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Updates from Manhattan GMAT

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FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: ADVANCED CRITICAL REASONING, Part II: Deductive Logic
Image

My last article discussed the difference between inductive and deductive arguments. Today’s article will focus mostly on the rules of deductive arguments. I promise to nerd out on inductive reasoning in later articles.

Here’s a quick quiz on the difference between inductive and deductive logic: http://www.thatquiz.org/tq/previewtest?F/Z/J/V/O3UL1355243858

To review: In a deductively “valid” argument, if all the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true, with 100% certainty. Luckily, on the GMAT, we should usually act as if the premises of an argument are true, especially when the question specifies, “the statements above are true.”

Deductive reasoning shows up most often on inference (aka “draw a conclusion”) questions and “mimic the reasoning” questions, but it often appears on other types of questions, and even on reading comprehension!

On inference questions, the correct answer will usually be deductively valid (or very very strong, inductively). An incorrect answer will be deductively invalid, with some significant probability that it could be false.

What follows are most of the formal rules of deductive reasoning (from a stack of logic textbooks I have on my shelf), with examples from the GMAT. For shorthand, I’ll label the arguments with a “P” for premise and a “C” for conclusion:

P) premise

P) premise

C) conclusion

Remember: these are not the same kind of conclusions (opinions) you’ll see on strengthen and weaken questions. Deductive conclusions are deductively “valid” facts that you can derive with 100% certainty from given premises.

EASY STUFF: Simplification/conjunction (“and” statements)

This is kind of a “duh” conclusion, but here goes: If two things are linked with an “and,” then you know each of them exist. Conversely, if two things exist, you can link them with an “and.”

Simplification:

P) A and B

C) Therefore, A

Conjunction:

P) A

P) B

C) Therefore, A and B

P) Bill is tall and was born in Texas.

P) Bill rides a motorcycle.

C) Therefore, Bill was born in Texas (simplification).

C) Therefore, at least one tall person named Bill was born in Texas and rides a motorcycle (conjunction).

CAUTION: Fallacies ahead!!

Don’t confuse “and” with “or.” (More about this later.) More importantly, don’t confuse “and” with causality, condition, or representativeness. Bill’s tallness probably has nothing to do with Texas, so keep an eye out for wrong answers that say, “Bill is tall because he was born in Texas” or “Most people from Texas ride motorcycles.”

MEDIUM STUFF: Disjunctive syllogism (“or” statements)

With “or” statements, if one thing is missing, the other must be true.

Valid conclusions:

P) A or B

P) not B (shorthand: ~B)

C) Therefore, A

P) We will go to the truck rally or to a Shakespeare play

P) We won’t go to the Shakespeare play.

C) Therefore, we will go to the truck rally.

CAUTION: Fallacies ahead!!

Unlike in the real world, “or” statements do not always imply mutual exclusivity, unless the argument explicitly says so. For example, in the above arguments, A and B might both be true; we might go to a play and go to the movies. Yes, really. A wrong answer might say “We went to a play, so we won’t go to the movies.” This error is called “affirming the disjunct.”

Invalid:

P) A or B

P) B

C) Not A

GMAT example:

To see this in action, check out your The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition, by GMAC®*, question 41. This argument opens with an implied “or” statement:

“Installing scrubbers in smokestacks and switching to cleaner-burning fuel are the two methods available to Northern Power…”

The author here incorrectly assumes that by using one method, Northern Power can’t use both methods at the same time. Question 51 does the same thing; discuss it in the comments below?

TOUGH STUFF: Fun with conditional statements

This is important! Keep a sharp eye out for statements that can be expressed conditionally and practice diagramming them. Look for key words such as “if,” “when,” “only,” and “require.”

I use the symbol “–>” to express an if/then relationship, and a “~” to express the word “not.” Use single letters or abbreviations to stand in for your elements.

If/then statements:

If you jump into that mud, you will get dirty: J –> D

If you don’t stop, I will faint: ~S –> F

I will scream if I hear that Bieber song again: B –>S

I will go only if you buy me dinner: Go –> Din

(Hint, replace the words “only if” with the arrow. See necessary/sufficient below.)

Extreme categorical statements (all, none, every, each, only, always, never):

I always go bowling on Tuesdays: T –> B

Every dog has ears: D –> E

Only teenagers listen to Bieber: B  –> T (notice that “only” is backwards from “every”)

No Librarians are Constructivists: L –> ~C

None of my friends eat sushi: F –> ~S

“or” statements:

I will order the cake or the pie: ~C –> P (and ~P –> C)

If you run across the word “unless,” it might help to replace it with “if not”:

I will show up to the barbecue unless its raining.

(“If not” raining, then BBQ): ~R –> B

Necessary/Sufficient statements (need, required, guarantee)

Remember this: Sufficient (guarantee, enough) goes on the left; Necessary (need, requirement) on the right

Sufficient –> Necessary

A good party needs beer: P –> B

A Katy Perry album guarantees a good time: KP –> GT

GMAT example:

Check out CR question 60 from the Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition, by GMAC®. Brackets mine:

“Neither a rising standard of living [RSL] nor balanced trade [BT], by itself establishes a country’s ability to compete[C] in the international marketplace. Both are required simultaneously…”

Diagram this: C –> RSL & BT (both are necessary)

DON’T diagram this: RSL or BT –> C (each is sufficient)

Now, answering the question should be easy. Go for it.

VALID CONCLUSIONS FROM CONDITIONAL STATEMENTS

There are only a few valid deductions one can make from conditionals, and MANY invalid ones. Obviously, you won’t be tested on the Latin names, so worry more about the rules themselves and how they apply

Modus Tollens

Latin for “method that affirms by affirming,” this one more or less repeats the conditional statement as given:

P) A –> B

P) A

C) Therefore, B

If you think that’s too easy, check out Official Guide Question 60 again. It uses Modus Tollens!

P) A –> B & C

P) A

C) Therefore, B & C

Modus Ponens (the “contrapositive”)

EXTREMELY COMMON! Latin for “method that denies by denying,” this shows up all over the GMAT.

P) A –> B

P) ~B

C) Therefore, ~A

P) If you’re in Auckland, you’re in New Zealand

P) You’re not in New Zealand

C) Therefore, you’re not in Auckland

I (and many others) call this the contrapositive. To find the contrapositive, “flip and negate.” Just swap the elements and change negatives to positives:

X –> Y

~Y –> ~X

If you’re a libertarian, you’re not a communist: L –> ~C

Therefore: C –> ~L (If you’re a communist, you’re not a libertarian)

If you jump into that mud, you will get dirty: J –> D

~D –> ~J

If you don’t stop, I will faint: ~S –> F

~F –> S

Try diagramming the contrapositive for all the examples you’ve seen so far.

Advanced note: If a conditional contains an “and” or an “or,” change “and” to “or” and vice versa in the contrapositive. Remember to negate everything.

A –> B or C

(If I get a raise, I’ll go on vacation or buy a car.)

~B and ~C –> ~A

(I didn’t buy a car AND I didn’t go on vacation, so you know I didn’t get a raise.)

This works well with necessary/sufficient reasoning:

A good party needs beer and chips (remember, necessary elements go on the right):

P –> B and C

Therefore, ~B or ~C –> ~P

No beer? Not a good party. No chips? Not a good party.

GMAT example:

The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition, by GMAC®, question 103. Brackets mine:

“For a trade embargo [TE]…to succeed, a high degree of both international accord [IA] and ability to prevent goods [PG]…must be sustained.”

I diagram it like this: TE –> IA and PG

Then I do the contrapositive: ~IA or ~PG –> ~TE

If one of those elements is missing, you can’t have a trade embargo–much like our party without chips above. Work out the rest of the question for yourself.

Hypothetical Syllogism

Easy enough. You can chain if/then statements if they work out left to right:

P) A –> B

P) B –> C

C) Therefore, A –> C

GMAT Example:

This is a free question from the GMATPrep® software v.2.1*:

Increases in the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the human bloodstream lower bloodstream-cholesterol levels by increasing the body’s capacity to rid itself of excess cholesterol. Levels of HDL in the bloodstream of some individuals are significantly increased by a program of regular exercise and weight reduction.

Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the statements above?

(A) Individuals who are underweight do not run any risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

(B) Individuals who do not exercise regularly have a high risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream late in life.

(C) Exercise and weight reduction are the most effective methods of lowering bloodstream cholesterol levels in humans.

(D) A program of regular exercise and weight reduction lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of some individuals.

(E) Only regular exercise is necessary to decrease cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of individuals of average weight.

You can chain the premises using conditionals as follows

Premise) incHDL –> lowBCL (B –> C)

Premise) someEX –> incHDL (A –> B)

Conclusion) Therefore, someEX –> lowBCL (A –> C)

Which is, more or less, the correct answer a nutshell. Work it out for yourself.

(Keep an eye out for words like “some” and “most” by the way)

CAUTION: Fallacies ahead!!

One common way the GMAT constructs wrong answers (and incorrect assumptions) is to mess up conditional logic in some way or another. Wrong answers will flip without negating, negate without flipping, confuse necessary with sufficient, mess up syllogisms, and make a series of either/or mistakes.

Flipping without negating (Affirming the consequent)

Invalid:

P) A –> B

P) B

C) Therefore, A

If you’re in Auckland, you’re in New Zealand. You’re in New Zealand. Therefore, you must be in Auckland.

(Nope, you might be in Auckland, but there are lots of other places you could be in New Zealand other than Auckland: Wellington, Nelson, Hobbittown, etc.)

This one is common in politics as well as on the GMAT:

No democrats are republicans (D –> ~R). You’re not a republican, so you must be a democrat (R –>~D).

(Nope, there are a lot of other political parties in the world…)

Negating without flipping (Denying the antecedent)

Invalid:

P) A –> B

P) ~A

C) ~B

If you’re in Auckland, you’re in New Zealand. You’re not in Auckland, so you can’t be in New Zealand.

No democrats are republicans (D –> ~R). You’re not a democrat, so you must be a republican (~D –> R).

Confusing necessary with sufficient or sufficient with necessary:

A good party needs chips and beer. We have chips and beer, so it’s going to be a good party.

(Nope, there may be other necessary requirements to a good party, such as music, a place to have the party, actual other people…)

Chopping off your leg is a guarantee that you’ll lose 30 pounds. Bill lost 30 pounds, so he must have chopped off his leg.

(There are other sufficient ways to lose 30 pounds.)

GMAT examples:

The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition, by GMAC®, question number 103: Remember this?

“For a trade embargo [TE]…to succeed, a high degree of both international accord [IA] and ability to prevent goods [PG]…must be sustained.”

One of the wrong answers says:

(B) As long as international opinion is unanimously against Patria, a trade embargo is likely to succeed.

Which is a whole lot like saying: “I have chips, so it’s going to be a good party!”

Even on other kinds of questions, the GMAT will confuse necessary/sufficient in wrong answers:

From the GMATPrep® 2.1 CAT exam practice test*, on one assumption question, the argument states:

“The interview is an essential part of a successful hiring program”

(Interview is necessary: SHP –> Int.)

Whereas one of the wrong answers states:

“A hiring program will be successful if it includes interviews.”

(An interview is sufficient: Int. –> SHP)

Syllogism Fallacies:

Be careful how you link syllogisms. Make sure they chain up correctly.

Invalid:

P) A –> B

P) A –> C

C) B –> C

Many wrong answers do this in weird ways. See Official Guide question 103:

“(E) For a blockade of Patria’s ports to be successful, international opinion must be unanimous.”

Either/Or fallacies (Affirming the disjunct)

We’ve covered this already, but to sum up: When you see “or” statements on the GMAT, pay attention to the precise phrasing.

Are the two things mutually exclusive (Cats and Dogs)? If so, do those two categories account for everything in the universe? Or are there possibilities of being other things? If so, you might want to diagram it as follows:

C –> ~D

D –> ~C

So it would be invalid to say: “That’s not a dog, so it must be a cat.” (~D –> C). You never know, it might be a wombat or the Empire State Building.

Seems obvious, but people do it all the time: (You’re not a democrat, so you must be a republican.)

