BREAKING NEWS: The GMAT is Getting Shorter!

stopwatch-620GMAC has announced that, beginning April 16, 2018, the GMAT exam will be 30 minutes shorter via the removal of 6 Quantitative questions and 5 Verbal questions and some streamlining to tutorials and other non-exam screens at the test center. So, just how much should this affect your test prep strategy? Well there are a few things to keep in mind before you take the official exam. 

To prepare for the changes, know the following:

  • Your allotted pace per question is essentially the same (within ~2 seconds per question).
  • According to GMAC, the removal of questions all comes from the unscored, experimental questions (those that GMAC is vetting for quality and difficulty, but that do not count toward your score).
  • There are no changes to scoring or to the AWA and Integrated Reasoning sections.
  • There will now be 31 Quantitative questions (in 62 minutes) and 36 Verbal questions (in 65 minutes).

What does this mean for you?

  • In general your pacing strategy doesn’t need to change. You’re still allotted just about exactly the same amount of time per question (exactly 2 minutes per Quant question and 1:48 per Verbal question).
  • However, the “penalty” for guessing just got a bit more severe. With all of the reduction in questions coming from the unscored questions you lose (most of) the 25% probability that a question you guess on won’t count toward your score.
  • What you give up in “probability that a guess won’t hurt you” you likely make up for in mental stamina. A shorter test allows you to perform at your peak for a greater percentage of it, so that works to your advantage.
  • Most importantly, recognize this: everyone takes the same test, so these little nuances in stamina and number of experimentals will affect everyone. The psychometricians at GMAC take data integrity seriously and won’t sign off on changes that could alter the consistency of scores, so any perceived advantages or disadvantages are likely a much bigger deal in your head than they are in practice.

The best news?

Unlike with Section Select – another new, user-friendly GMAT feature – you (probably) don’t have to make any decisions.  If you’re signed up for the “old” format test (an appointment between now and April 16) GMAC will allow you to transfer your appointment to a later date with the shorter format free of charge.  But unless you have a test currently scheduled for the next 12 days you’ll just take the shorter test and be able to celebrate a half-hour earlier.

Whether you’re just beginning your GMAT prep or you’re just looking to hone a few particular skills (such as time management), Veritas Prep has a service to ensure you succeed on test day! Check out our variety of GMAT prep services online, or give us a call to speak with a friendly Course Advisor about your options. 

Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Letter

Oberlin CollegeIt is admissions decision time, and many institutions are reporting an increase in applicants for the Class of 2022, and a decrease in admissions rates. For the first time, Harvard admitted less than 5% of applicants! So, for the 95% of you who applied to Harvard and received a rejection letter, or for any other students who feel like their dreams have been crushed, this post is for you.

First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel how you want to feel – disappointed, angry, frustrated or even sad. You worked tirelessly in high school to be a stellar student, spent hours outside of schools participating in extracurricular activities, pulled all-nighters to complete homework assignments and stayed up late rewriting your application essays over and over again. You may have even lost some sleep in the last week in anticipation of the decision. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel a sinking disappointment. However, your rejection letter should not take anything away from your herculean efforts over the past four years. You are still an outstanding, accomplished student. Repeat that to yourself a few times.

Your future is not defined by today. We won’t try to get too motivational on you, but it is important to remember that tomorrow is a new day, life will continue on, and your future will not defined by the admissions decisions you received.

If you’re wondering what to do next, here are three suggestions to help you get excited about the next phase of your life:

Ask for an explanation

If you find yourself asking “what happened?” or “what could I have done differently?” you might get some peace of mind by connecting with an admissions officer. Many institutions are willing to give you feedback on why you weren’t admitted. If this is something that would help you feel closure, we suggest reaching out to the admissions office and getting this information!

Get excited about your plan B

Once you are ready to stop mourning what could have been, it’s time to start getting excited about what will be! If you’re able, go on a campus visit to your Plan B school to start envisioning yourself as a student there. If you happen to find yourself with no offers of admission, take this time to research schools who are still accepting applications, or seek a Community College option that might be a good fit for you for the upcoming year. You may even choose to work with a college admissions consultant to help guide you through the process.

Celebrate your successes

We get it, you didn’t crack the selective admissions rates at the top colleges in the country, but if you strategized your school list wisely, it’s likely you were admitted somewhere, and that’s worth celebrating! Go out to dinner, hang that admissions letter on the fridge and remind yourself that you’re awesome and your future is bright.

In the end, your future is what you make of it. No matter where you enroll, your future will be fantastic because you make it that way. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and the people in your corner cheering you on. The best is yet to come!

Dinged By All Of Your Schools?  Here Is What To Do.

AdmissionsIt is hard not to feel the sting of rejection coming from MBA programs you failed to get into, especially when you just devoted a portion of your life going through such an arduous application process. But we are here to let you know that it is key to your long term success not to let fear of future rejection keep you from reapplying yourself. There are steps you can take to improve your chances of admission and earn the acceptance letter you deserve!

What should you do?  

 

Be honest with yourself.  

This is probably the most important and most difficult step an applicant can take to kick-start the post-ding process. You will need to look back at your application and honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your profile. Look at where you stand on paper (GMAT, GPA, etc.) as well as how you fare in some of the softer areas like the essay – scrutinize your whole profile. The data side is easy; you can compare average and median scores to determine your competitiveness in these areas. The “softer” areas are a bit more complicated, but assessing whether or not you answered all questions as they were posed, and to the best of your abilities, is a good place to start. The information gleaned from this self-assessment should fuel your next steps as a potential re-applicant. Evaluating yourself is quite a challenge, and sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective to address your “blind-spots.”

Ask for feedback.  

Anyone who gets rejected will inevitably ask, “What did I do wrong? What’s the one thing that kept me out?”  There are some programs that give rejected applicants specific feedback on why they didn’t get in. This can be helpful because if it’s something you can improve, then you know exactly what you need to do, if you decide to re-apply.  The old advice applies, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.”

If the programs you applied to are unable to provide you with feedback on your application, you can get a “ding analysis” from an admissions consultant.  They’ll review your application and give you their opinion on what held you back. Considering many admissions consultants are former admissions committee members this can be invaluable.  

Prepare for the Future.

Here is where you will decide whether or not you would like to apply to business school again. Creating a winning application is not easy, so making the necessary changes to a rejected application may not be seen as worth the effort for some. In the event you do decide to apply again, it is important to create an action plan. Having a plan to address the aspects of your profile that held you back this year is key.  You may need to expand the universe of schools you apply to. You may need to improve your essays. You may need to raise your GMAT score.

Allow me to share the following review posted by a client we worked with.  I hope it will give you hope.

“I had applied on my own to a couple of top MBA programs last year and was rejected without interviews. Even through I sunk many hours into my applications, within just one session, Dave was able to highlight different areas in which I could strengthen my essays, resume, and letters of recommendation. I started with Dave in April for a four-school package, and every step of the way, he was an incredible mentor and guide. Dave took the time go get to know my life story, future goals, and general life; I never felt like just another client. Dave was great about really cutting to the core of my stories and the reasons I made decisions while still focusing on the impact of those experiences. The final results blew away my best expectations – 100K scholarship from Kellogg, 60K scholarship from Booth, and full rides from both Tuck and Darden. Thank you so much to both Veritas and Dave for a fantastic experience and amazing results, and I highly, highly recommend Dave. Can’t wait to start school in Fall 2018!”

A ding is not the end of the world! Take the steps above to bounce back and earn the letter of acceptance you deserve.

Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation to discuss whether or not you should re-apply and how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.  As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Waitlisted? Here are 3 Things You Should Do Next.

RoadThis time of year is full of so many highs and lows for college applicants. Many students will be jumping for joy when they learn that they’ve been admitted to the school of their dreams. Others may learn that they have been denied admission placed on the waitlist, and can’t help but feel defeated. If you happen to find yourself in the camp of waitlisted students, here are some strategies to help you figure out next steps.

Reach out to the school immediately.

If you’re still dreaming about attending the school that waitlisted you, open communication as soon as possible. Write a letter or send an email detailing that if they were to admit you, you would accept the spot in their incoming freshman class without question. Reiterate the reasons why this school is your dream institution and update them on any new developments in your candidacy.

Get excited about your Plan B.

Obviously your dream school is still your goal, but you’re likely going to head somewhere in the fall, so it’s time to psyche yourself up for Plan B! Since it is uncertain whether or not you will be lifted from the waitlist at your dream school, put down a deposit at a school that admitted you. The last thing you want is to be stuck after May 1st with nowhere to go, so set yourself up for success by paying an enrollment deposit at another school. Buy a t-shirt or hat for that school, too. You might end up being a student there, so it’s time to get into the school spirit!

Keep your eye on the prize.

If you’ve been waitlisted, you might consider just walking away altogether to take a Gap Year. For some students, this might be a good option, because you can spend your Gap Year doing things to boost your candidacy in anticipation of applying again. However, it is important to note that it is easier to try and transfer to your dream institution from another college than taking a stab at the first-time admissions odds again. In most cases, you are better off enrolling in your Plan B, kicking butt in challenging courses and ultimately positioning yourself to be a compelling transfer applicant in a few years. Who knows, you might fall in love with your Plan B and realize that’s where you were meant to be all along!

Being placed on a waitlist definitely isn’t ideal, but there are actions you can take to position yourself well for the future! Veritas Prep college admissions consultants are ready to help you with strategies to get off the waitlist at your top-choice school.

We are happy to review your waitlist school letter or assist you as you decide on which college is right for you. Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Insights from the 2019 US News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Booth Climbs to #1

US News College RankingsWe don’t like to overemphasize the importance of rankings, but we know that applicants are extremely interested in them.  As such, let’s take a look at the US News and World Report Best Business Schools rankings for 2019 (ranked in 2018) today.

What’s new?  

 

Booth went from #3 last year to #1 this year, tied with Harvard.  

This is the first time Booth has been ranked #1 by US News and World Report.  Comparing Harvard and Booth, the acceptance rate jumps out at you.  Booth accepted 23.5% of applicants and Harvard 9.9%. The percentage of graduates employed at the time of graduation also stands out.  Booth has one of the highest at 88%. The only school in the top 25 with a higher percentage is Ross-more on them later-with 89.7%.  Side note: We don’t want to get too deep into employment statistics, but if having a job at the time of graduation, or getting one shortly thereafter is really important to you, check out the numbers reported for graduates employed 3 months after graduation.  The highest percentage you’ll see in the top 25 is Foster at 98.1%-pretty impressive. For those of you who’d been solely focused on applying to and getting in to H/S/W, we hope this helps you open your mind to the value of applying to and the possibility of attending a school other than those 3.  

Ross went from #11 last year to #7 tied this year, tied with Berkeley Haas.  

Ross achieved a noteworthy rise in the rankings, cracking the coveted Top 10.  Similar to my comment above, for those of you hyper focused on attending a school in the top 10, we hope this 1) helps you realize that the top 10 varies from year to year and 2) opens your mind to applying to schools outside of the top 10.     

The difference between a school being ranked in the top 10 and not is pretty small.  One year they may be in the top 10, the next year they may be out. Did the school change that much in 1 year?  Probably not. Is the school still a great school? Most likely yes. There can be so much focus on a school being ranked in the top 10, but there are a number of excellent schools which hover right around the top 10 and even crack the top 10 (as they say) some years that as an applicant, you should make sure you don’t overlook them.  So, while Fuqua, Yale, Stern and Darden aren’t in the top 10 this year, as you consider which schools to apply to, take a look at these schools as they are perennially near the top 10 and sometimes included, if that’s important to you.

What do you need to know?  

One thing we noticed when we looked at the rankings was the average GMAT score.  Scanning the rankings, it wasn’t until you got to #17 Tepper that the average GMAT score dipped below 700.  Yikes! The average GMAT score at 5 of the top 6 schools (including the top 4 schools) was 730+. Wowza! Similar to rankings, we don’t want to place too much emphasis on the average GMAT score, but it’s worth noting that the average scores remain high and are continuing to go up for schools in the top 25.  You’re probably wondering, what you can do about it? Check out these articles on the Veritas Prep blog or contact us so we can give you some free advice.  

It’s pretty common knowledge that the top 7 schools are pretty consistent–thus the term M7.  And everyone wants to go to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – thus the term H/S/W – even though Booth, Kellogg, or Sloan may be tied or ranked higher any given year.  Outside of the top 7, though, call it 8 through 12, there can be movement and as such, one school may be in the top 10 one year and out the next.
We constantly remind applicants, rankings are only one factor to consider when selecting which schools to apply to.  Regardless of which schools you decide are right for you, you’ll want to make sure you submit the strongest application you’re capable of.  Contact us today to discuss your chances of admission to your target programs, to get answers to your questions, and to find out how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.

MBA Application Advice for Older Applicants

SAT/ACTFirst of all, who is considered an older applicant?

Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. The average age for most of the top full time MBA programs is typically about 27 or 28 years old, but as we learned from our GMAT prep, averages don’t tell us a lot. Even looking at the middle 80% age range of full-time MBA programs, most students are between 25 and 31 years old.  

So, if you have more than 7 years of work experience, at the time of application, you will be at the upper end of the range.  In other words, if you’ll be 30 or older at the start of the program, you’ll be above average. There is no cut off, though.

Every year, full time programs admit applicants in their mid 30s, however these people are outliers, Just as a candidate with a GMAT score that falls outside of the middle 80% of a school’s range must justify how they will succeed academically, an applicant that falls outside the middle 80% in age range must justify why they want an MBA, why now, and how they’ll fit with the program both culturally and professionally.

If you are an older applicant, what can you do to maximize your chances of admission?  

 

Make it clear why you want an MBA now.

Admissions officers are going to see your age, your college graduation date and the years of work experience you bring, so there’s no sense in trying to hide or downplay this aspect of your profile.  Instead, make sure you have a clear and coherent response for why you want to get your MBA now, how it fits into your professional path, and how receiving a full-time MBA is the best possible path to achieve your goals.  Know that the admissions committee will be looking at this portion of your application with extra scrutiny. I guarantee that every 32 year old who was admitted to a top-tier, full-time program had a very clear and compelling argument for why they should be there. Nobody stumbles into a top-tier program with 10 years of work experience who simply said, “I’m looking to expand my career opportunities and improve my management skills” without providing significantly more detail.  

Demonstrate fit.  

Also, don’t forget to do thorough research on each program to which you are applying.  Talk with current students and recent alums who were a little older in their class and pick their brains on school culture, the ways they got involved, and their overall experience. Get on your target schools’ websites to find out what clubs interest you most and include these in your application essays to show the admissions committee that you’re serious about getting involved!  At Veritas Prep, we have expert consultants for older candidates and can help you refine your professional goals, why you need an MBA now, and how you will contribute to your class.

Consider applying to a part time or EMBA program.  

