 things the GMAT testmakers don’t want you to know – one, they can do most quant problems entirely in their heads, and two, verbal complexity is intended to clarify, not confuse, a given situation. These insights are a critical part of the recognition that the GMAT is not actually as difficult as it is intimidating. It has a lot of tough-looking math and long, dense passages, but that’s mainly on the surface – deep down, unlocking GMAT reasoning is feasible for anyone.
We began last week with a quant trick demonstrating the 1st Thing GMAT Testmakers Don’t Want You to Know: they can do quant problems entirely in their heads! This was no doubt a carefully guarded secret, but now that it’s out there, it should take the intimidation factor of those difficult-looking quant problems down a notch or two.
As a GMAT instructor, I frequently find myself perusing the GMAT Official Guide, dare I say, “for fun”. The OG is a terrific indication of the types of questions you can expect to see on the GMAT, and the solution is usually a great method to get to the right answer. However, sometimes I find myself surprised at the official answer because I would solve the question in a completely different way and get to the answer in significantly less time than the OG method.
Studying for the GMAT in just one month is nobody’s idea of a party, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you’re locked in to your test date and need to make the best of a bad situation, wipe that perspiration off your brow and take a deep breath: it is possible to significantly improve your score in one month! In fact, depending on your latent test-taking, grammar, algebra, number properties, time management, and general cool-as-a-cucumber skills, you probably already have a LOT of the needed requirements found in a 700+ scoring GMAT test-taker. Here’s some quick tips to conquer content, strategy, and pacing in only 4 weeks.
As I discussed in my last entry on The Art of War and success on the GMAT, the makers of the GMAT have only a few ways to attack you in battle. They also have a few things that keep a figurative arm tied behind their back. These limitations are what you can, and should, exploit to your advantage. However, it may still not be clear who exactly you’re dealing with. And as you remember, knowing thy enemy (and thyself) is key to a great score.
Many concepts covered on the GMAT come up in every day conversation. One of the common mistakes frequently tested on the GMAT that people make mistakes with in colloquial speech is that lack of agreement between a subject and verb when the verb is placed before the subject (There’s a lot of reasons this happens…) People make this mistake regularly and no one really seems to notice it, but the GMAT thoroughly tests this type of mistake, so you likely will have had sufficient exposure to this scenario by test day.
When answering data sufficiency questions on the GMAT, the key is to successfully determine when you have sufficient information to make a decision with 100% certainty. I often equate data sufficiency with determining whether the competition is stealing from you. If you’re sure they are not, then everything is fine and you are competing in a fair and balanced environment. Similarly, if you have definitive proof that they are hijacking your million dollar idea (possibly for pet rocks or the duck commander), then you can pursue legal action to remedy the situation.
Each year, eager b-school hopefuls line up to take the GMAT, and each year many end up with a score below what they had been getting on their practice exams. What went wrong? Why the discrepancy? The answer is never easy to ascertain, but there are several questions you can ask yourself to try and figure out what happened. One of the most important ones is actually rather simple: did you practice for the test environment as well as for the questions themselves?
There is a lot of value in keeping things simple. Simplicity is a beautiful thing, especially when combined with functionality. Think of the designs Apple comes up with (or at least did when Steve Jobs ran the show): products were simple, sleek, stylish, and routinely worked flawlessly. The appeal and popularity of these machines is steeped in how effortlessly they perform their functions, combining reliable functionality and timeless elegance.
Two words that often get confused in the English language are effective and efficient. Many people use these words as if they are synonyms, when, in fact, they are two distinct notions that only sound like homonyms. In fact, the words effective and efficient complement each other perfectly. How does this affect the GMAT? While both words are usually used as compliments, their effect on the exam is very noticeable (see what I did there?)
Last week, I introduced the idea of timing on the GMAT. Today, we will look at the technique which helped me a lot in reducing my stress and improving my time management. Have a look, take away the main methodology and please feel free to adjust certain parts of it to suit your own purposes.
Hemingway wrote his prose in a manner which has come to be known as the “Iceberg Theory.” Influenced by his journalistic career, Hemingway believed that by omitting superfluous and extraneous matter, writing becomes more interesting. The minimalistic style of a Hemingway piece is a lesson all GMAT students can apply to their AWA writing: take out the fluff! Argument essays that receive scores of 6 typically are “fluff-free” zones – the paragraphs are organized and to the point, and they say what they mean to say.