On the other hand, is it a simple “or” statement that leaves the possibility of both things being true? (See disjunctive syllogism way earlier). “A or B” should be diagramed as:

~A –> B

~B –> A

Premise: My light doesn’t work. Either the power is out or the bulb is blown.

(~P or ~B)

Valid conclusion: The power is working, so the bulb must be blown. (P, so ~B)

Invalid conclusion: The bulb is blown, so the power must be working. (~B, so P) (Both things could be true)

Again, check out Official Guide questions 41 and 45!

IN CONCLUSION

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. The most important rule to remember is this:

Premise) A –> B

Conclusion) ~B –> ~A

Wrong) B –> A, ~A –> B

Otherwise, I just wanted to expand your mind a little, make you aware of the ways in which the GMAT construct right and wrong answers, and to give you some tools to deeply analyze tough Critical Reasoning questions.

From now on when you struggle with a CR question, try to figure out which logical fallacy the test writers used to construct each wrong answer (during the review process, NOT on the test itself).

For example: take the HDL problem we discussed earlier. You now know how the correct answer was written. What about the incorrect ones? Can you spot the fallacies at work? Please discuss in the comments section.

Increases in the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the human bloodstream lower bloodstream-cholesterol levels by increasing the body’s capacity to rid itself of excess cholesterol. Levels of HDL in the bloodstream of some individuals are significantly increased by a program of regular exercise and weight reduction.

Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the statements above?

(A) Individuals who are underweight do not run any risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

(B) Individuals who do not exercise regularly have a high risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream late in life.

(C) Exercise and weight reduction are the most effective methods of lowering bloodstream cholesterol levels in humans.

(D) A program of regular exercise and weight reduction lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of some individuals.

(E) Only regular exercise is necessary to decrease cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of individuals of average weight.

Have fun! There’s a cool quiz here: http://www.think-logically.co.uk/lt.htm

More to come. If there are specific issues or questions you want me to cover, let me know.

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

* The text excerpted above from The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition is copyright GMAC (the Graduate Management Admissions Council). The short excerpts are quoted under fair-use statutes for scholarly or journalistic work; use of these excerpts does not imply endorsement of this article by GMAC.

Primary source: Critical Thinking, by Jamie Carlin Watson and Robert Arp. Continuum International Publishing.
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 05 Feb 2014, 10:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: 3 Steps to Better Geometry
Image
A couple of months ago, we talked about what to do when a geometry problem pops up on the screen. Do you remember the basic steps? Try to implement them on the below GMATPrep® problem from the free tests.

* ”In the xy-plane, what is the y-intercept of line L?

“(1) The slope of line L is 3 times its y-intercept

“(2) The x-intercept of line L is – 1/3”

My title (3 Steps to Better Geometry) is doing double-duty. First, here’s the general 3-step process for any quant problem, geometry included:

Image

All geometry problems also have three standard strategies that fit into that process.

First, pick up your pen and start drawing! If they give you a diagram, redraw it on your scrap paper. If they don’t (as in the above problem), draw yourself a diagram anyway. This is part of your Glance-Read-Jot step.

Second, identify the “wanted” element and mark this element on your diagram. You’ll do this as part of the Glance-Read-Jot step, but do it last so that it leads you into the Reflect-Organize stage. Where am I trying to go? How can I get there?

Third, start Working! Infer from the given information. Geometry on the GMAT can be a bit like the proofs that we learned to do in high school. You’re given a couple of pieces of info to start and you have to figure out the 4 or 5 steps that will get you over to the answer, or what you’re trying to “prove.”

Let’s dive into this problem. They’re talking about a coordinate plane, so you know the first step: draw a coordinate plane on your scrap paper. The question indicates that there’s a line L, but you don’t know anything else about it, so you can’t actually draw it. You do know, though, that they want to know the y-intercept. What does that mean?

They want to know where line L crosses the y-axis. What are the possibilities?

Infinite, really. The line could slant up or down or it could be horizontal. In any of those cases, it could cross anywhere. In fact, the line could even be vertical, in which case it would either be right on the y-axis or it wouldn’t cross the y-axis at all. Hmm.

Make some kind of symbol on your diagram to indicate that you want to know where the line crosses the x-axis. On my diagram, I drew a big arrow pointing straight down to the top of the y-axis line.

Okay, what’s next? Ah, the statements! What can you infer from the first one?

“(1) The slope of line L is 3 times its y-intercept”

It’s tough to put this one on the diagram—how would you draw it? This is actually a really big clue for you.

Your whole goal is to try to figure out whether there’s just one way to draw the line or more than one. Because this is data sufficiency, try to “disprove” the statement: that is, try to find more than one y-intercept that is acceptable. If so, then the statement is not sufficient.

Let’s see. Say the y-intercept is 1. Then the slope would be 3. Is that allowed? Sure! The problem doesn’t set any limits for the value of the slope.

What if the y-intercept is 2? Then the slope would be 6. Is that allowed? Yep, for the same reason as above.

Boom. That’s two possible values for the y-intercept, so the statement is insufficient. Eliminate answers (A) and (D) and move on to the second statement.

“(2) The x-intercept of line L is – 1/3”

Cool, a concrete piece of information. Put it on your diagram. Okay, now where could the y-intercept be?

Oh. Anywhere! There’s no information at all about the rest of the line, including the y-intercept. Not sufficient! Cross off answer (B).

Okay, here comes the tricky part: put the two statements together.

“(1) The slope of line L is 3 times its y-intercept”

“(2) The x-intercept of line L is – 1/3”

Quick! What’s your initial instinct, right now? If you had to guess immediately, without thinking about this at all, would you guess that these two piece of info will answer the question or that they won’t?

In my experience, most people will think that they do. In fact, before I actually worked through the problem myself, it did sort of seem like the two statements would work together. After all, you’ve got one point (the x-intercept) as well as info about the slope. Shouldn’t that be enough? Is there really more than one way to draw that line?

Here’s the thing: I was immediately wary of that “impression” because I’ve learned through (painful!) experience that, on data sufficiency, when something “feels” a certain way… the opposite answer is often true. So let’s dig in.

Many people, if not most, will try to combine the two pieces of info algebraically. I thought of two ways to do this.

First, translate statement one into an equation. Call the slope m and the y-intercept b. The equation is m = 3b. Substitute that equation into the standard slope-intercept equation y = mx + b:

y = (3b)x + b

You have one true point, the x-intercept: ( – 1/3, 0). Plug the point in and see what you get for b:

0 = (3b)(- 1/3) + b

0 = -b + b

0 = 0

Huh. That’s funny. If you really know your math, then you’ll know what this outcome means: b could be anything. Most people, though, figure that they made a mistake somewhere or that this isn’t a valid way to solve.

So maybe they try this next:

Image

We have two points: ( – 1/3 , 0) and (0, b) where b is the y-intercept:

Image

Hmm, so the slope equals 3b…wait a second! This statement is just saying that m = 3b. That’s what statement one says by itself and you already decided that’s not sufficient.

Again, many people will assume they made a mistake here, but the real answer is that you’re getting this result because there are infinite possibilities for the y-intercept.

How are you going to prove that to yourself? Fall back to the “try some real numbers” technique that you’ve already been using.

So, the x-intercept is – 1/3. Look at your coordinate plane. Pick a value for the y-intercept. How about 1? Okay, if the y-intercept is 1, then the slope is:

Image

Does that fit the equation from statement 1? Yep, the slope is 3 times bigger than the y-intercept.

What if you make the y-intercept 2? Then, the slope is:

Image

Check it out. The slope, 6, is once again 3 times bigger than the y-intercept, 2. There are at least two possibilities, so you’re done.

The correct answer is (E).

Key Takeaways for Better Geometry

(1) Draw! This is key for any geometry problem. There are too many moving parts; you need to keep track of everything in a clear way.

(2) On Data Sufficiency, you can try to “prove” the statements mathematically… but unless geometry is your favorite subject, you may drive yourself a little nuts. If the problem lends itself to what we call Testing Cases (testing numbers to find different possibilities, as we did above), then go for it!

(3) Start using your 3 steps for geometry: Draw. ID the “wanted” element. Infer.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 06 Feb 2014, 08:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Advanced Critical Reasoning, Part 3: Strike a P.O.S.E.
Image
My last two articles (part 1 and part 2) gave you some advanced tools to analyze deductive reasoning. Now it’s time to dive into the wonderful world of inductive reasoning, which appears much more often, especially in the following GMAT question types:

• Assumption

• Strengthen

• Weaken

• Evaluate

• Fill in the blank

• Identify the role

• Identify the overall reasoning

• Identify the conclusion

• Mimic the reasoning (sometimes)

According to Wikipedia:

“Inductive reasoning (as opposed to deductive reasoning) is reasoning in which the premises seek to supply strong evidence for (not absolute proof of) the truth of the conclusion. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is supposed to be certain, the truth of an inductive argument is supposed to be probable, based upon the evidence given.”

Therefore, in inductive arguments, conclusions are a matter of opinion, some more strongly supported than others.

Beyond the basics: P.O.S.E.

First, from class and your own study, you should be able to DECONSTRUCT arguments–in other words, identify the background, conclusion, premises, counterpoint, and counter premises of all inductive arguments. Our books cover that skill thoroughly if you need more work.

Next, you should learn to categorize each conclusion by type.

Fortunately, the GMAT uses only a few basic argument patterns, with similar assumptions and a limited number of ways to strengthen or weaken those assumptions. If you can spot and name those patterns, you’re well on your way to drastically improving your CR score.

I combed through every available CR question I could find, and discovered that the GMAT only writes 4 types of conclusions: predictions, opinions, solutions, and explanations (acronym P.O.S.E.)

Predictions: Something that “will” happen sometime in the future, using past or present circumstances to make that prediction.

Opinions: Interpretations of facts or data–often value judgments (good/bad/true false). I use “opinion” as a catchall category for anything that doesn’t fall under the other three.

Solutions: Plans, recommendations, solutions to problems, strategies, or suggestions of what someone “should” or “must” do.

Explanations: WHY something happened, or the cause of some phenomenon.

In future articles, I’ll divide the pie even more, showing you how the GMAT uses logical fallacies so common that they have Latin names, but for now let’s just stick to the big four.

P.O.S.E. Exercise:

The following are conclusions quoted from The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition, by GMAC®, questions 27 – 42. Name the TYPE. Is it a solution, prediction or explanation? If you can’t name it as one of those three, just call it an opinion for now. If you want more information, open your book and look at the whole argument, including the question stem. Write down your ideas before you look at mine.

27. “Clearly, therefore, insurance companies are making a greater profit on collision-damage insurance in Greatport than in Fairmmont.”

28. “Clearly, it can be concluded that the number of new jobs created this year will fall short of last years record.”

29. “The government ministry plans to reassure worried gardeners by…”

30. “To help track the ruffle’s spread, government agencies have produced wallet-sized cards about the ruffle.”

31. “This fact, however, does not indicate that most chickens are immune to the virus…”

32. “We can conclude that inflation is on an upward trend and the rate will still be higher next year. ”

33. “This proposal, however, is ill conceived.”

34. “…for economic reasons alone the board should be disbanded.”

35. “Thus, the loss to the industry is quite small…”

36. “That assumption, however, is evidently false.”

37. “Therefore, the decrease in coffee consumption must have been caused by consumer’s awareness of the harmful effects of coffee.”

38. “It should be expected that…”

39. “Thus, Sviatovin must have been written between 1165 and 1167…”

40. “The Mooreville Transit authority plans to…Officials predict that…”

41. “Therefore, by installing scrubbers, Northern Power will be doing the most that can be done…”

42. “Therefore, to reduce shipping time, Trancorp plans to switch to trains…”

Answers: (If you saw something different, let me know in the comments section, and we can debate!)

27. Opinion (interpretation of studies)

28. Prediction

29. Solution/Plan. Check out the word “plan” in the question, too!

30. Solution/Plan. Check out the word “action” in the question…

31. Opinion. If you said explanation, I’ll accept that.

32. Prediction. The word “will” is a big hint.

33. Solution (or rejection of a solution). “Proposal” is usually some kind of solution or recommendation.

34. Solution

35. Opinion

36. Opinion

37. Explanation! The words “caused by” are a big hint.

38. Prediction

39. Opinion

40. Solution (“plans to”) AND prediction.

41. Opinion. Not quite a prediction of the future, despite the word “will.”

42. Solution

How’d you do? You can do this exercise with the WHOLE official guide in less than an hour. I highly recommend it!