Many business schools, including Stanford and Wharton, offer other programs such as EMBA, part-time and executive education tracks that may be better suited to candidates who will not likely take advantage of the immersive experience of a full-time MBA.  If you have 7 or 8 or more years of work experience, be sure you are considering all of your options. Leaving your full-time job for two years is not always the wisest option for people later in their careers and will not provide the same ROI as for younger candidates.  Think through which program makes the most sense for where you are at in your life and career and what you desire out of your MBA experience. Generally the part-time and EMBA programs attract an older applicant pool given the structure and set-up of the programs. With whatever program makes the most sense for you make a strong case for how the offerings best align with your development needs.

If you need help with any of the advice above contact us, we’d be happy to help.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Can Amazing Extracurriculars Outweigh Average Academics?

Extracurricular-ActivitiesYear after year, this is one of the questions we receive most from eager high school students gearing up for the college application process. We thought we’d take the time to break down how admissions decisions are made. Don’t want to read all the way to the end? Here’s our #spoileralert: amazing extracurriculars don’t outweigh average academics. Let us tell you why!

When admissions committees at top schools make admissions decisions, they’re evaluating you across a few elements:

Academic Preparedness

Here, admissions committees are looking to evaluate whether or not you are equipped to succeed in their college courses. This comes down to more than your GPA and test scores, though those are factors in this evaluation Other areas of your academic evaluation will include AP test scores, SAT Subject Test Scores, Letters of Recommendation and your academic involvement outside the classroom.

Habit of Leadership/Depth of Commitment

(This is where your amazing extracurriculars will be evaluated!)

It’s not enough to just participate in volunteer work or play a sport. Admissions committees at top universities are looking for students who have thoroughly enveloped themselves in activities that they are truly passionate about! Their job as an admissions committee is to admit a well-rounded, diverse freshman class. They’re looking for “pointy” students – students who have clearly demonstrated interests and passions and have taken the initiative to excel in those areas both inside and outside the classroom.

Fit for Institution

In the end, admissions committees will never admit a student that they don’t believe will actually enroll, so it’s important to clearly articulate your fit and sincere interest for each individual school on your list! This is typically done through school-specific supplemental essays, and will also be an imperative part of your application process.

Essentially, excelling in extracurriculars does not outweigh average or less-than-average performance in academics. Why? Because first, admissions committees need to determine if you will be able to keep up academically with your peers in college level courses. That’s the most important criteria. Unfortunately, your extracurricular activities do not necessarily demonstrate to admissions committees that you are prepared to excel academically on their campus. If you don’t have sufficient evidence on your application that you’ll be able to handle academic rigor, it is unlikely you will be admitted to selective college or university.

Do you have questions about how your unique extracurricular experiences will be evaluated by admissions committees? Take advantage of Veritas Prep’s free college consultation — you’ll receive personalized feedback from one of our college admission experts on your chances of admission to your dream schools, as well as tangible next steps for what you can do to ensure your applications are successful!

Top 5 Waitlist Strategies for College Applicants

Waiting in LineNo one wants to be waitlisted by the school of their dreams. Being waitlisted could be one of the best things that can happen to you in your college admissions journey. Why? You’re one step closer to the finish line.

A decision of “maybe” from your top-choice school might be confusing at first, but it gives you a chance to think about what you really want to do next. However, you must weigh your options quickly. If your heart’s still set on going to that college, there are some things you can do right now to boost your chances of acceptance.  

Here’s some expert advice from our Veritas Prep college admissions team on what to do next if you find yourself on the waitlist:

1. Reflect on why you applied. Is this school still your first choice? How does the curriculum align with your goals? What are the chances that you will receive a scholarship or grants should you be admitted after all early and regular decision acceptance offers have been made? Answering these questions can help you decide whether you want to pursue admission as you consider or await other college decisions.

2. Read the fine print. Many schools give clear direction to their waitlisted applicants about what to do next. Some schools require students to respond to the waitlist offer by a certain deadline. Others instruct students not to send any additional information to the admissions committee. It’s important that you follow the instructions provided to you in your letter — even if this means that you may just have to wait.

3. Write the “admissions love letter.” If your decision letter does not discourage submitting additional information to the admissions office, you can still show your dream school how committed you are to becoming a member of their next incoming class. Due to the time sensitivity of the process, this letter should be sent by e-mail directly to the contact information provided to you by the university’s admissions office. The letter should not exceed one page (1-3 paragraphs) and include the following:

a. New insights into why you are a good fit for the school (i.e. new discoveries from the admissions interview, campus tour or meetings with professors and/or alumni). Do not repeat information you have already stated in your application.

b. Highlights of how you have strengthened weaker areas in your application profile over the past few months.  This includes things like mid-year grade improvements, research projects, accomplishments and awards.

c. Reiterate that the school is genuinely your top choice and you will attend if admitted. This is the number one question admissions committees have about the status of their waitlisted applicants.

Time is of the essence: Don’t forget to send your “love letter” in a timely manner. Usually your letter will provide you with key dates and deadlines. If not, respond as soon as possible.

4. Create a backup plan. You can request to remain on the waitlist of your top-choice school whilst securing your spot at another institution. Pay close attention to the deadlines to pay your security deposit, in case things don’t work out with your first-choice school.  

5. Stay positive. Take a deep breath and feel confident that you put your best foot forward. No matter the outcome, you should be proud of your accomplishments to make it this far in the process. A waitlist decision is not an outright “no,” and it’s very likely that your application was favored over a pool of thousands of applicants from all over the world.

Veritas Prep college admissions consultants are ready to help you with strategies to get off the waitlist at your top-choice school. We are happy to review your waitlist love letter or assist you as you decide on which college is right for you. For help creating a top-notch college application, contact us today at 800.925.7737.

3 Reasons to Apply in Round 3

InterviewRound 1 and 2 deadlines have come and gone, but you had it in your head that you were applying to business school this year. So what do you do? Should you really consider applying in round 3?

Every year many applicants are faced with a similar dilemma. Round 3 has long been a cautiously avoided application round for most applicants. It is in fact the round where the least spots are typically available so the apprehension has merit. However, there are reasons why an applicant should consider applying in Round 3.

1. Many schools have strong Round 3 acceptance rates.

Think you have no chance getting in if you apply Round 3? Think again!  Admissions officers at Harvard (HBS), Stanford GSB, Wharton and across the top-tier MBA programs have openly stated that they would simply eliminate Round 3 if they did not consistently admit candidates from the final round. Harvard Business School’s former Director of Admissions, Dee Leopold, offers this: “We always conclude that we like Round 3 enough to keep it as an option. Although we have admitted about 90% of the class by this time, we always – ALWAYS – see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again.”  

Schools with relatively higher acceptance rates of Round 3 applicants include Cornell Johnson, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Carnegie Mellon Tepper, Emory Goizueta and Georgetown McDonough, according to data provided by MBA Data Guru. If you apply to schools outside of the top 15 MBA programs you are more likely to be accepted in Round 3. 

2. There were extenuating circumstances which prevented you from applying in an earlier round.

Some applicants have extenuating circumstances that prevented them from applying in an earlier round. Admissions Officers will certainly keep this in mind while reviewing your Round 3 application, so feel free to include legitimate circumstances in your optional essay. This might include an overseas military deployment, atypical professional obligations such as working on a political campaign, or other circumstances where it is easy for the admissions officer to see that submitting an earlier application would have been nearly impossible. Do not feel an obligation to list an excuse for applying in Round 3, but if you have extenuating circumstances you may include them. Our Veritas Prep consultants can help you determine whether to mention a possible extenuating circumstance in your application or leave it off.

3. You’re a stellar applicant with a stellar application.

Round 3 partly gets a bad reputation from those applicants who throw together their applications at the last minute (rather than having to wait eight months before applying in next year’s admissions cycle) and end up getting rejected. “See,” they say, “I knew I wouldn’t get in. Round 3 is impossible.” But Round 3 wasn’t the problem… their applications were what held them back.

An impressive set of qualifications can make round 3 and frankly any round attractive to candidates with impressive profiles. Candidates with strong GPAs, GMAT scores, and blue chip resumes can often still be competitive even with the limited spots left in round 3. If the candidate’s application measurables align with or exceed target school class profile numbers then round 3 becomes a realistic option.

We wanted to find a way to take out the risk in applying in Round 3 to top MBA programs, so whether you decide to apply in Round 3 or postpone to Round 1 in the fall, Veritas Prep’s Round 3 Guarantee  has you covered every step of the way!


Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Top 5 Reasons You Should Start Your MBA Applications Early

Six WeeksAcross the board, MBA admissions officers recommend that you apply in the earliest round you can – as long as you’re submitting your best possible application. Particularly for candidates from overrepresented industries such as finance and consulting, later round applicants can be at a significant disadvantage. This means that you should begin working on your applications now, in time to submit the best application possible, as early as possible. Here are the top 5 reasons to start your MBA applications early and apply in Round 1:

1. Significant MBA school research is imperative to your success.

Schools are looking for candidates who’ve approached business school with a mature and thorough decision making process. In order to write impactful essays that also demonstrate fit, you will need to do more than check rankings and click through their website. Effective research often includes conversations with current students and recent alums, visiting campus and attending info sessions, or at least diving into comprehensive resources like the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools. Lack of research leads to generic essays, which are not compelling to admissions officers.

2. Demonstrating “fit” is a more arduous process than you think. It takes time. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.

Every year, we see clients who expect that they can write essays for one application and simply strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another. This is especially tempting with the current trend in open ended questions. Rachel, a member of our Ultimate Admissions Committee and Head Consultant from Wharton, says “it’s more important than ever to consider the culture and environment of the school.” Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!

3. You won’t just identify and explain your weaknesses – you will work to improve them.

One of the first steps in working on your applications is evaluating every element of your profile. Are there any weak areas? Red flags? Leadership? Low GMAT score? Low undergraduate GPA? If you identify any areas which may be less than solid, when you start early, you can take steps to improve your weaknesses, rather than finding yourself in the unenviable position of trying to explain them in an optional essay. This might include tackling a new project with your volunteer organization, taking a calculus course from your local community college, or retaking the GMAT with the proper strategy to raise your score. There are numerous strategies to improve your application profile, and if you start on your applications now, you have time to implement them!

4. You will increase your chances of receiving financial aid awards and scholarships.

It is well known that schools operate with a limited budget – this means that there is more money to go around for financial aid, scholarships and awards, towards the beginning of the admissions season than there is towards the end. Why not allow yourself the highest possibility of receiving a financial reward?

5. It will allow you to avoid late application pitfalls.

In an exclusive Veritas Prep survey, we asked the top 30 MBA admissions officers to name the most common mistakes they see in MBA applications. Their #1 response: careless errors. Admissions officers view your application as a reflection of your commitment, so careless errors can doom your chances for admissions. However, let’s face it, most of us love to procrastinate! About 80% of MBA applications are submitted within three days of each deadline, most within 24 hours. These rushed, last-minute applications are often rife with careless errors – a missing comma here, an incorrect spelling of “they’re” there. By starting the process early, you and your Veritas Prep Head Consultant can craft your Personalized MBA Game Plan™, providing structure to the application process and ensuring there is plenty of time to catch careless mistakes and add the perfect polish before you hit “Submit.”

What you should be doing now?

Even before the schools release their updated essay prompts, you can work to significantly improve your applications by working with an expert MBA consultant to:

  • Identify the ideal programs for your personal and professional goals, even some you may not be currently considering.
  • Thoroughly research your target schools beyond rankings and school websites.
  • Discuss how to maximize the value of your campus visits, information sessions, and conversations with students and alumni.
  • Prepare your recommenders to write stellar letters on your behalf.
  • Craft your resume to emphasize accomplishments that will resonate with the admissions committee.

Secure your ideal MBA consultant now.

With the lowest client-to consultant ratio in the industry, Veritas Prep ensures your consultant is solely focused on your success. However, this also means that many of our consultants can get booked up early. We will ensure you work with a consultant who best fits with your personal and professional background, career goals, target schools, and working style so they can clearly understand your story and know how to best portray it to the admissions committee. As a First Mover, you’ll work with the ideal consultant for your needs so that your applications truly shine.

If you need help with any of the advice above contact us, we’d be happy to help.


Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

How Does Scoring Differ Between the GMAT and the GRE?

SAT/ACT

It’s a new year, and thus a good time to undertake a new intellectual challenge. For me, this challenge will take the form of teaching new classes on GRE preparation. Because the test has changed so much over the years, I thought it might be interesting to delineate my impressions of the newer incarnation, both in terms of how the GRE differs from the GMAT and in terms of how the GRE has evolved over time.

Observation 1: The formats are different.

 The GRE has two Quantitative sections and two Verbal sections of 30 minutes each, while the GMAT has a single Quantitative section and a single Verbal section of 75 minutes each. Moreover, while the GMAT is adaptive by the question, the GRE is adaptive by section.  Do well on the first GRE Quantitative section and the entire next section will escalate in difficulty. (My impression: while the GRE does adjust from section to section, it does so in a way that feels significantly subtler than the GMAT exam.)

Observation 2: The two Quantitative sections on the GRE are much easier than the one Quantitative section on the GMAT.

This is typically the most conspicuous difference test-takers notice. In our GMAT courses, we have a skill-builder section that allows students to re-master the basics before delving into a discussion about the types of higher-order thinking the GMAT will require. In other words, it’s not enough to simply recall the various rules, axioms, and equations we’ve forgotten from high school – those foundational elements will need to be applied in creative ways. While the GRE does require some higher-order thinking, on many quantitative questions simply having the foundational skills is enough to arrive at the correct answer. The strategic element is more about how to arrive at these answers in a timely manner and how to avoid panicking on the few hairier questions that will likely come your way.

Moreover, in lieu of the GMAT’s dreaded Data Sufficiency questions, the GRE has Quantitative Comparison questions, in which a test-taker is asked to compare the relative magnitude of two quantities – it’s possible that one quantity is larger than the other, that the two quantities are equal, or that it’s not possible to determine which quantity is larger. After grappling with knotty Data Sufficiency questions, a test-taker is likely to find Quantitative Comparison to be blessedly straightforward. Better yet, the GRE will allow you to return to questions once you’ve answered them, granting test-takers more opportunities to weed out careless mistakes. If that weren’t enough, on the GRE, you’ll have access to an on-screen calculator. So there are perks.

Observation 3: The GRE’s scoring algorithm is much less forgiving than the GMAT’s.

Of course, there’s a rub. The GRE’s Quantitative section might be easier in terms of the difficulty level of the questions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier to score well. If you’re able to ascend to the more difficult question levels on the GMAT, you can miss many of them and still do well. Not so on the GRE, where you need to be pretty close to perfect to achieve an elite score.

Observation 4:  The Verbal on the GRE can be trickier.

Like the GMAT, the GRE has a Reading Comprehension component. But unlike the GMAT, the GRE questions will often ask you to select “all that apply,” meaning that you may need to select as many as three correct assertions in order to receive credit for a question. Select two of the three? You get the question wrong. No partial credit. And while the GRE doesn’t have any Sentence Correction questions, it does have Sentence Completion questions, and these questions often come down to either recognizing somewhat obscure vocabulary words or utilizing more familiar words in less familiar ways.

