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Once you have acquired the toolbox of skills and knowledge you need to do well on the ACT, there is one more valuable strategy to help you do well on test day: routine. Routine is one of the more underestimated elements of test-prep, but it can be a powerful aid in preparing for test day. Routine will help you conquer your nerves and walk into test day prepared and confident.

Routine works to improve your test score on a few levels. It gets your body physically accustomed to test day conditions as well as works to quell the nerves (your biggest enemy on test day can be anxiety). Routine is powerful! Here are a few ways in which you can establish a routine that will help you score better on test day.

Sleep Schedule: You want to ensure that you know exactly how your body and mind will feel on test day. Establishing a good sleep schedule in the weeks before the test will play a crucial role in this. If you’re used to sleeping in until 10am and taking your practice ACT at 11am, it will come as a shock to wake up at 6am on test day. You will know your test time weeks before the actual exam; work on getting your body accustomed to the sleep schedule that this test time requires.

“Test” Practice: You can work to simulate testing conditions in a number of ways. If you’re scheduled to take your ACT on Saturday at 8 am, practice waking up at 6am, driving to another location, sitting down, and taking a practice exam four Saturdays before the test. The more times you do the routine, the more comfortable you will feel on test day. If you can practice at your actual test center, that’s great! Be sure to account for timing and standardized breaks.

Nutrition: Food is a critical part of routine that is often forgotten. Hunger can distract your attention from the exam, so be sure to figure out what kinds of snacks you need to bring. This plays a significant role on test day, from the breakfast you eat, to the snacks you bring, to the amount of liquids you consume. Everyone is different, so it can be helpful to test out what kinds of breakfast keeps you full and satisfied throughout your exam. While it may seem trivial, making sure you stay hydrated without over-hydrating is important too; no one wants to feel uncomfortable during testing.

These three simple tips for establishing a routine will help you feel more comfortable on test day. Once you’ve established a routine, you can walk into your actual test day feeling more confident and you’ll know exactly what to expect. Happy Studying!

Sarah Smith is a Pre-med, Bioethics major at Northwestern University. She’s editor in chief and co-founder of the student health magazine and enjoys being involved in various clubs around campus. Sarah is passionate about education and enjoys learning and teaching. She enjoys helping Veritas Prep students prepare for the ACT!

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

Let’s continue the discussion of last two digits we started last week. We discussed the concept of pattern recognition and how it can help us determine the last two digits in case of numbers raised to some powers. Today we look at what happens when there is no pattern to determine! What if we are asked to determine the last two digits of the product of a bunch of numbers. We know that getting the last digit in this case is very easy – just multiply the last digits of the numbers together. But last TWO digits would seem much more complicated.

Actually, we can find the last two digits quite easily in most such cases by using the concepts of remainders.

There are two concepts you need to understand before we go on to see how to solve such questions:

I. When you divide a number by 100, the remainder is formed by the last two digits of the number. Say, you divide 138 by 100, the remainder will be 38 (last two digits). Take another example – divide 1275 by 100, the remainder will be 75 and so on.

II. When you divide (px + a)(qx + b)*…*(tx + e) by x, the remainder will be the remainder obtained by dividing a*b*…*e by x. This should remind you of the binomial theorem we discussed many weeks ago. When we multiply all these terms together (px + a), (qx + b) etc, each term obtained will have at least one x except the last term which is obtained by multiplying the remainders together. To get a better idea, let’s take some numbers:

Let’s say we need to find the remainder when we divide 12*23*52*81 by 10.

When you multiply these four terms together, you will get many terms such as 10*20*50*80, 10*20*50*1, 10*20*2*80 etc. All these will have a multiple of 10 except the last one. The last one will be 2*3*2*1 = 12. That doesn’t have a multiple of 10. Now divide 12 by 10 to get the remainder 2. So when you divide K by 10, the remainder will be 2.

Now, let’s look at a question:

Question 1: What are the last two digits of 63*35*37*82*71*41?

(A) 10

(B) 30

(C) 40

(D) 70

(E) 80

Solution: Using concept 1, we know that to find the last two digits, we need to find the remainder we get when we divide the product by 100.

Remainder of (63*35*37*82*71*41)/ 100

Note that we can simplify this expression by canceling out the 5 and 2 in the numerator and denominator. But before we do that, here is an important note:

Note: We cannot just cancel off the common terms in the numerator and denominator to get the remainder. But, if we want to cancel off to simplify the question, we can do it, provided we remember to multiply it back again.

So say, we want to find the remainder when 14 is divided by 10 i.e. 14/10 (remainder 4). But we cancel off the common 2 to get 7/5. The remainder here will be 2 which is not the same as the remainder obtained by dividing 14 by 10. But if we multiply 2 back by 2 (the number we canceled off), the remainder will become 2*2 = 4 which is correct.

Take another example to reinforce this – what is the remainder when 85 is divided by 20? It is 5.

We might rephrase it as – what is the remainder when 17 is divided by 4 (cancel off 5 from the numerator and the denominator). The remainder in this case is 1. We multiply the 5 back to 1 to get the remainder as 5 which is correct.

So keeping this very important point in mind, let’s go ahead and cancel the common 5 and 2.

We need the

Remainder of (63*7*37*41*71*41*5*2)/10*5*2

Remainder of (63*7*37*41*71*41)/10

Now using concept 2, let’s write the numbers in form of multiples of 10

Remainder of (60+3)*7*(30+7)*(40+1)*(70+1)*(40+1)/10

Remainder of 3*7*7*1*1*1/10

Remainder of 147/10 = 7

Now remember, we had canceled off 10 so to get the actual remainder so we need to multiply by 10: 7*10 = 70.

When 63*35*37*82*71*41 is divided by 100, the remainder is 70. So the last two digits of 63*35*37*82*71*41 must be 70.

Answer (D)

Next week, we will see some more complicated questions using these and other fundamentals.

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

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is one of the top graduate business programs in the world. The school’s reputation for team-based learning and development of graduates with strong interpersonal skills has kept Kellogg at the top of various business school rankings over the last few decades. With a track-record of delivering a high volume of candidates to dream MBA careers in management consulting and marketing, Kellogg year in and year out is one of the most popular business schools for applicants.

Kellogg over the years has taken a unique approach to the application process with a focus on bringing in candidates that exhibit a strong fit with the school. Whether it is the new video essay or the fact that the school interviews every candidate, Kellogg is the one school where every candidate has a chance to showcase their fit. Here are some of the best ways to showcase fit at Kellogg:

Highlight Interpersonal Skills

Kellogg more than any other school seeks to build and develop a community based around strong interpersonal skills and a social mindset. There is a reason the school interviews every candidate and has now even incorporated a video essay into the application process. Kellogg is known for its unique student-led culture that emphasizes collaboration. What is even more unique about this collaborative mindset the school craves in candidates, is that Kellogg is not just seeking team players but instead applicants with a track record as leaders of teams. So utilize these various touchpoints to showcase your leadership and teamwork skills, which are points of emphasis in the Kellogg application. Self-reflection and maturity are also critical areas that the school clearly targets in applicants; the essay questions clearly prompt candidates to explore these areas, so take the bait!

Knowledge of Kellogg Programs

Want to know what Kellogg loves more than anything? Candidates who actually have done research on the program! Too often applicants submit generic wants and needs from target programs that could embody hundreds of other programs. Get specific on which academic, extra-curricular, and social programs drive your interest in the school while connecting the dots to your short and long-term career and personal development goals. Students at Kellogg are incredibly engaged throughout their time at the school and as alums, so showcase your track record of engagement in the past as well as plans for how you plan to add value to the greater Kellogg community in the future.

