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GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Enough is Enough

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

A Trick That Might Factor In

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The quantitative section of the GMAT has a known emphasis on factorization of numbers, asking a variety of questions about divisibility, primes, least common multiple, etc. One fairly common question type asks, “How many unique factors does (number) have?”

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Only 50 Shopping Days Left ‘Til Applications Are Due

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Cleanse Your Palate

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

If you’re one of our many American readers, you’re most likely salivating at the though of Thursday’s Thanksgiving meal, already planning how to make room on your plate for a drumstick, a scoop of potatoes carefully depressed in to a self-containing gravy bowl, a portion-and-a-half of Aunt Joan’s sweet potato casserole, and enough vegetables to round out the plate to not appear entirely unconcerned with eating healthy. Ultimately, your carefully planned plate will all blend together in to one pile of mashed-everything, with gravy running in to cranberry sauce that is essentially a paste holding together kernels of corn and pieces of marshmallow from the already-devoured sweet potatoes.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Crossing the Finish Line

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

There are few good reasons for a 56-year old father of three to decide to get his first tattoo, and maybe only one that pretty much mandates that he should. For finishers of the Ironman triathlon — an extraordinary athletic event consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run — tradition dictates that each Ironman has the ability, if not the duty, to ink the Ironman logo on his skin as a permanent reminder of the accomplishment. Ask one of these warriors about the experience, and you’ll likely hear some derivative of the following:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

E-Venn Easier

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Some historical titles are more well-deserved than others. Louis Braille deserves far more credit than he gets, as many are probably unaware that the term “braille” derives from the name of the man who made it possible for the blind to read. On the flip side, Amerigo Vespucci, from whose name the geographical name “America” was created to describe the majority of the Western Hemisphere, was fairly lackluster as an explorer compared to others of his generation. Still, his name has become affiliated with some of the greatest businesses, halls of government, and other paragons of world culture throughout the modern world.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Haunted House

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Back to Basics

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Divide and Conquer

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Self-Scouting

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week


Nothing to Worry About

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Poise Under Pressure — Emphasize the Process

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Many a line of work treats the autumn as its most high-stress season, with a crucial need for peak performance. High school teachers, harvest farmers, costume salesmen, Derek Jeter… for many, the September/October months almost exclusively dictate their overall success for the year. Perhaps no one feels as much pressure this season, however, as business school applicants and first-year college quarterbacks. In both cases, this season can determine how the next few years, and even beyond will play out. Accordingly, the stakes are raised, the pressure increases, and the degree-of-difficulty remains high.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Prime Time

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

A recent episode of “The Office” featured a classic, GMAT-relevant exchange, in which a cash-strapped Michael Scott asks his financial analyst to “crunch those numbers again”. The stunned analyst explains that, because the calculations were all done accurately using a computer program, there was no mechanism for “crunching” the numbers again, and even if there were, there would be no change.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

The Dog Days of Summer

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

August is an interesting month, in that it’s known primarily for its lack of identity. One of the few months without a major American holiday, it represents the no-man’s-land between summer and back-to-school. The excitement of warmer weather has given way to the monotony of hot-and-humid, and everyone seems to be waiting: farmers for the harvest, sports fans for the pennant races and football season, students and teachers for the school bells, and residents of beach communities for tourists to disperse and leave the beaches to the locals. Meanwhile, business school applicants are awaiting the first round deadlines for their applications (most will come in October).

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

There Must Be An Easier Way

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

If you’ve been a loyal reader of this space for a year or so, you may have read something similar to this post back in the fall of 2008, but it bears repeating. Business schools aren’t particularly interested in “human calculators,” but they do express a direct preference for problem solvers — those who can efficiently make good decisions. As such, the quantitative side of the GMAT is skewed toward that kind of thinking, and rewards test-takers who can efficiently and accurately analyze numbers.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

No Chain!

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

This weekend, some of the best-conditioned, hardest-working human beings on the planet will complete one of the most grueling challenges known to man. At the same time, some of those not taking the GMAT will finish the Tour de France, a similarly daunting challenge. What can you, as a test-taker, learn from the champions of the grand Tour?

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

When Two Wrongs Make a Right

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

If you’ve ever been a child, you’ve probably been told on multiple occasions that “two wrongs don’t make a right” (that’s typically the companion lesson to the rhetorical question “if all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?”). Parents don’t anticipate fun activities like bungee jumping and cliff diving with the bridge hypothetical, nor do they account for GMAT Critical Reasoning questions with the wrong/right axiom.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Mind Your Own Business

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The GMAT verbal section can be distracting if only because of one truth: Sentences (for correction) or reading comprehension passages must be about something. Whether it is a technical topic (immunological reactions, biological discoveries involving microorganisms) or a business-related subject (the rise of multinational corporations, the origin of hedge funds), questions on the verbal section will take place within the context of some kind of subject matter. Traditionally, the GMAT uses academic subjects such as:

  • Natural Sciences (astronomy, biology, etc.)
  • Social Science (history, political science, etc.)
  • Business Related

As a test-taker your reaction to these subjects can take multiple forms, but usually falls in to one or two major categories: bored/intimidated by something you don’t like or understand, or engaged/interested by something that intrigues you. In either case, you’re likely to be distracted, either by your distaste for the subject of by your enjoyment of it. Don’t forget, though, that you’re not reading the sentence/paragraph/passage for the value of the knowledge contained within it! Your job, regardless of the topic, is to perform a specific function:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Calculator Independence Day

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Today marks the office-closure observance of the American Independence Day (which officially takes place tomorrow, July 4). Independence in any context can be both daunting and freeing; for a fledgling nation, freedom from taxes may be exciting, but the need for self-government can be troublesome (as the Articles of Confederation demonstrate). For a young adult, the freedom from parental control may be liberating, but all the while the financial independence can be more difficult than expected.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Data Sufficiency: How do you Beat It? Be Bad. (It’s easier than ABC)

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

As the world reacts to the passing of the King of Pop, it’s only Human Nature for you to take some time this weekend to reflect on some of your favorite Michael Jackson lyrics (and even to sadly exclaim, “I Want You Back“). But, naturally, after a few songs, you’ll likely look at the Man in the Mirror and Wanna Be Starting Something — namely, your GMAT homework. Here is how you can blend the two to give yourself an edge on the exam (much like a Smooth Criminal would):

Unlike other questions on the GMAT, for which the answer choices A-through-E should each have a 20% chance of being correct (in a blind guess), Data Sufficiency questions are asked in a way that should reward test-takers for being able to accomplish more with less information. In other words, if you can use statement 1 alone to solve the problem without the help of statement 2, that should indicate to the exam (and to business schools) that you are a more efficient problem solver, and therefore more likely to succeed in business school. Inherently, A in this case would be a “better” answer than would C. Judging the answer choices by this standard, they fall in to tiers:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Divide and Conquer

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The quantitative section of the GMAT features a heavy emphasis on the divisibility of numbers, as multiple questions will require division as a necessary arithmetic step, and others will require you to reduce fractions or note whether a particular number is a factor of another. Because of this, the ability to see divisibility in short order is extremely helpful for both speed and accuracy.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

A Pattern of Efficiency

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

A colleague recently pointed out a practice test problem he had seen that appeared to be a unique, new variety of GMAT quantitative problem. (Editor’s note: There is no need for alarm; continue reading and you’ll learn that this problem is entirely common on the exam and has been for years!) The problem asked for the test taker to sum a relatively high number of values that were displayed on a grid; the extent of the problem was similar to:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Two-Minute Drill

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

GMAT examinees often lament that the average time they are allotted to spend per question is approximately 2 minutes on the quantitative section (actually 2:04.8, but who’s counting?), and 1:45 on the verbal. The time pressure often rattles test takers more than does the content, and is usually a contributing factor when questions are answered incorrectly. To combat that, consider these thoughts:

  • Have you watched any of the NBA Playoffs? The last 2 minutes of a playoff basketball game can extend for nearly an hour when timeouts and free throws are factored in. More importantly, quite a bit of action takes place during the time when the clock is running over those 2 minutes.
  • Have you watched any of the Stanley Cup Finals? When your team is killing a 2-minute penalty, 2 minutes can feel like an eternity.
  • Have you recently done plyometric exercise for 2 minutes? While it may be true that “no one can get a good ab workout in 7 minutes”, a 2-minute wall sit or leg raise is more than enough time to feel the burn, as well as some real discomfort.

What does this mean for your GMAT preparation? Remind yourself that 2 minutes, when given the proper perspective, is plenty of time. If you’re concerned about timing, try doing any of the following periodically for 2 minutes to remind yourself just how long 2 minutes can be:

  • Brush your teeth or gargle (few people regularly do either for this long…the upside is that your dentist will thank you just as much as your admissions officer will)
  • Sprint on a track, or turn your treadmill to maximum speed
  • Do as many pushups or situps as you can
  • Lean your back against a wall, form 90-degree angles with your knees and hips as though you were sitting on a chair, and hold that position with your hands out and palms up

Tired yet? These exercises should give you a better appreciation for just how long 2 minutes can be…and allow you to take the GMAT in excellent physical (and hygienic) condition!

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

In Conclusion…

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Many GMAT Critical Reasoning questions ask you to select answer choices that impact an argument’s conclusion. Therefore, you should learn to recognize clues that designate that a statement is the conclusion. Or, to rephrase that: Because the ability to recognize the conclusion of an argument is important, you will need to look for clues to help you determine where in each argument you can find the conclusion.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Think Globally, Act Locally, Succeed Exponentially

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

As mentioned previously in this space, the GMAT’s quantitative section is increasingly emphasizing problem solving skills over calculation abilities, and often does so in the form of “Number Properties” questions. The authors of the exam are also quite adept at recognizing “mathematical psychology”, and creating questions that increase an examinee’s anxiety by enough to make that process of problem solving a bit more difficult. One of the major themes that arises as a result is the use of exponents, which carry with them a number of properties extremely useful to the writers of the GMAT.

Exponents:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Lights, Camera, Action

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

What have you been up to this month? You may be spending your time watching the NBA or NHL playoffs, or the Giro d’Italia. You may be participating in early-season triathlons or late-season marathons. If you’re President of the United States, you may be trying your hand as a stand-up comedian. Regardless of your May pursuits, if they’re any of the above, they are likely preparing you for a successful performance on the GMAT, as peak performances tend to come in a familiar three-step pattern: ready, set, go; bump, set spike; game plan, warm up, perform. All signs point to I came, I saw, I conquered.

With President Obama’s standup routine at the White House Correspondents dinner, he followed a traditional jokemaker’s protocol – warm up the room, set up a situation, and then hit the punchline. In this month’s many athletic events, peak performers are starting with a game plan, moving to a warm up, and then delivering when it counts. So should you on the GMAT, remembering that the GMAT as a peak performance is comprised of a similar progression.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Don’t Float Like a Butterfly – Sting Like a Bee

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The world fondly remembers Muhammad Ali’s boxing career for a variety of reasons – his effervescent smile, his political activeness, his friendly banter with Howard Cosell, and an uncanny ability to brag and taunt through rhyme that still makes Jay-Z and Eminem jealous. Boxing purists, however, remember him most fondly for the techniques he employed in the ring to make himself the Greatest of All Time (GOAT). Perhaps most famous was his “Rope-A-Dope” style, in which he would lean back against the ropes, allowing overeager and undersophisticated challengers to wear themselves out throwing ineffective punch after punch while Ali conserved his energy for a knockout barrage later in the fight.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

From Zero to Hero

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The number 0 is a tricky one on the GMAT, as its unique properties are often either the key to unlocking a difficult solution, or the trap in to which a seemingly logical solution can lead you. Learning the properties of zero (keep in mind that it is an even number) is an important skill, particularly on data sufficiency problems. Even more importantly, never forget to consider zero as a potential value for a variable, as it often produces surprising results. Consider the case of zero as an exponent:

x^0 is, by definition, equal to 1. This concept may have bothered you in high school, as it seems almost arbitrary that an exponent without value would automatically lead to a value of 1. But noting the properties of exponents can help you to prove and more easily embrace and remember this useful device: take, for example, the expression x^2 * x^-2. You could rearrange this two ways:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

At any rate…

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Rate problems on the GMAT can take a variety of forms, and can often be time consuming for test takers. They also offer a challenge for students who rely on memorization, as it can be trickier than expected to apply the correct relationship between the rate, distance, and time variables.

For a foolproof way to remember the proper relationship, keep in mind that you will almost certainly encounter a rate on your drive to the test center: Miles per hour. Because the word “per” indicates division, you can remember that the rate is the distance (miles) divided by the time (hour). Accordingly, R = D/T.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

The GMAT Is a Living Organism

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The GMAT has evolved since Veritas Prep launched in 2002. Actually, the test is constantly evolving (even if the changes are subtle), which is why we constantly monitor the exam and update our own GMAT prep materials multiple times per year. The key for you is to make sure that you understand what the test creators are looking for in test takers now, not what they were looking for five years ago.

Increasingly, the quantitative section of the GMAT requires you to think critically and make decisions, not just solve formulas. A few years ago we saw a spike in advanced probability problems, like permutations. Currently, number theory questions have emerged as popular high difficulty-level problems. The test-makers at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) favor logic, pattern-recognition, and efficiency over rote memorization and solving time-consuming calculations. For the verbal section of the test, GMAC rewards critical thinking and does not expect a student to know obscure idioms and technical jargon.

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Make No Mistake

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

If you’re serious about GMAT preparation, you have undoubtedly taken (or will take) a series of practice tests to replicate the test experience and work on pacing, stamina, etc. (At Veritas Prep, we offer our students 15 CAT exams, and you can access a free GMAT practice exam on our web site). Most tests have some useful diagnostic features that will demonstrate the time you took on each question, your performance on major question categories, etc. But as you have read in this space previously, one true key to peak performance is to be aware of the errors that you tend to make in particular, and the software isn’t quite advanced enough to highlight those for you.

To better understand your own mistakes in your own way, a simple activity is to go back through 2-3 practice tests that you’ve taken and label each of your mistakes with 4-6 keywords of your own. Examples could include “Data Sufficiency, didn’t forget first statement” or “Strengthen argument, misread conclusion”. The tests themselves may alert you to the fact that you missed, say, 6 of 15 Data Sufficiency questions, but with closer inspection you can determine just which errors you’re making when you do miss them. Then, if you scan those keywords to find repeats (Microsoft Excel can do this pretty easily for you), you’ll have a better idea of just which mistakes you’re prone to making, and you can focus your attention on them.

Filed in: GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Positively Uncertain – Prognosis Negative

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

One of the greatest contributions that Jerry Seinfeld has made to society is his array of fake movie titles from his sitcom. Mention the terms “Chunnel”, “Sack Lunch”, or “The Muted Heart” to any Seinfeld fan and he’ll have spent at least a few hours imagining what the plot for that movie could have been. Perhaps the one that inspired the greatest enthusiasm for the characters on the show was the faux film “Prognosis Negative” — which should also serve as a warning to you when you take the GMAT…

A common theme, particularly on Data Sufficiency questions, is the use of variables with inequalities. For example, a question might ask:

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

And Then There Were Two…

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Quite often, test takers lament that they can almost always narrow the answer choices on verbal questions down to two, but don’t guess at much better than a 50% average from there. Does this happen to you? If so, it is likely the result of a common way that people approach questions, and you can tweak your thought process just enough to avoid that trap.

Many questions require two different thought processes — one to narrow the choices down to two, and then another to choose between the finalists. The biggest problem with that is that test-takers often either try to use the same process once they have narrowed it down by eliminating bad answers, or lose track of what they are being asked to do because the most recent things they have read have been misinformation in the wrong choices. To combat that, you should essentially

Filed in: GMAT, GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

The Importance of “Of”

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

One of the smallest and least noteworthy words in the English language, the word “of” is crucial to your success on the GMAT, on both the quantitative and verbal sides of the exam. Accordingly, it is of great importance that you recognize these two common appearances of, and traps set by, the word “of“:

Filed in: GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Confidence

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

We recently took a call from a distressed GMAT student after a disappointing exam performance. The story? She struggled through the quantitative section and went in to the break exhausted and disappointed — after months of study and preparation, how could she feel so confused by a few quant questions? Why was she struggling to finish on time? From what she could remember, the verbal section was, accordingly, a blur — her confidence destroyed by the quantitative section, she couldn’t focus, she gave up early on questions and simply guessed, and she limped to the finish, guessing on the last few questions just to get it over with. All in all, it was a very frustrating experience.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Put the Critic in Critical Reasoning

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Perhaps it’s just the age in which we live, but people nowadays are much better at criticism than praise, and at skepticism than optimism. Perhaps it’s just our love for Jon Lovitz’ role as “The Critic”, or our drive to consistently identify where we can improve, but we tend to do a better job of analysis when we seek out flaws in something than when we see it as sufficient as it is.

GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

A Logical Approach To Sentence Correction

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

There is probably no more illogical discipline in academia than English grammar, in which seemingly the only rule is that there are generally several exceptions to each rule. Alas, as English has become a primary language of the business world, the GMAT requires examinees to be proficient in a number of grammatical devices through the Sentence Correction style of question, which comprises 1/3 of the Verbal section of the exam. Fear not (or, maybe fear slightly), however, as the GMAT focuses on a limited scope of the English language, and the Veritas Prep verbal syllabus teaches those particular skills thoroughly.

Filed in: GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Data Sufficiency – Where “No” Means “Affirmative”

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

My hat is off to whomever created the Data Sufficiency question type, which holds within its format several delightfully crafty ways to elicit an incorrect answer. Perhaps none is more tricky and understated, however, than the method by which the test preys on our innate connection between the word “no” and its connotation of “negative”. (Author’s Note: This same connection was exploited recently-and-brilliantly on an episode of 30 Rock, in which Tracy Jordan exclaims that Jack’s medical test results were “positive” — meaning “good news” — because the actual results came back “negative”. But I digress…)

Filed in: GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

To Thine Own Self Be True

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

The GMAT tests many things — grammar, geometry, logic, algebra, etc. as skills; poise under pressure and efficient decision making as virtues; dedication and focus as attributes. Perhaps above all else, the GMAT is a test of thought processes — you need to know the content in order to apply it to the questions, but simply understanding grammar, logic, and math isn’t enough to ensure success. Much of the test hinges on your ability to control the way that you think to ensure that you answer questions specifically and accurately. In business terms, the test wants you to use the assets that you have — the knowledge of the content — to accomplish specific tasks — answer the questions explicitly.

Filed in: GMAT Tips
GMAT Tip of the Week

GMAT Tip of the Week

Enough is Enough

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

A format unique to the GMAT, Data Sufficiency questions comprise nearly half of the GMAT

Filed in: GMAT Tips