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Find the Assumption on GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 1) [#permalink]

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New post 28 Aug 2015, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Find the Assumption on GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 1)
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A couple of years ago, I wrote a small series on the Meteor Stream passage from the free set of practice questions that comes with the GMATPrep® software. A student recently mentioned how useful he found the discussion regarding how to handle all the technical language in a science passage, and I realized that there’s more we can do with this passage!

Specifically, we only did two of the questions together, but there are more. And one of them is unusual: it’s basically a Find the Assumption question, which is very common on Critical Reasoning but not so much on Reading Comp.

Okay, if you haven’t already, go read the first article (linked in the first paragraph); I’m not going to reproduce the full passage here because it’s so long. When you’re done, keep that passage up and come back here. (Note: you can try the other questions first if you like, or you can come straight back here. Your choice.)

Ready for the question? Give yourself about 1.5 minutes to answer.

The Question
“Which of the following is an assumption underlying the last sentence of the passage?

“(A) In each of the years between 1970 and 1979, the Earth took exactly 19 hours to cross the Geminid meteor stream.

“(B) The comet associated with the Geminid meteor stream has totally disintegrated.

“(C) The Geminid meteor stream should continue to exist for at least 5,000 years.

“(D) The Geminid meteor stream has not broadened as rapidly as the conventional theories would have predicted.

“(E) The computer-model Geminid meteor stream provides an accurate representation of the development of the actual Geminid stream.”

The Solution
First, identify the question type. An assumption question on RC! Weird. Hopefully, it works pretty much like CR assumption questions?

In general, you can assume that if you see a question category that you’d normally see for a different question type, then you can use the same kind of thinking that you’d typically use for that other question type. An assumption is still an assumption, even though this is an RC question.

Next, find the proof in the passage. Re-read the relevant text and try to formulate your own answer to the question.

The question stem is nice: it points us straight to the last sentence of the passage. First, remind yourself what that last paragraph is about. Here are my notes from the passage:

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My notes aren’t going to look exactly like yours, of course, and my notes might not even make total sense to someone else. Note that the two question marks in parentheses are my way of indicating “There’s more detail here that I don’t quite understand—I’ll come back to it if / when I get a question about it.” So now I’m going to need to dig into paragraph 3 a little more carefully.

According to my notes, the last paragraph asks a question (Does the model match reality?) and appears to answer it (Yes!).

I say “appears to answer” because I can see my (?) there, so maybe there’s a nuance I don’t fully understand yet. Time to re-read!

When the question references a specific word, line, or sentence, you’ll generally need to read a little bit more than the actual reference. Use your best judgment as to where to start, but you’ll typically start a sentence or two before the actual reference.

In this case, my notes already summarized the question, so I didn’t re-read the first sentence. I started here:

“The Geminid data between 1970 and 1979 show just such a bifurcation, a secondary burst of meteor activity being clearly visible at an average of 19 hours (1,200,000 miles) after the first burst. The time intervals between the bursts suggest the actual Geminid stream is about 3,000 years old.”

As I started to re-read the second sentence, I realized that it’s saying, yes, the real data went along with what the model predicted: “the data shows just such a bifurcation.” Note that the numbers don’t matter, nor do you really need to know what bifurcation means. The language “just such” shows that the model predicted what really happened.

And then I noticed something neat about the third sentence: it’s a conclusion! The question really is like a CR argument, then: what is the author assuming when drawing her conclusion?

” … the actual stream is about 3,000 years old.” (emphasis added)

The conclusion doesn’t just give the age of the stream. What’s the significance of that word actual? The previous paragraph mentioned a time period of 5,000 years. What was that about again?

Go re-read that bit in paragraph 2. If the stream were 5,000 years old, then the Earth would take a little over a day to pass through the stream. Oh, but the third paragraph said that the average time was actually 19 hours. If the model is accurate, then that should mean the stream isn’t quite as old as 5,000 years, so the author concludes that it’s about 3,000 years old.

The author is using the model to draw her conclusion, so she has accepted (or is assuming!) that the model itself is accurate.

Okay, time to eliminate wrong answers and look for the right one!

“(A) In each of the years between 1970 and 1979, the Earth took exactly 19 hours to cross the Geminid meteor stream.”

The passage says that the average was 19 hours. Each data point doesn’t have to be exactly 19 in order to get to an average of 19. Eliminate answer (A).

“(B) The comet associated with the Geminid meteor stream has totally disintegrated.”

The third paragraph talks about the period 1970 to 1979 and indicates that the meteor stream was still going strong in that timeframe. No information is given about the disintegration of the meteor stream. (Note: if you’re worried that they might have said this elsewhere, remember that the question specifically asked you for an assumption in the last sentence—nothing in that area of the passage even hints at the break-up of the meteor stream.) Eliminate (B).

“(C) The Geminid meteor stream should continue to exist for at least 5,000 years.”

Ah! They’re messing with us! The 5,000 year figure mentioned in paragraph 2 had to do with how old the meteor stream already was, not how long it would continue to exist in the future. Eliminate (C).

“(D) The Geminid meteor stream has not broadened as rapidly as the conventional theories would have predicted.”

This one is a bit tricky. They’re trying to get us to fall into a trap surrounding the 5,000 year and 3,000 year figures. This is where that careful read was so necessary. Paragraph 2 doesn’t say that the Geminids are5,000 years old. Rather, that figure is used to explain how the model works: if they are 5,000 years old, thenit should take the Earth about 24 hours to pass through the stream. It turns out that it only takes about 19 hours, so the Geminids are younger, somewhere around 3,000 years old. Eliminate (D) and remember this reasoning for the next choice…

“(E) The computer-model Geminid meteor stream provides an accurate representation of the development of the actual Geminid stream.”

Exactly. The author is using the model, coupled with actual data, to predict the approximate age of the Geminids, so she must assume that the model is accurate.

The correct answer is (E).

Note that a couple of the answers played around with the 5,000 and 3,000 figures. They’re hoping that you didn’t understand what was going on, or just didn’t take the time to go back and get the facts straight.

This is why steps 2 and 3 are so crucial! Make sure you go back and re-read the relevant part(s) of the passage in order to find the proof (step 2). And try, as much as you can, to predict where the answer is going to go (step 3). You aren’t going to predict the actual language of the answer, of course, but if you understand the passage, you can get pretty close to the idea that the correct answer should convey. (And if you don’t understand the passage well enough to do this, then that’s a pretty good sign that you should make your best guess and move on.)

By the way, the Geminids are real and the Earth still passes through the meteor stream! In 2015, the meteor shower is expected to peak on December 13 and 14; mark your calendars and read more about the 2014 showers (and see pictures!) here.

Key Takeaways for RC Assumption Questions
(1) Most Assumption questions show up on Critical Reasoning, but you might see one on RC, too. Don’t panic. Follow the same principles that you use for CR. (You may also see a Strengthen or Weaken question on RC.)

(2) For Assumption questions in general, you’re looking for something that the author must believe to be true when drawing a certain conclusion.

* GMATPrep® text courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

This article is part of a Reading Comprehension series. Check out the other entries below:


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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

The post Find the Assumption on GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 1) appeared first on GMAT.
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 Tackle Every Single GMAT Problem (Seriously!) – Part 5 [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2015, 14:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How to Tackle Every Single GMAT Problem (Seriously!) – Part 5
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Welcome to part 5 of our series on how to answer every single GMAT problem you’ll ever see. Image
If you haven’t already read the earlier installments, start with part 1 and work your way back to me.

Last time, I left you with a Critical Reasoning question from the free questions that come with the GMATPrep® software. Let’s talk about it!

“According to the Tristate Transportation Authority, making certain improvements to the main commuter rail line would increase ridership dramatically. The authority plans to finance these improvements over the course of five years by raising automobile tolls on the two highway bridges along the route the rail line serves. Although the proposed improvements are indeed needed, the authority’s plan for securing the necessary funds should be rejected because it would unfairly force drivers to absorb the entire cost of something from which they receive no benefit.

“Which of the following, if true, would cast the most doubt on the effectiveness of the authority’s plan to finance the proposed improvements by increasing bridge tolls?

“(A) Before the authority increases tolls on any of the area bridges, it is required by law to hold public hearings at which objections to the proposed increase can be raised.

“(B) Whenever bridge tolls are increased, the authority must pay a private contractor to adjust the automated toll-collecting machines.

“(C) Between the time a proposed toll increase is announced and the time the increase is actually put into effect, many commuters buy more tokens than usual to postpone the effects of the increase.

“(D) When tolls were last increased on the two bridges in question, almost 20 percent of the regular commuter traffic switched to a slightly longer alternative route that has since been improved.

“(E) The chairman of the authority is a member of the Tristate Automobile Club that has registered strong opposition to the proposed toll increase.”

Ready? Before we dive into the GRW process for CR, you might have already learned the 4-step process we use for CR questions:

Step 1: Identify the Question

Step 2: Deconstruct the Argument

Step 3: State the Goal

Step 4: Work from Wrong to Right

If you’re now wondering why I’m introducing a new process … I’m not! Those 4 steps actually go right along with the GRW model; we just didn’t make that model explicit to you before.

Okay, where do you think you should Glance first on CR?

Image

The question stem! CR questions can be split into a bunch of sub-types, and your first goal is to figure out which type this one is. What do you think?

The language if true, would cast the most doubt indicates that this is a Weaken the Argument question. As soon as you know this, you (should!) immediately know a bunch of other things:

  • the kind of information to expect in the argument
  • the kind of reasoning needed to answer the question
  • the characteristics the correct answer should contain
  • the kinds of traps the wrong answers will tend to contain
For a Weaken question:

  • the argument will contain a conclusion; there will be at least one unstated assumption between the premise(s) and the conclusion
  • to weaken, you need to find an answer that makes the argument at least a little less likely to be valid
  • the correct answer should be a new piece of information that makes the argument at least a little less likely to be valid (but doesn’t necessarily completely kill the argument)
  • trap answers are likely to: strengthen instead of weaken; weaken a related idea or conclusion, but not the given argument; make an irrelevant distinction or comparison between groups discussed in the argument
Plus, there’s a bonus on this particular question stem. Notice that it includes information about the specific argument. When this happens, that information is usually the conclusion or refers to the conclusion. Read it and try to understand what you can, but also make a mental note to read it again once you’ve read the argument.