Get Personal

Kellogg really wants to get to know you. You know how I know this; they use every application component to assess fit. Whether it is through the deeply personal essays, the universal interviews of every applicant or the fit focused video essays, Kellogg is trying to piece together who you are. Show the school that you are open and honest and can dive deep into your motivations for not only pursuing an MBA but one at the Kellogg School of Management. Use the different application components to provide insights into how you handle people and problems in your personal and professional arenas. Don’t forget this is a professional application for grad school so make sure to link your personal anecdotes to real world skills and lessons and you will be standing out from the competition at Kellogg in no time.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

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

One of the most difficult things to teach students is how to avoid careless errors. Very few things are as frustrating as looking down at an answer sheet on the SAT and seeing that your process was correct for arriving at the right answer and yet some small error made you choose the wrong answer. Careless errors are in insidious blight on those who wish to achieve at the highest level on the SAT. Here are a few simple, practical steps that can be taken to ensure that you are being judged on your process not on some small arithmetic error.

1. Circle the answer choice. One of the easiest careless mistakes to make is simply answering for a variable that the question does not require. Luckily this is also one of the easiest mistakes to avoid. Simply circle of the desired variable or unknown and draw an equal sign next to it. This will ensure that you do not move on from this problem until you can complete that equation.

2. Check work as you go. Checking work as you go is not only one of the keys to efficiently and effectively attack the math section, it is also one way to ensure that you avoid careless errors. This can take a number of different forms. Mainly, this manifests as an awareness of what you are writing so that you don’t engage in any copying or arithmetic errors. If you find yourself to be a fairly quick math student you may want to attempt problems with two different approaches to see if you can arrive at the same answer. This is not practical for the entirety of math section as it would nearly ensure that you would run out of time. However, it can be an effective tool if solving a problem does not lead to a plausible outcome. Which leads to the next step.

3. Ask yourself, “Does this answer makes sense?” It is always important to ask yourself this. You will want to question whether the answer is plausible given the other numbers in the problem and the parameters of the problem. If the answer choice doesn’t make sense, or the answer is not represented in the answer choices, it’s a good indication that you may have made a careless error.

4. Use the calculator to double check arithmetic. In general using calculators to solve problem should be avoided as it can lead to calculator reliance, but using your calculator to check arithmetic can be an effective tool to prevent careless errors.

5. Refer back to the problem to avoid copying errors. This tool is the personal life saver. Another extremely common careless error is simply copying down the wrong numbers. All that must be done is to look back at the problem and previous equations to make sure that you’re copying correctly. In a glance you can see if you wrote a two instead of a three and change the mistake before it causes further mischief.

6. Be systematic. Use columns and lines to ensure that your work stays organized. Organization in the way equations are set up helps to ensure that no careless errors are occurring. This is actually specifically hard for students who are particularly good at mental math or who consider SAT math easier than what they are used to. Because of this, many students do not work the problems as systematically as the hard Calculus problems that they encounter at school. This is a trap! The SAT has many multistage problems that require students to keep track of a number of other derived quantities or details from the problem in order to ascertain a solution. This is a lot to ask of a brain and can get really confusing if your paper is not organized. Line up all numbers in arithmetic problems in columns, write out every step and look at what you have written to be sure it matches what you meant to write. This practice of looking for errors will make you more vigilant and better able to spot mistakes if they do happen.

Careless errors are not “stupid mistakes”, they are simply mistakes. While it is most important that students are able to apply the concepts that they are taught in classes, a firm grasp of concepts is not useful if the equations do not produce the right answer. In order to make sure the right answer is reached, students must be meticulous and on the look out for their own errors. With this level of awareness, students need never again look at a careless mistake and will dominate the exam. Happy Holidays!

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

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

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Thank you to all of our loyal readers, students, instructors, and consultants for another incredible year. We cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for us. It’s going to be an exciting year!

Good luck to those of you finishing up your Round 2 MBA applications. You’re almost there! Don’t forget to take a few minutes for some needed relaxation with your family this week.

Best wishes for ringing in the New Year,

The Veritas Prep Team

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

With the winter solstice behind us here in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re probably noticing that the daylight is starting to return; this week we begin the steady climb toward summertime and you’ll see a few extra minutes of daylight after work each week from here until June. For many GMAT applicants, the darkest days of the year in December and early January match with the darkest days of their admissions journey, hustling to post a competitive GMAT while also scrambling on essays for Round 2. But this, too, shall pass.

If your New Year’s Resolution is to make 2015 the year that you ace the GMAT, you can take a lesson from this time of year. The darkest points always give way to enlightenment, and that secret will get you through some very difficult GMAT problems. There are two very common structures for challenging GMAT quant problems:

1) It looks easy, but the last step or two are tricky.

2) It looks impossible, but once you’ve found the right foothold it gets easy quickly.

This post is all about #2, those problems where it looks incredibly dark right up until that moment that you reach enlightenment. Veritas Prep’s own Jason Sun recounts the first quant question en route to his official 780 score: “I stared at a nasty sequence problem for probably 45 seconds with my jaw open thinking ‘there’s no way to solve this’. Then I remembered the strategy of starting with small numbers and finding a pattern, and 10 seconds later the answer was obvious.”

That’s common on the GMAT, and step one for you is to realize that problems are designed to look like that. When things look darkest, have faith that they’ll clear up. Here are a few ways that that occurs on the GMAT.

Calculations look awful, but work themselves out before you get to the answer.

Consider this problem:

If the product of the integers a, b, c, and d is 1,155 and if a > b > c > d > 1, then

what is the value of a – d?

(A) 2

(B) 8

(C) 10

(D) 11

(E) 14

Upon first glance, 1155 and four variables might look really messy. But take the first step – you know it’s divisible b y 11 and that you have to factor it. 1100 is 11*100 and 55 is 11*5, so you have 11*105. And 105 is much easier to divide out since it ends in a 5. That’s 21*5, which is 7*3*5. Once you’ve factored it down, it’s 11*7*5*3, which are all prime, so when 1 has to be less than any of these, that’s exactly a, b, c, and d. You need the biggest minus the smallest, and 11-3 is 8. What may have looked like a big, intimidating number was actually not so bad once you took the first step. It’s always darkest before the light goes on.

The problem is abstract, but comes into focus when you test small numbers.

What is the units digit of 2^40?

(A) 2

(B) 4

(C) 6

(D) 8

(E) 0

2^40 is an insanely large number. You’ll never be able to calculate it. But if you take the first few steps with small numbers, you’ll see a pattern:

2^1 = 2

2^2 = 4

2^3 = 8

2^4 = 16

2^5 = 32

2^6 = 64

2^7 = 128

2^8 = 256

And since you only care about the units digits, you should see a pretty firm pattern emerging. 2, 4, 8, 6, 2, 4, 8, 6. If you repeat through this pattern, you’ll see that every 4th number is a 6, and since 2^40 will be the finish of the tenth run of that every-fourth-number cycle, the answer has to be 6. The GMAT loves to give you problems with big or abstract numbers that seem unfathomable, but if you test properties with small numbers you can often find a pattern or some other way to determine what you have.

It’s always the last place you look.