Ultimately, in my experience, most test-takers will score at comparable percentile levels if they were to take both exams. Choosing which test is better for you might be a question of fit or comfort more than anything else. And while there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two exams, they feel different enough that you wouldn’t want to prepare for one and simply assume that you’re ready for the other. Each test has its own strategic texture and its own idiosyncrasies, so you want to be sure that you’ve worked through a curriculum specifically designed for the test in question before you sit for the exam.

Regardless of whether you take the GMAT or GRE, Veritas Prep is committed to helping you prepare to do your best on test day! Jump start your prep by taking advantage of Veritas Prep’s various free GMAT resources and free GRE resources to determine which test is right for you.


This article was written by Veritas Prep instructor David Goldstein. Be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful articles like these!

How to Spend Your Summer Months in High School

Study on the BeachIt may not seem like it now, especially if you’re looking outside at a pile of snow… but summer is right around the corner! Year after year, there is an increased focus from admissions committees at top schools on how students spend their summer months. While it is called summer “break,” we know that you need to spend your “break” being productive, too! We’ve compiled our list of the best ways to spend your summer months to maximize both preparedness and relaxation!

1) Strengthen your Candidacy

This one is general, but probably the most important. Summer months are your break from school, so you have opportunities to strengthen parts of your candidacy outside of your classroom performance. Here are some ideas for how to spend that valuable time:

Participate in a competitive academic program

Now is the time to apply to competitive academic summer programs. Admissions committees will evaluate how you have explored academic interests outside of your high school curriculum, and participating in an academic summer program is an excellent way to demonstrate your pursuit of academic interests outside of school. Any program that allows you to take additional coursework, study on a college campus or participate in research with a working professional is a great choice!

Participate in a meaningful volunteer opportunity

Admissions committees also care deeply about how you have supported your community and developed an interest in community involvement. If you reflect on your extracurricular activities and find that you have not been too involved in bettering your community, summer months are a great time to find a worthy organization and get your hands dirty!

Focus on test prep

If you’ve already taken the ACT or SAT and don’t have your desired score, you should spend summer months preparing to take the exam again. It’s easier to focus on test prep when you’re not knee deep in your AP Physics and Honors Literature class, so utilize the summer months to focus on test prep and increase your score before you begin the college applications!

2) Explore colleges – virtually or in person

Use your summer months to explore colleges in-person or virtually. While it’s not an ideal time to visit college campuses because the student population is much smaller than during the school year, it’s typically the best time for families to travel together. Make the most of your visits by meeting with an admissions representative personally, talking with current students and professors. If physically visiting campuses is not possible, take advantage of the World Wide Web and the fabulous resources available at your fingertips! Most colleges will offer virtual tours on their website and admissions representatives make themselves available for calls from prospective students!

3) Finalize your school list

One of the biggest mistakes we see students make is beginning their senior year without a finalized school list. By the time you step foot at your school as a mighty and all-knowing senior, you should have your school list finalized – a balance between reach, match and safety schools.

4) Enjoy yourself

Finally, it’s your break. Take a breather and enjoy yourself. Spend time with your friends and family, sleep in and soak up the sun. While it’s important to focus on college readiness, we also know that balance is key. Enjoy!


Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Starting the Common Application: Your 2018-2019 Personal Statement Prompts

The Common Application has made a major announcement! It’s only January, and they’ve announced that they will not be making any changes to the 2018-2019 Personal Statement prompts from the 2017-2018 season.

This means that if you are in the Class of 2019, your Personal Statement prompts are available to you, and you can officially begin your college application process! Your personal statement prompts are as follows:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

If you’re having trouble getting started with your Common Application essays, Veritas Prep has you covered. Our college admissions experts have broken down each Common App prompt to tell you what college admissions committees are really looking for in your answers to each question, and to offer actionable tips for how to start the writing process for your own essays. You can read our thoughts here:


Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Complexities of Parallelism – Part I

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomParallelism is one of the most common errors tested on GMAT, and debatably, one of the most tricky too! At times, due to the complexity of the sentence, we may not realise that elements should be in parallel; at others we may not realise that they should NOT be in parallel! (discussed in a previous post)

We see parallelism in many cases in GMAT. Some of them are:

  • A list of elements
  • Co-ordinating and correlative conjunctions such as “and”, “but”, “both … and…”, “either … or…” etc
  • Stating a comparison such as “compared to A, B”
  • Idioms involving elements in parallel such as “consider A B”

On the face of it, it seems quite simple and straight forward – all acting verbs or all nouns etc, but if a GMAT question focusses on it, it is bound to be more complicated than that. Parallelism depends on both, the form and the function of the words. Also, it is important to decipher the logic of the sentence – should the elements be in parallel in the first place? If yes, then which elements should be in parallel?

We also need to worry about when to repeat a particular word in all parallel elements and when not to. We know the thumb rule – either repeat in all or use only once in the beginning. But when is it a good idea to repeat the word in all elements?

Yes, it isn’t that simple after all!

But let’s answer all these questions using a couple of examples.

Question 1: It is no surprise that Riyadh, the Saudi capital where people revere birds of prey and ride camels regularly, is home to the world’s largest hospital for falcons, a place where falcons from all over the world are treated in operating rooms, an ophthalmology department, and a pox area, and to the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, a place where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for. 

(A) an ophthalmology department, and a pox area, and to the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, a place where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for. 

(B) an ophthalmology department, a pox area, and the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for. 

(C) an ophthalmology department, to a pox area, and to the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, a place where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for. 

(D) to an ophthalmology department, and to a pox area and the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, a place where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for. 

(E) an ophthalmology department and a pox area, and the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, a place where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for.

Solution: There are lots of commas and lots of different elements in the sentence.

Logically, we see that Riyadh is home to the largest hospital for falcons and to the veterinary clinic for desert mammals. It can’t be home to operating rooms, an ophthalmology department, and a pox area! These are places inside a hospital!

So then, here is the structure of the sentence:

It is no surprise that Riyadh, …, is home to A and to B.

A and B should be in parallel.

Within A, we have a list of elements too.

A – the world’s largest hospital for falcons, a place where falcons from all over the world are treated in X, Y and Z

X – operating rooms

Y – an ophthalmology department

Z – a pox area

B – the largest veterinary clinic for desert mammals, a place where camels and other desert species are expertly cared for

Therefore, to show parallelism between A and B, we have used “to” with both to show the beginning of the parallel elements. This separates them from the other set of parallel elements – X, Y and Z.

Note that only option (A) satisfies these conditions and hence is the correct answer here.

Takeaways

  • The first thing to do is to figure out the logic of the sentence to see which elements should be in parallel and which shouldn’t.
  • After that, put those that need to be in parallel. We might need to repeat certain words to signal the start of parallel elements when we have other intertwined lists too.

We will leave you with a question now. We will discuss it in detail in our next post.

Question 2: Geologists believe that the warning signs for a major earthquake may include sudden fluctuations in local seismic activity, tilting and other deformations of the Earth’s crust, changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying the electrical properties of underground rocks.

(A) changing the measured strain across a fault zone, and varying

(B) changing measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and varying

(C) changing the strain as measured across a fault zone, and variations of

(D) changes in the measured strain across a fault zone, and variations in

(E) changes in measurements of the strain across a fault zone, and variations among

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Why We Need to Redraw GMAT Geometry Figures

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomMany test takers, though good at Math find Data Sufficiency difficult. They are much more used to the straight forward Problem Solving pattern. The very principles behind the two question types are very different.

In Problem Solving questions, our target is to find just one solution. For example, when we have questions involving percentages, we assume some values and get the answer. No matter what values we assume, we will always get the same answer as long as the integrity of the data is maintained.

In Data Sufficiency questions, our target is to find multiple possible solutions  after using all the given data and arrive at answer (E). If we are unable to find more than 1 solution using either statement (1) and/or statement (2), we arrive at answers (A), (B), (C) or (D).

The aim is diametrically opposite in the two cases. Therefore, our strategies in the two cases would also be different and they are. Consider Geometry questions with figures in them. In Problem Solving questions, we try to make the figures as symmetrical as possible under the given constraints. With symmetrical figures, it is easier to get an answer. One answer is all we need.

In Data Sufficiency questions, we try to make the figures as extreme as possible. Only the given data should hold in such a figure and no symmetry should exist in the other dimensions. Only then will we be able to really figure out whether the given information is enough to arrive at a unique answer.

Let’s explain this using two examples:

Problem Solving Question

 

PSvsDSQuesPS1.jpg ********************************

 

In the figure above, the area of square PQRS is 64. What is the area of triangle QRT?

(A) 48
(B) 32
(C) 24
(D) 16
(E) 8

This is a Problem Solving question.

All we are given is that PQRS is a square. Note that the location of point T is not defined. It is just any point on side PS. We can place it anywhere we like as long as it is on PS. At what point will it be easy for us to calculate the area of triangle QRT? Of course, T could be the middle point of PS (bringing in symmetry) and we could calculate the area of the triangle or we could make it coincide with S so that QRT is a right triangle half of square PQRS. Then, the area of triangle QRT will simply be half of 64, i.e. 32.

Note that we don’t necessarily need to do this. We can assume T to be a random point, drop an altitude from T to QR, find that the length of the altitude will be same as the side of the square, find that side of the square will be √(64) = 8 and area of triangle QRT will be (1/2)*8*8 = 32

We will arrive at the same answer of course! But, assuming a better position for point T (but only because it is not defined) will cut the calculations and help us arrive directly at 32 from 64.

Data Sufficiency Question

 

PSvsDSQuesDS1.jpg ********************************

 

If AD is 6 and ADC is a right angle, what is the area of triangular region ABC?

Statement 1: Angle ABD = 60°
Statement 2: AC = 12

Looking at the figure, many test takers are tempted to think that the altitude AD will bisect BC. Note that that may not be the case.

According to the data given in the question stem alone, the figure could very well look something like this:

 

PSvsDSQuesDS2.jpg ********************************

 

All we know is that ADC is a right angle and the length of the altitude is 6. We don’t know whether any of the sides are equal, etc. Hence, it is a good idea to redraw the figure with extreme proportions – one side much greater than the other.

Now we can use the given statements to re-adjust the proportions.

Area of triangle ABC = (1/2)*AD*BC

We know that AD is 6. But we don’t know BC. Let’s examine each of the statements separately.

Statement 1: Angle ABD = 60°

This statement tells us that triangle ABD is a 30-60-90 triangle. Knowing the length of AD will give us the length of the other two sides too. But here is the problem – to know BC, we need to know length of CD too. That we cannot find from this statement alone. This statement alone is not sufficient to answer the question.

Statement 2: AC = 12

We know that ADC is a right angled triangle. Knowing AC and AD, we can find the length of CD using Pythagorean Theorem. But we cannot find BD using this statement and that is needed to get the length of BC. This statement alone is also not sufficient to answer the question.

Using both statements, we can find the lengths of both BD and CD, and hence, can find the length of BC. This will give us the area of the triangle. Therefore, our answer is C.

Note here that if we mistakenly assume that D is the mid point of BC, we might come to the conclusion that each statement alone is sufficient and might mark the answer as D, instead of C. Hence, it is a good idea to redraw the given figure in a Data Sufficiency question to ensure that it has as little symmetry as possible.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

 

Breaking Down the Scale Method for Weighted Averages

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomBefore you dive into this post, make sure you are are familiar with the Scale Method for weighted averages, which we have discussed in previous posts. 

We know that the scale formula of weighted averages is the following:

w1/w2 = (A2 – Aavg)/(Aavg – A1)

One point of confusion for many test takers regarding this formula is figuring out what A1, A2, w1 and w2 actually are.

Here is the simple answer: they can be anything. You can choose to set up the solution as you want. The only thing is that it must be consistent across. A1 and w1 could be the parameters of either solution; A2 and w2 will be the parameters of the other solution. We could also work with the concentration of either ingredient of the solution. We will illustrate this point with an example GMAT question:

A container holds 4 quarts of alcohol and 4 quarts of water. How many quarts of water must be added to the container to create a mixture that is 3 parts alcohol to 5 parts water by volume?

(A) 4/3
(B) 5/3
(C) 7/3
(D) 8/3
(E) 10/3

Now, we have been given two solutions that we have to mix:

  1. A container holding 4 quarts of alcohol and 4 quarts of water
  2. Water (which means it has no alcohol in it)

When these solutions are mixed together, they give us a mixture that is 3 parts alcohol to 5 parts water by volume.

So, what are A1, w1, A2, w2 and Aavg? We can work with the concentration of either alcohol or water. Let’s first see how we can work with the concentration of water:

Method 1:
A1 is the concentration of water in the solution of 4 quarts of alcohol and 4 quarts of water. So A1 = 4/8.
w1 is the volume of this solution.
A2 is the concentration of water in the solution of water only. So A2 = 8/8 (we want to write this in the same format that we write A1 in.)
w2 is the volume of this solution.
Aavg is the concentration of water in the final solution i.e. 5/8

w1/w2 = (A2 – Aavg)/(Aavg – A1)
w1/w2 = (8/8 – 5/8)/(5/8 – 4/8)
w1/w2 = 3/1

So 3 parts of the solution with alcohol and water should be mixed with 1 part of pure water.

Method 2:
A1 is the concentration of water in pure water. So A1 is 8/8
w1 is the volume of this solution.
A2 is the concentration of water in the solution of 4 quarts alcohol and 4 quarts water. So A2 is 4/8
w2 is the volume of this solution.
Aavg is the concentration of water in the final solution i.e. 5/8

w1/w2 = (A2 – Aavg)/(Aavg – A1)
w1/w2 = (4/8 – 5/8)/(5/8 – 8/8)
w1/w2 = 1/3

So 1 part of water should be mixed with 3 parts of the solution with alcohol and water (same result as above).

Now we will see how to work with the concentration of alcohol. Of course the result will be the same.

Method 3:
A1 is the concentration of alcohol in the solution of 4 quarts alcohol and 4 quarts water. So A1 is 4/8.
w1 is the volume of this solution.
A2 is the concentration of alcohol in the solution of water only. So A2 is 0/8 (to write in the same way as above)
w2 is the volume of this solution.
Aavg is the concentration of alcohol in the final solution i.e. 3/8

w1/w2 = (A2 – Aavg)/(Aavg – A1)
w1/w2 = (0/8 – 3/8)/(3/8 – 4/8)
w1/w2 = 3/1

So 3 parts of the solution with alcohol and water should be mixed with 1 part of pure water (same as above).

Method 4:
A1 is the concentration of alcohol in pure water. So A1 is 0/8
w1 is the volume of this solution.
A2 is the concentration of alcohol in the solution of 4 quarts alcohol and 4 quarts water. So A2 is 4/8.
w2 is the volume of this solution.
Aavg is the concentration of alcohol in the final solution i.e. 3/8

w1/w2 = (A2 – Aavg)/(Aavg – A1)
w1/w2 = (4/8 – 3/8)/(3/8 – 0/8)
w1/w2 = 1/3

So 1 part of pure water should be mixed with 3 parts of the solution with alcohol and water (same result as above).

