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Admissions Consulting Updates from Veritas Prep  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Dec 2013, 21:33
Welcome to the Veritas Prep Blog feed. New posts will be added periodically, so check back or follow this thread for informative GMAT Prep and Admissions articles.
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Re: Veritas Prep Blog  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Dec 2013, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Can You Find the Correct Answer to This Tricky GMAT Question?
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This is hard to confess publicly but I must because it is a prime example of how GMAT takes advantage of our weaknesses – A couple of days back, I answered a 650 level question of weighted averages incorrectly. Those of you who have been following my blog would understand that it was an unpleasant surprise – to say the least. I know my weighted averages quite well, thank you! For this comedown, I blame the treachery of GMAT because it knows how to get you when you become too complacent. The takeaway here is – no matter how easy and conventional the question seems, you MUST read it carefully.

Let me share that particular question with you. I will also share two solutions which give you two different answers. It is an exercise for you to figure out which one is the correct solution (that is, if one of them is the correct solution). Needless to say, the error in the solution(s) is conceptual and very easy to see (not some sly calculation mistake). It’s just that in your haste, it’s very easy to miss this important point. I hope to see some comments with some good explanations.

Question: The price of each hair clip is ¢ 40 and the price of each hair band is ¢ 60. Rashi selects a total of 10 clips and bands from the store, and the average (arithmetic mean) price of the 10 items is ¢ 56. How many bands must Rashi put back so that the average price of the items that she keeps is ¢ 52?

(A) 1

(B) 2

(C) 3

(D) 4

(E) 5

Solution 1:

Price of each clip (Pc) = 40

Price of each band (Pb) = 60

Average price of each item (Pavg) = 56

Wc/Wb = (Pb – Pavg)/(Pavg – Pc) = (60 – 56)/(56 – 40) = 1/4 (our weighted average formula)

Since the total number of items is 10, number of clips = 1*2 = 2 and number of bands = 4*2 = 8

If the average price is changed to 52,

Wc/Wb = (Pb – Pavg)/(Pavg – Pc) = (60 – 52)/(52 – 40) = 2/3

Now the ratio has changed to 2:3. This gives us number of clips as 4 and number of bands as 6.

Since previously she had 8 bands and now she has 6 bands, she must have put back 2 bands.

Answer (B)

Solution 2:

Say the number of hair clips is C and the number of hair bands is 10 – C.

(40C + 60(10 – C))/10 = 56 (Using the formula: Average = Sum/Number of items)

On solving, you get C = 2

Number of clips is 2 and number of bands is (C – 2) = 8.

Now, let’s consider the scenario when she puts back some bands, say x.

(2*40 + (8 – x)*60)/(10 – x) = 52

On solving, you get x = 5

So she puts back 5 bands so that the average price is 52.

Answer (E)

Obviously, there is only one correct answer. It’s your job to figure out whether it is (B) or (E) or some third option. Also what’s wrong with one or both of these solutions?

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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4 Things You Control on GMAT Test Day  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2014, 08:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 4 Things You Control on GMAT Test Day
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I recently had the chance to answer a question about overcoming Test Anxiety on the GMAT. The test-taker wanted to know how to avoid being so anxious on test day and how to stop obsessively thinking about the score before and even during the exam itself.

I wrote, “Your job on test day is to focus on the question in front of you. Not to guess at what your score might be or continually estimate how much time you have left per question.

Your anxiety is probably a result of being “at war with the present moment.” In other words, your anxiety is because you want the GMAT to already be over with the result already known. But you know that this cannot happen. You must take the test before you can get the score. This desire to skip over the actual exam and wanting to be done with the exam and know the score, this is the source of the anxiety.

If you had told yourself that you will enjoy the experience then there would be no anxiety. If you have tickets to a movie that you have been waiting to see you do not have anxiety but anticipation. You are not wanting to done with the movie, you are excited for it to begin. However, if you have major surgery scheduled, then you can understandably wish that it was already over and recovery started.

However, the GMAT is not like undergoing surgery. The only pain involved is the pain that we put on ourselves. Nothing bad is going to happen to you in that room. You are not in danger of physical harm or pain. The anxiety is based on the worry that you might not get the score that you want.

But here is the question…does it help to worry about it? 

Did it help you on that last practice test to be worried about your Quant score while still taking the verbal portion? The answer is “no.”

Anxiety ALWAYS comes from being focused on the result rather than the process. This is why the fans of sports teams are so much more anxious than the players! The players are focused on the process, they get to play the game and enjoy the game and influence the outcome. The fans are usually only happy if the team wins and as spectators they cannot even participate, so they are focused on the end result and that creates extreme anxiety.

It is never good in life to be focused more on the result than the process.

Here is what I would hope that you and others can say, “I will do my best on the exam and I will enjoy the challenge. I am looking forward to proving what I can do. I have no control over the result but I have 100% control over my effort, so I will focus on giving my best effort and the score will take care of itself.”

This may sound unrealistic but people do this every day in all areas: artists, athletes, writers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and others. And here is the secret – those who are focused on the process and taking care of the parts they can control are the happiest, least stressed, and yes, most successful.

So on test day YOU take care of

1) Being focused on the question in front of you at that time

2) Not getting distracted by the timer and questions about your score

3) Giving your best effort and really be there in each moment

4) Enjoying yourself!

and the COMPUTER will take care of the score. That part is not up to you.

Can you do that? If so you can have a much more enjoyable experience and the side effect will be a higher score in the end.

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!

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

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New post 08 Dec 2014, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Figuring Out the Topic of Discussion on the GMAT
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You must have come across questions which you thought tested one concept but later found out could be easily dealt with using another concept.  Often, crafty little mixture problems belong to this category. For example:

Mark is playing poker at a casino. Mark starts playing with 140 chips, 20% of which are $100 chips and 80% of which are $20 chips. For his first bet, Mark places chips, 10% of which are $100 chips, in the center of the table. If 70% of Mark’s remaining chips are $20 chips, how much money did Mark bet?

You can view this as a word problem where you assume the number of chips and then go splitting them up or you can view this as a mixtures problem even though it doesn’t use words such as ‘mixture’, ‘solution’, ‘combined’ etc. As we have seen enough number of times, our mixture problems are solved in seconds using the weighted average concept.

The question discussed here also belongs to the same category – looks super tricky but can be easily solved with weighted averages formula. But we have seen plenty and more of such questions in our blog posts. Today we will take a look at a different type of sinister question and I suggest you to think about the concept being tested in that before trying to solve it.

Question: Mark owns four low quality watches. Watch1 loses 15 minutes every hour. Watch2 gains 15 minutes every hour relative to watch1 (that is, as watch1 moves from 12:00 to 1:00, watch2 moves from 12:00 to 1:15). Watch3 loses 20 minutes every hour relative to watch2. Finally, watch4 gains 20 minutes every hour relative to watch3. If Mark resets all four watches to the correct time at 12 noon, what time will watch4 show at 12 midnight that day?

(A)10:00

(B)10:34

(C)11:02

(D)11:48

(E)12:20

Before we look at the solution, think about the concept being tested here – clocks? Circular motion?

Neither!

Solution: Note that when giving data about watch1, you are told how it varies with the actual time. Data about all other watches tells us about the time they show relative to the incorrect watches. The concept being tested here is Relative Speed!

What do we mean by “gains 15 mins” or “loses 20 mins” etc? When a watch gains 15 mins every hour, it means that even though it should show that one hour has passed, it shows that 1 hr 15 mins have passed. So the watch runs faster than it should. Hence the speed of the watch is more than the speed of a correct watch. Now the question is how much more? The minute hand of the correct watch travels one full circle in one hour. The minute hand of the incorrect watch travels one full circle and then a quarter circle in one hour (to show that 1 hour 15 mins have passed even when only an hour has passed). So it is 5/4 times the speed of a correct watch. On the same lines, let’s analyze each watch.

Say the speed of a correct watch is s.

- “Watch1 loses 15 minutes every hour. “

Watch1 covers only three quarters of the circle in an hour.

Speed of watch1 = (3/4)*s

- “Watch2 gains 15 minutes every hour relative to watch1 (that is, as watch1 moves from 12:00 to 1:00, watch2 moves from 12:00 to 1:15).”