Another common theme is specific to geometry problems – the GMAT often constructs them so that a seemingly irrelevant piece of information (like the measure of a far, far away angle, or the area of a figure when you’re only solving for the length of one line) is crucial to the answer…it’s just that you don’t even consider filling in that piece of information that seems so far away from what you’re really trying to solve for. So FILL IN EVERYTHING! Even if it seems irrelevant, fill in every piece of information you can solve for and you’ll give yourself a better shot of finding that unlikely relationship that cracks the code.

You’re not supposed to be able to solve for it, but you can estimate or use answer choices.

Plenty of GMAT questions beg you to do some horrifying math, but if you look at the answer choices ahead of time you can see that they’re either spread incredibly far apart and ready to be estimated or they have easy-to-plug-in properties that allow you to just test them. It’s crucial to remember that the GMAT isn’t a test of pure math, but of problem solving using math. Heed this advice: if you think the calculations are too detailed to do in two minutes, you’re probably right. That’s when you should look to estimate or backsolve.

So if your GMAT study sessions are growing longer as the daylight does, keep this wisdom in mind. It always looks darkest before sunrise, and the same is true of many tough GMAT quant problems. As you struggle through practice problems, pay attention to all those times that the solution wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed it would have to be upon first glance.

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

You’ve taken the GMAT, polished up your essays, and secured that final recommendation and finally submitted what you thought was the perfect application. Unfortunately when decision day came around you did not receive that highly coveted “ADMITTED” message or even the dreaded “DENIED” message. So did the admissions team forget to give you a decision? No, you are in the b-school applicant’s version of purgatory, you’ve been WAITLISTED.

Now, being waitlisted is of course not the desired outcome when you submit an application but look on the brighter side, your application is still in play. Now what do you do next? Generally, a spot on the waitlist is a positive reflection of your candidacy by the admissions team but there was something in your application that made the committee reluctant to admit you outright. I’ve seen candidates with fantastic work experience, sterling recommendations, and top GMAT scores be placed on the waitlist. Schools are generally very tight-lipped when it comes to sharing details but issues can range from unclear career goals, to lack of impact at work to a weaker academic profile.

The first step is to decide whether you even want to remain on the waitlist. Each school has a different protocol when it comes to how they handle their waitlist so the first step is determining what rules apply. So if you have received admission elsewhere with a pending decision timeline or simply do not want to wait around for an answer, follow the relevant directions that apply to your situation. Now, assuming you want to remain on the waitlist, review the application you have submitted and take inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of your submission. Some schools will provide feedback but many will not so this review may fall upon you, the applicant.

Once you have determined potential weaknesses in your application it is time to see what you can change in the limited time you may have before a final decision is rendered. Let’s look at the different levers you can push to improve your profile.

GMAT:

Does your GMAT not fit comfortably in the school range? Is it below the average score? If so, it may be time to take the GMAT again. Set a timeline and determine whether you will have enough time to prep and take the exam.

Academic Performance:

Low GPAs and lack of analytical coursework (or within your work experience) can be seen as red flags on your profile. Identifying additional coursework at local universities, community colleges, or even online schools may help address concerns about your academic readiness.

Work Experience:

Have you received a promotion or new and increased responsibilities since submitting your application? If so, this is a great addition to your profile. Show the admissions committee that you have the requisite leadership and teamwork skills they are looking for and that you are making an impact at your organization.

Interest/Fit:

Does the school know how much you want to be there? Make sure your interest is clear. Engage with the school to highlight your desire to matriculate. Many schools will provide a point of contact in the department for waitlist candidates, use this person as your personal champion to help get you off the waitlist. Reach out to personal contacts who are students, alums, or professors who may be able to send letters of support in your favor.

However, make sure to follow the directions provided by the school. Certain schools want to limit contact with candidates and are only truly looking for substantive updates so please keep this in mind as you activate your waitlist strategy.

Leverage all of these additions to your profile to enhance your application and escape the waitlist.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

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

As promised last week, we will look at another question which involves finding the last two digits of the product of some random numbers. In this question, along with the concepts discussed last week, we will assimilate the concept of negative remainders too discussed some weeks ago.

Let’s recap the concepts before we see the question:

I. When you divide a number by 100, the remainder is formed by the last two digits of the number.

II. When you divide (px + a)(qx + b)*…*(tx + e) by x, the remainder will be the remainder obtained by dividing a*b*…*e by x.

III. We cannot just cancel off the common terms in the numerator and denominator to get the remainder. But, if we want to cancel off to simplify the question, we can do it, provided we remember to multiply it back again.

These three were discussed with examples last week.

IV. When m is divided by n and a negative remainder (–r) is obtained, we can find the actual remainder simply as (n – r).

Now, let’s solve a question involving all these concepts.

Question: What are the last two digits of (301*402*503*604*646*547*448*349)^2

(A) 96

(B) 76

(C) 56

(D) 36

(E) 16

Solution: We need to find the last two digits of the product. It means we need to find the remainder when we divide the product by 100.

Find remainder of (301*402*503*604*646*547*448*349)^2/100

Note that 301 = 300 + 1 which gives us a small remainder 1 to work with but 349 = 300 + 49, a large remainder with which calculations will become cumbersome. But note that 349 is close to 350. All the numbers in the product are quite close to a multiple of 50, if not to a multiple of 100.

We cancel off a 2 (of 402) from the numerator with a 2 of the denominator to make the divisor 50. We will multiply the remainder we obtain by 2 back at the end.

Note that in this product, all terms obtained will have a multiple of 50 except the last term obtained by multiplying the remainders together:

We need:

the remainder of 1*1*3*4*(-4)*(-3)*(-2)*(-1)*1*2*3*4*(-4)*(-3)*(-2)*(-1) / 50

the remainder of (12)*(24)*(24)*(24) / 50

Notice now that the remainders are far too great but they are close to 25. So let’s bring the divisor down to 25 by canceling off another 2.

We need:

the remainder of (6)*(24)*(24)*(24) / 25

the remainder of (6)*(25-1)*(25-1)*(25-1) / 25

Again, the only product we need to worry about is the last one obtained by multiplying the remainders together:

the remainder of 6*(-1)*(-1)*(-1) / 25

The remainder is -6 which is negative. To get the positive remainder, 25 – 6 = 19. But remember that we had divided the divisor twice by 2 so to get the actual remainder, we must multiply the remainder obtained back by 4: the actual remainder is 4*19 = 76

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!

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

An MBA can open tons of doors for students who are looking to break into careers they never thought possible. The opportunities, the networking, and the access can offer unparalleled career choices to budding MBAs in some of the most exclusive industries in the world. Many applicants struggle to find the balance in deciding which careers they think they should list in their application as opposed to those they truly wish to pursue.

It does not have to be one versus the other. The value of a great MBA program is that you can get pretty close to having it all, but it starts with introspection, self-reflection and research. Before we dive into that aspect, it’s helpful to understand the formula with which MBA programs typically look at your career goals. So lets start with the first formula for your short-term goals. Admissions will determine whether your pre-MBA academic career + pre-MBA work experience + their MBA program will equal your short-term career goals. Now for the formula for your long-term goals which is pre-MBA academic career + pre-MBA work experience + their MBA program + short-term career goals = long-term goals. For both formulas admissions is looking to assess whether your goals are logical given your background and realistic given the expected growth you will encounter at their program. If they don’t feel their MBA program can help you reach your career goals than this is a red flag.

