GMAT Tip of the Week: Fall in Love with the Correct Data Sufficiency Answer, Bachelor-Style

This week’s GMAT Tip of the Week comes from David Newland, a Veritas Prep GMAT prep instructor based in Boston.

There is a show on ABC on Monday nights that — in my opinion — has almost no redeeming qualities. However, this show does demonstrate a very important facet of data sufficiency. The show is called “The Bachelor” and it features one unmarried man, the bachelor, who claims to be tired of being single and looking to get married. The process of selecting a bride is conducted like a game show. Dozens of women are brought out and the bachelor slowly sifts through them eliminating them or keeping them around by giving them a rose. At the end the bachelor proposes to the chosen woman and they live happily ever after…that is until a few months later — surprise, surprise — we learn that the relationship did not work out. What could have gone wrong? Isn’t this the way all successful relationships begin — on a game show?

I admit to having seen a few episodes of this show and each bachelor does seem to possess one talent that would make him very successful at data sufficiency, an ability to block out his short term memory. Let me explain: The bachelor will go out on a date with one of the women on a particular night, let’s say Monday and then on Tuesday he is on a date with another of the women.

Now here is the thing, on Monday night he seems always to say (and it does not matter which of the seasons this is) “I find myself falling for you.” So on Monday he is falling in love with woman number 1. The very next night he is on a date with woman number 2, and now he is saying “I think I am falling in love with you.” There is no mention of the woman that he was just on a date with the previous night. He seems to have forgotten all about woman 1, even though just 24 hours ago she was all that he could think about. He has no problem erasing his short term memory where women are concerned!

You need to be just like the Bachelor — not with people that you date but with the statements on Data Sufficiency! While you are evaluating statement 1 that should be were your attention is focused. This usually is not a problem for test takers. This is the first statement that you have seen on this problem so there is nothing stuck in your memory. Now when you evaluate the second statement you need to be like the Bachelor and give it all of your attention — forget that there even was a statement 1! Fall in love with statement number 2: give that statement your entire focus.

There is one more thing that you should learn from the Bachelor, he may forget everything about woman 1, but the one thing he will remember is anything romantic that was particularly successful. Did an evening walk on the beach win her over? Was it a candlelit dinner with champagne? Did he make some little joke before he went to kiss her? Whatever it was he will remember and might think to try the same with woman 2.

You should learn from him: when a number or concept works to satisfy statement 1 you should try that same number or concept with statement 2. So while you need to forget the information from statement 1, since you cannot use this when initially evaluating statement 2, you will want to remember what worked with statement 1 so you can try that with statement 2 as well.

So while I do not advocate that you choose your spouse on a game show, I do think that you could learn from the Bachelor and develop a little short-term memory loss on Data Sufficiency. This technique will help you to fall in love with the right answer.

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