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EMPOWERgmat Blog

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 11070
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 21 Mar 2016, 10:22
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

CR Inference Questions are Sometimes Subtle
Hi Rich,

With this CR question, I’m having trouble understanding why Answer D is wrong:

Last January, in an attempt to lower the number of traffic fatalities, the state legislature passed its “Click It or Ticket” law. Under the new law, motorists can be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing their seat belts, even if an additional driving infraction has not been committed. Lawyers and citizens’ groups are already protesting the law, saying it unfairly infringes on the rights of the state’s drivers. Law enforcement groups counter these claims by stating that the new regulations will save countless additional lives. Which of the following inferences is best supported by the passage above?

• Prior to the “Click It or Ticket” law, motorists could not be stopped simply for not wearing a seat belt.
• The “Click It or Ticket” law violates current search and seizure laws.
• Laws similar to “Click It or Ticket” have effectively reduced traffic fatalities in a number of states.
• The previous seatbelt laws were ineffective in saving lives.
• Law enforcement groups, rather than citizens groups, should determine how to best ensure the safety of motorists.

Norman

Hi Norman,

GMAT questions are designed to have 1 correct answer and 4 incorrect answers. The incorrect answers are sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle, but the given information in the prompt is enough to figure out which answers are which.

Since this is an inference question, you'll need to spend a bit more time and energy on the details (since inference questions can sometimes be based on minor details that you might overlook).

The second-to-last sentence mentions that the new regulations will "save countless ADDITIONAL lives." Notice how this sentence is referring to some extra benefit, in excess of whatever existed before? Answer D tells us that the previous laws were "ineffective in saving lives." We don't know how effective the old laws were, we just know that the new law is supposed to save ADDITIONAL lives. Thus, D is not a proper inference.

The Value of Quant Tactics
Dear Rich,

I read thru the backup strategies in the MGMAT books and seem to understand them well. I am referring to backsolving, smart numbers, estimation, and number properties .I do not have them memorized. Is it important that I have these tricks memorized?

Oren

Hi Oren,

Many questions on the GMAT can be approached in a variety of ways, so it's beneficial for you to know more than one way to approach a question. In simple terms, you have two goals for any question that you're going to attempt to answer:

1) Get the question correct
2) Do so as quickly as possible

You can certainly use a "math" approach to answer most Quant questions, but in many cases, THAT way of thinking takes too much time to implement. That’s why you should keep an open mind to all of the various tactics that are available to you. Sufficient practice (including re-attempting past questions using different tactics) should help you to gain familiarity with all the options (and help you to figure out the right approach for any given question). You shouldn’t think of these approaches as “backup tactics” – they’re the keys to scoring at a high level on Test Day.

Taking CATs on a Regular Basis
Rich,

I’ve been gifted a lot of GMAT books to work with and I’m planning to signup with Empowergmat. My plan is to study hard for 2 months, then take practice cats during the last month. Do you have any tips to make my plan the most effective plan possible?

Patrice

Hi Patrice,

The EMPOWERgmat Course will teach you everything that you need to know to score at a high level on the GMAT, but you can certainly feel free to use additional practice resources if you choose. However, by not planning to take CATs throughout your studies, you have not given yourself any means to test your skills "along the way." Waiting until the final month to take practice CATs will likely be problematic. Your entire process hinges on perfect comprehension and perfect retention over the course of 2 months, without a way to gauge if what you’re doing is actually working. You should plan to take a practice CAT every week or two during your studies – doing so provides important information about your growing skills and how you handle the physical and psychological aspects of taking the test and your pacing.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2016, 09:53
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

The Reality of a 700+ Score
Hi Rich,

I find the 700-800 level Combinatorics and Probability stuff hard. For some one to get that 700+, do they have to ace those subjects?

Quentin

Hi Quentin,

The simple answer to that is: No, that's not true. Sometimes Combinatorics and Probability show up at the high levels, but they're not the only categories that can appear at that level. Imagine if you were to become perfect at those categories, but you only saw a handful of questions from them on the GMAT... For practical purposes, emphasizing those two minor math categories during your studies is not a good use of your time. You should first put your emphasis into the "big" categories - the ones that lead to lots of points. To that end, how well do you perform on DS questions, algebra, arithmetic, number properties, geometry, math formula questions, etc.? Until you're great at those big categories, AND really good at Verbal too, then a 700+ won't be possible.

Overlapping Sets Questions in DS
Dear Rich,

I’m not sure how to handle these types of questions in Data Sufficiency. What is the logic?

How many directors of both Company K and Company R?

(1) Thee were 17 directors present at joint meeting of the directors of Company K and Company R, and no directors were absent.

(2) Company K has 12 directors and Company R has 8 directors."

Roberta

Hi Roberta,

This DS question is based on a variation of the "overlapping sets" concept that you'll likely see on the GMAT once or twice. There are several different ways to solve this problem, but since this is a simple variation, I'll show you the simple math.

The idea is this: If a person is a member of BOTH groups, then that person has been "counted" twice (once for the first group and once for the second). When calculating the total number of people, you're NOT supposed to count people twice, so you have to mathematically remove that "second count."

Here's a simple example:
3 people total
1 person in group A
1 person in group B
1 person in BOTH group A and B

Total in group A = 2
Total in group B = 2
But that DOES NOT mean that there are 4 people; there are only 3.

In this type of question, the "math" formula is Total = Group A + Group B - BOTH = 2 + 2 - 1 = 3 people total

The same logic applies in this question.
Total = 17
Company K = 12
Company R = 8
Both = ?

Total = CompK + CompR - BOTH
17 = 12 + 8 - BOTH
17 = 20 - BOTH
3 = BOTH

Getting Comfortable with DS Overall
Hi Rich,

I'm wondering whether the answers to the DS questions in the GMAT Exam will be of similar length and complexities as the one in the OG's or whether this is only for practice purposes. In reality, I'm doing not too bad on PS but DS is being a nightmare for me.

Seline

Hi Seline,

The 5 answer choices to DS questions are always the same 5 answers (and in that order). While the wording of the 5 answers might appear to be complex, each defines a specific set of results. Once you've done more practice and you're comfortable with the logic behind each of the 5 choices, then selecting the proper one will be a bit easier.

If you're referring to the explanations behind each of the DS questions in the OG, then it's worth noting that sometimes the "math" approach to solving a problem can be quite complicated. DS questions offer a certain degree of flexibility to the Test Taker though; sometimes the easiest way to correctly solve a DS question is to prove that a pattern exists in the data (by TESTing Values or knowing Number Properties, for example).

Keep practicing though and make sure that you take lots of notes when you do your work. This will help you to hone your skills before Test Day.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
User avatar
D
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
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Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
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New post 04 Apr 2016, 10:18
The EMPOWERgmat Course – At a Glance

On the Official GMAT, certain subjects and question types appear more frequently than others and are thus worth more to your overall score. For those Test Takers who are looking to maximize the value of their study time (and score at a high level), knowing which areas to focus on can make a huge difference in how they perform on Test Day. To that end, the EMPOWERgmat Course was built with a structure that gives Clients the most time to prepare for the most valuable concepts and Tactics.

Stage 1 – Major Quant Tactics and Sentence Corrections

The Quant section of the GMAT is NOT a ‘math test’ – while you will do lots of little calculations throughout it, the GMAT is actually a ‘critical thinking’ test. GMAT questions can be solved in a variety of ways (and can often be solved fastest by NOT doing ‘traditional’ math). Right from the start, you’ll learn the essential Quant Tactics that can push your score up to a Q51 – including how to properly deal with Data Sufficiency (the question type that is unique to the GMAT). To earn that high Quant score, you’ll need to commit to practicing those Tactics throughout your studies.

For almost all Test Takers, Sentence Corrections is the largest sub-category in the Verbal section. There are seven core grammar categories to know, and some of the ‘style’ issues and idiom lists also require significant time to learn and master, which is why Idiom Lists are sprinkled throughout the Course to allow you the opportunity to learn them in small ‘chunks.’

Beyond the grammar, the EMPOWERgmat SC Tactics will enable you how to exploit overt GMAT SC test-writing patterns to boost your accuracy and efficiency.

Stage 2 – Arithmetic, Algebra, and Reading Comprehension

The two most common math subjects that you’ll need to know on Test Day are basic arithmetic and algebra. Every question that you’ll face in the Quant section will involve skills from at least one of those two subjects. Since many Test Takers have gone years without practicing those skills, it’s important to (re)learn the necessary content in a way that will allow you to take advantage of all of the hidden patterns that appear in GMAT Quant questions.

Reading Comprehension is an area that almost all Test Takers have some initial concern over. Long passages and ‘dense’ subjects can be expected on Test Day, so you have to learn how to deal effectively with Reading Comp (regardless of how long or complex the passage and questions are). EMPOWERgmat RC Tactics will show you how to read properly (NOT skimming and NOT trying to read ‘fast’) and how to structure an efficient RC Ladder for each passage to be ready to ace the questions that follow. Additionally, RC questions are predictable, and the four wrong options to each question are also easy to spot once you learn the test-writer patterns from your EMPOWERgmat RC training.

Stage 3 – Math Rules and Critical Reasoning

The GMAT writers often test you on math rules that you already know, but in ways that you’re not used to thinking about. In that way, the Test really doesn’t focus on special knowledge, but on your ability to pattern-match and think your way through layered questions. To handle all of those prompts in the fastest, easiest way possible, you have to know the rules (and practice using them) BEFORE you’re tested on them.

Critical Reasoning, while often the slightly smallest of the Verbal categories, still represents about 25% of the Verbal section, so it’s just about as critical as SC an RC.

Most Critical Reasoning questions will involve arguments. GMAT arguments always present a gap between the evidence offered and the conclusion. EMPOWERgmat will show you how 3 major assumptions are the cornerstone to mastering Critical Reasoning.

Additionally, EMPOWERgmat will show you how to recognize and answer each of the various CR question types (Assumption, Inference, Evaluate, etc.). Just like RC questions, CR questions also contain predictable patterns that can be exploited to boost accuracy and efficiency.

Stage 4 – Math Formulas, Geometry and the AWA/Essay

‘Word problems’ on the GMAT are often based on a particular math formula, but the GMAT only Tests certain formulas, so knowing the ins-and-outs of each formula can help you to quickly organize and solve even the wordiest Quant questions. Geometry is a math category that is all about formulas and also involves a variety of predictable patterns that show up on every GMAT that you will ever take. Learning exactly what formulas will show up, and how to deal with them, is a must for the questions that require that knowledge.

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is a standard 30-minute essay that is always graded in the exact same way. You’ll learn what the essay graders are looking for, and the perfect 5-paragraph ‘template’ to score a 6.0 on ANY Essay prompt that comes your way.

Stage 5 – Integrated Reasoning and Final Review

Many Business Schools have publicly stated that they do not consider an applicant’s IR score when reviewing the application, so IR is arguably the least worthwhile subject to spend time on. This is one of the reasons why it’s not covered until the end of the Course. IR is arguably most similar to Verbal CR prompts (with a little bit of math thrown into some of the questions), so learning those other subjects and skills first makes IR far easier to deal with. Furthermore, IR is especially vulnerable to a powerful tactic taught in the EMPOWERgmat course that you can use to your advantage with ease.

The Final Review phase helps you to recall all of the content, Tactics and lessons that you’ve learned throughout the Course.

The “X” Factors

Throughout each Stage of the Course, you’ll find a variety of added benefits:

- Additional Modules that emphasize building specific Quant and Verbal skills that you’ll find essential on Test Day

- Audio Podcasts with additional advice/tips/perspective

- Official Guide Quizzes that you can use with any recent version of the OG (GMAT2016, GMAT2015 or OG13) that draw specific questions that you can solve using the Tactics that you’ve learned in the Course.

- Review Modules so that you can keep all of your learned skills sharp.

- Pacing and Psychological Tactics Modules that can help you keep the right mindset throughout the Exam and maximize your overall performance.

The GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a high level. Ultimately, you need resources that will reveal ALL of the secrets to this Test, so that you can learn to handle everything that you’ll face on Test Day BEFORE you actually face it. Since the GMAT score is almost always the most important part of the Business School application, scoring at a high level is a MUST and the EMPOWERgmat Course should be at the center of any study plan that you’re considering.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
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New post 11 Apr 2016, 11:27
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Taking That First CAT is IMPORTANT
Hi Rich,

I’m thinking about waiting to give a practice CAT until I learn the concepts cold. A low score would get me very demotivated and I like to feel confident, so based on history I wouldn't want to take a CAT until I felt really ready. What do you suggest?

Tammy

Hi Tammy,

I understand why you want to be comfortable with all of the test-able concepts before you take a practice CAT, but that approach is likely to do more harm than good. There are a variety of factors that go into a strong overall performance on a CAT beyond knowing the material: overall organization, pacing skills , endurance, making good decisions when you're stuck, handling the psychological stress of the clock, handling the physical effects of a lengthy exam, etc. Your study plan needs to account for the necessary time it takes to learn THOSE skills.

You're not going to ace your first CAT, but that really isn't the goal. Your goal is to do your best and learn everything that you can (from the results) about your weak areas, so that you can work on fixing them.

Spreading Out Your CATs is Important
Dear Rich,

I’m planning to save my cats for my last 2.5 weeks of study. At that point, I plan to take 13 CATs – one almost every day, then take a day off before my real GMAT. How is this plan?

Utley

Hi Utley,

You'd likely be better of spreading out your practice CATs (taking 1 CAT every 1-2 weeks), than doing 13 CATs in 15 days. Taking a complete CAT is an exhausting experience, and requires a certain amount of time to review and do additional practice before taking another CAT. Each CAT is essentially a ‘measuring device’ – when used correct, a CAT will give you a reasonably accurate score assessment and point out your strengths and weaknesses; it will NOT make you a better Test Taker though. That comes from review, practice and honing your skills. The CAT will show you how well you’ve honed those skills and what else you need to work on.

The Big Rule When Handling a Comparison in an SC Prompt
Rich,

I would like to ask for advice regarding comparisons in SCs. I've read the whole Manhattan sentence correction book, but I'm still struggling when it comes to that particular point. I really need a kind of mathematical logical approach I can follow to nail any comparison problem.

Vaclav

Hi Vaclav,

The GMAT tends to repeatedly test straight-forward grammar rules, although sometimes those rules can be "packaged" in ways that you're not used to seeing.

Comparison questions come down to this basic rule: you must compare LIKE things, but the number does not matter.

For example, you can compare a person to another person. You can also compare a person to several people. You CANNOT compare a person to another person's grades. In GMAT SCs, be on the lookout for whichever part of the comparison is NOT underlined; that non-underlined portion is what the OTHER part must match.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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GRE 1: 340 Q170 V170
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New post 18 Apr 2016, 13:56
Taking The MOST Realistic Practice CATs is an Essential Part of the Study Process

When it comes to studying for the GMAT, there are LOTS of different practice resource to choose from. While individual Test Takers will vary on how they ‘best’ learn, the reality is that taking full-length CATs (with the Essay and IR sections) under realistic conditions is an essential part of the study process for ALL Test Takers.

The Quality of the CATs that you use matters a GREAT deal

Taking full CATs is truly the only way to gauge your ‘readiness’ to face the Official GMAT. In that regard though, the options are somewhat limited. While some GMAT companies have produced reasonably accurate ‘homemade’ practice CATs, others have created CATs that are from realistic. Unfortunately, since the Official GMAT algorithm is proprietary, no GMAT company has an exact match for it, thus CAT scores (and accuracy) can vary based on the 'biases' involved in the respective designs of those CATs. Thankfully, GMAC has recently released Exam Pack 2, which brings the total number of Official CATs up to SIX!

The Importance of The GMAC CATs cannot be overlooked

Test Day is a rather specific ‘event’; the details (even the little ones) can impact your performance a great deal. There are a number of factors that you won’t have complete control over during practice nor on Test Day (e.g. the amount of sleep you get the night before your Test, your stress levels, the Testing Center environment, etc.). However, you CAN be sure that you’re using the MOST realistic practice CATs available. Those 6 GMAC CATS all use ‘retired’ GMAT questions; and while the pool of questions that comes with each CAT is limited (relative to the pool that you’ll face on Test Day), the Scoring Algorithm is the SAME one that controls the Official GMAT. In that way, you can be sure that you’re getting the MOST realistic experience when you take those 6 CATS.

The Choices YOU make during practice WILL impact your results on Test Day

How you choose to study and the resources that you use will ultimately play a big role in how you perform on the Official GMAT. To help you take advantage of this monumental product release from GMAC, the EMPOWERgmat Course has been redesigned to include ALL SIX CATs as part of the Course. As part of your enrollment, you’ll receive access to ALL 6 of the GMAC CATs.! We are currently the ONLY GMAT Company to offer this option - if you’re reading this, then you are some of the first Test Takers to learn about this exciting opportunity!

If you’d like to know about this game-changing Course improvement, then you can read all about it here:

https://www.empowergmat.com/the-course/

And if you have any questions, then you can feel free to contact me or reach out to the Support Team (at Info@empowergmat.com).

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 25 Apr 2016, 16:40
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

‘Re-writing’ DS Questions Can Provide the Key to Solving Them
Hi Rich,

I’ve having trouble understanding certain coordinate geometry questions. How am I supposed to solve these types of questions?

A line is graphed on a coordinate plane. How many times less is the distance between the y-intercept and the x-axis than the distance between the x-intercept and the y-axis?

1.The slope of the line is -9/13.
2.The y-intercept is located at (0, 26).

Wilhelm

Hi Wilhelm,

This DS question looks far more complex than it is. The "secret" behind it is in understanding what the question is "really" asking you to figure out.

Here, we're asked how many times less is (the distance from the y-intercept to the x-axis) and (the distance from the x-intercept to the y-axis)?

These two calculations can be rewritten as (distance from y-intercept to point 0,0) and (distance from x-intercept to point 0,0)….

Conceptually, this relationship is referred to as "change in Y over change in X", otherwise known as SLOPE.

This DS question is asking what the slope of the line is…

Fact 1: Slope of the line is -9/13
This answers the question.
Fact 1 is SUFFICIENT

Fact 2: The Y-intercept is (0,26)
Without the X-intercept, we have no way of figuring out the slope.
Fact 2 is INSUFFICIENT

Final Answer: A

Free ‘Math’ Help Online
Dear Rich,

I am 37 years old and have not taken a math class in almost 20 years. Needless to say I am having trouble answering many problems from the OG. Geometry, Algebra, fractions, decimals are all gone, lost somewhere in the back of my mind. Please advise what books, websites, etc. I need to use to improve in math.

Xerxes

Hi Xerxes,

If you're primarily interested in straight-forward "math help", then I'd suggest that you visit Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org). It's a big website, so you'll have to search around for what you're looking for, but it's very friendly and FREE. The first subjects you'll probably want to revisit are algebra 1, arithmetic and geometry. Afterwards, you can nitpick for whatever additional categories you'd like to get some practice on.

Fill-in-the-blank Inference CR Questions
Rich,

I’m having trouble with type of fill in CR questions. What’s the best way to answer them?

When people engage in activities that help others, their brain releases endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates, which induce in people a feeling of well-being. It has been suggested that regular release of endorphins increases people’s longevity.

And a statistic on adults who regularly engage in volunteer work helping others shows that they live longer, on average, than adults who do not volunteer. However, that statistic would be what we would expect even if volunteering does not boost longevity, because ________________________

Which of the following most logically completes the argument?

A. In the communities studied, women were much more likely to do regular volunteer work than men were, and women tend to live longer than men do.
B. The number of young adults who do regular volunteer work is on the increase
C. The feelings of well-being induced by endorphins can, at least for a time, mask the symptoms of various conditions and diseases, provided the symptoms are mild.
D. It is rare for a person to keep up a regular schedule of volunteer work throughout his or her life.
E. Some people find that keeping a commitment to do regular volunteer work becomes a source of stress in their lives.

Yayo

Hi Yayo,

This CR question is an example of a "fill in the blank" inference question. After reading through the prompt, you'll need to pick the answer that matches the given information and logically completes the last sentence.

The Facts:
-When people who help others, their brains release endorphins.
-The regular release of Endorphins has been linked to increased longevity (the length of their lives)
-Statistics show that people who regularly engage in volunteer work live longer than those who do not volunteer.
-HOWEVER, people who regularly volunteer would be expected to live longer BECAUSE….

The keyword "however" implies some type of contrast and the keyword "because" is used to present evidence. So we need an answer that explains why people who volunteer would probably live longer anyway (and that it's not the volunteering/endorphins that are lengthening their lives).

The only answer that describes the given subject and offers another reason for living longer is A.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2016, 13:04
Have heard from a friend of mine that their online course is a good one.. he recommend it
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Re: EMPOWERgmat Blog [#permalink]

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New post 02 May 2016, 10:53
3 Details to Look For When Your CAT Scores Are Not Significantly Improving

Taking full-length CATs at regular intervals throughout one’s studies is an essential part of the study process. Each CAT, when properly taken in full (and in a realistic, test-like fashion) provides data that can be used to evaluate your progress and give you a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses. For almost all Test Takers, there will be a point (or a series of points) in which the CAT results appear to show little-to-no actual score improvement. When those situations occur, it’s important to stop and truly evaluate how you are handling each section of the GMAT. It’s likely that one (or more) of the following details is WHY your CAT scores are not significantly improving.

To start, it’s important to understand what slight changes in score actually mean. GMAC has publicly stated that a Test Taker's Official Score is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. An overall score change of 10-30 points (with a corresponding change in the Quant/Verbal Scaled Score of 1-3 points) means that you’re performing in the same general ways as before. As an example, a 650/Q47/V32 and a 670/Q46/V34 are so close (relatively speaking) that earning these two results on two consecutive CATs in EITHER order does NOT mean that you improved or regressed – it means that you performed at the same general level.

With that in mind, here are 3 details to look for in your performances that will likely explain why your scores are not radically improving:

1 - You’re missing the ‘gettable’ questions.

When reviewing a CAT, how often do you find yourself thinking “I SHOULD have gotten this question correct, but I made a little mistake…”? Between the Quant and Verbal sections, there are only 78 questions to deal with (and on Test Day, some of those questions are ‘experimental’ – and thus, do NOT count), so there are only so many opportunities to pick up points. To score at a higher level, you cannot afford to miss out on too many of the ‘gettable’ questions. Just a handful of additional correct answers, in the proper spots, can lead to a big score gain.

2 – You’re spending too much time, on average, on questions that are too difficult.

When doing that same review, pay careful attention to all of the questions that took too long to answer. That would include any Quant question that took more than 3 minutes, any SC that took more than 1.5 minutes and any CR that took more than 2.5 minutes. Of THOSE questions, what fraction of them did you get wrong? Now, consider all of the time that you spent on those time-consuming, incorrect answers. All of that time could have been spent elsewhere – correctly answering ‘gettable’ questions. That extra time could have also been useful at the end of the section on questions that you had to ‘rush’ through (and likely got wrong) because you were low on time.

3 – You refuse to take notes.

“Pride” is a tricky character trait to have on Test Day. You should certainly be confident, but you cannot allow ‘pride’ to get in the way of doing the necessary work to correctly answer a GMAT question in an efficient way. The silliest mistakes that you will make on the GMAT will occur when you don’t take enough notes. The questions that take too long to answer will be due, in part, because you didn’t take enough notes. Some Test Takers believe that they’re “smart enough” to not take notes and THAT is remarkably dumb thinking. That type of pride actually HURTS their performances. You should NEVER do any work ‘in your head’ on Test Day. That process must be adhered to during your practice so that it becomes second nature. When reviewing your CATs, if you look at your notepad and realize that you didn’t write much down (or didn’t write down enough), then that is likely the root of ALL of the other issues that you’re facing. Your pride is getting in the way of your potential for improvement.

Thankfully, all of these issues can be improved on, but it takes a concerted effort (and a commitment to study in the proper way) to earn a significantly higher score during practice and on the Official GMAT. Working with the proper practice materials and receiving consistent Expert guidance is also a must.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 09 May 2016, 11:14
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Absolute Values in DS Questions
Dear Rich,

In this DS, I get that from common sense we can consider p = q = 0, but if this did not strike one's mind instantly, then one can use the absolute value equation.

If I use this here, I get 2 values either p =-q or p = q
If above is the case, then I get either p+q= 0 or, p+q=2p or 2q

This is confusing. Can you please tell me what I am missing here?

What is the value of p+q?

(1) |p|= -|q|

(2) p=q

Zeb

Hi Zeb,

Your "math" explanation is too complicated for the given scenario (even you're not sure what it means, which is problematic) and takes more time to use than other approaches. The Quant section of the GMAT is NOT a math test, it's a critical thinking test that uses math as the "gauge." You should remember that fact when approaching Quant questions; there's usually several approaches to answering the given question (the "math way" often takes the longest though).

DS questions are often built around Number Properties (patterns behind the math and how numbers relate to one another). In Fact 1, since you know the definition of absolute value, your instinct should be to do the easiest thing that you can: a minus sign in front of an absolute value means the resulting value is either negative or 0. The ‘left side’ of that equation creates either a 0 or positive result. Since the two terms are equal, the only possibility is 0.

Work to build up that skill (especially on DS questions) and you'd be amazed how your score can quickly improve and any pacing problem that you may have could disappear.

Causality in CR
Hi Rich,

What is the logic in this CR question?

Two centuries ago, Tufe Peninsula became separated from the mainland, isolating on the newly formed Tufe Island a population of Turfil sunflowers. This population’s descendants grow to be, on average, 40 centimeters shorter than Turfil sunflowers found on the mainland. Tufe Island is significantly drier than Tufe Peninsula was. So the current average height of Tufe’s Turfil sunflowers is undoubtedly at least partially attributable to changes in Tufe’s environmental conditions.

Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?

(A) There are no types of vegetation on Tufe Island that are known to benefit from dry conditions.

(B) There were about as many Turfil sunflowers on Tufe Peninsula two centuries ago as there are on Tufe Island today.

(C) The mainland’s environment has not changed in ways that have resulted in Turfil sunflowers on the mainland growing to be 40 centimeters taller than they did two centuries ago.

(D) The soil on Tufe Island, unlike that on the mainland, lacks important nutrients that help Turfil sunflowers survive and grow tall in a dry environment.

(E) The 40-centimeter height difference between the Turfil sunflowers on Tufe Island and those on the mainland is the only difference between the two populations.

Arnaud

Hi Arnaud,

This CR prompt is built on the concept of "causality", meaning that one thing causes another. It's a type of logic that you'll see a few times on Test Day, so it's worth knowing. The big assumption with causality prompts is that first thing (and NOTHING ELSE) caused the second thing.

Here, we're told that the change in environment conditions (the Island is drier than the Peninsula) caused the Turfil sunflowers to be 40 cm shorter than mainland sunflowers. We're looking for an answer that confirms that the dryness is the only possible cause (and nothing else).

The only answer that confirms the causality is C, which tells us that the difference in the height of the sunflowers was NOT due to something that happened on the mainland.

Balancing Subjects During Your Studies
Rich,

After a 6 month hiatus I'm back at it, and have made up my mind to write the test. I studied for almost 3 months straight last year, but never wrote the actual test because I didn't feel my score was good enough. My 3 month plan is to focus on Quant for the first month, then Verbal for the second month and work on CATs in the third month.

Any thoughts? Would really appreciate the feedback of the community, thanks.

Baker

Hi Baker,

Your plan might work just fine, although you’ll likely perform better overall if you do a ‘mix’ of Quant and Verbal each week (that way you can build up skills in BOTH sections of the Test at the same time. It’s also important to take CATs at regular intervals – if you don’t want to take a CAT every week, then that’s fine, but you shouldn’t wait until the end of your timeline to take them.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 16 May 2016, 12:51
Getting a Head Start on the Fall Application Season NOW

Most MBA Applicants face a harsh reality when it comes to prepping for the GMAT and working on their applications – EVERYTHING takes longer than the Applicants think it will. You’re not the exception. You may have read a few stories about the exceptions, but those stories don’t apply to you. You need more time than you think you do, so plan accordingly.

Most Test Takers spend 3 months (or more) preparing to take the GMAT. You probably read a story about someone who picked up a book, studied for 2 weeks, then scored 750. That’s not you nor is it any of the other 99% of Test Takers. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a shorter deadline; if you want a 700+ score, then you have to put in the time and effort.

Now, if your first GMAT score isn’t to your liking, then you have to wait ANOTHER 16 days to retake the GMAT, which extends the overall study timeline. If you rush in to retake the Test without identifying (and ‘fixing’) your issues, then you’ll likely end up retaking the GMAT more than once, which will extend your studies significantly. Thankfully, retaking the GMAT is not a big deal (Business Schools don’t care if you take the GMAT more than once, whether you cancel your score or not). However, you have to consider if you’ve given yourself enough ‘lead time’ to take the GMAT again before your application deadline(s). If your score isn’t competitive, then your whole plan and timeline can derail.