All right, you’ve finished Step 1: Identify the Question. What’s next?

Read this thing, of course! While you’re reading deconstruct the argument (Step 2!) and jot down any relevant notes to help yourself keep track.Image

Okay, so repairs to the railway are needed…but, wait, they’re going to get the money by charging drivers? If I were a driver in this town, I’d be pretty unhappy, just like the author. (See what I’m doing there? If you can put yourself in the argument, it’ll be easier to remember the details and to think about possible assumptions and implications.)

Okay, so why is this unfair?

No, wait! Remember what we said before: the last step to reading and deconstructing the argument is to re-read the question stem (when the stem contains specific information about the argument).

Ah. Okay, the question is asking us to weaken the TTA’s plan. (You’ve now completed Step 2: Deconstruct the Argument.) What’s next?

Image

Reflect. What’s the plan? They’re going to raise money by increasing a toll for drivers. We’ve got to find something that indicates that this financing plan might not be such a great idea after all. (We’ve just completed step 3: state the goal.) If you’ve already got any ideas about assumptions the TTA is making or where the weak points of the argument are, jot them down or star them in your notes.

One thing I’m thinking: okay, you’re going to raise money by imposing a toll on these drivers, but will it be enough money for all of the improvements you want to make?

Ready to Work on this thing? It’s time to go to those answer choices and start crossing off the wrong ones in pursuit of the correct answer (step 4!).

“(A) Before the authority increases tolls on any of the area bridges, it is required by law to hold public hearings at which objections to the proposed increase can be raised.”

People are already raising objections—look at the author of this argument! And notice that the author’s objection is not about whether the plan will be effective; rather, he complains that it isn’t fair. It isn’t sufficient to say that someone raising an objection will be showing how the plan might not be effective. Eliminate.

“(B) Whenever bridge tolls are increased, the authority must pay a private contractor to adjust the automated toll-collecting machines.”

So…these would be part of the improvements. This is an expense, yes, but this is just one of the things they’re raising this money for in the first place. This is mildly tempting, so I’ll leave it in for now, but I’m going to keep an eye out for something better.

“(C) Between the time a proposed toll increase is announced and the time the increase is actually put into effect, many commuters buy more tokens than usual to postpone the effects of the increase.”

That sounds smart; I think I’d do that myself. This only postpones the effects, though; eventually, people will have to start to pay the increased tolls and the TTA will make money. So there’s no reason t0 believe the plan won’t work over 5 years. Eliminate.

“(D) When tolls were last increased on the two bridges in question, almost 20 percent of the regular commuter traffic switched to a slightly longer alternative route that has since been improved.”

Hmm. If 20% of the traffic switches, then that’s 20% of toll revenue lost. And that other route has been improved since last time? Okay, then there’s a good chance it’d happen again this time. If lots of people stop taking the toll route, the TTA is going to be losing a bunch of expected revenue. This definitely weakens the argument.

Note: at this point, I would go back and look at answer (B) again. The adjustment of the machines is a one-time expense (even if it wasn’t already planned for), but the loss of a customer who used to drive the toll route multiple times a day or week is a significant, ongoing loss. Answer (D) is stronger.

Check answer (E) to make sure!

“(E) The chairman of the authority is a member of the Tristate Automobile Club that has registered strong opposition to the proposed toll increase.”

This is kind of like answer (A): it might be a reason why the plan will struggle to be implemented (because too many people object for various reasons), but it doesn’t touch on whether the plan itself is or could beeffective. Remember what you were asked to analyze: not whether the plan will be implemented but whether the plan is effective. (Plus: just because he’s a member doesn’t mean he agrees with the Club’s opinion.)

The correct answer is (D).

What did you learn here? Come up with your own takeaways before you read mine below.

Key Takeaways for Every Problem You Will Ever Do:
(1) On CR, your first Glance is at the question stem: what kind of CR question is it? The question type gives you a wealth of knowledge regarding what you’re about to do. Also note that, if the question stem contains specific information about the argument, plan to re-read that part once you’ve read the argument.

(2) Next Read and deconstruct the argument, Jotting down notes or a little diagram as you go. On Weaken questions, find the conclusion and, if possible, brainstorm any assumptions. Try to figure out where the weak points of the argument are.

(3) Pause for a moment and Reflect on what you know so far. Remind yourself of the goal of a Weaken question: to find something that makes the argument at least a little less likely to be valid. Then jump to those answers and start Working from wrong to right. Cross off the ones you know are definitely wrong, and compare any tempting answers against each other.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

Image
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

The post How to Tackle Every Single GMAT Problem (Seriously!) – Part 5 appeared first on GMAT.
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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Should I take the GMAT or the GRE? [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2015, 22:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Should I take the GMAT or the GRE?


Should you take the GMAT or the GRE? Well, it depends; watch and see what the experts have to say on the subject. Want more useful GMAT basics? Check out the rest of our GMAT 101 series.

The post Should I take the GMAT or the GRE? appeared first on GMAT.
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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Which Official GMAT Resources Should You Use? [#permalink]

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New post 04 Sep 2015, 23:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Which Official GMAT Resources Should You Use?
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Here we go: the definitive guide to official resources for your GMAT prep! One of my colleagues, Jonathan Schneider, recently pointed out to me that people are constantly asking about official GMAT resources (the ones made by the real test makers). What’s available? How much do they cost? Which ones are the best ones to use—and how? He suggested that I write this post, so send him your thanks. Image

Note: all information here is current as of September 2015. Prices are in USD (U.S. dollars), rounded to the nearest dollar, from the www.mba.com website, but feel free to shop around for deals; bundle pricing is also sometimes available. Note that some physical materials come with online access to additional resources; if you buy a used book, the previous owner may have already “used up” the online access.

Stuff everyone should use
The Official Guide Books (OG)

There are three:

(1) The Official Guide for GMAT Review (all sections covered; ~900 questions; USD 46)

(2) The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review (math only; 300 questions; USD 20)

(3) The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review (verbal only; 300 questions; USD 20)

Everyone should be using these books. Everyone. (Well, okay, everyone who is studying for the GMAT!) The questions printed in these books are real past GMAT questions, and nothing is better than the real thing.

Note that, while you do want to use the OG books, you will need more than this. The questions themselves are fantastic, but these materials do not teach you how to get better at taking the GMAT.

Initially, you’ll want to try some questions from these books one at a time, just to get used to the various question types and content areas tested. As you learn more, you’ll start to put together small sets of questions in order to practice timing. Eventually, you’ll be doing sets of 10 to 15 mixed questions, chosen randomly, under timed conditions. (Follow the link to learn more about how to do so on your own; you can also use the online access that comes with these books to give yourself random sets of questions.)

As of this writing, the three available versions are the 2015 editions, but the 2016 editions are due to hit bookshelves on June 1st. If you’ve already got your plans made and you want to take the test relatively soon, don’t delay your studies; just buy the 2015 editions and get going. If you’re not planning to start studying till the summer, though, then you might as well wait until June to buy the new editions.

GMATPrep Software (free)

Parts of this resource are free; there are also additional paid add-ons. Everyone should download the free software, which will give you access to two free practice CATS (exams) and 90 free practice questions (15 each in the six question categories: IR, PS, DS, SC, CR, RC). The practice questions include explanations; the test questions do not.

Again, these are all real past test questions, and the algorithm used on the practice tests is the same as on the real tests—and you want to study from the real thing. The two practice CATs do give you some data to analyze, but it’s not much. (It’s the same data you’ll get on the Enhanced Score Report, discussed later in this article.)

I generally tell my students to start with our tests (which provide extensive data, allowing you to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and come up with a study plan) and save the GMATPrep tests for later in your studies, when you’re just trying to gauge your current scoring levels to see whether you’re ready to take the real thing.

In addition, if you’re still struggling with timing, figure out a way to time yourself per question when taking a GMATPrep CAT. Most smartphones nowadays have a Stopwatch feature. Start the stopwatch and then hit the Lap button every time you finish a question. (On my iPhone, the Reset button turns into the Lap button once you start the timer.) When you’re done with the section, you’ll have a list of times per question.

The individual practice problems (that are not part of the CATs) are mostly on the easier side, so they’re good to use earlier in your studies as a way to learn about these question types and to see how they’re going to be presented on screen during the real test.

You may or may not decide to use the paid resources within GMATPrep; I’ll talk more about these in the next section.

Stuff you may decide to use
GMAT Focus (USD 30 for single use)

This is my favorite of the “may use” resources. GMAT Focus is a quant-only tool; I just wish they had something similar for verbal.

This tool allows you to do a set of 24 questions (12 PS, 12 DS), but here’s the best part: the questions are chosen adaptively, just as they are on the real test. In other words, you get adaptive practice (like the real thing!) without having to take a full-length practice test. (And the questions do not overlap with GMATPrep or OG.)

In addition, the test will record how much time you spend on each question and give you that data afterwards, along with explanations for those questions and an overall score range. (Think something along the lines of: you scored 47 to 51! You don’t get an exact score because it’s not actually a full test.)

This resource is hugely valuable for anyone struggling on the quant side of the test, particularly if you’re having timing issues with larger sets of questions. Putting together a non-adaptive set of 24 questions is just not going to provide you with the same kind of time pressures you’ll experience in an adaptive setting.

I have my students use these between practice CATs to see how their quant performance is coming along. For instance, we might diagnose a timing problem on a CAT and I’ll set up drills and activities for the student to do in order to improve. After 10 days to 2 weeks, we’ll try a GMAT Focus to see how it’s going. If everything’s coming together, maybe the student does another week’s worth of study before taking the next CAT. If things are still a struggle, perhaps the student needs another 2 to 3 weeks of work before taking the next CAT.