GMAT students can now benefit from a new blog series featuring video tips from Veritas Prep’s own Director of Academic Programs, Brian Galvin. Last week, Brian helped us spot pronoun errors in Sentence Correction by ‘minding the gap.’ This week, we’ll learn about the adaptability and scoring of the GMAT.
Are you having a hard time writing a solid “6” AWA, or getting some disappointing feedback from instructors, tutors, or friends? The good thing about AWA, is that its easily improved. Going from an “average” 4 to a “perfect” 6 is achievable by just about anyone who can read, memorize, and practice.
Today I would like to share from personal experience some advice on how to efficiently track your time and control your pace while not getting too stressed out about how well you are doing on the GMAT. Time management is crucial to success on your GMAT exam.
Let’s start with the analysis of the issue at hand: timing on the GMAT test in general, and why tracking your time and controlling your pace is also important.
In Critical Reasoning, it is often possible to foresee the correct answer without even glancing at the answer choices. Whenever a question asks you to strengthen or weaken an argument, the correct answer will usually be the one that fixes the inconsistency between the conclusion and the premise of the passage. Inference questions can be extremely open ended, but strengthen/weaken (can I abbreviate this to streaken?) questions are generally about the most glaring issue with a sentence. The GMAT uses this type of trick a lot, so the errors may be subtle and they may be crafty, but they are always present in any strengthen/weaken CR question.
GMAT students can now benefit from a new series featuring video tips from Veritas Prep’s own Brian Galvin. Last week, Brian reminded us to ‘mind the gap’ in critical reasoning, and today he’ll give us a look into pronoun errors.
Occasionally on the GMAT, word problems involving simple and compound interest pop up. Interest can be thought of as the rental cost of money. The math requires a solid grasp of percentages and exponents. Like Rates and Work questions, this concept can appear intimidating if you don’t know the required formulas, but are actually fairly simple to solve!
The GMAT is an exam steeped in logic, deduction and understanding. In order to succeed on the exam, you should be able to look at any given question objectively and determine what it is asking, and where the traps may lie. Now, this is akin to asking you to navigate a labyrinth while avoiding the Minotaur: just because you know the rules, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be successful. Taking the labyrinth as a metaphor, how can you rise to the challenge put forth in front of you?
Two-Part Analysis questions, or TPA, (one of four question-types in the IR section) present a short paragraph with information. Answer choices will be presented in several columns and rows. Each column stands for a component, and each row is part of the solution. You’ll need to choose one answer from each column.
Summer blockbuster season is upon us, and one of the joys of the movies is to go see an ambitious motion picture on the big screen and get immersed in a world of make-believe for a few hours (this kind of sounds like taking the GMAT, doesn’t it?). If you’re going by yourself or with another person, you can usually agree on a movie pretty quickly and be on your way. However, if you’ve ever tried to go see a movie with like six friends, it often becomes a case of Process of Elimination.
Do you find yourself with your head in your hands after yet another series of practice questions, looking at a less than 50% hit-rate on Assumption questions? You’re not alone! Most of us have no background with formal logic prior to the GMAT, and suddenly we’re expected to understand brand-new concepts like premise, conclusion, flaw, etc. intuitively. To start with, let’s review some basic definitions.
Competition is as inherent in nature as life itself. Darwinian natural selection is an exercise in pure competition among and within various species. War is an extension of this brand of competition. War, it happens, has also contributed to some of the most momentous developments throughout history. Not only have civilizations risen and fallen, some of the most incredible progress and regress has come from battles for supremacy. Many of our oldest surviving texts were written to preserve the memory of major wars, and many technologies have arisen from the desire for victory, in battle or in life. This notion of competition has evolved and spread into more modern forms — business, sports, politics, and even academics. A wise student will see a similar kind of competition manifested in the GMAT.
Students prepping for the GMAT now have the opportunity to learn from video tips, in addition to the text articles from our blog. Brian Galvin is a main collaborator on all of the Veritas Prep materials, and in these videos he will share his tips and expertise so you can quickly learn how to master the GMAT.
I like to compare the GMAT to everyday things that hopefully resonate with people. To that end, I often like to use the analogy of routes to work to compare the different methods one can use to get the answer to a question. Invariably, there are multiple ways to get to the right answer on a math question, just as there are multiple ways to get to work. Some are just more direct than others. If I work on the island of Manhattan and live on the island of Manhattan, I can detour through The Bronx to get to work, but I’ll probably waste a lot of time. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t get there, so it is an acceptable route for work. Of course, most of us are usually looking for the quickest way to get to work (for some reason my boss gets testy when I show up 3 hours late).