But why?

Wouldn’t it be nice, on the real GMAT, to see a dozen arguments you’ve seen a hundred times already? Similar conclusions have similar assumptions. And similar assumptions have similar ways to strengthen, weaken, and evaluate. If you can categorize using P.O.S.E, you can answer everything faster and more accurately.

ANALYSIS WITH REAL GMAT QUESTIONS

Here are the basics of how to analyze and answer using P.O.S.E.:

OPINIONS

As I said before, every inductive conclusion is an opinion. Therefore, I’m going to start here. The generic pattern is as follows:

Conclusion: Opinion, interpretation, declarative statement, or judgment call.

Premises: Facts, information, data, statistics, circumstances, etc.

Assumptions: The author is assuming that the facts are RELEVANT to his or her conclusion, the facts are SUFFICIENT to prove the conclusion (with a high probability), and there are NO OTHER FACTORS that would decrease the probability of the conclusion.

Strengthen: Add factual evidence that increases the probability of the conclusion. Conversely, you can remove/disprove a factor that would decrease the probability of the conclusion.

Weaken: Add evidence (another factor) that decreases the probability of the conclusion.

GMAT example: Art’s Decline from GMATPrep® practice test software.

Reviewer: The book Art’s Decline argues that European painters today lack skills that were common among European painters of preceding centuries. In this the book must be right, since its analysis of 100 paintings, 50 old and 50 contemporary, demonstrates convincingly that none of the contemporary paintings are executed as skillfully as the older paintings.

Which of the following points to the most serious logical flaw in the reviewer’s argument?

(A) The paintings chosen by the book’s author for analysis could be those that most support the book’s thesis.

(B) There could be criteria other than the technical skill of the artist by which to evaluate a painting.

(C) The title of the book could cause readers to accept the book’s thesis even before they read the analysis of the paintings that supports it.

(D) The particular methods currently used by European painters could require less artistic skill than do methods used by painters in other parts of the world.

(E) A reader who was not familiar with the language of art criticism might not be convinced by the book’s analysis of the 100 paintings.

Analysis:

1) RTFQ

Some LSAT teachers might call this a “flaw” question, but since the correct answer will attack the conclusion, you can just call it a “weaken” question.

2) Deconstruct

Conclusion: “In this [painters today lack skills] the book must be right.”

Notice how this is more of a value judgment than a prediction, explanation, or solution, so we can just call it a general “opinion.”

Premise: In the 100 paintings in the book, the 50 old ones were more skilled than the 50 contemporary.

With any opinion, ask yourself the following questions:

Are the premises RELEVANT? Are these 100 paintings representative of ALL old and contemporary paintings?

Are the premises SUFFICIENT? Are 100 paintings enough to prove a blanket statement about all European artists?

Could there be OTHER FACTORS? Are there other paintings not in the book that might disprove this conclusion?

3) State the goal:

We need to find an answer that proves these 100 paintings are irrelevant/unrepresentative, or that there’s another factor that makes contemporary painters just as skilled, if not more skilled, than the old ones.

4) POE (Process Of Elimination)

The correct answer (A) indicates that the paintings might have been selected to prove the thesis (an unrepresentative sample), and suggests there may be other paintings that disprove the conclusion.

PREDICTIONS

Key words: predict, will, probably, future, trend, etc.

Conclusion: Something “will” happen in the future.

Premises: A description of past events, or a description of the present.

Assumptions: The past (or present) is the same as the future, with no significant differences. Nothing will change to affect the future.

To strengthen: Show that nothing will change, that trends occurring in the present will continue in the same direction.

To weaken: Show that something significant is going to change.

GMAT Example: Gortland from GMATPrep® practice test software.

Gortland has long been narrowly self-sufficient in both grain and meat. However, as per capita income in Gortland has risen toward the world average, per capita consumption of meat has also risen toward the world average, and it takes several pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. Therefore, since per capita income continues to rise, whereas domestic grain production will not increase, Gortland will soon have to import either grain or meat or both.

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

(A)The total acreage devoted to grain production in Gortland will soon decrease.

(B)Importing either grain or meat will not result in a significantly higher percentage of Gortlands’ incomes being spent on food that is currently the case.

(C)The per capita consumption of meat in Gortland is increasing at roughly the same rate across all income levels.

(D)The per capita income of meat producers in Gortland is rising faster than the per capita income of grain producers.

(E) People in Gortland who increase their consumption of meat will not radically decrease their consumption of grain.

Analysis:

1) RTFQ:

First of all, this is an assumption question. The answer will support the argument. In fact, the argument won’t hold up without this assumption.

2) Deconstruct:

Conclusion: “Gortland will soon have to import grain or meat or both.”

AHA! The word “will” indicates the author is making a prediction.

Predictions often make the assumption that nothing else will change. We know consumption of meat is in the rise, so the author is assuming that consumption of grain will stay the same.

3) State the goal:

I predict that the answer will say something to the effect of “nothing else changes.”

4) POE (Process Of Elimination)

The only two answers that imply, “things WON’T change” are (B) and (E). But (B) mentions income, which is irrelevant to the prediction. And if people did decrease their grain consumption, the conclusion would fall apart. (E) must be the answer.

EXPLANATIONS

(By the way, I plan a whole future article on causal/correlation flaws, so this is just an intro.)

Key words: due to, result of, cause, because, reason why, etc.

Conclusion: Event A caused Event B (causation).

Premises: Event A occurred. Event B also occurred (correlation).

Assumptions: Event A is the only cause. There are no other causes. Event B did not cause event A (not reversed). It’s not a coincidence.

To strengthen: Provide evidence for a causal link. Eliminate potential other causes. Show that the purported cause happened first (and very close in time). With a control group, show what happens when you remove the proposed cause (no cause = the effect should go away).

To weaken: Show evidence another cause. Prove it was a coincidence. Show the cause without the effect. Show the effect without the cause. Show that B was actually the cause of A.

GMAT Example: Sea Otters from GMATPrep® practice test software.

In the late 1980s, the population of sea otters in the North Pacific began to decline. There are two plausible explanations for the decline: predation, possibly by killer whales, or disease. Of these two, disease is the more likely, since a concurrent sharp decline in populations of seals and sea lions is believed to have been caused by disease, and diseases that infect these creatures are likely to be able to infect sea otters also.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the reasoning?

(A) Killer whales in the North Pacific usually prey on seals and sea lions but will, when this food source is scarce, seek out other prey.

(B) There is no indication that the sea otter population at any North Pacific location declined in the 1980s because of substantial numbers of sea otters migrating to other locations.

(C) Along the Pacific coast of North America in the 1980s, sea otters were absent from many locations where they had been relatively common in former times.

(D) Following the decline in the population of the sea otters, there was an increase in the population of sea urchins, which are sea otters’ main food source.

(E) The North Pacific populations of seals and sea lions cover a wider geographic area than does the population of sea otters.

Analysis:

1) RTFQ

This is a weaken question. The answer will provide evidence against the conclusion.

2) Deconstruct

“There are two possible explanations […] Of these two, disease is more likely.”

Hey! Looks like we have an “explanation” argument.

In this case, we need to weaken the explanation of disease. The best way to weaken an explanation is to provide evidence of alternative cause–in this case, killer whales.

3) State the goal.

We’re looking for an answer that suggests killer whales are killing the otters.

4) POE

The only answer that even mentions killer whales is (A). And if seals and sea lions are dying of disease, then the killer whales will be going after other food, namely the otters! The answer must be (A).

SOLUTIONS/PLANS

Key words: plan, strategy, proposal, policy, solution, recommendation, action, must, should, profit, etc.

Conclusion: Solution, Plan, or recommendation.

Premises: Problem or situation that need to be improved. Reasons the plan will work.

Assumptions: The solution is effective and complete. It will actually work to cure causes of the problem. The benefits of the solution outweigh the costs, downsides, and side effects. The solution won’t be worse than the problem itself.

To Strengthen: Provide evidence that support the above assumptions.

To Weaken: Show that the costs or side effects outweigh the benefits. Prove the solution is ineffective or incomplete.

GMAT Example: Seaweed solution from GMATPrep® practice test software.

Scientists are discussing ways to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by increasing the amount that is absorbed by plant life. One plan to accomplish this is to establish giant floating seaweed farms in the oceans. When the seaweed plants die, they will be disposed of by being burned for fuel.

Which of the following, if true, would indicate the most serious weakness in the plan above?

(A) Some areas of ocean in the Southern Hemisphere do not contain sufficient nutrients to support large seaweed farms.

(B) When a seaweed plant is burned, it releases an amount of carbon dioxide comparable to the amount it has absorbed in its lifetime.

(C) Even if seaweed farms prove effective, some people will be reluctant to switch to this new fuel.

(D) Each year about seven billion tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere but only about five billion tons are absorbed by plant life.

(E) Seaweed farms would make more money by farming seaweed to sell as nutritional supplements than by farming seaweed to sell as fuel.

Analysis:

1) RTFQ

This is a weaken question. The answer will provide evidence against the conclusion.

2) Deconstruct

“One plan to accomplish this is to establish giant seaweed farms… ”

The word “plan” tells us we have a “solution” argument.

Problem: excess carbon dioxide.

Solution: giant floating seaweed farms to absorb carbon dioxide.

Whenever you’re confronted with a plan or solution, you have to weigh the benefits of the plan against the costs, side effects, and potential downsides.

To weaken a plan, you need to suggest that there’s an unconsidered BAD thing about the plan…

3) State the goal.

We’re looking for an answer that says the seaweed farms are a BAD idea for some reason, especially related to CO2…

4) POE

(A) This seems to suggest that the plan won’t work in some places. This weakens a little, but not enough. We can just put the seaweed farms in a place where they will grow.

(B) HEY! This suggests that burning the plants will release ALL the C02 back into the atmosphere, a serious drawback to the plan to reduce CO2.

(D) This, in a way, actually strengthens the argument…

Looks like (B) shows a big negative side effect of the plan. This must be the answer.

Wrapping up:

Try this on your own with 100 more GMAT examples, especially ones you’ve gotten wrong in the past. Keep track of ways the GMAT likes to strengthen and weaken each type of P.O.S.E conclusion–you’re almost guaranteed to see it again.

Have fun! See you in the land of formal fallacies next!

* The text excerpted above from The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition is copyright GMAC® (the Graduate Management Admissions Council). The short excerpts are quoted under fair-use statutes for scholarly or journalistic work; use of these excerpts does not imply endorsement of this article by GMAC.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 11 Feb 2014, 07:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Andrew Yang: “Smart People Should Build Things” Excerpt 6
Below is an excerpt from Andrew Yang‘s new book, Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America, which comes out in February 2014. Andrew was named Managing Director of Manhattan GMAT in 2006, Chief Executive Officer in 2007, and President in 2010. He left Manhattan GMAT in 2010 to start Venture for America, where he now serves as Founder and CEO.

Image
The Qualities We Need.  

A friend told me about a young Princeton graduate she knew named Cole. Cole studied mathematics and went to work for a hedge fund directly out of school. He’s now making well into six figures at the age of twenty-four. That’s his whole story to date.

That’s success and the American way. And yet how excited are you about Cole’s trajectory? Think about it for a second. I’ll admit that I’m not too psyched about it, even though I have friends at hedge funds who are very intelligent, stand-up guys and even philanthropists, and I know that hedge funds are positive in that they provide diversified investment opportunities to large pools of capital.

My lack of enthusiasm comes down to a few things. If Cole successfully analyzes an opportunity for the hedge fund and it invests slightly more effectively, that will be a win for the fund’s managers and its investors. But there will very likely be an equivalent loss on the other side of the investment (whoever sold it to them makes out slightly less well for having undervalued the asset). It’s not clear what the macroeconomic benefit is, unless you either favor the hedge fund’s investors over others or have a very abstract view toward capital markets working efficiently.