GMATPrep software (paid)

Two useful resources can be added to the free GMATPrep program for a fee. First up, you can purchase two additional practice tests (USD 50) via Exam Pack 1. These tests will look pretty much like the two free tests (with different questions of course), including the data available afterwards.

You can also purchase Question Pack 1 (USD 30), which is exactly what it sounds like: a pack of additional practice problems. (Note: if you get the three OG books, then you’ll already have access to about 1,500 practice problems, likely enough for most testers.)

If you find you need more, though, then the Question Pack is the way to go. It contains 200 quant, 180 verbal, and 24 IR questions. These questions do not overlap with the GMATPrep test questions or with OG. I recommend using the software as it’s designed: to set up random sets of questions for yourself later in your studies.

GMAT Enhanced Score Report

In January of this year, GMAC released the Enhanced Score Report, a report that you can order (for USD 25) after you take the real test to learn more about your specific strengths and weaknesses when taking the exam.

If you have already taken the real test and are planning to take it again, then this report may be valuable for you; take a look at the article linked in the previous paragraph for more information. The basic summary: the data is useful but limited, so not everyone will want to spend $25 for it. (Note: GMAC is considering adding more data to this report in future; if so, then depending on the nature of the new data, this report could become more important.)

IR Prep Tool

Right now, most people aren’t too concerned about their IR scores, but that could change in future as schools start to weight these scores more heavily in the decision-making process. If so, then you may want to look into GMAC’s IR Prep Tool (USD 20).

I looked at an early version of this when it was first launched but haven’t used it since. (Mostly because, again, IR just isn’t all that important right now.) As such, I don’t have any great recommendations about how to use this resource.

GMAT Write

We actually buy access to this program for all of our class students. GMAT Write (USD 30) is a great little program for the essay section of the test. You’ll write an essay under official conditions and then the real e-rater software that grades the official test essays will grade your GMAT Write essay. You’ll get a score and recommendations as to how you could improve that score. Then, you can re-write your essay and re-submit it to see whether you do get a better score.

Then you can do that all over again for a second essay topic. If you’re worried about hitting a 4.5 or higher on the essay, this is a great way to see what your current scoring level is, which will tell you whether you’re okay or whether you need to devote some time and energy to the essay.

The Official Guide for GMAT Review Mobile App

This product had completely escaped my attention until I visited GMAC’s store to make sure that I had the full product list represented here. I’ve never used the Mobile App (USD 5) myself, so what I’m about to tell you is just from the description I read on the mba.com website.

First, the name of this product and the screen shot shown on the web page lead me to believe that you’re basically buying access to the main OG title mentioned earlier (book #1).

It contains “50 GMAT exam questions, evenly distributed by type” (presumably 10 each of DS, PS, SC, CR, and RC). It also has 4 IR questions. You can also buy a “Power Pack” upgrade for USD 30; this upgrade contains “more than 800” questions across all types, including IR. This adds up to about the number of questions contained in the main OG.

My guess is that this is more of an “entry” product to allow people to see the quality of the material for a low price (the initial $5 for 54 problems) in order to convince them to buy other material. But you’re already going to buy other official material, including the main OG title! So you probably don’t need this. Image

GMAT Paper Tests

GMAC also sells old tests from the paper-and-pencil era (set of 3 for USD 30). The last paper-and-pencil test was given in June of 1997—that’s right, nearly 20 years ago. (Are you impressed that I knew that random stat? I didn’t even have to look it up. That was the very first time that I took the GMAT!)

I’ll tell you about these, but I wouldn’t recommend buying them (I’m not even going to link to them!). First, the GMAT is not given in this format any longer, so it’s useless to take these as practice tests. Second, the questions were all written a very long time ago; standardized tests do evolve over time. Third, there are many more recently written questions available, so just use those.

Quality vs. Quantity
As you decide which resources to use (and use them!), remember that your success is going to depend on a combination of quality vs. quantity study. Obviously, you have to study more than a few questions. At the same time, if you try to complete thousands of questions in a couple of months, all you’ll be doing is plowing through a bunch of questions—but not really learning much from them.

In fact, most of what you learn happens after you’ve finished doing the problem. Seriously! Read about the2nd Level of GMAT Study to learn how to learn.

Good luck and happy studying!

The GMAT® and all product names are registered trademarks / copyright GMAC.

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

 

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The 6 most common GMAT study mistakes [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2015, 08:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: The 6 most common GMAT study mistakes
 



Manhattan Prep GMAT Instructor Jonathan Schneider explains the six most common mistakes he sees students make when studying for the GMAT.

Be sure to check back every Tuesday for a new video in our GMAT 101 series, detailing the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the GMAT.

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Meteor Streams: Inference on GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 3) [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2015, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Meteor Streams: Inference on GMAT Reading Comprehension (Part 3)
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We’re up to the very last question in the series on the Meteor Stream passage from the free set of practice questions that comes with the GMATPrep® software.

If you haven’t already, go read the first article (linked in the first paragraph); I’m not going to reproduce the full passage here

because it’s so long. When you’re done, keep that passage open in another window and come back here. (Note: you can try the other questions first if you like, or you can come straight back here. Your choice.)

Ready for the question? Give yourself about 1.5 minutes to answer.

The Question
“It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following would most probably be observed during the Earth’s passage through a meteor stream if the conventional theories mentioned in the highlighted* text were correct?

“(A) Meteor activity would gradually increase to a single, intense peak, and then gradually decline.

“(B) Meteor activity would be steady throughout the period of the meteor shower.

“(C) Meteor activity would rise to a peak at the beginning and at the end of the meteor shower.

“(D) Random bursts of very high meteor activity would be interspersed with periods of very little activity.

“(E) In years in which the Earth passed through only the outer areas of a meteor stream, meteor activity would be absent.”

*In the GMATPrep software, the words Conventional theories in the second-to-last sentence of the first paragraph are highlighted in yellow.

The Solution
First, identify the question type. Inferred signals that this is an inference question. The question is asking you to deduce something that must be true from the information given in the passage.

Next, find the proof in the passage. Re-read the relevant text and try to formulate your own answer to the question.

Nicely, the question stem sends us straight to the relevant text.

“Conventional theories, however, predicted that the distribution of particles would be increasingly dense toward the center of a meteor stream. Surprisingly, the computer-model meteor stream gradually came to resemble a thick-walled, hollow pipe.”

The however and surprisingly language indicate that the conventional theories disagreed with the computer model in some way. How?

Picture a “stream” of particles flowing through the air. The conventional theories predicted that these particles would be most dense in the center of the stream. The computer model, surprisingly, was most dense around the outside edges, like a thick-walled hollow pipe.

The question asks what would be expected to happen as the Earth passes through a stream that is most dense in the center. Where does the passage talk about the Earth passing through a meteor stream in general?

That was paragraph 2:

“Whenever the Earth passes through a meteor stream, a meteor shower occurs. Moving at a little over 1,500,000 miles per day around its orbit, the Earth would take, on average, just over a day to cross the hollow, computer-model Geminid stream if the stream were 5,000 years old. Two brief periods of peak meteor activity during the shower would be observed, one as the Earth entered the thick-walled “pipe” and one as it exited.”

I’ve underlined the most relevant text. Which scenario is that last sentence describing? According to the sentence before, it’s describing the computer-model theory, the one that is not like the conventional theory. Ah, now I’m beginning to have an idea: they described what happens under the computer model, so I need to use that information to predict, or infer, what would happen under the conventional theory.

In the computer-model theory, the stream was most dense on the edges; it resembled a thick-walled, hollow pipe. According to the passage, this kind of shape, shows two peaks of meteor activity, at the beginning and at the end, as the Earth passes through the “pipe.” In other words, the peak activity matches when the Earth passes through the densest part of the pipe.

The conventional theory said that the stream would be most dense in the center of  the pipe, not at the edges. So what would happen in that case? Peak meteor activity would occur right in the middle of the Earth’s passage through the stream.

Look for a match in the answers.

“(A) Meteor activity would gradually increase to a single, intense peak, and then gradually decline.”

Bingo! That’s what we predicted: activity would peak in the middle of the passage through Earth. (And this one is the correct answer.)

“(B) Meteor activity would be steady throughout the period of the meteor shower.”

Nope. Peak activity occurs at the densest point, in the middle of the shower.

“(C) Meteor activity would rise to a peak at the beginning and at the end of the meteor shower.”

Trap! This is what happens under the computer-model theory, not the conventional theory.

“(D) Random bursts of very high meteor activity would be interspersed with periods of very little activity.”

The activity isn’t random. It peaks when the densest part of the pipe passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.

“(E) In years in which the Earth passed through only the outer areas of a meteor stream, meteor activity would be absent.”

Tricky! The passage doesn’t say that the less dense areas result in zero meteor activity, though. It says only that the activity peaks during the most dense times.

The correct answer is (A).

Key Takeaways for RC Inference Questions
(1) The correct answer will not repeat something that the passage says straight out, so the trap in answer (C) is also the reason not to pick it. On an inference question, cross off any choices that are stated directly in the passage.

(2) Inference questions require you to deduce something that must be true. If peak meteor activity is associated with the densest part of the meteor stream, as the passage says, and the conventional theory says that the stream will be densest in the middle, then the conventional theory would predict that meteor activity would gradually increase until Earth is in the center of the stream and then decrease as the Earth moves out of the stream.

* GMATPrep® text courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

 

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

 

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This mindset will make you feel good about skipping problems on the GM [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2015, 15:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: This mindset will make you feel good about skipping problems on the GMAT
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If you’ve ever read any of my articles, then you know how much I harp on the idea that the GMAT is primarily a test of your business decision-making, or executive reasoning, skills. Sure, there’s a bunch of facts and rules you need to know, but you don’t need to be a math or grammar superstar in order to get a good score on the GMAT (even though I know it feels that way sometimes).