Hope there will be no confusion about this in future.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

How to Write a Strong Common App Essay

SAT WorryOver 700 American Colleges and Universities utilize the Common Application system to streamline the application process. Among the many elements of the application itself, you will have to choose ONE of seven Personal Statement prompts to respond to, and you’ll have 250-650 words for your narrative.

When you’re staring at the seven Common App essay prompts, the choices can seem overwhelming, and the stakes are high.  Depending on the prompt that you select, you’ll need to write something that is informative and emotionally compelling, but not a cliché. You need to be unique and demonstrate character, while also proving you’ll add insight and experiences to the incoming freshman class. You need to talk about your leadership and accomplishments, but stay humble.  You need to be yourself while also keeping your voice professional.  It’s a lot to convey your authentic self in 650 words or less, but Veritas Prep has you covered with our Personal Statement Guide.

Our College Admissions Consultants all have formal admissions decision-making experience, and they have reviewed each of the seven Personal Statement prompts to provide guidance on how to respond to each of the options.  Best of luck!

Prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Read advice>

Prompt #2: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Read advice>

Prompt #3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? Read advice>

Prompt #4: Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Read advice>

Prompt #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Read advice>

Prompt #6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Read advice>

Prompt #7: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Read advice>

Admissions deadlines are approaching! Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: To Learn To-Infinitives

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomIn our previous posts, we have discussed two types of Verbals (a verb that acts as a different part of speech) – Gerunds and Participles. Today we will take a look at the third type – to-Infinitives

Note that the infinitive is the base form of a verb. The infinitive has two forms:

• the to-infinitive = to + base

• the zero infinitive = base

We will discuss the to-infinitive form, a verbal. It can work as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb

The to-infinitive form is used in many sentence constructions, often expressing the purpose of something or someone’s opinion about something. The to-infinitive is used following a large collection of different verbs as well such as afford, offer, refuse, prepare, undertake, proceed, propose, promise etc

The function of a to-infinitive in a sentence could be any of the following:

I. To show the purpose of an action: In this case “to” has the same meaning as “in order to” or “so as to”. It follows a verb in this case.

For Example: She has gone to complete her homework.

II. To indicate what something can or will be used for: It follows a noun or a pronoun in this case.

For Example: I don’t have anything to wear. This is the right thing to do.

III. After adjectives

For Example: I am happy to be here.

IV. The subject of the sentence

For Example: To visit Paris is my lifelong dream.

V. With adverbs: It is used with the adverbs too and enough to express the reasoning behind our satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The pattern is that too and enough are placed before or after the adjective, adverb, or noun that they modify in the same way they would be without the to-infinitive. We then follow them by the to-infinitive to explain the reason why the quantity is excessive, sufficient, or insufficient.

For Example: He has too many books to carry on his own.

VI. With question words: The verbs ask, decide, explain, forget, know, show, tell, & understand can be followed by a question word such as where, how, what, who, & when + the to-infinitive.

For Example: I am not sure how to use the new washing machine.

We are likely to see infinitive phrases in GMAT sentence correction questions. An infinitive phrase is made up of the infinitive verb with its object and modifiers.

Let’s take a look at how we could see an infinitive in a GMAT question.

Question: Twenty-two feet long and 10 feet in diameter, the AM-1 is one of the many new satellites that is a part of 15 years effort of subjecting the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces to detailed scrutiny from space.

(A) satellites that is a part of 15 years effort of subjecting the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces

(B) satellites, which is a part of a 15-year effort to subject how Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces interact

(C) satellites, part of 15 years effort of subjecting how Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces are interacting

(D) satellites that are part of an effort for 15 years that has subjected the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces

(E) satellites that are part of a 15-year effort to subject the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and land surfaces

Solution:

First let’s try to understand the basic structure of the sentence.

… AM-1 is one of the many new satellites “that/which clause”

“that/which clause” modifies the noun “satellites” in four of the given five options. Note that “satellites” is plural so we need to use the verb “are”. So options (A) and (B) are out.

(C) is also incorrect. It looks like “part of 15 years … from space” is a bad attempt at writing an absolute phrase. Absolute phrases modify the entire clause but here we need to modify “satellites” only. Satellites are a part of a 15 year effort to subject A to detailed scrutiny and hence we should use a that/which clause.

(D) is incorrect too. It uses another “that clause” – that has subjected the interactions …

This “that clause” modifies the noun “effort”, not “15 years”. The effort has subjected A to detailed scrutiny.

There is a better way of writing this sentence such that the “that clause” comes immediately after “effort”

(E) is correct. Note how it uses the infinitive form immediately after the noun “effort” to indicate how the effort is being used. It is being used to subject A to detailed scrutiny.

Hope now you will be able to recognise the different verbals and use them correctly.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

How to Write a Yale Supplemental Essay

Yale JDMBAFor the 2017-2018 application season, Yale has asked all applicants to answer to several Yale-specific short answer questions in addition to the Personal Statement. To see a list of all Yale-specific essay prompts, click here.

Additionally, Veritas Prep had one of our college admissions expert review one of Yale’s supplemental essay prompts. Take a look at our tips for writing a winning Yale-specific essays here.

Responses to school-specific essays help admissions committee understand why you are a good fit for the school, and why the school is a good fit for your personal goals! It’s imperative to think strategically about your responses to each school-specific essay, as they play a crucial role in admissions decisions. If you’d like expert guidance on how to write strong essays for all of the schools on your list, check out our admissions consulting services here.

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Planning for the “Plan” Questions on the GMAT Critical Reasoning Section

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomAt Veritas Prep, we are often asked to discuss how to handle the “plan” Critical Reasoning questions test takers are asked on the GMAT. Here is how these questions are different from your regular strengthen/weaken questions – instead of a conclusion, we are given situations and plans to remedy a particular problem. We are then asked to evaluate the success of the plan or identify a weakness in the plan or an assumption of the plan.

Note that a plan question is very similar to a strengthen/weaken/assumption question. The main difference between them is that instead of being given a conclusion, you are asked to strengthen/weaken the possibility of a plan working out or an assumption made in the plan (looking at a few example questions will make this clearer). Let’s look at some examples of each of the three types of “plan” questions you are likely to come across on the GMAT exam:

Example 1 (the most common one): Which of the following will help us in evaluating the success of the plan?

In the country of Bedenia, officials have recently implemented a new healthcare initiative to reduce dangerous wait times at emergency rooms in the country’s hospitals. This initiative increases the number of available emergency nurses and doctors in urban settings: scholarships and no-interest loans are being offered to prospective students in these fields if they work in major city hospitals, relocation packages to urban centers are being offered for current emergency practitioners, and immigration rules are being changed to enable foreign emergency doctors and nurses to more easily move to Bedenia’s major cities.

Which of the following would be most important to determine in assessing whether the initiative will be successful?

(A) What percentage of current nurses and doctors work in emergency medicine.
(B) Which hospitals in Bedenia have dangerous wait times in their emergency rooms.
(C) Whether a career in emergency medicine pays substantially less than other types of medicine.
(D) Whether wait times could be reduced by means other than increasing the number of available nurses and doctors.
(E) Whether many foreign doctors and nurses are currently not allowed to enter Bedenia.

Plan: Reduce the dangerous wait time by increasing the availability of emergency nurses and doctors in urban settings by providing scholarships, offering relocation packages and changing immigration rules.

We need to find out whether this given plan will actually reduce wait time. Note that we are not worried about what else could reduce the dangerous wait time or what else this plan could do. The only point of concern for us is whether this plan will reduce the wait time.

This plan intends to increase the availability of emergency nurses and doctors in urban settings, so ask yourself this question: is this actually what is required? Do the urban hospitals have dangerous wait times? What if only rural hospitals have wait times and that is where the impetus is required? Answer choice B addresses exactly this question and, hence, will allow us to determine whether or not the initiative will be successful. Therefore, the answer is B.

Now look at our second example:

Example 2: Which of the following provides an argument against the plan?

In the last two years alone, nearly a dozen of Central University’s most prominent professors have been lured away by the higher salaries offered by competing academic institutions. In order to protect the school’s ranking, Central University’s president has proposed increasing tuition by 10% and using the extra money to offer more attractive compensation packages to the most talented and well-known members of its faculty.

Which of the following provides the most persuasive argument against the university president’s proposed course of action?

(A) It is inevitable that at least some members of the faculty will ultimately take jobs at other universities, regardless of how much Central University offers to pay them.
(B) Other universities are also looking for ways to provide higher salaries to prominent members of the faculty.
(C) Central University slipped in the last year’s ranking of regional schools.
(D) The single most important factor in ranking a university is its racial and socioeconomic diversity.
(E) The president of Central University has only been in office for 18 months and has never managed such a large enterprise.

Plan: Protect the school’s ranking by retaining its most prominent members by increasing their compensation.

We need to find a persuasive argument against the given plan – something that leads us to believe the plan should not be implemented. Here, test takers often become confused between options B and D. Let’s break down each answer choice in detail to determine which one is correct:

(B) Other universities are also looking for ways to provide higher salaries to prominent members of the faculty.

This option supports the given plan. It is a reason to actually implement the plan since if more disparity gets created, more prominent professors will leave. Remember, we are looking for an option that is against the plan, so B cannot be our answer.

(D) The single most important factor in ranking a university is its racial and socioeconomic diversity.

This is an argument against the plan. It states that the single most important factor in ranking is “racial and socioeconomic diversity,” so trying to retain prominent professors is not likely to retain ranking. Hence, the correct answer would be D.

Now let’s look at our final example:

Example 3: Which of the following is an assumption of the plan?

The general availability of high-quality electronic scanners and color printers for computers has made the counterfeiting of checks much easier. In order to deter such counterfeiting, several banks plan to issue to their corporate customers checks that contain dots too small to be accurately duplicated by any electronic scanner currently available; when such checks are scanned and printed, the dots seem to blend together in such a way that the word “VOID” appears on the check.

A questionable assumption of the plan is that

(A) in the territory served by the banks the proportion of counterfeit checks that are made using electronic scanners has remained approximately constant over the past few years.
(B) most counterfeiters who use electronic scanners counterfeit checks only for relatively large amounts of money.
(C) the smallest dots on the proposed checks cannot be distinguished visually except under strong magnification.
(D) most corporations served by these banks will not have to pay more for the new checks than for traditional checks.
(E) the size of the smallest dots that generally available electronic scanners are able to reproduce accurately will not decrease significantly in the near future.

Plan: To deter counterfeiting, issue checks that contain dots too small to be accurately duplicated (which will form the word VOID) by any electronic scanner currently available.

We need to find an assumption that this given plan makes. Note that the plan is based on the capabilities of the currently available scanners and assumes that their capabilities will not improve in the near future. Hence, E is an assumption.

Some test takers get confused with  answer choice C:

(C) the smallest dots on the proposed checks cannot be distinguished visually except under strong magnification

This option is actually not an assumption. Even if the dots can be distinguished visually, they don’t form the word VOID. Only when current scanners scan the checks and then we print them do the dots merge to form the word. Thus, our answer is E.

We hope you have understood how to handle various “plan” questions on the GMAT. The most important aspect of such questions to remember is to first identify the plan and what one hopes to achieve through it.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

McKinsey’s Chief Learning Officer Encourages You to Develop These 10 Critical Job Skills

If you’re getting ready to attend college or graduate school, then you’re probably very interested in building a career or accelerating your current one. A lot of the value that comes from earning a degree is in the prestige of the program and the network that you build, but of course much of the value comes from the actual hard job skills that an education helps you develop. The jobs landscape is changing quickly these days, probably more rapidly than ever. Some skills that virtually guaranteed you a job just two decades ago may now be close to irrelevant. What the heck are you supposed to do to ensure that you can survive — and maybe even thrive — in this environment?

In a recent talk at Darden, Nick van Dam, global chief learning officer at McKinsey & Co., listed out what he thinks are the 10 most critical job skills of the future. Without further ado, they are:

  • Complex problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Service orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive flexibility

Notice that no specific skills such as “writing code” or “great writing skills” are on the list. Those are undoubtedly the kinds of abilities that will help keep you employed for a long time, but Van Dam’s focused on more general, descriptive skills here. Problem-solving, creativity, cognitive flexibility… If you have these abilities, then there probably isn’t a lot that you can’t do. And, if you can’t do something, then odds are that you’re probably able to learn it pretty quickly. If you can learn and adapt quickly like this, then lifelong learning — something that Van Dam stresses is important — should come relatively easily for you.

We sometimes use the phrase “mental agility” around here at Veritas Prep to describe the same sort of skills. Taking it back to test prep for a moment (we couldn’t help ourselves), that’s why we always urge our students to understand the bigger picture when we teach them how to solve a question. It’s one thing to “learn the trick,” but on test day, when the test presents you with a question that’s sort of similar, but not quite, will you freeze? Or will you have the mental agility to adapt in the moment, recognize the pattern, and solve the problem?

Also, note that there are many others on the list that one would call “soft skills,” such as people management, emotional intelligence, and negotiation. The more that repetitive, measurable tasks are replaced by automation, the more that these soft skills — the kind that a robot can’t do, at least not any time soon! — will matter as you try to move up in the workforce. Either you learn how to write the code, or you learn how to effectively manage the person doing the writing. And, when “write the code” gets replaced by another skill in 20 years, you’ll have the mental agility to learn that skill… or manage that new person with the new skill!

By Scott Shrum.

You Just Submitted Your MBA Applications… Now What?

SAT/ACTAfter all those months of hard work, you have finally submitted all of your business school applications! Congratulations!

With that burden off of your back, what else should you be doing after you submit your application. Let’s explore a few action items to tick off your to-do list post-submission:

Finish Other Applications
Most MBA applicants don’t apply to only one school, so don’t bask too long in your finished application – there are probably plenty more where that came from. Keep the momentum going, buckle down and get moving on the rest of your applications. Make sure you leverage what you have learned from your previously-submitted application to make each version even better than the last.

Thank Your Recommenders
Recommenders play a huge role in the success of your application. Make sure you acknowledge their hard work, especially if they are providing recommendations for multiple schools. Also, don’t be afraid to send your thanks after each submitted application, or take them out for lunch to show your appreciation of their contribution to your success.

Interview Prep
The best time to prepare for an interview is when all of the information relating your application is still relevant. Some schools can have upwards of 2-3 months in between the application deadline and when they eventually begin interviewing candidates, so try to begin your prep for a potential interview early. Business school application interviews can have a major impact on your candidacy, so getting an early start on your preparation is never a bad thing.

Apply for Scholarships
Business school is not cheap and with very few full scholarships available, it is important to consider all alternatives to paying for your education. External merit-based scholarships are a great way to pay for all or a portion of your MBA. Many of the deadlines for these scholarship opportunities are much earlier in the application cycle than you would expect, so don’t wait until you are admitted to figure out how you will pay for school. There is a lot of money out there, so use your post-submission time to give yourself the best chance at securing some funding.

Relax
Relax! Applying to business school is stressful so it is very important to find pockets of time to relax. For those who still have additional applications to churn out relaxing may be difficult, but if you have submitted all your applications, enjoy the brief break and rest up for the next phase of the process.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free admissions consultation. Let’s get started!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

How to Prepare for Your Business School Interview

For many applicants the notification of an interview invite from your dream school is an exciting next step after an arduous application process. All of your hard work has finally boiled down to some initial success. However, typically the excitement soon turns to anxiety as candidates begin to realize they have no idea how to prepare for an admissions interview for business school. “Is it just like a regular job interview?” “What type of questions do they ask?” are just some of the common initial questions that can arise once an interview invitation is received.

The business school interview should not be viewed as anything new to you. It is more similar to the traditional job interview than you might expect. Just like a regular interview you are aiming to impress and the majority of the interview will be focused on YOU! The key difference with this interview is really just the goal, which in this case is admission to the MBA program of your dreams.

I would recommend preparing for your MBA interview the same way you prepare for any job interview, it starts with knowing your own personal background inside and out along with your motivations for that target business school. Then it’s researching your target school and identifying the aspects that make the school uniquely attractive to you. A nice way to do this is to pair up school-specific offerings of interest with an adjoining explanation for why that offering is uniquely attractive to you. This includes academic offerings, extracurricular activities/professional clubs, career support/recruiting strengths, etc.

Next I would identify common MBA questions like…

  • What Are Your Career Goals?
  • Why an MBA?
  • Why School X?
  • Walk Me Through Your Resume

As well as other common situational business school questions that address interpersonal skills like leadership, teamwork, and maturity. For the most part, these interviews have very few surprises, and you will know what’s coming, which makes the prep all the more important. Preparing conversational responses in a script format to each of the common interview questions can be a method for those that prefer a more structured approach to their interview prep. But make sure to incorporate elements of your personality into your script to avoid coming off as too rehearsed.

Also, breakthrough candidates will make sure to incorporate the “I” of what they accomplished into their script. Make sure to connect the dots with regards to the steps you’ve taken in your career, and remain structured in your responses. Utilizing the S.T.A.R format (Situation-Task-Action-Result) and talking in buckets – “There are 3 Reasons Why I Want to Go to Fuqua” are other tactics one can sneak into their preparation for the interview.

Finally, take particular note of how the interview style of certain schools can affect your responses. Some schools like Kellogg have “blind” interviews so the interviewer will not have seen your application, so they will not have access to important information like GPA, GMAT, essays etc. Other styles can be influenced by the type of interviewer (Alum vs. Student vs. Admissions) or the location (On Campus vs. Off Campus) which can dictate the type of information you are prepared to share as well as list on your resume for the interview.

Don’t let the interview be the end of your business school journey, prepare accordingly and come decision day you will be all smiles!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free admissions consultation. Let’s get started!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

All About “That” on the GMAT

The word “that” is often found in the daymares of many a GMAT student! The reason for that is that “that” could play various different roles in a sentence:

  1. Demonstrative Determiner
  2. Demonstrative Pronoun
  3. Relative Pronoun

Demonstrative Determiner – In this role, “that” specifies the specific person/thing about which we are talking. It is followed by a noun.

Can I have some of that cake, please?

I have never been to that part of Italy.

When we are talking about a plural noun, “that” becomes “those”.

Demonstrative Pronoun – In this role, “that” replaces a noun.

That is beautiful.

Look at that!

When we replace a plural noun, “that” becomes “those”.

Relative Pronoun – “that” introduces a defining/restrictive clause. This clause is essential to the sentence.

Loki is on the team that lost.

The produce that is sourced locally is environment-friendly.

There is no “that”/“those” distinction in this case. The clause is always introduced by “that”.

Hope these simple examples clarified the various roles “that” can play in a sentence. Not understanding this distinction could lead to a lot of confusion. The words around “that” will help you understand exactly what role it is playing in each case.

Let’s take a look at one of our own questions in which knowing this distinction comes in handy.

Question: In nests across North America, the host mother tries to identify their own eggs and weed out the fakes, but the brown-headed cowbird – a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into other birds’ nests – produces eggs that look very similar to those of the host, making that task surprisingly difficult.

(A) the host mother tries to identify their own eggs and weed out the fakes, but the brown-headed cowbird – a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into other birds’ nests – produces eggs that look very similar to those of the host, making that task surprisingly difficult

B) the host mother tries to identify its own eggs and weed out the fakes, but the brown-headed cowbird – a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into other birds’ nests – produces eggs that look very similar to that of the host, making it surprisingly difficult

C) host mothers try to identify their own eggs and weed out the fakes, but the brown-headed cowbird – a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into other birds’ nests – produces eggs that look very similar to the host’s, making that task surprisingly difficult

D) host mothers try to identify their own eggs and weed out the fakes, but the brown-headed cowbird – a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into other birds’ nests – produces eggs that look very similar to that of the host’s, making it surprisingly difficult

E) host mothers try to identify its own eggs and weed out the fakes, but the brown-headed cowbird – a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into other birds’ nests – produces eggs that look very similar to those of the host’s, making that task surprisingly difficult

Solution:

This is a complicated sentence and unfortunately, almost the entire sentence is underlined. That just makes it harder and more time consuming.

  1. … the host mother tries to identify their own eggs…

In the beginning itself, we see that the subject is “host mother” which is singular and the pronoun that refers back to it – “those” – is plural. Hence this sentence is incorrect. We just move on.

(B) … produces eggs that look very similar to that of the host …

We have two instances of the use of “that” here. The first “that” is used as a relative pronoun to introduce the clause “that look very similar to ….”

The second “that” is  used as a placeholder for “eggs” hence we need to use “those” – the plural form – here.

(C) All correct

(D) … produces eggs that look very similar to that of the host’s…

The explanation is the same as that of (B). The second “that” is  used as a placeholder for “eggs” hence we need to use “those” – the plural form – here.

Also, the correct comparison is:

either

“A’s eggs look very similar to those of B” (where “those” stands for eggs)

or

“A’s eggs look very similar to B’s” (where eggs is implied at the end).

But “A’s eggs look very similar to those of B’s” is incorrect since it implies

“A’s eggs look very similar to eggs of B’s eggs”

(E) … host mothers try to identify its own eggs…

The subject is “host mothers”, which is plural, but the pronoun is “its”, which is singular.

Hope this clarifies the various ways in which “that” can be used.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

The Third Type of GMAT Quant Question

We all know that GMAT Quant questions are of two types: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.

But, if we look carefully, we will see a third type of question – combination of the two. There are a few statements given in them (like in Data Sufficiency questions) and five options to choose from (like in Problem Solving questions). But since we know how to solve both these question types, we shouldn’t really have a problem in solving this third type, or so one would think!

In any GMAT question, it is very important to know two things:

  1. What is given
  2. What is asked

Now, one might think that it is a very obvious distinction and why are we even trying to discuss it in a post. In this third question type, this exact distinction is far harder to explain because here the statements do NOT represent the data given. Here the statements actually ask “Is this true?” and many test-takers find it hard to make that switch. To clarify, let’s discuss the structure of the three question types.

Problem Solving Question:

Question: A and B are given, what is X?

(A) X is …

(B) X is …

(C) X is …

(D) X is …

(E) X is …

Data Sufficiency Question:

Question: A and B are given, what is X?

I. We are given that X and Y are related.

II. We are given that X and Z are related.

“Which of the following must be true?” Question:

Question: A and B are given, which of the following must be true about X?

I. Is this true about X?

II. Is this true about X?

III. Is this true about X?

(A) I is true

(B) I and II are true

and so on…

We hope you see that the statements in a Data Sufficiency question are different from the statements in this third type of question.

We will elaborate with the help of an example now:

Question: If |x| > 3, which of the following must be true?

I. x > 3

II. x^2 > 9

III. |x – 1| > 2

(A) I only

(B) II only

(C) I and II only

(D) II and III only

(E) I, II, and III

Solution:

We are given that |x| > 3

This implies that x is a point at a distance of more than 3 from 0. So x could be greater than 3 or less than -3. Before we go any further, let’s think about the values x can take: 3.00001, 3.5, 4.2, 5.7, 67, 1000, -3.45, -4, -8, -100 etc. The only values it cannot take are -3 <= x <= 3

Which of the following must be true?

I. x > 3

This is a question even though it looks like a statement.

Is it necessary that x > 3?

For every value that x can take, must x be greater than 3? No. As discussed above, x could take values such as 3.00001, 3.5, 4.2, 5.7, 67, 1000 but it could also take values such as  -3.45, -4, -8, -100.

So this is not necessarily true.

II. x^2 > 9

Again, this is a question even though it looks like a statement.

Taking square root on both sides since they are positive, we get

Sqrt(x^2) > Sqrt(9)

|x| > 3

This is what we are given, hence it certainly is true.

III. |x-1|>2

Yet again, we are asked: Is |x – 1| > 2?

What does |x – 1|> 2 imply?

The distance of x from 1 must be greater than 2. So x is either greater than 3 or less than -1. Now, recall all the values that x can take.

So this is the question now: Is every value that x can take greater than 3 or less than -1?

Recall the values that x can take (discussed above)

3.00001 : x is greater than 3

3.5 : x is greater than 3

4.2 : x is greater than 3

5.7 : x is greater than 3

67 : x is greater than 3

1000 : x is greater than 3

-3.45 : x is less than -1

-4 : x is less than -1

-8 : x is less than -1

-100 : x is less than -1

For every value that x can take, x will be either greater than 3 or less than -1. Note that we are not saying that every value less than -1 must be valid for x. We are saying that every value that is valid for x (found by using |x| > 3) will be either greater than 3 or less than -1 since any value less than -3 is obviously less than -1 too. Hence |x-1|>2 must be true for every value that x can take.

Answer (D)

We hope you are quite clear about how to handle this third question type now!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

The Importance of Context in Verb Tenses

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomIn our last post, we looked at verb tenses and noted that there is no restriction on how many tenses we can use and mix within a sentence, as long as they are appropriate for the context of the sentence. The problem is that sometimes the context can be a bit complicated to crack. We may think that a tense shift is required when it is actually not.

Let’s take a look at an official GMAT question to better understand this concept:

A recent study has found that within the past few years, many doctors had elected early retirement rather than face the threats of lawsuits and the rising costs of malpractice insurance.

(A) had elected early retirement rather than face
(B) had elected early retirement instead of facing
(C) have elected retiring early instead of facing
(D) have elected to retire early rather than facing
(E) have elected to retire early rather than face

So the first decision point is “have” vs. “had”. What is correct here? We know that we use past perfect tense when there are two actions in the past. So do we have two actions in the past here – “finding” and “electing” – of which, it may seem, “electing” would have happened before “finding?” Sure, we have two actions but here is the catch – we use past perfect only when the previous action takes place completely before the recent past action. Here, we know that “within the past few years” implies the recent years. The study shows that most probably, doctors are still electing early retirement. So the use of past perfect is incorrect here. In this context, we will use present perfect only.

The other error that helps us to arrive at the right answer is lack of parallelism. “retire” and “face” need to be parallel while rising should not be parallel to them because it is a sub-list under “face”.

They elected to retire … rather than face A and B.

A – the threats
B – the rising costs

“[R]ising” is a present participle that is modifying the noun “costs” in the non underlined part. So our verbs “retire” and “face” should not be in the -ing form. Answer choice E satisfies all these criteria and hence is the right answer.

Note that the correct answer uses present perfect for both verbs since the context requires us to.

Let’s look at a rewrite of this question:

A recent article in The Economic Times reported that many recent MBA graduates had decided on taking a job rather than face the uncertainty of entrepreneurship.

(A) had decided on taking a job rather than face
(B) had decided on taking a job instead of facing
(C) have decided to take a job instead of facing
(D) had decided to take a job rather than facing
(E) have decided to take a job rather than face

How does the solution change now? Again we have two verbs “report” and “decide”. The reporting has already happened so the simple past “reported” has been used in the non-underlined part. Which tense will we use with “decide”? Again, the concept is still the same. We are talking about recent MBA graduates and it shows a trend. It is something that is not completely over, hence the use of past perfect is not justified. We should use the present perfect tense only though it may seem a bit counterintuitive since “report” is in the past tense.

“take” and “face” should be parallel to each other so out of (C) and (E), (E) fits. This is the reason making sweeping statements in grammar is dangerous – a lot depends on the context.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

The GRE Exam for Law School?

Law School Images

Update: On August 7, 2017, Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and Georgetown Law also announced that they will begin accepting the GRE or the LSAT for admissions. With this news, it seems all the more inevitable that the GRE will soon be universally accepted among top law schools. Read on…”

Harvard Law is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States. It is consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the world, and is also the largest law school in the U.S., with about as many students as Yale, Stanford and Chicago combined. So when Harvard Law makes news other law schools are likely to follow.

And Harvard Law recently announced some big news: starting next fall the GRE exam will be accepted as an alternative to the LSAT exam. Surveys suggest that nearly half of all law schools were not opposed to accepting GRE exam scores even before Harvard made its announcement, so this is probably just the beginning of a trend.

The upshot of all of this is that beginning next fall those prospective law students applying to Harvard Law can submit a GRE score instead of, or in addition to, an LSAT score. The University of Arizona Law School has already begun accepting the GRE score from applicants, and if the results from those law schools are as positive as expected, then additional law schools will likely join them in the very near future.

LSAT vs. GRE

I have taught the LSAT and currently teach the GRE and (as well as the GMAT), and have earned a perfect 170/170 on the GRE and a near-perfect 176 on the LSAT. Here are my thoughts on the LSAT versus the GRE:

The LSAT has long been the dreaded gatekeeper to law school admissions and the exam definitely rewards a certain type of test taker with a certain background. So, should you consider taking the GRE instead of the LSAT? Maybe you should!

First, who does not benefit from this development? Those who plan on applying exclusively to law school in the next couple of years should stick with the LSAT to have the most flexibility in the application process. As Harvard and Arizona are currently the only law schools that accept GRE scores from applicants, you’ll want to have a good LSAT score under your belt in case you decide to apply to any other JD programs.

Everyone else should at least consider the GRE. The Dean of Harvard Law School, Martha Minow, listed a few of the groups of students who might benefit from being able to use the GRE instead of the LSAT: “international students, multidisciplinary scholars, and joint-degree students…” I would add to that list students who have strong math skills, who have different possible career paths, or who have less time to devote to the process of preparing for an exam.

Advantages of Taking the GRE

Flexibility: The GRE is accepted for admission to nearly all graduate and business schools in addition to Harvard Law School and Arizona Law School (and hopefully a growing list of law schools). For anyone considering a variety of career options, the GRE is the best exam to take as it gives the test-taker the most flexibility. Even a great GMAT score is not accepted by law schools or graduate schools, and a perfect LSAT score will not get you into business or grad school. The GRE is the universal key that can open many doors – this is the number one reason to make the GRE your first choice.

Time Commitment: For many students, the LSAT is the exam that requires the most hours of preparation. The sheer variety of critical reasoning questions and “logic games” requires a student to master a huge range of information. On the other hand, the GRE tests skills that a student is more likely to possess already or can learn more readily through a preparation course or self-study. This is not to say that the GRE is not a challenge, it just may be a more reasonable challenge than the LSAT.

Credit for Your Strengths: Maybe you are strong in Quantitative areas… This can give you an important head start on the GRE, as math is not tested on the LSAT.

Convenience: The GRE is offered in convenient locations around the world on a continuous basis, with times generally available in the morning, afternoon and evening, making it easy to fit the GRE into your schedule. By comparison, the LSAT exam is only offered 4 times per year, usually at 8:00am. With the LSAT, you have to arrange your life around the exam, which can be difficult for test-takers with busy schedules.

Reasonable Retakes: If for any reason you do not earn the LSAT score that you hoped for, then you have to wait anywhere from two to four months before you can retake the exam. On the other hand, you can retake the GRE after just 21 days and you can take the exam 5 times in a year.

Advantages of Taking the LSAT

No Math Required: The LSAT exclusively tests skills that fall on the “Verbal” side of the GRE, meaning that you won’t have to memorize the Pythagorean Theorem, practice working with algebra, or brush up on your multiplication tables before you take it.  If you’re a student who hasn’t studied math in a while, the LSAT allows you to engage your logical thinking (philosophy, political science, literature) brain without having to dig back into high school math skills.

Applicable to All Law School Applications: While what Harvard says typically filters down to nearly all schools eventually, right now the GRE is only accepted at a few law schools.  If you plan to take the GRE to apply to Harvard and a few other elite JD programs, you’ll end up having to take the LSAT for those other applications, anyway.

Availability of Official Practice Problems: The LSAT has been administering essentially the same exam for decades, and has to retire its questions after each administration. The result? It has thousands of official exam questions to sell you for practice.  By comparison the GRE underwent an overhaul in 2011 and has some official test questions for sale, but the LSAT provides several times as much authentic practice material.

Is the GRE Easier Than the LSAT?

It is not easy to get into Harvard or any of the other top law schools. The average LSAT score for the most recent class at Harvard Law is above the 99th percentile, so an applicant’s GRE score would need to be near-perfect to be competitive.

Please understand that if you do plan to take the GRE for admission to law school, business school, or a competitive graduate school program, you will need to earn the best score that you are capable of achieving. Taking the GRE is not a short cut or an “easy way” to get into a top law school (or business school). But it is another option and – for some people – a better option.

My advice is this: Unless you are committed to applying to law school in the next couple of years, consider taking the GRE. The GRE gives you the most options (graduate school, business school, law school) and its scores are reportable for 5 years. This means that if you take the GRE this year your scores will still be good for applications submitted in 2022.

Considering taking the GRE? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions to jump start your GRE prep, or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

David Newland has scored in the 99th percentile on both the LSAT and the GMAT, and holds a perfect 170/170 score on the GRE.  He taught the LSAT for nearly ten years for a leading firm, and has taught the GRE and GMAT for Veritas Prep since 2006.  In 2008 he was named Veritas Prep’s Worldwide Instructor of the Year, and he has been a senior contributor to the Veritas Prep GRE and GMAT lesson materials. David holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School and teaches live online classes from a film studio in northern Vermont.

Is It Incorrect to Use Multiple Verb Tenses in a Sentence?

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomSome GMAT test-takers wonder whether it is grammatically correct to use multiple tenses in a single sentence. Today we will discuss the cases in which this is acceptable and those in which this is not. The bottom line is this: there is no restriction on what tenses we can use and mix within a sentence, as long as they are appropriate for the context.

Take a look at this example sentence:

I have heard that Mona left Manchester this morning, and has already arrived in London, where she will be for the next three weeks.

Here, we have present perfect tense, simple past tense and simple future tense all in the same sentence, but they all make sense together to create a logical sequence of events.

The confusion over using multiple verb tenses in one sentence probably arises because we have heard that we need to maintain verb tense consistency. These two things are different.

Tense Consistency – We do not switch one tense to another unless the timing of the action demands that we do. We do not switch tenses when there is no time change for the actions.

Let’s take a look at some examples to understand this:

Example 1: During the match, my dad stood up and waved at me.

These two actions (“stood” and “waved”) happen at the same time and hence, need to have the same tense. This sentence could take place in the present or future tense too, but both verbs will still need to take on the same tense. For example:

Example 2: During my matches, my dad stands up and waves at me.
Example 3: During the match tomorrow, my dad will stand up and wave at me.

On the other hand, a sentence such as…

Example 4: During the match, my dad stood up and waves at me.

This sentence is grammatically incorrect. Since both actions (“stood” and “waves”) happen at the same time, we need them to be in the same tense, as shown in the variations of this sentence above. Consider this case, however:

Example 5: My dad reached for the sandwich after he had already eaten a whole pizza.

Here, the two actions (“reached” and “eaten”) happen at different times in the past, so we use both the simple past and past perfect tenses. The shift in tense is correct in this context.

Takeaway: The tenses of verbs in a sentence must be consistent when the actions happen at the same time. When dealing with actions that occur at different points in time, however, we can use multiple tenses in the same sentence.

Let’s look at an official GMAT question now to see how multiple tenses can be a part of the same sentence:

For the farmer who takes care to keep them cool, providing them with high-energy feed, and milking them regularly, Holstein cows are producing an average of 2,275 gallons of milk each per year.

(A) providing them with high-energy feed, and milking them regularly, Holstein cows are producing
(B) providing them with high-energy feed, and milked regularly, the Holstein cow produces
(C) provided with high-energy feed, and milking them regularly, Holstein cows are producing
(D) provided with high-energy feed, and milked regularly, the Holstein cow produces
(E) provided with high-energy feed, and milked regularly, Holstein cows will produce

This is a very tricky question. Let’s first shortlist our options based on the obvious errors.

The non-underlined part of the sentence uses the pronoun “them” to refer to the cows, so using “the Holstein cow” (singular) as the antecedent will be incorrect. The antecedent must be “Holstein cows” (plural) – this means answer choices B and D are out.

Also, we know for sure that “provide” and “milk” are parallel elements in the sentence, so they should take the same verb tense. Hence, answer choice C is also out.

Let’s look at A now. If we assume this option is correct, “providing” and “milking” act as modifiers to “keep them cool”. That certainly does not make sense since “providing with high energy feed” and “milking regularly” are not ways of keeping cows cool.

This means the correct answer is E, but we need to see how.

For the farmer who takes care to keep them cool, provided with high-energy feed, and milked regularly, Holstein cows will produce an average of 2,275 gallons of milk each per year.

Let’s break down the sentence:

For the farmer who takes care to keep them…

  • cool,
  • provided with high-energy feed,
  • milked regularly,

…Holstein cows will produce an average of 2,275 gallons of milk each per year.

Note that we use two different tenses here: “For the farmer who takes care…” and “cows will produce…”. The word “takes” is the present tense while “will produce” is the future, but that does not make this sentence incorrect. The context of the author could very well justify the use of the future tense. Perhaps the farmers have obtained Holstein cows recently, and hence, will see the produce of 2,275 gallons in the future, only.

A shift in the tense certainly doesn’t make the sentence incorrect. When you’re presented with multiple verbs in various tenses in a problem, check to determine whether the verbs convey a logical sequence of events.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? Check out one of our many free GMAT resources to get a jump start on your GMAT prep. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter for more helpful tips like this one!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Essay Advice for the 2017-2018 Columbia MBA Application

Columbia UniversityWe are excited to deliver advice on Columbia Business School’s new MBA admissions essays. This is just a taste of what you can expect in addressing this year’s prompts. To skip right to the full version of our advice, click here.

Let’s look at each essay question individually:

Essay #1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
The first essay essentially asks the applicant to describe their short term career goals and long-term dream job.  Quick advice: your goals should be researched, realistic, and real.

Essay #2

The full-time MBA experience includes academics, recruiting, and networking. What are your personal priorities and how do you anticipate allocating your time at Columbia Business School? (250 words)
The second essay asks the applicant to describe his or her personal priorities and how they plan to allocate his or her time at CBS.  Quick advice: go deep with your research before you start on this essay so you can show the admissions committee that you really understand what it’s like to be a Columbia Business School student, and that you know what you will be like as a member of the class and community.

Essay #3

Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (250 words)
a. Please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.
b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?
The third CBS essay gives you a choice between answering two prompts, but is basically trying to learn what makes you you, or what makes you interesting.  Quick advice: be genuine and be memorable.

Just a few quick thoughts on the new batch of admissions essays from Columbia Business School. To read all of our detailed advice on the Columbia essays, visit the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Columbia or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or get free expert advice! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dreaded Data Sufficiency Questions That Will Test Your Knowledge of Number Properties

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomHere is an often-repeated complaint we hear from test takers – Data Sufficiency questions that deal with number properties are very difficult to handle (even for people who find problem-solving number properties questions manageable)! They feel that such questions are time consuming and often involve too many cases.

Here is our advice – when solving number properties questions, imagine a number line. It reminds us that numbers behave differently “between 0 and 1”, “between -1 and 0”, “less than -1”, and “more than 1”, and that integers occur only at regular intervals and that there are infinite numbers in between them. The integers are, in turn, even and odd. Also, 0, 1 and -1 are special numbers, hence it is always a good idea to consider cases with them.

Let’s see how thinking along these lines can help us on a practice Data Sufficiency question:

If a and b are non-zero integers, is a^b an integer?

Statement 1: b^a is negative
Statement 2: a^b is negative

The answer to this problem does not lie in actually drawing a number line. The point is that we need to think along these lines: -1, 0, 1, ranges between them, integers, negatives-positives, even-odd, decimals and how each of these comes into play in this case.

What we know from the question stem is that a and b are non-zero integers, which means they occur at regular intervals on the number line. To answer the question, “Is a^b an integer?”, let’s first look at Statement 1:

Statement 1: b^a is negative

For a number to be negative, its base must be negative. But that is not enough – the exponent should not be an even integer. If the exponent is an even integer, the negative signs will cancel out. Since a and b are integers, if a is not an even integer, it must be an odd integer.

We know that the sign of the exponent is immaterial as far as the sign of the result is concerned (since a^(-n) is just 1/a^n). For b^a to be negative, then we know that b must be a negative integer and a must be an odd integer. Does this help us in deducing whether a^b is an integer? Not necessarily!

If b is negative, say -2, a^(-2) = 1/a^2. a could be 1, in which case 1/a^2 = 1 (an integer), or a could be 3, in which case 1/a^2 = 1/9 (not an integer). Because there are two possible answers, this statement alone is not sufficient.

Let’s look at Statement 2:

Statement 2: a^b is negative

Again, the logic remains the same – for a number to be negative, its base must also be negative and the exponent should not be an even integer. If the exponent is an even integer, the negative signs will cancel out. Since a and b are integers, if b is not an even integer, it must be an odd integer. Again, we know that the sign of the exponent is immaterial as far as the sign of the result is concerned (since a^(-n) is just 1/a^n).

For a^b to be negative, then we know that a must be a negative integer and b must be an odd integer. a could be -1/-2/-3/-4… etc, and b could be 1/3/5… or -1/-3/-5.

If a = -1 and b = 1, then a^b = -1 (an integer). If a = -2 and b = -3, then a^b = (-2)^(-3) = 1/(-2)^3 = -1/8 (not an integer). This statement alone is also not sufficient.

We hope you see how we are using values of 1 and -1 to enumerate our cases. Now, let’s consider using both statements together:

a is a negative, odd integer, so it can take values such as -1, -3, -5, -7, …
b is a negative, odd integer too, so it can also take values such as -1, -3, -5, -7, …

If a = -1 and b = -1, then a^b = -1 (an integer)
If a = -3 and b = -3, then a^b = (-3)^(-3) = -1/27 (not an integer)

Even using both statements together, we do not know whether a^b is an integer or not. therefore, our answer is E.

Thinking of a number line and knowing what it represents will help you tackle many Data Sufficiency questions that are about number properties.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

5 Basic ACT English Rules to Live By

ProfessorThe questions in the English section on the ACT measure your grammar, usage, and punctuation skills along with others. As you study for this part of the test, it’s a good idea to review the basic rules of grammar and create some practice sentences. Additionally, learn a few basic ACT English rules of thumb as you prep for the test to maximize your chances of a high score.

1) Look for Subject and Verb Agreement
Looking for agreement between the subject and verb in a sentence is one of the most important ACT grammar rules to remember. As an example, in the sentence, “The horse runs through the field,” “horse” is a singular subject and “runs” is a singular verb. You might also say, “The horses run through the field,” which would pair the plural subject “horses” with the plural verb “run.” If an underlined portion of a passage has a subject and verb that disagree, then it’s time to look to the answer options for a replacement.

2) Read the Entire Sentence Before Answering
The English section on the ACT consists of several passages, and each passage contains underlined words or sentences. Your task is to read the question connected with each underlined portion to find the best answer option. If you think the sentence is correct as is, you can also choose “no change.” You may be tempted to focus on the underlined portion of a passage while ignoring the rest of it, but this is a mistake. Make it a point to read the entire sentence as well as the paragraph. Examining the context in which the underlined word or phrase appears can help you recognize the best answer option.

3) Use the Answer Options to Your Advantage
One of the easiest ACT English rules to remember is to scan the answer options before reading the question. Do the answer options have anything in common? Perhaps all of the options look the same except for adjustments in punctuation or spelling. Does one answer option seem wordy while another is succinct? Scanning the answer options can help you determine the specific skill being tested. Once you know what the question is asking, you are more likely to end up with the correct answer.

4) Check for Agreement Between the Pronoun and Antecedent
Checking for agreement between the pronoun and antecedent is one of the most basic ACT grammar rules to keep in mind. As an example, consider the sentence, “Catherine read her report to the class.” In this sentence, “Catherine” is the antecedent and the word “her” is the pronoun. If a sentence has a plural antecedent, then the pronoun needs to be plural as well. These two parts of speech must agree for a sentence to be correct.

5) Look for Clear and Concise Sentences
As you practice ACT English questions, get into the habit of looking for clear, concise sentences. The creators of the ACT want to know if you can state ideas in a succinct way. For instance, you may see three answer options that all convey the same meaning, but one of those options is short and to the point while the other two seem to have unnecessary and redundant words thrown in. For example, “He made the decision to walk to work on account of the dozens of people already on the bus” is an idea that can be conveyed with fewer words: “He decided to walk to work because the bus was crowded.” Often, the correct answer option is the least complicated one.