Now we have the speed of watch2 relative to speed of watch1. Speed of watch2 is (5/4) times the speed of watch1.

Speed of watch2 = (5/4)*(3/4)s = (15/16)*s

- “Watch3 loses 20 minutes every hour relative to watch2.”

Watch3 loses 20 mins every hour means its speed is (2/3)rd the speed of watch2

Speed of watch3 = (2/3)*(15/16)*s = (5/8)*s

- “Finally, watch4 gains 20 minutes every hour relative to watch3.”

Speed of watch4 = (4/3)*Speed of watch3 = (4/3)*(5/8)*s = (5/6)*s

So the speed of watch4 is (5/6)th the speed of a correct watch. So if a correct watch shows that 6 hours have passed, watch4 will show that 5 hours have passed. If a correct watch shows that 12 hours have passed, watch4 will show that 10 hours have passed. From 12 noon to 12 midnight, a correct watch would have covered 12 hours. Watch4 will cover 10 hours and will show the time as 10:00.

Answer (A)

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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The Critical Role of Reading in GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions!  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Nov 2015, 10:01
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: The Critical Role of Reading in GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions!
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Most non-native English users have one question: How do I improve my Verbal GMAT score?  There are lots of strategies and techniques we discuss in our books, in our class and on our blog. But one thing that we seriously encourage our students to do (that they need to do on their own) is read more – fiction, non fiction, magazines (mind you, good quality), national dailies, etc. Reading high quality material helps one develop an ear for correct English. It is also important to understand the idiomatic usage of English, which no one can teach in the class. At some time, most of us have thought how silly some things are in the English language, haven’t we?

For example:

“Fat chance” and “slim chance’”mean the same thing – Really? Shouldn’t they mean opposite things?

But “wise man” and “wise guy” are opposites – Come on now!

A house burns up as it burns down and you fill in a form by filling it out?

And let’s not even get started on the multiple unrelated meanings many words have – The word on the top of the page, “critical,” could mean “serious” or “important” or “inclined to find fault” depending on the context!

Well, you really must read to understand these nuances or eccentricities, if you may, of the English language. Let’s look at an official question today which many people get wrong just because of the lack of familiarity with the common usage of phrases in English. But before we do that, some quick statistics on this question – 95% students find this question hard and more than half answer it incorrectly. And, on top of that, it is quite hard to convince test takers of the right answer.

Some species of Arctic birds are threatened by recent sharp increases in the population of snow geese, which breed in the Arctic and are displacing birds of less vigorous species. Although snow geese are a popular quarry for hunters in the southern regions where they winter, the hunting season ends if and when hunting has reduced the population by five percent, according to official estimates. Clearly, dropping this restriction would allow the other species to recover.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously undermines the argument?

(A) Hunting limits for snow geese were imposed many years ago in response to a sharp decline in the population of snow geese.

(B) It has been many years since the restriction led to the hunting season for snow geese being closed earlier than the scheduled date.

(C) The number of snow geese taken by hunters each year has grown every year for several years.

(D) As their population has increased, snow geese have recolonized wintering grounds that they had not used for several seasons.

(E) In the snow goose’s winter habitats, the goose faces no significant natural predation.

As usual, let’s start with the question stem – “… most seriously undermines the argument”

This is a weaken question. The golden rule is to focus on the conclusion and try to weaken it.

Let’s first understand the argument:

Snow geese breed in the Arctic and fly south for the winter. They are proliferating, and that is bad for other birds. Southern hunters reduce the number of geese when they fly south. There is a restriction in place that if the population of the geese that came in reduces by 5%, hunting will stop. So if 1000 birds flew south and 50 were hunted, hunting season will be stopped. The argument says that we should drop this restriction to help other Arctic birds flourish (conclusion), then hunters will hunt many more geese and reduce their numbers.

What is the conclusion here? It is: “Clearly, dropping this restriction would allow the other species to recover.”

You have to try to weaken it, i.e. give reasons why even after dropping this restriction, it is unlikely that other species will recover. Even if this restriction of “not hunting after 5%” is dropped and hunters are allowed to hunt as much as they want, the population of geese will still not reduce.

Now, first look at option (B);

(B) It has been many years since the restriction led to the hunting season for snow geese being closed earlier than the scheduled date.

What does this option really mean?

Does it mean the hunting season has been closing earlier than the scheduled date for many years? Or does it mean the exact opposite, that the restriction came into effect many years ago and since then, it has not come into effect.

It might be obvious to the native speakers and to the avid readers, but many non-native test takers actually fumble here and totally ignore option (B) – which, I am sure you have guessed by now, is the correct answer.

The correct meaning is the second one – the restriction has not come into effect for many years now. This means the restriction doesn’t really mean much. For many years, the restriction has not caused the hunting season to close down early because the population of geese hunted is less than 5% of the population flying in. So if the hunting season is from January to June, it has been closing in June, only, so even if hunters hunt for the entire hunting season, they still do not reach the 5% of the population limit (Southern hunters hunt less than 50 birds when 1000 birds fly down South).

Whether you have the restriction or not, the number of geese hunted is the same. So even if you drop the restriction and tell hunters that they can hunt as much as they want, it will not help as they will not want to hunt geese much anyway. This implies that even if the restriction is removed, it is likely that there will be no change in the situation. This definitely weakens our conclusion that dropping the restriction will help other species to recover.

So when people ignore (B), on which option do they zero in? Some fall for (C) but many fall for (D). Let’s look at all other options now:

(A) Hunting limits for snow geese were imposed many years ago in response to a sharp decline in the population of snow geese.

This is out of scope to our argument. It doesn’t really matter when and why the limits were imposed.

(C) The number of snow geese taken by hunters each year has grown every year for several years.

This doesn’t tell us how dropping the restriction would impact the population of geese, it just tells us what has happened in the past – the number of geese hunted has been increasing. If anything, it might strengthen our conclusion if the number of geese hunted is close to 5% of the population. When the population decreases by 5%, if the restriction is dropped, chances are that more geese will be hunted and other species will recover. We have to show that even after dropping the restriction, the other species may not recover.

(D) As their population has increased, snow geese have recolonised wintering grounds that they had not used for several seasons.

With this answer choice, “wintering grounds” implies the southern region (where they fly for winter). In the South, they have recolonised regions they had not occupied for a while now, which just tells you that the population has increased a lot and the geese are spreading. It doesn’t say that removing the restrictions and letting hunters hunt as much as they want will not help. In fact, if anything, it may make the argument a little stronger. If the geese are occupying more southern areas, hunting grounds may become easily accessible to more hunters and dropping hunting restrictions may actually help more!

(E) In the snow goose’s winter habitats, the goose faces no significant natural predation.

We are concerned about the effect of hunting, thus natural predation is out of scope.

Therefore, our answer is (B).

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and Twitter!

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!

The post The Critical Role of Reading in GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions! appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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GMAT Tip of the Week: Movember and Moving Your GMAT Score Higher  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2015, 12:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Movember and Moving Your GMAT Score Higher
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On this first Friday of November, you may start seeing some peach fuzz sprouts on the upper lips of some of your friends and colleagues. For many around the world, November means Movember, a month dedicated to the hopefully-overlapping Venn Diagram of mustaches and men’s health. Why – other than the fact that this is a GMAT blog – do we mention the Venn Diagram?

Because while the Movember Foundation is committed to using mustaches as a way to increase both awareness of and funding for men’s health issues (in particular prostate and testicular cancer), many young men focus solely on the mustache-growth facet of the month. And “I’m growing a mustache for Movember” without the fundraising follow-through is akin to the following quotes:

“I’m growing a mustache for Movember.”

“I’m running a marathon for lymphoma research.”

“I’m dumping a bucket of ice water over my head on Facebook.”

“I’m taking a GMAT practice test this weekend.”/”I’m going to the library to study for the GMAT.”

Now, those are all noble sentiments expressed with great intentions. But another thing they all have in common is that they’re each missing a critical action step in their mission to reach their desired outcome. Growing a mustache does very little to prevent or treat prostate cancer. Running a marathon isn’t what furthers scientists’ knowledge of lymphoma. Dumping an ice bucket over your head is more likely to cause pneumonia than to cure ALS. And taking a practice test won’t do very much for your GMAT score.

Each of those actions requires a much more thorough and meaningful component. It’s the fundraising behind Movember, Team in Training, and the Ice Bucket Challenge that advances those causes. It’s your effort to use your mustache, sore knees, and Facebook video to encourage friends and family to seek out early diagnosis or to donate to the cause. And it’s the follow-up to your GMAT practice test or homework session that helps you increase your score.

This weekend, well over a thousand practice tests will be taken in the Veritas Prep system, many by young men a week into their mustache growth. But the practice tests that are truly valuable will be taken by those who follow up on their performance, adding that extra step of action that’s all so critical. They’ll ask themselves:

Which mistakes can I keep top-of-mind so that I never make them again?

How could I have budgeted my time better? Which types of problems take the most time with the least probability of a right answer, and which types would I always get right if I just took the extra few seconds to double check and really focus?

Based on this test, which are the 2-3 content areas/question types that I can markedly improve upon between now and my next practice test?

How will I structure this week’s study sessions to directly attack those areas?

And then they’ll follow up on what they’ve learned, following the new week’s plan of attack until it’s time to again take the first step (a practice test) with the commitment to take the substantially-more-important follow-up steps that really move the needle toward success.

Taking a practice test and growing a Movember mustache are great first steps toward accomplishing noble goals, but in classic Critical Reasoning form, premise alone doesn’t guarantee the conclusion. So make sure you don’t leave the GMAT test center this November with an ineffective mustache and a dismal score – put in the hard work that has to accompany that first step, and this can be a Movember to Remember.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

The post GMAT Tip of the Week: Movember and Moving Your GMAT Score Higher appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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How to Articulate Why You Need an MBA  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Oct 2016, 18:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Articulate Why You Need an MBA
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Past accomplishments, roles, and career goals tend to dominate the essays of the typical MBA applicant. These factors, alone, tend to take most essays over the word count, and as such, many applicants never actually share the reasons behind the paths they have taken or why they want to pursue an MBA in the first place (unless the essay prompt specifically asks).

Sharing your personal motivations, and the factors that have led to the decision to attend business school, is just as important as identifying your goals. It will help you convincingly show that aside from having the tools to succeed in business school, you also have the motivation to accomplish your post-MBA goals.

Articulating one’s personal motivations is not as easy as it sounds, however. In many cases, applicants feel like attending business school is just where life “took them”. What then are some specific steps to help you articulate why you need an MBA?

Memorable Events

Try recalling the highs and lows of your life, starting from childhood – these can include exciting personal triumphs, heartbreaking failures, and embarrassing mistakes. Such memorable events can  provide the Admissions Committee with great context as to why you want to pursue an MBA.

Turning points for your family – such as experiencing the sudden growth or collapse of the family business – can also be underlying incentives for wanting to attend business school. Highlighting the lessons that were learned from any of these experiences, and sharing how these particular events have helped guide your decisions and career, will help you take the Admissions Committee through your thinking and motivations.

Not only does this exercise help you express what drives you, but it also allows you to paint vivid pictures and present relatable details in your essays. All of these will help bring your application to life and make your overall profile more interesting to your readers.

Significant Feedback 

Another easy way to articulate your reasons for wanting an MBA is to remember the feedback you have received from past mentors, supervisors, or peers at work. Recalling this could help you explain why you got promoted or what allowed you to accomplish certain tasks at work, and can even help you identify areas for personal development than an MBA would help you achieve.

Articulating the feedback you have received from others will show the Admissions Committee that you are self-aware, receptive to constructive feedback, and able to plan your next steps clearly (including the step to achieve an MBA).

Epiphanies Experienced

Finally, recollect the experiences that opened your eyes to opportunities that you eventually took on during your career. These could include world travels, extracurricular activities, or work you did in a new or challenging environment that have led you down the MBA path.

For instance, I once worked with a Canadian applicant who shared how travelling to Latin America made him realize the continent’s promising potential for his business venture. Sharing this epiphany allowed the Admissions Committee to understand why he wanted to pursue a global MBA, and also displayed his open-mindedness, reinforcing the credibility of his claim that he would greatly benefit from the multi-cultural environment of business school.

The above steps are all good starting points, but to probe deeper, it would be beneficial to have someone who can help you ask yourself the right questions (perhaps a Veritas Prep Consultant?).

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here.

The post How to Articulate Why You Need an MBA appeared first on Veritas Prep 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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Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Lett  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Mar 2018, 18:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Letter
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It is admissions decision time, and many institutions are reporting an increase in applicants for the Class of 2022, and a decrease in admissions rates. For the first time, Harvard admitted less than 5% of applicants! So, for the 95% of you who applied to Harvard and received a rejection letter, or for any other students who feel like their dreams have been crushed, this post is for you.

First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel how you want to feel – disappointed, angry, frustrated or even sad. You worked tirelessly in high school to be a stellar student, spent hours outside of schools participating in extracurricular activities, pulled all-nighters to complete homework assignments and stayed up late rewriting your application essays over and over again. You may have even lost some sleep in the last week in anticipation of the decision. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel a sinking disappointment. However, your rejection letter should not take anything away from your herculean efforts over the past four years. You are still an outstanding, accomplished student. Repeat that to yourself a few times.

Your future is not defined by today. We won’t try to get too motivational on you, but it is important to remember that tomorrow is a new day, life will continue on, and your future will not defined by the admissions decisions you received.

If you’re wondering what to do next, here are three suggestions to help you get excited about the next phase of your life:

Ask for an explanation
If you find yourself asking “what happened?” or “what could I have done differently?” you might get some peace of mind by connecting with an admissions officer. Many institutions are willing to give you feedback on why you weren’t admitted. If this is something that would help you feel closure, we suggest reaching out to the admissions office and getting this information!

Get excited about your plan B
Once you are ready to stop mourning what could have been, it’s time to start getting excited about what will be! If you’re able, go on a campus visit to your Plan B school to start envisioning yourself as a student there. If you happen to find yourself with no offers of admission, take this time to research schools who are still accepting applications, or seek a Community College option that might be a good fit for you for the upcoming year. You may even choose to work with a college admissions consultant to help guide you through the process.

Celebrate your successes
We get it, you didn’t crack the selective admissions rates at the top colleges in the country, but if you strategized your school list wisely, it’s likely you were admitted somewhere, and that’s worth celebrating! Go out to dinner, hang that admissions letter on the fridge and remind yourself that you’re awesome and your future is bright.

In the end, your future is what you make of it. No matter where you enroll, your future will be fantastic because you make it that way. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and the people in your corner cheering you on. The best is yet to come!

The post Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Letter appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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New post 10 Dec 2013, 22:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Elementary, My Dear Watson!
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While eagerly awaiting the kick off of season 3 of BBC’s Sherlock, let’s put our time to good use. Though we have already spent a lot of it speculating over what really happened to Sherlock (HOW did he come back?!), perhaps we can take a leaf out of his book and learn to notice little things in whatever is leftover. There is a good reason to do that – there are little clues in some questions that the test maker unwittingly leaves to bring clarity to the question. If we understand those clues, a seemingly mysterious problem could be easily unraveled. Let us show you with an example.

Question: Peter and Jacob are at the northwest corner of a field, which is a rectangle 300 ft long and 160 ft wide. Peter walks in a straight line directly to the southeast corner of the field. If Jacob walks 180 ft down the west side of the field and then walks in a straight line directly to the southeast corner of the field, what is the difference in the distance traveled by the two?

(A) 20

(B) 40

(C) 80

(D) 120

(E) 140

Solution: The first thing we do in these “direction” questions is draw the diagram. But there is a problem here: how do we decide the orientation of the rectangle? It could be either of these two.

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A few things help us decide this. There are two definitions of length:

1. Length is the longest side of the rectangle.

2. Width is from side to side and length is whatever width isn’t (i.e. the side from up to down in a rectangle) (this definition is less embraced than the first one)

If the side from up to down is the longest side, then there is no conflict.

Keeping this in mind, when drawing the figure, given that length is the longer of the two, one could make the rectangle on the left and there will be no conflict. But the question maker may not want to take for granted that you know this.

So he/she leaves a clue – the question mentions that ‘Jacob walks 180 ft down the west side of the field’. There needs to be at least 180 ft on the west side of the field for him to travel that much. So the orientation on the left makes sense. This is something the question maker would have put to try to give you a hint of the orientation. Now that we know what our diagram should look like, we can proceed to solve this question.

