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Parallel Reasoning Strategies: Part I

Parallel Reasoning Strategies: Part I

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?

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Conclusions are Key in Critical Reasoning

Conclusions are Key in Critical Reasoning

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:

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4 Tips to Bring Relief to Your GMAT Studies

4 Tips to Bring Relief to Your GMAT Studies

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!

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Quadrilaterals on the GMAT

Quadrilaterals on the GMAT

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!

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What The Great Gatsby Can Teach you About the GMAT

What The Great Gatsby Can Teach you About the GMAT

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:

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GMAT Data Sufficiency Powers and Roots

GMAT Data Sufficiency Powers and Roots

Even if you know the basic rules for questions involving powers and roots, it’s still common to feel some intimidation towards harder-looking GMAT questions.

The “” symbol is called the “radical” symbol. You may know the square root, but how comfortable are you with cube roots? For instance:

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Conceptual Thinking on the GMAT

Conceptual Thinking on the GMAT

A common complaint I hear from students is: “I’m not good at algebra”. Full disclosure, algebra isn’t my favorite topic either. Although algebra is a powerful tool for solving many questions on the GMAT, it is rarely the only means available to solve a given math problem.

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The Importance of the Question Stem

The Importance of the Question Stem

There are so many types of Critical Reasoning questions that sometimes it’s confusing to tell your Method of Reasoning from your Argument Structure! Students are always instructed to read the question stems first and discern the specific category of CR question from them, but there’s another more important reason to hone in on the specific wording of the question stem: it gives away the answer!         

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The Secret to Causation/Correlation

The Secret to Causation/Correlation

You’ve probably read about or seen CR questions that confuse “causation” with “correlation,” but what does it mean in the real world? And why does it matter?

In statistics, let’s say we have data from two variables: x and y. They have a direct relationship. As one increases, the other increases. This could lead scientists to draw a conclusion that one variable causes the change in the other variable. But this isn’t necessary true! In fact, some third variable may be affecting both x and y! In order to prove causation and validate that one variable is indeed directly influencing the other and is the reason behind the detected correlation, further studies would need to be conducted, altering parameters, and recording outcomes.

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What's Your Study Style?

What's Your Study Style?

Not sure how to make adjustments in your GMAT study plan? Take this short quiz to find out what kind of student you are! Once you determine your study style, you can make small adjustments in your study plan to help you become more efficient in your GMAT prep!

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How Prom Relates to Sentence Correction on the GMAT

How Prom Relates to Sentence Correction on the GMAT

Preparing to take the GMAT exam is a journey that requires patience, dedication and the ability to maintain focus over a long period. Taking the exam is the culmination of a long journey that may have lasted months if not years. The approaching test day has caused a few sleepless nights for many as that circled date on the calendar loomed ever closer. This entire experience might remind you of another similar rite of passage that many of us have gone through: The prom. (Unsubstantiated rumor: new American Pie movie will revolve around taking the GMAT)

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AWA Essay Guide

AWA Essay Guide

The Argument Essay definitely allows for some flexibility, but it helps if you have a memorized template going in, because then there’s no risk of being “stuck.” Below is a sample outline. If you are an adept writer, you may wish to place your “How to Strengthen” paragraph on its own right before the Conclusion, and then have a separate shorter Conclusion. Click here for tips on writing your essay. 

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4 Tips for Difficult Word Problems on the GMAT

4 Tips for Difficult Word Problems on the GMAT

Word problems on the GMAT often do not require particularly difficult algebra to solve. Most of the time, solving simple linear equations or using a formula is all that is required. The key is to not be intimidated by the length of the description and to be able to pull out the relevant information and set up the correct equation/s. These 4 tips will help you tackle any Problem Solving question that is significantly wordy.

