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Effective vs. Efficient on the GMAT

Effective vs. Efficient on the GMAT

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?)

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
How to Find the Right Answer in Critical Reasoning

How to Find the Right Answer in Critical Reasoning

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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
Angles in Data Sufficiency

Angles in Data Sufficiency

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?

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
Sentence Correction: Process of Elimination on the GMAT

Sentence Correction: Process of Elimination on the GMAT

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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
Find the Quickest Way to Solve for X on the GMAT

Find the Quickest Way to Solve for X on 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).

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
How to Determine the Author's Scope

How to Determine the Author's Scope

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.  

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
How to Find the Sum of Integers on the GMAT

How to Find the Sum of Integers on the GMAT

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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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:

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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)

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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).

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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!).

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
ROn Point: Boldface Questions on the GMAT

ROn Point: Boldface Questions on the GMAT

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)

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
ROn Point: How Carly Rae Jepson Can Help Your GMAT Score

ROn Point: How Carly Rae Jepson Can Help Your GMAT Score

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.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
ROn Point: Canceling your GMAT Score

ROn Point: Canceling your GMAT Score

The pope’s recent announcement that he would be leaving the papacy came as a surprise to millions of people around the world last month. After all, election as pope carries a lifetime mandate by definition, and no sitting pope has resigned in the past 600 years. This string of some 60 popes serving their full mandate has now been broken, and the news brings up the topic of abdicating in the scope of the GMAT exam.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
ROn Point: Approximating Square Roots on the GMAT

ROn Point: Approximating Square Roots on the GMAT

During your preparation for the GMAT, you will learn myriad techniques, shortcuts, rules, exceptions and strategies. Unfortunately, even the best of us tend to draw a blank once or twice under test day pressure, so sometimes you may have to solve questions using deduction and strategic thinking more than with known mathematical identities and theorems. Consider the following question:

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
ROn Point: What the Hobbit and the GMAT Have in Common

ROn Point: What the Hobbit and the GMAT Have in Common

Over the holiday season, you may have taken the time to go see the Hobbit, the much-hyped precursor to the Lord of the Rings movies which breathed life into the seminal Tolkien books published over a half century ago. After watching and reflecting on the movie, there are many parallels between it and the GMAT exam that can be drawn. Most glaringly, the amount of time that must be dedicated to each, the unfamiliar visual experience, the importance of wordplay, and the known subject matter prior to even entering the theater. For the purposes of this analogy, the Pearson center will double as a movie theater, except with the no cell phone rule enforced quite vigorously.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
ROn Point: A Not Insignificant Post on Double Negatives

ROn Point: A Not Insignificant Post on Double Negatives

Double negatives can often intimidate and confuse students on the GMAT. Let’s review some strategies to help you not dislike double negatives so much. Hopefully you don’t feel incapable of navigating these questions already, but if you do, here are some strategies to ensure that you don’t feel uneasy when faced with one on test day.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips