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By now you’ve seen the interview heard round the world – Richard Sherman’s immediate post-game interview with Erin Andrews – and all the fallout from it: Twitter hysteria, discussions about what that Twitter hysteria says about culture, little kid parodies, and everything else. And regardless of what you think about Richard Sherman, if you’re reading a blog post about MBA admissions you want to be Richard Sherman:

-Richard Sherman is one of the best in the world at his profession

-Richard Sherman went to Stanford

-Richard Sherman is going to New York to compete at the highest level anyone in his profession can reach

So whatever words you’d use to describe Sherman’s interview – confident, cocky, arrogant, calculated – you’ll want to bring some of that into the GMAT with you, because in the world of the GMAT you’ll face a lot of sorry questions like Crabtree and if you strategically use Sherman’s bravado you know what result you’re going to get (and it’s a good one).

Here’s why – the GMAT is, really, a lot like Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is a very good wide receiver – he’s big, fast, etc. – just like the GMAT is a very difficult test (it’s clever, labor-intensive, etc.). But both Crabtree and the GMAT are predictable, and if you know what they’re going to do you can approach them with the same level of confidence. And like a defensive back can approach Crabtree, there are two ways that you can approach the GMAT and its traps:

1) Woe is me. When you see a Data Sufficiency question like:

The product of consecutive integers a and b is 156. What is the value of b?

(1) b is prime

(2) b > a

You might fall for the trap answer, D. You’ll break down 156 into 13 times 12 (and realize that you can’t break 13 down any further so there’s no other way to recombine the prime factors to find consecutive integers with a prime), and note that b has to be 13 and a has to be 12. So choice A is, indeed, sufficient. And then when you get to statement 2 you’ll think – yeah, freebie. 13 is bigger than 12, so it has to be 13. But wait – why can’t it be -12 while a is -13? You’ve fallen into the trap – you assumed negative! Woe is you…why do you keep falling for these traps?!

2) The GMAT is mediocre. And when you test a great test-taker like me with a mediocre question like that, that’s the result you’re going to get.

If you go Richard Sherman on a question like this, you’re angry at it. They’re not going to beat you with a mediocre and commonplace trap like “bet you forgot it could be negative”. You’re above that…they may beat you with a crazy challenge that’s way over your head, but they’re not going to beat you with a sorry trap like “could be negative” or “doesn’t have to be an integer”. Now, like Richard Sherman you have to prepare – Sherman KNEW that when Crabtree took off for the corner of the end zone it was going to be a corner fade / jump ball, and you should KNOW that when the GMAT includes an inequality in Data Sufficiency there’s a big change that negative/positive comes into play. So you do have to prepare like a champion to be a champion.

But there’s also a huge question of attitude. When the GMAT traps you, don’t get sad, get mad. Take it upon yourself to not let them beat you with a trap they’ve beaten you with before. Some people fall into a trap and get nervous that they’ll fall into it again. The Stanford-bound like Richard Sherman make it a point to never make that same mistake again, and they see that as a fun challenge. “Oh no GMAT – not today…I know your game and you’d better step it up to beat me”

Remember, attitude and confidence count for a lot whether it’s the NFC championship or the GMAT, and how you approach common GMAT traps can have a lot to do with your performance. Don’t fear those mistakes you’ve made a couple times – realize that they’re so commonplace and predictable as to be mediocre.

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In the last two weeks, we discussed some max minstrategies. Today, let’s look at another max-min question in which we apply the strategy of focusing on the extremes. The largest or the smallest values are often found at the extremes of a given range.

Question: If x and y are integers such that (x+1)^2 is less than or equal to 36 and (y-1)^2 is less than 64, what is the sum of the maximum possible value of xy and the minimum possible value of xy?

(A) -16

(B) -14

(C) 0

(D) 14

(E) 16

Solution: To get the sum of the maximum and minimum possible values of xy, we need to know the maximum and minimum values of xy. For those, we need to find the values that x and y can take. So first, we should review the information given:

(x + 1)^2 <= 36

(y – 1)^2 < 64

We need to find the values that x and y can take. There are many ways of doing that. We can solve the inequality using the wave method discussed in this post or using the concept of absolute values. Let’s discuss both the methods.

Wave method to solve inequalities:

Solve for x: (x + 1)^2 <= 36

(x + 1)^2 – 6^2 <= 0

(x + 1 + 6)(x + 1 – 6) <= 0

(x + 7)(x – 5) <= 0

-7 <= x <= 5 (Using the wave method)

Solve for y: (y – 1)^2 < 64

(y – 1)^2 – 8^2 < 0

(y – 1 + 8)(y – 1 – 8) < 0

(y + 7)(y – 9) < 0

-7 < y < 9 (Using the wave method)

Or you can solve taking the square root on both sides

Solve for x: (x + 1)^2 <= 36

|x + 1| <= 6

-6 <= x + 1 <= 6 (discussed in your Veritas Algebra book)

-7 <= x <= 5

So x can take values: -7, -6, -5, -4, … 3, 4, 5

Solve for y: (y – 1)^2 < 64

|y – 1| < 8

-8 < y – 1 < 8 (discussed in your Veritas Algebra book)

-7 < y < 9

So y can take values: -6, -5, -4, -3, … 6, 7, 8.

Now that we have the values of x and y, we should try to find the minimum and maximum values of xy.

Note that the values of xy can be positive as well as negative. The minimum value will be the negative value with largest absolute value (largest negative) and the maximum value will be the positive value with the largest absolute value.

Minimum value – For the value to be negative, one and only one of x and y should be negative. Focus on the extreme values: if x is -7 and y is 8, we get xy = -56. This is the negative value with largest absolute value.

Maximum value – For the value to be positive, both x and y should have the same signs. If x = -7 and y = -6, we get xy = 42. This is the largest positive value.

The sum of the maximum value of xy and minimum value of xy is -56 + 42 = -14

Answer (B)

Try to think of it in terms of a number line. x lies in the range -7 to 5 and y lies in the range -6 to 8. The range is linear so the end points give us the maximum/minimum values. Think of what happens when you plot a quadratic – the minimum/maximum could lie anywhere.

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!

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Inevitably there are applicants each season who decide rather late in the game to apply to business school. While it’s hard to believe for those who spend months or even years preparing themselves specifically for a run at top schools, due to career focus or simple procrastination, some applicants find themselves with a short window before due dates pass.

I have even had clients contact me just mere days before a second round deadline, asking the most basic questions about preparing and then planning to apply just in time. Alternatively, I get emails from prospective applicants who are still in college and yet trying to plan their journey to b-school and prepare themselves for “ideal” positioning with the adcoms.

While the amount of time applicants put into preparing their package for submission varies widely, we find that the most successful candidates are the ones who spend several months getting ready. Even if you are very organized and introspective, there are still components of the process which are out of your control and can take considerable time, such as getting your recommenders oriented and ready to submit recommendations, and getting bursar’s offices from your undergraduate institutions to release your official transcripts. Since applicants must submit all transcripts, even from that one class you took when you went back home for the summer, navigating the paperwork takes time.

There is also no substitute for a leisurely and thoughtful reflection period. Memories are often buried deeper than you realize, so taking the time to revisit your work history and community activities mentally (even physically, if you are able to go visit with past co-workers and organization leaders in person), can provide the stimulus and associative cues you will need to conjure up the best stories from your past—the ones which reflect who you truly are, and how you came to be that person. The effort you spend doing this comes across not only in your essay work, but also in your interviews.

Applicants who have taken a bit of extra time revisiting their past rarely find themselves stumped by an interview question, and in general feel more confident in the entire process. Never underestimate the power of confidence (see my post on confidence—the silent killer app). Knowing who you truly are also exudes maturity, a key attribute admissions committees look for when reading applications.