Now understanding that as an applicant you must connect the dots for admissions, how do you figure out what you really want to do? I propose starting very broad; think about what you would do if money or experience were not a factor. Would you work at the circus or in sports or travel for a living? Think about the things you enjoy doing in your free time or that hold a particular passion for you. Next, get a bit more reflective and think about where you excel professionally: is it as a communicator, leader or analytically? If possible, think even from a functional perspective to gain additional clarity. Now, identify the job that combines your personal and professional passions. If you are great at finance, but love sports, maybe a career as a General Manager of a Pro Sports team is the career for you. Take this approach to identify what a realistic MBA dream career would be.

But how do you get to a realistic short-term goal? Just work backwards, start by researching people in similar roles as your dream long-term career. Find out what steps they took to reach these goals and identify what relevant short-term goal would be realistic given your background. Focus on developing at least functional or industry skills through your short-term goal that will allow you to present your long-term goals as a realistic option. If focusing on industry vs. function, focus on whichever you have the least experience in pre-MBA so you are covering all of your bases.

Finding your dream job is never easy but utilizing your MBA to get closer to your long-term career should be the target of every MBA applicant.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

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Everyone makes a few New Year’s resolutions. Most of them are about getting in shape, reading more, and other activities that improve one’s livelihood. In 2015, if you are a high school student gearing up to take the SAT, you should start it off with a different sort of resolution. Resolve to study one hour each day until the test on Saturday, January 24th.

Unlike most resolutions, this one is measured and specific – if worked on diligently it will result in tremendous gains. The SAT may not change your life, but jumping up in score by 200 or 300 points can really enhance your portfolio for perspective colleges. It can mean thousands and thousands of dollars in scholarship money and better odds for admission at selective universities. Getting a high score on the SAT is your chance to differentiate yourself from other similar applicants and showcase your aptitude to admission committees.

It all starts with this New Year’s resolution. Take the time each day to study your vocab, practice your math strategies, improve your essay structure, and enhance your reading comprehension abilities. While it may seem daunting, here is how you should break it down:

1. Start every day off with vocabulary for fifteen to twenty minutes. Whether it is learning new words, reviewing old ones, or doing a mix of both, this time will be well spent. Vocabulary is a crucial aspect of the SAT, with nineteen questions testing you solely on your ability to memorize and understand random words. The only way to succeed is to put in the time and learn these words. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day will get you on the right track.

2. Split time doing practice problems of the various components of the SAT. Aim for two practice essays a week to hone and sharpen those skills. In terms of the other sections, build up your weaknesses. While it may be fun to do all math sections if you are scoring in the 700’s already, your time is much better spent improving reading comprehension and writing. Balance out the sections, to make sure you are improving in every single one. Plus, if you are in the 500 to 600 range for a section, it’s a lot easier to boost your score than if you are already close to perfect.

3. Review old practice tests. Each weekend try and set aside five extra hours to take a simulated test that should mirror exact testing conditions. It will be well worth it!

If you are taking the test January 24th, an hour a day is 24 hours total (excluding practice tests). That’s literally just one day out of your entire life. Isn’t it worth it to spend one day to take your score to the next level? The SAT can make or break your college decision. So with 2015 coming in, make it a goal to spend one hour each day. The results will surely follow. Happy New Year!

Still need to take the SAT? 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!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

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

Studying for the GMAT can take over your life. I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads as you read this. If you’re not, you probably haven’t gotten there yet. I sincerely hope that you never do, but it is an almost unavoidable part of studying for this test. Eventually, you start correcting artists in songs (I got one less problem without you… more like one fewer problem) and wondering if your table number is a prime number (how about table 51… oops that’s divisible by 3). The first time you catch yourself using a GMAT specific term, you know you’re really deep in studying for this exam.

Most of the terms you hear are just general math and verbal times that you’ve seen before, but likely not in many years (“gerunds” and “isosceles” come to mind immediately). However, some expressions exist only on the GMAT. As an example, have you come across the term “The C trap” yet? This idiom is used to describe the erroneous assumption that answer choice C is disproportionately chosen on Data Sufficiency questions. As a quick reminder, this choice indicates “both statements taken together are sufficient to answer the question, but neither statement alone is sufficient”. (If you knew it verbatim by heart, congratulations, you’re in GMAT mode).

Why do people select this choice on roughly 30-40% of their data sufficiency questions? The answer is that, since you have two independent statements to evaluate, choosing to use both typically gives you the maximum amount of information. Of course, that doesn’t mean that using both statements is what will provide sufficient information to answer the question. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t get the same information from only one of the two statements. Despite this, test takers consistently feel most comfortable picking answer choice C than any other choice on questions where they’re unsure how to proceed. It seems as if answer choice C makes them feel safe. Unfortunately, time and time again, it’s a trap.

Let’s look at question that highlights this issue:

An animal shelter began the day Tuesday with a ratio of 5 cats for every 11 dogs. If no new animals arrived at the shelter, and the only animals that left the shelter were those that were adopted, what was the ratio of cats to dogs at the end of the day Tuesday?

(1) No cats were adopted on Tuesday.

(2) 4 dogs were adopted on Tuesday.

(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 asked; but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient

(D) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked

(E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed

Let’s begin by taking stock of what we know. This question is asking about ratios. At a certain shelter, the ratio started off as 5:11 for cats : dogs. During the course of the day, some animals were potentially adopted. The question asks about the ratio at the end of the day. The most important thing to note here is that we being with a ratio but not absolute numbers, which means if we get ratios (i.e. half the cats got adopted) we might know the end ratio. If we get absolute numbers, we have almost no chance of having sufficient data. The stimulus gives us no further information, so we need to start looking at the statements.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s start with statement (1). Remember that you can always start with statement (2) if you prefer (or if it seems easier) as both statements are independent. The first statement tells us that no cats were adopted. However, we don’t know anything about the dogs (other that they’re four legged mammals). This statement alone will clearly be insufficient. We can eliminate answer choices A and D.

Looking now at statement 2, we know that exactly four dogs were adopted over the course of the day. This statement will suffer from the same problem as statement 1: we have no information about the cats. This statement will be insufficient on its own, and answer choice B can be eliminated as well.

Looking now to combine the statements, we can consider that the number of dogs dropped by four while the number of cats remained the same. Since we know about both animals, many people believe that the two statements together are sufficient. This would be true if we knew the actual number of each animal at the beginning of the day. Regrettably, we only know the ratio of one to the other, meaning that a change in absolute number is meaningless.

To use concrete numbers, there could have been 5 cats and 11 dogs at the beginning of the day, and the loss of four dogs would change the ratio to 5:7. Just as likely, we had 50 cats and 110 dogs at the beginning of the day, and the new ratio would be 50:106 (which we could simplify to 25:53 for completeness’ sake). Since either of these scenarios (and a dozen more) is possible, the answer must be answer choice E. The statements together do not provide enough information.

There is one caveat worth mentioning with ratios. Since the ratio does not tell us about absolute numbers, adding 10 or subtracting 15 is meaningless because we don’t know the original numbers. There is, however, one interesting exception: If you added 5 cats and 11 dogs, then the ratio would naturally remain unchanged. Indeed, as long as the change was in the ratio of 5:11, the ratio would be known: still 5:11. If the ratio deviates in any way, this does not hold. Interestingly, for subtraction, this problem does not occur because removing 5 cats and 11 dogs introduces the non-negligible possibility that there are now 0 cats and 0 dogs left at the shelter. In general, absolute number data is meaningless on ratios. Keep the one exception (adding by the exact same ratio) in mind when considering these types of problems.

