Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: A Prelude

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomToday we introduce a new occasional series on our blog, authored by Karishma, one of our star GMAT prep instructors in Detroit, Michigan. From time to time Karishma will share some of her unique insights into how to maximize your potential on the GMAT. Enjoy!

First up, I have a confession to make. I stumbled on the name for this section — “Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom” — while watching Spongebob Squarepants. If you are wondering what the heck was I doing watching the mind-numbing sanity-poaching children’s cartoon in the first place, then let me explain. My very stubborn two-year-old refuses to put a bite of food in her mouth until and unless Spongebob, the annoying little yellow porous sponge, and Patrick, the woefully unintelligent pink sea star, are on the television.

So anyway, In this particular episode, the octopus named Squidward, to express his disdain for Spongebob, calls him a quarter wit (details are meant for people with kids) and then, very pleased with himself, wonders whether he possesses even that. That prompted me to think — How much “wit” do you need to ace the GMAT? Thereafter, I tuned out and by the time the 15-minute episode was over, the idea for this blog had taken shape in my mind. (Thank you Marisa for your invaluable suggestions and support.)

So anyway, how much “wit” is required to ace the GMAT? As per my estimate -– A Quarter. If you know your fractions/percentages, your next question might be, “A quarter of what?” Wit accounts for a quarter of everything that you need to ace the GMAT, everything that can be counted as your resource, your asset to draw upon. All the fundamentals, all the concepts and all the applications of these fundamentals and concepts account for a quarter of your total assets. Knowing what an equation represents and how to use it to get your answer is a quarter of the play won.

Another quarter of the resources you need can be clubbed under the term “wisdom” — a.k.a. strategies. Do you know what the best approach is while dealing with a tough little Critical Reasoning question with a twisted question stem? Can you get to the correct answer in less than two minutes? Do you consciously ensure that when you are marking (C) as your answer in a Data Sufficiency question, it is not a case of Data Retention (You don’t need data from statement 1 but you retain it since you read that statement first.)  Would you push yourself to check out other options even though option (A) seems rather straight forward and inviting? You need to be armed with more than just the knowledge of how to solve questions. Some of the question formats are quite tricky and fool the best of the players. Plus, there is a strenuous time constraint. Learning how to solve cleanly, efficiently, speedily and effectively is another quarter of the play won.

The remaining half is all about attitude. You and the quick-learning adaptive GMAT software will be embroiled in a psych out game of wits, wisdom and attitude. If you answer a question correctly, the software throws another one at you, this time a harder one. It will try to intimidate you with a very tough looking problem and will continuously adapt itself to you. It knows the way your mind works, the traps you are likely to fall for, the concepts you might goof up on and it will challenge you in each one of these arenas. But it has a flaw -– it can test you on only a handful of principal concepts, concepts that it will repeatedly come back to. In each subject area, I can count these on my ten fingers. It’s up to you to recognize them and go for the kill with your keen intellect and your infinite capacity to learn. Use your wit and wisdom to know yourself and the test maker’s devious mind. The two together will foster confidence and we shall win! Let the games begin…

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 in Detroit, Michigan, and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!