At Veritas Prep, all of our ACT tutors achieved a minimum score of 34 out of 36 on the exam. This means that our tutors really know what they’re talking about! Students who study with us learn strategies and tips from experts who have practical experience with the ACT. In addition, you’ll get to work with someone who can provide encouragement as test day approaches: After all, they’ve been in your shoes. When you sign up for ACT instruction, you can choose to participate either online or in person. We make it easy to fit our quality ACT tutoring services into your busy schedule of activities. Contact Veritas Prep and sign up for one of our excellent ACT courses today!

3 Ways to Solve a 750+ Level GMAT Question About Irregular Polygons

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomWe have examined how to deal with polygons when you encounter them on a GMAT question in a previous post. Today, we will look at a relatively difficult polygon question, however we would like to remind you here that the concepts being tested in this question are still very simple (although we won’t give away exactly which concepts they are yet). First, take a look at the question itself:

The hexagon above has interior angles whose measures are all equal. As shown, only five of the six side lengths are known: 10, 15, 4, 18, and 7. What is the unknown side length?

 

 

 

 

(A) 7
(B)10
(C) 12
(D) 15
(E) 16

There are various ways to solve this question, but each takes a bit of effort. Note that the polygon we are given is not a regular polygon, since the side lengths are not all equal. The angles, however, are all equal. Let’s first find the measure of each one of those angles using the formula discussed in this previous post.

(n – 2)*180 = sum of all interior angles
(6 – 2)*180 = 720
Each of the 6 angles = 720/6 = 120 degrees

Though we would like to point out here that if you see a question such as this one on the actual GMAT exam, you should already know that if each angle of a hexagon is equal, each angle must be 120 degrees, so performing the above calculation would not be necessary.

Method 1: Visualization
This is a very valid approach to obtaining the correct answer on this GMAT question since we don’t need to explain the reasoning or show our steps, however it may be hard to comprehend for the beginners. We will try to explain it anyway, since it requires virtually no work and will help build your math instinct.

Note that in the given hexagon, each angle is 120 degrees – this means that each pair of opposite sides are parallel. Think of it this way: Side 4 turns on Side 18 by 120 degrees. Then Side 15 turns on Side 4 by another 120 degrees. And finally, Side 10 turns on Side 15 by another 120 degrees. So Side 10 has, in effect, turned by 360 degrees on Side 18.

This means Side 10 is parallel to Side 18.

Now, think of the 120 degree angle between Side 4 and Side 15 – it has to be kept constant. Plus, the angles of the legs must also stay constant at 120 degrees with Sides 10 and 18. Since the slopes of each leg of that angle are negatives of each other (√3 and -√3), when one leg gets shorter, the other gets longer by the same length (use the image below as a visual of what we’re talking about).

 

 

 

 

Hence, the sum of the sides will always be 15 + 4 = 19. This means 7 + Unknown = 19, so Unknown = 12. Our answer is C.

If you struggled to understand the approach above, you’re not alone. This method involves a lot of intuition, and struggling to figure it out may not be the best use of your time on the GMAT, so let’s examine a couple of more tangible solutions!

Method 2: Using Right Triangles
As we saw in Method 1 above, AB and DE are parallel lines. Since each of the angles A, B, C, D, E and F are 120 degrees, the four triangles we have made are all 30-60-90 triangles. The sides of a 30-60-90 triangle can be written using the ratio 1:√(3):2.

 

 

 

 

 

AT = 7.5*√3 and ME = 2*√3, so the distance between the sides of length 10 and 18 is 9.5*√3. We know that DN = 3.5*√3, so BP = (9.5*√3) – (3.5*√3) = 6*√3.

Since the ratios of our sides should be 1:√(3):2, side BC = 2*6 = 12. Again, the answer is C. Let’s look at our third and final method for solving this problem:

Method 3: Using Equilateral Triangles
First, extend the sides of the hexagon as shown to form a triangle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since each internal angle of the hexagon is 120 degrees, each external angle will be 60 degrees. In that case, each angle between the dotted lines will become 60 degrees too, and hence, triangle PAB becomes an equilateral triangle. This means PA = PB = 10. Triangle QFE  and triangle RDC also become equilateral triangles, so QF = QE = 4, and RD = RC = 7.

Now note that since angles P, Q, and R are all 60 degrees, triangle PQR is also equilateral, and hence, PQ = PR.

PQ = 10 + 15 + 4 = 29
PR = 10 + BC + 7 = 29
BC = 12 (again, answer choice C)

Note the geometry concepts that we used to solve this problem: regular polygon, parallel lines, angles, 30-60-90 right triangles, and equilateral triangles. We know all of these concepts very well individually, but applying them to a GMAT question can take some ingenuity!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

10 Things You Should Be Doing to Prep for College the Summer Before Senior Year

transition into college“I am going into my Senior year of high school. What can I do to prep for college this summer?” Sound familiar? Summer is halfway over, and while you’ve been out with friends swatting away mosquitos and dipping your feet into pools, Veritas Prep has been here gathering the most important information about what you should be doing to prep for the last year of high school!

We had a chance to catch up with Stephanie Fernandez, former Assistant Director of Admissions for Northwestern University, and she has some tips and tricks to help keep you motivated this summer and to eliminate stress when the regular school year starts up again.  Trust us, it’ll be here before you know it!  Stephanie broke down the things you should be doing into two major categories: application work and involvement work.

Application Work

Stephanie says, “get a jump start on visiting as many colleges as financially possible.  If you go to the schools, you can get the best vibe.  Colleges can sound great on paper, but visiting is the best thing you can do to help you refine your target school list.”  Whew.  Great advice indeed.  Maybe you grew up wearing a University of Michigan sweatshirt, and then you go there and realize… “Oh my god! It’s even better than I expected! Go blue!” (I might be a bit biased, but you get the point.)

Additionally, Stephanie suggests that you start working on the Common App Personal Statement.  If you aren’t applying to schools that utilize the Common App, start on any of their essays that have been released early.  As soon as school starts, you will be busy juggling extracurricular activities, spending time with your friends, homework, classes, and all of the other obligations you deal with throughout the academic year – too many responsibilities to give these essays your full attention.  Starting over the summer will really eliminate a lot of stress as you head into your senior year.  

Also, there’s this wacky idea that Senior year isn’t difficult because you’ll be graduating soon, however remember that it’s really important to maintain the grades and the participation/involvement that you’ve been able to achieve historically. Admissions Committees do not like to see that you’ve arrived at your Senior year and started to slack off.

Involvement Work

Stephanie reminded us that Admissions Committees are most interested in your involvement during the school year because then they can see how you balance all of your activities with usual responsibilities, which is a skill you’ll definitely need to be able to do in college.  That being said, Admissions Committees do not want to see that you’ve been doing nothing.  They want to see some type of progress over the summer.  

Stephanie gave us some great suggestions for how students about to enter their Senior Year should spend time over the summer, and we’re going to pass them along to you. You can: 

1) Get a part-time job.

2) Find research labs at nearby universities to assist with research.

3) Secure an internship in anything that interests you. This doesn’t have to be related to your major (interning at an art gallery will not prevent you from eventually becoming a doctor)!

4) Give back to your community. Keep in mind, however, that over-doing your volunteer work right before applications are due can make it look like you are trying to pad your application. Make any volunteer or community involvement you do authentic.

5) Test out a career you are considering by finding a professional to shadow.

6) Get involved with sports camps, summer team practice, or personal training. Working with your team over the summer is a great use of time – use this opportunity to establish yourself as a leader of the team (if you haven’t already). Helping the coach schedule meetings or run practices is another good way to establish yourself as a leader. 

As a last reminder, if you haven’t already secured your letters of recommendation (which we recommend you do at the end of your Junior year, if possible), connect with your teachers when school starts up again in the fall, and be sure to ask them for help right away.

That’s it!  A special thanks to Stephanie Fernandez for allowing us to interview her about this topic.  We’ve gotten a lot of questions from applicants just like you about this topic, and she helped us address these concerns!  

Oh, another fun fact, Stephanie now works as one of Veritas Prep’s College Admissions Consultants, so if you need help getting into your dream school, be sure to check-out our variety of college consulting services.  Our team of Admissions Consultants are industry experts. Not only are they strong coaches and mentors throughout the application process, but they have former admissions experience evaluating applicants on behalf of some of the most selective schools in the world.  If you want more personalized advice about how to begin your college application process, using a College Admissions Consultant is the best way to have it! 

Okay, that’s all folks! Now put down the Snapchat and get to work!

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

SAT Subject Tests: Which to Take and Why

SAT Scantron TestAs a high school junior, you may find it helpful to make a list of the standardized tests you must take before applying to colleges. The ACT and the SAT are likely to be at the top of your list. In addition, you may be thinking about taking one or two SAT subject tests.

Many preferred colleges express interest in seeing students’ SAT subject test scores, while others have made them a requirement. Researching the specific admissions requirements of the colleges you plan to apply to is a wise idea. If you find that some of the colleges on your wish list require these test scores, the next logical question is, “Which SAT subject tests should I take?”

A Look at the SAT Subject Tests
Each of these tests measures your level of skill in a certain subject. You can take an SAT subject test in literature, U.S. history, Spanish, math, physics, chemistry and several other subjects. Regardless of which test you choose, you are given one hour to complete it. You can take as many as three SAT subject tests on the same day.

Which SAT Subject Tests Should I Take?
If you have a favorite subject you excel in, it’s a good idea to take an SAT subject test on that topic. For instance, if you’ve always performed well in American history classes, then take the SAT subject test in U.S. History. Take a moment to check out the complete list of SAT subject test options to determine the appropriate choices for you.

Which SAT Subject Tests Are Easiest?
The answer to this question is different for each student depending on their academic talents. For example, if you’ve always excelled in your physics classes, then you would likely find the SAT subject test in physics to be the easiest. Another student whose favorite subject is English would probably find it easy to complete the questions on the SAT subject test in literature. In truth, it’s best to stop wondering which SAT subject tests are easiest: Instead, focus on choosing the tests that will give you the opportunity to highlight your skills in your favorite subjects.

Reasons to Take SAT Subject Tests
There are several reasons why SAT subject test scores are important to colleges during the admissions process. For one, a high score on an SAT subject test shows that you have a thorough understanding of the subject. This shows that you’re a student who is persistent and dedicated to your studies. Plus, your score gives officials an indication of whether you’re ready to tackle college-level classes. Another reason why SAT subject test scores are important is they help college officials place you in courses that will challenge you, so you won’t end up in an introductory course when you’re at a higher level.

Preparing for These Tests
After you decide which SAT subject tests to take, it’s time to start the prep work. Answering practice questions is an excellent way to prepare for a subject test. A practice test allows you to become familiar with the test format and the difficulty of the questions you’ll encounter. One helpful tip is to time your practice test so you know how quickly you must work in order to finish the test in one hour. Ideally, you want to develop a comfortable test-taking rhythm so you don’t feel rushed. The results of your practice SAT subject test can help you figure out what skills to focus on during your study time.

Studying for an SAT subject test is a lot more efficient when you partner with an experienced instructor. The instructors in our SAT subject test tutoring program are experts in the subjects they teach. We provide strategies that help you to improve in your weakest areas while further strengthening your strongest skills. Our professional tutors give you the support you need to showcase your skills in your chosen subjects!

At Veritas Prep, our SAT subject test preparation courses are a combination of top-notch instruction and effective study resources. If you have any questions, check out our FAQ section to find answers. Of course, you can call or email us for further information. Let us play a part in your SAT subject test success!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Using Ingenuity on GMAT Remainder Questions

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomWe have looked at various types of GMAT remainder questions and discussed how to tackle them in a few previous posts. Specifically, we have examined the concepts of general divisibility, divisibility as applied to GMAT questions, and divisibility specifically applied to remainders. There is one concept, however, that we haven’t discussed yet, and that is using ingenuity on remainder questions.

Say “x” gives you a remainder of 2 when divided by 6. What will be the remainder when x + 1 is divided by 6?

Go back to the divisibility concepts discussed above. When x balls are split into groups of 6, we will have 2 balls leftover. If we are given 1 more ball, it will join the 2 balls and now we will have 3 balls leftover. The remainder will be 3.

What happens in the case of x + 6 – what will be the remainder when this is divided by 6? This additional 6 balls will just make an extra group of 6, so we will still have 2 balls leftover.

What about the case of x + 9? Now, of the extra 9 balls, we will make one group of 6 and will have 3 balls leftover. These 3 balls will join the 2 balls leftover from x, giving us a remainder of 5.

Now, what about the case of 2x? Recall that 2x = x + x. The number of groups will double and so will the remainder, so 2x will give us a remainder of 2*2 = 4.

On the other hand, if x gives us a remainder of 4 when divided by 6, then 2x divided by 6 will have a remainder of 2*4 = 8, which gives us a remainder of 2 (since another group of 6 will be formed from the 8 balls).

Let’s consider the tricky case of x^2 now. If x gives us a remainder of 2 when it is divided by 6, it means:

x = 6Q + 2
x^2 = (6Q + 2)*(6Q + 2) = 36Q^2 + 24Q + 4

Note here that the first and the second terms are divisible by 6. The remainder when you divide this by 6 will be 4.

We hope you understand how to deal with these various cases of remainders. Let’s take a look at a GMAT sample question now:

If z is a positive integer and r is the remainder when z^2 + 2z + 4 is divided by 8, what is the value of r?

Statement 1: When (z−3)^2 is divided by 8, the remainder is 4.
Statement 2: When 2z is divided by 8, the remainder is 2.

This is not our typical, “When z is divided by 8, r is the remainder” type of question. Instead, we are given a quadratic equation in the form of z that, when divided by 8, gives us a remainder of r. We need to find r. This question might feel complicated, but look at the statements – at least one of them gives us data on a quadratic! Looks promising!

Statement 1: When (z−3)^2 is divided by 8, the remainder is 4

(z – 3)^2 = z^2 – 6z + 9

We know that when z^2 – 6z + 9 is divided by 8, the remainder is 4. So no matter what z is, z^2 – 6z + 9 + 8z, when divided by 8, will only give us a remainder of 4 (8z is a multiple of 8, so will give remainder 0).

z^2 – 6z + 9 + 8z = z^2 + 2z + 9

z^2 + 2z + 9 when divided by 8, gives remainder 4. This means z^2 + 2z + 5 is divisible by 8 and would give remainder 0, further implying that z^2 + 2z + 4 would be 1 less than a multiple of 8, and hence, would give us a remainder of 7 when divided by 8. This statement alone is sufficient.

Let’s look at the second statement:

Statement 2: When 2z is divided by 8, the remainder is 2

2z = 8a + 2
z = 4a + 1
z^2 = (4a + 1)^2 = 16a^2 + 8a + 1

When z^2 is divided by 8, the remainder is 1. When 2z is divided by 8, the remainder is 2. So when z^2 + 2z is divided by 8 the remainder will be 1+2 = 3.

When z^2 + 2z + 4 is divided by 8, remainder will be 3 + 4 = 7. This statement alone is also sufficient. Because both statements alone are sufficient, our answer is D.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Should You Reapply to the MBA Program that Rejected You?