Applications need to be ‘tailored’ to the individual School/Program and each Essay (or Personal Statement) should likewise be tailored. All of THOSE activities also take time. Well-written, compelling essays are one of the greatest ways for an Applicant to make up for a ‘weak spot’ in an application. Are there any areas of YOUR profile that seem lackluster or boring? How is your undergraduate GPA? Is your work experience interesting or exciting? If you cringe when thinking about any of those details, then killer essays are a MUST.

You CANNOT treat the essay-writing process as if you were back in High School writing a last-minute book report. You should write and rewrite, have friends and professional associates give you honest critique on your work, then rewrite again. Putting together effective applications with well-written essays can take another 1-2 months of time. If you want to apply to a Top20 School, then you should absolutely consider working with an Admissions Expert on your essays and profile. The other 10,000+ Applicants that you’re up against at each School are thinking about these exact same issues.

While all of this might seem shocking (and possibly upsetting), this ‘investment’ of time, money and energy is all meant to get YOU into an elite Business School Program. Top Programs reject 70% - 90% of applicants, so you have to think about what you are willing to do to increase your chances at getting an invitation to your First Choice School (and all the benefits to your career and life that having that MBA will afford you). When the idea is put that way, you really MUST embrace the entire task and work diligently to make it all happen.

Considering that most MBA Programs have a Round 1 Deadline in September/October, this is the PERFECT time of year to begin your GMAT studies and give yourself enough time to work on everything else that will go into your applications.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 23 May 2016, 09:00
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Scheduling Your Official GMAT at the Perfect Time
Hi Rich,

I took my first gmat exam at 8 am, and I honestly do not think that a morning exam is best for me. While surfing through the mba.com site, I saw that the GMAT is offered at several different times throughout the test day, 8 am, 1pm and 4pm. Should I take my practice exams at 1 pm and 4pm (different days) to see which time works best for me?

Corinne

Hi Corinne,

The general advice is that most people do their best word "early in the week and early in the day." Depending on the schedule that you maintain, your "perfect" day/time may vary. For people who work Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, they would probably perform best on a Monday morning. However, 8am might be too early, so the opportunity to sleep in a bit and not have to deal with morning traffic makes a noon/1pm test a bit more appealing. My suspicion would be that a 4pm Test start would be too late in the day and that you'd find your performance lagging as the evening went on.

Questionable Plans With 5 Weeks Remaining
Rich,

I wanted to know what you thought about my plan for attack for these last 5 weeks of study. For about the first 2 weeks, I will spend all my time doing the OG quant and verbal problems over and over until I am sick. Then for about the next 2 weeks, it's all CAT tests. The weekend before I am off that Friday and will spend 72 hours polishing any weak areas. Any suggestions to this plan based on my time frame would be helpful.

Dumond

HI Dumond,

With about 5 weeks to go, it's important to see what your current ability level actually is, so I'd highly recommend that you take a full length practice CAT and report back with your results. As to the rest of your plan, here are a few suggestions:

1) Re-doing previous questions over and over until "you're sick" is not a good idea. Review is good, and redoing old questions can be beneficial, but the point of review is that you are supposed to hone your skills and then try NEW questions to test yourself.

2) Two weeks of lots of practice CATs is NOT a good idea. Taking a full CAT is a grueling experience and it requires time to review and do some serious practice before taking another. Plan on taking 1 CAT/week - it's a far better way to gauge your progress and improve. You'll also be able to focus on small issues as they occur, instead of trying to deal with them all in the last 2+ weeks of study.

3) Doing too much in the last weekend before your actual GMAT can be counter-productive. A bit of light review is fine, but don't plan on taking any CATs and don't burn yourself out.

Tougher Interest Rate Questions
Dear Rich,

I know how to handle standard questions that ask about interest rates, but how do you do the math when you’re calculating interest at some other rate than once a year?

Eamon

Hi Eamon,

The standard formula for Compound Interest is…

(Principle) x (1 + R)^T; R is the yearly interest rate and T is the number of years.

So, if you invest $10,000 at 12% interest for 2 years, then the total value of the account + interest =

10,000 x (1.12)^2 = 10,000 x (1.44) = $14,400

Now, if you calculate interest every 6 months, you have to adjust the math. Over the course of 2 years, you would have 4 periods of interest; since you're doubling the value of T, the math rule dictates that you cut the interest rate in half. Under these conditions, your calculation would be:

10,000 x (1.06)^4

The GMAT won't ask you to physically calculate that type of result though.

If you're calculating once every MONTH, then you multiply T by 12 and divide the interest rate by 12:

10,000 x (1.01)^24

While these are rare situations on the GMAT, the basic rules aren't hard to learn and remember.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 30 May 2016, 11:00
Retaking the GMAT in 16 Days Might Not Be a Great Idea

In 2016, when GMAC adjusted its testing parameters to allow Test Takers to retake the GMAT a mere 16 days after a prior attempt (down from 31 days), many saw that change as a great opportunity. To be fair, there are some significant benefits to the shorter ‘cooling off’ period; for example, if you’re on a tight application deadline, then you can easily schedule another GMAT attempt before the deadline passes. However, if you score lower than you want to be scoring on Test Day, rushing back in so soon afterwards to retake the GMAT might not be the best idea (especially if your goal is to be scoring significantly higher).

Some Test Takers take the GMAT before they’ve actually achieved their goal scores during their studies. For example, if your goal score is a 700+, but you scored in the low-600s on your CATs (and then on Test Day), then retaking the GMAT so soon will almost certainly lead to a similar score result. Taking CATs, and Test Day itself, are not how you improve your GMAT score – they’re how you measure your skills. If your goal score is 50+ points away, then you’ll likely need MORE study time to improve than the 16-day period allows.

In certain situations, Test Takers score considerably lower on the Official GMAT than they score on their CATs. A variety of external ‘forces’ can impact your performance on Test Day, including a poor night’s sleep, anxiety, distractions at the Testing Facility, etc. Oftentimes though, it’s far more likely that the Test Taker was practicing in an unrealistic fashion (re: skipping sections during their CATs, taking the CATs at home, re-taking CATs that they already took, etc.), so the score results were ‘inflated’ and unrealistic. It’s rather difficult for anyone to properly ‘fix’ any of those factors in 16 days. If more than one of them occurred, then it will likely take far longer than 16 days to raise your score to the goal level.

The GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. Beyond knowing the content though, you have to know the Tactics and patterns involved. In addition, you have to train for the full Test Day ‘event’ – including all of the little things that occur BEFORE the Test actually starts (everything from when you go to bed the night before up to the final Verbal question that you answer). If you’re unable to put together that strong overall performance on Test Day though (for whatever reason), then you have to seek out (and follow) the necessary Expert advice. Whatever you were doing incorrectly, you’re likely to continue doing it unless you make some fundamental changes to how you ‘see’ (and respond to) the Test. One of the many reasons why the 700+ score continues to represent approximately the 90th percentile is that, as a large group, Test Takers continue to make the same fundamental mistakes over and over, year after year. Shortening the time-frame between retests doesn’t change that. If you’re looking for ideas to improve your GMAT score, you should start by not rushing in so quickly to retake the GMAT.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 06 Jun 2016, 13:27
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Strange Graphing Questions on the GMAT
Hello Rich,

I wasn’t sure how to handle this graphing question. Any advice?

How many times does graph y = ax^2 + bx + c intersect the x-axis?

1) a > 0
2) c < 0

OA: C

I was also wondering if these types of questions are likely to be tested on the GMAT?

Filmore

Hi Filmore,

The concepts in this DS question are quite rare, but possible, on the GMAT. I wouldn't put too much time or energy into these sorts of graphing questions though, as you're not likely to see this on Test Day. That all having been said, there are some Number Properties behind this type of graphing:

1) A graph of a quadratic will be a "U" shape (either "open up" or "open down").

If the "a" variable is positive, then the graph opens "up"; if the "a" is negative, then the graph opens "down"; if the "a" is 0, then you have a line.

2) The graph of a quadratic will intersect the X-axis at 0, 1 or 2 points.

3) The y-intercept of this line (the "c" variable) is important because it anchors the graph at a point and then the graph either opens "up" or "down"

Fact 1: "a" is positive

This tells us that the graph opens "up", but we don't know where the y-intercept is:
If "c" is positive, then the answer is 0
If "c" is 0, then the answer is 1
If "c" is negative, then the answer is 2
Fact 1 is INSUFFICIENT

Fact 2: "c" is negative

This tells us the y-intercept is negative, but we don't know if the graph opens "up" or "down":

If "a" is positive, then the answer is 2
If "a" is 0, then the answer is 1
If "a" is negative, then the answer is 0
Fact 2 is SUFFICIENT

Combined, we know the "a" is positive (so the graph opens "up") and the "c" is negative (so the y-intercept is negative). This graph would have 2 intercepts.
Combined, SUFFICIENT

Final Answer: C

Which SC Rule to Tackle First…
Dear Rich,

When dealing with the following SCs, what is the best rule to start with?

The plot of The Bostonians centers on the rivalry between Olive Chancellor, an active feminist, with her charming and cynical cousin, Basil Ransom, when they find themselves drawn to the same radiant young woman whose talent for public speaking has won her an ardent following.

(A) rivalry between Olive Chancellor, an active feminist, with her charming and cynical cousin, Basil Ransom

(B) rivals Olive Chancellor, an activist feminist, against her charming and cynical cousin, Basil Ransom

(C) rivalry that develops between Olive Chancellor, an active feminist, and Basil Ransom, her charming and cynical cousin

(D) developing rivalry between Olive Chancellor, an active feminist, with Basil Ransom, her charming and cynical cousin

(E) active feminist, Olive Chancellor, and the rivalry with her charming and cynical cousin Basil Ransom

Garfield

Hi Garfield,

You're going to find that the GMAT tests Parallelism rules repeatedly on Test Day, and in variety of ways. Here, we're dealing with "2-Part" Parallelism, which requires that the 2 parts be similar (and be presented in the same way). The parallelism might also use a "2-Part" phrase (such as either…or, neither…nor, between…and).

The way that the original prompt is written certainly hints that the phrase "between…and" will appear in the correct answer, but we won't know for sure until we run through the answers and consider the parallelism.

1) Between…and: Eliminate A (no "and"), and D (no "and")

2) Parallelism in general: Eliminate B (should be "on the rivals….Olive Chancellor AND….Basil Random) and E (should be "Olive Chancellor AND...Basil Ransom").

Final Answer: C

Too Much Study Can Lead to ‘Burnout’
Dear Rich,

Thanks a lot for your inputs and suggestions so far. I am planning to give my GMAT within the next 2.5 months. or before that, I can't delay it further as other plans are also in queue. Since I’m not doing anything else right now, my plan is to study 8 hours every day (and on the weekend I can spend even more hours than that if needed). Do you have any advice about how I should spend my time?

Harrison

Hi Harrison,

It sounds like you've given yourself enough time to study, as 2.5 months is plenty. However, I’m concerned that you are likely to study too much during that time. As your studies progress, you might find it helpful to give yourself one day "off" per week - so that you can relax a bit (and do something other than study). While some Test Takers feel compelled to study every day, there is a long-term risk of "burn out" and it's best to try to plan proactively to keep that from happening. By extension, studying 8 hours a day (or more) is almost certainly too much as well.

You should do your studies in small ‘chunks’ – no more than 2 hours at a time (with the exception of your CATS, which will obviously take longer to complete). After 2 hours of study, you should take an hour ‘off’; if you want to do multiple 2-hour blocks during the day, then that’s fine, but I would never ask anyone to study more than 6 hours in a day, so you should keep that in mind when planning out your schedule.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 07 Jun 2016, 16:01
THE NEW OFFICIAL GUIDE FOR GMAT 2017 IS HERE!!!

Hi All,

With the arrival of the new Official GMAT Guide 2017, we have a series of 130 new practice questions (with certain older questions removed from the prior version of the book). This handy PDF documents the new additions, the "location shifts" in questions and the questions that have been removed. The Team at EMPOWERgmat hopes you find it a useful addition to your studies.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 13 Jun 2016, 09:36
What the new GMAC 2017 Official Guide IS and ISN’T

**Note: I will NOT be discussing any individual questions from this new book. Doing so would cheat YOU, the reader, out of experiencing those questions “fresh.” On Test Day, you have to be prepared to deal with any GMAT concept at any time in each section, so knowing anything beyond the obvious (it’s Geometry because I can see a picture of a circle; it’s an Assumption question because the prompt asks for the ‘assumption’) would diminish the process that you have to go through to answer the question.**

You probably already know that the various GMAC resources (in print and online) are the best sources for realistic practice questions. Some combination of those resources should be a part of EVERY GMAT Test Taker’s study plan. While no one resource (or set of resources) can guarantee a score result, using credible resources can help you to train effectively. However, you have to also realize what GMAC is willing to give you and what GMAC is NOT willing to give you….

First, the GMAC Official Guide gives you a broad sampling of the types of questions, content and logic that you’ll see when you take the Official GMAT. Knowing what to focus on in your studies is important, and this book helps a great deal in defining the content that you will need to know for Test Day. It will NOT show you every variation on a concept and it will NOT show you any ‘active’ questions (since that would be unfair). To score at a high level, you have to look beyond individual questions and learn the concepts, patterns and logic. This is meant to say that if you answer a question once, you probably have NOT learned everything there is to know about the concepts involved. Re-doing questions using different approaches is one of the most direct ways to build up your skills. That work might sound tedious, but there’s a reason why the 700+ score represents the 90th percentile – 90% of Test Takers either CAN’T or WON’T do what it takes to score at that level…. Are you willing to learn other ways to approach questions and then re-do questions…? How badly do you want that 700+ score...?

Second, the Content Review sections and Explanations provided by the book tend to be ‘technical’ in nature. This is the ‘standard’ in most education-based texts (which is fine), but this type of presentation is also limited. It almost always ignores tactics that can be used, pattern-matching that can make answering the question easier and other ‘secrets’ to how the writers create the questions that you’ll see on Test Day. The given explanation is often NOT efficient either. In most cases, you’ll learn one way to answer each question – the way that GMAC decides to teach you. GMAC has NO interest in turning everyone into a 700+ Test Taker. If most Test Takers scored 700+, then that upper-level score would become relatively meaningless.

