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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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.
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:
There is a particular issue in assumption questions that I would like to discuss today. We discussed in our previous posts that assumptions are ‘necessary missing premises’. Many students get stuck between two options in assumption questions. The correct option is the necessary premise. The incorrect one is often a sufficient premise. Due to the sufficiency, they believe that that particular option is a stronger assumption. But the point to remember is that an assumption is only necessary for the conclusion to be true. It may not actually lead to the conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt. You only have to answer what has been asked (which is an assumption), not what you think is better to make the conclusion true.
It’s the first week of the Major League Baseball season, a sure sign of springtime and a massive celebration in most MLB cities as fans begin the season with new hope and a spirit of outdoor community. And if you’re watching, it can provide you with valuable insight to your forthcoming GMAT appointment. Because like most elite pitchers, the GMAT has a nasty curveball.
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?
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!).
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.
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.
An official GMAT score report consists of five parts: a Verbal Scaled Score (on a scale from 0 to 60), a Quantitative Scaled Score (on a scale from 0 to 60), an Integrated Reasoning Scaled Score (on a scale from 1 to 8), a Total Scaled Score (on a scale from 200 to 800) and an Analytical Writing Assessment Score (on a scale from 0 to 6). For each of these five scores, you will receive a percentile rank. Each rank shows the percentage of test-takers who scored below you based on the scores for the most recent three-year period. To see how the score report looks, you can download a sample score report at www.mba.org.
Today, we again pay homage to the lazy bum within each one of us in our QWQW series. If you are wondering what we mean by ‘again’, check out our last two posts of the QWQW series. We have been discussing how to avoid calculations. Today let’s learn why it is advisable to avoid learning formulas too!
It’s the last Friday in March, and all good things must come to an end, including Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space. But if you’ve been reading along with us all month, hopefully your iPod or car stereo has become your best study partner. While you’re driving home from work and the Kanye/Good Music track “Clique” comes on, you might hear Jay Z’s verse and immediately start thinking about sequence problems:
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.
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.
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.
Here at Veritas Prep we never stop investing in making our GMAT prep courses and MBA admissions consulting services better. And, there’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone achieve a high score on the GMAT, and then also helping them perfect their applications and get into an MBA program they thought was only a dream. Today, we make all of our services even better. We’re excited to announce a new resource available to everyone in the Veritas Prep family.
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.
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.”)
Last week we discussed how to solve equations with the variable in the denominator. We also said that the technique generally works for PS questions but you need to be careful while working on DS questions. Today, let’s look at the reason behind the caveat.
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!
As Hip Hop Month rolls on in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, we’re reminded that small nuances in the ways that GMAT questions are structured can have big consequences for test-takers. So who would be a more fitting man to teach that lesson – what’s small can have big consequences – than Biggie Smalls?
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
We have discussed before how GMAT is not a calculation intensive exam. Whenever you land on an equation which looks something like this: 60/(n – 5) – 60/n = 2, you probably think that we don’t know what we are talking about! You obviously need to cross multiply, make a quadratic and finally, solve the quadratic to get the value of n. Actually, you usually don’t need to do any of that for GMAT questions. You have an important leverage – the options. Even if the options don’t directly give you the values of n or n-5, you can use the knowledge that every GMAT question is do-able in 2 mins and that the numbers fit in beautifully well.
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.
Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week column, where we created this week’s tip by quoting Too Short in our production meeting. In short dog’s classic “Blow The Whistle” (also central to this article) he rhymes the fact that he’s in Miami, Houston and ATL with the line “Ask Dave Chappelle”. So we asked Dave – Dave, who’s a rapper who has something important to say about GMAT performance? And while at first he listed his top five as “Dylan, Dylan, Dylan…” he eventually pointed out the foibles of a former up-and-comer named Fisticuffs, whose struggles as a rapper directly parallel many GMAT students’ battles with the GMAT. If you haven’t seen Chappelle’s Fisticuffs skit, take a look:
On the surface, rate problems always seem like straight-forward problems. But when you actually sit down to work on them, especially the higher level problems under the time constraints of the GMAT, it’s often hard to keep all the pieces in order. My own personal strategy for dealing with these problems is to try to develop the intuition behind these problems as well as remember the formulas.