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7 Tips for Writing Your Argument Essay

7 Tips for Writing Your Argument Essay

The AWA section of the GMAT is made up of one short piece of writing called the “Argument” essay. It essentially asks you to evaluate an argument, usually a type of proposal. The main qualities that the readers look for are the organization of your ideas, the quality of the ideas themselves, the strength and relevance of the examples, and your grasp of standard written English. According to GMAC, the “Analysis of an Argument tests your ability to formulate an appropriate and constructive critique of a specific conclusion based on a specific line of thinking.” With that, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips:

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Mental Calculations on the GMAT

Mental Calculations on the GMAT

One of the reasons calculators aren’t allowed on the GMAT is to ensure that people are really thinking about the numbers they are using to solve problems. Being at ease with mental math is a skill that has been slowly eroded since the advent and subsequent ubiquity of the calculator in the education process (sadly my frequent calls to bring back the abacus have gone unheeded). Too often, people mindlessly type in numbers, and don’t even notice if they hit the wrong number or a button gets pressed twice. Of course 5*6=45, the machine told me so! (Dependence on machines also eventually leads to Skynet) However, being good at mental math can be helped along if you already have a good idea which numbers you might expect to see on test day.

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Master the Geometry Section of the GMAT

Master the Geometry Section of the GMAT

Need better scores on GMAT Geometry questions? The GMAT loves triangles (no offense, circles). With a clear set of rules and formulas which govern their construction, they are lean, mean, Plane Geometry-machines. Get ANY question with a triangle right as long as you know its foundational properties. Let’s review!

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Kobe's Achilles Injury and GMAT Perseverance

Kobe's Achilles Injury and GMAT Perseverance

As the basketball playoffs get underway, the LA Lakers are present once again.  While they’re missing their star player, let’s take a moment to reflect on how he helped get them there – and how it can help you on the GMAT.  In the entire history of basketball, perhaps no one has been a better example of focus and perseverance than Kobe Bryant.  And if there’s one thing you’ll need to be successful on the GMAT, it’s a good dose of Kobe-esque grit and determination.  What lessons can we take from the legend to use in our own preparation and game day execution?

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Breaking Down GMAT Modifier Questions

Breaking Down GMAT Modifier Questions

On the GMAT, an exam about reasoning and logic, there are few things more frustrating than long sentences punctuated by a host of modifiers, particularly prepositional phrases, participial phrases and appositive phrases, to say nothing of relative clauses. Sentence correction questions are about making sure there are no mistakes in a given sentence, and the more commas and modifiers a sentence has, the more difficult it is to ascertain whether or not it is structured correctly (hint: ~80% of the time, it’s not).

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Process of Elimination with Sherlock Holmes

Process of Elimination with Sherlock Holmes

Is anyone else as obsessed with the BBC’s Sherlock as I am? In addition to the amazingly well-plotted stories and the awesome performances in this latest carnation, Sherlock Holmes is a character we can’t seem to get enough of. From the prime-time CBS version “Elementary” to the Guy Richie movies starring Robert Downey Jr., the deer-stalker-wearing sleuth is everywhere! So how can we apply his powers of deduction to even the most dreaded GMAT Critical Reasoning question? By following this famous Sherlock quote:

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Dealing with Except Critical Reasoning Questions

Dealing with Except Critical Reasoning Questions

GMAT students often get CR problems that use words like “EXCEPT” or “NOT” in their question-stems wrong, and it definitely makes sense why. If we can’t really understand what a question is asking, how can we even begin to solve it? Let’s break down a tough one together.

A greater number of sports magazine subscriptions are sold in Town A than are sold in Town B. Therefore, the citizens of Town A are better informed about international sporting competitions than are the citizens of Town B.

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5 Tips for Dealing with Data Interpretation in Integrated Reasoning

5 Tips for Dealing with Data Interpretation in Integrated Reasoning

The new GMAT Integrated Reasoning section contain four question-types, several of which require the interpretation of data given in graphs and tables. Data analysis is not a skill required on the GMAT Quant section, so this is new to many students. What skills can we bring to these 12 questions? Here are some hot tips!

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5 Properties of Zero

5 Properties of Zero

I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the GMAT. It’s a very interesting exam that can be thought of from multiple angles. Most people see it as an obstacle to be surmounted in an effort to get into the business school of their choice. Some people see it as an unfortunate barrier to their future plans. Personally, I like to think of it as an opportunity to test your reasoning skills against an unseen test maker (who you can think of as the Wizard Oz from the namesake movie). Your goal is to stay one step ahead of the test and predict the traps that will be laid out for you as you answer questions.