You do, though, have to be a GMAT master. Business schools want to know that you are going to be a good executive. You can assess a situation rapidly, noticing positive and negative factors that may affect how you want to move forward in that situation. You make appropriate decisions most of the time and you follow through: if you decide that a particular product line needs to be cut, you make that cut. You don’t dribble in another million dollars because you’re reluctant to let go. In short, you can manage your scarce resources (time, money, people) masterfully.

The GMAT is the same game, though your scarce resources on the test are time and mental energy. As such, it is crucial to approach the test as a series of business decisions, not a school test.

How do you take the test with a business mindset? Glad you asked! Read on.

Do NOT do what you did in school
In school, your goal was to try to get everything right, and if you studied enough, you just might have. Your teachers didn’t put problems on the test that they thought you couldn’t do. But the GMAT does! The test makers actually do NOT expect you to get everything right!

Why? Because real life is like that. The decisions you make at work every day don’t really have “right” answers, and you’re constantly balancing trade-offs. The GMAT is designed to mimic this, so expect to have to make some hard decisions. The b-schools want to know about your business mindset, not whether you can find the area of a circle or know what an appositive modifier is.

So how do I master this business mindset?
Approach the GMAT as a series of decisions to be made. You are the Director of your division. You’ve got an annual budget, a certain number of employees, various product lines to support, and goals for revenue and profits, among other things.

Each new problem is someone knocking on your door and asking you for $50,000 for something that they think is necessary. Sometimes, you agree and you hand over that $50k. Sometimes, you think the idea is so promising that you actually toss in a little extra (you spend a bit more time and mental energy on this problem).

Other times, you tell your employee, “I’m not sure yet. I’d like to know a little more before I decide.” (You spend 30 to 60 seconds on the problem to see whether you can get into it.) In some cases, the idea clicks and you say, “Great, let’s go for it!” (You realize that you do have a pretty good idea of how to solve the problem and it won’t take too long.) Other times, you say, “It’s a good idea, but we don’t have the funds right now. We’ll keep the idea in mind, but we’re going to table it for now (with the understanding that we may or may not come back to it in future).” (You realize that there’s a decent way to narrow down the answers, and you do so, then you guess and move on.)

Still other times, you say, “There are some significant obstacles to this idea, so we’re not going to move forward.” (You realize the problem is too hard or will take too long, so you cut off your efforts, guess, and move on.)

And, finally, there are those times that someone proposes something that’s just… a waste of time. Image
We’ve all worked with that person, you know the one: we have a deadline tomorrow and we’re working hard to get the report produced, and so-and-so suggests that now would be a great time to review the marketing plan for next year. No, it’s really not a great time! Go away! (Cut that problem off fast and move on.)

Feel good about your decisions
Now, here’s the key emotional part. When you tell someone no, you don’t feel bad about it. You know that you’ve made the best decision for that circumstance. You don’t tell yourself that, if only you’d studied a bit more, you might have been able to spend $50k on that idea that actually wasn’t worth $50k…

Get the point? Don’t feel bad when you decide to bail on a question during the GMAT. You’re not bailing because you didn’t study enough and something’s wrong with you or your preparation; that’s the old school attitude.

You’re bailing because that decision is in fact the best decision for the current circumstance. Not only don’t you feel bad about that decision, you feel good about it! Remember, the business schools actually want to see that you have the capability to make these kinds of decisions, and the GMAT test makers are setting things up to test you on this skill!

As I mentioned at the beginning, yes, there are math and grammar rules and concepts to learn, as well as strategies for dealing with the various kinds of questions on the test. But the overarching strategy that ties everything together is this business mindset. You could learn every last formula, rule, and strategy and still bomb the test if you try to take it under the school mindset. On the other hand, you could learn maybe 70% of the content but master this business mindset and still get a 700+ score on this test.

So start practicing how you want to run your division until this mindset becomes second nature and you feel great when choosing to bail or make an educated guess on multiple problems throughout each section, because you know you really have made the best possible decision.

Happy studying!

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

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How many GMAT practice tests should you take? [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2015, 15:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How many GMAT practice tests should you take?


How many GMAT practice tests should you take while studying for the test? GMAT expert Jonathan Schneider weighs in. Want more useful GMAT basics? Check out the rest of our GMAT 101 series.

 

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The GMAT’s not a math test – it’s a foreign language test! [#permalink]

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New post 16 Sep 2015, 18:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: The GMAT’s not a math test – it’s a foreign language test!
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A student of mine once emailed me after he took the GMAT. Instead of telling me his score, he wrote, “let’s just say that 4 times my score is a multiple of 88, and 5 times my score is a multiple of 35.”

Can you tell what he got? If not…you may need to work on your GMAT translation skills!Most people expect math on the GMAT to be like math in high school, when memorizing formulas and applying them correctly – rigorous memorization and meticulous application – was all you needed to get an A. That’s not nearly enough on the GMAT, though!

Because the content of GMAT is relatively simple(middle school and basic high school math), the only way to make the test challenging is to make the structure complex. Test writers encode simple concepts in complicated language. Instead of saying “n is odd,” for example, they’ll say “the remainder when n is divided by 2 is 1.” That way, we have to do the extra work of translating: if a number has a remainder when divided by 2, it can’t be even. It must be odd!

To move through the test quickly and efficiently without getting stuck, you’ll need to quickly decode complex GMAT language to find the simple underlying concept.

See if you can translate these coded messages:

  • the remainder when x is divided by 10 is 3.
  • p = n3 – n, where n is an integer
  • integer y has an odd number of distinct factors
  • |b| = –b
  • the positive integer q does not have a factor r such that 1<r<q
  • n = 2k + 1, where k is a positive integer
  • a2b3c4 > 0
  • x and y are integers, and yx < 0
  • what is the greatest integer n for which 2n is a factor of 96?
When you come across this kind of coded language, ask yourself, “what is the underlying concept here? What are the clues?” Then, create flashcards – coded message on the front, translation and explanation on the back.

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Then, push yourself further: try to think of different iterations of the same idea (e.g. a/b > 0, or pqr < 0) and make flashcards for those.

Here are the translated versions of the codes above (but make sure you try to translate them yourself before you look at these answers!):

  • The units digit of x is 3 (the remainder when divided by 10 is always the same as the units digit).
  • pis the product of 3 consecutive integers. Factor out n first: n(n2 – 1). Then, factor the difference of squares: n(n + 1)(n – 1). A number × one greater × one smaller = the product of 3 consecutives.
  • y is a perfect square (like 9, whose factors are 1, 3, & 9). Any non-square integer will have an even number of distinct factors (e.g. 5: 1 & 5, or 18: 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, & 18).
  • b must be negative. If the absolute value of b is equal to -1 times b, then b cannot be positive or 0; it must be negative.
  • q must be prime. If q were a non-prime integer, it would have at least one factor between 1 and itself.
  • n is odd. 2k must be even (regardless of what k is), so adding 1 to an even will give us an odd.
  • b must be positive. The even exponents hide the sign of a and c, but a2 and c4 must be positive, so b3 – and therefore b – must be positive.
  • y must be negative, because only a negative base would yield a negative term. And x must be odd, because an even exponent would make the term positive.
  • How many factors of 2 are there in 96? If we break 96 down, we get a prime factorization of 2×2×2×2×2×3, so 25 will be a factor of 96, but 26 won’t.
A lot of the coded language on the GMAT comes from Number Properties concepts (perhaps because “even & odds” and “positives & negatives” seem elementary until we disguise them). You probably already know the basic rules: even + odd = odd, even × odd = even, etc. Don’t just make flashcards for the basic rules – look for the coded language, and be ready to translate.

By the way, that student that I mentioned at the beginning… were you able to figure out his score?

4 times my score is a multiple of 88 – Translation: the score is a multiple of 22, and therefore 2 and 11.

5 times my score is a multiple of 35 – Translation: the score is a multiple of 7.

A multiple of 7, 11, and 2? It must be a 770!

A score like that takes serious translation skills!

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Help! Deadlines are approaching and I don’t have the GMAT score I want [#permalink]

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New post 07 Oct 2015, 23:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Help! Deadlines are approaching and I don’t have the GMAT score I want!
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In the past month, I’ve spoken to more than a few students who were aiming for round 1 deadlines but hadn’t yet gotten the GMAT scores they thought they needed for “their” schools. If you’re in this boat, too, let’s talk about your various options.

Do I really need that goal score?

Some of the students were looking for a higher goal score than they necessarily needed—say, 20 to 30 points higher than the average for a particular school. A better measure is the middle 80% range

of scores.

For instance, a school might post an average score of 700, but a middle 80% range of 650 to 740. In other words, they accepted people scoring 670, 660, 650 (and even lower, for a small number of students). You don’t necessarily have to beat the average. You do, though, have to be within a range that they will generally consider, and the middle-80% range of scores gives you a good idea of what that is. (Of course, you also have to have some great things in the rest of your application. That’s true regardless of what GMAT score you get.)

Am I applying to an appropriate range of schools?

It’s great to have ambitious goals, but if you apply only to “reach” schools (or schools that are hard to get into), then you may find yourself not going to business school next year. Make sure that you’ve got some “mid-range” (for you) schools in the mix.

Should you also include “safety” schools (programs that you’re almost guaranteed to get into)? It depends. Do you want to go to b-school no matter what? Or would you rather not go or wait a year and apply again if you don’t get into a certain group of schools? If the former, then include at least one safety school in your mix.

Do I really have to apply round 1?

All other things being equal, sure, it’s great to have your application submitted during the first round. However, that assumes that you can put together the best application package in time. If the GMAT—or any other part of your application—isn’t quite coming together, then it’s better to wait for second round. There isn’t that much of an advantage to applying during the first round.

Most of the students with whom I’ve spoken recently have gone this route. Really, it’s the best choice when you realize that any part of your application just won’t be what you want it to be in time for the very early first round deadlines. Far better to put together a great package that you feel confident will give you your best shot.