In general, people are far too enticed by answer choice C on Data Sufficiency questions. Indeed, answer choice E was the most common answer for this question, but choice C was not far behind. Having more information is always tempting, even if it has almost no bearing on the actual question. Many students report feeling more secure selecting answer choice C, especially if they don’t know the answer and are guessing (educated guess, hopefully) the correct answer. The problem is that the test makers know that answer choice C is the most popular answer choice and specifically design problems to lure you to that conclusion. However, (as admiral Ackbar warned in 1983) it’s a trap!

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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Several of my students have asked about the process of requesting testing accommodations for the GMAT, so I thought it’d be helpful to organize the relevant information in one place, along with a brief overview of what to expect.

Who is eligible for testing accommodations?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The GMAC recognizes several categories of disabilities that may warrant testing accommodations, including:

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Learning and Cognitive Disorders (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia)

Sensory Disabilities (e.g., vision and hearing impairments)

If you have a documented disability, then you may be entitled to testing accommodations on the GMAT.

What kinds of accommodations are offered?

The most common accommodations are:

Additional testing time (+50% or +100%)

Extended or additional rest breaks

Someone to read items to you

Someone to record your responses

Screen-reader software and/or enlarged type font

How do I apply for testing accommodations?

Read the GMAT Handbook Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities and follow the instructions about creating a profile and submitting the appropriate documentation to Pearson VUE (which administers the GMAT) via fax or snail mail only. There is no extra charge for testing accommodations, but you must submit the standard $250 test fee along with your application.

Keep in mind that the GMAC requires more than just an official diagnosis before granting testing accommodations; they need an in-depth examination of how your disability is affecting you currently, and why the requested accommodations are necessary and appropriate relative to your disability. Documentation guidelines for the various categories of disabilities are available here.

Once your application is received, you’ll get an email confirming that the process is underway, and then it’s time to play the waiting game.

How long does the application process take?

Usually they will get back to with their decision within 7-10 business days, but officially they give themselves a cushion of 26-30 calendar days. It’s important to note that you must apply for accommodations before scheduling your test date; they will not grant testing accommodations to an already scheduled test date. If you want to check on the status of your application, the GMAC Testing Accommodations Department can be reached via email at testingaccommodations@gmac.com, or via phone at 1-800-466-0450.

Once a decision has been made regarding your application, you’ll get an email notification with the results. If accommodations are granted, then it’s time to actually schedule your exam. Only certain testing centers are designated to handle testing accommodations, and there are a limited number of slots available at any given time, so you can’t schedule the exam online yourself. You’ll have to call to leave a message for a scheduling specialist, and then someone should call you back within 3 business days to find an appropriate test location and date for you.

I don’t have a disability but I’m always running out of time on the GMAT. Can I get extra time?

Pretty much everybody would love some extra time on the GMAT, myself included. It’s a challenging test, and lots of people have issues with pacing. Accommodations are designed to provide equal access to people who are truly disabled relative to the general population. Pacing issues alone don’t qualify someone for extra time.

Some other things to keep in mind

Don’t want until the last minute to apply for accommodations. The whole process of getting the proper documentation, submitting it to Pearson, awaiting their response, and then scheduling the exam is fairly involved, so give yourself plenty of time to do it. I had one student with a diagnosed learning disability who decided to apply for testing accommodations only after he had already taken the GMAT twice and hadn’t gotten the score he wanted. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time before his b-school application due date to apply for accommodations, so he had to take the exam without any. (Fortunately, we got his score up to where it needed to be anyway—yay!) The point is, if you think you might be eligible for accommodations, start getting your documentation together and submit the application as soon as possible.

Some accommodations can be a double-edged sword. Extra time is great, right? Except that more time on the GMAT also means more time to get fatigued and stressed out. Another student of mine had double time, meaning that he took the test over two consecutive days. But after the first day, he was convinced he had bombed the quant section (which turned out not to be the case), and as a result he barely slept that night and was exhausted for the verbal section on day two. Whatever the accommodation you’re applying for, just don’t expect it to be a panacea.

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

Those of you who have seen the previous version of our curriculum would know that we had tips and tricks under the heading of ‘Lazy Genius’. These used to discuss innovative shortcuts for various questions – the way very smart people would solve the question – without putting in too much effort!

Today, let’s bring back the beloved lazy genius through a question. Try to solve it lazily i.e. try to do minimum work on paper. This means making equations and solving them is a big no-no and doing too many calculations is cumbersome.

Question: A tank has two water pumps Alpha and Beta and one drain Gamma. Pump Alpha alone can fill the whole tank in x hours, and pump Beta alone can fill the whole tank in y hours. The drain can empty the whole tank in z hours such that z>x. When the tank was empty, pumps Alpha and Beta started pumping water in the tank and the drain Gamma simultaneously was draining water from the tank. When finally the tank is full, which of the following represents the amount of water in terms of the fraction of the tank which pump Alpha pumped into the tank?

(A) yz/(x+y+z)

(B) yz/(yz + xz – xy)

(C) yz/(yz + xz + xy)

(D) xyz/(yz + xz – xy)

(E) (yz + xz – xy)/yz

Note that you have variables in the question and the options. Since we are looking for a lazy solution, making equations out of the variables is not acceptable. So then, should we plug in numbers? With three variables to take care of, that might involve a lot of calculations too. Then what else?

Here is our minimum-work-solution to this problem; try to think one of your own and don’t forget to share it with us.

Plugging in numbers for the variables can be troublesome but you can give some very convenient values to the variables so that the effect of a pump and a drain will cancel off.

There are no constraints on the values of x, y and z except z > x (drain Gamma empties slower than pipe Alpha fills)

Let’s say, x = 2 hrs, y = 4 hrs, z = 4 hrs

What did we do here? We made the rate of Beta same as the rate of Gamma i.e. 1/4 of the tank each. This means, whenever both of them are working together, drain Gamma cancels out the work of pump Beta. Every hour, pump Beta fills 1/4th of the tank and every hour drain Gamma empties 1/4th of the tank. So the entire tank will be filled by pump Alpha alone. Hence, if y = z, pump Alpha fills the entire tank i.e. the amount of water in terms of fraction of the tank pumped by Alpha will be 1.

In the options, put y = z and see which option gives you 1. Note that you don’t have to put in the values of 2, 4 and 4. We gave those values only for illustration purpose.

If y = z, xy = xz.

So in option (B), xz cancels xy in the denominator giving yz/yz = 1

Again, in option (E), xz cancels xy in the numerator giving yz/yz = 1

The other options will not simplify to 1 even though when we put y = z, the answer should be 1 irrespective of the value of x, y and z. The other options will depend on the values of x and/or y. Hence the only possible options are (B) and (E). But we still need to pick one out of these two.

Now let’s say, x = 4, y = 2, z = 4.00001 ( z should be greater than x but let’s assume it is infinitesimally greater than x such that we can approximate it to 4 only)

Rate of work of Gamma (1/4th of the tank per hour) is half the rate of work of Beta (1/2 the tank per hour). Rate of work of Gamma is same as rate of work of Alpha. Half the work done by pump Beta is removed by drain Gamma. So if pump Beta fills the tank, drain Gamma empties half of it in that time – the other half would be filled by pump Alpha i.e. the amount of water in terms of fraction of the tank pumped by Alpha will be 1/2.