When reading through diverse texts, it is not uncommon to see various portions highlighted in different forms. The use of italics has become ubiquitous with citing references or proper names, and the GMAT has no reserved denotation for Italics. Generally, text that is underlined needs to examined carefully, and the GMAT uses this method exclusively for sentence correction. However, nothing draws the eye like the use of boldface. The additional thickness of the characters makes every letter seem more important than the paler doppelgangers that share the page with them. (Beware: a letter with tiny goatee may be an evil twin of that letter. G is the most likely evil doppelganger)
A student recently asked me how she could have gotten such a low score on the verbal section when the questions seemed so easy. Here is my response:
I have had students in your situation before and let me say that sometimes when things feel too easy on the VERBAL section, it is when a person allows herself or himself to get caught by assumptions and easy answers and does not dig as deeply as they should. This often happens when students finish the VERBAL section too quickly or feel like it was easy.
Welcome back to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space, where we’re shocked that in the years of doing this every March we’ve never yet mentioned Vanilla Ice, perhaps the greatest Sentence Correction rapper of all time (with apologies to Method Man and Dr. Dre). Before we explain why, let’s give Vanilla a chance (yo Vanilla – kick it one time, boyyyyyy):
But You and I, We’re Just a Couple of Squares… What Difference Could We Possibly Make…?
The savvy GMAT-goer knows that the work on a Problem Solving question is best undertaken only after a survey of the answer choices makes clear just how much work — and what type of work — is really necessary. For instance, a 160/1600/16000/… set of choices tells you you can focus all your care on the magnitude of your answer; a 16000/25000/36000/… set of choices tells you you can forget about all those trailing 0’s and just focus on the “head” of the answer. As we stress in our Foundations of GMAT Logic book, the answer choices are part of the problem.
Have you ever been on the exam and the question is asking you something that you know well but can’t remember the details at that crucial moment? This happens to all of us at one time or another, and sometimes it helps to have a catchphrase or keyword to help recall the concept in our mind. Since certain things are easier to remember than others, it helps to associate a difficult concept with something you’re less likely to forget, such as the lyrics to your favorite song.
It was 8:46 AM on a cloudy Saturday in April 2007 and I was at the William St. test center in Manhattan. My GMAT was at 9:00. Unfortunately, that morning was also the date of the final exam for a nursing school in the city. There were around 20 anxious nursing students reviewing flashcards and cheat sheets, asking each other last minute questions, and generally freaking out. Watching them, I felt my pulse quicken.
I have been asked many times what type of snack to have and whether or not caffeine was a good option on test day. While this can vary student to student, here are a few responses to those student questions:
- “Your brain can only make so many complex decisions before it starts to run down. This can happen quickly during a test like the GMAT. In scientific studies they made a remarkable finding, only sugar can restore the decision-making/self-control portion of the brain!!”
Some of the most challenging Quant questions on the GMAT involve Coordinate Geometry, so it’s important you have a solid grasp on the formulas and concepts on Test Day. You’ll see straight lines more than curved figures, but you may find it helpful to know the standard formula of the parabola in order to tackle some of the toughest Coordinate Geometry questions.
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My GMAT score was 700 (with a 99th percentile in quant, and a 60th percentile in verbal). Should I retake the exam?
Congratulations on your 700 GMAT score! I think people tend to think that getting a 700 is a piece of cake, but remember that only 1 in 10 test takers gets a 700+, and the population of GMAT takers is primarily college-educated, ambitious, smart people. Top 10% is a tough crowd!
Last week Poets & Quants ran an article announcing robust growth in GMAT testing volume from Testing Year 2011 to 2012. A total of 286,529 exams were taken in Testing Year 2012, representing the highest total ever, and 11% growth vs. the previous year. (GMAC’s testing years run from July 1 to June 30 each year.) While testing volume in the United States is still down about 10% vs. Testing Year 2009, strong growth in East and Southeast Asia helped drive total testing volume to its highest level ever.