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Integrated Reasoning Table Analysis: Put on your Sorting Hat!

Integrated Reasoning Table Analysis: Put on your Sorting Hat!

Fans of the “Harry Potter” franchise know that the Sorting Hat magically determines which of the four school houses each new student is to be assigned at Hogwarts. This Hat has to take into account data on every new Hogwarts student, and somehow be able to tell a Gryffindor from a Slytherin! Similarly, on the “Table Analysis” questions in the Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT, you are required to sift through data and draw conclusions. We may not have magic to help us, but sorting data isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

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Tough Inference Questions on the GMAT

Tough Inference Questions on the GMAT

Application questions are a very specific type of Inference question. They ask us to go one step further; we must apply what we have read in the passage to a new or hypothetical situation. For these tougher Inference questions, it’s important to ignore the answer choices until you’ve effectively broken down and made sense of the relevant parts of the passage.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Understanding the Author's Argument

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Understanding the Author's Argument

In Critical Reasoning questions, we know we have to understand the “author’s argument” – essentially his point of view that is expressed in the given paragraph, but it’s also important to narrow in on the “how” of the argument: the reasoning itself. The reasoning gives us the full “because.” For example, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey might both agree an American Idol contestant shouldn’t move on to the finals, but their reasoning could be very different. Maybe Mariah Carey doesn’t think the singer can hit the high notes, while Nicki Minaj may not think their outfits have enough pink feathers. Let’s look at a CR questions where the reasoning helps us find the correct answer:

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Critical Reasoning on the AWA Section of the GMAT

Critical Reasoning on the AWA Section of the GMAT

Have you taken the time to really read the Directions for AWA Analysis of an Argument? The directions read like a list of critical reasoning question types! Anything that you can do in critical reasoning you are seemingly encouraged to do on the AWA.

Here are the directions. Can you spot the references to various critical reasoning question types?

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ROn Point: Probability on the GMAT

ROn Point: Probability on the GMAT

The topics on the GMAT quantitative section are chosen because most test takers have some experience solving questions on these topics in high school. Subjects like algebra and geometry have given high school students white hairs and craned necks for generations (what? I was stretching, not copying off of her exam, honest!).

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 5 Need to Know Geometry Formulas

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 5 Need to Know Geometry Formulas

Struggling a bit with Plane Geometry? Here are all the formulas you’ll need to know to solve for area on the GMAT! You’ll see several shapes, but the most common is the triangle.

Triangle
To find its area, we use the formula A = ½ bh, where b = base and h = height. The base and the height of the triangle must always form a 90 degree angle. Keep in mind that the height can be inside or outside the triangle.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 4 Tips to Master Tone and Style

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 4 Tips to Master Tone and Style

You’ve probably seen a GMAT question that looked like this:

The author’s tone in the passage can best be described as:

Questions that ask about tone and style may not be as common as Detail or Inference questions, but they often come up on the GMAT. The first step to tackling them is to make sure you did some solid note-taking on your first read of the passage. Unlike Detail questions, there are no line numbers to help you find the answer for tone/style questions. Only by paying attention to the author’s voice and style as you read will you be able to get these questions right.

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ROn Point: Become an Assumption Expert on the GMAT

ROn Point: Become an Assumption Expert on the GMAT

On the GMAT, the information provided to you will be factual, but it won’t necessarily be helpful. Once you have made peace with this unfortunate reality, the goal soon becomes to transform factual information into useful information in order to solve the question. This type of analysis is prevalent in the quantitative section of the exam, but also shows up in the verbal section. Statements provided will often contain implicit information that you must convert into explicit information. In essence, you need to get a handle on the assumptions being made.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 3 Tips to Help You Master Critical Reasoning on the GMAT

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 3 Tips to Help You Master Critical Reasoning on the GMAT

You already have the skills you need for most Critical Reasoning questions; chances are you’re pretty awesome at deconstructing arguments and isolating conclusions already, but the unique format of “complete the passage” questions requires a few extra tips to master them!