Put x = z in the options (B) and (E). The one that gives you 1/2 with these values should be the answer. Again, you don’t need to plug in the actual values till the end.

If x = z, yx = yz

(B) yz/(yz + xz – xy)

yz cancels xy in the denominator giving us yz/xz = y/x = 2/4 = 1/2

(E) (yz + xz – xy)/yz

yz cancels xy in the numerator giving us xz/yz = x/y = 4/2 = 2

Only option (B) gives 1/2. Answer (B)

Even if you end up feeling that this method is complicated, try and wrap your head around it. If you do, you are on your way to becoming a lazy genius yourself!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

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Junior year can be challenging. Especially with the looming presence of standardized tests. For all those planning on taking the ACT, the first step towards success is simple: create a study timeline for your exam. Most students opt to take the ACT some time during their junior year. While test prep time will vary student to student, a good rule of thumb is to start preparing about 5-6 months in advance. Keep in mind that you may need to take the exam more than one time.

Six Months Before

Figure out if the ACT is the right exam for you! Test prep experts, like our Veritas team, are a great resource to help you figure out whether you should take the SAT or ACT. Test prep experts can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses in standardized testing and direct you accordingly. If you chose the ACT, this is also the time to take a practice exam to establish your baseline score. Knowing your baseline score will allow you to create a realistic target score. Your baseline score can also help guide your choice of test prep courses.

This is the time to choose your course and talk to an expert about what course will best fulfill your learning needs. Veritas Prep offers three general kinds of ACT prep courses: Full Course, Private Tutoring, and On Demand. The 36 hour Full Course offers all live instruction. Private tutoring can be adjusted to your personal schedule and can also be in person or online. The On Demand Course offers HD video lessons that allow you to pause, fast forward, and rewind your lessons. Most ACT test prep courses run for about 6 weeks.

Four Months Before

Practice, practice, practice! Test prep courses will provide you with the foundation of essential skills you need to do well on the exam. Four months before the exam you should feel familiar with the exam and start focusing on specific strategies to improve your weaker areas.

This is also the time to choose your test date. Looking forward to the rest of the 2015 academic school year, ACT administration dates are:

February 7th

April 18th

June 13th

The ACT website (www.actstudent.org) lists all test dates and registration deadlines. Registration deadlines are typically 5 weeks before the exam, although you can register later for an added fee. However, try and register early, as registering for the exam can provide extra motivation to study.

Two Months Before

Once you’ve completed the bulk of your test prep course, this is the time to take lots of practice exams and become very comfortable with the test. If there are still areas of the exam you feel uncomfortable with, this is a great time to really zone in on specific strategies with a tutor. Otherwise, you should focus on taking full-length exams. Once you feel comfortable with specific strategies and skills, the best thing you can do to prepare for the exam is to take full-length tests under real testing conditions (silent, no interruptions, timed, etc.).

The Night Before

Do not try and cram the night before. While it may be tempting to keep pushing yourself, keep in mind that you have studied for months for this exam. The night before the exam is a good time to relax so you feel well rested and ready to achieve success on your ACT!

Sarah Smith is a Pre-med, Bioethics major at Northwestern University. She’s editor in chief and co-founder of the student health magazine and enjoys being involved in various clubs around campus. Sarah is passionate about education and enjoys learning and teaching. She enjoys helping Veritas Prep students prepare for the ACT!

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

Many students enter business school with plans to make major career transitions post-MBA. Traditional recruiting can do a lot to help students career switch into target industries, but many recruiters remain focused on specific functional experience. For students that are making bigger career changes, creating an alternative resume is a great option to increase your competiveness in tough industries.

But what is an alternative resume?

It lists work or functional experience created during your time in business school used to supplement your traditional resume. It can showcase to employers skills and expertise not exhibited in your past work experience. The three key components of any alternative resume will include academic coursework, experiential learning, and internships.

Coursework

By aligning your coursework on functional areas that you need to develop in your chosen career path you can not only tighten up subject area knowledge but can also network amongst professors, guests, and other students to make industry inroads. Part of creating an alternative resume is to showcase your competencies to prospective employers. But one must gain the competencies first so take your in-class experience seriously as you need to make sure you can “talk the talk” as you never know who will be able to help you out.

Experiential Learning

The best academic experiences often occur outside the classroom. Participation in experiential learning opportunities does not only build your real-world skill level but also provides you with a direct connection to companies and decision makers in your target industry. Popular experiential learning initiatives at most schools include Venture Labs, Start-Up Labs, and Asset Management practicums.

Internships

Internships are probably the best way to prove your skills in a given industry. But don’t just sit back and wait for the traditional summer internships. Utilize fall, spring, and winter internships to consistently develop your skills throughout your MBA experience.

Take ownership of your career by following these tips to create the perfect alternative resume!

Want to craft a strong application to get into business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

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

There is a new SAT debuting in 2016 by College Board. It is more progressive and will better reflect student’s intelligence and aptitude. While still very coachable, the new SAT will not be as easy to boost your score to such extreme levels as the old one.

What I mean by this is with the right preparation and study habits, a student can go up by 300 or 400 points from their initial practice test on the old SAT. However, on the new SAT, students will be able to see large increases in their score with the right tutoring and preparation, but 400 point jumps will be much more infrequent. If a student is still on the fence about taking the old one versus the new one, I would say it depends on how much one wants to prepare.

It comes down to understanding the type of student you are and in what way you succeed. If school doesn’t come as easy to you and you spend hours studying for tests, you will fare better on the old one. On the other hand, if sitting down to study for months does work for you, the new test is better. There is one caveat that exists with both tests. No matter how smart you are, it’s very hard to obtain an elite score on either test without a lot of guided preparation. The SAT is just not one of those things anyone really skates by on natural intelligence, even with the progressive changes. Here a couple key changes you will see on the SAT in 2016:

Vocabulary Words in Contest:

On the new SAT, College Board says you won’t have to memorize a bunch of obscure words that you will never use again. While this is good for your sanity and productivity in the grand scheme of things, vocabulary provided a great opportunity for any student to bump up their score if they put in the time to prepare for it. On the new test the vocabulary will be similar to what you see on passaged based reading now. It will ask you what the word most nearly means in context. Understanding vocabulary will still be a crucial component of the new test, but there won’t be an easy 50 to 100 point boost from vocabulary that you used to have.

No Wrong Answer Penalty:

There will be no penalty for wrong answers on the new test. On the old test, you got docked a quarter of a point for every wrong answer. That is not the case on the new one. This allows you to guess at will. However, if more students start guessing and hitting on correct answers, the curve will go up a bit. If you have prepared and wouldn’t use this new feature too often, I highly recommend taking the old test.

New Essay:

The old test essay was extremely coachable. Any student, with the right training could be taught how to write a 10-12 essay. While this will still be possible on the new SAT, it will take a lot more time and training to get a 10-12 type score if you are not a naturally gifted writer. It still can happen, but the new SAT definitely favors stronger writers for this section.

There are other key changes to the SAT in terms of Math and Reading Comprehension, but these will be just as coachable as the old test. What it comes down is if you put in three months of studying under the right guidance of Veritas Prep, your efforts will be better rewarded on the old test than the new one.

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

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The GMAT is an exam that evaluates how you think. The test is designed to measure your reasoning skills and gauge how successful you will be in business school. This means that the test is not simply trying to ascertain how much you already know. This is similar to the mantra of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. If you happen to already know that 144 is 12^2, then any question that asks about this specific number becomes much easier. However, if the exam starts asking about 13^2 or 14^2, and you only know 12^2, then you must find some method to take your knowledge and apply it to new and unscripted problems.

The major difference between the GMAT and high school exams is that the questions are unpredictable. In high school, we’re taught to memorize certain pieces of information, and then regurgitate them on the final exam. If the question on the exam differed even slightly from the question we’ve committed to memory, we tended to panic, guess and generally fail to see the relationship between what we learned and what we were being asked to solve. As an example, if you know 12^2, you’re already 85.2% of the way to solving 13^2 (you know, roughly…). There is a fairly simple way to go from one perfect square to another, but before we talk about the general case solution, let’s go back to the beginning.

This pattern holds with 0^2, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s starts with 1^2. 1^2 expanded is 1 x 1, and this gives us a product of 1. Let’s look at the next perfect square: 2^2. 2 x 2 = 4. This is an increase of 3 from the first perfect square. The next perfect square is 3^2. 3 x 3 = 9. This represents an increase of 5 from the previous perfect square. Let’s do one more to cement the pattern: 4^2. 4 x 4 = 16. From the previous perfect square, we’ve increased by 7. The next perfect squares are 25, 36 and 49, representing subsequent increases of 9, 11 and 13, respectively. Indeed, each increase between subsequent perfect squares is a positive odd integer, and they’re in sequential order. It turns out that this pattern holds for all perfect squares, allowing us a shortcut to calculate them quickly. Let’s look at why this pattern holds.

From the initial perfect square of 1^2, we increase to 2^2. Consider this in two parts. We start with 1 x 1, and then we go to 1 x 2, and then finally to 2 x 2. What happens at each step? The first step brings up the total by 1, as we are adding another one of the initial element. The second step brings us up by 2, as we are adding another one of the new (n+1) element. This difference is what makes the perfect square 2^2 increase by (1+2=) 3 from the previous perfect square 1^2. Similarly, going from 2^2 to 3^2 can stop by the intermediary step of 2 x 3, and then 3 x 3. The first increase is of 2, and the second is of 3, giving a total of 5. For the general case, we can see that n^2 becomes (n+1) ^2 if we simply take n^2 and increase it by n and then increase it by n+1.

While this level of mathematics is not required on the GMAT, it certainly makes certain calculations much faster. Let’s return to our initial example of 12^2. Most (non-GMAT aficionado) people don’t know 13^2 offhand, but since elementary school has indoctrinated us with the multiplication table up to 12, the majority of people can easily recall that 12^2 is 144. Using this shortcut, we can see that 13^2 is 144 + 12 + 13. Adding these together, we get 169, the correct answer. 14^2 will similarly be 169 + 13 + 14, or 196, and so on.

I don’t consider this strategy a trick in any way, but rather a result of deeply understanding mathematical properties. This is the type of skill that’s rewarded on the GMAT, and it’s often rewarded by solving questions like this in under 2 minutes:

225, or 15^2, is the first perfect square that begins with two 2s. What is the sum of the digits of the next perfect square to begin with two 2s.

(A) 7

(B) 9

(C) 13

(D) 16

(E) 21

This is the type of question that could easily take 5 minutes on the GMAT. We have very little information, only that the number we want is a perfect square that begins with two 2s. Also, that it’s not 225, which is one a lot of people might know (especially if you live in a country with 15% sales tax). Even with a calculator, this question isn’t particularly trivial, so we’ll need to devise a strategy before randomly squaring numbers and hoping they begin with 22…

First things first, the next perfect square cannot possibly be 22x. The next perfect square after 15^2 is 16^2, which is 256 (you can get here any way you like). This means that the next perfect square has to be 22xx. This gives us an order of magnitude to shoot for. Until we have a better idea on which numbers to hone in on, let’s use easy numbers to get a sense of where we’re going:

20^2 = 400

30^2 = 900

40^2 = 1,600

50^2 = 2,500

Okay, so the number must be somewhere between 40 and 50. From here, it may be obvious that we need to be closer to 50, since 22xx is more than halfway between 1,600 and 2,500. As such, an astute test taker might try something like 47^2 or 48^2 and see how close they got. However, instead of guessing, let’s use our perfect square strategy to see how quickly we can calculate the correct number.

50^2 is 2,500. This means that if I were to calculate 49^2, I could simply take 2,500 and remove 50, then remove 49. This is the reverse of adding them together to get from 49^2 to 50^2. You can also think of this subtraction as 2,500 – 99, which means that 49^2 must be 2,401. A cursory test of the unit digit reveals that 9 x 9 would yield a unit digit of 1, so we’re on the right track. Similarly, going to 48^2 from 49^2 involves taking 2401 and subtracting 49 then 48. This would be 2,401 – 97, or 2,304. We got close to 22xx, but we’ll need one more step. 47^2 will be 48^2 – 47 – 48. This is equivalent to 2,304 – 95, leaving us with 2,209.

The number we need is a perfect square that begins with 22, so 2,209 is the correct term. From here, we need to add together the digits and get the total of 13, which is answer choice C.

While there is no direct method to answer questions such as these, it’s important to not use blind guessing, as this can waste a lot of time and won’t help you solve a similar question next time. Back solving is useless in a situation like this as well, so our options are somewhat limited. A simple strategy such as calculating signpost perfect squares like 30^2 and 40^2 is helpful, and in a case such as this can negate much of the difficulty of the problem. Since this exam is a test of how you think, don’t forget that any perfect square is just a hop, skip and a jump from the next perfect square.

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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Happy New Year! If you’re reading this on January 9, our publication date, and your New Year’s Resolution is still intact, you’re probably in the majority. But within the next few weeks that will change… This week the gyms, yoga studios, pools, and health food stores of the world were packed with people for whom 2015 is the year to become great; by Valentine’s Day, however, Netflix usage, Frito-Lay sales, and Taco Bell drive through volume will be back to their normal levels, while GMAT class attendance will start to wane, too.

As a GMAT student who wants to make 2015 the year of the elite MBA acceptance letter, how can you be among the disappointingly-few who keep up this week’s excellence exuberance?

Keep it simple.

The problem with most New Year’s Resolutions and GMAT study plan’s is that they’re far too ambitious. Hatched over eggnog and 7-10 days of paid vacation, these plans are destined to failure because they’re way too much for anyone to adhere to in the long term. They often read like:

“I’ll get up 90 minutes before I normally do and study over a healthy breakfast, then after work three days a week I’ll go the library, and every Saturday I’ll take a practice test and spend Sunday mornings with a tutor reviewing it all.”

“I’ll take a leave of absence from work so that I can study 40-50 hours a week for three months, then I’ll take the GMAT in the spring and get a high score, then volunteer all summer to demonstrate my community service, then apply round 1 to Harvard/Stanford/Wharton, and maybe throw Yale or London Business School in the mix as a safety school.”

“I’ll turn off my smartphone and give up social media for the next few months, study at least 90 minutes a day, and….”

And the problem with those study plans? You’ll resent them within a week, just like most New Year’s Resolvers resent their no-carb / all-lettuce diets and overpriced gym memberships. You have to come up with a study plan that:

1) You can fit in to your lifestyle so that you can keep to it.

