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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2014, 12:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Your 700 GMAT Score is Relative
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It has been said that everything is relative. Without getting too deep into the theory put forth by my friend Al(bert Einstein), your relative position and situation shapes your perception of things. A very common example of this is when students ask me “what difficulty level is this question?” I may find a question difficult and proclaim it’s a 700 level question. Another question seems more straightforward so I deem it a 500 level question. Granted, I have some credibility vis-a-vis GMAT difficulty level, but my opinion will be tainted by my relative strengths. I tend to consider arithmetic problems as simple and geometry problems as difficult primarily because of my personal preferences and abilities.

Conversely, some elements can be considered universal. A universal element is one that won’t change, regardless of the observer’s bias. A simple example of this is 2 + 2 = 4. There really isn’t much variance in a question like this. A casual GMAT student might think this is trivial, but a 3 year old may struggle immensely with the concept as it is new to him or her. Neither of these observations changes the universal fact that 2 + 2 = 4 (or possibly 5, for extremely large values of 2).

This concept can come in handy in some fairly unexpected situations. For example: when evaluating errors in sentence correction on the GMAT. Let’s look at an example and employ the above strategy to quickly zero in on the correct answer:

While the nurses frantically searched for his parents to collect his vital information, the injured boy calmly explained to the doctor that his blood type was O positive.

(A)   the injured boy calmly explained to the doctor that his blood type was O positive

(B)   the injured boy had calmly explained to the doctor that his blood type was O positive

(C)   the boy was injured and explained that his blood type is O positive to the doctor

(D)   the boy, who was injured, calmly explained to the doctor that his blood type was O positive

(E)    the injured boy calmly explained to the doctor that his blood type is O positive

Now what does this question tell us (apart from borderline neglectful parenting)? The boy was injured at some point and then explained things to the doctor while the nurses tried to call the parents. The timeline makes perfect sense in this regard, and therefore we can look through the answer choices for any contradictions to this timeline. Answer choice C will be eliminated for this reason as it indicates that the boy was injured while the nurses tried to call his parents, creating a nonsensical timeline. Why would the nurses call the boy’s parents if he were fine? Clearly he would have to have been injured before any calls were made (even if they were collect calls).

This leaves us with four viable answer choices. Looking at them one by one, answer choice A seems reasonable, but answer choice D says exactly the same thing in almost the exact same way. It will therefore be hard to differentiate between these two choices. Answer choice B incorrectly messes with the timeline as well, so it can be eliminated. Answer choice E is exactly the same as the initial sentence with the verb tense updated to the present. This is a clear decision point as only one of the two answer choices can be correct. To determine which one is correct, we need to revisit the concept of universality.

Compare the following two sentences:

“In 2010, I moved to Montreal, which was an island”

and

“In 2010, I moved to Montreal, which is an island”

Since the move was several years ago, it makes sense that the verb “moved” is in the past. However, Montreal was an island in 2010, and is still an island in 2013 (although half the bridges are now falling down). Using the past here is only correct if something happened in the interim to change the status of Montreal. For example, had Montreal been destroyed, Krakatau style, then the first sentence would have been correct. Since Montreal is still here, nothing has changed since the move, and the present tense is correct.

Going back to the injured boy, since he is in the process of explaining his blood type to the doctor, he clearly isn’t deceased, which would have been the only justification for using the past tense. As such, the boy is fine and he is still O positive, a universal truth that will not spontaneously change. Answer choice E is correct because Answer choices A and D both erroneously use the past tense.

When evaluating universal truths, it is important to keep in mind that unchangeable elements will always remain in the present. When dealing with transitory elements, the timeline must be consistent with a changing reality.  When dealing with something as intractable as blood types, you can be positive (which is my blood type!) that they will never change.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2014, 08:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Goodbye to “No, But...” and Hello to “Yes, And...”
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It’s a new year, which is often a good time for a new mindset.  And if you’ve already decided that 2014 is the year for you to get serious about graduate school, the “hard work pays off” mindset is one you’ve already adopted.  So before the year gets too old and habits get too hard to change, try adding one more new outlook to your study regimen (and your life) this year:

“Yes, and…”

A common mantra for improv acting and comedy, “Yes, and…” is immensely helpful when studying, too, mostly because it replaces the single most counterproductive mindset in all of GMAT Preparation, “No, but…”

Here’s the difference: in improv shows, a “no, but” response shuts the scene down and makes it an argument between the actors.  When an improv actor makes a decision she has to go with it; if she wants to play the NYPD cop with a British accent, her costar can’t try to counteract it “No, but my character needs you to have a Brooklyn accent!”.  The scene would die and the audience would either be confused or just plain ticked off.  ”Yes, and…” allows the costar to accept that choice – the British accent – and create an interesting scene (“Yes, and I have a Boston accent…what do Brits and Bostonians have in common? They both hate the Yankees…”).

“No, but” similarly shuts down your learning capacity. “No, but” is defensive and combative – when students get a wrong answer they often try to debate it, either with their teacher or the solution in the book: “No but I thought you always had to…” or “No but I divided by x and got…”.  In those cases you’re forgetting that your goal in GMAT preparation isn’t to be right on every practice question, but instead to learn from every question so that you’re right more often on test day.  ”Yes, and…” is the philosophy of saying “yes, I see that the answer is D and here is how the test is twisting my logic against me” or “Yes this seems to violate the rule I was applying and here’s the reason that the rule doesn’t apply here.”

“Yes, and…” accepts that the test is hard but learnable, that you know you’ll make mistakes but you’re ready to learn from them and work to improve.  And “Yes, and…” fits the GMAT perfectly well – the “no, but” mentality usually stems from either adherence to “rules” that are either tendencies more so than rules (“being” is usually wrong on Sentence Correction, but it’s definitely not a rule) or limited-use rules that the GMAT will tempt you with when they don’t apply (you can always divide both sides of an equation by a variable UNLESS that variable could be 0).

The “no, but” response is one that tries to disprove the test, to know more than the test/teacher/book – and *sometimes* you’ll be right, but way, way more often you’ll be missing an important point that is much easier absorbed with a “yes, and” mentality.  Because the GMAT isn’t a cram-and-regurgitate test, but rather a test of reasoning and critical thinking, “no but”ing your way through practice problems can leave you mired in a memorization state when you could be learning to think more critically and pick up on tendencies of the test.

So adopt a new mindset for the new year – “yes, and” is a powerful way to get the most out of your studies and other facets of your life.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? Try our own new, 100% computer-adaptive GMAT practice test and see how you do. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin
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

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2014, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Converting Non-Terminating Repeating Decimals to Fractions
ImageLast week we discussed the properties of terminating decimals. We also discussed that non-terminating but repeating decimals are rational numbers.

For GMAT, we must know how to convert these non-terminating repeating decimals into rational numbers. We know how to do vice versa i.e. given a rational number, we can divide the numerator by the denominator to find its decimal equivalent.

 

For example:

1/3 = 0.333333333… (infinite number of 3s)

But given 0.555555555…, how will you convert it to its exact fraction equivalent?

Take a look at this file: Non-terminating Decimals

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!
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

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2014, 08:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Our 2013 Predictions: How Did We Do?
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And just like that, a whole year has flown by again! Last January, we posted four predictions for the world of test prep and admissions. As fun as it is to make predictions, and it’s even more rewarding to look back at some point and see how we did. (“Oh my… We predicted THAT would happen?”) If you predict enough things, some of them will eventually happen, right?

In all seriousness, we enjoy this exercise because it helps to keep us sharp and on top of the trends in our world. So let’s get to it and see how we fared with our 2013 predictions:

At least one Top 20 MBA program will introduce an all-online MBA program.

Nailed it! Last fall, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business launched its FlexMBA program, enrolling 29 MBA students in its first cohort. So far, by all accounts the program has been a success, and Tepper has already announced that it plans to double the size of the program in 2014. Robert T. Monroe, director of Tepper’s online program, told Poets & Quants, “We believe steady state is between 60 and 100 incoming students a year and we expect to get to the lower end of that.” If you’re wondering if we met the “top 20″ requirement, U.S. News currently ranks Tepper 19th among U.S. MBA programs (and Tepper is a terrific business school).

Repeated “irregularities” in how some schools have reported data will bring about some changes in college and grad school rankings.

Unfortunately, not much movement happened on this front. Although we continued to see some heads rolling from previous “irregularities,” no significant changes were made to college or grad school rankings to directly combat these types of issues. It is worth noting that U.S. News announced some of the biggest changes to its college rankings in years, these were not the type of changes that are likely to completely remove schools’ temptation to fudge the numbers.

The idea that “test takers should not worry much about Integrated Reasoning” will die out.

This is happening slowly but surely, but it’s hard for ourselves to give us a hit on this one. While Veritas Prep students understand the importance of Integrated Reasoning (not only for the GMAT, but also for success in business school and beyond), we still see many applicants who downplay the importance of the newest section of the GMAT. MBA admissions officers are still at least partly to blame — remember that GMAT scores are good for five years, and application readers are still seeing many official scores that don’t include IR scores — but they’re steadily coming around. Give it another year or two.

Testing year 2013 will show a drop in GMAT volume.

We nailed this one, for certain. Not long ago the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) shared its data for testing year 2013 (the one-year period ending June 30, 2013), and sure enough, that was a double-digit percentage drop in test-taking volume vs. the previous year. Testing year 2013 saw 48,000 fewer GMATs taken, a drop of 17% compared to 2012. That’s a huge drop! However, go back and read our post from last year, and you will immediately understand why: Because of the uncertainly around the new Integrated Reasoning section, thousands of potential GMAT takers hurried up and took the exam earlier than they otherwise would have. If it weren’t for that, we expect that GMAT volume would have been mostly flat compared to the previous year.

So there you have it: Two right and two wrong. If this were Major League Baseball, we’d be sporting a gaudy .500 batting average, and Jay-Z would probably want to be our agent. Not too shabby.

Tune in next week to hear our predictions for 2014!

By Scott Shrum
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

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2014, 11:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Be Specific in Your Answer Choices
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Once again there are two answer choices that seem equally alluring and dangerous.  You know your stuff: the answer is always in the passage, but as you look at the two choices with growing unease you remember both statements being discussed.  Which one is it? Which one is supreme!

This is a common situation that many students face during the reading comprehension section of the SAT.  The first and golden rule of the SAT reading section is that the answer is always in the passage.  If the passage doesn’t mention it, or accomplish the task that the question indicates, it is NOT the correct answer.  However, our understanding cannot stop here!  It is not just mentioning something in the passage that makes an answer choice correct, it is the presence of evidence to support that the answer choice is 100% true in the section being referenced.

Now this is only true for line specific questions.  If the question is asking about the passage as a whole, it is important to examine what the MAIN purpose of the passage is (usually stated or implied in the first or second paragraph). If, however, the passage indicates a specific section, it is important to think about THAT SECTION and what that section is actually doing in the context of the passage.

The SAT often frames questions in terms of the main purpose of a section is or what role it serves in the passage.  Let’s look at an example: Say you have a passage that is attempting to argue that studies which show that organic produce is radically different from conventional produce are inconclusive (quite a claim!).

The lines 10-13 “The evidence…our society” primarily serve to:

a. Disprove a common belief

b. Support a claim with concrete evidence

c. Discredit a theory

d. Imply the current agricultural framework is inherently better than alternatives

e. Show that there is no discernible difference between conventional and organic produce

“10 The evidence provided thus far is oblique because of its too broad scope. It is impossible to draw a useful conclusion of any kind, let alone one that is so specific as to imply a complete change in the agricultural framework of our society.”

Let’s start eliminating choices.

Answer choice a. states that there is some common belief being disproved. Firstly, it is very hard to disprove ANYTHING. Secondly, there is no “common belief” being discussed.

Answer choice b. is a could answer.  You could argue that this section is supporting the author’s theory, but there is no concrete evidence in THIS section of the passage. Concrete evidence consists of statistics or studies with real data that support a claim. There may be some concrete evidence later or before this section, but the question is asking about THIS section.

Answer choice c. we will keep for now.

Answer choice d. is a little out of left field.  It should be pretty obvious that comparing different “agricultural frameworks” is not mentioned in the passage.

Answer choice e. is close to the main thesis of the passage so this feels like a good answer, but is it really?

The question then becomes: is e. specifically argued by lines 10 -13? We see that the statements in this section are pointing out problems with studies (presumably ones used to argue against the author’s point of view) and to thus undermine the theory it supports.  The author is discrediting the studies which in turn discredits the theory.  This particular section does not just serve to reiterate the thesis; it serves to accomplish the specific goal of showing problems with a counter theory to the author’s own. In other words: to discredit a theory.

The final thing to be mindful of is specificity.  What is REALLY being argued or stated in a section?  The stated thesis of the passage was to argue that certain studies were inconclusive.  This is actually different from showing that these studies are wrong.  Thus, if we really look at the final answer choice e., we see that not even the passage as a whole is arguing what that the two kinds of plants are the same, so we see it is critically important to make sure that we are very specific and examine every word of a potential answer choice. Once we understand the choices, it is much easier to see which one is supported by the part of the passage being referenced. Good luck SAT warriors!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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.
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

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2014, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Make Abstract Data Sufficiency Questions More Concrete
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On data sufficiency problems, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the abstract possibilities presented by the question. Since you don’t actually have to calculate an exact solution, frequently you are faced with problems that would be too tedious to solve without a calculator. However, just because you don’t have to actually solve them, doesn’t mean it isn’t comforting to do so when faced with abstract problems (just add a little concrete).

As a simple example, consider a question that tells you that Y is the product of the first four prime numbers. You don’t actually need to calculate that it’s 2 x 3 x 5 x 7 = 210, but it’s quick enough that you aren’t handicapped by executing the math either. Then, instead of thinking of the abstract number Y, you can always just replace it with 210. Sometimes, something as innocuous as this can help make abstract problems much more palpable.

Let’s look at an actual GMAT Data Sufficiency problem that highlights this issue:

A collection of 36 cards consists of 4 sets of 9 cards each. The 9 cards in each set are numbered 1 through 9. If one card has been removed from the collection, what is the number on that card?

(1) The units digit of the sum of the numbers on the remaining 35 cards is 6.

(2) The sum of the numbers on the remaining 35 cards is 176.

(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.

In this question, we are tasked with determining whether we can accurately predict the card that has been removed from an arbitrary set based on what’s left. (Statistically, it’s the ace of clubs!) Without doing any math, your inkling might be that it’s solvable, because removing one specific value from a larger specific value should leave yet another specific value. However, this is the type of problem where you’re likely to start second guessing yourself and you might oscillate from D to E to C. To avoid this type of indecision, let’s just calculate the actual values of the variables!

If there are 4 sets of 9 cards each, with each card being numbered from 1 to 9, then we can easily calculate the sum of each set. The brute force approach of adding 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 = 45 will work, but is slow and error-prone. A better solution is to identify that these are consecutive integers, which means the mean will be equal to the median. Since the median is clearly 5, the mean must be 5 as well. Combining with the formula that total = mean x number of elements and we have a sum of 5 x 9 = 45. Since each set is identical, the sum of each set is 45, and the total sum of the four sets is 45 x 4 = 180.

So the mystery abstract sum the question set up is actually 180. It cannot be any other number, and as such we can stop referring to it as X (or Y or the other), and start referring to it as 180. Let’s now evaluate the statements one at a time:

Statement 1 says that the units digit of the sum of the numbers on the remaining 35 cards is 6. This means that the value of the subtracted card must be 4, as all cards have a single-digit value. No other card value would leave a units digit of 6 (smaller than 14) for the sum of the remaining numbers, so 4 must be the subtracted number. Statement 1 is sufficient on its own.

Statement 2 says that the sum of the numbers on the remaining 35 cards is 176. This is very similar to statement 1, and it even gives more detail! If the sum was 180, then you’d have to subtract 4 to get to 176. This again confirms that the missing card is a 4, nothing else will do. Statement 2 is equally sufficient.

Unsurprisingly, since statements 1 and 2 are so similar, they produce either an answer of D or E. In this instance, each statement alone provided enough information to get the correct answer. In data sufficiency, it’s important to know that you don’t have to calculate these sums to answer questions, but you certainly can if you want to make sure you have the GMAT’s number.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2014, 15:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Keep the Bridge Clear and Your Score High
Image
The GMAT, it seems, is a lot like politics:

-You can’t win them all – in fact, with Item Response Theory scoring much like with democracy you can achieve a resounding “victory” with even 55-60% success in many cases.

-You’ll have gaffes and blunders along the way and you’ll have no choice but to recover from them as best you can.

-You’ll have to think quickly on your feet and make sound, logical decisions with incomplete information and in less-than-ideal circumstances.

-You’ll need to make compromises – you might be able to get a question right in 4-5 minutes but you’ll need to make the conscious decision to let that one go in favor of having more “capital” (time) to spend on future questions.

-And when you do succeed, the rewards last for a long term (2-6 years in politics; 5 years is how long your GMAT score stays valid).

So when thinking about the GMAT and how to approach it, it’s only reasonable that you might consider the example of Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge.

Allegedly, Chris Christie became so fixated on a setback (the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ did not publicly endorse Christie for NJ Governor) that in the end didn’t matter (Christie still won in a landslide) that he allowed it not just to clog his mind but also cloud his judgment, clogging the heavily-trafficked George Washington Bridge into New York City as “punishment” for the citizens of Fort Lee. And in so doing, Christie followed the not-so-successful example of GMAT test takers everywhere:

When the GMAT deals you a setback, don’t let it shut down the whole system – keep the bridge clear!

Just across the bridge from Fort Lee in Manhattan, a Veritas Prep student (to preserve her anonymity, let’s call her “Christie”) Chris Christied her way out of a 700+ score a few years ago. Here’s the transcript (well, re-enactment) of her call to VP headquarters after her test:

CHRISTIE:Can someone please help me? I just finished the GMAT and I don’t know what to do or where to go from here.

INSTRUCTOR: Sure, yeah – tell me how the test went for you and we’ll see if we can figure out what went wrong.

CHRISTIE:I was getting above 700 on all my practice tests and I got a 590 today. I don’t know what to do. What happened?

INSTRUCTOR: Well let’s start breaking it down. Tell me about the quant section – did you run out of time? Can you pinpoint a question or two that you think may be responsible for getting you down?

CHRISTIE:It honestly felt great for the first 25 questions or so. My pacing was good – I actually had a little more time than I thought so I could double-check some answers and spend some extra time drawing out geometry figures. But then around question 30 I noticed a couple easy questions in a row since the test is adaptive I knew that meant I was doing poorly. I tried to stay focused but after all that hard work, to know that I blew it, I just couldn’t. I finished the section – I guessed on the last two because I just couldn’t focus now – and that’s when I knew that it was over.

INSTRUCTOR: Wow, ok – that’s frustrating because it sounded like everything had been going really well. I understand how that must have felt.

CHRISTIE:It was terrible. I ran to the bathroom during the break and just started crying. All that hard work, all those practice tests… I know the break is for 8 minutes but I couldn’t tell how long I was in there. I didn’t want to go back into the test room still crying, but every time I thought I could stop and go back to finish the test – to at least see my verbal score – I’d start crying again. By the time I got back to my seat the verbal clock had already been running and I lost probably 4-5 minutes.

INSTRUCTOR: Wow, so it sounds like things really went downhill. I’m so sorry for you. Do you remember much from the verbal section?

CHRISTIE: I tried to read but I was still shaking a little from crying and my eyes were blurry, plus I was so far behind on time. I guessed on a few because I just couldn’t focus, and then by the time I could compose myself again the questions were really, really easy and that got me teared up again. I couldn’t even try on Reading Comp – I couldn’t focus long enough on a passage to really get through it, so I guessed on just about all of those and probably most of the Critical Reasoning. It was bad – I was just so upset for having blown it like that.

INSTRUCTOR: So wait – you basically didn’t even do the verbal section, but your score was still a 590 right?

CHRISTIE: Yes.

INSTRUCTOR: That’s almost a full standard deviation above average. What was your split between quant and verbal?

CHRISTIE: Um, I think it was about 88th percentile quant and maybe 5th percentile verbal. That part was really bad.

INSTRUCTOR: So think about that, though – your verbal was terrible because you were so upset for having bombed the quant, but you didn’t bomb the quant at all. You had a great quant section!

CHRISTIE: Oh…I hadn’t thought about it like that.

INSTRUCTOR: My advice for next time, Christie – you have to let it go even if you know you made a mistake or feel like you’re struggling. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself!

 

What can we learn from Christie in Manhattan? Don’t let setbacks hold you back. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow (or the next question). Don’t let a setback clog your mind or clog the bridge – we have to keep moving forward. Whether your goal is an 800 or a 1600 (Pennsylvania Avenue), you won’t get that by dwelling on the past or focusing on the little bumps in the road on your way there. You have to keep the bridge – and your mind – clear.

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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2014, 09:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Deal with Maximizing/Minimizing Strategies on the GMAT
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We haven’t dealt with maximizing/minimizing strategies in our QWQWseries yet (except in sets). The reason for this is that the strategy to be used varies from question to question. What works in one question may not work in another. You might have to think up on what to do in a question from scratch and you have only 2 mins to do it in. The saving grace is that once you know what you have to do, the actual work involved to arrive at the answer is very little.

Let’s look at some maximizing minimizing strategies in the next few weeks. We start with an OG question today with a convoluted question stem.

Question: List T consists of 30 positive decimals, none of which is an integer, and the sum of the 30 decimals is S. The estimated sum of the 30 decimals, E, is defined as follows. Each decimal in T whose tenths digit is even is rounded up to the nearest integer, and each decimal in T whose tenths digits is odd is rounded down to the nearest integer. If 1/3 of the decimals in T have a tenths digit that is even, which of the following is a possible value of E – S?

I. -16

II. 6

III. 10

A. I only

B. I and II only

C. I and III only

D. II and III only

E. I, II, and III

Solution:

There is a lot of information in the question stem and a lot of variables are explained. Let’s review the given data in our own words first.

T has 30 decimals. The sum of all the decimals is S.

10 decimals have even tenths digit. They will be rounded up.

20 decimals have odd tenths digit. They will be rounded down.

The sum of rounded numbers is E.

E – S can take many values so how do we figure which ones it cannot take? We need to find the minimum value E – S can take and the maximum value it can take. That will help us figure out the values that E – S cannot take. Note that E could be greater than S and it could be less than S. So E – S could be positive or negative.

Step 1: Getting Minimum Value of E – S

Let’s try to make E as small as possible. For that, we need to do two things:

1. When we round up the decimals (even tenths digit), the difference between actual and estimate should be very small. The estimate should add a very small number to round it up so that E is not much greater than S. Say the numbers are something similar to 3.8999999 (the tenths digit is the largest even digit) and they will be rounded up to 4 i.e. the estimate gains about 0.1 per number. Since there are 10 even tenths digit numbers, the estimate will be approximately .1*10 = 1 more than actual.

2. When we round down the decimals (odd tenths digit), the difference between actual and estimate should be as large as possible. Say the numbers are something similar to 3.999999 (tenths digit is the largest odd digit) and they will be rounded down to 3 i.e. the estimate loses approximately 1 per number. Since there are 20 such numbers, the estimate is 1*20 = 20 less than actual.

Overall, the estimate will be approximately 20 – 1 = 19 less than actual.

Minimum value of E – S = -19

Step 2: Getting Maximum Value of E – S

Now let’s try to make E as large as possible. For that, we need to do two things:

1. When we round up the decimals (even tenths digit), the difference between actual and estimate should be very high. Say the numbers are something similar to 3.000001 (tenths digit is the smallest even digit) and they will be rounded up to 4 i.e. the estimate gains 1 per number. Since there are 10 even tenths digit numbers, the estimate will be approximately 1*10 = 10 more than actual.

2. When we round down the decimals (odd tenths digit), the difference between actual and estimate should be very little. Say the numbers are something similar to 3.1 (tenths digit is the smallest odd digit). They will be rounded down to 3 i.e. the estimate loses approximately 0.1 per number. Since there are 20 such numbers, the estimate is approximately 0.1*20 = 2 less than actual.

Overall, the estimate will be approximately 10 – 2 = 8 more than actual.

Maximum value of E – S = 8.

The minimum value of E – S is -19 and the maximum value of E – S is 8.

