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Are you as obsessed as I am with the Korean pop hit “Gangnam Style?” Google it if you haven’t heard it yet, then come back here – it’s well worth your time. American superstar T-Pain says, “Words cannot even describe how amazing this video is.” Upon seeing it, I rushed it to a Korean friend of mine because I couldn’t wait to understand what he was saying. It turns out that there’s more to the song than meets the eye. Check out this excerpt from The Atlantic, then read the spoiler (full article can be found here, I highly recommend it):
Park Jaesang is an unlikely poster boy for South Korea's youth-obsessed, highly lucrative, and famously vacuous pop music. Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho), is a relatively ancient 34, has been busted for marijuana and for avoiding the country's mandatory military service, and is not particularly good-looking. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned. He's mainstream in the way that South Korea's monolithically corporate media demands of its stars, who typically appear regularly on TV variety and even game shows, but as a harlequin, a performer known for his parodies, outrageous costumes, and jokey concerts. Still, there's a long history of fools and court jesters as society's most cutting social critics, and he might be one of them.
Now, Park has succeeded where the K-Pop entertainment-industrial-complex and its superstars have failed so many times before: he's made it in America. The opening track on his sixth album, "Gangnam Style,” has earned 49 million hits on YouTube since its mid-July release, but the viral spread was just the start.
Now let’s talk about the GMAT. If this were a GMAT RC passage, you’d be expected to know some things about what you just read. Here is a sample of some information from the text – I’d like you to take a look, and see how much you picked up on:
Psy has a drug charge and draft-dodging on his criminal record
His second album was censored by the Korean government
Many pop stars in Korea routinely make public appearances for no reason besides money
Psy’s new song, “Gangnam Style,” contains social criticism disguised with humor
Chances are you understood this article very clearly, and picked up on all or most of the above points. I’m going to suggest that there are two main reasons for this. (1), you’ve heard (and probably like) the song. (2), I wrote a little intro before quoting the article that got you excited about what you were going to read.
Here’s the thing: The text is probably more difficult in terms of vocabulary than most of the articles you’ll read on the GMAT. The logic is every bit as opaque too; the phrase “monolithically corporate media” is not immediately accessible, but is packed with important meaning. However, you unpacked that meaning because you were motivated to do so. So I have a fun exercise for you: pick an RC passage from the OG13. Read it without looking at any of the answer choices. Figure out what you find most interesting about the article, then WRITE YOUR OWN INTRO. Hype the article as much as you can. Convince me that I want to read it. I need to read it. If you think your hype is really good, post it here to share, along with the page number from the OG13.
Once you have done all of that, try the questions associated with the passage. Did you understand the article better? If so, use this strategy when you study – “hype” the article! If you can get someone else excited about it, you’ll be excited about it too, and that pays real dividends towards both your accuracy and your timing.
Ryan Jacobs | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | San Francisco