GMAT Tip of the Week: Why Orbitz Executives Would Bomb the GMAT

GMAT prepDespite the well-substantiated claims of this self-proclaimed world’s-worst-website, the winner of the worst website prize simply must be, the least-helpful and most-dishonest website the Internet has seen to date. (Orbitz people, please don’t sue us. Just sue Brian. These opinions are his alone and do not represent those of the company… yada yada yada. — Ed.)

On no fewer than three travel bookings this month, your author has been led to the Orbitz website by specifically-advertised convenient options and good prices, and each time the Orbitz site has pulled the junior-high “psych!” gag, dramatically increasing the price on the checkout page from what had been advertised just one click prior. More frustratingly, even days later the initially-advertised price has prominently appeared in searches.

One can only imagine what’s going on at Orbitz headquarters. Perhaps, if one believes that Vice President Al Gore did invent the Internet, his successor, Dick Cheney, created as a torture technique for his beloved Guantanamo Bay:

Cheney: Here’s $500. If you can find a flight home for that, I’ll let you go. I suggest you try

Detainee: Wow — my lucky day! I found a flight for $475. I can even afford to check a bag now!

Orbitz: We’re sorry. The flight that we advertised to you in real-time just seconds ago is no longer available at that price. It now costs $950. Please click to continue with your purchase.

Cheney: Psych! Get those goggles back on…we’re headed back to the waterboard pool.

Regardless of who actually does run Orbitz, we know this to be certain — with their mentality, they’ll struggle mightily on the Data Sufficiency and Critical Reasoning sections of the GMAT, on which it is crucial for you to know that the facts never change.

Consider the following Critical Reasoning fragment:

All chimpanzees eat vegetables, and some chimpanzees eat meat. Those that eat meat are wild.

Which of the following conclusions can be properly drawn from the above?

(A) Chimpanzees that eat meat are the exception to the rule that all chimpanzees eat vegetables.

(B) Meat is the only thing that wild chimpanzees eat.

(C) Chimpanzees that are wild are among those that eat vegetables.

Successful people love the “exception to the rule” — we love to know more than anyone else, get credit for thinking outside the box, etc. But, in this question, we’re given the irrefutable fact that “all chimpanzees eat vegetables.” That leaves no room for an exception — if ALL chimps eat vegetables, then we can’t conclude anything that would violate that fact.

Similarly, choice B cannot be true given the facts. If ALL chimps eat vegetables, then it cannot be true that some ONLY eat meat. Choice C is correct — any group of chimpanzees will be among those that eat vegetables, because ALL of them eat vegetables.

Keep in mind this — certain answer choices will tempt you to stray from the facts that are given as part of the question, but the facts cannot change. Consider each fact that you are given to be a constraint, as well — anything is possible except for anything that would violate those facts.

A common GMAT mistake is to violate the facts/constraints given in divisibility-related Data Sufficiency questions. Consider this Data Sufficiency fragment:

Is y an integer?

(1) y/3 is an integer

Quite often (and mistakenly!), the test-taker’s instinct with statement 1 is to try to prove or disprove it, rather than use it (correctly) as a fact to help determine the answer to the initial question. When reading this, did you try to plug in a number like 4?

Note that, based on the fact/constraint given in statement 1, 4 is simply not an option. 4/3 is not an integer, and we know that y/3 must be an integer, so 4 is not a possibility. Instead, we can only use numbers that are divisible by 3. Because all multiples of 3 are integers, statement 1 is sufficient.

Again, remember that, when the GMAT gives you a fact, it’s irrefutable. Learn to see the provided facts as binding constraints and you’ll avoid those common errors that derive from thinking outside the GMAT’s logically-constrictive box.

As for Orbitz, I give you the middle finger — the left middle finger, to be exact, as I use it to press “E” on my keyboard, via which my browser will immediately pop up for my future travel searches.

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