Welcome to Hip Hop Month in the GMAT Tip of the Week space on the Veritas Prep blog. Now that we’re a full decade removed from the entire span of the 90s, “classic hip hop” is a viable genre and discussion topic, and in this space we’ll analyze some of the highlights of 90s rap and, more importantly, how these topics can help you succeed on the G-to-the-MAT.
No discussion of 90s hip hop would be complete without mention of the Wu Tang Clan, a group of Staten Island rappers that collectively created multiple top-selling albums, and individually produced several more. With unique individual styles that blended for a particularly eclectic overall sound, Wu Tang crafted its own place in the 90s rap scene just outside the scope of the East Coast (Bad Boy) — West Coast (Death Row/Aftermath) icons, perhaps even giving Wu Tang greater staying power by its having stayed just outside that fray.
Two of the most popular members of the Wu Tang Clan were Method Man and the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Each a great MC in his own right, the two had different styles and vastly different arcs after the peak of the band in the late 90s. How can differentiating between the two help you succeed on the GMAT?
Ol’ Dirty Bastard received that name because, as Method Man said, “there ain’t no father to his style” — his wide range of vocal tones and expressions, guttural sounds, and themes simply had no precedent in the mainstream world of rap, and because of his uniqueness he stood apart from much of the group as a figure that transcended hip hop in his own way. He blazed his own trail, leading in some cases to high-level success (a gold solo album in 1999 to go with his platinum record with Wu Tang in 1995) and some high-profile failures (multiple stints in jail, albums that still remain unpublished).
Method Man, perhaps coincidentally to his name, followed a more proven method toward success. Like Ice Cube before him, he took his success as a member of a popular group and parlayed it to commercial success as an MTV icon, a film actor, and an overall brand. In doing so, he has won Grammy awards, appeared in TV series and films, and produced a series of comic books.
On the GMAT — particularly when it comes to Sentence Correction, you’ll have a choice to make: will you follow your own, unprecedented (fatherless) style, or will you employ a proven method to break down the standardized tests questions?
Sentence Correction questions tend to lend themselves to an ODB-style process, as test-takers either try to determine which answer choice “sounds right,” or gravitate toward the unique idioms in each sentence and attempt to process those. Just as Dirt McGirt found, however, this process will lead sometimes to success, but often to failure. As a test-taker, you simply can’t memorize enough idioms or trust your ear enough to keep up with the various ways that the writers of the exam will craft questions to counteract your unique methods.
So, to succeed, become a GMAT “Method Man,” looking for the tried-and-true error families that the GMAT exclusively tests: check to see if the subject of the sentence agrees with the verb; check to see if each pronoun in the sentence agrees with and refers back to its specific antecedent; check to ensure that any comparisons that the sentence draws compared equivalent elements. The GMAT will test these same concepts repeatedly, and will reward you for finding the proven path to success on each question, instead of trying to invent your own style each time you face a grammatical issue. There’s a method to success on Sentence Correction questions, and much like the hip hop Method Man, you can employ it to replicate the success of those before you.
One more reason to be a Sentence Correction Method Man: Method Man’s given name is Clifford Smith, the same as Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year winner (and Palo Alto-based instructor) Cliff Smith, who co-wrote the Veritas Prep lessons (and methods) for Sentence Correction. Coincidence? Maybe, but Veritas Prep’s method man Cliff Smith can confirm that there’s a method to the madness — he employed these methods for the Triple Crown of GMAT success — 99th percentile on each section and overall. It pays to be a Method Man.
Just another friendly tip from Veritas Prep, where “we don’t got no problem with you scoring well, but we’ve got a little problem with you not scoring well.”