But I realize many readers of these posts are looking for specific, tactical advice. To those I will say plan on at least a month for reflection time, school analysis and visitation, and career research, not to mention reaching out to potential recommenders and your undergraduate institution. When starting the writing process, you should allocate at least a week per essay, and if you have a consultant or someone else helping you draw out the best stories and help you with editing, you can even double that amount of time.

Assuming a school has four essays, you can count on a start-to-finish process of at least two months, and always give yourself a week buffer so you can target finishing one full week prior to the school deadline. Schools release the application questions in July, which is a good trigger for round one. You will thank yourself if you are not one of those who ends up submitting 15 minutes to midnight on the deadline day.

If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.

ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

Swarthmore College is ranked ninth among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It is a liberal arts and engineering college that is part of a three-college consortium including Harverford College and Bryn Mawr College. The school, which was founded by Quakers, has a long legacy of tolerance, social concern, and civic responsibility.

Swarthmore promotes “ethical intelligence” and encourages students to question everything, especially their own thinking. They strive to create an open atmosphere that fosters dialogue and engagement with disparate ideas among students and faculty. Swarthmore’s goal is to develop what they refer to as leaders for the common good. Students looking to make their mark on the world may find a home at Swarthmore College.

At Swarthmore the mission is “to prepare and motivate students to understand and engage issues of civic and social concern and to set their own paths towards shaping a more just and compassionate world.” Students are inspired to think independently and pursue activism, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility was established in 2001 to provide students with vision and support in their endeavors. A few of the many paths students can pursue to increase social responsibility include education, agriculture, public policy, and LGBTQ. Swarthmore wants its students to make an impact on the world after graduation and they offer many programs and tools to make that happen.

Swarthmore campus is located in a borough of Philadelphia on a 425-acre arboretum maintained by the school. The natural environment encompasses woodlands, grassy hills, and creeks that make the learning environment comfortable and tranquil. Right next to campus is The Village, a Swarthmore neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants, the occasional bed and breakfast, and a food co-op. The town of Swarthmore itself is a quiet little dry town only a twenty-five minute train ride to the robust city life of Philly.

At Swarthmore 95% of the students live on campus in either an eight-person house or one of sixteen 200-person dorms. Most juniors and seniors have single rooms. Because meaningful interaction is a priority, there is only one dining hall on this large campus. This was a conscious decision to facilitate students congregating, mingling, and sharing ideas over meals. While students commune with one another, they enjoy healthy and delicious organic meals. It’s just one more example of how Swarthmore strives to model social awareness and effective change.

Quaker traditions of tolerance are the backbone to Swarthmore College. A strong emphasis is put on community building and consensus decision-making. Equality and progressive change have been important to this school since its founder Lucretia Mott called for equal rights for women at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. While education and social development are the staples of Swarthmore, the school is equally dedicated to balance and a rich life.

Swarthmore holds an annual Crum Creek Regatta where students race homemade boats down the shallow creek, provided they don’t sink first. Each spring, the school holds a weeklong Spring Fling celebration. Worthstock is a one-day outdoor live music event held during Spring Fling week. They are encouraged to work hard and play hard.

Students with a passion for seeking within themselves the change they want in the world would do well to begin their journey by attending Swarthmore College.

ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

The SAT, one of the most loathed and feared tests for high school students, can feel impossible to conquer. For many ambitious young people, above 700 on math is the holy grail of scores: you hear that it can be achieved but actually reaching it seems impossible. Dear friend: fear not! The grail has been found and there are concrete steps that can be taken to help you achieve above a 700 on the math portion of SAT.

For those who are only attempting to score in the 600 range, the good news is you can miss a few problems and get there, but for those really attempting to ANNIHILATE the math portion of the SAT you cannot skip questions. This is especially true of hard math problems. The trick with hard problems is to forget for a moment that they are supposed to be hard and to just WORK. This does not mean you should assume that the problem is easier than it is and pick an overly simple answer, but it does mean believing that you have the skills to approach a problem and DOING IT! Take the problem below which would appear at the end of the SAT math section.

There is a rectangular prism made of 1 in cubes that has been covered in tin foil. There are exactly 128 cubes that are not touching any tin foil on any of their sides. If the width of the figure created by these 128 cubes is twice the length and twice the height, what is the measure in inches of the width of the foil covered prism?

a) 4

b) 6

c) 8

d) 9

e) 10

1) Don’t give up before you start!

I can feel your skin crawling as fear sets in, but believe in yourself! Let’s start working like we do with any other problem. This problem is at the end for a reason. You should have finished everything else already so all you need to focus on is this problem. Don’t worry about the time at this point. You will waste more time worrying than you have to spare. Start working! And start with what you know!

2) Start with what you know

We know: 1 in cubes is the same as inches cubed (volume in inches cubed is essentially a measure of how many cubes that are 1in x 1in 1in that can fit in a 3D shape). We also know that the 128 cubes are completely covered by other cubes so that none of their sides touch the outside. This means that there is essentially a bigger prism completely covering a smaller prism. Its like when you used to play with blocks (I know you did!) and you would completely enclose a block in other blocks to make an exact replica only bigger. So we have a rectangular prism that is 128 inches cubed. Finally, we also know that one side is twice as big as the other two.

3) Draw a picture (if possible)

Let’s try to draw what this might look like. If we had a cube that was 2 x 2 inches cubed, one side would look like this:

In order to cover it completely on all sides we would have to have a cube that had one more cube on each side. So the new face would look like this

So we essentially know that the final figure will have sides that are two greater than the sides of the interior structure, (again, this would enclose a smaller rectangular prism). Huzzah! We are getting somewhere.

4) Use general equations to get specific answers

Using the equation of a rectangular prism and the information that our smaller prism has a length that is two times the width and height we can start writing equations:

L x W x H = Area of a rectangular prism

Let’s make L = x That would mean that H = x also and W = 2x and we can plug that into our equation to get:

(x)(2x) (x) = 160 or (2x^3) = 128 —-> x = 4

5) ANSWER THE QUESTION

We are SO close to the end, but we need to answer the question being asked. Now the length and height of the smaller prism is 4 in (which is an answer choice) but that is NOT what the question asks. The width of our smaller prism is twice the length or 8 in. This is also NOT what the question asks! We know from our previous calculations that all the measurements of the final figure are two greater than the smaller so the dimensions of the larger prism would have to be L= (x+2), H= (x+2) and W = (2x+2). Thus our final answer is 2(4) + 2 = 10. WOOHOOO we DID IT!!

To score above a 700 on the math portion of the SAT you don’t need to be a genius, you just need to believe that you have the tools necessary and then USE them! You can do this; now, all you have to do is prove it to yourself. Good luck test destroyer!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

There are a number of criteria by which you can rank MBA programs: Average starting salary after graduation, average undergrad GPA of incoming students, acceptance rate, student satisfaction, and academic reputation among peer schools are all measures that publications use to try to sort the schools and create a definitive ranking.

Beyond those measures, a very telling one is the average GMAT score of each business school’s incoming class. If you’re a business school applicant (or are just starting to think about applying) and are wondering “What are my chances at the top MBA programs?” a good first check is to look at the top schools’ average GMAT scores and to see how close you are. MBA admissions officers will be quick to tell you that they have no hard cut-offs for GMAT scores and that they look at the whole application when looking at an applicant, and this is true. If, however, you’re not even close to a school’s average GMAT score, then that’s a signal that your odds of getting in may be lower than you would like.