Third, there is a ‘functional issue’ with ALL books (not just the Official Guide). No book can ever properly simulate what you’ll experience taking a Computer-Adaptive Test for 4+ hours on Test Day. Beyond the obvious issues with books (questions ‘grouped together’, the general increase in question difficulty through each section, etc.), a book simply won’t “wear you down” the way that working on a computer will. I often hear from “book-studiers” who do really well on quizzes, but perform terribly on their CATs. Getting 15/15 SCs correct in a book is great, but you won’t see any SCs on Test Day until almost 3 HOURS into the Exam, after you’ve already been working hard and you’re starting to tire out (and those 15 SCs WILL NOT be in row, which means you’ll have to periodically “switch out” of CR or RC “mode” to tackle SCs). Working primarily with computer-based resources that will teach you tactics, combined with Official materials (such as the OG 2016) is a better overall method for preparing to face Test Day than just working solely out of a set of books.

Ultimately, the Official Guide is a great resource; at least one version of it should be included in your studies. If you have the GMAT2015 (or the OG13, they’re the same book), or the GMAT2016, then you don’t necessarily need the GMAT2017. However, the marginal cost of buying that new book ($30 or so, in most cases) is rather low relative to the price of taking the GMAT ($250) and the added value of having those new practice questions. When you consider that the GMAT is often the most important part of one’s application AND a high GMAT score can get you a scholarship in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, spending the extra $30 shouldn’t be that difficult of a decision.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Taking Advantage of How Quant Questions are Written
Hi Rich,

Is there a way to approach this question that does not require lots of math?

If 42.42 = k(14 + m/50), where k and m are positive integers and m < 50, then what is the value of k + m?

(A) 6
(B) 7
(C) 8
(D) 9
(E) 10

Irene

Hi Irene,

This question has a number of built-in limitations that you can take advantage of that will allow you to really minimize the amount of math that is required to solve this problem.

We're told that K and M are POSITIVE INTEGERS and M < 50.

We're also told that 42.42 = K(14+(m/50)), which we can rewrite as…

42.42 = 14K + KM/50

Since both variables are positive integers, K MUST be 1, 2, or 3 (otherwise the total would be greater than 42.42

Since M < 50, then M/50 is < 1, so it's likely that K = 3. This tells us that…

.42 = 3M/50

Now the math will only take a few steps…

21 = 3M

7 = M

The value of K + M = 10

Final Answer: E

Quant Questions With Ranges
Dear Rich,

Can you please explain the appropriate method to solve the following question?

If -4 < x < 7 and -6< y <3, which of the following specifies all the possible values of xy?

a. -42 < xy < 21
b. -42 < xy < 24
c. -28 < xy < 18
d. -24 < xy < 21
e. -24 < xy < 24

Ans: B

Jolene

HI Jolene,

This question is based on two Number Properties worth knowing:

(Negative)(Negative) = Positive
(Positive)(Negative) = Negative

We're asked to figure out the range of values for XY. The prompt does NOT state if X and Y have to be integers, so we shouldn’t assume that they are.

Since both X and Y can be positive or negative, we have to consider all of the possibilities.

The minimum value will be negative (when one value is positive and the other is negative). The minimum value occurs when X approaches 7 and Y approaches -6.

The maximum value will be positive (when either both values are negative or both are positive). The maximum value occurs when X approaches -4 and Y approaches
-6

The range that matches these deductions is Answer B.

Retaking the GMAT When Facing an Application Deadline
Rich,

I recently took the GMAT after studying for around 5 weeks and scored a 570 (34Q,34V). Looking back, I do not think I grasped what the questions were asking well enough. I felt on test day I couldn't figure out how to solve half of the questions. I felt confused exactly what the question was looking for, and baffled as to how to go about solving the question. Now I have application deadlines in a little over a month and I want to improve my Quant as much as possible.

My question is, what is the best way to go about doing this? I have 4-5 weeks at most and want to improve my score to at least 620+. I have the dedication to stick to a plan.... I am just not sure what my plan should look like......any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Kamal

Hi Kamal,

First off, Business Schools don't care if you retake the GMAT, so there's nothing to feel bad about. You tried to do a lot in a very short period of time and you didn't quite hit your goal. The good news is that there is plenty of time to continue studying before you retest. To THAT point, many Business Schools have some "flexibility" when it comes to the deadline. As long as you have your application in on time, many schools have been known to offer some leniency on when the GMAT needs to be completed. As such, I recommend that you contact the schools that you're applying to and directly ask what would be that latest that you could take the GMAT and report your score.

You might be able to stretch out some extra study time, which means that you have closer to 6 weeks to continue studying than the 4-5 that you mentioned. Since you’re relatively close to your score goal, you can continue using the material that you already have, then adjust your plans (and perhaps purchase some new prep materials) for the last month of so of your studies. Based on your self-assessment, "familiarity" is one of the bigger issues that you're facing right now. This is not surprising, since you were only at it for 5 weeks (and most Test Takers need 12+ weeks to properly prepare). Your 570 is a decent sign - it means that you're a bit above average right now - with a bit more work, you could absolutely hit your goal.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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This Blog Post Contains a Special EMPOWERgmat Discount Code

As we’re nearing the end of June, many Business School applicants are just beginning their GMAT studies (or are deep into their current study plans). To celebrate the approaching middle-of-the-year and all of the study activity that will be taking place over the next several months, we’ve decided to reward our Blog readers with a special discount code that you won’t find anywhere else.

For the next 7 days (through July 4th), you can use the discount code…

SUMMER30

… to receive $30 off your first month of EMPOWERgmat (this code can also be used on the Flat-Rate Course access option).

Whether you’re just beginning your studies or looking for additional resources to boost your score, EMPOWERgmat has exactly the study materials that you need.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Mixing Quant and Verbal Into Your Studies
Hi Rich,

Two days ago I downloaded the GMAT Software Prep from mba.com and passed the first unofficial test. My result was 560 (Q 43; V24). In Verbal part I have the same amount of mistakes in RC,SC,CR.

After reading many posts about creating individual study plans I'm a little bit confused. As far as I understand many people spend their first month for Quant part. Can I include preparation for IR in the first month too? Also, I’m worried a lot about my Verbal Part. Feel that it will take a lot of time for me to beat this section.

Lenny

Hi Lenny,

You mentioned that you have the same number of mistakes in each of the 3 Verbal categories: SC, RC and CR. If that's the case, then you have lots of work to do in the Verbal section. As such, you probably should NOT wait to begin your Verbal studies, since you'll clearly need more time to get comfortable with the various tactics for that section. You should plan on doing a mix of Quant and Verbal each week throughout your studies. This will allow you the flexibility to "move on" once you're comfortable with a subject or spend more time as needed. IR actually combines both Quant skills and CR skills, so you should probably plan on doing IR later on in your studies.

Rare Idioms on Test Day
Dear Rich,

However much United States voters may agree that
there is waste in government and that the government
as a whole spends beyond its means, it is difficult to
find broad support for a movement toward a minimal
state.

I don’t get the correct answer (A). Shouldn’t the use of ‘much’ normally be for uncountable nouns which isn't the case for the "voters "

Maureen

Hi Maureen,

The phrase "however much" is a rarer idiom, but it is grammatically correct.

In this sentence, "however much" does NOT refer to voters - the phrase refers to how much they "may agree." As you pointed out, the word "much" would be used for "uncountable" nouns; "agreement" is an uncountable noun.

Longer Term Study vs. Short-Term Cramming
Hello Rich,

I met a guy who studied gmat in 3 months - 12 weeks all books and official guides, studying 4 hours a day on weekdays and 8 hours each on weekend so that 36 hours a week. 36 hours * 12 weeks = 432 hours and he got 730 in gmat.

I also met a student who studied gmat on a full time basis for 3 weeks - 21 days 18 hours a day, not working just studying.

My question is that if I follow the 2nd student option as I've my exam in 1 month will it produce result of 730?

Nick

Hi Nick,

The GMAT is not a test that can be "crammed for"; beyond learning the content, you have to learn multiple ways to approach questions (so that you're flexible enough to use the "best"/fastest approach for each prompt), you have to learn proper pacing and how to handle the physical and psychological hurdles that are built into Test Day. Having the extra time to review past subjects and take practice CATs is also quite helpful. Cramming doesn't allow for much of either.

While a small percentage of Test Takers can approach this process in a short time frame and score at a high level, the bulk of Test Takers need 3+ months of consistent study (and in many cases, professional guidance) to achieve their goals. A good place to start is to take a full-length practice CAT to get a sense of your natural strengths and weaknesses. You'll find that you'll learn a lot about this process by doing it; as you learn more about the GMAT, you can adjust your plans accordingly.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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The “Math Problem” With a 750+ Score Goal

When it comes to defining an overall score goal, many GMATers will simply state “700 plus” (or the far-more vague “as high as I can get”). For those Test Takers who really want to score at a high level, you might hear them brazenly state “750 plus.” Of the many challenges that come with training to score at that level, there is a much larger ‘math problem’ with that type of score goal – historically speaking, only 1-2% of Test Takers can score at that level on the Official GMAT.

Over the years, the percentiles associated with each score increment of 10 points have shifted a bit, but they’re still relatively close to what they’ve been for the last 10 years. Currently, a 750+ score goal is right about the 98th percentile (although not too long ago it was the 99th percentile), meaning that 98% of Test Takers cannot score at that level on the Official GMAT. Historical data shows that it’s rather difficult to earn a score that high on Test Day. In 2014, approximately 240,000 GMATs were administered, but that number includes repeat Test Takers, so the number of unique Test Takers that year was definitively smaller (under 200,000). For rounding purposes, if we assume that there were 200,000 people, then only about 2% scored 750+…. And that’s about 4,000 Test Takers in TOTAL who scored at the 750+ level that year. If your goal is to score at that level, then you really have to think about what you’re doing during your studies that the other 196,000 Test Takers are not doing. Chances are pretty good that they were reading the same books that you’re reading now and answering the same questions that you’re currently working through. So what are you going to do DIFFERENTLY to increase your chances of scoring at that level?

One of the big issues in anyone’s GMAT training regimen is ‘vanity’ – the idea that you can simply ‘figure it out’ by doing lots of practice questions. In real simple terms, you CAN’T do it that way (to be fair, a few people can - but probability says that you’re not one of them). There’s a level of familiarity with this Test that only comes with training for the GMAT a certain way. While doing a certain number of practice questions is a part of the overall process, it is NOT the process itself (and answering questions “your way” is almost certainly not going to get you to that level). This is all meant to say that, statistically speaking, whatever study plan you’ve created for yourself is probably not going to lead to that result. So if you’re serious about scoring at that level, you’ll have to adapt what you’re doing.

The good news is that NO School/Program will require that you score 750+ as part of the application process. Since GMAT Scores are valid for 5 years, there are no more than about 20,000 or so people who have scored at that level whenever you plan to apply to Business School. Given the number of highly-ranked Business Schools/Programs around the world, the number of those ‘spots’ at any specific School that will be given to 750+ scorers is also relatively small. In that way, a 750+ score isn’t needed (so making that score your goal is difficult and unnecessary). That having been said, there are many aspects to this Test that you need to learn, practice and master to increase your chances of scoring at that level.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,
Rich
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New post 18 Jul 2016, 10:41
Monday Mail-Bag: Advice on Big Picture Issues That Impact GMAT Test Takers…

This series of emails and PMs focuses on situations that many Test Takers face during their studies. The names of the original posters have been changed to protect their identities.

Taking CATs at Regular Intervals is a MUST
Dear Rich,

I'm preparing for the gmat for next 26 days in which I will go through all Manhattan and official guides. I'm not working currently so I’ll be studying as a full time student.

After working through those books, I'll then solve 6 Manhattan Cat's, 90 practice questions and additional practice questions from MBA.com and 4 cats from MBA.com plus gmat write essay practice from mba.com

In summary:
26 days to study manhattan and official guides
13 days for cats which are listed above
1 day before exam relax

Do you have any notes on my plan?

Oberon

Dear Oberon,

If you haven't taken a full-length practice CAT yet, then there's no measure of your "starting position", so there's no way to say how likely you are to achieve your goal in 40 days.

I will offer this though: waiting to take your CATs until the last 2 weeks (AND taking 10 of them during that time) is a TERRIBLE IDEA. Having the necessary time between CATs to do review, learn new material, restudy old material and have some "down time" is a must - in your plan, you do not have enough time between CATs to do much of what is needed.

I recommend that you plan to take 1 CAT/week DURING your 40 days to studying and spread your other planned assignments around those CATs. This will give you a far better chance to "learn from your mistakes" and make the necessary adjustments to how you take the test.

‘Brute Force’ Can Make Solving Certain Quant Questions REALLY Easy
Hi Rich,

Need help in the following question. As per the language of the question (How many years did it take before the number of type A planes left in the Airline's fleet was less than 50% of the fleet) I think answer should be "C". But OA is "D"

A certain airline's fleet consisted of 60 type A planes at the beginning of 1980. At the end of each year, starting with 1980, the airline retired 3 of the TYPE A planes and acquired 4 new type B plans. How many years did it take before the number of type A planes left in the airline's fleet was less than 50 percent of the fleet?

A. 6
B. 7
C. 8
D. 9
E. 10

Percy

Hi Percy,

The prompt mentions that planes retired and acquired at the END of each year. You can create a quick table to track what you're looking for:

Start: 60 A and 0 B
Yr 1: 57 A and 4 B
Yr 2: 54 A and 8 B
Yr 3: 51 A and 12 B
Yr 4: 48 A and 16 B
Yr 5: 45 A and 20 B
Yr 6: 42 A and 24 B
Yr 7: 39 A and 28 B
Yr 8: 36 A and 32 B
Yr 9: 33 A and 36 B

After 9 years, the type A planes were less than 50% of the total.

Final Answer: D

Potential Issue With a Low AWA Score
Rich,

I scored 730 on my gmat but I pretty much bombed AWA. Should I retake the exam or provide an optional way to explain why I got 3.0?

Quinn

Hi Quinn,

Most (if not all) US Business schools expect applicants to score at least a 4.0 on the AWA. Schools also have the option to read your essay.

I can't say for sure how any individual school would interpret your essay score, so you might consider posting this question to an Admissions Expert. My instinct is to say that it could be a problem, but if you have a strong overall application, then it might not matter at all.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
_________________

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Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

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