Tip #1 – Break down that argument.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Absolute Value in Data Sufficiency

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Absolute Value in Data Sufficiency

We’ve all seen how the GMAT loves to throw sneaky absolute values into data sufficiency questions involving number properties. Here’s a quick refresher on the properties of those double-bars, and a quick practice question!

The absolute value represents the distance from zero on a number line. Since a distance can never be negative, absolute values are always positive. On the GMAT, most absolute values you will see will involve a variable.  Let’s consider |x|. If x is a positive number, such as 4, then |x| = x, because |4| = 4. However, if x is a negative number, such as negative 4, then |x| = -x. For any negative value of x, the sign would have to be changed.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Don't Break Data Sufficiency Rules

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Don't Break Data Sufficiency Rules

Data Sufficiency statements can’t be altered. Every so often when I am tutoring a student, he or she will change up the rules of data sufficiency. I’ve seen it before with misunderstanding a “yes/no” data sufficiency question (by erroneously thinking an answer of “always no” means “not sufficient.”)

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Two Strategies for Data Sufficiency Questions

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Two Strategies for Data Sufficiency Questions

Strategy #1 – Count the Variables; Don’t do the Math!

Remember the “n equations with n variables” rule! If you have three unknowns, you’ll need three equations to solve for all three. If you only need the sum of two of those variables, however, you may only need two equations to solve! Let’s take a look at how this strategy can help us find a shortcut!

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 7 Types of Reading Comprehension Questions

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: 7 Types of Reading Comprehension Questions

Even if you’re amazing at Reading Comprehension, it’s sometimes difficult to tell a subtle Inference question from a Detail question. How can you keep straight which question type is which? Here’s  an overview of common Reading Comprehension question types and some example GMAT question-stems to help you identify what you’re looking at on Test Day!

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ROn Point: Divisor Problems on the GMAT

ROn Point: Divisor Problems on the GMAT

On the GMAT, you will face a variety of questions that you can prepare for. Not to be an auctioneer, the section boasts arithmetic problems, factor problems, algebra problems, geometry problems, stats problems, probability problems, data sufficiency problems, work rate problems, ratio problems, even combinatorics problems. However on the quant section you can often run into an unfamiliar question type that can reasoned out with some basics of algebra and clear conceptual thinking. When faced with this type of outlandish question, you only have one basic directive: solve it.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Organizing Your Information

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Organizing Your Information

Often, the hardest part of a GMAT quantitative problem is taking all the information and organizing it in a meaningful way so that you can actually start the math part of the problem.  (How many of you have faced this on the Grizzly Peak problem in the Arithmetic lecture?)

Let’s look at a particular type of problem that’s common on the test: the multiple rate problem.
We have three basic pieces of any rate problem: Rate, Time, and Distance (or work).

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Read Grammar Questions Like Sherlock Holmes

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Read Grammar Questions Like Sherlock Holmes

Succeeding in GMAT grammar requires you to emulate Sherlock Holmes. The clues are right in front of you!

The first item to be aware of is that too many of the sentences presented in the grammar portion of the GMAT are not clearly written, which can be frustrating if you are looking for an answer that is clean and concise.   However, analyzing the sentences based on the rules that govern language rather than looking for answer choices that have polished readability is the key to being successful on this section.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: March GMATness

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: March GMATness

March Madness, the annual tournament of some elite and some not-so-elite college basketball teams, is soon upon us.  Teams have played through an entire season, including conference and early-season tournaments, and 68 of the chosen are now ready to face off in the biggest sports showcase in America.  How they will do depends in no small part on their seeding—the ranking they receive based on how well they can perform against the competition.  The better the seed, the easier their road to victory.

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GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Use What You Know

GMAT Gurus Speak Out: Use What You Know

In Geometry, we often come across unusual figures. This can throw off our mind a bit, but it is important to remember: just use what you already know. Don’t let the unusual shapes take up too much time on the GMAT. Let’s take the following example, very similar to a problem a student emailed me this week.

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