RejectedApplying to an MBA program can be a consuming experience, both mentally and physically. The whole process of applying to business school can be YEARS in the making for some. So, for many, even the thought of going through such a rigorous and time consuming process more than once, can feel daunting. Depending on what is causing you to consider applying again can really influence the outcome of your decision. Just know, you are not alone, many candidates find themselves in a similar situation every year.

Let’s explore the two most common reasons why a candidate may consider reapplying to an MBA program that rejected them:

1) You Were Not Admitted Anywhere
Not receiving admission to any of the schools you applied to can be a really challenging thing to deal with, especially after all of those months of hard work. Many applicants are disillusioned after receiving the bad news and it can be tough to think through next steps. However, not receiving admission in a given application year is not necessarily an indication of your ability to secure admission in another year.

The key here is to spend some time and evaluate your application strategy and submitted package. You want to determine whether you put together the best application package. If you feel like there may have been some issues or there may be other opportunities to improve your profile, then reapplying is probably a good decision.

One other thing to consider is also whether you applied to the right schools. Focusing on what your school list next year should look like given your qualifications is a great first step.

2) You Are Not Happy With the Schools You Were Admitted to:
Some applicants actually do secure admission at some of their target programs but for one reason or another still may consider applying again next year. The most common rationale here is if there is a belief that there are better opportunities at higher ranked programs. This is a tough position to be in, because it is really hard to gauge the likelihood of admission, especially at more selective programs. Reapplying here takes a lot of self-confidence, but ultimately it is about avoiding any potential regret on missed opportunities at more prestigious programs.

Another scenario that can happen here is for an applicant to receive admission to a part-time program but having more interest in full-time programs. In this scenario, an applicant will consider foregoing the part-time offer in lieu of pursuing a full-time offer. Full-time programs tend to be more selective than their part-time counterparts so receiving admission to a part-time program is not always an indicator of the likelihood of success with full-time programs.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Using Parallel Lines and Transversals to Your Advantage on the GMAT

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomToday, we will look at a Geometry concept involving parallel lines and transversals (a line that cuts through two parallel lines). This is the property:

The ratios of the intercepts of two transversals on parallel lines is the same.

Consider the diagram below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here, we can see that:

  • “a” is the intercept of the first transversal between L1 and L2.
  • “b” is the intercept of the first transversal between L2 and L3.
  • “c” is the intercept of the second transversal between L1 and L2.
  • “d” is the intercept of the second transversal between L2 and L3.

Therefore, the ratios of a/b = c/d. Let’s see how knowing this property could be useful to us on a GMAT question. Take a look at the following example problem:

In triangle ABC below, D is the mid-point of BC and E is the mid-point of AD. BF passes through E. What is the ratio of AF:FC ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

(A) 1:1
(B) 1:2
(C) 1:3
(D) 2:3
(E) 3:4

Here, the given triangle is neither a right triangle, nor is it an equilateral triangle. We don’t really know many properties of such triangles, so that will probably not help us. We do know, however, that AD is the median and E is its mid-point, but again, we don’t know any properties of mid-points of medians.

Instead, we need to think outside the box – parallel lines will come to our rescue. Let’s draw lines parallel to BF passing through the points A, D, and C, as shown in the diagram below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we have four lines parallel to each other and two transversals, AD and AC, passing through them.

Consider the three parallel lines, “line passing through A”, “BF”, and “line passing through D”. The ratio of the intercepts of the two transversals on them will be the same.

AE/ED = AF/FP

We know that AE = ED since E is the mid point of AD. Hence, AE/ED = 1/1. This means we can say:

AE/ED = 1/1 = AF/FP
AF = FP

Now consider these three parallel lines: “BF”, “line passing through D”, and “line passing through C”. The ratio of the intercepts of the two transversals on them will also be the same.

BD/DC = FP/PC

We know that BD = DC since D is the mid point of BC. Hence, BD/DC = 1/1. This means we can also say:

BD/DC = 1/1 = FP/PC
FP = PC

From these two calculations, we will get AF = FP = PC, and hence, AF:FC = 1:(1+1) = 1:2.

Therefore, the answer is B. We hope you see that Geometry questions on the GMAT can be easily resolved once we bring in parallel lines.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

How to Answer GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions Involving Experiments

QuestioningThere are certain themes that crop up in Critical Reasoning questions so often that it’s worthwhile to treat these problem types as their own sub-categories. One category that shows up with greater frequency in each new edition of the Official Guide is one that I’ll christen, “The tainted experiment.”

The logic of these arguments is always rooted in the notion that we can only trust the results of the experiment if we have a legitimate control group, and there aren’t any other confounding variables that we’ve failed to account for. Spoiler alert: typically in GMAT questions, we will find such confounding variables tainting the experiment’s predictive value.

Imagine, for example, that you’re testing a drug designed to alleviate headaches. You have two groups of subjects: a control group that takes a placebo and an experimental group that receives the drug. The results of the experiment show that the control group has a higher rate of headaches than the group receiving the medication. Time to rejoice, notify the delighted shareholders, and move this drug to market as quickly as possible? Well, maybe.

But now imagine that the control group consisted largely of stressed-out, sleep-deprived college students living near construction sites, and the experiment group consisted of retired yoga instructors. Suddenly we’ve got other variables to contend with. Yes, it’s possible that the effectiveness of the drug is what accounts for the differential in headache incidence between the two groups. But it’s just as likely that other environmental factors are responsible. A good experiment would have controlled for these factors.

The upshot: whenever you see a question that involves an experiment with a control group, always ask yourself if there are variables that the experimenters have failed to account for.

Here’s a good example of such an argument:

In Colorado subalpine meadows, nonnative dandelions co-occur with a native flower, the larkspur. Bumblebees visit both species, creating the potential for interactions between the two species with respect to pollination. In a recent study, researchers selected 16 plots containing both species; all dandelions were removed from eight plots; the remaining eight control plots were left undisturbed. The control plots yielded significantly more larkspur seeds than the dandelion-free plots, leading the researchers to conclude that the presence of dandelions facilitates pollination (and hence seed production) in the native species by attracting more pollinators to the mixed plots. 

Which of the following, if true, most seriously undermines the researchers’ reasoning? 

A) Bumblebees preferentially visit dandelions over larkspurs in mixed plots.
B) In mixed plots, pollinators can transfer pollen from one species to another to augment seed production. 
C) If left unchecked, nonnative species like dandelions quickly crowd out native species. 
D) Seed germination is a more reliable measure of a species’ fitness than seed production.
E) Soil disturbances can result in fewer blooms, and hence lower seed production. 

This is a classic experiment argument. There are two populations: plots that contain both dandelions and larkspurs, and plots that have had all the dandelions removed, and thus contain only larkspurs. We’re told that the plots containing both types of flowers produced more larkspur seeds than the plots containing only larkspurs, thus validating the contention that the presence of dandelions has a positive benefit on larkspur seed yields.

Fortunately, the GMAT is pretty predictable. If we’re trying to weaken the conclusion derived from an experiment comparing two populations – a control group and an experimental group – we’re looking for a confounding variable. The initial hypothesis is that the presence of dandelions promotes seed production in larkspurs. An alternative hypothesis is that an environmental factor we haven’t yet considered accounts for the differential in larkspur seed production in the two groups, so that’s what we’re on the lookout for when we examine each of the answer choices.

A) Which flower bees prefer sheds no light on the validity of the experiment. A is out.

B) This answer option would be entirely consistent with the hypothesis that dandelions promote larkspur seed production. We’re trying to weaken the argument. B is also out.

C) This answer choice makes no sense. We’ve already been told that the plots containing both types of flower produce more larkspur seeds – we never want to contradict a premise. C is no good.

D) This tells us nothing about whether it is the presence of dandelions that’s helping promote larkspur seed production. D gets kicked to the curb.

E) If removing the dandelions disrupts the soil, perhaps it’s the disrupted soil, rather than the absence of dandelions, that accounts for the lower larkspur production in the plots where the dandelions have been removed. We’ve got our confounding variable – E is the answer.

Takeaway: On Critical Reasoning questions on the lookout for the tainted experiment. If you’re trying to weaken an argument regarding an experiment containing a control group and an experimental group, the key will be determining which answer choice provides a confounding variable, and thus, an alternative explanation for the conclusion given.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Learn How to Begin a GMAT Problem by Focusing on Keywords in the Question Stem

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomToday, we will not begin our post as we usually do by introducing the topic we intend to discuss. Instead, we will directly ask you to think about a question. The reason is this – when faced with similar questions on the GMAT without any preface, we often struggle to identify the concept being tested, which is the starting point of our efforts. Our post today focuses on how to observe the keywords in the question stem, and how to know where to go from there.

Take a look at this example Quant question:

The length and width of a rectangle are integer values. What is the area of the smallest such rectangle that can be inscribed in a circle whose radius is also an integer?

(A) 12 
(B) 24 
(C) 36 
(D) 48 
(E) 60

Now here is the problem – the question stem does not give us any numbers! We don’t know any dimensions of the rectangle or the circle, yet the answer choice options are very specific numbers! So how do we begin? The smallest positive integer is 1, so should we start by testing the radius of the circle as 1, and then try to go on from there? And if 1 doesn’t work, then move on to 2, 3, 4… etc?

No – we are not a computer algorithm and on top of that, the GMAT only gives us around 2 minutes to figure out the answer. With this in mind, the question should enough clues to make all all of that trial and error testing unnecessary. So if plugging in numbers isn’t the way to go, how should we start solving this problem?

Now, the moment we read “rectangle inscribed in a circle”, what comes to mind is that a rectangle has 90 degree angles, and hence, the diagonal of the rectangle is the diameter of the circle (an arc that subtends a 90 degree angle at the circumference is a semicircle). The rectangle inside of the circle will look something like this:

 

 

 

 

Now we can see that we have a circle with a diameter (AB) and 90 degree angles subtended in each semicircle (angle AMB and angle ANB).

Essentially then, we have two right triangles (triangle AMB and triangle ANB) that share the hypotenuse AB. Also, it’s important to note that each side of these triangles is an integer – since we know the radius of the circle is an integer, the diameter has to be an integer too. This should make us think of Pythagorean triples!

Whenever all three sides of a right triangle are integers, they will form a Pythagorean triple. Can you have a right triangle with all integer sides such that the length of one side is 1? No. There are no Pythagorean triples with 1 as a side. The smallest Pythagorean triple we know of is 3, 4, 5 (so there can be no right triangle with all integer sides such that the length of one side is 2, either).

We already know Pythagorean triples are the lengths of the sides of right triangles where all sides are integers. What we need to internalize is that ONLY Pythagorean triples are the lengths of sides of right triangles where all sides are integers. You cannot have a right triangle with all integer sides but whose sides are not a Pythagorean triple.

This means that the smallest right triangle with all integer sides is a 3, 4, 5 triangle.

Now note that in the given question, the hypotenuse is the diameter of the circle. We are given that the radius of the circle is an integer, so the diameter will be twice an integer, i.e. an even integer.

So we know the hypotenuse is an even integer, but as we discussed last week, the hypotenuse of a primitive Pythagorean right triangle must be odd. So this triangle must be a non-primitive Pythagorean triple. The smallest such triple will be twice of 3, 4, 5, i.e. the triangle will have sides with lengths 6, 8, 10.

This means the sides of the rectangle must be 6 and 8, while its diagonal must have a length of length 10. The area of the rectangle, then, must be 6*8 = 48. The answer is D.

Finally, at the end of the post we have figured out that this post is a continuation of last week’s post on properties of Pythagorean triples! We hope you enjoyed it!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

Time Management Tips for the SAT with the Optional Essay

Keep Calm Write FastIf you plan to sign up for the SAT, you probably know that the Essay section of the test is optional. Though you may not be excited about taking the extra time on test day to complete the Essay section, it may be a good idea.

Some colleges will ask for an SAT Essay score, so it’s smart to check the admissions requirements of the colleges you’re interested in before you make this decision. Some students write the SAT essay so they have the score in case it’s needed for a last-minute addition to their college list.

If you decide to take the SAT Essay section, there are a few tips to keep in mind so you can submit the most impressive sample of your writing, especially considering that like every other section of the test, the Essay section is timed. Even if you apply to take the SAT with extended time due to a disability, you’ll need to complete your essay within a limited amount of time, so it’s important that you manage your time wisely.

Create a Writing Schedule for Test Day
The SAT with essay time included lasts for a total of three hours and 50 minutes. You are given exactly 50 minutes to write your essay. Fifty minutes may not seem like enough time to write an essay, but it is if you adhere to a writing schedule.

This writing schedule doesn’t have to be on paper; you can make a mental schedule. You should dedicate five to ten minutes to reading the prompt and making an outline for your essay on scrap paper. Next, spend about 30 to 35 minutes writing your essay. This leaves you with approximately five to ten minutes for proofreading your work. After the timed Essay section begins, look at the clock or your watch to remind yourself that you should be finished making your outline within ten minutes of that time. Before you start to write your essay, glance at your watch and remind yourself that you should be finishing up approximately 35 minutes from that point.

A mental writing schedule can keep you from running short on time and rushing to finish. This is a useful strategy if you’re taking the SAT with extended time, too; you’ll just need to modify this schedule based on whether you’re receiving time and a half or double time to complete the Essay section.

Use Your Outline to Refocus
There are lots of reasons why it’s smart to take the time to make an outline before starting your essay. One of the best reasons to make an outline is that you can use it to refocus yourself if your mind wanders during the writing process. Looking at the organized ideas and details included in your outline can get your mind back on the right track. Also, your outline helps you to avoid forgetting any important points that can be the difference between a high-scoring essay and one that doesn’t represent your true talents.

Follow the Basic Essay Format
When you opt to take the SAT with writing time, you may wonder how to set up your essay. It’s best to use the basic essay format: You’re no doubt already familiar with the format, and it’s a good template for an essay that asks you to evaluate an author’s argument.

The Importance of Writing Practice Essays
The most effective way to remember these tips while completing the SAT Essay section is to practice them ahead of time. When starting your practice essay, check your watch to get an idea of how quickly you must work to read the prompt and finish an outline in ten minutes or less. After practicing a few times, you’ll develop a rhythm for your essay-writing that allows you to adhere to your schedule and finish without hurrying. The time you spend practicing also gives you a chance to become familiar with the topics found in SAT prompts so when you take the SAT with writing time, you aren’t venturing into unfamiliar waters.

At Veritas Prep, we are here to help students like you get the highest possible score on the Essay section of the SAT. We understand how to approach the Essay along with every other section, and our instructors can help you meet or exceed your goals for taking the SAT with essay time. We’ll evaluate your practice essay and provide you with tips on how you can achieve a high score in each of the three areas evaluated by SAT graders. We want you to score 8’s across the board on your SAT essay! Contact us today to get the strategies, guidance, and support you need to master the SAT Essay section.