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If you just remember some of your pythagorean triplets, this question can be solved in moments (and that’s why we suggest you to remember them!) If not, it would involve some calculations.

QR = 160, RS = 300

So QR:RS = 8:15

Remember 8-15-17 pythagorean triplet? (the third triplet after 3-4-5 and 5-12-13)

Since the two sides are in the ratio 8:15, the hypotenuse must be 17. The common multiplier is 20 so QS  should be 17*20 = 340

Therefore, Peter traveled 340 feet.

TP = 120, PS = 160

TP:PS = 3:4

Does it remind you of 3-4-5 triplet?

120 is 3*40 and 160 is 4*40 so TS will be 5*40 = 200

So Jacob traveled a total distance of 180 + 200 = 380 feet.

Difference between the distance traveled = 380 – 340 = 40 feet

Note: The following triplets come in handy: (3, 4, 5) (5, 12, 13) (8, 15, 17) (7, 24, 25) (20, 21, 29) and (9, 40, 41)

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 GMATfor Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!
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New post 10 Dec 2013, 22:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How Exercise Can Increase Your GMAT Score
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You may not know it yet, but there are simple things that you can do right now, that will help you to not only score higher on the GMAT but also succeed in business school and beyond. Getting exercise should be the first change on your list!

The New York Times has written extensively recently on the connection between exercise and brain health. It turns out that iPads, video games, smart phones, computers, even crossword puzzles…do not make lasting changes in your brain structure; only exercise does. So if you want to be better at answering the questions on “Jeopardy!” you should turn off the TV and go for a brisk walk.

As stated in the New York Times, “For more than a decade, neuroscientists and physiologists have been gathering evidence of the beneficial relationship between exercise and brainpower. But the newest findings make it clear that this isn’t just a relationship; it is THE relationship.”

It turns out that only through exercise do new brain cells get created and wired into new and existing neural networks. Studying for the GMAT will not create any new brain cells, no matter how hard you work. Only exercise will!

In an , researchers found that, “Animals that exercised, whether or not they had any other enrichments in their cages, had healthier brains and performed significantly better on cognitive tests than the other mice. Animals that didn’t run, no matter how enriched their world was otherwise, did not improve their brainpower in the complex, lasting ways that [the] team was studying.”

Exercise makes you smarter…
In the year since the original New York Times that I cited above was published, more and more research has come out detailing the link between exercise and the brain.

Another New York Times article, “Getting a Brain Boost Through Exercise” reports on research showing that when you “train your brain” through mental exercises – as many websites claim to do –you are actually only reinforcing neural networks and becoming better at certain tasks – you are not becoming smarter overall, and you are not protecting current brain cells nor creating new ones. Only through exercise can you create new flexible brain cells and create proteins, including one known as BDNF, that “support the health of existing neurons and coax the creation of new brain cells.”

So only physical exercise – particularly endurance exercise that involves elevated pulse rates for 30 minutes or more – can create and protect brain cells. In a groundbreaking article, “,” anthropologists’ new theories of human evolution seek to explain why. The evidence indicates that endurance exercise may have actually given rise to the larger brain that is characteristic of modern humans. In fact, the link between brain size and endurance holds true for other species as well. Researchers found that “Species like dogs and rats that had a high innate endurance capacity, which presumably had evolved over millenniums, also had large brain volumes relative to their body size.”  All of this leads to the conclusion that humans, “continue to require regular physical activity in order for our brains to function optimally.”

In part 2 of this article, we explore exercise and emotional control and we learn that it only takes one week of exercising to begin to notice the benefits.

If you 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!

David Newland has been teaching for Veritas Prep since 2006, and he won the Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year award in 2008. Students’ friends often call in asking when he will be teaching next because he really is a Veritas Prep and a GMAT rock star!
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New post 11 Dec 2013, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Write a Better Essay
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Twenty-five minutes to complete the essay portion of the SAT seems like an impossible feat, but with the right preparation you can tackle this task with ease. Writing an essay usually requires a great deal of time, information gathering, planning, and drafting, but you can still pull off a well-written essay that will give you the score you are yearning for.

There are two simple principles to help you through the process, as well as tips to help you execute them flawlessly. You should come into the test prepared with two fundamentals; have a plan and know what the graders are looking for. Once that is in place, it is much easier to use the detailed tips in delivering the best essay twenty-five minutes will give you.

Do Your Research Before The Test

Come prepared with a plan. This means three simple things, know your audience, know your tactic, and know how to combine them. Your audience is obviously the grader, your tactic is knowing how to write an effective essay, and the way to combine them is by delivering a well-written essay that excites the graders. Do a little research on what graders are looking for and how they score. There will be two graders assigning you separate scores from one to six. Their combined points will decide your overall score. Knowing the point scale criteria can give you an accurate idea of what you’ll need to do to get your desired score.

Understand The Question And Take A Stand

Start off by thoroughly reading the directions; really make sure you understand the question in front of you. You will be given a vague topic to write on; rephrase the question into a specific persuasive sentence that takes a clear stance. Whether or not you agree with the stance is irrelevant; pick the side for which you have the most knowledge and information. Many students make the mistake of writing on both sides. You want to sell your position to the grader. Once you’ve picked your point of view, keep it simple, write clearly, and provide information and examples that back up your viewpoint. Don’t just use your own experiences to sell your point; try to work in specific fact-based examples like dates, locations, or events

Write A Standard 5-Paragraph Persuasive Essay

Next organize your ideas into the essay structure – the standard five-paragraph essay. This includes an introduction, three paragraphs which are the heart of the essay, and a conclusion. The introduction should be clever and captivating. Make the statement of thesis clear and concise, describing how you will prove it over the course of the essay. The three paragraphs to follow need to contain your three main points and give excellent examples using variety and clarity. These paragraphs should flow smoothly from one to the other and read like an unspoken one, two, three. Lastly, transition into your conclusion with a summary of the information covered, followed by a call to action.

Proofread For Errors And For Flow

Proofread your work first for flow, which is the way it sounds. Proofread a second time for grammar and spelling errors, or how it looks. Graders know errors are more common due to time constraints, so they look for repeated mistakes. Do you spell the same word wrong every time? Do you consistently use the wrong punctuation? This is how you will be graded, so don’t overthink each error; just make sure the same one is not repeated.

Another huge mistake is the overuse of “sophisticated” words. It is better to use vocabulary that you are familiar with and confident in using rather than large words you may use incorrectly. The best scores come with skillfully using the correct words in the right context, not the most complex words. Show variation in your writing style and switch up the types of sentences you create; it will show that you have a solid grasp of the language.

Putting It All Together

Twenty-five minutes isn’t a long time to write an excellent essay, but with planning and preparation you can still do a good job. Know the essay structure and know what appeals to the graders. Rephrase your essay question into a persuasive statement that makes sense to you. Take a position that will give you enough examples to sell it. Gather your ideas, organize, write, and proofread for how it sounds and how it looks. Vary the kind of examples and sentences you use, stay within your expertise in vocabulary, and be clear and concise – no fluff. You’ll ace the essay in no time!

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!
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New post 12 Dec 2013, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Manage Your Time on the GMAT
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One of the most common misconceptions on the GMAT is that you have to solve every question in about 2 minutes. This of course stems from the fact that you have 75 minutes to answer 37 quantitative questions (or ~2.03 minutes per question) and 75 minutes to answer 41 verbal questions (or ~1.83 minutes per question). Both figures can be approximated to roughly two minutes per question on average; however, this does not mean that every question will take you 2 minutes to solve.

If you’ve been reading (my) GMAT blogs, you’ve undoubtedly come up against questions that would take over 3 minutes to solve for almost anyone. How can an exam with a strict average like the GMAT give you questions that can’t reasonably solved in less than 3 minutes? Unsurprisingly, it’s because some questions can be solved in less than 1 minute. As long as things average out to two minutes (or less), you’re golden.

Let’s consider two simple examples. If I took the set {2, 2, 2, 2, 2}, then the average would clearly be 2. This is achieved by taking the sum of all the numbers and dividing by the number of terms. Now if I took the set {½, ½, 3, 3, 3), then the average would still be 2! (exclamation mark, not factorial, although both work).  While both numbers have the same average, the standard deviation (dispersion around the mean) is very different for the two sets. Simply put, if you can solve some questions in 30 seconds, then you have extra time for other, longer questions.

Earning some extra time by correctly answering questions quickly can be an invaluable tool in order to finish all the questions on this exam. I’d like to focus on a concept that gets asked relatively frequently on the GMAT that can be solved in 30 seconds or less if you understand the concept:

256 teams play in a state soccer tournament. A team is eliminated from the tournament after one loss. In the first round, all 256 teams play one game. If a team wins, it advances to the next round, where it plays another winning team. This process repeats itself until only one team is left, having advanced through each round without losing. How many games are played in the tournament?

 

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Many sports buffs will recognize this set up as a single-elimination tournament. This format is used in football, soccer, Olympic sports and myriad other competitions when time is of the essence (so not baseball). 256 is a large, unwieldy number, so let’s unlock the concept of this question by using a smaller similar example: The upcoming World Cup. (I’m taking the long bet on Australia)

Once the initial groupings reduce to 16 teams in the elimination round, two teams will face each other and one will lose and therefore be eliminated. Thus the 16 teams will play 8 games, eliminating 8 countries and allowing the other 8 passage through to the next round. In the next round, 4 more games will occur pitting one team against another, leaving 4 teams standing after 12 total games. The 2 semi-finals will then whittle the teams down to 2 finalists after 14 total games. The final game will be played and leave only 1 country to claim the championship, as well as bringing the total number of games played to 15. Thus we need 15 games to bring 16 teams down to 1.

The executive summary of the paragraph above is simply that it will take n – 1 games to execute a single-elimination tournament. If there are 16 teams, you need 15 games. Had there been 32 teams, they would have played 31 games to crown a champion. You’ll also notice that many times the number of teams competing is a power of 2, as this set up allows for a smooth tournament where every team plays the same number of games. The same principle applies if you have, say, 21 teams as well. It would still take 20 games to get one victor.

Therefore, regardless of the number of teams participating in a single-elimination tournament, every game always eliminates one team, and therefore you always need n – 1 games to crown a champion. Once you recognize that the question is asking about single-elimination tournaments, you don’t have to do anything other than subtract 1 from the number of teams and the question is done. Even if you double check the question before submitting next, you can solve these questions in 30 seconds, freeing up extra time for more challenging questions. If you understand the concept, some GMAT questions can be solved in the time it takes to sit through a television commercial. So don’t turn a simple question into an infomercial. (where’s Billy Mays when you need him).

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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New post 12 Dec 2013, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: Key Takeaways from the 2013 GMAT Summit
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This past Friday, key people from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and representatives from various test prep companies came together in Los Angeles for the biannual GMAT Summit. The summit, which first ran in 2005, was created to improve transparency in the GMAT and to break down some of the most persistent myths around the exam. GMAC deserves a lot of credit for having a rather open-minded approach about test prep companies (We’re not steroids dealers, after all!), and the GMAT Summit is a great example of this approach.

We came away with a lot of great insights, not only about the GMAT, but also about GMAC’s overall work to grow the field of graduate management education. Below are a few key things that we learned at this year’s GMAT Summit:

GMAC wants to become a more student-friendly organization

By some GMAC representatives’ own admission, until now the organization has tended to put its member schools first. This wasn’t deliberately done at the expense of test takers, but GMAC has always thought about its member schools’ needs first when considering changes to the GMAT. The organization is changing, and is much more willing to ask, “How can we make the GMAT test-taking experience friendlier for applicants?” One example is how the organization now offers more official practcie tests for sale on mba.com, something it had long resisted doing. GMAC even asked us (all of the test prep companies in the room) what else it could do to help demystify the GMAT and make the experience less stressful for students. We kicked around a lot of ideas that GMAC may never implement, but it was great to see this open-minded attitude on the part of the orgnzanization.

Integrated Reasoning is going well, and it will probably evolve in the next year or two

With more than a year of data in the bank, GMAC reports that Integrated Reasoning (IR) is in fact more highly correlated with academic success in business school than any of the following: total GMAT score, Verbal score, Quant score, AWA score, and undergraduate GPA. When IR scores are added to all of those measures, the resulting combination proves to be an even better predictor than any of those are individually. Sounds like IR is a success, so what’s next? Nothing is set in stone yet (at least not enough that GMAC would share it with us), but it’s possible that more IR-like elements will find their way into Quant and Verbal in the future. Also, Integrated Reasoning itself is NOT adaptive today (partly because GMAC is still trying to build up enough data to satisfy its own requirements), but it’s not out of the question that IR will become adaptive in the near future.

GMAC takes test security very seriously

At every GMAT Summit, one of the highlights is a report on the latest happenings in test security and score validity. GMAC takes CIA-level precautions to ensure that cheating is never rewarded and almost always punished, and that your score is an accurate and valid measure. New developments in GMAT security include:

- Palm scans are now read and analyzed in real time. Whereas previously the security palm scans were collected before your test but analyzed for potential fraud later, now the scans are analyzed while you’re at the test center, so if two identical palm scans are attributed to two different test-takers, GMAC will be able to catch the perpetrator before they finish the first paragraph of their AWA.

- Tests are videotaped. If GMAC has reason to suspect that you cheated, it can review the videotape of your test to analyze further.

What does this mean for you? Hopefully nothing; if you’re an honest test-taker you shouldn’t worry at all about these procedures, which will only serve to make sure that you don’t lose out on admission because someone cheated their way to a score that you earned. But if you’re thinking about cheating, you may want to consider a different test or career path.

GMAC takes question validity very seriously, too

Another element of score validity and fairness pertains to the questions themselves, and GMAC reported on its efforts to remove cultural bias from its test questions. What began as a predominantly-American test is now administered around the world with more than 60% of all tests taken outside North America, so GMAC has stepped up its game even more so to ensure that questions aren’t biased across culture, region, or gender. Using a procedure called “Differential Item Functioning,” GMAC monitors performance on each item among different demographic groups and then compare that performance with items of similar difficulty and content area to ensure that questions are fair and consistent. Don’t be surprised, then, to see more questions citing meters (or metres) instead of feet and yen instead of dollars as the GMAT continues prioritize cultural neutrality.

The GMAT is transparent

While many view the authors and administrators of standardized tests to be secretive variations of Dr. Evil, GMAC’s primary goal is to provide an accurate test representative of the skills and abilities that business schools want. To that end, GMAC makes quite a bit of its data public so that students don’t have to view the test as cloaked in secrecy. Perhaps our favorite tool can be found here. If you’re interested in comparing your score against the scores of others -– based on nationality, split between Quant and Verbal, etc. –- you can access mountains of test-taker data to get a much more complete view of what your score means.

Quant and Verbal scoring scales could one day evolve

Technically, Quant and Verbal each have a scoring scale of 0 to 60, but you will never actually see a score lower than 6 or higher than 51. This unusual scale was a leftover from when the GMAT moved from a paper-based test to a computer-adaptive test in the 1990s. Now, as more and more students (especially those from China and India; see below) absolutely crush the Quant section, a 51 is now only a 97th-percentile score. While nothing is imminent, GMAC hinted at the conference that the test could one day soon start making better use of the whole range. Don’t expect such a change any time soon, but at this conference we noticed that GMAC’s stance has changed from “No way” to “We’re looking at it.”

Students in China and India prepare WAY more than their American and European counterparts

Think global competition will cool down any time soon? The median number of hours that students in India spend preparing for the GMAT is 100, and the median for test takers in China is even a bit greater. Compare that to European students, whose median is 60 hours, and U.S. students, whose median is just 40 hours! (These are all self-reported statistics from test takers.) Looked at another way, half of all test takers in China spend more than 100 hours preparing for the exam, while in the U.S. barely more than 10% of test takers spend this much time on GMAT prep. It’s no wonder that the mean GMAT score for test takers in China was 591 in Testing Year 2013 (the year ending on June 30, 2013), compared to 528 for U.S. students in the same period.

Demand for MBAs is strongest in industries you wouldn’t necessarily expect

By one measure, healthcare and energy are two industries where demand of MBA graduates is strongest. According to GMAC’s 2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey, 89% of healthcare/pharmaceutical companies and 86% of energy/utilities businesses plan on hiring MBAs in the coming year. Demand for MBAs among consulting firms (79% plan to hire MBAs) and finance-related businesses (75%) is still strong, but the growth of healthcare and the energy sector doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

By Scott Shrum
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New post 13 Dec 2013, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Mental Agility
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The axiom has been tweaked and twisted so often that perhaps no one knows the exact term, but we all know the definition.

The definition of insanity is…

The definition of stupidity is…

(WAIT! Google confirms that it’s insanity, but you’ve probably heard it as any number of terms)

…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Well, on the GMAT the definition changes from time to time, so we’ll add this caveat that applies to problems above the 600 level:

GMAT stubbornness is doing the same thing over and over again and being surprised when it doesn’t always work.

Here’s why – it would be wrong to categorically say that the GMAT is not testing your ability to learn, remember, and apply a process. To a fair extent the GMAT does test exactly that. But that’s not ALL it’s testing. Once you get to above-average level problems (and remember that’s above average in a pool that contains just about exclusively college graduates, so it’s an elite academic group to begin with) the GMAT is testing more than just “can you follow directions” – it’s testing things like “can you think on your feet when the situation changes,” “can you manage uncertainty,” and “can you find innovative ways to solve problems when the tried-and-true process doesn’t work.” And that’s where Mental Agility comes in – the GMAT, at the top end, will punish “one trick ponies” and reward those who can adapt on the fly. Consider an example (and please excuse the ugly in-line math formatting):

If a + 2b = (16 – b^2)/a, what is (a + b)^4?

It’s very easy to become seduced by the (16 – b^2) term, recognizing that as a classic “Difference of Squares” setup to be factored into (4 + b)(4 – b). And with good reason – the Difference of Squares rule is a very important concept and extremely helpful on plenty of GMAT problems. But here it makes the expression even messier – you can’t use it to eliminate or combine anything on the left hand side of the equation (a + 2b). So as much as you may beat your head against the wall trying, you need to find a new outlet. And that you can get by multiplying both sides by a to get rid of the denominator on the right:

a^2 + 2ab = 16 – b^2

Here’s where another common “squares” equation comes in: x^2 + 2xy + y^2 = (x + y)^2. If you can see that as your goal, then you have another outlet; you can add b^2 to both sides and you’ll have a squares equation ready to go:

a^2 + 2ab + b^2 = 16, which then becomes (a + b)^2 = 16. And if (a + b)^2 is 16 and we need (a + b)^4, we can square 16 to get 256.

The bigger lesson here is that it pays to have mental agility – many “hard” GMAT problems look easy in retrospect, as they’re not about grinding out long calculations or employing obscure rules. The range of math concepts tested on the GMAT is finite and (relatively, compared to what you learned in high school) small, but the GMAT makes it difficult by punishing those who don’t see the opportunity to change paths. IF your goal is to “grind” – to find a formula for each question, put your head down, and apply it – you may find some trouble. A few key takeaways from this problem include:

  • If the “obvious” process or rule isn’t working after a few steps, take a step back and see if there’s another way
  • If an algebra problem asks for a combination of variables (here it’s (a + b)^4) try to find a way to get that combination alone and not necessarily solve for that variable. Most “processes” you know are geared toward solving for individual variables; the GMAT knows that and loves to ask for combinations (like xy or (a + b)).
  • As you study, pay attention to which “surprise” techniques you didn’t see at first but ended up being the key to solving a problem. Having that quick reference list to scan through in your mind will pay off. For example, this “squares” rule can be extremely helpful any time you’re asked to solve for a combination of variables squared (like (a + b)^2) *or* for a combination of variables multiplied (like 2ab…that comes from that middle term in a^2 + 2ab + b^2).
Most importantly, recognize that while in life doing the same thing over and over again usually gives you the same results, on the GMAT questions are written specifically to reward those who aren’t afraid to change gears when “what’s always worked before” doesn’t work in this case. On 700+ level problems, insanity just might be doing the same thing over and over again and wondering why you didn’t get the same result; the GMAT rewards mental agility.

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
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New post 17 Dec 2013, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: 3 Tips to Score Well on the ACT from a 2340 SAT Scorer
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My name is Courtney Tran and I’m no stranger to academic rigor.  I’m a second year at UC Berkeley with senior standing, pursuing a double major and a minor. I’ve gotten straight A’s in all my classes so far. I’ve taught SAT classes for Veritas Prep for a year and a half, scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT, scored a 5 on the AP Calculus BC test in high school, and have tutored others in every core high school academic subject.  In spite of all my academic success, I made a few mistakes preparing to take the ACT test a few months ago (I took the ACT for “fun” just to see what I might get).  I’d like to share some of things I learned along the way and pass on a few tips!

It was something of a shock to walk into a room full of high school students several years younger than me, turn to the math section of the October ACT, and realize I had absolutely no idea how to solve the last five questions. This leads me to Tip 1:

1.  Study – WELL!

I didn’t. Disregard every voice in your mind telling you how smart you think you are. Test taking is about knowing the test – more so, I’d argue, than knowing the material. If you plan on resting on your straight A’s in school to get you a good score, prepare to be disappointed.

The entirety of my ACT studying time added up to four hours, tops. Those hours were inefficient and unfocused, and covered only the English and science sections. I took only part of a practice test, reaching only the first ten or so math problems before deciding I had done enough. I looked through the list of topics covered in the ACT and quickly assumed I knew them all just because I recognized the ideas.  If I had stopped to review my own knowledge of trigonometry, I would have realized that, although I was familiar with all the concepts, I didn’t remember most of the actual methodologies involved in solving anything beyond the most basic trigonometry problems.  To avoid this mistake, take several practice tests all the way through and review any topics you’re feeling rusty with.

2.  Exercise, Eat, and Sleep.

These are vastly more important than many people assume. Alertness and focus are vital for both studying and test-taking.

I’ve always been moderately active, and perform better in school when I keep to my exercise routine. My high school years, however, were chock-full of late nights and sunrise mornings. It wasn’t until I arrived at UC Berkeley (and got to design my own schedule!) that my nightly sleep jumped from 5 hours to 9 hours. My happiness, alertness, and productivity spiked massively. I breezed through work and spent more time exploring and enjoying life, while simultaneously retaining my lessons more accurately.

Looking back, it’s frightening to think that I was locked in such a low level of daily awareness—and completely unaware of it, since I’d been in that rut for so long. In summary: Even if you think you’ve adapted to a sparser sleep schedule, try out a 9-hour routine, even if just for a week. It may not require a trade-off for productivity, and the difference could be astounding.

3.  Practice!

Practice, even if you know your stuff. The point here is to know your time limits and practice your pacing. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to double-check that you know the material.

Honestly, I could do the science section of the ACT in my sleep. But, could I do it in 35 minutes? That’s a totally different question.

I found myself considerably crunched for time in both the science and math sections, purely because I wasn’t familiar enough with the time limits. Every type of test feels different, so every test time limit is different—even if it’s the same time limit across different tests. Getting used to the “feel” of a test can do wonders for your comfort level, since you know a) how to budget your time, and b) what to expect next.  Also, tests like the ACT and SAT are hours long and are basically “mental marathons.”  You have to train your mental stamina to stay sharp through the end of the test.  You wouldn’t practice for a 26-mile marathon by running 2-3 miles a day right?  Why make the same mistake on standardized tests?

Despite my mistakes, I fortunately scored a 34—in the 99th percentile. But I remember walking out of my test frustrated because I knew for a fact that I could have done better. Even though my score was high, it was impossible for me to really be happy with it because I knew it didn’t represent my full potential. I’ve studied hard for tests before. I just made the mistake of thinking that I didn’t have much to worry about.

Learn from my mistakes. Think smart. Think ahead. I promise it’s worth it.

Be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.
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New post 18 Dec 2013, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: How to Improve Your Timing When You're Stuck on a Hard Question
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Before getting into test prep, I was a classical music composer.  I worked pretty long hours composing pieces for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and symphony orchestras.  Sometimes I would run into writer’s blocks at very specific places in a composition.  I couldn’t decide which motive the oboe should play, or whether or not to double the counterpoint on the harp.  How I found my way out of such binds is also how I later found my way out of tough questions on standardized tests like the SAT.

When I got really stuck trying to write music, I just stopped.  Usually I made this decision too late and ended up wasting a lot of time racking my brain to no avail.  After finally throwing in the towel late at night, I hit the sack hard.  Overnight, a strange thing would happen.  When I tried to give my brain the break it deserved, it would actually work overtime instead.  I would dream all night long about different variations of the oboe theme and would be nonchalantly sifting through my options as if I had all the time in the world.  By the time I woke up, I knew exactly which notes to transcribe. You can use a similar strategy on the SAT, called Skip and Return, and I’ll explain this strategy later.

I’m also a big fan of popular music and came across an interview with The Beatles’ songwriter Paul McCartney after discovering my hidden lazy-man talent.    Now I don’t know how long Paul toiled on the piece before going to sleep, but the melody for “Yesterday” came to him in a dream, after which he furiously rushed to the piano not to forget it.  While Paul wrote over thirty songs that reached number one, “Yesterday” is by far and away the most successful of all, having been recorded over 2,000 times.  For musicians, letting our brains work behind the scenes seems to breed creativity.

Be Creative

And creativity is the name of the game on the SAT.  The best test takers are the ones who can solve a question in multiple ways, so that if one method is foiled, an alternate is waiting in the wings.  Less creative students go with just one approach and try to force it through with all their might.  They start and stop the problem many times in close succession and get frustrated when they can’t seal the deal.  Be flexible on the SAT and don’t like one method or strategy constrain you when there might be alternate ways to solve if you open your eyes a little.

Skip and Return

Enter the Veritas Prep SAT 2400 strategy, Skip and Return.  As soon as you encounter tester’s block on your SAT, we recommend you skip right over that question.  It’s that simple. Just circle that sucker and pretend it never existed!

Here’s where the music analogy ends though.  We don’t want you to take a nap right in the middle of the SAT after all.   Instead, “rest” your brain by doing other questions, especially manageable ones on other topics.   We already know that your brain will be assiduously laboring behind the scenes, working out the intricacies of the skipped questions as your muscle memory feasts on lower hanging fruit.  By the time you circle back to your circled questions, they will look completely different and much less scary.  You may even hear a harp in the background.

Unlike “Yesterday,” we don’t want you to replay your SAT 2,000 times.  At Veritas Prep, strategies like Skip and Return allow us to hit all the right notes the first time through. So remember, if you run into a tricky question on the SAT, skip it and move on. Then, return to it after your brain has had a small break and you can look at the question with a new perspective.

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!

Jon Small is the Vice President of Sales for Veritas Prep. After completing his undergraduate studies at McGill in his native Canada, he went on to Berklee College of Music and NYU, where he earned his master’s. He discovered an affinity for standardized tests when applying to graduate school, and is now pursuing his MBA from UCLA Anderson while working full-time.
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New post 19 Dec 2013, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Comprehend Reading Comprehension Passages on the GMAT
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The most common complaint I hear from students about Reading Comprehension is that the text is mind-numbingly boring. This is due to two common factors. First, the texts are frequently mind-numbingly boring! Second, even if they’re somewhat interesting, the fact that you’ve been staring at a computer screen for about three straight hours (not counting the two eight-minute breaks) means you’re likely not completely focused on the task at hand. In fact, many a student has confided in me that by this part of the test they were already dreaming of lunch at McDonalds (okay this may have just been my personal experience).

So what are you supposed to do when you read a 300-word text, get to the end, and don’t recall a single thing about the text? You can reread it, but the same thing is likely to happen again, all while the time ticks silently away in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Luckily, there’s an app for that! (or at least a strategy you can employ). You can change your focus from what’s being written to how it’s being written. In other words, you’re reading for the organization of the text.

Reading for organization is a great way to get through a horrendous text that seems like it was commissioned as a cure for insomnia. If you focus on the signal words that indicate when transitions will be made, you can slog through a passage just looking for directions such as “moreover” or “however” that can signal that the text is continuing in one direction (#HarryStyles) or elaborating on the flip side of the argument. Particularly because many GMAT questions will require you to read through the passage again, having a rough roadmap of the passage will help save time.

Let’s look at a GMAT passage and answer a question using the organization of the passage (note: this is the same passage I used in May and August for scope and tone, respectively):

Young Enterprise Services (YES) is a federal program created to encourage entrepreneurship in 14-18 year olds who have already shown a clear aptitude for starting business ventures. The program, started in 2002, has provided loans, grants, and counseling – in the form of workshops and individual meetings with established entrepreneurs – to over 7,500 young people. The future of YES, however, is now in jeopardy. A number of damaging criticisms have been leveled at the program, and members of the Congressional agency that provides the funding have suggested that YES may be scaled down or even dismantled entirely.

One complaint is that the funds that YES distributes have disproportionally gone to young people from economically disadvantaged families, despite the program’s stated goal of being blind to any criteria besides merit. Though no one has claimed that any of the recipients of YES funds have been undeserving, several families have brought lawsuits claiming that their requests for funding were rejected because of the families’ relatively high levels of income. The resulting publicity was an embarrassment to the YES administrators, one of whom resigned.

Another challenge has been the admittedly difficult task of ensuring that a young person, not his or her family, is truly the driving force behind the venture. The rules state that the business plan must be created by the youth, and that any profits in excess of $1,000 be placed in an escrow account that can only be used for education, investment in the venture, and little else, for a period that is determined by the age of the recipient. Despite this, several grants had to be returned after it was discovered that parents – or in one case, a neighbor – were misusing YES funds to promote their own business ideas. To make matters worse, the story of the returned monies was at first denied by a YES spokesperson who then had to retract the denial, leading to more bad press.

In truth, YES has had some real success stories. A 14-year old girl in Texas used the knowledge and funding she received through the program to connect with a distributor who now carries her line of custom-designed cell phone covers. Two brothers in Alaska have developed an online travel advisory service for young people vacationing with their families. Both of these ventures are profitable, and both companies have gained a striking amount of brand recognition in a very short time. However, YES has been pitifully lax in trumpeting these encouraging stories. Local press notwithstanding, these and other successes have received little media coverage. This is a shame, but one that can be remedied. The administrators of YES should heed the advice given in one of the program’s own publications: “No business venture, whatever its appeal, will succeed for long without an active approach to public relations.”

All of the following are discussed in the passage except _______

(A)   The resignation of some YES administrators

(B)   Bad press resulting from financial improprieties

(C)   Lawsuits against YES

(D)   The YES program’s stated goals

(E)    Current levels of YES funding

This type of question can be difficult as it requires you to find four elements in the text, not just one. This is more a process of elimination than anything else in finding which aspect hasn’t been talked about. Let’s consult our handy road map of the passage:

If you remember what we outlined in previous blogs, the best strategy is to summarize each paragraph in a ~5 word blurb at the end of each paragraph. You don’t have to write these down but you can if your shorthand will help you. The first paragraph dealt with the concept of the YES program, the 2nd and 3rd elaborated on problems the program has had and the 4th is about some of the successes and how to play them up.

Knowing this, we can look for answer choice A in one of the middle paragraphs, and we can find it as the last line of paragraph two.

Answer choice B is also about mismanagement, and should be in the same paragraphs, and again it is the last line of a paragraph, but in this case of the third one.

Answer choice C is also about problems (they’re really not having a good run, eh!). Paragraph two again discusses how certain families have brought lawsuits against YES.

Answer choice D is actually about the program, so we should look for that in paragraph one. Indeed, we see that the very first line discusses the stated goals of the YES program.

Logically it must now be answer choice E, as we’ve found the other four. A cursory scan of the first paragraph quickly reveals that nothing about their current levels of funding was discussed. The only mention is that the program may be dismantled, but the current budget could be 200$ or 200,000$. This is the correct answer choice, and it’s made simple by having a good understanding of the organization of the text.

Reading for organization helps determine what the passage looks like and gives you a good structure to focus on when you simply can’t engage with a passage. Hopefully knowing where to look in the passage will help you answer questions faster and make fewer mistakes. After all, it’s never bad to be organized.

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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New post 20 Dec 2013, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Become a Reading Comprehension Has Been (that's a good thing)
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One of the things that makes Reading Comprehension difficult is the inclusion of so many words that you either don’t know or don’t spend much time thinking about. Triglyceride, germination, privatization, immunological.

But by the same token, certain words – those that you should think about regularly if you don’t already – can make your job exponentially easier. Consider, for example, these sentence fragments from the beginnings of official GMAT passages:

 

The antigen-antibody immunological reaction used to be regarded as typical…

Anthropologists studying the Hopi people of the southwestern United States often characterize…

The modern multinational corporation is described as having originated…

Many scholars have theorized that economic development, particularly…

In all of these cases, the first sentence of a passage describes something that “has been” considered to be the case or that “used to be regarded as typical.” And in all of these cases, the author’s main point in the passage (you can find most of these in the GMATPrep software available for download at www.mba.com to see for yourself) is to reject the “conventional wisdom” and either offer his own theory or show how things have changed since then. So what does that mean for you strategically?

When the first sentence of a passage talks about “the conventional wisdom,” there is a massive likelihood that the author’s main point is to buck convention.

Which means that if you start reading something about what “has been” or “is usually,” be ready for things to change. Look for the author’s transition to come – be it the word “however” or “but” or another paragraph that begins with “Alternatively…”, you’re very likely to find a transition coming up soon, after which will be the author’s purpose for writing the passage. And most comforting of all – it almost doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. Once you’ve determined that the other shoe is going to drop, you don’t have to worry much about the conventional wisdom unless they ask you for it. The author’s real mission is what comes after the transition so you can focus your attention there.

Now, this might fall under the category of “somewhat helpful” when you’re reading one practice passage, but consider how these will appear on test day – you’ll have been racing through Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning prompts after having grinded out the quant section. Every advantage is a big help, and if you have insider information as to what the author is probably trying to do, you can read much more efficiently and confidently. Instead of reading and waiting for the author to prove the point, you can “attack”, looking proactively for what you’ll likely find.

So become a Reading Comprehension “Has Been” – if you see that the passage starts by talking about what has been or used to be the case, get ready for a change in direction to what the author thinks is now true. Thinking like a “has been” can be your ticket to achieving a score that “never was” possible before.

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
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New post 23 Dec 2013, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How to Identify Terminating Decimals on the GMAT
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We know the basics of decimals and rational numbers.

-   Decimals can be rational or irrational.

- Decimals which terminate and those which are non-terminating but repeating are rational. They can be written in the form a/b.

-  Decimals which are non-terminating and non-repeating are irrational such as √2, √3 etc.

The problem comes when we get a question based on these basics. That’s when we realize that our basics are not as strong as we assumed them to be. For example, look at this question:

Question: Which of the following fractions has a decimal equivalent that is a terminating decimal?

(A) 10/189

(B) 15/196

(C) 16/225

(D) 25/144

(E) 39/128

If your first thought is that we will simply divide the numerator by the denominator in each case and figure out which terminates and which doesn’t, you must realize that that is a very time consuming process. There has to be another logical approach to this problem. Well, here it is:

A fraction in its lowest term can be expressed as a terminating decimal if and only if the denominator has powers of only 2 and/or 5. Let’s try to understand the logic behind it.

Say, a and b are two integers.

a/b = a * 1/b

For a/b to be terminating, 1/b must be a terminating decimal. What happens when you start dividing 1 by b? You add a decimal point and start adding 0s. You will get 1 followed by as many 0s as you require in the numerator. 10/100/1000/10000 etc have only two prime divisors: 2 and 5. If the denominator has 2s or 5s or both, we will be able to terminate the decimal by choosing the required multiple of 10. If there are any other primes, we will never be able to divide a multiple of 10 completely and hence the decimal will not terminate. It is obvious, isn’t it?

1/3 = .333333333333333333…

1/7 = .142857142857142857…

1/11 = .09090909090909090…

Now the question we posed above is quite simple. Let’s look at it again.

Question 1: Which of the following fractions has a decimal equivalent that is a terminating decimal?

(A) 10/189

(B) 15/196

(C) 16/225

(D) 25/144

(E) 39/128

Only option (E) has a denominator of the form 2^a*5^b.

128 = 2^7

Therefore, 39/128 will terminate. All the other denominators have other prime numbers as well and hence will not terminate.

Using the same concepts, let’s look at another question.

Question 2: If 1/(2^11 * 5^17) is expressed as a terminating decimal, how many non-zero digits will the decimal have?

(A) 1

(B) 2

(C) 4

(D) 6

(E) 11

Solution:

First realize that 2^11 * 5^17 = 2^11 * 5^11 * 5^6 = 10^11 * 5^6

So 1/(10^11 * 5^6)  is just 0.00…001/5^6.

Now let’s try to figure out the answer intuitively:

What do you get when you divide .01 by 5? You get .002. You write 0s till you get 10 and then you get a non-zero digit.

What do you get when you divide .01 by 125 (which is 5^3)? You get .00008.

Do you notice something? The non zero term is 8 = 2^3

The reason is this: You have 1 followed by as many 0s as you require in the dividend. 125 = 5^3 so you will need 2^3 i.e. you will need 10^3 as the dividend and then 125 will be able to divide it completely (i.e. the decimal will terminate).

Now, using the same logic, what will be the non zero digits if you are dividing .00001 by 625?

625 = 5^4. You will need 2^4 = 16 to get 10^4 and that will end the terminating decimal. So you will have two non 0 digits: 16

What will you get when you divide .000…0001 by 5^6? Your non zero digits will be 2^6 = 64 i.e. you will have 2 non-zero digits.

Another way to look at the problem is this:

1/(10^11 * 5^6)  = 2^6/(10^17) (multiply and divide by 2^6)

= 64/(10^17)

Since the denominator is a power of 10, it will just move the decimal 17 places to the left. The non-zero digits will remain 64 only i.e. 2 digits.

Answer (B)

We will look at some DS questions on terminating and non terminating decimals next week.

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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New post 24 Dec 2013, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Admissions Blog: How Physical Exercise Can Help Control Your GMAT Test Anxiety
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In the first part of this article we discussed recent research indicating that exercise is the only way to create new brain cells, protect existing brain cells, and form new neural networks. If that list is not enough, aerobic exercise is also an important component of healthy emotions and possibly even control of test anxiety.

Emotional Control and Exercise
Numerous studies indicate that multitasking can cause people to have difficulty in controlling their emotions. Rapidly switching from one task to another makes emotional control difficult. Exercise works in the opposite direction. In particular exercise can help control anxiety.

The New York Times article, “How Exercise can Calm Anxiety,” indicates, “For some time, scientists studying exercise have been puzzled by physical activity’s two seemingly incompatible effects on the brain. On the one hand, exercise is known to prompt the creation of new and very excitable brain cells. At the same time, exercise can induce an overall pattern of calm in certain parts of the brain.”

What happens is that exercise helps to produce “nanny-neurons” which go around telling the excitable neurons not to overreact. Rats that had exercised consistently were better able to react at an appropriate level to stresses. In other words, rats that had a recent history of exercise were better able to react with an appropriate level of emotion and not turn a minor situation into a major source of stress. And the effect was not due to being tired from having just exercised, “Instead, the difference in stress response between the runners and the sedentary animals reflected fundamental remodeling of their brains.”

So exercise improves your memory, protects your brain cells, and helps you to control emotions. But is the change permanent?

Keep Exercising or Start Now!
It turns out that the brain benefits of exercising – including improved memory and emotional control – are not permanent. Like other physical changes, the positive impacts on the brain wear off if exercise is stopped. As reported in the article, “Do the Brain Benefits of Exercise Last?”, rats that had exercised frequently were able to maintain their mental and emotional advantages over the sedentary rats for a week or two without exercise. But after three weeks, “It was as if they had never run.”

The good news is that you can boost the creation of new brain cells and neural networks very quickly. After just a week of constant exercise, rats were beginning to show the positive effects! The challenge is that you have to keep it up. As the article states, “For the ongoing health of our minds, as well as for the plentiful other health benefits of exercise, it might be wise to stick to those New Year’s exercise resolutions.”

Study hard for the GMAT, but take time to exercise! Getting at least 30 minutes of cardio 3 – 4 times per week can do much more for your GMAT score than perhaps any other use of 2 hours of your time.

Author’s note: As you can see from both parts this article, I am a big fan of the New York Times, particularly the science, technical and travel writing. If you are seeking to improve your reading ability and English vocabulary you might want to get a digital subscription to the New York Times.

If you 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!

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