Here’s what you do NOT want to do: stick with the original plan to hit a first round deadline, cram like crazy, wipe your brain out, and crash on test day. Now, you don’t have the score you want, you’re burned out, you’ve lost motivation and confidence, and you still have to take the test again (and postpone your application) anyway.

That’s all great. But how do I get a better score?

Okay, we can talk about this, too. Image
 In general, you’re going to need to figure out what is holding you back from getting to your desired scoring level. Then, you’re going to need to figure out what changes you need to make in order to fix those problems and lift your performance.

Here’s what I tell people on our forums (feel free to ask for advice yourself—make sure to give me all of the information I discuss below!).

First, read this article on Executive Reasoning. Is this how you have been approaching the test? If not, what have you been doing differently and what do you need to change in order to approach the test in the way described in the article? (Here’s more on developing this business mindset.)

Next, you need to master the 1st level of the GMAT: math formulas and rules, grammar rules, and the main strategies for solving the different kinds of question types (PS, DS, SC, CR, RC). What holes do you have in your foundation?

You can find this out by analyzing your most recent Manhattan Prep practice test (I’m specifying our company’s tests for a reason: we give you certain data that you’ll need to do the necessary analysis). How many questions did you miss that are rated well below the scoring level that you’re trying to hit? For instance, if you’re trying to score 650 to 700, how many sub-600 questions did you miss? Were they careless mistakes? Or do you really have a hole in your foundation? Either way, fix the problem!

In order to hit a high score on this test, you also need to master the 2nd Level of the GMAT. Read all about it at that link and think about what you need to do differently in order to be studying in that way.

Pause and think about all of the above. Then, get ready for an in-depth analysis of your two most recent Manhattan Prep CATs. Use this two-part article to dig deep and figure out what you should put in your Bucket 2 (you’ll understand when you read the article!).

From there, I strongly recommend that you talk to your teacher or tutor (if you have one) or come visit us on the forums to get advice tailored to your specific strengths and weaknesses.

(Note: a little tough love! On the forums, we will not do all of this analysis for you. You will have to do everything described in this section and tell us what you think before we tell you whether we agree and advise you further. If you are paying for a tutor, you can have him/her do all of this for you…but I strongly recommend that you take a crack at coming up with your own analysis, too. You’ll get better faster if you actually know how to analyze your own work.)

Let’s do this!

Pick a path and get cracking! Good luck, happy studying, and try not to stress too much!

Image
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

The post Help! Deadlines are approaching and I don’t have the GMAT score I want! appeared first on GMAT.
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 or GRE for b-school? Business Insider consults Manhattan Prep [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2015, 13:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT or GRE for b-school? Business Insider consults Manhattan Prep
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Whether it’s the GMAT or the GRE, let Manhattan Prep be your guide.

Business Insider sat in on our “GMAT vs. GRE: Which is right for you?” workshop recently in order to glean expert advice from Manhattan Prep’s very own Stacey Koprince.

They found the course to be so informative that they published a nifty piece featuring a decision tree for prospective b-school students grappling with the age-old (or 2-years old, as it were) GMAT vs. GRE quandary; check it out below!

Interested in further reading on the “GMAT or GRE?” question? We’ve made a special page just for you. Want expert advice straight from the source at Stacey’s next workshop? Click here!

Image
“GMAT vs. GRE” decision tree. Credit: Business Insider

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Manhattan Prep Instructor Stacey Koprince advises Business Insider on  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Oct 2015, 09:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Manhattan Prep Instructor Stacey Koprince advises Business Insider on the “GMAT or GRE?” question
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Stacey Koprince

Business Insider recently reached out to our very own Stacey Koprince for expert guidance on navigating the increasingly relevant “GMAT or GRE?” conundrum.

Stacey told Business Insider that there are only two circumstances in which a prospective b-school student would spurn the GMAT for the GRE: 

1. They are applying to a dual-degree MBA program wherein the non-MBA program requires the GRE as part of the application.

2. They are appreciably better at the GRE than the GMAT due to the particular natures of each test, and will therefore score significantly higher on it, helping their chances of admission.

Even under one of these circumstances, the student should still choose the GMAT over the GRE if: 

1. They plan to enter either banking or consulting after achieving their MBA, two fields which sometimes require GMAT scores on job applications.

2. Their target schools have a stated preference for the GMAT over the GRE.

But don’t just take it from us; check out the full piece for yourself here.

Want to learn from Stacey directly? Check out her upcoming GMAT courses here.

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses her

 

 

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Here’s why you might be missing GMAT Data Sufficiency Problems (Part 1 [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2015, 17:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Here’s why you might be missing GMAT Data Sufficiency Problems (Part 1)
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Let’s talk about GMAT Data Sufficiency.

Specifically, let’s talk about getting GMAT Data Sufficiency (DS) problems wrong. And I don’t mean those problems that you missed because of careless math errors, or because of concepts you hadn’t learned yet. No, I’m talking about the missed DS problems that make you want to bang your head against the wall: How on Earth did I not get that?

There are two reasons you might have this experience:

  • You thought that something was sufficient, but it was actually insufficient.
  • You thought that something was insufficient, but it was actually sufficient.
These two errors are actually very different from each other, and understanding which one made you miss a problem is a great way to take your DS game to the next level. Ready? As you review, use this article and the one following it to analyze which of the two mistakes you made, why it happened, and how to prevent it next time.

Type 1 Errors

Type 1 errors are known in the sciences as “false positives.” On the GMAT, they happen when you think that you have enough information to answer the question, but you actually don’t. For instance, you might have picked answer choice (D), but then found out that the right answer was (A). You thought that statement (2) was sufficient, but it actually wasn’t. Why does this happen? Here are four of the most common causes.

Your cases weren’t weird enough. Testing cases is the best way to prove that a statement is insufficient. But what happens if you test a couple of cases, and you keep getting the same answer to the question? Either the statement you’re working with is actually sufficient, or else it’s insufficient, but you didn’t test the cases that would prove it. Sometimes, all of the obvious cases will yield the same answer. It’s only when you start testing the weird stuff–fractions, decimals, zero, negatives, roots, extremely large or extremely small numbers–that you’ll start getting different results. Have you made this mistake? Then try testing unusual cases to prove insufficiency on the following problems: The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 2016 (OG 2016) DS 81, 113, and 145 and The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review, 2016 (QR 2016) DS 58, 64, 68, and 112.

Statement carryover. You worked with statement (1), and found out that it was insufficient. Then you worked with statement (2), and were able to solve the problem. So, statement (2) must be sufficient…right? Well, maybe not. Did you let some information you learned from statement (1) ‘leak’ into your work on statement (2)? Often, Type 1 errors happen because you don’t keep your statements separate. If this happens to you often, improve your DS scratch work: physically separating the two statements helps you mentally separate them. Here’s one way to do it:

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Issues with inequalities. Did the question or the statements include inequalities? Misinterpreting inequalities often leads to Type 1 errors. Check out this Data Sufficiency mini-question:

Is x < 2y?

(1) 2x < 5y

Take a moment to carefully prove that statement (1) is insufficient. Try testing cases! There’s a good reason to be careful here: if you speed through a statement like this on the GMAT, you’re likely to make a Type 1 error, because an inequality often gives you less information than it appears to. The solution is to slow down and test specific cases every time you see an inequality in the statements. Have you recently made a Type 1 error on a DS inequality problem? Then work slowly and carefully through these problems: OG 2016 DS 42, 111, and 68 and QR 2016 DS 70 and 104.

Too many variables. When you review a DS word problem, always translate the statements into equations on your paper. If you initially made a Type 1 error, then as you do this, you might notice that you have more variables than you expected. You may even have too many to solve the problem, meaning that the statement is probably insufficient. This type of error happens when you do a DS word problem in your head. If you don’t actually write out the math, you might find yourself reusing or forgetting about variables. Try writing out the math on these DS word problems: OG 2016 DS 96 and QR 2016 DS 51 and 52.

What now?

Type 1 (and Type 2) errors are specific to Data Sufficiency. If you’re doing better on Problem Solving than on Data Sufficiency, or if you know the math well but just can’t pull it together on the Quant section, these logical errors are likely part of the problem. Overcoming them will improve your Quant score.

Review the DS problems from a recent practice test, or a DS problem set that you recently completed. Identify your Type 1 errors by looking for problems where you mistakenly thought that a statement, or both statements together, gave you enough information to answer the question correctly. Find as many Type 1 errors as possible, and figure out why they happened. Do any of them fit into the categories described above? If so, work through the practice problems for that category. And if you uncover other factors that often cause you to make Type 1 errors, share them with us on the forum!

When you finish reviewing, commit to making one good change to your DS process, based on what you’ve learned. For example:

–  Always translate DS word problems into variables and equations before you start working.

– On your paper, draw a line to physically separate statement (1) from statement (2).

– Always test at least one “weird” case before concluding that a statement is sufficient.

Put this single change into action the next time you practice DS, and if you find that you’re now making fewer Type 1 errors, make it a permanent part of your routine.

Chelsey CooleyImage
always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

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Manhattan Prep’s GMAT® study app is now available! [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2015, 05:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Manhattan Prep’s GMAT® study app is now available!
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I am very excited to announce that our new GMAT® study app is available on both iOS and Android!

Download now!
iOS
Android

Do you need to drill foundational skills? Practice your process for any of the question types found in the Quant (DS, PS) or Verbal (CR, RC, SC) sections of the GMAT? Challenge yourself with some very advanced Quant problems?

We’ve got you covered. The full version of the app contains more than 2,000 practice problems along with comprehensive explanations—and even the free version will keep you busy for quite a while. Some problems are skill drills: you’ll make sure that you have all of the foundational knowledge you need in order to tackle the test. Others are full-on GMAT-format problems, so that you can practice exactly what you’ll need to do on test day.

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The app contains several glossaries, including grammar terms, math terms, and idioms. We also provide a whole host of study and time management strategies, and our friends over at MBA Mission have contributed great admissions tips.

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Strategies to optimize your GMAT performance.

You can use the app in conjunction with one of our courses, but you don’t need to take a course to benefit from the app; it works just as well for stand-alone practice. You will want to identify other resources that, for example, lay out all of the grammar rules or formulas that you would need to know for the test. (Our strategy guides cover those areas.) The app is focused on practicing your skills on problems.

If you are taking one of our courses or guided self-study programs, the full app won’t cost you anything; it’s included as part of your program. Now, you don’t have to have your books with you whenever you want to study. You can sneak in 5 or 10 minutes of practice while you’re waiting for that meeting to start.

The material is organized in the same way that our strategy guides are organized: quant by major content area and verbal by question type. Essentially, you can do any of your strategy guide end-of-chapter problem sets or online practice problems via the app rather than in your books or your Manhattan Prep student center.

I hope you’re as excited about the app as I am. Now, go get started and happy studying!

GMAT® is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Download now!
iOS
Android

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

 

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Two months and 80 points to go: How do I raise my GMAT score? (Part 2) [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2015, 05:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Two months and 80 points to go: How do I raise my GMAT score? (Part 2)
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In the first part of this series, we talked about how to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and in which categories of “low hanging fruit” to concentrate your studies.

We left off talking about timing; let’s talk about how to make better decisions as you take the test.

I keep messing up the timing on the test.
You’re not alone. You’ve got two broad tasks here. You need to internalize the business mindset in order to manage your time appropriately. You also need some more specific guidelines about what to do problem-to-problem while you’re taking the test.

The 1-minute mark is the key decision-making point for all quant and verbal questions. On quant and CR, the 1 minute mark is the halfway mark. By this mark, you should understand what the question is asking and, for quant, have an idea of how to solve. On CR, you need to understand the argument and have an idea of what characteristics you want the correct answer to have. If these things aren’t true, it’s time to try (if possible) to make an educated guess and / or move on.

For SC and RC, the 1-minute mark is closer to the end of the problem. At this point, you should already have started to eliminate answers. If not, it’s time to guess and move on.

(And, at any point on verbal, if you find yourself going back and forth repeatedly among the same answers, it’s time to move on.)

Don’t, though, start watching the clock every minute. That will drive you crazy! Instead, check out part 4 of this series to learn how to develop your very own 1-minute time sense.

Before you take your next practice test, you also want to get better at tracking your time throughout each section of the test. If you have access to Manhattan Prep’s Interact lessons, I strongly recommend that you do the Timing lesson associated in the class 6 homework. If not, check out part 5 of the Time Management article linked in the previous paragraph. (But the Interact Timing lesson is better, so do that if you have access!)

I’ve learned a bunch of stuff and my timing is getting better…now what?
Great! Now it’s time to take another practice test and repeat the whole process. Ideally, you’ll be studying diligently 5 to 6 days a week, so after about 2 to 3 weeks*, you’ll be ready to take another CAT. You’ll analyze your results, come up with a new list of items in Bucket 2, and repeat the whole process.

*Note: don’t try to cycle through this in 1 week. You can’t rush this process; your brain will just get tired and you won’t learn well enough.

This general process is your process until you reach about 10 to 14 days before your test date. At that point, you’re going to shift your focus to a comprehensive review.

(Note: if, 10 days before, you’re still more than 50 points from your goal, then you have two choices: postpone your test or lower your goal score. Don’t panic or try to cram in the last 10 days to get another 50 points. The most likely outcome is burn-out and a score drop. If your score isn’t what you want it to be, you can always postpone applications for a round or a year. The world won’t end!)

What’s this “comprehensive review” phase?
You need to solidify your strategies and also just review all of the different rules, formulas, concepts, and strategies you’ve been studying for months. If you don’t do this, you risk losing points on the test simply because it’s been a few weeks since you last reviewed something.

First, you’re going to figure out your Game Plan. Your Game Plan is all about how to make the best executive decisions as you work your way through each section of the test. Follow that link to find out how to plan this.

You’re also going to conduct a general review of the major question types, content, and strategies for the GMAT.

Finally, don’t forget that you’re going to wind DOWN for the last two days before your test. You can do some light (and high-level) review, but don’t study for more than a couple of hours each day. Cramming at this point will, once again, just burn you out. You wouldn’t run a practice marathon 2 days before a real marathon, right? Don’t over-study two days before your GMAT either.

All right, you’ve got a plan. Get going and give it your best shot! Happy studying!

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here

 

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Here’s why you should take the GMAT twice. [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2015, 02:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Here’s why you should take the GMAT twice.
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Over the past five or so years, I have seen more and more students take the GMAT twice.

Now that students can cancel a score and never have it appear on record, I’ve come to the recommendation that everyone should plan to take the GMAT twice.

Taking the GMAT is seriously stressful.
Most people become at least a little nervous when taking any standardized test. A computer adaptive test is even more stressful because, no matter how much you study, the test just keeps getting harder as you learn more.

I’ve had many students take the test twice, and every single one has told me that they felt more comfortable the second time. They knew what to expect at the testing center, the security procedures didn’t stress them out, and they were even better able to handle the small distractions of the testing room—another student typing, a proctor entering the room, and so on.

For those who know that they get extra nervous when taking standardized tests, having a “dry run” first test is a great way to help keep a handle on your nerves when you take the test “for real,” the second time.

There’s no downside: MBA programs use your highest score. 
Most people have heard that business schools use your highest score, but many people don’t trust that the schools really don’t care about lower scores on your record. In fact, some schools don’t even look at your full set of scores until they’ve decided what to do with your application (and this used to be true for all schools). Let me take you through that process. (Note: this applies to MBA programs. If you are going for a Ph.D., the process may be different and the doctoral program may care about all of your scores.)

Let’s use an example to illustrate what’s going on. Last year, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business* received approximately 8,000 applications spread over 3 rounds of admission. The school admitted just over 400 people, or about 5% of applicants (yikes!).

Now, picture the offices of the admissions people. They have mounds of information to get through: essays, recommendations, resumes. They know they’ll admit only about 5% of the people who’ve applied. Do you think they’re going to check the official GMAT score reports of all 8,000 people?

No way! Instead, they evaluate the applications assuming that you told them the truth when you reported a certain GMAT score. Once they’ve generally decided who they want to admit (or put on the wait list), then they’ll verify the scores just for those students.

In the past few years, some schools have built in the ability to link your account to your test results after you enter certain pieces of identifying info into your application. If so, then you’ll see your verified test date(s) pop up in your official application at this point. (*Note: I don’t know how Stanford does things; I chose them for the example above because they have an exceptionally low yield, so they make for an especially good example.)

If they don’t have access to your full score set at the beginning, then they’ve already decided your fate by the time they look up your scores. If they want you, they’re not suddenly going to reject you because you had another GMAT score that was lower. After all, you did earn that higher GMAT score on which they based their decision! (Assuming you did. This should be obvious but here goes: don’t lie about your GMAT score on your application.) And even if they do have access to your full score set at the beginning, they’re used to making this decision based on your highest score. That’s how they’ve always done it. If you can get that top score once, then you are capable of getting that score period, and that’s what they care about.

There’s no downside, part 2: you can cancel your scores 
Any canceled test administrations don’t show up on your record at all. The schools literally won’t even know that you took the test that day.

So if you go in and really dislike your score, just select the button to cancel at the end. Then you don’t need to worry about whether some b-school might penalize you for a lower score even if you later earn a higher score. (Though, again, you really don’t need to worry about this!)

Know before you go in what kind of score you’d want to keep vs. cancel. In the 4 months since this new cancellation policy started, I’ve talked to two students who’ve canceled when the screen flashed a 690 and they wanted a 700+. Seriously! They were only 10 points off and they canceled their scores!! Don’t fall prey to a knee-jerk reaction just because the score you wanted isn’t on the screen. (You can reinstate your scores within 2 months of a cancellation…if you pay a $100 fee.)

I generally tell my students that if they score more than 100 points below their (reasonable) goal, then they should feel free to click the cancel button if it makes them feel more comfortable.

Note my “reasonable” caveat. If you want a 730, and your practice tests topped out at 580, and then you score a 620 on the real test, please do not cancel that score. You just had your best test ever and you want to keep that score, just in case.

But the GMAT costs $250…that’s a downside!
I agree that $250 is a lot of money. If you think about how much money you spent the last time you went to dinner, then $250 is definitely expensive.

But put this figure into perspective. If you’re going for a full-time program at a private school, you’re looking at a $200,000 price tag! If you attend a public school via a part-time, evening-and-week-end program, business school is still going to cost you tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of one GMAT, $250, is far less than 1% of the cost of b-school. Don’t try to save $250 now when a proper investment might get you into a higher-caliber program down the line.

So build two tests into your study timeline. If you end up loving your first score, then you can take that second $250 and go out for a really, really nice dinner. Image

[Edited] Note: this article was edited after first publication. Initially, I said that many / most schools don’t check scores until after making the decision. It then came to my attention that more schools had added the functionality described in the article than I had thought, so I edited the article to say that some schools don’t check until after and some schools attach the data to the application from the start.

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here



 

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Here’s why you might be missing GMAT Data Sufficiency problems (Part 2 [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2015, 02:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Here’s why you might be missing GMAT Data Sufficiency problems (Part 2)
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In our previous article, we divided the logical errors that test-takers make on Data Sufficiency questions into two types:

Type 1: You thought that something was sufficient, but it was actually insufficient.

Type 2: You thought that something was insufficient, but it was actually sufficient.

We already covered the most common reasons for Type 1 errors to occur and a few good ways to avoid them; now, let’s cover Type 2 errors.

Type 2 errors are their opposite: also known as “false negatives,” they happen when it looks like you don’t have enough information to answer the DS question, but you actually do. The classic “(C) trap” is one example of a Type 2 error: say that you picked (C), when the right answer was actually (B). In that case, you thought that each statement was insufficient, and decided to combine them. But, it turned out that (2) was actually sufficient on its own. Oops.

According to data from our GMAT Navigator program (in which thousands of students have recorded their answers to retired GMAT DS problems), Type 2 errors happen about 50 percent more often than

Type 1 errors. That’s because DS problems often deliberately include statements that look useless and irrelevant, but really aren’t. If you’re not prepared, when you see one of these problems, you’ll wrongly assume that the statement is insufficient. Only well-prepared test-takers will see through the ruse.

Here are some situations that often cause Type 2 errors:
You mistook a yes/no question for a value question. Did you see a yes/no DS question, but treat it as if you needed to solve for an exact value? Then you likely made a Type 2 error: you incorrectly assumed that because you couldn’t come up with a single value, you couldn’t answer the question. Remember that on yes/no questions, the only answers you’re looking for are ‘yes’ and ‘no’. You don’t need to come up with a specific number, and in fact, problems are often designed so that you can’t! Some yes/no questions that often lead to Type 2 errors are The Official Guide to the GMAT, 2016 (OG 2016) DS 9 and 108, and The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review, 2016 (QR 2016) DS 122.

Not enough math. One rule of thumb says that in order to solve a math problem, you need at least as many equations as you have unknowns. If you’re pressed for time, use that rule on DS word problems and algebra problems. But also know that in certain special circumstances, you can solve by using fewer equations than you’d normally need. The only way to discover these special cases is to translate both the question and the statements into math on your scratch paper, and then decide whether you can solve. Otherwise, you’ll make a Type 2 error–you’ll assume that you can’t solve, when you actually can. Try these DS problems for practice: OG 2016 DS 106 and 140, and QR 2016 DS

Combo traps. Some DS value questions ask you to solve for a combination of values rather than for a single value. For instance, a DS question might ask you “What is the value of xy?” or “What percent of John’s food budget did he spend in restaurants?” In the real world, you’d solve for each individual value first (x and y, or John’s total budget and his restaurant spending). Unfortunately, the test writers design combo questions that you can actually answer without knowing the individual values, and if you fail to notice these questions, you’ll be vulnerable to Type 2 errors. That is, you might not need as much information to solve for a combination of values as you would need to solve for the values separately.

When you review a DS value question, decide whether you were asked for one value or for a combination. If you had to find a combination of values, you may have mistakenly assumed that you needed to solve for both values separately, making a Type 2 error. To avoid this, conclusively prove each statement insufficient before you ever put them together. For some practice, try OG 2016 DS 52, 63, and 97.

“Nice but not necessary.” When you do a DS problem, you’re looking for the minimum amount of information that would let you answer the question correctly. That requires a different sort of thinking than solving real-world problems does.Suppose that a friend asks you to figure out the amount of water in her backyard swimming pool. She knows three things: the current depth of water in the swimming pool, how long it took her to fill it with a hose, and the rate at which her hose puts out water. You’d probably respond by asking her for all of the information she has first, and then you’d start writing equations. You might notice halfway through that you didn’t actually need to know how deep the pool was, but who cares? You’d find the answer, and your friend would walk away happy.On Data Sufficiency, you can’t ask for all of the information and then see what happens. Just because you can definitely answer the question when you use both statements together, doesn’t mean that the statements are insufficient on their own! It might be a little more complicated to answer the question using only the information from one statement, but it could still be possible.

If you made a Type 2 error and then found yourself saying “I didn’t realize that I didn’t have to know that!” about one of the statements, then you fell for a Nice But Not Necessary trap. These questions often have a particular look to them: one statement will be very simple, usually giving you a single value, like the depth of a swimming pool or the time at which a machine began working. The other statement will be much more complex and harder to handle. Be skeptical when you see this–it might be nice to know the information from the simpler statement, but do you really need it? Or is there a more complicated solution that only uses the info from more complex statement? To practice, check out problems OG 2016 DS 38, 89, and 95, and QR 2016 DS 74 and 88.

What now?
With the information from this series of articles , you can categorize your Data Sufficiency errors into four types: Type 1, Type 2, Careless (simple computation mistakes and miswritings), and Mathematical (you didn’t know a rule or applied it incorrectly). Go through some DS problems you’ve done in the past and assign each wrong answer to one of those four categories. What patterns do you notice? Are your mistakes predictable?

Then, focus specifically on your Type 2 errors. Whenever you notice one of these errors, identify the trick that you fell for. The situations described in this article often lead to Type 2 errors, but they aren’t the only possible causes. Can you come up with others? Based on the patterns you notice, make one change to how you do DS problems. Some options:

  • As soon as you read a DS question, write either “value” or “yes/no” on your paper.
  • Always translate DS word problems into variables and equations before deciding that a statement is insufficient.
  • Before you begin solving a DS value problem, determine whether it’s a combo problem or not.
Now that you know what these two types of logical errors look like, start trying to recognize them as you review DS problems. With time and practice, you’ll start to notice problems that would normally lead you to make Type 1 or Type 2 errors as you see them. Understanding why you made a mistake is the first step to avoiding it next time! Image

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Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington.
 Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

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Make the Most of your Holiday Study Time (Part 1) [#permalink]

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New post 16 Dec 2015, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Make the Most of your Holiday Study Time (Part 1)
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The holidays are fast approaching and all of my students are asking me how best to use their extra downtime over the next few weeks. I have some different recommendations, depending upon your circumstances.

In this installment, we’ll talk about what to do if you’re aiming for the second round (in other words, your applications are due in January 2016—soon!). In the next installment, we’ll talk about what to do if this circumstance does not apply to you.

I’m aiming for Round 2 admissions (early January 2016)
If you’re aiming for round 2, then this is obviously going to be a busy holiday season.

Let’s see if we can’t find a way to lessen the stress a bit while still allowing you to accomplish what you need.

You’ve got two broad tasks at hand: taking the GMAT and finishing your applications. You’re going to have to balance your time well so that one of these aspects doesn’t suffer unduly.

Task #1, then, is to take a good hard look at your goal GMAT score. Sure, it would be unbelievably fantastic if you could score a 720, but you have to ask yourself whether that’s a realistic goal in the few weeks that you have left, particularly given that you still have essays and other aspects of your applications to finalize. So what do you think is a realistic goal, given everything you have to do?

Cut your stressful commitments
Next, pull out your calendar. You’re going to have to work on some aspect of this stuff every single day. (As if the holidays weren’t stressful enough. Sorry.) Can you reduce any stressful commitments? Are there holiday parties or family events you really don’t want to attend? Don’t—you have the perfect excuse. Send your regrets right now. Can you “work” from home a couple of days or take time off? Use up some of your sick days? Schedule it. ☺️

Do not, though, skip events that you’re looking forward to; you will need some breaks in the coming weeks. If you burn yourself out, you won’t do very well on the test, so remind yourself that I ordered you to go to your best friend’s awesome annual party and have a great time.

Is the craziness of everything really getting to you? Try meditating to help manage the stress of holidays + GMAT + applications.

Schedule study appointments with yourself
Okay, now start blocking off chunks of time every day from now until your applications are due: 30 minutes here, an hour there, 2 hours over there. Give yourself good breaks between sessions; your brain will thank you. You’re probably going to need a total of 15 to 30 hours a week, depending on how many applications you’re doing and how much you want to lift your GMAT score.

Plan to do some GMAT study and some work on applications every day. This is better than doing all-GMAT today and all-essays tomorrow. Your brain will stay fresher if you mix up your activities.

Plan to take 1 or 2 practice tests. Block off 4 hours and start at the same time of day that you will start the real test. Take the tests at least one week apart. Don’t take a practice test within 5 days of the real test. Make sure you take your tests under 100% official conditions, including the essay and IR sections. (I know you don’t care as much about those scores. But you do care that your practice mimics the real test.)

Fix your timing
The single biggest thing that people consistently mess up on the GMAT is timing. I would bet that almost anyone can pick up 20 to 30 points on the GMAT simply by getting better at knowing what NOT to do. I’m 100% serious!

Knowing what NOT to do is related to business decision-making: both while studying and during the test, where do you want to spend your scarce time (and mental energy) and where don’t you? You don’t invest in every last idea that your employees brainstorm; you pick out the most promising ones and allocate your scarce resources accordingly. By the same token, on the GMAT, you can’t do it all; if you try, you won’t maximize your score on the test.

Got that mindset? Here’s how to put your best foot forward with respect to timing on the test.

Focus on the lowest-hanging fruit
You can’t study it all, either. You have limited time and a split focus (applications!).

You need to prioritize: work on the easiest-to-improve stuff first and just get as far as you can before you run out of time and have to take the test.

Analyze your most recent CAT or your performance on recent practice problems.

Where were you almost there? Use that data to drive your study and review.

The lowest of the low-hanging fruit is careless mistakes. You already know how to do this stuff! You just need to figure out how to minimize whatever types of careless mistakes you’re tending to make. This might be, “Hmm, I solved for the wrong thing on a couple of problems. What am I going to do on every problem from now on to make sure that I solve for the right thing?” Or it might be, “Oh, I used to know how to do that, but I haven’t looked at it in 6 weeks and I’m starting to forget. I need to review that.”

Don’t just tell yourself, “Ugh, don’t do that!” That’s not enough. Figure out why you made that careless mistake and what new habit you can implement to reduce the chances of a repeat of that specific kind of mistake.

Another low-hanging area has to do with holes in foundational-level material. Did you mess up that weird problem with negative exponents and fractions and you’re still not 100% sure what the thing was talking about? Whatever. That’s too hard anyway; blow it off.

But did you mess up that problem that required you to solve a pretty straightforward linear equation? You know, the one where you read the explanation after and thought, I didn’t know that before, but I get it. That’s not that hard. Okay: practice so you can do it next time!

Also take a look at problems that you know how to do, but that tend to take you about 30 to 60 seconds longer than the average expected for that question type. Are there any shortcuts you can learn to shave 15 or 30 seconds? If so, practice implementing them so that you can save up some time to spend elsewhere or just take the timing pressure off a bit.