Here are the 30 American business schools with the highest average GMAT scores. Each school’s 2014 U.S. News rankings (published in 2013) follows in brackets:

30 U.S. MBA Programs with the Highest Average GMAT Scores

1. Stanford – 730 [1]

2. Harvard – 724 [1]

3. Chicago (Booth) – 719 [6]

4. NYU (Stern) – 719 [10]

5. Yale – 719 [13]

6. Pennsylvania (Wharton) – 718 [3]

7. Dartmouth (Tuck) – 718 [9]

8. Columbia – 716 [8]

9. UC Berkeley (Haas) – 715 [7]

10. Northwestern (Kellogg) – 712 [4]

11. MIT (Sloan) – 710 [4]

12. UCLA (Anderson) – 704 [14]

13. Michigan (Ross) – 703 [14]

14. Virginia (Darden) – 701 [12]

15. Wash U. (Olin) – 696 [21]

16. Vanderbilt (Owen) – 695 [30]

17. U. of Texas – Austin (McCombs) – 692 [17]

18. Notre Dame (Mendoza) – 692 [27]

19. Cornell (Johnson) – 691 [16]

20. UC Davis – 690 [40]

21. Duke (Fuqua) – 689 [11]

22. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) – 689 [20]

23. USC (Marshall) – 687 [26]

24. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) – 686 [19]

25. Georgetown (McDonough) – 686 [25]

26. Minnesota (Carlson) – 686 [23]

27. Boston University – 684 [40]

28. Emory (Goizueta) – 681 [18]

29. U. of Wisconsin – Madison – 680 [34]

30. U. of Florida (Hough) – 678 [36]

On this blog we tend to spend a lot of time writing about the very top-ranked business schools (largely, of course, because those are the schools that our clients want to hear about), but some interesting schools show up when you rank programs by average GMAT score. MBA programs such as Vanderbilt, UC Davis, Boston University, and U. of Florida all draw a pretty impressive pool of GMAT test takers. Perhaps these schools don’t get enough love in the national rankings.

Again, don’t talk yourself out of applying to any of these business schools if you have a GMAT score that’s not close to these averages. And, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re Stanford material simply because you have a 760 GMAT score; everything in your application really does matter, and while a strong GMAT score can keep you out of a top business school, it’s never enough alone to get you into a great school. Use this list as a gut check to see where you stand, and to see if you need to take another shot at the GMAT before crafting your business school application strategy.

ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

Properly identifying incorrect modifier constructions, which are common errors in Sentence Correction, is a key component in achieving a high score on the GMAT. Knowing that modifier errors are among the most common errors seen on the GMAT, the astute student carefully studies the rules of correctly using modifiers. These grammatical constructions, among the most difficult to spot at a glance, confuse students and frustrate test takers who haven’t adequately prepared for the exam.

Modifiers on the GMAT can take many forms, but the most common ones are used correctly above. (Did you notice the plethora of modifiers in the above paragraph?) Multiple kinds of modifier errors, in which an element modifying a part of the sentence is used incorrectly, show up regularly in Sentence Correction. However, the type I want to highlight is one of the GMAT’s favorite tricks: the dangling modifier (cue the song “My Favorite Mistake”).

Consider the following sentence in a vacuum: “Alarmed by the recent decline of the stock market, many retirement investments have been switched from stocks to more conservative options, such as money market funds.” Logically, I understand what is being said here. The stock market is in decline and investments are being transferred to less risky alternatives. However, the sentence begins with the modifier “Alarmed by xyz,” which means that whatever follows the comma must be alarmed. In this case, the subject of the sentence would be retirement investments, but can investments be alarmed? (Even if they’re Blackberry stock, it’s unlikely).

Since investments cannot be alarmed, the subject must be changed to a term that can be alarmed. In other words, the subject of the modifier needs to be someone who is capable of actually being alarmed. Someone like an investor, a hedge fund manager or even just a nonspecific person. We can rewrite this phrase as “Alarmed by the recent decline of the stock market, many investors have switched their retirement investments from stocks to more conservative options, such as money market funds.” This minor change shrewdly fixes the dangling modifier issue present in the previous version and creates a perfectly correct (or cromulant) sentence.

These types of errors show up all over Sentence Correction problems. Let’s look at an example of a dangling modifier:

Knowing that the area was prone to earthquakes, all the buildings were reinforced with additional steel and concrete.

(A) Knowing that the area was prone to earthquakes,

(B) Having known that the area was prone to earthquakes,

(C) Since the area was known to be prone to earthquakes,

(D) Since they knew that the area was prone to earthquakes,

(E) Being prone to earthquakes,

Since the entire participial phrase “Knowing that the area was prone to earthquakes,” must logically modify the noun after the comma, it becomes fairly clear that A cannot be the correct answer. After all, buildings may be sturdy and resistant to wind, but they cannot possibly know which areas are under tectonic plates (Skynet’s new plan may involve intelligent buildings?). The participial phrase is what’s underlined here, which means we need to replace it with something that refers to the buildings, or else rewrite it entirely. Either way, answer choice A makes a classic dangling modifier error.

Answer choice B “Having known that the area was prone to earthquakes” introduces the same error to the sentence. The buildings are not the ones that knew about the earthquakes, regardless of the tense of the verb. Answer choice B can be quickly eliminated.

Answer choice C mixes things up a little by stating “Since the area was known to be prone to earthquakes,”. This provides a plausible causal effect for the rest of the sentence without putting the onus solely on the buildings. This formulation is devoid of any modifier errors, and there are no other glaring errors, so it should be the correct answer. We should review the other two choices to ensure we can eliminate them for valid reasons, but C should be the answer once the dust settles (pun intended)

Answer choice D “Since they knew that the area was prone to earthquakes,” removes the dangling modifier error, but simultaneously creates a new pronoun error. Who is being referred to with the pronoun “they”? It could be the buildings, or it could be someone else entirely, perhaps even a team of civil engineers (or perhaps the Seattle Seahawks). The ambiguity will eliminate this answer choice from being the correct choice.

Answer choice E succinctly proposes “Being prone to earthquakes,” which now changes the meaning of the sentence to indicate that the buildings are prone to earthquakes. The area has been completely removed (like removing a dimension from a square). Answer choice E changes the meaning to an illogical construction and can therefore be promptly eliminated as well.

Answer choice C was indeed the correct choice on this question. Since language is somewhat subjective, it’s possible to have multiple constructions that are all grammatically correct. As such, if one answer choice does not have any errors, it will be the correct answer choice. Sentence correction is very much a process of elimination, and easily identifying dangling modifier errors will help you eliminate incorrect answer choices quickly.

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam. After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.

ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

The crisis has largely been averted. As we approach Sunday’s Super Bowl, our collective eyes are no longer intently watching the thermometer in East Rutherford wondering how a polar vortex might affect the most American of all holidays, Super Bowl Sunday. We can now get back to the number we all REALLY care about:

How many times will Peyton Manning yell “Omaha” during the game?

The current estimate from Las Vegas sportsbooks is 27.5.

While we all poke fun at Peyton’s repetitive cadence and while Peyton himself cashes in on endorsement deals from all the biggest firms in Nebraska, let us not forget that there are two major GMAT lessons you can learn from Peyton’s “Omaha” calls at the line:

1) Do the same thing every time.

Peyton Manning says Omaha a lot. He’s incredibly deliberate and repetitive in everything he does. And it’s taken him to the summit of his industry. GMAT test takers would be wise to heed his example – note that Peyton deals with time pressure (the play clock, the 2-minute drill) all the time but his deliberation makes him comfortable. And by doing the same thing over and over again his routine is incredibly effective at getting him through the first few seconds of any important play.

You should do the same. In a word problem, you should always read actively, assign variables, and check for anything unique in the answer choices, all in the first 30 seconds of seeing the problem. In a Critical Reasoning problem, you should read the question stem first, identify your goal, and usually check the conclusion, all within the first 30 seconds. When exponents are present you should look for relationships between the bases (and try to get them all the same) and look for opportunities to factor addition/subtraction into multiplication, all in the first 30 seconds. Good GMAT test-takers are boring – they have a system for each type of problem and their first 30 seconds are typically somewhat scripted. They don’t see “unique snowflakes” in each question, but instead they see standardized components and go to work on them.

Peyton yells “Omaha”, never “Des Moines” or “Topeka”. Learn from the man. Form good habits and stick to them. Be predictable, be boring, be successful.

2) But be flexible.

The reason Peyton yells “Omaha” is to allow for flexible play calls at the line of scrimmage. Reportedly, the Broncos go to the line with two different play calls in mind, and “Omaha” signals that they’re going to the B play. In football, like on the GMAT, you have to be flexible. Sometimes the defense surprises you and you need to go a different direction.

This comes up often on the GMAT – you start to set up the algebra but realize that your second step gets messier than what you started with. You have to call an Omaha and go back to testing answer choices. You identify clearly that statement 1 is sufficient but then statement 2 points out that you haven’t even considered the possibility of a non-integer. You have to call an Omaha and reassess statement 1. You’ve eliminated answers A, B, and C but D and E are awful, too. You need to call an Omaha and reconsider which decision points you’re using to dictate your choices. Maybe that clumsy-looking sentence structure is valid, after all.

You can’t yell out “Omaha” in the test center without repercussions, but you can heed the advice from what “Omaha” stands for. On the GMAT you’ll find that most questions are best answered with a regimented-to-the-point-of-boredom approach, but that sometimes you have to be ready to adapt. Omaha covers all of that. So as you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, pay attention to Peyton Manning, a master of both rigidity and flexibility. The road to New York City, Palo Alto, and Cambridge goes right through Omaha.

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In the last three weeks, we discussed a couple of strategies we can use to solve max-min questions: ‘Establishing Base Case’ and ‘Focus on Extremes’. Now try to use those to solve this question:

Question: A carpenter has to build 71 wooden boxes in one week. He can build as many per day as he wants but he has decided that the number of boxes he builds on any one day should be within 4 off the number he builds on any other day.

(A) What is the least number of boxes that he could have build on Saturday?

(B) What is the greatest number of boxes that he could have build on Saturday?

Meanwhile, let’s move on to something else today. What we will discuss today is a very simple concept but it seems odd to us when we first confront it even if we are very comfortable with factors and divisibility. If we tell you the concept right away, you will probably not believe us when we say that many people are unable to come up with it on their own. Hence, we will first give you a question which you need to answer in 30 seconds. If you are unable to do so, then we will discuss the concept with you!

Question: A, B, C and D are positive integers such that A/B = C/D. Is C divisible by 5?

Statement 1: A is divisible by 210

Statement 2: B = 7^x, where x is a positive integer

Solution: Let’s discuss the solution till the point I assume you will be quite comfortable.

We need to find whether C is divisible by 5. So let’s separate the C out of the variables.

C = AD/B

Since C is an integer, AD will be divisible by B but what we don’t know is that after the division, is the quotient divisible by 5?

Statement 1: A is divisible by 210

We still have no idea what B is so this statement alone is not sufficient. Let’s take an example of how the value of B could change our answer. Assume A is 210.

If B is 3, AD/B will be divisible by 5.

If B is 10, AD/B may not be divisible by 5 (depending on the value of D).

Statement 2: B = 7^x, where x is a positive integer

We have no idea what A and D are hence this statement alone is not sufficient.

Using both together: Now, this is where the trick comes in. Using both statements together, we see that C = (210*a*D)/(7^x)

Now we can say for sure that C will be divisible by 5. If you are not sure why, read on.

The Concept:

As you know, factors (also called divisors) of a number N are those positive integers which completely divide number N i.e. they do not leave a remainder on dividing N. If F is a factor of N, N/F leaves no remainder. This also means that N can be written as F*m where m is an integer. Sure you feel this is elementary but this concept is not as internalized in your conscience as you believe. To prove it, let me give you a question.

Example 1: Is 3^5 * 5^9 * 7 divisible by 18?

Did you take more than 2 seconds to say ‘No’ confidently?

For N to be divisible by F, you should be able to write N as F*m i.e. N must have F as a factor. F here is 18 (= 2*3^2) but we have no 2 in N (which is 3^5 * 5^9 * 7) though we do have a couple of 3s. Hence this huge product is not divisible by 18.

This helps us deduce that odd numbers are never divisible by even numbers.

Example 2: Is 3^5*7^6*11^3 divisible by 13?

The answer is simply ‘No’.

For the numerator to be divisible by the denominator, the denominator MUST BE a factor of the numerator. In the entire numerator, there is no 13 so the numerator is not divisible by 13.

Example 3: On the other hand, is 3^5*7^6*11^3*13 divisible by 13?

Yes, it is. 13 gets cancelled and the quotient will be 3^5*7^6*11^3.

Example 4: Is 2^X divisible by 3?

No. No matter what X is, you will only have X number of 2s in the numerator and will never have a 3. So this will not be divisible by 3.

Let’s come back to the original question now:

Given that C = (210*a*D)/(7^x)

Whatever x is, 7^x will get cancelled out by the numerator and we will be left with something. That something will include 5 (obtained from 210) since only 7s will be cancelled out from the numerator. Hence C is divisible by 5.

Answer (C)

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!

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Dartmouth College is ranked number twelve on the Veritas Prep list of the top sixty-one colleges in the United States. Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, it is a research university that offers a large selection of degrees for undergraduates and graduates alike. Roughly 6,100 students attend this beautiful campus, designed around its exquisite natural setting. Founded in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, Dartmouth is the ninth oldest college in the United States.

Dartmouth takes an open-door approach to education. There are no designated office hours, and students are encouraged to spend time with deans and faculty anytime it’s necessary. Personalizing the college experience is a top priority at Dartmouth; most of your professors will know you by name and invite you to dinner in your first week on campus, just so they can get to know you. The student population is extremely diverse: cultures from all over the world attend with almost 40% of students being of color.

The faculty at Dartmouth expect their students to change the world, so they make sure and give them the tools to make that happen. They have a year round academic calendar that allows you to take personal responsibility for your own education. You decide when to study on campus, study abroad, gain work experience, take an internship, and more. The flexibility of your studies also allows you to create your ideal academic program. Choose from over fifty majors and add a minor or discipline to have a more well-rounded education. One of the greatest benefits at Dartmouth is the ability to study abroad multiple times during your college career; joining research projects with talented professors in several fields is also of great benefit.

Campus life at Dartmouth college is close-knit with the majority of undergraduates living on the grounds. You can live in the residential halls, sorority and fraternity houses, approved co-ed spaces, or affinity and society houses. The food service is award-winning with five dining halls that serve all different types of food. There are also cafes located inside the library where you can take a well deserved break from your studies. With so many cultures on one campus, a multitude of organizations support all things spiritual and religious. Students’ safety is a high priority at Dartmouth, and the campus is equipped with 24-hour security guards. Students can enjoy nature’s wonders with hiking trails for the warmer seasons, and an ice skating pond during the winter months.

Dartmouth college has a large athletic department that has 34 division I teams that compete in eighteen different sports, and is also part of the Ivy League Conference and the ECAC. The college has invested over one hundred million dollars into improving athletic and recreational facilities since 2000. There are also more than 30 clubs and about 25 intramural sports students can participate in. Dartmouth College is dedicated to providing their students with a wide range of athletic outlets, with three-quarters of the student population engaging in at least one sport.

As one of the nine Ivy League colleges in North America, Dartmouth has a strong sense of tradition. One example is during homecoming weekend when freshmen students build a sixty-foot bonfire in the center of the Green. Alumni and faculty join them in giving recognition to the school and kicking off the start of a new term. Students can enjoy the winter carnival filled with fun outdoor activities like the polar bear swim and human dog sled racing, or take part in the Dartmouth Pow Wow, the second largest in the the northeast. Students who attend Dartmouth will also enjoy the Green Key weekend, filled with secret traditions and fun activities. Everything from an organic farm to concerts with elite artists can be experienced on campus. If you need a bit of extra luck on an exam or before a big game, rub Warner Bentley’s nose, the colleges own personal good luck charm. Free access to all athletics, dollar movie passes, and ten cent tea are just a few of the fun perks you’ll enjoy when attending Dartmouth College.

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Do you “multitask”? Probably you do. A survey showed that “the top 25 percent of Stanford students use four or more media at one time whenever they’re using any media. So when they’re writing a paper, they’re also Facebooking, listening to music, texting, Twittering, et cetera. And that’s something that just couldn’t happen in previous generations even if we wanted it to.”

What is the definition of multitasking?

Multitasking is originally a word associated with computers. The earliest computers could only do one thing at a time so it was revolutionary when computers began to be able to process two or more jobs concurrently. Now your computer can run many programs at (or seemingly at) the same time.

In relation to humans, multitasking means to perform two or more tasks simultaneously. This may not, in fact, be possible at all. A website on multitasking from the University of Queensland (Australia) had this to say:

“Many scientists believe the ability to multi-task is a myth… Unlike computers, which can perform tasks at lightning speed, the human brain needs to switch between tasks, depending on which area of the brain is being used. Multi-tasking often involves goal switching and re-evaluating, which experts say takes time. What appears to be human multi-tasking is more akin to channel surfing between television stations.”

“Channel surfing” does not sound nearly as good as “multitasking” but it may be nearer to the truth! The type of multitasking that people try to accomplish in the modern world is called “foreground multitasking.” This is where you try to do two or more things at the forefront of your mind. This is the multitasking that may not even be possible. For example, concentrating on typing an email and really listening to a person who is talking to you is very difficult. One task or the other is likely to suffer, so we end up actually switching back and forth since this is the only way a person can cope with these situations. We “channel surf” between one task and the other.

If you think of “multitasking” as really a process of rapidly switching back and forth between tasks you can see why it would be inefficient. Think about a triathlon. Even world-class athletes with modern equipment lose some time switching between swimming and running and biking. In those events they complete the entire swim and then transition to the bike and then to the run. I cannot imagine that the race would be more efficient if, every few minutes, the athletes switched back and forth between events. Too much time is lost in the transition.

As expected, research shows that multitasking is indeed less efficient. A recent article called “The Cognitive Costs of Multitasking” indicated that multitaskers were found to be 40% LESS productive at work. All of that switching back and forth takes energy. You have to reload the information every time you switch back and forth and this can be very inefficient.

But that’s not me. Now I can hear you saying it, “This is not me. I can focus when I need to. Even though I multitask I can switch into ‘GMAT-mode’” Right? Wrong!

Dr. Clifford Nass, Professor of Communication at Stanford has been at the forefront of research into multitasking. Dr. Nass found that “the most striking thing about multitaskers is that they do not know they even have a problem. They say “look, when I really have to concentrate, I turn off everything and I am laser-focused. And unfortunately, they’ve developed habits of mind that make it impossible for them to be laser-focused. They’re suckers for irrelevancy. They just can’t keep on task.”

It seems the first step is to admit that you have a problem.

Part 2 of this article discusses multi-tasking as it specifically relates to the GMAT.

David Newland has been teaching for Veritas Prep since 2006, and he won the Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year award in 2008. Students’ friends often call in asking when he will be teaching next because he really is a Veritas Prep and a GMAT rock star! Read more of his articles here.

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Last week, we talked about 5 ways to score higher in math, and this week we’ll take a look at how to do that in the writing section. It’s actually easier than it sounds! I used to personally loathe (hate) this section of the SAT. I would have anxiety dreams about it: a giant semicolon would be trying to eat me and my children (I don’t have children). As time went by, however, I found that there is no need to fear as there are concrete steps that you can take to ace this section of the SAT. Here are 5 tips to help you succeed on the writing section of the SAT:

1. Build an Essay Template

Building an essay template is the easiest way to ensure that your essay goes smoothly. This is not cheating! Essentially, an essay template is simply a reminder of the structure of a good essay, which always contains the same elements. For instance, a good introduction contains the following: A thesis, an acknowledgment of the opposition, a statement about why this topic matters, and the evidence that will be used to argue the thesis. By keeping the elements of a good essay in mind, the writing becomes easy! Here’s an example template.

“The assertion that [question asked] is supported/not supported by evidence in fiction and history time and again. Although there are those that would assert [opposition point of view] this view does not adequately examine the full spectrum of [topic]. [why topic is important]. Three illustrations of [topic] that exemplify[thesis] are [example 1] [example 2], and [example 3].”

With this intro, we are halfway done with our essay! From here, the only other things to keep is mind are that topic sentences must relate back to your thesis, and it’s important to show how the examples show the thesis instead of summarizing the example. Oh, and avoid personal anecdotes (stories). It’s not impossible to score well with personal anecdotes, but it is stronger to show that you can use concrete examples from different academic areas to support your ideas. Show how smart you are!

Let’s apply the remaining rules to two different examples of writing problems, shall we?

In the modern era, there is no leader in any industrialized country, taking into account that leaders today are far less powerful than in the past, whose scope match that of Russia’s prime minister.

2. Read Question To See If Errors Jump Out

On first look, there isn’t much that jumps out. I notice that it is a very long sentence and that there are a number of descriptive phrases. I consider this a clue! Test makers often hide subject/verb agreement issues, and a number of other issues, by throwing in a bunch of other stuff like prepositional phrases and descriptions. Let’s take them out and re-read.

3. Read Question Without Prepositional And Descriptive Phrases

When we remove the prepositional and descriptive phrases, we are left with: “There is no leader whose scope match that.”

Ah ha! The issue becomes much more clear. The verb “match” should be changed to “matches” so that is agrees with “no leader”. Hooray! Let’s look at a slightly trickier problem.

With a decline in the modern era of a certain type of primitive masculinity, there has been a resurgence with fictional characters that embody a classical form of maleness.

4. Avoid Passive Voice And Awkward Phrasings

After reading this sentence with and without prepositional and descriptive phrases, the answer still isn’t clear. The next two things to check are the passive voice and awkward phrases. Passive voice is, of course a reversal of normal sentence construction, often using the word “by”. For instance “The ball was thrown by John,” instead of the active “John threw the ball”. Passive voice isn’t always wrong, but it’s often stronger to put a sentence in the active voice. Regardless there aren’t any passive voice issues here. There also aren’t any of the classic indicators of awkward phrasing like “being”, “is because”, or sometimes “having been”. Let’s move on to our last step.

5. Check Idioms, Pronouns, And Modifiers

There aren’t any pronouns, and the introductory clause doesn’t seem out of place (and it isn’t underlined). This leaves only problems of idiom. These can be really tough to spot, but they aren’t impossible. These are generally problems with prepositions, specifically that a preposition doesn’t match the word that comes before it.

There are two phrases with prepositions in the underlined portion: “resurgence with” and “form of”. The phrase “form of” seems alright. You could put that in a different context and would sound fine: “Copying is just another form of flattery.” The phrase “resurgence with”, on the other hand, seems weird: “There has been a resurgence with new orders.” It should be “resurgence of new orders.” Voila! We have identified the idiomatic error!

This one was tough, but by no means impossible. If you use these steps to attack the writing section, nothing can stop you from getting a 700 or beyond on the writing portion of the SAT. YOU GOT THIS! Happy test conquering!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

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The final round of the business school application process is often referred to as “no-man’s land,” with scarce slots still left for b-school hopefuls and time literally running out. Still, there are many who end up applying in round three, some who simply put off the process because they were busy in the fall, or perhaps others who were rejected in round one and are trying one last time. But is it a good idea?

One reason the third or final rounds are so competitive is because applicants in these late rounds are not only competing with fellow applicants, but also with everyone on the waitlist from rounds one and two. This makes for a very difficult and competitive run at one of the few remaining seats.

Since business schools rarely hold out slots for the third round, they are simply left with what they have, and it’s often not much. To make matters worse, we find that many applicants in the third round are highly qualified, since it becomes something of a self-selection process with only the best applicants even bothering with the time or expense it takes to apply, knowing it’s a difficult round.

Still, the third round can indeed be the charm in certain circumstances. For example, if you have some very unique profile characteristics, you could be in luck in the third round, since b-schools now have the luxury of seeing the cultural, academic and professional profile of the soon to be incoming class. In other words, b-schools are now looking for some very specific attributes to fill the few remaining seats in order to round out the class and offer the ideal diversity they seek.