So E – S can take the values -16 and 6 but cannot take the value 10.

Answer (B)

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 series!
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 14 Jan 2014, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: School Profile: Amherst College Might Be the School for You
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When it comes to getting a good education students are not only looking for the perfect school, but also the best school for their budget. That is exactly what sets Amherst College, ranked 8th by Veritas Prep, apart from other elite colleges; they utilize a need-blind admission policy. This simply put means the student’s family’s financial situation bears little importance for admission to their college.

This forward thinking college has been around since 1821, praised by The Chronicle of Higher Education as “the best of the best” when it comes to offering low income students with exceptional talents a chance to prosper at a top notch college. They consistently show understanding and support to those who may not have the same opportunities for higher education.

The average financial package provided this past year to students attending Amherst College was $44,888. This is due to their firm financial aid belief and practice of funding “100% of the demonstrated financial need to all admitted students.” More than half of their student body was given extensive financial aid utilizing organizations like QuestBridge, who cater to low income students that are highly accomplished. They also support a “no-loan policy,” which means if students need financial assistance they are not required to apply for loans. Amherst meets students’ financial needs whether they need a small percentage or the entire tuition.

Amherst goes out of their way to offer their students generous scholarships that allow them to graduate debt free with the “no-loan policy.” Although the school is generous in its financial aid packages it’s equally discerning in its student application process. The average SAT score is 2135, average ACT score 32, and the acceptance rate is 13%. There were more than 8,000 applicants in 2013 with a little over 1,100 gaining admittance. This school is designed for highly talented and motivated individuals who demonstrate elite educational prowess.

Amherst College promotes a diverse student population; more than forty countries are represented within the 1,700 students that attend. Not only are the students and faculty diverse, but so are the fields of study. They offer thirty seven different bachelor programs. They also offer a unique college dynamic with the consortium of five colleges that include, Amherst, Smith, Mount, Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges. This approach gives students a wide range of classes and enriches their social and extracurricular lives. Amherst offers over 100 different student organizations from activism and community service to student newspapers and a radio station; students can find a place to showcase their talents.

At Amherst College newcomers will be among some of the top students in the country being taught by exceptional professors. This school has some of the most prominent alumni in the country, President Calvin Coolidge, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Nobel Laureates among others. They back up their tough admission standards with financial aid assistance that exceeds most colleges and universities.

Students live on campus all four years and graduate with a top notch education with little to no debt. This progressive college is also taking bold steps in the “going green” movement. They are doing this by reshaping their designs, and focusing on how they build, maintain, and operate their facilities. Amherst takes care of their students, faculty, and the environment, proving they stand by their motto Terras Irradient - let them give light to the world.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profile for The University of Chicago and see if that school is a good fit for you.
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2014, 11:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Use Your Gut and Your Brain to Get a High Score
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You’ve always been a person who trusts your gut.  You’ve got good instincts, everyone says so.  It’s why you were such an early adopter on Instagramming pictures of your dog dressed as different fruits and why you knew not to eat the “cold noodles” at the sketchy Chinese food place on the corner that sent your friends into an abdominal abyss for days, so it’s no wonder you’re so good at tests.  You just pick the answer that feels right, and most of the time, your feeling is right! Great, right? WRONG!

Let’s talk for a second about what a “gut feeling” is.  A gut feeling is your brain trying to communicate information to you that is based on some information or experience from the past. A gut feeling is, by its very nature, just a feeling.  It can be an effective alarm bell to investigate something more closely, but a gut feeling, like most feelings, is rooted in a complicated interplay between different brain regions which gives you information that is about as specific as a blank greeting card.

In order to score at the highest level on the SAT, it is imperative to not just know that something feels incorrect, but that it is incorrect.  This is not to say that there should be a complete disregard for the alarm bells that tell us something is wrong in a problem, but when the problems get more difficult, it is necessary to separate the feelings from what is quantitatively true.

This is especially helpful for the identifying sentence errors problems on the SAT. Let’s look at three examples:

Everyone knows (A) that it’s a bad idea to act (B) without thinking, but no one (C) actually does it. (D) No Error (E)

On this medium problem there are all kinds of gut alarm bells going off.  It sounds “weird”. Your gut is correct and may even prompt you to examine the second half of the sentence as the “weirder” part.  Maybe the answer is C?

Probably D though, because that sounds the weirdest, and beyond sounding weird you remember that pronouns need to have a clear thing or person that they refer to.  This means that the “it” at the end is bad news bears because it does not have a clear referent. Gut wins! Well, not really, because we still needed a little know-how to finish the problem.  Now let’s look at a tough problem.

“The roots of (A) European influence on world culture, world  travel, and the perspectives (B) of the world’s denizens is (C) steeped in, even obscured by the (D) powerful effect European economic norms played in creating a new world order.” No Error (E)

The gut is silent.  This sentence sounds OK, if not a little academic.  You reach into your memory and something about parallel structure comes out.  In lists and around word like “and” or “but” you need the same structure.  “World culture, world travel, and the perspectives of the worlds citizens”, is that parallel? The gut grumbles a little, but you may just be hungry.

Our gut is failing, now let’s turn to our brains! In fact, this phrase is fine because the structure of the list grammatically is the same.  The list contains three nouns with some descriptive information relating it to “the world”.  Your brain then reminds you that the first thing you should do is check subject verb agreement by placing the subject and the verb right next to each other.  The subject “The roots” (“of European influence on world culture” are two prepositional phrases and are not a part of the subject) does not match the verb “is” and the problem becomes super easy! Let’s use our brain on a VERY hard problem.

Far from being a cozy, intimate haven to just sit and enjoy the company of friends, many coffee shops have become noisy, bustling metropolises with no space for patrons to sit and enjoy themselves. No Error

The gut attempts to pipe in, “Just enjoy?” it says?  That feels wrong. Luckily, the brain jumps in before any damage is done.  “Just” in this case is an adverb and is modifying a verb.  No problem there.  Let’s keep using the brain. Subject-verb agreement? “Many coffee houses have” is correct.

Choice C also has a list with two adjectives which can be separated by a conjunction or a comma so no problems there either. D is part of a descriptive phrase, which rarely contains errors, and is just fine.

Any pronouns? There are two words that act like pronouns in that they take the place of another noun.  “Metropolises” takes the place of “coffee shops” as does “haven”.  AHA!  All of these nouns have to agree and one does not. “Coffee shops” and “metropolises” are plural and “haven” is singular, thus the error is in Answer choice A.

The gut is a tool, but the brain is a much better and more effective one.  You do want to honor your gut by investigating the things that it seems to have problems with, but you also have to understand why things are incorrect in order to score at the highest level on the SAT.  So give your gut a little break, it’s your brain that is the real tool.  Happy studying!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2014, 17:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Wanted: Superhero Customer Experience Intern!
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Can you spend hours on the phone without being distracted by an ocean view outside your window? Good. Can you handle working in an energetic startup-like atmosphere? Great. Most importantly, do you absolutely love talking to customers and brightening their day? Perfect. We’re looking for a Customer Experience intern who matches this description!

What do we do at Veritas Prep? We provide elite SAT and GMAT preparation, and college and graduate school admissions consulting around the world. We train the brightest minds to get into the best schools in order to create and manage the world’s most successful businesses.

What will you be doing at Veritas Prep? You will be based in our Malibu, CA, headquarters, and you will reach out to current Veritas Prep students and see how their studies are going, inform them of upcoming events, and helping them with any questions they may have regarding their course and studies.

Think you have what it takes to work at Veritas Prep? Well, we are in the education industry, so you must have a bachelor’s degree, or be working toward one. You’ll be talking on the phone all day, so strong interpersonal and communication skills are required, too. You will also send and respond to tons of emails, so excellent writing skills are also necessary.

You don’t have to be a seasoned veteran, but at least a year or two of customer service/hospitality experience is preferred. You must also have a supreme work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and professional demeanor. The compensation is $15/hour, and the time commitment is up to 10 hours per week.

Interested? Send your resume and cover letter to customersupport@veritasprep.com. Also, in your message, please include brief answers to the following questions:

  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • Describe an example of terrific customer service that you experienced (as a customer) recently.
  • Describe a time when you went out of your way to help someone. What did you do, and what was the result?
We look forward to hearing from you!
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 16 Jan 2014, 09:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 5 Predictions for 2014 in the MBA and College Spaces
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One thing that we love to do around Veritas Prep HQ is declare our opinions. Whether it’s about football, health food, traffic etiquette, dancing, or stand-up comedy, everyone here has an opinion. Even more fun is when we stick our necks out and make some predictions about where we see test preparation and admissions going in the coming year. We’re often right, and we’re always entertaining.

With that in mind, here are five trends that we predict will emerge in test prep and admissions in the coming year:

At least two more top MBA programs will introduce video as a component of their applications

In the past year we have seen business schools such as Kellogg and Yale introduce a video component to their applications. These video responses haven’t replaced essays or admissions interview outright, but have augmented them: “We are doing so because we feel that video questions will give us a more complete sense of you as an applicant,” wrote Yale SOM Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico last year. We’re hearing mostly good things coming out of these programs about how well these changed have gone, so we expect that more MBA programs will adopt video in the coming admissions season.

2014 will go down as the year that many colleges slashed their “retail prices”

The Harvards and the Princetons of the world probably won’t have to touch their tuitions to boost their application volumes, but many smaller, more low-profile colleges have decided to stop discounting (i.e., handing out significant scholarships) and instead simply lower their tuitions. We’ve already started to see some examples of college cutting their list prices in the 2013-2014 admissions season (here and here), worrying that too many applicants were simply passing up their programs without realizing that they could get significant financial aid. Rather than hoping they dig deeper and learn what most students actually pay, these colleges have decided to just stop the “high/low” game and drop their prices by more than $10,000 per year in some cases. It took a while, but now that some colleges have started to play the pricing game, we expect many more will aggressively follow in 2014 (when they see their application numbers drop as students and parenst respond to those lower prices).

The SAT essay, in its current form, will face its demise

The SAT essay, which was introduced in 2005, has never been a favorite of college admissions officers. It’s widely known that one can do well on the essay portion of the exam without bothering to use facts correctly, a fact famously highlighted by an MIT professor back in 2007. Although the new SAT won’t launch until 2016 (one year later than The College Board originally announced), we expect to learn a lot about the new exam before the end of this year. The College Board has already hinted that the new SAT will align more closely with high school curricula, and will give less benefit to students (and SAT prep services) that focus on rote memorization of obscure words. Heck, the test could even evolve and become adaptive. But, to us, the most obvious change is that the essay section will change radically, and we expect to hear about it this year.

Integrated Reasoning will make “the leap”

In June, the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT will celebrate its 2nd anniversary as an official part of the GMAT – but if you count its experimental phase (when GMAC offered it as an optional section in order to gather data) it’s been around a few years. To date, MBA programs haven’t given too much credence to the IR score as part of their admissions decisions, but particularly with the experimental data having had time to prove their worth (at last summer’s AIGAC summit, GMAC showed that IR scores were the best predictor of first-year success for MBA students) employers — if not admissions officers — have taken notice of IR as a powerful assessment tool. So whether it’s MBA programs more officially incorporating IR scores into their 2014-15 admissions decisions or it’s top MBA employers finding a way to borrow Integrated Reasoning for their interview processes, 2014 should be the year that Integrated Reasoning makes the leap to prominence.

The groundwork will be laid for online education to make “the leap”

Even as online education has become more commonplace, the major ways in which students consume online education – voice over PowerPoint; video of an in-person classroom; loosely-adaptive quizzes and activities — have remained fairly constant over the years. 2014 may not be the year that the world graduates to e-Learning 2.0, but it will almost certainly be the year that the upgrade takes shape behind the scenes. With a surge in educational entrepreneurship, the increased willingness and preference of students to learn online, and an influx of investment in educational technology, we predict that the groundwork will be laid in 2014 for our prediction next January that 2015 will be the year that e-Learning takes the leap.

By Scott Shrum
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 16 Jan 2014, 12:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Spot Subtle Differences in GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions
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One of the Critical Reasoning questions that students struggle with the most is the Roles of Boldface questions. This may be because they’re scarce (like diamonds), and therefore you aren’t likely to practice them as much as other question types. Or it may be because they ask you to differentiate among multiple definitions that all start to sound the same after a while. Is the first a position or is it an opinion, and is there any difference between those two? (Hint: there isn’t).

Roles of Boldface questions always ask about the roles of two different parts of the same passage. The two passages are separated by some amount of text, none of which is asked of you but all of which is nonetheless important. The five answer choices always present you with a description of the first part of the text, then a semi-colon, then the other part of the text. Much like sentence correction, your best friend on these questions is the process of elimination. You can eliminate answer choices that are incorrect on the first portion or the second portion until there is only one answer left.

To do this, you should logically and methodically eliminate answer choices once you see that they cannot possibly match up with the meaning of the passage. In a way, you’re like Lieutenant Commander Data on the starship Enterprise trying to understand human culture. Since you’re a robot, you can use deduction and logic to get to the right answer, but little else. Examining the choices one by one will isolate the correct answer given the specific premise (somehow I think Data would do quite well on the GMAT).

Let’s go through a fairly robust example and see how we can quickly eliminate erroneous choices:

Historian: In the Drindian Empire, censuses were conducted annually to determine the population of each village. Village census records for the last half of the 1600’s are remarkably complete. This very completeness makes one point stand out; in five different years, villages overwhelmingly reported significant population declines. Tellingly, each of those five years immediately followed an increase in a certain Drindian tax. This tax, which was assessed on villages, was computed by the central government using the annual census figures. Obviously, whenever the tax went up, villages had an especially powerful economic incentive to minimize the number of people they recorded; and concealing the size of a village’s population from government census takers would have been easy. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that the reported declines did not happen. In the historian’s argument, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles?

(A)   The first supplies a context for the historian’s argument; the second acknowledges a consideration that has been used to argue against the position the historian seeks to establish.

(B)   The first presents evidence to support the position that the historian seeks to establish; the second acknowledges a consideration that has been used to argue against that position.

(C)   The first provides a context for certain evidence that supports the position that the historian seeks to establish; the second is that position.

(D)   The first is a position for which the historian argues; the second is an assumption that serves as the basis of that argument.

(E)    The first is an assumption that the historian explicitly makes in arguing for a certain position; the second acknowledges a consideration that calls that assumption into question.

The passage calls into question the truthfulness (And yes even the truthiness) of censuses taken over 300 years ago. The first portion seems to indicate the fact that the author wishes to contest, and the second part is some kind of opinion. The difference between the first part (fact) and the second part (opinion) should help us eliminate the incorrect choices. Let’s look at them one at a time:

A)     The first supplies a context for the historian’s argument; the second acknowledges a consideration that has been used to argue against the position the historian seeks to establish.

The first part is correct, but the second part is dead wrong. The author is not seeking to acknowledge a consideration that weighs against him; rather, he is in support of the second part. This is out.

B)      The first presents evidence to support the position that the historian seeks to establish; the second acknowledges a consideration that has been used to argue against that position.

This is the same principle as answer choice A. First part is fine, second part is a near-verbatim transcript of the second part of answer choice A. This one is out as well.

C)      The first provides a context for certain evidence that supports the position that the historian seeks to establish; the second is that position.

Bingo. This is correct on both portions. The first part is the context of the historian’s position, and the second part is exactly that opinion. We should check the other choices but this will be the correct answer.

D)     The first is a position for which the historian argues; the second is an assumption that serves as the basis of that argument.

The first part is not a position that anyone is arguing for or against. It’s simply a statement of fact. This answer can thus be eliminated.

E)      The first is an assumption that the historian explicitly makes in arguing for a certain position; the second acknowledges a consideration that calls that assumption into question.

The part is not an assumption either, so this answer choice can be eliminated in the same way as answer choice D.

The roles of boldface questions require you to keep a keen eye out for subtle differences in wording. However, they always tend to follow the same basic patterns, including two answer choices being incorrect about the first part and two being incorrect about the second part. Once you have understood the meaning of the passage, you have a much better chance of quickly eliminating the incorrect answer choices and selecting the correct answer. You may not go where no one has gone before, but at the very least you’ll boldly go directly to the correct answer.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2014, 11:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of The Week: Tonya Harding Teaches Data Sufficiency
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Twenty years later, the figure skater you’d never have called “trendy” was trending last night. As ESPN aired its 30 For 30 special on Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, the biggest pre-OJ story of 1994 became the hottest topic of early 2014. Heading into the 1994 Olympics, both Nancy and Tonya were Olympic veterans, having placed 3rd and 4th, respectively, at the 1992 Games. With 1992 gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi out of the way, the table was set for a Nancy vs. Tonya showdown and both were up to the task, Tonya having been 1991 U.S. Champion and Nancy having won that title in 1993.

Tonya Harding was poised to recapture that glory of 1991-92, having shaken off some personal issues to refocus on skating. And with two Americans guaranteed to make the Olympic team, it seemed overwhelmingly likely that Nancy and Tonya would represent the U.S. together and that Tonya would have her best-ever chance at an Olympic medal. And then it all came crumbling down because Jeff Gillooly doesn’t understand Data Sufficiency.

Here’s the question, and here are the facts. Will Tonya Harding make the Olympic team? The top two finishers make the team, and Tonya is as good as Nancy but maybe a little better or maybe a little worse, and both of them are better than the rest of the field. So if we assess this as a Data Sufficiency prompt, we’d have:

Is Tonya one of the two highest values in Set USA?

(1) Nancy > Tonya > all other values in Set USA

Statement 1 here is sufficient – if we can prove that Tonya is at the very worst the second-best competitor, she’s guaranteed to make the team. But then along came Jeff Gillooly, not the sharpest tool in the shed, making one of the most common GMAT mistakes anyone can make.

Jeff Gillooly picked C.

Jeff Gillooly took a look at a Statement 2 that only existed in his own mind and went for it, hiring a goon to club Nancy Kerrigan in the knee and introduce this statement to the problem: “Set USA does not contain Nancy”. The problem then looked like:

Is Tonya one of the two highest values in Set USA?

(1) Nancy > Tonya > all other values in Set USA

(2) Set USA does not contain Nancy

Jeff Gillooly looked at that problem and made the same mistake that so many GMAT test-takers make. He thought “If together Nancy and Tonya are the two highest values, and then if Nancy isn’t in the set, then Tonya is guaranteed to be one of the two highest values in the set (and therefore make the Olympic team and win me and my creepball moustache a free trip to Norway!).” So Jeff Gillooly picked C, forgetting that there are two clauses to that answer choice:

(C) Both statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.

Read past the comma, Gillooly. Tonya Harding was sufficient ALONE. With Nancy Kerrigan out of the picture, Tonya won the US Nationals meaning that even had Nancy been absolutely amazing on the ice in that competition Tonya at worst would have gotten second and gone to the Olympics. In GMAT-speak, even though we all love having two pieces of information, if we only need one of them we’re punished for using both. If one statement alone is sufficient, you can’t pick C. Don’t be a Gillooly!

Since not many (if any) actual GMAT problems will be about Tonya Harding, let’s see this same concept in action with a real GMAT problem:

Is 0

(1) x^2

(2) x > 0

As you unpack statement 1, you’ll probably recognize that a fraction like 1/2 satisfies that inequality. If you square 1/2 you get 1/4, a number less than the original. So most people will look at statement 1 and say “x has to be a fraction, so that’s probably sufficient”. But then statement 2 hits a lot of people’s minds like a club to the knee – “Oh, but I need to know that it’s positive, too! I’ll pick C.”

Go back, though – if you try a negative fraction like -1/2, when you square it it becomes positive, and x^2 is greater than x. Statement 2 already tells us that x is positive – statement 1 is sufficient ALONE. All statement 2 really does is reinforce something that was already sufficient alone. Statement 2 is the Gillooly trap. Before you pick C, you’d better make sure that neither statement is sufficient ALONE. And like in the Nancy/Tonya situation, a statement (or skater) is often sufficient ALONE only through some hard work – beware the “easy way out” statement that makes C seem “obvious” when you could have taken a few extra steps (a little extra algebra, some extra work on your triple salchow) to make a statement sufficient ALONE.

There are plenty of lessons that a GMAT test-taker can take from the Nancy/Tonya saga – cheaters always get caught, make sure your shoelaces are tied before you enter the test center – but one reigns supreme above them:

Don’t use both statements if one alone will do the trick. Don’t be a Gillooly.

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2014, 17:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Max-Min Strategies: Establishing Base Case
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Continuing our discussion on maximizing/minimizing strategies, let’s look at another question today. Today we discuss the strategy of establishing a base case, a strategy which often comes in handy in DS questions. The base case gives us a starting point and direction to our thoughts. Otherwise, with the number of possible cases in any given scenario, we may find our mind wandering from one direction to another without reaching any conclusions. That is a huge waste of time, a precious commodity.

Question: Four friends go to Macy’s for shopping and buy a top each. Three of them buy a pillow case each too. The prices of the seven items were all different integers, and every top cost more than every pillow case. What was the price, in dollars, of the most expensive pillow case if the total price of the seven items was $89?

Statement 1: The most expensive top cost $16.

Statement 2: The least expensive pillow case cost $9.

Solution: The first problem here is figuring out the starting point. There must be many ways in which you can price the seven items such that the total cost is $89. So we need to establish a base case (which conforms to all the conditions given in the question stem) first and then we will tweak it around according to the additional information obtained from our statements.

‘Seven items for $89’ means the average price for each item is approximately $12. But 12 is not the exact average. 12*7 = 84 which means another $5 were spent.

A sequence with an average of 12 and different integers is $9, $10, $11, $12, $13, $14, $15.

But actually another $5 were spent so the prices could be any one of the following variations (and many others):

$9, $10, $11, $12, $13, $14, $20 (Add $5 to the highest price)

$9, $10, $11, $12, $13, $16, $18 (Split $5 into two and add to the two highest prices)

$9, $10, $12, $13, $14, $15, $16 (Split $5 into five parts of $1 each and add to the top 5 prices)

$7, $9, $13, $14, $15, $16, $17 (Take away some dollars from the lower prices and add them to the higher prices along with the $5)

etc

Let’s focus on another piece of information given in the question stem: “every top cost more than every pillow case.”

This means that when we arrange all the prices in the increasing order (as done above), the last four are the prices of the four tops and the first three are the prices of the three pillow cases. The most expensive pillow case is the third one.

Now that we have accounted for all the information given in the question stem, let’s focus on the statements.

Statement 1: The most expensive top cost $16.

We have already seen a case above where the maximum price was $16. Is this the only case possible? Let’s look at our base case again:

$9, $10, $11, $12, $13, $14, $15

(a further $5 needs to be added to bring the total price up to $89)

Since the prices need to be all unique, if we add 1 to any one price, we also need to add at least $1 to each subsequent price. E.g. if we increase the price of the least expensive pillow case by $1 and make it $10, we will need to increase the price of every subsequent item by $1 too. But we have only $5 more to give.

If the maximum price is $16, it means the rightmost price can increase by only $1. So all prices before it can also only increase by $1 only and except the first two prices, they must increase by $1 to adjust the extra $5.

Hence the only possible case is $9, $10, $12, $13, $14, $15, $16.

So the cost of the most expensive pillow case must have been $12.

Statement 1 is sufficient alone.

Statement 2: The least expensive pillow case cost $9.

A restriction on the lowest price is much less restrictive. Starting from our base case

$9, $10, $11, $12, $13, $14, $15,

we can distribute the extra $5 in various ways. We can do what we did above in statement 1 i.e. give $1 to each of the 5 highest prices: $9, $10, $12, $13, $14, $15, $16

We can also give the entire $5 to the highest price: $9, $10, $11, $12, $13, $14, $20

So the price of the most expensive pillow case could take various values. Hence, statement 2 alone is not sufficient.

Answer (A)

Note that the answer is a little unexpected, isn’t it? If we were to read the question and guess within 20 secs, we would probably guess that the answer is (C), (D) or (E). The two statements give similar but complementary information. It would be hard to guess that one will be sufficient alone while other will not be. This is what makes this question interesting and hard too.

Our strategy here was to establish a base case and tweak it according to the information given in the statements. This strategy is often useful in DS – not just in max-min questions but others too.