Find someone to commiserate and motivate
Know anyone else who’s studying right now or working on applications? If you’re both studying, get together two or three times a week to study (even if you’re both mostly working on your own stuff). If you aren’t in the same city, meet via Google Hangout or similar. Tell your friend what you did since the last time you met and what you plan to do until the next time you meet. That’ll help keep you on track, since you know you’ll have to fess up if you don’t do anything!

Even if your friend is already done with the test, you can still ask him or her to be your “keep me on track” study buddy: you say what you’ve done and what you’re going to do each week. He or she went through the GMAT too and will understand.

Get together for happy hour or brunch once a week to decompress and commiserate (again, even if that’s both of you bringing a drink to your couch while you’re on video chat or a phone call).

Do your best in the time you have left.
Give it your best shot. Time is limited and it’s possible that you might not make everything come together by round 2—but at least you’ll know that you’ve really tried. You can always decide to postpone your application and try again. Good luck and happy studying!

Join us next time, when we’ll talk about how to make the most of your holiday season if you’re not planning to apply during round 2 this year.

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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.



 

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Here’s how to use the holidays for GMAT prep (Part 2) [#permalink]

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New post 26 Dec 2015, 00:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Here’s how to use the holidays for GMAT prep (Part 2)
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Last time, we talked about how to use holiday downtime to get ready for round 2 GMAT admissions. This time, we’re going to talk about what to do if you aren’t applying for round 2 this year.

We have two broad scenarios to talk about:

1. Do you work an 80-hour-a-week job or have some other significant commitments during non-holiday time such that your studying is suffering due to lack of time?

2. Do you have some downtime around the holidays, or at least less-crazy time?

If you answered “yes” to both of the above questions, then you’re going to use the holidays to give your studies a much-needed boost.

If, on the other hand, you’ve been studying at least 10 hours a week (and really more like 15), and you’re generally keeping your studies on track during non-holiday time, then here’s your reward: you’re going to slow down during the holidays and give your brain a much-needed break, so that you will be fresher when you ramp up again after the holidays.

Scenario #1: My normal schedule is crazy but I have some breathing room around the holidays.
The bad news is that you haven’t been getting as much done as you need, but the good news is that you can use your downtime over the holidays to get more done. The driving concept: prioritization.

You do not want to turn your 80-hour regular week into an 80-hour study week. Your brain can learn only so many new things at once; if you overload it, it will start to rebel and “drop” memories. (You’ve experienced this, right? You can’t remember what was decided at that meeting 3 days ago. Your significant other swears s/he asked you to pick up milk on the way home, but you have no memory of that exchange…until you find the evidence on your phone. ☺️)

You’re going to follow some of the advice that I discussed in the first installment of this article (so pull that up right now), with a few differences. Pull out your calendar and follow the advice I gave with respect to scheduling study appointments with yourself. Since you don’t have a rapidly-approaching deadline to take the real test, though, plan to take only one practice test.

If it has been more than about 4-6 weeks since your last practice CAT, plan to start your holiday study period with a CAT. If you have taken a CAT fairly recently, plan to end your holiday study period with a CAT.

Either way, analyze your most recent test and classify everything into your three buckets (you’ll understand what buckets are after you have read that article). You’re going to concentrate on bucket #2.

Important note: bucket #3 is for things that are so hard for you that you’re going to blow them off right now—literally, just get them wrong fast. People hesitate to put things in bucket #3 because they don’t want to give up on that category forever. That’s not what you’re doing here! You’re just saying, “Right now, given my limited time, this isn’t worth my time in the next few weeks. I have other, better lower-hanging-fruit that I’m going to do first.” Later, you’ll revisit your bucket 3 and move some things to bucket 2 as bucket 2 items move to bucket 1.

Next, you’re going to work intensively on your bucket 2 items over the holidays.

Use the process described here to minimize careless mistakes.

For holes in your foundation (easier problems that you’re missing), start with the relevant chapters in our Foundations of Math (FoM) or Foundations of Verbal (FoV) strategy guides (or equivalent study materials from other companies). First plug any holes in your foundational knowledge. When you’re ready, move up to the equivalent chapters in the main strategy guides (or, again, equivalent materials from others). Finally, test your new knowledge and understanding by trying problems from the Official Guide.

For example, if you’re struggling with exponents and roots, start with those chapters in FoM. Make flash cards for anything you need to memorize. Use the end-of-chapter and online problem sets to drill your skills. Then move into the Algebra strategy guide and dig into the more advanced exponent and root material there. Again, make flash cards and use the end-of-chapter and online problem sets to drill. Finally, try a few (2-3) OG problems from these areas, and make sure that you’re analyzing these problems at the 2nd Level.

This is important: do NOT do all of the OG exponent problems at once. Half of the battle on the GMAT is figuring out what a new problem is testing; on the real test, you’ll never know that you’re about to get an exponent problem. So most of your OG study needs to be done in timed sets of mixed questions, where you’re having to jump around, figure out for yourself what each new problem is, and decide how to allocate your time and mental energy among the questions.

After 2-3 weeks, work will ramp back up again. Take another CAT to gain experience and gauge your progress. Analyze using that same article linked earlier and revisit your buckets to see what you can move from bucket 2 to bucket 1 and whether you want to move anything from bucket 3 to bucket 2. (Note: some things really should stay in bucket 3 forever. For me, combinatorics and 3-D geometry will always be bucket 3.)

Scenario #2: My regular study time is already pretty productive.
That’s great! Now here’s your reward. Yes, you’re going to study some over the holidays, but you’re actually going to give your brain a pretty substantial break. I wish that I could recommend this to everyone, but the realities for some (crazy jobs, looming deadlines) make this impossible.

Pull up your calendar. Block out around 5 days completely; you aren’t even going to think about the GMAT on these days. Seriously! You’ve been working and studying hard for a while now, and your brain is becoming fatigued. This break is going to allow you to come back super fresh and re-energized in January.

If you feel guilty when those days come along, say to yourself, “Stacey said not to think about the GMAT today!” and go merrily about your day. ☺️

What you are going to do on some days during this break is organize. Do you have notes all over the place about SC rules? Consolidate them into one file or notebook.

Are you not quite sure which lessons you’ve done thoroughly and which weren’t done as well the first time around? Are you not sure what you need to review? Take some time to look over previous lessons just with an eye towards classifying them: this one is good; this other one could use some light review; I need to re-do this lesson from start to finish. You don’t actually have to do them now; you’re just figuring out what you’re going to do when you ramp back up again after the holidays.

Here’s the one substantial thing you can do: if it’s been more than a month since you’ve last taken a practice CAT, take one over the holidays and analyze it. Also analyze the individual questions (you might analyze just the ones you got wrong now and save the other ones for later). Altogether, this assignment might take you around 8 to 15 hours, depending on whether you analyze everything now.

Use this analysis to help you figure out what you need to prioritize after the holidays; don’t actually start studying now.

If you find yourself falling between two of these categories, mix and match the advice from each one. Alternatively, come talk to me on the MPrep forums and ask for advice regarding your particular situation.

Good luck, happy end-of-2015, and see you in the New Year!

Image
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.
Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.



 

 

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GMAT Story Problems: Draw It Out [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jan 2016, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Story Problems: Draw It Out
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Whenever I see a story problem, I immediately make myself think, “How would I solve this in the real world?” I don’t want to get sucked into doing a bunch of annoying textbook math. In the real world, we lay things out on paper very differently than when we’re in “I’m taking a math test” mode.

Want to see what I mean? Try this GMATPrep® problem from the free exams and then we’ll talk!

“*Rates for having a manuscript typed at a certain typing service are $5 per page for the first time a page is typed and $3 per page each time a page is revised. If a certain manuscript has 100 pages, of which 40 were revised only once, 10 were revised twice, and the rest required no revisions, what was the total cost of having the manuscript typed?

“(A) $430

“(B) $620

“(C) $650

“(D) $680

“(E) $770”

Got your answer? Okay, first, let’s understand what’s going on.

Image

Glance: PS. Story problem. The answers are numeric and aren’t super easy but they aren’t too ugly, either.

Read: I’m trying to figure out how much it’s going to cost me to get my manuscript typed. (See what I did there? Real world.) There are various prices depending on the service required.

Jot:Image

How should I approach this?

Image

I could write out a formula here. But I really don’t want to. Image

In the real world, I’d just lay out each stage carefully and then add up my costs. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do here.

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The correct answer is (D).

What could have been a somewhat annoying algebra problem turns into a fairly straightforward calculation. I don’t have to worry about making a mistake with setting up a formula. I just have to think carefully through what I’m actually going to have to pay for and make sure I write it all down.

There are different ways you could set this up. I chose to figure out how much I’d have to pay for the initial typing vs. the revisions. You could also calculate for the 40 / 10 / 50 numbers that I first wrote down, but be careful with the math to avoid trap answer (A):

40 typed = (40)(5) = 200, plus one revision = (40)(3) = 120. Total = 320

10 typed = (10)(5) = 50, plus two revisions = (10)(6) = 60. Total = 110

50 typed = (50)(5) = 250

Total = 320 + 110 + 250 = 680

What’s the trap for answer (A)? If you forget to add in the initial $5 per page for the set of 40 and the set of 10, you’ll get to answer (A), $430. Spot any other traps?

Trap answer (C) is the result of forgetting to double the revision cost for the 10 pages that get revised twice.

Key Takeaways for GMAT Story Problems:
(1) Pretend this is happening in the real world. How would you solve? I’m confident you wouldn’t start writing equations. Do the same back-of-the-envelope calculations you’d really do if you had to figure this out for yourself.

(2) Write all the steps down! Don’t skimp on this. Saving yourself 20 seconds by doing math in your head is a great way to make a careless mistake and lose a point that you knew how to get.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

ImageStacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

The post GMAT Story Problems: Draw It Out appeared first on GMAT.
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 Story Problems: Draw It Out   [#permalink] 08 Jan 2016, 15:00

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