Got the basics of the Integrated Reasoning formats, and ready to start with some questions? The Two-Part Analysis question is one of the most straight-forward IR question types. A short paragraph is followed by information in columns and rows. You’ll be asked to choose one answer from each column since the complete answer will have a “two-part” solution. Let’s look at a sample Two-Part Analysis question!
In writing a weekly column for Veritas Prep, I try to cover topics and subjects that will help you avoid common pitfalls on the GMAT. The exam uses certain common traps and therefore it is better to review them routinely in order to be prepared to deal with such adversity on test day. Every type of question on the exam can have pitfalls and I’d like to cover the major ones in every question type. Today, we’ll take a look at Reading Comprehension.
Frustrated by Parallel Reasoning questions, even after lots of practice? I don’t blame you! It’s tough to tackle 6 arguments instead of 1, especially if pacing on the Verbal section is challenging for you. In Part I of this series, we looked at how to define parallel reasoning questions on the GMAT. Today let’s take a look at 3 steps to take in order to get these questions correct!
Springtime has always been a reason to celebrate – we’re recently through Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and on to “Dads and Grads” and wedding season. Oh, and next week the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning section turns one year old. So grab your party hats and noisemakers and get ready for some sloppy cake eating…let’s celebrate the Integrated Reasoning section’s first birthday with 8 strategies to help you get a perfect 8 on that section.
In the quant section of the GMAT, there are a fair number of formulae to know in order to answer the ensemble of questions that may be asked of you. Most of them are covered in any basic test prep material, but a formula is always just a short hand version of a much longer manual process.
There is an anecdote about a primary school teacher who wanted to keep a misbehaved child busy for a period, so she asked him to sum up all the numbers from 1 to 100. To her dismay, the child answered the question in a matter of seconds, and the answer was correct. The child explained to his teacher that, instead of simply adding 1+2+3…, you could create a pairwise addition that would always yield the same number. If you added 1 to 100, you would get 101. If you added 2 to 99, you would still get 101. If you added 3 to 98, you’d still get 101, and so on. Thus the addition of 100 different numbers could be turned into a multiplication of two simple numbers: 101 x 50. The student in question was mathematical prodigy Carl Friedrich Gauss.
Word Problems tend to intimidate newcomers to the GMAT. Don’t be scared! The math on most word problems is actually easier and less troublesome than the math on a straightforward arithmetic or algebra problem.
The reason the math is easier on these problems is because the problem is made hard in other ways. Word problems are considered hard because you have to convert a word problem into a math question. This involves good reading skills and good critical reasoning skills.
Without descriptive words, phrases or clauses, sentences lack color. A misstep of many is not paying close enough attention to the proper placement of modifiers. The makers of the GMAT are aware of this shortsightedness of many test-takers. As a result, they do test your ability to recognize illogical modifiers.
Parallel Reasoning questions on the Critical Reasoning section of the GMAT are a type of “method of reasoning” question-type. These questions require you to focus on the author’s logic. Parallel reasoning questions ask you to look for the answer choice that has the closest logical structure as the argument in the question stem. Ask yourself: which choice best matches the WAY the author moves from the evidence to his conclusion?
Critical reasoning questions on the GMAT tend to follow the same structure over and over again. This means that they can be answered the same way over and over again (like the movie Groundhog Day, but with words!). The first step is to determine which type of question you’re dealing with, which is why identifying the category is the first step towards successfully answering the question. The four major categories can be remembered with the mnemonic SWIM:
Any worthwhile MBA program is bound to cause some stress in the life of a student. Remember: if your MBA program didn’t challenge you at the highest level, it wouldn’t be worth it. That said, sometimes we make it hard on ourselves to de-stress in our GMAT study plan. Procrastination, lack of sleep, and taking on too much work are the most often-blamed culprits. If you find yourself “burning the candle at both ends,” try these techniques to bring a little relief!
On GMAT Test Day, you will likely see at least a few quadrilaterals tested. Quadrilaterals, like other shapes in Geometry, usually appear in Geometry questions that involve basic properties of quadrilaterals, perimeter, or area. Like most Geometry, all it takes is some memorization and a little practice!
I, for one, am very excited about the new Baz Luhrmann adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatbsy.” Re-reading the book in anticipation of today’s opening, I was struck by the differences in character between Jay Gatsby and the protagonist Nick Carraway, especially evinced by this exchange from Chapter 6: