GMAT Tip of the Week: Whatever You Say I Am

GMAT prepIt’s Hip Hop Month on the Veritas Prep blog, and no discussion of contemporary rap would be complete without mention of Eminem, the controversial emcee who has earned Grammy award and platinum records at nearly the same pace as he has earned criticism and backlash for his honest, edgy lyrics and demeanor.

Like many great artists — be they painters, poets, musicians, or filmmakers — Eminem pours himself into his work, giving listeners an open, honest, and oftentimes eerie glimpse into the life that inspires him. Eschewing the trend for successful rappers to forego gritty portrayals of their innermost thoughts to focus on the glamour lifestyle of the rich and famous, Eminem continually derives his creativity from his strained relationships with his mother and ex-wife, his reluctant comfort with celebrity and wealth, and his introspective thoughts on his role and his art.

Eminem’s unabashed honesty pervades each of his tracks, and even inspired a film, 8 Mile, that parallels his life. One of his first songs to offer an introspective look at his fame was The Way I Am; its lyrics detail the pressures that the artist felt from his fans and his record label after achieving success with his first album. In its chorus, Eminem attacks the celebrity culture that surrounds entertainers, with media outlets creating controversy and speculation around artists:

I am whatever you say I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am? … I don’t know, that’s just the way I am.

In addition to serving as an anthem of frustration for one of the world’s greatest entertainers, these lyrics may unlock for you a secret to success on the GMAT:

“I am whatever you say I am” can also be the anthem of any algebraic equation that the GMAT provides you on test day. That is, your success on math questions may depend on how you rephrase mathematical statements to serve your purposes (the same way that magazines reposition stories about Eminem to sell copies). As long as you “tell the truth” with an algebraic statement, you can rearrange it to fit your needs. Consider the question:

If x and y are nonzero integers, does x – y = y/x?

(1) y2 = x2y

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.

What, you may ask, does this mean for your GMAT preparation? Much like the GOAT, the GMAT finds much of its competitive advantage in its ability to wear down its unsuspecting challengers, who inefficiently chase “punch after punch”, performing unnecessary calculations on the quantitative side and reading and analyzing unnecessary verbiage on the verbal side, while all the while the GMAT packs its “knockout punch” in the form of a subtle uniqueness in the line of questioning that an exhausted-and-distracted examinee is unlikely to notice.

In order to combat this formidable opponent, be sure to seek out opportunities to save time and energy when possible. A few likely opportunties to do so include:

Quantitative Section:

  • When answering a Data Sufficiency question, once you know that you will get one definitive answer (for example, if you have arrived at one, linear equation), you can stop performing the calculation. The actual answer does not matter, as the question is only concerned with whether you will, indeed, arrive at an answer.
  • When calculating the answer for a Problem Solving question, consider the answer choices and whether an estimate, or a property of the correct value (does it have to be even? Must it be negative?) will be sufficient to solve the question without performing the entire calculation.

Verbal Section:

  • Determine what you are being asked to do before you read any sentence/paragraph/passage. The actual subject matter is much less important than your ability to answer the question, so if you can identify the grammatical error being tested in a Sentence Correction question, or the question stem of a Critical Reasoning question, you can prioritize the sections of the stimulus that you do read, and filter out the distraction created by the other portions.
  • Pursuant to the above, technical terms or official titles are unlikely to be testable, whereas grammatical flaws and structural language are often tested. The former devices, however, can easily add strenuous words and syllables to your task, so take care to focus on what you know to be important, and save the less-likely components for when they are absolutely necessary.

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