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 series!
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2014, 11:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Do I Need to Score a Perfect 2400 on the SAT to Get into My Dream College?
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The answer to this question (which, by the way, I’m asked more frequently than any other question when I’m teaching SAT prep) is no.

No.

NO.

Instantly, I’m always asked, “Well, do I need to score in the 99th percentile to get into  (Harvard, Princeton, Yale)?

The answer is still no.

Here’s some advice from someone who didn’t score a 2400, but did get into every college she applied to, and ended up going to her top choice (Georgetown University) on a partial scholarship. You matter more than your scores. Even if you get a 2400 on the SAT and have a perfect GPA, you are indistinguishable, to colleges, from a test-taking robot (which I don’t believe are included in their diversity quota).

Obviously, you want to get good marks. Some universities, including most of the top ten, require a minimum SAT and GPA. Regardless of what you’re shooting for, your grades do have an impact. If your freshman and sophomore years were a little shaky, grade-wise, you’ll want to improve in that area, not only because it will help you get into colleges, but because you ought to improve anything in your life that’s dragging you down.

In fact, a close friend of mine with ADHD was exactly that – a high school student with poor grades during his first two years. During his junior year, he joined the track team, and the discipline he learned from running carried over into his academic life. By senior year, he was getting straight A’s, and he was accepted to UCLA. He even wrote about his struggles with ADHD in his college application essays. The point being, he wasn’t afraid to hide the fact that he wasn’t always a perfect student. He wrote his college application essays about the real struggles of a real person.

Writing about yourself as you really are will make your unique personality stand out in your college essays. In addition to your struggles, your personal interests, activities, and quirks are just as relevant to your likelihood of college acceptance. I wrote my essays about my seemingly futile struggle to learn Spanish when I spent three months in Costa Rica.  I was a straight A student in high school, but when I lived in Costa Rica, I discovered that many of my peers were picking up Spanish much faster than me. I was accepted to Georgetown because I showed an interest in International Relations (one of Georgetown’s fortes), and because I demonstrated maturity through realizing that some things are only obtained through struggling.

Try your best on the SAT. Not only will you score your highest, but you’ll also learn about yourself – about your strengths and limitations – along the way.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Rita Pearson
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2014, 14:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: School Profile: You'll Want to Go to Pomona College after Reading This
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Pomona College is ranked tenth in the nation among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It’s one of few liberal arts colleges on the West Coast and part of the Claremont College Consortium. The consortium includes five schools, all on adjacent campuses, and two graduate schools. The 5C community, as the students affectionately call it, shares resources including a university-sized research library. The consortium arrangement also has the advantage of offering students abundant academic, extracurricular, and social opportunities; students can eat, live, and take classes on all five campuses.

Students at Pomona find several advantages to belonging to the 5C community. An obvious perk is small class sizes; class enrollment caps are in place to help manage the school’s commitment to personalized attention. Only a handful of classes are over 50 students, and many have enrollment in single digits. The consortium arrangement allows students and professors to develop personal relationships that are conducive to creating strong community. Professors proactively initiate getting to know students, which helps students network for research and internship options. Those looking to be another anonymous face on campus would not want to consider Pomona.

The Pomona College campus is located in Claremont, California just east of Los Angeles. The suburban setting of a major metropolis is a draw for students looking for the excitement of the big city tempered with the quiet of the suburbs. With the consortium’s unique configuration of five adjacent campuses, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other except for the distinctive architectural differences. Pomona College draws its beautiful Spanish architectural design from the same person who designed Stanford’s campus.

Nearly two-thirds of the diverse student body is from outside California, and about one-third are students of color. This is a direct result of Pomona College’s recruiting program that reaches out to talented students from underrepresented groups. Students describe themselves as laid-back, unpretentious, liberal thinkers. Many actively participate in sharing their ideas and opinions on the student blog, Voices.

Although students won’t find stadiums packed with thousands of fans, this NCAA Division three consortium of schools boasts two separate and complete athletic programs. Pomona and Pitzer form one athletic program, and Claremont, Harvey-Mudd, and Scripps comprise the other. Two of every sporting venue and facility means there is always something going on for sports enthusiasts. The Sagehen’s football rivalry with Occidental goes back over 100 years, making it one of the oldest rivalries on the West Coast.

Campus life is reflective of the laid-back attitude for which California is known. Pomona College consistently ranks high in student satisfaction. (The free snacks four nights per week don’t hurt!) In fact, students have stolen the phrase ‘the happiest place on earth’ from Disneyland, and applied it to their campus. The Coop, the college hangout that is open nights, gives students a chance to congregate. The college also takes advantage of their Southern California location, often inviting big-name bands, singers, comedians and guest lecturers to campus. Weekend nights may include movie night, In-n-Out Burger night, spa night, casino night, or other relaxing outlets for busy students.

The Village is a neighborhood hotspot of shops, music stores, theaters, restaurants and the occasional bed and breakfast near campus. It offers students a reprieve from college life with an array of entertainment as well as the opportunity for part-time jobs. A short drive away, Pasadena provides students with movie theaters, markets, restaurants, and concert venues. Los Angeles gives students a vibrant club scene where IDs are routinely checked, museums, and world-class concerts and sporting events. The mountains are a place for students to get away for some quiet time in nature either hiking or snow skiing, and Orange County offers everything from Disneyland to baseball to stunniing beaches. If students are bored at Pomona College, they just aren’t paying attention.

Like many colleges, Pomona College has its own quirky traditions. Walker Wall is a 200-foot long cement wall that traditionally has been used as a student forum where students can post messages and self-expressions. In 1964, a pair of Pomona College students devised a tongue-in-cheek theory that the number 47 is expressed in nature more than any other number; students continue to search for and compile examples today. One of the favorite traditions among students is the annual Ski-Beach Day. In the morning, students go snow skiing in the mountains at Mountain High Resort an hour from campus. In the afternoon, they lounge on nearby Newport Beach along the Pacific Ocean.

Students who are committed to excellence, independent thinkers, and dedicated to following their passions while making the world a better place may have found their home at Pomona College in sunny California.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of Chicago and Amherst College to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2014, 11:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: How to Strengthen your Approach to Passage-Based Questions
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The Reading Section is often considered the most difficult section of the SAT. Here’s a game-changing tip from a Veritas Prep SAT 2400 tutor that’s guaranteed to boost your score.

At Veritas Prep, we’ve made it our mission to teach students how to simplify their approach to the Reading Section. In particular, students struggle with the passage-based questions because of the sheer amount of information they have to process, as well as the difficulty they face in choosing the most ‘logical ‘answer choice. After all, a passage-based question isn’t like a math question with only one possible answer, right?

WRONG. Each passage-based question only has one correct answer choice. All the other choices are, in some crucial way, not based off of evidence in the passage. In order to 1) prevent students from being mislead by false answer choices, and 2) keep students focused on the main ideas in the passage (instead of all the extraneous information), we teach students to write down a brief sentence that summarizes the main idea after reading only the first paragraph. (If you’re interested in learning the full details of that strategy, you should consider enrolling in a Veritas Prep course, where you’ll spend 9+ hours learning and honing the skill).  Thus, this strategy improves both accuracy and efficiency, as you won’t waste any time reading the entire passage before starting the questions.

While some of my students instantly take to this strategy and begin writing top-notch summaries, others still struggle to come up with a sentence that truly describes the main point of the passage. Often, they’ll ask me, “How am I supposed to figure out the main idea after only reading the first paragraph?!”

The truth is, the first paragraph will nearly always have all the necessary information needed to write a brief sentence that summarizes the whole passage. However, it can be difficult to parse out what information is or isn’t relevant. In other words, it’s not always obvious what information is the primary theme, and what is just introductory material.  In those cases, the italicized blurb before the passage(s) is your best friend.

Take a look at the following introductory paragraph from a long comparison passage set.

Image

This is definitely a tricky first paragraph to process. The author uses dense language and extended metaphors before he ever gets to his main idea. However, if I read the italicized blurb before the passage, I’ll know exactly what to pay attention to (remember, on an actual test, you should read this blurb before reading the passages).

Take a look at the italicized blurb below:

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Bam! I now know that the passage is about how nations and people use history, and how that use of history affects them. Therefore, I can deduce that the first author thinks that history is an indispensable guide for those who are ‘lost in confusion’ in the present. My brief summary could easily be a shorthand version of the previous sentence. Additionally, I know that the second passage will discuss how nations and people use history, and it will probably differ from the first in terms of exactly how they ‘use’ history. Let’s take a look at it.

Image

As I read, I ask myself, “According the second author, how do people use history, and how does using it affect those people?” Notably, I could only have come up with this question if I’d read and digested the italicized blurb. The answer is pretty simple – he thinks that history is ‘created’ by historians, and that people will ‘reenact’ the history that the historians wrote. Next, I’d write down a shortened version of that sentence on my booklet for my brief summary.

Like that, I’m done! Now I’m ready to start answering the questions – or continue reading – with a strong understanding of the primary themes of both passages in my arsenal.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Here’s another article by Rita on scoring a perfect 2400.

By Rita Pearson
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 23 Jan 2014, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Why You Should Convert Fractions to Decimals on the GMAT
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Certain skills help make the math portion of the GMAT much easier. For example, being at ease with multiplication and factoring can help you on all kinds of questions that aren’t even about multiples or factors. In fact, questions about one and only one topic are few and far between. A GMAT question will never ask you what 8 x 7 is explicitly, but it could easily ask you the area of a triangle with a base of 16 and a height of 7. (Recall that the formula for the area of a triangle is ½ Base x Height).

Similarly, a skill that comes up frequently on the GMAT is the ability to convert from fractions to decimals. If you see ½, you can easily convert this to 0.5. However, if the exam asks you 2/7, 8/9 or 3/8, could you convert these numbers into decimal and then use them to solve an overarching question? Not everyone is comfortable with these kinds of calculations, and yet understanding fractions is one of the biggest parts of the GMAT. (And yes, that pun was intended)

As a quick reminder, knowing the conversion for all single-digit fractions will help you save time on these questions, even if the question often asks for more than just a simple exchange from fraction to decimal. From one half to one fifth, these should be easy, so there are only a few fractions that are somewhat unfamiliar. As a quick review:

1/2: 0.500

1/3: 0.333

1/4: 0.250

1/5: 0.200

1/6: 0.167 (half of 1/3)

1/7: 0.143 (just need to know this one)

1/8: 0.125 (half of 1/4)

1/9: 0.111 (ninths always have the same number repeating periodic)

Now of course, questions often ask about a fraction other than 1/x, but if you know the base case, you can simply multiply to get to 2 or 3 or any other number. Again, you will never see a GMAT question that asks you “What is the decimal value of 1/7” (even if you’re scoring a 200). However you can definitely see a question like:

If x is the median of the set {9/2, 11/3, 28/9, 21/5, x}, x could be

(A) 16/5

(B) 17/5

(C) 4

(D) 30/7

(E) 31/7

This question would fall into the category of statistics, as it is primarily asking about the median of a set. However, if you know that the median is just the middle term of an ordered set, then the real difficulty of this question is putting the elements in ascending (or even descending) order. The fastest way to do this is probably to convert all the numbers into decimals and ranking them in that method.

This is probably easiest if we separate the integers from the fractions, which can be done in two parts.

9/2 = 8/2 + 1/2 = 4 1/2 = 4.5

11/3 = 9/3 + 2/3 = 3 2/3 = 3.67

28/9 = 27/9 + 1/9 = 3 1/9 = 3.11

21/5 = 20/5 + 1/5 = 4 1/5 = 4.2

The four numbers in order are thus really 3.11, 3.67, 4.2 and 4.5. The median (x) could be anywhere from 3.67 to 4.2. A cursory glance at the answer choices confirms that it must be 4. We can take the extra step of eliminating the other four choices by converting them using the same method:

(A) 16/5 = 15/5 + 1/5 = 3 1/5 = 3.2

(B) 17/5 = 15/5 + 2/5 = 3 2/5 = 3.4

(C) 4 = 4 = 4 = 4

(D) 30/7 = 28/7 + 2/7 = 4 2/7 = 4.29

(E) 31/7 = 28/7 + 3/7= 4 3/7 = 4.43

It’s worth mentioning that the GMAT characteristic of always having the answer choices in order will be maintained here, even if the order isn’t obvious due to different denominators.

Alternatively, if you’re a big fan of fractions, you can solve this question using only fractions. The downside is that the math becomes much more unwieldy. If I want to put halves, ninths and fifths on a common denominator, I need to put all these fractions on ninetieths.

You could rewrite the set

{9/2, 11/3, 28/9, 21/5, x}

as

{405/90, 330/90, 280/90, 378/90, x}

It is now easy to put these numbers in order: {280/90, 330/90, x, 378/90, 405/90}. The number x must now be between 330/90 and 378/90. The number 4 converts to 360/90, so you can see it fairly easily. However this process is more difficult and time-consuming than simply converting the numbers into decimals, but it will still work. Without a calculator, multiplying 21 by 18 may prove to be more hassle than it’s worth.

When it comes to fractions, generally being at ease with them and converting easily to and from decimals will help you get the correct answer on many different types of GMAT questions. Just because a question is asking about medians or areas or probability doesn’t mean that you won’t need to use your knowledge of fractions to solve the question. To paraphrase the seminal 80s cartoon G.I. Joe: Knowing is ½ the battle.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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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Re: Veritas Prep Blog [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2014, 09:01
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: What Is a Valid Form of Identification for the SAT?
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Imagine arriving to take the SAT only to find that you didn’t bring a valid form of ID. As crazy as it sounds, it happens all the time. Yes, students do forget their identification, and YES, you will be denied entrance if you don’t have a valid form of identification on you. If you think you’ll be able to sweet talk the proctor into letting you sit for the SAT, just read up on some of the cheating scandals of the past few years. They need to know that you’re who you say you are, period.

Fortunately, it’s pretty cut and dry in terms of what is considered a valid form of SAT identification. Any of the following is an acceptable form of identification that will be accepted on test day:

  • Government-issued driver’s license or non-driver ID card
  • Official school-produced student-identification card from your current schooll
  • Government-issued passport
  • Government-issued military or national identification card
  • A College Board Student ID Form, which must be prepared by your school ahead of time (or notarized if you are homeschooled)
  • Talent Identification Program ID or Authorization to Test form (allowed for grades seven and eight only; no photo required)
The following are not acceptable forms of SAT identification on test day:

  • Any document that is photocopied or
  • Any document that does not bear a recent recognizable photograph that clearly matches the test-taker
  • Any document that does not bear your name in roman English characters exactly as it appears on the Admission Ticket
  • Any document that is worn, torn, scuffed, scarred or otherwise damaged in such a manner that it renders any part of the text on the ID card illegible or renders any part of the photograph unrecognizable
  • Any document that appears tampered with or altered
  • Credit or debit card (even one with a photograph)
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Employee ID card
  • Hunting or fishing license
  • Missing Child (“ChildFind”) ID card
  • Any temporary ID card
Your best bet is to simply make sure that you show up with one of the items from that first list. If you need more guidance, keep in mind these additional rules laid out by The College Board:

  • The name on the ID and your current name must match exactly.
  • If the test administration staff questions the ID you present, you may be required to provide additional ID. If you don’t have any additional forms of identification, you may be asked to leave the test center.
  • If you leave the test center to obtain identification and get back too late, test center staff may be unable to admit you to take the SAT. Proctors are not required to hold your seat if you leave the center to obtain acceptable SAT identification.
  • getting into a test center once with a particular form of ID is no guarantee that the same form of identification will be accepted in the future. “But you guys said it was okay last time!” is not a winning argument.
  • Admission to the test center is no guarantee that the ID you provided is valid or that your scores will be reported. You could get into a test center and take the SAT, but then find out later that your score was thrown out because of suspicions about your identity.
  • The whole time you are at the test center, you need to be able to prove who you are. You may be required to show your ID and Admission Ticket and/or sign a test center log multiple times and at various points throughout the test administration.
  • No refunds! If you are dismissed from the test center before you finish the SAT because of invalid or unacceptable ID, or you fail to comply with these ID requirements and policies, your SAT registration fee will not be refunded.
Plan on taking the SAT soon?Try a free SAT practice test and see where you stand on the exam. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum. He says his driver’s license makes him look like a criminal.
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