If they find themselves short on women or international students in round three and you fill the bill, you could have an advantage. If they had too many bankers and number crunchers accept their offer and not enough salespeople or non-profit types, you have an edge.

Even if you don’t feel your profile is all that unique, but you have had a significant promotion at work or a key achievement either personally or professionally in the past few weeks, this could be just the bit of juice your profile needed to stand out in the dreaded round three. Regardless, if you find yourself trying to get in during this round, know that whether you succeed or fail, it’s only six months until they release next year’s applications…and re-applicants have a higher rate of admission success.

Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.

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Sequence questions come up fairly regularly on the GMAT quantitative section. One of the biggest problems students report on these questions is that they can’t determine what the terms in sequence should actually be. As such, the first important thing to determine is the value of the first few elements of the sequence. Without this information, the question seems much more abstract and difficult to follow.

What’s important to note is that any sequence is predicated on specific rules. To take a famous example, the Fibonacci sequence is defined as a1 = 1 and a2 = 1, and then for all subsequent terms: an = an-1 + an-2. Breaking through the math, the third term will be the sum of the first and second. The fourth term will be the sum of the second and third, etc. Turning the general an formula into a1 = 1, a2 = 1, a3 = 2, a4 = 3, a5 = 5, a6 = 8, a7 = 13… makes it a lot easier to grasp what is happening in this sequence.

Of course, simply determining the first few elements of a sequence is never sufficient to solve the problem. It is, however, a necessary step towards understanding how to answer the question. Knowing what the sequence looks like is important, because knowing is half the battle (G.I. Joe). There are still potentially other pitfalls that must be avoided, but having the rules of the sequence clearly understood helps avoid some of the clever pitfalls the test makers use to make questions more difficult.

Let’s look at a data sufficiency sequence question that highlights these issues:

The infinite sequence a1, a2, … an, … is such that a1 = x, a2 = y, a3 = z, a4 = 3 and an = an-4 for n > 4. What is the sum of the first 98 terms of the sequence?

(1) x = 5

(2) y + z = 2

(A) Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.

(B) Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.

(C) Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question but neither statement is sufficient alone.

(D) Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.

(E) Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.

Before even looking at the two statements, let’s try and understand what the sequence is telling us about itself. It’s an infinite sequence where the first three terms are the variables x, y and z, and the fourth term is 3. After the fourth term, the numbers simply repeat in the same pattern. So the sequence looks like x, y, z, 3, x, y, z, 3, x, y, z, 3 etc. This helps us figure out what the question is actually asking, which in this case is a sum involving 3 separate variables (x, y and z) and only two statements. (looks like E at this preliminary stage!)

Statement 1 gives us a precise value of x. So basically I now need to know the sum of 5 + 3 + y + z. I still don’t have any value for y or z, so I can’t find an actual value for this sum. Statement 1 will be insufficient because I still have two unknowns.

Statement 2 on its own gives us values of y and z, but only as a sum. Without a value of x, this is still insufficient as the sum of the first four numbers will be x + 2 + 3. Statement 2 will be insufficient, so the answer will be either C or E.

Combining the statements, I have values for x and y + z, and thus if the question is asking x + y + z + 3, I know this must end up being 5 + 2 + 3 = 10. I know with 100% certainty that the sum of the first four terms will be exactly 10. The one caveat to be aware of is that we don’t have values for y and z, only for y + z. So y and z could be 0.5 and 1.5 or they could both be 1 (or -100 and +102) and we’d never know the difference.

This issue may be important to answer the question, as we are being asked for a sum of a number of elements. If they wanted to know the sum of the first element, statement 1 lets us know that it must be 5. If they wanted to know the sum of the first three elements, both statements together confirm that it must be 7. However, if the question was about the sum of the first two elements, then the answer could be 6 or 5.1 or even -95. We cannot determine the sum of the first two numbers with precision. And since this pattern repeats every 4 numbers, we cannot determine the sum of the first six elements, or the first ten elements, etc.

This question in particular is asking for the sum of the first 98 elements, so we must determine whether this is one of the sums that separates y and z. If it does, then we don’t know the exact sum. If it doesn’t, then we have sufficient data to determine the exact sum. The pattern repeats every 4 numbers, so every multiple of 4 will add 10 to the sum. We can use multiples of 4 to quickly determine that the first 40 or the first 80 are easy to calculate. After that, you can just add bounds in 4 to go from 80 to 84 to 88 to 92 to 96. Adding two more numbers would mean adding x and y again, which is the one spot we wanted to avoid. The answer to this question is thus E as we cannot determine the value of y with any certainty whatsoever. Answer choice E is correct in this case.

Had this question been the sum of the first 97 elements, we could have calculated it with certainty (10 x 24 + 5 or 245). Had this question been the sum of the first 99 elements, we could have also calculated it with certainty (10 x 24 + 7 or 247). The sum of this sequence is unclear if the remainder of the division by four is two (same concept as modulo, which isn’t explicitly tested on the GMAT but is nonetheless good to know). On sequence questions, determining the first few elements helps concretize the concept and make the numbers easier to understand. Once you do that, you’ll see your accuracy rate climb as a direct consequence (i.e. con-sequence!).

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam. After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.

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Just as the quality of a stage production or musical performance depends on all of the work that went into months and months of rehearsal before the performance, how successful you are in your business school applications depends a great deal on all of the work you do before you ever start drafting an essay. Remember that your application is a mere snapshot of who you are (and how well you can present yourself) at one point in time. How well that message will be received will partly depend on whether you’re targeting the right schools, and how well MBA admissions officers at those schools see a good fit between you and their institution. And this comes down to knowing how to select the right MBA program for you.

There are at least a dozen factors to consider when researching MBA programs and narrowing down your list of target schools. Some of very mundane, such as the size of a school, and others may be less obvious but no less important, such as whether a business school offers a particular program or specialty that interests you. All of these are valid criteria to consider, and two very reasonable applicants may give different weights to each of them.

Today we’ll break down three criteria that, while not surprising, are absolutely, 100% necessary for you to consider at some point in your business school selection process:

Culture

At full-time programs, you will spend most of two years with your classmates in an intensive learning environment. It therefore matters a great deal how well you fit into a business school’s culture, and how well it fits you. Imagine yourself working with teammates on a group project at 2 AM (it will happen at some point)… You want to make sure you’ll be in a group full of people you like personally and work well with, and you will want to be that same great learning ally for your classmates. And the importance of an MBA program’s culture doesn’t stop there! You will also be part of that school’s alumni network for the rest of your life. You may see your fellow alumni at local and national events, may network with one another for job opportunities, and so on. How well the school’s culture fits you will matter forever.

Without a doubt, the best way to judge a business school’s culture is to visit! Do the tour, sit in on classes, and take advantage of all of the official opportunities the MBA admissions office will provide. Don’t stop there, though. As much as possible, we recommend just wandering around a school, taking a seat in one of the common areas (it’s not hard to blend in as a student at most schools) and just generally “taking in the vibe” at the school. Do students seem glad to see one another? Do people keep to themselves? Do people seem stressed? (This will partly depend on what time of year you visit, naturally.) Take all of this in. And don’t ignore your gut… It’s one of the best measures of a school’s culture that you have at your disposal, and it’s free!

Location

While a great education is a universal language that can benefit you no matter where you are in the world, the fact of the matter is that most business schools will naturally attract far more recruiters from within a 100-mile radius than they will from other regions. At Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, for example, about 60% of 2013 grads ended up in the eastern or southern United States (see Fuqua’s employment statistics). Although the school does attract recruiters from all over the country, it attracts more than its fair share of recruiters from its home region.

This makes sense given that, as strong as Duke’s reputation is, it’s strongest on the East Coast and in the South. If you want to work in Silicon Valley, for example, this definitely does not rule out Fuqua, but pay attention to how many California-based companies recruit at the school. You may end up having to do more hustling on your own to land an interview at one of those companies.

Job Prospects

For most applicants, the number one reason for wanting to attend business school is to improve their job prospects. The job’s the thing, and the first job that grads land after earning their MBA of course has a huge impact on how successful their MBA experience was. I am always amazed by how often an applicant will say that he wants to get into a certain career and wants to go to a certain business school, and when I ask him, “Do you know how many grads the school places in that company/industry?” the applicant will have no idea. When I ask, “Do you know which companies recruited at the school last year?” I usually get a similar response.

Of course, that’s where we come in as MBA admissions experts, but you absolutely have a duty as an applicant to know what type of job search you’re in for, depending on the school you attend and the career you want to pursue. If your target company or industry is not well represented in on-campus interviews at a certain MBA program, that doesn’t mean that the school is a bad fit for you. But, if you arrive on campus and only then learn that your dream company doesn’t come to your campus for recruiting, then you have made a huge mistake in the business school selection process. Fortunately, most schools publish this information online (and LinkedIn is a tremendously valuable research tool if you want to quickly find Chicago Booth grads at Morgan Stanley, for example). You have many resources at your disposal… Be sure to use them!

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The Winter Olympics start tonight in Sochi, and while journalists tweet about the less-than-ideal living conditions in the Russian resort town the athletes themselves have a job to do. Whether they’re skiing or luging or bobsledding, the vast majority of athletes will share one goal:

Get downhill quickly.

On GMAT Sentence Correction problems, that should be your goal, too. Olympians will get downhill quickly by focusing all their momentum and vision to the bottom of the mountain, and on Sentence Correction you’ll want to focus most of your attention “downhill” on the answer choices.

What does that mean?

While the “top of the mountain” – the original sentence itself – is certainly important, keeping your eyes downhill toward the answer choices is the best way to notice the decisions that the GMAT is asking you to make. Paying attention to differences in the answer choices will help you to determine which portions of the prompt are most important.

For example, consider these fragments of answer choices:

(A) …..have been

(B) …..has been

(C) …..had been

(D) …..have been

(E) …..has been

If you’re reading a 40-word sentence, it’s helpful to know beforehand that the two most important things here are:

has been vs. have been – Subject/Verb Agreement. Make sure you find the subject of the verb!

had been vs. has/have been – Verb Tense / Logical Timeline. Make sure that you assess the timeline of events with an eye for “is this event still happening” (if so, eliminate “had been”) or “is this event over (if so, the answer is C)

Or consider this example:

(A) which….

(B) and which….

(C) which…..

(D) and which…

(E) which….

Here there’s one primary decision you need to make – is there a previous “which” phrase in the non-underlined portion that you need to link to the answer choice with “and which”, or not?

The answer choices in Sentence Correction problems quite often give away at least one of the primary decisions that you’ll need to make, so if you glance at the answer choices for an obvious decision you can save quite a bit of time and energy by hunting specifically for the word or phrase that controls that decision and not by reading the original sentence hoping to stumble on it.

In short, keep your eyes downhill when attempting Sentence Correction problems, looking at the answer choices for obvious differences like:

Verb differences

Pronoun differences

Singular/plural noun differences

The presence vs. absence or difference between connector words (like “and”, “or”, “but”, etc.)

Notable differences between the first and last words of each answer choice

When you see obvious differences, go back to the prompt with that decision point in mind. Looking downhill is the most efficient way to win the race, whether you’re Julia Mancuso in the Olympic downhill or a GMAT student on an SC question. Go to the answer choices; go for the gold.

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We have talked about quite a few concepts involving absolute value of x in our previousposts. But some absolute value questions involve two variables. Then do we need to consider the positive and negative values of both x and y? Certainly! But there are some properties of absolute value that could come in handy in such questions. Let’s take a look at them:

(I) For all real x and y, |x + y| <= |x| + |y|

(II) For all real x and y, |x – y| >= |x| – |y|

We don’t need to learn them of course and there is no need to look at how to prove them either. All we need to do is understand them – why do they hold, when is the equality sign applicable and when can they be useful. Let’s look at both the properties one by one.

(I) For all real x and y, |x + y| <= |x| + |y|

The result of both the left hand side and the right hand side will be positive or zero. On the right hand side, the absolute values of x and y will always get added irrespective of the signs of x and y. On the left hand side, the absolute values of x and y might get added or subtracted depending on whether they have the same sign or different signs. Hence the result of the left hand side might be smaller than or equal to that of the right hand side.

For which values of x and y will the equality hold and for which values will the inequality hold? Let’s think logically about it.

The absolute values of x and y get added on the right hand side. We want the absolute values of x and y to get added on the left hand side too for the equality to hold. This will happen when x and y have the same sign. So the equality should hold when they have the same signs.

For example, x = 4, y = 8:

|4 + 8| = |4| + |8| = 12

OR x = -3, y = -4:

|-3 -4| = |-3| + |-4| = 7

Also, when at least one of x and y is 0, the equality will hold.

For example, x = 0, y = 8:

|0 + 8| = |0| + |8| = 8

OR x = -3, y = 0:

|-3 + 0| = |-3| + |0| = 3

What happens when x and y have opposite signs? On the left hand side, the absolute values of x and y get subtracted hence the left hand side will be smaller than the right hand side (where they still get added). That is when the inequality holds i.e. |x + y| < |x| + |y|

For example, x = -4, y = 8:

|-4 + 8| < |-4| + |8|

4 < 12

OR x = 3, y = -4:

|3 -4| < |3| + |-4|

1 < 7

Let’s look at our second property now:

(II) For all real x and y, |x – y| >= |x| – |y|

Thinking on similar lines as above, we see that the right hand side of the inequality will always lead to subtraction of the absolute values of x and y whereas the left hand side could lead to addition or subtraction depending on the signs of x and y. The left hand side will always be positive whereas the right hand side could be negative too. So in any case, the left hand side will be either greater than or equal to the right hand side.

When will the equality hold?

When x and y have the same sign and x has greater (or equal) absolute value than y, both sides will yield a positive result which will be the difference between their absolute values

For example, x = 9, y = 2;

|9 – 2| = |9| – |2| = 7

OR x = -7, y = -3

|-7 – (-3)| = |-7| – |-3| = 4

Also when y is 0, the equality will hold.

For example, x = 8, y = 0:

|8 – 0| = |8| – |0| = 8

OR x = -3, y = 0:

|-3 – 0| = |-3| – |0| = 3

What happens when x and y have the same sign but absolute value of y is greater than that of x?

It is easy to see that in that case both sides have the same absolute value but the right hand side becomes negative.

For example, x = -4, y = -9

|x – y| = |-4 – (-9)| = 5

|x| – |y| = |-4| – |-9| = -5

So even though the absolute values will be the same since we will get the difference of the absolute values of x and y on both sides, the right hand side will be negative. If we were to take further absolute value of the right hand side, the two will become equal i.e. the right hand side will become |(|x| – |y|)| = |-5| = 5 in our example above. In that case, the equality will hold again.

Similarly, what happens when only x = 0? The right hand side becomes negative again so taking further absolute value will make both sides equal.

So when we take further absolute value of the right hand side, this property becomes similar to property 1 above: |x – y| = |(|x| – |y|)| when x and y have the same sign or at least one of x and y is 0.

Now let’s look at the inequality part of property 2.

Whenever x and y have opposite signs, |x – y| > |x| – |y|

On the left hand side, the absolute values will get added while on the right hand side, the absolute values will get subtracted. So the absolute value of the left hand side will always be greater than the absolute value of the right hand side. The left hand side will always be positive while the right hand side could be negative too. Hence even if we take the further absolute value of the right hand side, the inequality will hold: |x – y| > |(|x| – |y|)| when x and y have opposite signs

For example, x = -4, y = 8:

|-4 – 8| > |-4| – |8|

12 > -4

Taking further absolute value of the right hand side, we get |(|x| – |y|)| = |-4| = 4

Still, 12 > 4 i.e. |x – y| > |(|x| – |y|)|

OR x = 3, y = -4:

|3 –(-4)| > |3| – |-4|

7 > -1

Taking further absolute value of the right hand side, we get |(|x| – |y|)| = |-1| = 1

Still, 7 > 1 i.e. |x – y| > |(|x| – |y|)|

Note that the inequality of the original property 2 also holds when x and y have the same sign but absolute value of y is greater than the absolute value of x since the right hand side becomes negative. It also holds when x is 0 but y is not.

To sum it all neatly,

(I) For all real x and y, |x + y| <= |x| + |y|

|x + y| = |x| + |y| when (1) x and y have the same sign (2) at least one of x and y is 0.

|x + y| < |x| + |y| when (1) x and y have opposite signs

(II) For all real x and y, |x – y| >= |x| – |y|

|x – y| = |x| – |y|when (1) x and y have the same sign and x has greater (or equal) absolute value than y (2) y is 0

|x – y| > |x| – |y| in all other cases

(III) For all real x and y, |x – y| >= |(|x| – |y|)|

|x – y| = |(|x| – |y|)| when (1) x and y have the same sign (2) at least one of x and y is 0.

|x – y| > |(|x| – |y|)| when (1) x and y have opposite signs

Note that property (III) matches property (I).

There is another property we would like to discuss but let’s take it up next week along with some GMAT questions where we put these properties to use.

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!

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We find that many applicants consider applying for top MBA programs in the 3rd or final round, but hesitate because they feel there is absolutely no chance for them to be admitted. It’s true that 90% or more of the spots in an MBA class are already taken, but Veritas Prep has a proven track record of success for successful Round 3 applications.

You might think, “If my chances are so slim in Round 3, shouldn’t I just wait and use an admissions consultant for Round 1 of next year?” We have developed the Veritas Prep Round 3 Guarantee to help take the risk out of this decision.

Round 3 Guarantee

Here’s how it works: if you purchase any Comprehensive School Package, you’re eligible for our Round 3 Guarantee. You will begin working immediately with your Head Consultant™ who has formal admissions experience at a top-tier MBA program. They’ll bring their insider’s perspective to offer insights around your profile strengths and weaknesses, school selection, recommenders, resume, application strategy, essays—the works! After considering their advice, if you aren’t 100% confident in your Round 3 application, we’ll continue working with you for Round 1 applications of next year for no additional charge!

If I’m not admitted, then what?

If you decide to submit your Round 3 applications and aren’t admitted, our guarantee still has you covered. First, we’ll conduct a rejection analysis to provide suggestions on ways that you could improve your profile in the few months ahead of Round 1 applications for the following year. Re-applicants to top programs such as Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, Wharton and others are typically admitted at higher rates than first-time applicants, but you’ll need to show some kind of improvement. Are there some extracurricular activities that you could get more involved with? Coursework that you could complete? Professional responsibilities that you could volunteer to take on? Ways to tell your story in a slightly different way? New areas of your profile to emphasize?

If you choose to re-apply in Round 1, the admissions officer will almost always review your previous application and new application together, so it’s important to offer additional insights the second time around. This doesn’t mean your first application was bad—you simply need to offer something new for the admissions committee to evaluate! Not to worry, Veritas Prep will provide a free application review for your re-applications and offer additional suggestions for improvement.

Finally, if you seek to improve your GMAT score between your Round 3 app and your Round 1 re-application, we’ll offer our Veritas Prep On Demand course for free (a $550 value)! Not only will you have access to all 12 GMAT prep lessons, but all of our online resources, industry-leading practice exams and thousands of GMAT practice problems at your fingertips. Admissions officers say that a low GMAT score is the #1 reason candidates are rejected, and improving your score can be a key part in a successful re-application (if necessary).

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 defer to Round 1 next fall, Veritas Prep has you covered every step of the way! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 or email info@veritasprep.com if you have additional questions about your Round 3 applications. Best of luck no matter what you decide!

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011.

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If you have an impassioned desire to probe the far reaches of deep space, get chills at the thought of programming DNA for molecular robots, or long to one day win a Nobel Prize, then Caltech may be the school for you. California Institute of Technology, located in Pasadena, California, is a premier private research university whose mission it is to “expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education.”

When you go to the homepage of most colleges, the information you find there is about the logistics of the college. When you go to the California Institute of Technology website, the homepage presents beautiful color photos linked to news stories about all the things the school and those associated with it are accomplishing and discovering. There is a lot going on here! Caltech is also home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which in itself is astounding. This school has a long history of accomplishments; they don’t just give lip service to their mission, they put 100% action behind it. Caltech alumni and faculty have amassed 32 Nobel Prizes among 31 recipients. Even Einstein dropped by campus for a visit in 1931. Their ongoing dedication to excellence in science and technology is unsurpassed.

Student housing at Caltech is one of the more unusual arrangements among elite colleges. The school has a house system where most of their 900+ undergraduate students live in on-campus houses. There are seven houses on campus divided into two groups. On the north end of campus are four 1920s Spanish-style houses named Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, and Ricketts. Students who live in those houses are referred to as Moles, Darbs, Flems, and Scurves. On the south end of the campus are three 1950s modern-style houses named Lloyd, Page, and Ruddock; their inhabitants are called Lloydies, Pageboys, and Rudds. All students are required to be associated with one of the seven houses. Incoming freshmen participate in “Rotation” the first week of school and visit each of the seven houses. They choose their top four; houses hold a kind of NFL draft situation to choose who will be in each house.

If your main goal in going to college is to play college sports, then this may not be the school for you. The Division III school has losing records in nearly every sport year after year. Aside from 1944 when the football team went undefeated during a season cut short by war with a team stacked with Stanford players, they have arguably one of the worst college football teams. One sports website joked Caltech students’ average IQ of 140 approached their weight – a great statistic for one of the best colleges in the nation, not so great for sports. Caltech, however, plays to their strength, which is brilliance. In 1961, they pulled off perhaps the greatest college prank ever at the Pasadena Rose Bowl when they tricked Washington Huskies fans into turning over flip-cards at halftime that spelled out CALTECH in front of 33 million TV viewers.

If you are lacking a sense of humor, Caltech is definitely not the place for you. It’s impossible to put this much brainpower in a single location and expect them not to use it for a little fun from time to time. Although the 1961 Rose Bowl prank was their most famous (so far), they have a long tradition of pranks, so much so that it has become part of their identity. In 1984, they manipulated the scoreboard to read Caltech and MIT as the opponents during the Rose Bowl game. In 1987, they changed the Hollywood sign to read Caltech on Hollywood’s 100th birthday. In 2005, they even flew across the country to longtime rival MIT and pranked incoming freshmen. In fact, you can read all about their long list of pranks in Legends of Caltech, Volumes I, II, and III. If you don’t have the time to read all three volumes, you can just watch the 1985 movie Real Genius, where Pacific Tech is loosely based on the school.

Brilliance, excellence, dedication, hard work, and a sense of humor are all you need to attend Caltech. Join others in changing the world for the better, while still remembering to have a little fun.

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It’s that time of year again! The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) has launched the 2014 edition of its business school applicant survey. If you are applying to business school now, or have recently been admitted and plan on starting an MBA program in 2014, you could win $500 just for spending 5 minutes completingthis survey!

Why does AIGAC run this survey every year? AIGAC is an industry group representing admissions consultants all over the world, and the organization gathers this data every year to help its member consultants better serve their clients. Also, the data that AIGAC gathers is — 100% anonymously — shared with business school admissions officers, who are always eager to gain more insights into how business school applicants research and choose MBA programs. (You can see last year’s survey results here.)

One lucky survey participant will be randomly selected to win $500. But you only can win if you complete the survey, so do it now! You can access the survey here.

Thanks in advance for helping us serve our clients better, and good luck!

ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors