While it’s certainly not the score you care about most, the Analytical Writing Assessment can bring with it some stress and even despair. Why? For one, it comes first on the test, and for two it’s the only section that isn’t multiple choice. The answer isn’t already in front of you, but rather you have to create it yourself. And like this blog post (author’s note – I’m attending a conference with the folks from the Graduate Management Admissions Council and have a dinner in an hour with some of our partners in the industry before the conference, so I have 30 minutes to write something intelligible here), the AWA can lead directly to that panic you’ve likely felt on blue book exams and the night before book reports: writer’s block.
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On the GMAT, there is often a fine line between a statement possibly being true and a statement always being true. Inference questions ask about which statement must be true, and often provide many statements that each seem to be correct. However, must be true is a high standard to achieve, and many statements fall short of this benchmark despite being perfectly reasonable assumptions on their own.
When faced with an unusual quadratic equation, some people waste a lot of time while trying to ‘split the middle term’. The common refrain is ‘I am just not good at it.’ Actually it has little to do with intuition and a lot to do with understanding how numbers work. If I am looking at a quadratic equation and am unable to find the required factors, I will go back to check my quadratic to see if it is correct rather than try to use the esoteric quadratic formula.
Do some of your best ideas come while you’re driving, running, taking a shower or just about to fall asleep? Have you ever spent what felt like an eternity reading a solution over and over again to no avail, only to revisit that problem a few days later and know how to do it almost so intuitively that just feels easy?
Here at Veritas Prep, we have a long list of reasons to be thankful this year! From our students, to our incredible teachers and admissions consultants, it’s truly been an amazing year.
We are excited to announce that starting today through Monday, December 2nd we are making available our biggest discounts of the year on all of our services (discounts on MBA admissions consulting services will be available through Wednesday, December 4)! Whether you are trying to hit Round 2 business school deadlines or are planning on taking the SAT next year, make sure to take a look at our discounts and register before these prices are no longer available.
In Data Sufficiency, the GMAT is asking you to determine how much information is required to make a decision. If the information provided leads you a definite yes, then you have sufficient data to take decisive action. Similarly, if there is enough information to lead to a definite no, then you can also take decisive action. The only time trouble arises is when the information could lead to a yes or to a no; this situation leaves you in a position where you may have to guess (I’ll take Door #1, Bob).
The holiday season is upon us in much of the world, and in the U.S. there is a special holiday this year called “Thanksgivikkah!” This is a combination of the words “Thanksgiving” and “Hanukkah” (The first full day of Hanukkah happens to be on November 28th this year – the same day as Thanksgiving in the U.S. This has never happened before and will not happen again in any of our lifetimes).
Coming back to Integrated Reasoning question types, let’s discuss a cumulative graph today. They are usually a little trickier than your usual line/pie/bar graphs since you have to focus on not the data points but ‘the change’ from one data point to another. Every subsequent data point will be either above or at the same level as the previous data point.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, and amidst all of the memorial articles and TV specials and conspiracy theories, you’ll undoubtedly see that email forward that details the eerie similarities between the two presidents assassinated almost 100 years apart, Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln:
When evaluating critical reasoning questions, you often notice multiple answer choices that all seem plausible. The GMAT testmakers are experts at creating answer choices that are plausible and could potentially be correct, given slightly different circumstances. When evaluating strengthen or weaken questions, it is best to predict an answer from the stimulus before looking at the answer choices. That way you won’t be swayed by logical but out of scope questions (plus it’s a surprise!)
The GMAT is not merely a test for graduate school. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions. Let’s examine a few of these qualities:
1. Decisiveness, which looks at the information and question, and considers the best course of action; for it occurs to the test taker, ‘how can I break this down into something I can figure out quickly? What is the situation and question really getting at? Can I ballpark or use the answer choices to narrow it down? How much time is worth spending to get this?’
Last week, we introduced the idea of “mirroring” in data sufficiency, and this week we’ll continue on that subject and look at different types of mirrors. “Mirroring” is my way of speaking about a technique called “manipulate algebraically” where the test taker attempts to manipulate either the statement or the question itself (or both) in order to get those statements to match each other exactly.
I know I promised that I will bring you some tricky Integrated Reasoning questions this week, but I am really irked by the ‘which’ vs ‘that’ debate and would like to put it to rest once and for all. Hence, in this post I would like to talk about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, about ‘which’ and ‘that’, about when to use a comma and some other such things.
If you’ve been following the strangest story to hit the NFL since Manti Te’o did, you’ve probably noticed that Richie Incognito is nowhere near incognito. There’s nothing subtle or understated about the guy. He’s Rob Ford in a different jersey. But there’s something about that name…
One of the most important concepts on the GMAT quant section is the notion of factors. Because there is no calculator on the exam, the multiplications and divisions tend to heed integer numbers. Dividing 100 by 2 might be trivial, but dividing 1100 by 22 might hinge on your recognition of the common factor of 11 to avoid tedious and time-consuming calculations.
In the Veritas Prep Data Sufficiency book, we have a section called the “Data Sufficiency Toolkit.” This toolkit contains a technique called “Manipulate Algebraically.” This technique involves “manipulating” either the statement or the question stem (or both) so that they exactly match each other.
On a timed test like the GMAT, test-takers often fall victim to a simple fact about the way the English language works: we read from left to right.
Why is that? We’re often in such a hurry to make a decision on each answer choice that we make our decisions within the first 5-10 words of a choice without being patient and hearing the whole thing out. A savvy question creator – and rest assured that the GMAT is written by several of those – will use this against you, embedding something early in an answer choice and baiting you into a bad decision.
The official website of the GMAT states, “You can take the GMAT once every 31 calendar days and no more than five times in a 12-month period.” This is good news. The GMAT isn’t a one-shot deal. It does mean, though, that you should select and, more importantly, prepare for your test date carefully.
In many ways, critical reasoning questions best exemplify what the GMAT is all about. The exam is primarily an exercise in applying logic to various different situations. In the quant section, you must either find the correct answer or determine whether you have sufficient information to make a decision. On the verbal section, you must find the answer choice that logically completes the information given in the question stem. Even on the AWA and the IR, logic is again paramount to knowing how to proceed and getting a good score.
Critical Reasoning is more than just one of the three verbal sections on the GMAT. It’s a way of thinking that applies to every GMAT subject area. In fact, it’s more still. It’s a skill that has wide application outside the GMAT.
The classic example of a lack of critical reasoning is the groupthink that led to the mortgage crisis, which eventually caused the global financial crisis. Very few people questioned the assumption that house prices would continue to rise. As long as prices rose, homeowners would be able to refinance their mortgages when, for example, low introductory interest rates increased or when balloon payments came due. And the system would keep chugging along. But it didn’t…
Now that we have seen some basic Integrated Reasoning question types, we will look at some tricky questions but not this week. This week, we would like to discuss a Critical Reasoning question. This question is simple and straight forward but still many people falter in it. The reasons for this are not hard to find. Let’s analyze this question in detail.
Some stories are best told in the first person, so forgive me for the break from journalistic standards. As a longtime GMAT instructor – 10th anniversary coming up next month actually – I most empathize with my students when I’m preparing for any big event of my own, usually running and triathlon races. The months of grinding preparation, the sleepless night before the event, that helpless “if I’m not ready by now I guess I’ll never be ready, so here goes nothing” last week before the big day… I get to feel what my students feel leading up to their GMAT, and symbiotically I can both learn more about that experience and benefit from the advice I’ve always given about the GMAT.
Percentages represent one of the most underestimated question types on the GMAT quant section. Absolute numbers are helpful to give concrete information (I spent 70$ on the latest Grand Theft Auto game), but percentages give a better indication of relative amounts of time (I spend 68% of my free time playing GTA V). Based on the first, you may find that I overpaid for the video game, but based on the second statistic, I probably got a very good return on my investment.
As you are probably well aware, success on the quantitative section of the GMAT requires not only computational ability, but also test taking acumen. For example, the fact that you are capable of determining a particular quantity from the information given in a problem does not mean that it is necessarily in your best interest to do so. At this point, you may assume that what follows is a discussion of data sufficiency (DS) strategy.
Let’s continue our series and look at another Integrated Reasoning question type today – two part analysis. As complicated as it sounds, it’s actually the simplest of the IR question types in my opinion. The reason for this is that it tests no new skills; it checks your ability to handle the same old PS and CR questions.
Have you ever finished a GMAT problem, read the explanation (or listened to your instructor give it), and thought “well how was I supposed to know ___________?!”?
If so, you’re not alone. Many test-takers become frustrated when the key to a tricky question falls outside the normal realm of math. How was I supposed to know to estimate? How was I supposed to know to flip the diagram over to notice that side AB could also be the base of this triangle? How was I supposed to know that the word “production” next to “costs” was going to be so important?
Critical Reasoning questions on the GMAT are primarily about strengthening or weakening the author’s conclusion. The stimulus of the question will describe some event or issue and then purport some conclusion, often one that is strikingly unsupported by the evidence.
Your job is usually to determine which answer choice would either enhance or undermine the professed conclusion. Sometimes, the question asks you to infer something that must be true from the text. The answer choices for these inference questions tend to have very high standards to meet because they must be true at all times (and not just when the moon is in Aquarius).
For the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about integrated reasoning. Today we will continue with that and take up a multi-source reasoning question. These questions often include substantial data and require you to make inferences based on it. They test your logical and reasoning aptitude so don’t get lost in the data. Review the given information and then jump on to the questions. Then come back to the relevant part of the given information and peruse it in detail.
With the Major League Baseball playoffs on many minds, and the beginning of the NBA and NHL seasons on others, you’ll hear a lot in the news these days about trends in a “best of 7″ series, in which a team needs to win four games to advance to the next round.
“Only x% (a very small percentage) of teams have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win”
“Only one team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win”
“If a team takes a 2-0 lead there’s a (very high) chance that they win the series”
When looking at geometry problems on the GMAT, it’s important to take all graphs with a grain of salt (low fat, though). The graphs used on the GMAT are simply there to help visualize the problem at hand. No concerted effort is made for the graphs to be accurate or exact, and the graph should be evaluated based on what you know to be true, not on what you see or what the graph seems to imply. This all means that trusting your eyes on the GMAT is like trusting a car mechanic: you may have an honest mechanic or you may be getting taken for a ride!
In Part I of Organizing Your Information, we talked about rate time distance problems. In this one, we’ll tackle the Grizzly Peak problem from the Veritas Prep Arithmetic homework. I can’t tell you how many questions have been asked about this one in office hours, or via email support.
Continuing our discussion on IR, let’s look at a graph today and learn how to infer from the data given in it. You may not need to do too many calculations because the options in the drop down menu may allow you to approximate i.e. the options may be quite far apart. Also, you will need to segment the graph into regions using imaginary vertical lines e.g. number of household spending less than 2 hrs at the mall in the graph given below.
The Major League Baseball League Championship Series begin tonight, and for avid fans, stat geeks, and yes aspiring MBA students, there will be probability lessons abound. Baseball is the ultimate probability-and-statistics sport – the book/movie Moneyball was all about probability; Nate Silver, he of presidential election prediction models, first fell in love with statistics as a baseball fan. So whether you’re living and dying with every pitch or you don’t understand why your roommate is, what happens at Fenway Park tomorrow night can help you to increase your probability of going to school just across the Charles at MIT or Harvard.
It’s the first day of class, and students are volunteering what they think of the GMAT. The typical sentiment goes something like: “Tough!” “Tricky stuff, hard to get a grasp on the logic,” or “I like ___ but really have trouble with ___.” Some just have a knowing smile that says “yeah, it’s a clever exam, but I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
Some concepts on the GMAT are absolute, while others can be a little nebulous. For example, the fact that there are 37 quantitative questions and 41 verbal questions is uncontestable. However, not all issues are as cut and dry.
I’ve read a strategy guide that recommended spending extra time on the first 10 questions because they’re worth more. I’ve read other guides saying that all the questions are weighed equally. Of course none of these books are the Official Guide, but even when I put it down, you know I’ll be back. When studying for a known test like the GMAT, it’s important to know what to look for and what to avoid (and also to be literate).
I often have students who, in the first few weeks of the GMAT course, tell me they really can’t stand Data Sufficiency. They fall into a few different camps, but we’ll look at two primary ones.
First, we have our engineers and “number crunchers,” frustrated by Data Sufficiency because there’s no closure, so to speak, at the end. There’s truly something rewarding for a lot of us about grinding out a page of math and getting to an answer.