This means that you factor in your hobbies and, yes, limitations. If you’re not a morning person, you won’t keep to a schedule of studying every morning before work. If you thrive on a good workout, giving up your soccer league or gym regimen completely won’t work either. And friends, family, work functions, etc. are always important.

2) You can build on.

The best study plans are those that start a bit smaller and build into something more robust, like a “Couch to 5k (or marathon)” training program. If you want to run a marathon, you start with a couple miles and build up to 18-20 milers as your body is ready for it. If you want a 700 on the GMAT, you start with a handful of study sessions per week and build into longer sessions when they’re more purposeful and you know what you’re using the time to work on.

3) Focus on achievement, not activity.

Veritas Prep emphasizes the famous John Wooden quote “never mistake activity for achievement”, meaning that simply spending 4 hours studying Sentence Correction, for example, isn’t going to get the job done; it’s the quality of study that helps. So hold yourself accountable for goals, not time spent. Think in terms of “I want to do 25 SC problems focusing on major error categories first, then thinking of logical meaning second”

or “I’m going to practice applying right triangle principles to geometry problems” or “I’m going to do a timed drill to force myself to think more quickly.” Give your study sessions themes and achievement goals, and they’ll not only be more productive but they’ll also be more fun.

So what does a productive, sustainable study schedule look like?

*It’s firm but flexible. Plan to study at least 3 times per week, but let yourself move Tuesday’s session to Wednesday if you get tickets to a Tuesday concert or you work late and just need to blow off steam with a run. You have to get those sessions in, but you don’t have to resent them or go through the motions just to stick to your (probably arbitrary) schedule.

*It’s achievement-driven. Your study sessions have themes and goals, not just durations.

*It’s reasonable. Know yourself and your preferences and limitations.

Very few people can study for hours every day, so schedule something you can commit to – a few sessions per week, maybe two weeknights and one weekend morning, or something that you know you can hold yourself accountable to.

*It’s custom-built. Think about when you’ve been most successful in other academic pursuits and try to replicate that. Do you study better in the morning? In the evening? With friends or music? Alone? After a good workout? With a snack? Build your plan around your own successes.

*It’s built to expand. 2-3 study sessions a week may very well not be enough for you, so be honest with yourself once you’ve up and running. Do you need more time to master algebra? Do you need to build in a class or On Demand program to supplement your practice? Do you have enough time for practice tests? Once you’re committed to a bsseline study regimen, you need to be honest with yourself about what you need, and at that point it’s often easier to bite the bullet and dive into something more intense.

But in the beginning, make sure you have a schedule/plan that you won’t quit before your neighbors even take their Christmas lights down.

January is a great time to make plans for self-improvement, but most of those plans never live to see February. To ensure that your New YEAR’s Resolution to succeed on the GMAT isn’t limited to one month or less, resolve to plan on something that will last. If you can do that, we’ll see you back in this GMAT Tip of the Week every Friday until you have that score you’re looking for.

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

We know that speed is important in GMAT. We have about 2 mins per question and we always have questions in which we get stuck, waste 3-4 mins and probably still answer incorrectly. So we are always trying to go faster, rush, complete the easy ones in less time! In our bid to save time, sometimes we sacrifice accuracy. We should know that accuracy is most important. No point running through questions and completing all of them before time if at the end of it all, most of our answers are incorrect – there are no bonus points for completing the test before time, after all!

In your haste to complete the test on time, don’t overlook the important details. Getting too many easy questions wrong is certainly disastrous. Take a step back and ensure that what they asked is what you have found and that your logic is solid. To illustrate the problem, let’s give you a question – people gloss over it, consider it an easy remainders problem, answer it incorrectly and move on. But guess what, it isn’t as easy as it looks!

Question: If m and n are positive integers such that m > n, what is the remainder when m^2 – n^2 is divided by 21?

Statement 1: The remainder when (m + n) is divided by 7 is 1.

Statement 2: The remainder when (m – n) is divided by 3 is 1.

First let’s give you the incorrect solution provided by many.

Question: What is the remainder when (m^2 – n^2) is divided by 21?

Statement 1: The remainder when (m + n) is divided by 7 is 1.

(m + n) = 7a + 1

Statement 2: The remainder when (m – n) is divided by 3 is 1.

(m – n) = 3b + 1

Therefore, remainder of product (m^2 – n^2) = (m + n)*(m – n) = (7a + 1)(3b + 1) when it is divided by 21 is 1.

Answer (C)

This would have been correct had the statements been:

Statement 1: The remainder when (m + n) is divided by 21 is 1.

Statement 2: The remainder when (m – n) is divided by 21 is 1.

Here, every term is divisible by 21 except the last term 1. So when we divide (m^2 – n^2) by 21, the remainder will be 1.

But let’s go back to our original question. If you solved it the way given above and got the answer as (C), you are not the only one who jumped the gun. Many people end up doing just that. But here is the correct solution:

The statements given are:

Statement 1: The remainder when (m + n) is divided by 7 is 1.

(m + n) = 7a + 1

Statement 2: The remainder when (m – n) is divided by 3 is 1.

Here only the first term is divisible by 21. We have no clue about the other terms. We cannot say that 7a is divisible by 21. It may or may not be depending on the value of a. Similarly, 3b may or may not be divisible by 21 depending on the value of b. So how can we say here that the remainder must be 1? We cannot. We do not know what the remainder will be in this case even with both statements together.

Say, if a = 1 and b = 1,

m^2 – n^2 = 21*1*1 + 7*1 + 3*1 + 1 = 21 + 11

The remainder when you divide m^2 – n^2 by 21 will be 11.

Say, if a = 2 and b = 1,

m^2 – n^2 = 21*2*1 + 7*2 + 3*1 + 1 = 21*2 + 18

The remainder when you divide m^2 – n^2 by 21 will be 18.

Hence, both statements together are not sufficient to answer the question.

Answer (E)

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

Location, location, location! We’re not talking about beachfront property here. We are talking about the location of your target business school and why it should matter to you. What may seem as an innocuous aspect of a school to some, location can play a pretty big part in a candidate’s overall experience in business school and the perception of value of their MBA afterwards.

One of the main considerations applicants overlook when it comes to selecting schools is how the school’s location influences where they will end up post-MBA. The majority of schools have the highest career placement within their home state. So applicants should really identify schools in areas where they would prefer to live. This will make life much easier when it comes to making decisions for internships and full-time job offers.

Location also factors in strongly when it comes to campus recruiting. Many school reputations are based as much on school specific competencies as recruiting proximities. Regional specialties exist in every part of the country for MBA programs. Now we don’t have to break down here which came first, the chicken or the egg, when it comes to these regional specialties, but the connection exists. For example Stanford’s connection to the Bay Area tech scene or Kellogg’s connection to the consumer packaged goods industry of the Midwest should be factors that help determine your school selection.

Another important factor is how the location fits with your personal desires and needs. There is such diversity in business school locations that can range from small college towns like Darden’s Charlottesville location to Booth’s location in the metropolis of Chicago. For some, the small town vs. big city debate is not a big factor but instead cold vs. warm weather locales present a much bigger decision. Not only is it important to figure out where you stand on these factors but also how they all rank out relatively. You may really want the sunny weather of a school like UCLA Anderson but can’t pass up the prestige and access of Wharton’s finance program. All of these decisions should be thought of holistically and with a long-term outlook on what truly makes the most sense for you and your career.

However location factors into your school selection and eventual decision process, make sure it gets the attention it deserves and you will set yourself up to be at the school that makes the most sense for you.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.

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