Cole is almost certainly very smart. But what has he done to merit his almost immediately elevated stature in life? He’s never hazarded anything. He hasn’t demonstrated any outstanding character or virtue, unless you consider studying math and being really smart intrinsically virtuous. He’s never had to go against the grain or go out on a limb. His rewards seem a little bit exaggerated for his accomplishments.

Finally, Cole’s life is very quickly going to become quite different from that of the vast majority of humanity. His housing, education, and professional circles will take him into rarefied air. He’ll donate to causes and he’ll retain an intellectual interest in policy matters. But his experiences are going to be wildly divergent and probably make it tougher for him to understand others’ customary everyday concerns and struggles over the coming years. Ultimately, Cole’s pursuits don’t reflect a sense of value creation, risk and reward, or the common good.

Not to say that Cole’s not a good dude. I have no idea. I’ve never met him. And if your daughter got engaged to him five years from now you would probably think she was all set (and your grandkids would be good at math).

Our culture of achievement has grown to emphasize visions of success that are, for the most part, fairly predictable. Cole skipped a couple of steps. The basic plan is to go to Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, or the like, then maybe to a top-ranked business school, then back to banking, consulting, private equity, hedge funds, or a name-brand tech company.  Or maybe go from law school to top firm to partner or in-house at an investment firm, and live in New York, San Francisco, Boston, or Washington, DC.*

Again, these institutions and roles are necessary, and they’re natural developments in our economy. We need them. But we need people doing other things too. We need people willing to take risks and, yes, to occasionally fail. Like real-world consequences fail. We need people committed over extended periods of time to creating value, no matter how hard that is. We need people who care deeply about the work they’re doing.

Imagine someone who you think could stand to take on some risk—someone well educated who would always have something to fall back on, whose family might have some resources so he would be unlikely to starve. And this person would probably be young and free of major life obligations. Someone sort of like . . . Cole.

What’s interesting is that many of the people I meet who are young, highly educated, and from good families are among the most risk-averse. They feel like they need to be making progress along a ladder with each passing month or year. Their parents have often set high expectations for them. They measure themselves each period against their peers, who are generally following various well-defined paths.

Yet, as Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and others have pointed out, remarkable careers are unlikely to advance in a straightforward, linear fashion.  They are more likely to contain breakout opportunities that lead to unusually rapid gains (and, of course, relative dips and plateaus).

We need smart and hardworking people to build businesses around the country as much as or more than we need them to do anything else. We need more intelligent risk takers and value creators who see their communities reflected in the work they do. We need to restore the culture of achievement to include value creation, risk and reward, and the common good so that more of our top people are in position to create new enterprises and opportunities.

If we succeed in this, our best and brightest will build the engines of future economic growth. If we don’t, our talent will continue to heed purely market-based incentives, our economy will likely continue to underperform, and our culture will become more and more bifurcated.

I just had a son. I’d like him to be very well educated. But I don’t want him to necessarily enter a parallel universe where everyone is smart, well paid, and well dressed while the rest of the country wonders where the jobs went.

This is easy to say, but very hard to achieve. People like Cole have every factor turning them toward their current choices; they’re heavily recruited and offered money, prestige, training, a network, community, and opened doors. Expecting people like Cole to completely ignore these inducements is unrealistic.

What would the ideal be? There’s a renewable energy startup in Providence, Rhode Island, called VCharge that probably could have used Cole too. Its chief science officer, Jessica Millar, has a PhD in math from MIT. VCharge is trying to make our energy grid more efficient using energy storage and transmission algorithms. It’s not a sure thing, but if it succeeds we’ll all be better off for it.

How could you get Cole to head to VCharge instead of to the hedge fund? First, you would hope that immediate income maximization is not the main driver—maybe Cole has a longer time horizon, believes he can make money down the road, and thinks that tinkering with the power grid sounds interesting. Maybe he even has an instinct toward value creation, building things, and having an impact. And second, you could employ resources to recruit him and offer him prestige, training, network, a community, and open doors to head in that direction. You could make it a rational, principled choice as opposed to a vague hope that he decides to do something value creating.

One entrepreneur I met said, “You don’t want to be in the army, you want to be an arms dealer.” He meant that you want to build a business that doesn’t rely upon someone winning or losing but that would benefit from supplying both sides (say, a component manufacturer like Qualcomm that sells to all smartphones, as opposed to a smartphone manufacturer that has to duke it out in competition with the others).

The quote sounded smart, but I’ve concluded that if our young people all follow his advice, we’re sunk.

One reason the finance business is always busy is that it functions much like the arms dealer. You don’t need to figure out precisely who’s going to win or lose. You wait until a business gets to a certain point, and then you help them access capital in the form of equity or debt, give them a credit line, and help them get acquired. And if a company goes down, you’re there to assist with reorganizations, divestitures, and bankruptcies.

Yet the real innovation and value are being created by the fighters who are forming little squads and cobbling together businesses. Some fail, some succeed. If they succeed, they wind up building an army that’s providing new software, better services, tastier food, or whatever else the world needs. They also create organizations that form the character of the people in the army who believe in what they’re doing.

Which would you rather have, better arms dealers or better fighters? And which should our young people want to be?

Personally, I always dreamed about going into the woods and fighting the dragon, not selling the guy a sword.

 

* There’s also the path of going to med school, becoming a surgeon or other specialist and performing procedures three or four days a week. We have an acute shortage of primary care physicians because the achievers we cultivate to be doctors adopt rational incentives: if they specialize they’ll make more money and likely work fewer hours than if they’re frontline doctors who see patients every day.

From SMART PEOPLE SHOULD BUILD THINGS by Andrew Yang© 2014 Andrew Yang. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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New post 11 Feb 2014, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: 4 Steps to Get the Most out of your CATs (part 1)
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How many practice tests have you taken so far? Are you satisfied—or frustrated—with your progress?

One of the biggest mistakes I see students make is also relatively easy to fix: they don’t learn what they should be learning from their practice tests. This is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

#1 You don’t get better while taking a CAT
Wait, how is this a step to get the most out of your CATs?? Read on.

Have you ever done this? You take a test, but aren’t happy with your score, so within a week or so, you take another test.

Bad move! First, you already have all of the info that you need in that first test; your skills aren’t going to change radically in a week. You just wasted 4 hours of valuable study time (not to mention, one of your limited practice tests!) in order to get the same data that you already know.

Alternatively, have you read online that someone out there took 14 practice tests in a 6-week period and swears by this method of studying because he then got a 760? If you do just what he did, you’ll get a 760 too!

Sadly, there’s a very good chance you won’t. Do you remember that one kid from your school, the one who was always excited when the standardized test days came around? She was super annoying because she just did well on these tests “naturally” and she actually liked taking them. (Yes, that was me.)

Here’s the thing: if these tests already just “make sense” to you, then sure, the brute force approach is likely to work. The thing is: those of us who can do this ARE actually analyzing this stuff just as much as you need to, but we do so more quickly than most, and almost without being aware that we’re doing it. The brute force method works for perhaps 1% of the population and if it were going to work for you, you’d already know it.

The first step, then, is to make this mindset switch: you’re going to use your CATs to practice what you’ve already learned and to provide data to help you continue to learn after the CAT is over. You should be able to find a bare minimum of 2 weeks’ worth of things to do based on your assessment of one CAT. That takes us to step #2…

#2 Use your CATs to learn your Strengths and Weaknesses
Sometime early on in your study, you’re going to take a practice test. Don’t put this off! You need to know your strengths and weaknesses so that you can set up your study plan and prioritize the right things.

In fact, that’s the single biggest value of taking a practice test: learning your strengths and weaknesses and using that data to inform your study for the next 3 to 6 weeks until you take another practice test.

I’ll base my discussion on the metrics that are given in ManhattanGMAT tests, but you can extrapolate to other tests that give you similar performance data. You will likely need at least 60 minutes to do this analysis, not counting any time spent analyzing individual problems.

Before you start the analysis itself, learn what the GMAT really tests. (Seriously, go read that right now, then come back here.)

First, naturally, look at the overall score! Did you do the essay and IR sections? If not, assume the Quant + Verbal score is a little inflated because you wouldn’t have been as mentally tired as normal when you got to those sections.

Ditto if you used the pause button, took extra time, took longer breaks than allowed, or did anything else that wouldn’t be allowed under official testing guidelines.

The not-so-hidden message here: it really is best to take a full test (including essay and IR) under 100% official conditions. You’ll get the best data and the most realistic picture of your current skill set and scoring level.

Next, pull up the problem list for each of the 3 sections with multiple choice questions (Quant, Verbal, and IR). The problem lists show each question, in order as you took the test, as well as various data points about those questions.

“Correct / Incorrect” Column

Any strings of 4+ questions wrong?

  • If so, look at time spent. Were you low on time and rushing?
  • Alternatively, were they really hard? Maybe you should have gotten them wrong.
  • Think back to how you felt on these problems. A common scenario: the first one or two are really hard, so you spend extra time. You get them wrong because they’re hard. You know you spent extra time, so you speed up on the next couple and make careless mistakes, getting those wrong as well.
“Cumulative Time” vs. “Target Cumulative Time”

How closely did you stick to the expected timeframe? It’s completely normal to be off by + / – 2 minutes, and I’m not too concerned as long as you’re within + / – 3 minutes.

  • Are you 3+ minutes behind (too slow)? If so, where was that extra time spent? How well did you really do on those problems? (They should be all or mostly correct, since you chose to allocate extra time to them! If not, start cutting yourself off.)
  • Are you 3+ minutes ahead (too fast)? If so, where are you picking up that time? How well did you do on those problems? If you knew you didn’t know how to do a problem it’s fine to answer fast. If you were going quickly because you did know how to do it, though, then be careful: that’s a recipe for careless mistakes.
“Time” Column

Even if your cumulative time was fine, you might still exhibit a very common problem: up and down timing. This is when you spend way too much time on some problems and then speed up on others to catch back up. Your overall timing works out, but you still have a serious timing imbalance on individual problems.

Click on the Time column itself. This will re-sort the questions from fastest to slowest.

  • How many “too fast” questions did you miss or get right via luck? If you knew you didn’t know how to do the problem and chose to guess quickly, then you don’t need to count that problem.
  • How many “too slow” questions did you miss? You should have cut yourself off faster!
  • Did you have any crazy-slow problems (e.g. double time)? Even if you got it right, maybe you should have gotten it wrong must faster and spent that time elsewhere.
Here are the timing metrics by Quant and Verbal problem type:

Problem Type
Too Fast
“Warning Track”
Way Too Slow

Quant
< 1m15s
2m30s to 3m
>3m

CR
< 1m15s
2m30s to 3m
> 3m

SC
< 30s
1m45s to 2m
> 2m

RC: 1st question*
<2m
5m to 5m30s
> 5m30s

RC: general Qs
< 30s
1m30s to 2m
> 2m

RC: specific Qs
< 1m
2m to 2m30s
> 2m30s

*The first RC question includes the time it takes to read the passage.

Here are the timing metrics for IR, depending on your “skip” strategy*:

Skip
Too Fast
“Warning Track”
Way Too Slow

0 questions
< 1m
3m to 3.5m
>3.5m

2 questions
< 1.5m
3m30s to 4m
> 4m

4 questions
< 1.5m
4m15s to 4m30s
> 4m30s

*You can’t actually skip an IR question; the “skip” strategy refers to the number of problems on which you’ll make an immediate, random guess in order to save time for other problems.

If you have more than a few questions in the too fast or too slow categories (regardless of whether they’re right or wrong), then you’ve got a timing problem. For example, if you had 4 questions over 3m each, then you almost certainly missed other questions elsewhere simply due to speed—that extra time had to come from somewhere. You know those times when you realize you made an error on something that you knew how to do? Well, if you were also moving even a little bit quickly on that problem, your timing was at least partially a cause of that error.

Alternatively, if there is even one that is very far over the “way too slow” mark, you have a timing problem. If you have one quant question on which you spent 4m30s, you might let yourself do this on more questions on the real test—and there goes your score. (By the way, the only potentially acceptable reason is: I was at the end of the section and knew I had extra time, so I used it. And my next question would be: why did you have so much extra time?)

For each section, get a general sense of whether there is

  • not much of a timing problem (e.g., only 1 or 2 questions in the too fast or warning track range),
  • a small timing problem (e.g., 3 questions in the warning track range, or 1 problem in the way too slow category, plus a few “way too fast” questions), or
  • a large timing problem (e.g., 4+ questions in the warning track range, or 2+ questions that are way too slow, plus multiple “way too fast” questions).
Note that I don’t specify above whether the warning track and too slow questions were answered correctly or incorrectly. It isn’t (necessarily) okay to spend too much time just because the question was answered correctly.

Try to figure out roughly how bad the timing problem is. How many problems fit into the different categories? Approximately how much time total was spent on the “way too slow” problems? How many “too fast” questions did that cost you or could it have cost you? (If you answer something correctly in under 30 seconds… assume you got a little lucky that you did not make a mistake.) Examine the problems themselves to locate careless errors. How many of your careless errors occurred when you were rushing or just plain tired out because you’d spent too much mental effort on a too-hard problem?

Finally, are there any patterns in terms of the content area? For example, perhaps 80% of the “too slow” quant problems were problem solving problems or two of the “too slow” SC problems were modifier problems. Next time, we’re going to talk about how to use the assessment reports to dive more into this data, but do try to get a high level sense of any obvious patterns.

All of the above allows you to quantify just how bad any timing problems are. Now, I’m going to make a pronouncement that will wow you: you have a timing problem!

Actually, we all have timing problems. The question is just what yours are and how significant they are. If you’re having trouble letting go on hard questions, read this.

Everyone should read this article on time management.

Now we’re done looking at the problem lists; in the second half, we’ll analyze the data given in the assessment reports.
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2014, 10:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: 4 Steps to Get the Most out of your CATs (part 2)
Image
Last week, we talked about the first two elements of getting the most out of your CATs

#1: How NOT to use your practice CATs

#2: How to analyze your Strengths and Weaknesses with respect to timing

This week, we’re going to dive even further into Strengths and Weaknesses using the Assessment Reports.

#3: Run The Reports
Note: this article series is based on the metrics that are given in ManhattanGMAT tests, but you can extrapolate to other tests that give you similar performance data.

In the ManhattanGMAT system, click on the link “Generate Assessment Reports.” The first time, run the report based solely on the most recent test that you just did; later, we’ll aggregate data from your last two or three tests.

The first report produced is the Assessment Summary; this report provides the percentages correct for the five main Q and V question types, as well as average timing and difficulty levels. Here’s an example; see whether you can spot any problem areas.

 

Image

Most people will immediately say “Oh, this student is better at PS than DS.” Why? “Because the percentage correct is higher for PS.”

Actually, that’s the wrong takeaway for this particular set of results. It’s crucial to compare three data points at once: the percentage correct, the time spent, and the difficulty levels.

It’s true that the PS percentage correct is significantly higher. But look at that timing: the student is spending a lot longer on PS. DS is averaging well below the normal time of 2 minutes. Further, check out those difficulty levels; the correct answers are at the same level of difficulty!

It’s likely that the student’s DS percentage correct is artificially depressed because he’s just not spending enough time. I’d tell this student to start looking for careless errors—everywhere, but specifically on DS problems. He needs to learn to cut himself off on the harder PS problems (that he’s getting wrong anyway!) and reallocate that time to DS.

These kinds of results should catch your eye:

-       Percentages correct below approximately 50%, especially when coupled with lower average difficulty levels and higher average times. Note that I don’t consider DS a straight weakness for the above student, even though the percentage correct is below 50%. The other two data points indicate that the real culprit is the timing.

-       Average timing that is 30 seconds (or more) higher or lower than the expected average. The above student needs to take a look at timing on Word Problems (too slow) and Reading Comprehension (too fast).

-       A big discrepancy (more than 30 seconds) in average time for correct vs. incorrect questions of the same type; it’s normal to spend a little extra time on incorrect questions (because those are probably the harder ones!), but not a ton—that just means you’re being stubborn.

The second and third reports sort the questions by Question Format and Difficulty. Here’s an example of the Verbal report:

Image

Spot anything?

The student has done a phenomenal job on SC. I am wondering, though, why he was rushing so much on CR and RC. He should check these for careless mistakes. Or maybe mental fatigue was a factor? It might be worth checking out the Problem List again to see if he was speeding up as the test went on (and getting more wrong); that’s a classic sign of mental fatigue.

In these two reports, look for:

-       average timing that is 30 seconds (or more) higher or lower than the expected average, and whether that is happening on correct or incorrect questions (or both)

-       lower percentages correct on lower-level questions than on higher-level questions

In particular, these two things might appear together. If that happens, you might be spending too much time on incorrect higher-level questions and not enough time on lower-level questions (that you then get wrong because you’re rushing).

Note: the timing averages for Reading Comprehension can be misleading because the first question for each passage includes the time to read the passage itself. For Reading Comp, you need to dive back into the problem list to look at each problem individually in order to get a true picture of what happened.

Finally, we’re going to take a look at the fourth and fifth reports (Quant by Content Area and Topic, Verbal by Verbal Type and Topic). First, though, I suggest that you run the reports based on your last 2 or 3 tests rather than just your last test. We’re diving deep into the details with these final two reports, so there will be lots of categories with only one or two questions unless we add more data to the report.

If your last test was more than six weeks ago, though, then the data might be too old. You may also decide to look at these last two assessment reports based just on the last test first, and then run the reports again using your last two tests—your choice. If you use only one test, be aware that your analysis may need to be flexible for those sub-categories with only 1 question. If you get 0% of 1 question right, that doesn’t mean that area is a big weakness!

The fourth and fifth reports show all of the questions broken out by question type and sub-type or sub-topic. You’re going to use these reports, coupled with everything you’ve learned so far, to complete the 4th and final step of your analysis.

#4: Fill Your Buckets
You will have 5 buckets into which you are going to place all of these problems. Some of these buckets are good; others indicate where you need to concentrate your study efforts. Note that the guidelines I give are approximate. If something is only slightly higher or lower than it should be, and you feel comfortable with it, then you can still count that in a “good” bucket.

Before you dive in, you may want to run the assessment reports again. Often, certain categories will contain only 1 or 2 problems, so you will be able to do better analysis with more data. If you’ve taken other tests within the past month, include them at this stage. Don’t include more than 3 tests (you shouldn’t be taking that many within a month anyway!).

Okay, run the program again and go to the fourth and fifth reports.

Bucket 1. I get these right roughly within the expected timeframe (>50% right and neither way too slow nor way too fast).
These are your strengths. Make sure that you actually knew what you were doing for each problem and didn’t just get lucky! Going forward, they’re not high on your priority list, but there may still be things you can learn:

-       faster ways to do the problem

-       ways to make educated guesses (so that you can use the thought process on harder problems of the same type)

-       how to quickly recognize future problems of the same type.

You may want to move on to more advanced material in these areas.

Bucket 2. I get these wrong roughly within the expected timeframe (<50% right and neither way too slow nor way too fast).
These indicate a possible weakness in content or methodology, but check the difficulty levels—perhaps you just happened to get a couple of really hard ones in the same category.

First, figure out why you got each question wrong. If it was a high difficulty level, you got another lower-ranked question of the same type right, and you were fine with these on your last test, then your fundamentals may be good, and it may be time to lift your study into tougher areas for this particular question type or content area.

Alternatively, maybe you did know the material but you made careless mistakes. Figure out what mistakes you made and how you can minimize the chances of repeating that type of error.

Finally, something in this category may indicate a fundamental weakness. Is the material something you already studied? Return to it. Have you not studied it yet? That’s okay—but maybe it’s time to start. Is the material commonly or rarely tested? Prioritize the commonly tested material first. As needed, return to the relevant sections of your books.

Bucket 3: I get these wrong way too quickly (more than 30 seconds faster than expected)
Why were you going too fast on these?

If you chose to rush because you knew you didn’t know what to do (in other words, you made a guess and moved on), that’s a great outcome. Decide now whether you want to study this area further or continue to get these wrong fast. Everyone should have a few “my goal is to get these wrong fast” areas (mine are Combinatorics and 3D geometry).

If you chose to rush because you thought it was easy and then you made a careless mistake, add these to your error log, figure out what mistake you made, and remind yourself not to sacrifice a correct answer just to save 30 seconds!

Alternatively, if you were forced to speed up because you were low on time, then you need to fix your timing problems elsewhere in the section.

Bucket 4: I get these right way too slowly (more than 30 seconds slower than expected)
These are still weaknesses; it doesn’t matter that you’re getting them right! They’re costing you points elsewhere in the section—possibly more points than you earned by getting the too-slow ones right.

First, did you actually know what you were doing or did you get lucky? If you got lucky, move the problem to Bucket 5.

Figure out why the timing is higher and whether and how you can do these more efficiently. If the timing is just a little bit too high on one problem of that type, that may be okay—perhaps the problem is extra hard and long.

If you’re consistently going long, however, then figure out or research (a) more efficient solutions, or (b) the best way to recognize that this problem requires a certain set of steps, or (c) both. Don’t forget that, sometimes, the “solution” is actually to guess faster and move on. It’s usually better to get something wrong in 2 minutes than right in 4 minutes (because of the eventual consequences).

Bucket 5: I get these wrong way too slowly (more than 30 seconds slower than expected)
These are the biggest weaknesses, obviously. Get them wrong faster. I’m entirely serious. You’re getting them wrong anyway, so take less time to get them wrong! Re-allocate that time to questions from one of the other buckets, where additional time is more likely to make a difference.

What is slowing you down? The short answer is that you’re being stubborn: you likely knew you couldn’t do the problem but you didn’t want to let go. Go back to the first half of this article and read (or re-read!) the time management articles.

You may eventually be able to learn how to do some of these correctly and within normal time, but set these aside for now and concentrate on Buckets 2, 3 and 4. Don’t forget to have a few “My goal is to get problems like this wrong fast” categories.

One more thing: frequency
For all of the above, don’t forget to think about the frequency with which the material is tested. You might be terrible at 3D geometry (as I am), but that category is so rare that it’s not even worth studying. If, on the other hand, you’re also not so great at exponents and roots, you need to start studying; those topics are common. (If you’re not sure what is more or less frequently tested, ask your teacher or ask on the forums.)

The 4 Steps to Getting the Most out of your CATs
(1) Stop Taking So Many CATs. Get a minimum of 2 weeks’ worth of study out of each one.

(2) Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Start with an analysis of your timing, since bad timing will kill your score no matter how good you are with the actual material.

(3) Run the reports to dive into the content and question types. It’s critically important to evaluate your performance across all three main axes at once—percentage correct, timing, and difficulty.

(4) Fill Your Buckets. Concentrate on Buckets 2, 3 and 4. Every time you take a test, you’ll have new Buckets; you’ll be able to see your progress and adjust accordingly.

Read 4 Steps to Get the Most out of your CATs (part 1) and be sure to try our free GMAT practice test to test your skills.
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 19 Feb 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: What do you want to get wrong on the GMAT?
Image
Right now, you might be thinking, “Wait, what? I don’t actively want to get stuff wrong!”

In fact, yes, you do. Let me take you on what might seem like a tangent for a moment.

Would you agree that one of the marks of a strong business person is the ability to tell the difference between good opportunities and bad ones? And the ability to capitalize on those good opportunities while letting the bad ones go?

Yes, of course—that’s a basic definition of business. What does that have to do with the GMAT?

The GMAT is a test of your business skills. They don’t really care how great you are with geometry or whether you know every obscure grammar rule in the book. They care whether you can distinguish between good and bad opportunities and whether you can drop the bad ones without a backward glance.

If you want to maximize your score on the GMAT, then you will have a short-list of topics that you want to get wrong fast on the test. My top three in math are combinatorics, 3-D geometry, and anything with roman numerals.

How do you decide what your categories should be? Let’s talk.

But I don’t really want to get stuff wrong… that’s just a metaphor, right?
No, it’s not a metaphor. I really want you to plan how and what you’re going to get wrong! If you haven’t already, read my post about what the GMAT really tests. (You can go ahead and read it right now; I’ll wait.)

In a nutshell, the GMAT is set up to force us to get some of the questions wrong. No matter what you can do, they’ll just give you something harder.

Ultimately, they want to see whether you have the makings of a good business person. One way to test that is to force you into a situation where your choice is between spending extra time and mental energy on something that’s too hard—likely causing yourself to run out of time and energy before the test is over—and cutting yourself off when appropriate.

How do I cut myself off?
First of all, put yourself in this mindset:

You’re at the office, working on a group project.

A colleague of yours is the project manager.

The manager annoys you because he (or she) keeps assigning too many tasks, some of which are not all that important.

Sometimes, you’re rolling your eyes when your colleague tosses a certain piece of work at you; you’re thinking, “Seriously, the client meeting is in 3 days. This is NOT the best use of our remaining time.”

Got that? Okay, now during the test, put yourself in that mindset. The test itself is your annoying colleague. When he drops a roman numeral question in your lap, or a 4-line sentence correction with every last word underlined, you’re already rolling your eyes and thinking, “Are you serious? Come on.”

Here’s the key step: let yourself get just a little annoyed—but with the test, not yourself. You’re not feeling badly that you don’t like the problem; you don’t feel as though you’re falling short. No way! Instead, your colleague is trying to get you to do something that is clearly a waste of time. Roll your eyes. To appease your colleague, figure out whether there’s enough here for you to make an educated guess. Then pick something and move on to more important tasks.

How do I know when to cut myself off?
Quick: name your top three annoyances in quant. Now do the same in verbal. Here’s another one of mine: an RC detail EXCEPT question on a really technical topic with very long answer choices. (In other words, I have to find the four wrong answers in order to find the one right answer… and the topic area is very long and annoying.)

That’s your starting point: you already know you dread these areas. Back this up with data: make sure that these really are the worst ones for you. “Worst” is defined as “I rarely get these right and even when I do, I still use too much time and brain energy.”

Next, check to see how commonly tested the particular topic or question type is. You can’t afford to blow off algebra—that’s too broad a topic. You can, though, blow off sequences.

For some topics, you do want to try to be able to answer lower-level questions. For instance, if one of my students just hates polygons (triangles, squares, rectangles), he has my blessing to blow off harder questions—the ones that combine shapes, for example, or that move into the 3-D arena. He does need to learn the more basic formulas, though, so that he isn’t missing too many lower-level questions.

Your particular mix of pet peeves will almost certainly change over time. Initially, I had some other things at the top of my list, such as weighted averages. Then, I discovered a much better way to do those problems, so 3-D geometry took its place.

Some topics, though, will always be weaknesses. I’ve never liked combinatorics and doubt I ever will. That’s perfectly fine, particularly when the topic is not that commonly tested anyway!

Sound off in the comments below: what areas do you hate the most? Your new strategy is to get those wrong fast and redirect that time and mental energy elsewhere!
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 24 Feb 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: MBA Rankings by Access MBA
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There’s hardly anything more talked about in the MBA world than rankings. They generate hype, debate, sometimes even controversy, and are one of the important criteria on which prospective MBA candidates base their school selection.

Academia has a vested interest in rankings, which serve to determine the popularity and appeal of particular business schools. The media, on the other hand, are highly motivated to play an important role in the rankings, and their stamp of approval for various institutions and programs has made them key players in the MBA world.

Each one of the reputable rankings contains an enormous amount of useful information that can guide you towards the right B-schools. Having doubts whether you would be able to pay back your student loans? Just check the ROI of the ranked schools in your preferred region of study. Not sure if prospective employers prefer a certain school over its competitors? Check the corporate recruiters’ statistics that indicate the most desired MBA degrees.

Once you start to research potential MBA programs, you can find respected sources on literally every topic relating to business education. These include but are not limited to classic rankings, statistical data, and interpretative articles on current affairs in the business education world. However, keep in mind that your MBA program selection should not only be based on these factors. Take into consideration the specifics of your own profile, application package and post-graduation expectations. Meeting an Admissions Director to get first-hand information about the personality of their B-school and how it matches with your own is always a good idea. Organizations such as Access MBA provide that opportunity during their One-to-One MBA events (soon to take place in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver).

The never-ending debate 

MBA rankings are respected sources of information when it comes to determining a school’s quality of education, global reputation, and post-graduation ROI. Highly-ranked schools appreciate the marketing advantages and attractive packaging of MBA rankings, but low-ranked or unranked schools are at a disadvantage in terms of public awareness and perception. However, there is an ongoing debate that rankings are not as perfect and objective as they claim to be, and some experts say that the criteria used in rankings don’t reflect education quality and Value for Money. Others claim that the rankings are biased against American MBA programs.

When taken to an extreme, rankings can be problematic for schools and MBA candidates alike. This is why candidates should not take them at full face-value, and instead conduct additional research and speak with the school representatives first-hand.

Always be critical

What MBA candidates should remember is that the information contained in the rankings has some flaws and intrinsic limitations. The rankings are not a mirror that ideally reflects all advantages or issues of a certain school or program. “Sometimes ranking outlets will attempt to gather data from many schools, but when those schools decline to participate, they gather the data anyway from “various public sources” such as websites or by emailing enrolled students”, explains Matt Turner in an article for www.poetsandquants.com. We know that certain media can be biased against particular schools or programs, and that surveys and polls are only representative of their respondents (and not the entire pool of current MBA students or recent graduates).

Additionally, it is very hard to quantify with flat statistics and factors that supposedly measure the research or the communicative abilities of students, their entrepreneurial skills and other intangible business-related skills gained and talents cultivated during an MBA program.

Prioritizing accreditations

MBA accreditations are a reliable tool for evaluating the merits of a B-school. They are proof of academic standards, definitely a better hallmark of quality than rankings, and deserve to be taken seriously. The three main accreditation agencies in the world are EQUIS, managed by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Holding an accreditation doesn’t only certify that a program has met certain criteria, but is also an obligation to maintain their standards. So, rather than asking “what’s the ranking”, the more important question should be “is it accredited”.

All in all, we recommend that you keep track of MBA rankings but also be fully aware that no one-dimensional ranking system can possibly tell you which B-school to choose.

______________________________________

Access MBA is a project of Advent Group, a Paris-based communication agency that connects business professionals with Admissions Directors of international MBA programs.

The Access MBA Tour travels to 65 cities per year and showcases over one hundred international business schools. The One-to-One events give selected candidates the chance to meet individually with Admissions Directors of top-tier MBA programs. MBA candidates have twenty minutes to convince school representatives of their eligibility for admission, as well as to decide if the B-school is the right one for them.

The Tour returns to New York’s Warwick Hotel on Thursday, March 6 with representatives of Full Time, Part Time, Executive and Online MBA programs, and will also visit Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in mid-March.

How can you take advantage of Access MBA’s exclusive services? All you have to do is register online on www.accessmba.com and bring your CV to the event. Early registration is recommended as places for the One-to-One meetings are limited.
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Re: Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 25 Feb 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Quant: Reflect before you Work
Image
Stop! Before you dive in and start calculating on a math problem, reflect for a moment. How can you set up the work to minimize the number of annoying calculations?

Try the below Percent problem from the free question set that comes with your GMATPrep® software. The problem itself isn’t super hard but the calculations can become time-consuming. If you find the problem easy, don’t dismiss it. Instead, ask yourself: how can you get to the answer with an absolute minimum of annoying calculations?

 

District

Number of Votes

Percent of Votes for Candidate P

Percent of Votes for Candidate Q

1

800

60

40

2

1,000

50

50

3

1,500

50

50

4

1,800

40

60

5

1,200

30

70

 

* ” The table above shows the results of a recent school board election in which the candidate with the higher total number of votes from the five districts was declared the winner. Which district had the greatest number of votes for the winner?

“(A) 1

“(B) 2

“(C) 3

“(D) 4

“(E) 5”

 

Ugh. We have to figure out what they’re talking about in the first place!

The first sentence of the problem describes the table. It shows 5 different districts with a number of votes, a percentage of votes for one candidate and a percentage of votes for a different candidate.

Hmm. So there were two candidates, P and Q, and the one who won the election received the most votes overall. The problem doesn’t say who that was. I could calculate that from the given data, but I’m not going to do so now! I’m only going to do that if I have to.

Let’s see. The problem then asks which district had the greatest number of votes for the winner. Ugh. I am going to have to figure out whether P or Q won. Let your annoyance guide you: is there a way to tell who won without actually calculating all the votes?

The two candidates tied in Districts 2 and 3, so ignore those votes entirely. Candidate P won District 1 while Candidate Q won Districts 4 and 5. Because both of the latter districts (4 and 5) had a lot more votes, Candidate Q must have won more votes overall. Candidate Q, then, is the overall winner. (And I didn’t have to do any math. Yay!)

Next, which district had the most votes for Q? I can actually calculate the exact number of votes in each district… but do I really want to? Glance at District 1. No way can that be the district: there are only 800 votes and Q won a low percentage. Maybe I can get away with just eye-balling the numbers or comparing districts—let’s see.

District 3 beats out District 2: both have 50% for Q, but there are more votes from District 3.

District 4 beats out District 3: Candidate Q won a larger percentage (60%) of a larger number (1800). Excellent!

Ah. Okay, District 5 has a higher percentage but a lower number of votes. I may actually have to do some calculations here.

What’s the fastest way to take a percentage of a number? “Add them up.”

In District 4, 60% of 1,800 votes were cast for Q. 50% of 1,800 is 900. 10% of 1,800 is 180. Add up the numbers: 50% + 10% = 60%, so 900 + 180 = 1,080 votes for Q.

In District 5, 70% of 1,200 votes were cast for Q. 50% of 1,200 is 600. 10% of 1,200 is 120. 50% + 10% + 10% = 600 + 120 + 120 = less than 1,000. (Don’t do any more math than you have to!)

District 4, then, beats out District 5. District 4 cast the greatest number of votes for the eventual victor, Q.

The correct answer is (D).

Want to try some other problems for which a little Reflection will help you solve? Follow this link to an article about Reorienting Your View on GMAT quant.

Key Takeaway: Reflect before you Work

(1) Often, we feel so pressed for time on this test that we dive right into a complex calculation without really thinking about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. Break that habit! It’s crucial to consider your options before starting to solve.

(2) The official solution for this problem actually does calculate the number of votes for Q in each of the 5 districts. What a waste of time! The official explanations for real GMAT problems will always show you mathematically correct solutions—but those solutions often won’t be the best or most efficient way to solve.

(3) Let your annoyance guide you: whenever you think, “Ugh, that’s so annoying;  I wish I didn’t have to calculate this!” ask yourself, “Wait a second—can I get away with not calculating it?” Even when you get something right, review your work: if the math you did has any annoying bits, see whether an alternate approach can save you some time and mental effort. After all, who doesn’t need more of both of those precious commodities on the GMAT?

 

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.
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Guest Post by mbaMission: Planning for Round 1 MBA Applicati [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Guest Post by mbaMission: Planning for Round 1 MBA Applications (2014): Five Steps to Take Now!
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Round 1 MBA application deadlines are not until late September or early October, and although that may seem far away, those submission dates actually come around a lot sooner than you think. How can that be? Well, many candidates start working on their applications in May (which, by the way, is only two months from now!), when the schools start releasing their essay questions. However, the well-prepared applicant starts taking steps now (or even started long ago) to make sure that he/she has the strongest application possible when those deadlines arrive. You may not realize it, but you can take advantage of a variety of short-term wins that could help you improve your candidacy for next year. Let’s take a look at just a few of the steps you can take…

1. Visit Schools: Visiting schools is a smart move for you as a potential consumer of a $100K+ education (not including living expenses and lost salary during your two years of study). It is also a smart move for you as an applicant, because traveling to a school serves as a strong indicator that you truly do want to attend that target program. Sure, some schools’ admissions offices state that the class visit is not overly important (notably, Harvard Business School), but most programs appreciate the gesture, because it demonstrates your level of interest and shows that you are not just selecting the school on the basis of rankings—you have “kicked the tires” and decided to proceed.

Many applicants will not think about making a class visit until too late. Class visit programs typically wrap up in April/May and do not open up until after Round 1 applications are due. So, if you have not yet visited your target school, your time is running out, and this might prevent you from learning more about the program and making an important positive impression. Schedule a visit now!

2. Take a Class: Was your GPA an afterthought when you were in college? Did you bomb some tough math classes or management classes? Did you do really well academically but take no classes that indicate your management aptitude? Did the Quant side of the GMAT not go as planned for you? The admissions committee needs to know that you can manage a rigorous analytical curriculum, so you must provide them with evidence that you are capable of doing so. If you do not yet have that evidence, consider taking one—or preferably two—of the following classes: calculus, statistics, economics, finance or accounting. You should do everything you can to earn an A in the class(es) to demonstrate that you have the intellectual horsepower to succeed in your first year. Remember that applications are due in October and that you will need to spend significant time after work perfecting them—and this process starts in May! So, your best move is to find a class that starts soon. Begin looking for options now!  (Note: You do not need to go to Harvard to take these classes. Any accredited university will do!)

3. Get Involved: Every applicant has a GPA, GMAT/GRE score and work experience for the admissions committee to evaluate. These days, admissions officers expect successful applicants to show that they have an internal drive to succeed, which means that they expect to see that you are driven outside of your work. If you are not, someone else is! This does not mean that the admissions committees expect you to spend hours upon hours volunteering—they simply want to see that you have more than one dimension to your profile. So, you might have a start-up on the side or a personal passion that you are devoted to in an inordinate way (“My cooking blog gets 100,000 hits a month!”), or you just might be involved in your community. You may be thinking, “If I get involved now, it will all seem transparent.” You are right—your efforts could come across as transparent if they are just window dressing. But if you are actually devoted to whatever it is that you choose to do after work and have an eight-month track record to showcase come October, you will instead be able to reveal a genuine accomplishment. And that is what interests the admissions committees—not “time served,” but accomplishment.

4. Take (and Retake) the GMAT: If you have not yet taken the GMAT, now is the time to start studying. Our friends at Manhattan GMAT will tell you that after completing a nine-week preparatory class, you will need an additional month or more to study on your own. Count 13 weeks from today. If you take a GMAT class, your first test date will be approximately June 3. By the time you are done with the GMAT, you will need to turn your attention to writing your application essays, and you may still need to take a calculus, statistics or economics class or two. Are you starting to see how your schedule is getting a bit tight? And this scenario assumes that you achieve your target score on your first GMAT attempt. In fact, though, many people take the GMAT more than once, and admissions officers encourage you to take the exam multiple times, because the schools only count your highest score. So, you might not be fully done with the GMAT until July or even August. Start studying! (Note: The GMAT is still the “default” test for most applicants, but the GRE is the GMAT’s equal and is treated as such by admissions officers.)

5. Research Your Professional Options: Most MBA programs still ask you to discuss your professional goals somewhere in their applications, and many ask explicitly in their essay questions. But writing “I want to go into finance” or “I want to be a consultant” is simply not good enough. Admissions offices want to know that you have an actual plan in mind and are aware of where your skills and talents would be best put to use. They want to know that you understand what is needed to succeed in your target field. Would you admit someone to your program who was without a professional clue or only vaguely aware of the field he/she wanted to enter? Is that a recipe for professional success? Of course not! Think about the admissions committees’ perspective—by offering you a place in their next class, they are placing a bet on your success. Make sure that you can express a clear post-MBA direction for yourself. In the end, you may switch tracks and pursue something else—and the admissions officers know that—but they need to be confident that you are someone with foresight and drive.

These are five steps you can take to be your best in October—steps that require you to take action now to make the most of them. If you have questions about your plan for next year, please feel free to reach out to mbaMission for one free half-hour consultation.
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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Planning for Round 1 MBA Applications (2014): Five Steps to  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Mar 2014, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Planning for Round 1 MBA Applications (2014): Five Steps to Take Now!
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(This is a guest post from our friends at mbaMission)

Round 1 MBA application deadlines are not until late September or early October, and although that may seem far away, those submission dates actually come around a lot sooner than you think. How can that be? Well, many candidates start working on their applications in May (which, by the way, is only two months from now!), when the schools start releasing their essay questions. However, the well-prepared applicant starts taking steps now (or even started long ago) to make sure that he/she has the strongest application possible when those deadlines arrive. You may not realize it, but you can take advantage of a variety of short-term wins that could help you improve your candidacy for next year. Let’s take a look at just a few of the steps you can take…

1. Visit Schools: Visiting schools is a smart move for you as a potential consumer of a $100K+ education (not including living expenses and lost salary during your two years of study). It is also a smart move for you as an applicant, because traveling to a school serves as a strong indicator that you truly do want to attend that target program. Sure, some schools’ admissions offices state that the class visit is not overly important (notably, Harvard Business School), but most programs appreciate the gesture, because it demonstrates your level of interest and shows that you are not just selecting the school on the basis of rankings—you have “kicked the tires” and decided to proceed.

Many applicants will not think about making a class visit until too late. Class visit programs typically wrap up in April/May and do not open up until after Round 1 applications are due. So, if you have not yet visited your target school, your time is running out, and this might prevent you from learning more about the program and making an important positive impression. Schedule a visit now!

2. Take a Class: Was your GPA an afterthought when you were in college? Did you bomb some tough math classes or management classes? Did you do really well academically but take no classes that indicate your management aptitude? Did the Quant side of the GMAT not go as planned for you? The admissions committee needs to know that you can manage a rigorous analytical curriculum, so you must provide them with evidence that you are capable of doing so. If you do not yet have that evidence, consider taking one—or preferably two—of the following classes: calculus, statistics, economics, finance or accounting. You should do everything you can to earn an A in the class(es) to demonstrate that you have the intellectual horsepower to succeed in your first year. Remember that applications are due in October and that you will need to spend significant time after work perfecting them—and this process starts in May! So, your best move is to find a class that starts soon. Begin looking for options now!  (Note: You do not need to go to Harvard to take these classes. Any accredited university will do!)

3. Get Involved: Every applicant has a GPA, GMAT/GRE score and work experience for the admissions committee to evaluate. These days, admissions officers expect successful applicants to show that they have an internal drive to succeed, which means that they expect to see that you are driven outside of your work. If you are not, someone else is! This does not mean that the admissions committees expect you to spend hours upon hours volunteering—they simply want to see that you have more than one dimension to your profile. So, you might have a start-up on the side or a personal passion that you are devoted to in an inordinate way (“My cooking blog gets 100,000 hits a month!”), or you just might be involved in your community. You may be thinking, “If I get involved now, it will all seem transparent.” You are right—your efforts could come across as transparent if they are just window dressing. But if you are actually devoted to whatever it is that you choose to do after work and have an eight-month track record to showcase come October, you will instead be able to reveal a genuine accomplishment. And that is what interests the admissions committees—not “time served,” but accomplishment.

4. Take (and Retake) the GMAT: If you have not yet taken the GMAT, now is the time to start studying. Our friends at Manhattan GMAT will tell you that after completing a nine-week preparatory class, you will need an additional month or more to study on your own. Count 13 weeks from today. If you take a GMAT class, your first test date will be approximately June 3. By the time you are done with the GMAT, you will need to turn your attention to writing your application essays, and you may still need to take a calculus, statistics or economics class or two. Are you starting to see how your schedule is getting a bit tight? And this scenario assumes that you achieve your target score on your first GMAT attempt. In fact, though, many people take the GMAT more than once, and admissions officers encourage you to take the exam multiple times, because the schools only count your highest score. So, you might not be fully done with the GMAT until July or even August. Start studying! (Note: The GMAT is still the “default” test for most applicants, but the GRE is the GMAT’s equal and is treated as such by admissions officers.)

5. Research Your Professional Options: Most MBA programs still ask you to discuss your professional goals somewhere in their applications, and many ask explicitly in their essay questions. But writing “I want to go into finance” or “I want to be a consultant” is simply not good enough. Admissions offices want to know that you have an actual plan in mind and are aware of where your skills and talents would be best put to use. They want to know that you understand what is needed to succeed in your target field. Would you admit someone to your program who was without a professional clue or only vaguely aware of the field he/she wanted to enter? Is that a recipe for professional success? Of course not! Think about the admissions committees’ perspective—by offering you a place in their next class, they are placing a bet on your success. Make sure that you can express a clear post-MBA direction for yourself. In the end, you may switch tracks and pursue something else—and the admissions officers know that—but they need to be confident that you are someone with foresight and drive.

These are five steps you can take to be your best in October—steps that require you to take action now to make the most of them. If you have questions about your plan for next year, please feel free to reach out to mbaMission for one free half-hour consultation.
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 Create the Most Effective GMAT Problem Sets [#permalink]

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New post 06 Mar 2014, 08:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How to Create the Most Effective GMAT Problem Sets
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You’ve heard a million times that you’re supposed to create Official Guide (OG) problem sets in order to practice for the test. But how do you actually do so in a way that will help you get the most out of your study?

Fear not! This article is coming to your rescue.

Initially, when you’re studying a new topic or problem type, you won’t do sets of problems; instead, you’ll just try one problem at a time. As you gain experience, though, you’re going to want to do 3 problems in a row, or 5, or 10.

Why?
Because the real test will never give you just one problem!

The GMAT will give you many questions in a row and they’ll be all jumbled up—an SC, then a couple of CRs, then back to another SC (that tests different grammar rules than the first one), and so on.

You want to practice two things:

(1) Jumping around among question types and topics

(2) Managing your timing and mental energy among a group of questions

When do I start doing problem sets?
You’re going to use problem sets to test your skills, so you’ve got to develop some of those skills first. If you’re using our Strategy Guides to study, then at the end of one chapter, you’ll do only two or three OG problems to make sure that you understood the material in the chapter.

Later, though, when you finish the Guide, do a set of problems that mix topics (and question types) from that entire book. Make sure you can distinguish between the similar-but-not-quite-the-same topics in that book, and also practice your skills on both problem solving and data sufficiency. As you finish subsequent Guides, your sets can include problems from everything you’ve done so far. Keep mixing it up!

How do I make the sets?
You’ll need to balance three things when you create a problem set:

(1) Number of problems. Initially, start out with about 3 to 5 problems. As you gain experience and add topics, you’ll increase the size of the sets—we’ll talk more about this a little later.

(2) Type of problem and content.

(a) For quant, always do a mix of Problem Solving (PS) and Data Sufficiency (DS). For verbal, mix at least two of the three types; you can include all three types in larger sets.

(b) Do not do a set of 3 or more questions all from the same chapter or content area—for example, don’t do 3 exponents questions in a row. You know exactly what you’re about to get and the real test will never be this nice to you.

(3) Difficulty level.

(a) For all types except Reading Comprehension, the OG places problems in roughly increasing order of difficulty. Problem 3 is easier than problem 50, which is easier than problem 102. Include a mix of easier, medium, and harder questions in your set.

(b) Note: your personal strengths and weaknesses will affect how you perceive the problems—you might think a lower-numbered problem is hard or a higher-numbered problem is easy. They are… for you! Expect that kind of outcome sometimes.

Timing!
Next, calculate how much time to give yourself to do the problem set.

Quant is easy: multiply the number of questions by two. For instance, if you have 3 questions, you have 6 minutes to complete the set.

Verbal is harder. For every Sentence Correction (SC), give yourself 1 minute and 20 seconds. For every Critical Reasoning (CR), you get 2 minutes.

For Reading Comprehension (RC), start with about 2 to 2.5 minutes for shorter passages or 2.5 to 3 minutes for longer passages. Then add 1 minute and 30 seconds for each problem you do. Select 3 or 4 problems—no more (most OG passages have 5 to 7 problems, but the real test gives you only 3 or 4 per passage).

For your verbal problem set, add up the individual times and now you know how long to give yourself to do that set.

For RC, I usually do the passage twice. The first time, I do only the odd-numbered problems. The second time, a month or two later, I do the even-numbered problems. (Feel free to swap the order of odd and even!) Each passage can do double-duty, as long as I wait long enough between to (mostly) forget what was happening in the passage.

Go!
Do the set! Pretend it’s a real testing situation. You have to finish by the time you run out of time. Cut yourself off and guess when you hit a problem that’s too hard to do in a reasonable timeframe.

Above all, do NOT tell yourself, “Oh, I’m studying, so I really want to try each problem to the best of my ability, no matter how long it takes.” If you do that, you will build very bad habits for this test! Your main goal is to study how to take the GMAT—and the GMAT is not expecting you to get everything right.

In fact, the test writers expect you NOT to be able to answer everything. They want to know whether you can properly assess a situation, identify bad opportunities (questions that are too hard or will take too long to do), and appropriately cut yourself off and move on to another opportunity. After all, good business people do that every day.

If you haven’t already read my post on what the GMAT is actually all about, read it right now.

I did the set. Now, should I make another?
Not so fast! You did the set, but you haven’t really learned much yet. Most of your learning comes afterwards, when you review your work and the decisions that you made.

You want to do two levels of review. First, look at the set as a whole. Did you make appropriate decisions about how to spend your (limited) time and mental energy? If you could have made better decisions, what and why? If, in hindsight, you realize that you really should have cut problem 3 off a lot faster, then figure out the moment at which the scale should have tipped. What was the clue that should have made you say, “I don’t think so. Buh-bye, annoying problem!”

If you weren’t able to get to some of the problems because you ran out of time, first tell yourself that, on the real test, your score just tanked. You can’t do that next time. Second, feel free to try those problems now—but you still have to time yourself.

Then, dive into the individual problems. You can use this this article about the 2nd Level of Learning on the GMAT to help you analyze your work. Occasionally, you’ll run across a problem that you feel you “should” know how to do, and you’ll want to try it again before you look up the answer. That’s perfectly fine; go ahead and try it. You don’t even need to time yourself this time around. In fact, if you want, feel free to look up anything you want in your books or elsewhere to help you try to figure out how to solve it. If, in the end, you can’t get anywhere with it, go ahead to the solution and see what you can learn.

Okay, I reviewed the set. NOW can I make another?
Yes! As long as you promise me that you really did thoroughly review and learn from the previous set. A lot of students will just plow through a million sets without really learning from them. Obviously, I don’t want you to do problems but not learn from them.

Okay, as you get further into your studies, you’ll have more and more material to review. Now, you’re going to start making larger sets—perhaps 8, 10, 12, or even 15 questions.

When you make sets of 8 or more questions, make sure that you are pulling from at least 2 different topic areas (e.g., algebra and geometry, or modifiers and parallelism plus inference and weaken).

Between ½ and ¾ of the questions can cover topics you’ve studied in the past week or so, but the remaining ¼ to ½ has to be from longer-ago topics. This is how you’re going to work in your review! Toss in a fractions problem from 3 weeks ago. If you get it right, great. If you miss it, then maybe you need to schedule a little time to review fractions.

By the time you get through all of your Strategy Guides, you should be making sets that cover topics from across the spectrum. At this point, you might even decide to buy GMAC’s GMAT Prep Question Pack #1, a bank of 400 practice problems integrated with the GMAT Prep practice test software. (I’m not including a link because it’ll just break in future. Go to www.mba.com and look for the product in their store.)

You can tell the software to give you a mix of, say, 10 DS and PS questions that are medium or harder difficulty only. The software will choose the actual topics.

Final Words
I know I said this once already, but it’s so important that I’m going to repeat it: the vast majority of your learning comes AFTER you have finished the problem set, when you analyze both the problem itself and your own work. Don’t just do problem set after problem set!

Good luck with your study. Do you have any other tips to help your fellow students create effective problem sets? Tell us in the comments section below!
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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Pocket GMAT 2.0: New Updates are Now Available! [#permalink]

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New post 10 Mar 2014, 10:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Pocket GMAT 2.0: New Updates are Now Available!
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We are happy to announce that the latest version of our free GMAT app, Pocket GMAT Flashcards, is now available for download via the App store! New updates include:

  • Back-end and usability fixes
  • Content overhaul
  • Updated for iOS7
  • Shiny new icon
Containing over 350 GMAT quant flash cards, Pocket GMAT uses an adaptive algorithm developed by Manhattan Prep instructors to help you target cards you most need help with. Allowing you to strengthen your GMAT quantitative skills anywhere and at any time, the Pocket GMAT app is an indispensable tool for iPhone users.

The app also now works better on iOS6 devices and we have fixed issues with scrolling and swiping, so overall navigation is smoother. We’ve also fixed content errata and made the images look better.

Manhattan Prep has teamed up with Learningpod to make Pocket GMAT free for everyone! In addition to the adaptive algorithm, there is also a sequential practice mode that lets you flip through the cards however you want. You also have the ability to enter a Target Date to keep you on pace and track your progress. The flash cards are organized into “KeyRings” by topic and include algebra, number properties, word problems, geometry, fractions, decimals, and percents.

We hope the new updates improve your studying experience, and if you’re as excited as we are about the revisions, please let us know in the review section of the App store. We use your feedback to make our study tools the best they can possibly be!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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The 3 Keys to Success on Integrated Reasoning [#permalink]

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New post 13 Mar 2014, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: The 3 Keys to Success on Integrated Reasoning
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Your performance on Integrated Reasoning (IR) can affect the part of the test you really care about: the Quant and the Verbal. Follow the below 3 Keys to Success and you’ll be sitting pretty on test day.

Key #1: Minimize Brain Power Expended
Too many students have made this mistake already: they don’t study (or barely study) for IR, then kill their mental stamina during this section. When quant and verbal roll around, they’re mentally exhausted and what was already a hard test becomes impossible.

Your IR score does not directly impact your Quant and Verbal scores, but you’ll always have to do the IR section before you get to quant and verbal. In order to avoid an adverse outcome, you want to make sure that you can get a “good enough” score on IR without doing too much.

What’s a good-enough score? As of March 2014, the general consensus is to aim for a 4 or higher on IR; if you’re planning to apply to a top-10 school, aim for a 5 or higher. (The top score on IR is an 8.)

NOTE to future readers! The advice in the previous paragraph will likely change over time, so if you are reading this a year or two from now, check our blog for more recent advice.

Do not put your IR study off until the last minute. At least 6 weeks before the test, start to learn about the four types of IR problems: Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR), Table Analysis, Graphical Interpretation, and Two-Part Analysis.

Learn:

(1) the strategies needed to answer each question type

(2) the one or two question types you like the least

I’ll recommend one of our own products to help you with this: our IR Interact lessons. You’ll learn everything you need to know via a very engaging series of interactive videos, and best of all, it’s completely free (as I’m writing this right now—no promises for future!).

Key #2: Know When to Guess
Next, do you generally like quant or verbal better? How do you feel about fractions, percents, and statistics, the math topics the most commonly tested on IR? Do you like those topics more or less than you like critical reasoning problems? Do you like pulling data from tables and manipulating it to conclude something? Interpreting graphical information? Or do you prefer synthesizing material from two or three primarily text-based sources?

Decide what topics you like least and combine that information with the one or two question types you like least. For instance, let’s say that you dislike fraction and percent topics the most. You also hate graphs and you aren’t too thrilled about tables either.

During the test, if a fraction or percent-based graph prompt pops up, guess immediately and move on. Ditto for a tables question. If, on the other hand, you get a table prompt that asks statistics-based questions (and you’re fine with statistics), then go ahead and do that one. If you see a really terrible fractions or percents Two-Part problem, you might skip that one, too, even if you don’t normally mind Two-Part problems.

If you’re aiming for a 4 or higher, you can skip 3 or 4 questions in the section. If you’re aiming for a 5 or higher, then you can skip 2 or 3 questions in the section. Also, you can still get some others wrong! Those “skip” numbers already account for the fact that you won’t answer correctly all of the ones that you do try. (Note: “skip” means “guess immediately and move on”—you can’t actually skip a question.)

Best of all, this strategy will allow you to spend more time on the questions you do answer. If you address all 12 IR prompts, you’ll have just 2.5 minutes each. If, on the other hand, you skip 2 questions, you’ll have 3 minutes each to spend on the rest of the questions; skip 4 questions and you’ll be able to spend nearly 4 minutes each on the remaining questions!

Key #3: Practice Just Enough
First of all, do the IR section (and the essay section) on any practice CATs you take. Even with the best of preparation, these sections will take some amount of brain power and you need to make sure that you’ve got the necessary mental stamina to take a full-length test. You also need to practice your timing and skipping strategies under real conditions. When you’re done, make sure to review whether you made the best decisions about which ones to skip; if not, how would you decide differently (and better!) next time?

Second, do enough practice with the four prompt types that you are familiar with the general strategies for tackling each one. Practice your guessing strategies as well, from deciding which questions to skip to deciding what to pick on those questions. (You do have to guess in order to get to the next question. The IR section does not penalize you for wrong answers.)

The best practice problems are the real ones. If you have The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 13th Edition (OG13), then you have a special code that provides online access to a 50-question set. Note that your access expires a certain amount of time after activation, so don’t activate the problem set until you’re ready to start studying IR. The official GMATPrep software gives you 15 free IR problems, as well as 12 more in the first free practice test. (As of now, the second free practice test contains the same 12 IR problems as the first test.)

Final Words
3. Practice just enough to know what you’re doing with IR.

2. Know what you like and what you don’t like, so that you know how to decide when to guess and move on.

1. Your goal is to prepare enough to get a 4+ (or 5+) score while using the minimum necessary brain energy. Don’t blow off your prep for this section and risk destroying your quant and verbal performance on test day!

 

 
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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Webinar Series: Five Steps to Business School Acceptance [#permalink]

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New post 14 Mar 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Webinar Series: Five Steps to Business School Acceptance
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Are you ready for the 2014–2015 MBA application season?


Join Manhattan Prep, mbaMission, and Poets & Quants for a free, five-part webinar series to help you prepare!

Three leaders in the MBA admissions space—Poets & QuantsmbaMission and Manhattan Prep—are banding together to ensure that you will be ready for the 2014–2015 MBA admissions season. Together, we are launching a free, five-part webinar series entitled “Five Steps to Business School Acceptance”! In each of the first four sessions, a senior consultant from mbaMission will address and explain a different significant admissions issue, while Poets & Quants’ John Byrne serves as host, moderating any questions and answers. Then, an expert from Manhattan Prep will present a challenging GMAT issue, offering insight, advice and more. The fifth and final session consists of a discussion panel with current admissions officers, sharing their thoughts and answering questions about the upcoming admissions season.

We hope you will join us for this special series. Please sign up for each session separately via the links below—space is limited.

Session 1: March 19, 2014 - Assessing Your MBA Profile and GMAT vs. GRE

Session 2: April 2, 2014 - Choosing the Right B-School and Advanced Quant

Session 3: April 16, 2014 - What Can I Do with My MBA? and Getting the Most Out of Your Practice GMAT Exams

Session 4: April 30, 2014 - Essay Writing Workshop and Advanced Sentence Correction

Session 5: May 14, 2014 - Questions and Answers with MBA Admissions Officers

Do you have questions for our GMAT and MBA admissions experts? Ask them in the comments below, and we will do our best to answer them in the Q&A sessions following each presentation, or reach out to use on social using the hashtag #fivesteps.
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Ron Purewal’s upcoming Live Online GMAT Course available at  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Ron Purewal’s upcoming Live Online GMAT Course available at special international time.
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Manhattan GMAT’s Live Online Spring P2 Course is a comprehensive GMAT course designed specifically for high-achieving, international students looking to earn an MBA from a top business school. Taught by famed GMAT instructor, Ron Purewal, our Live Online Spring P2 Course will be hosted in the early morning (5:30AM-8:30AM PDT) from Silicon Valley, California.

We’re inviting students from all around the world to join, with the hope that this unique time will fit more conveniently into international students’ schedules. The course aims to teach mastery of GMAT content and the test-taking skills and strategies that are necessary to conquering every question type with confidence.

The Live Online Spring P2 Course with Ron Purewal begins April 16th, 2014 and includes:

• 54 hours of class time & coaching – at a time specifically selected to best support international GMAT test-takers.

• Strategy Guides that equip you for the entire GMAT: math and verbal theory, problem solving techniques, essential formulae, and hundreds of examples

• Every Official Guide for GMAT Review (that’s over 1400 real GMAT problems!)

• Foundational math and verbal primers—including books, question banks, and online workshops to help you review

• Full Integrated Reasoning training, plus an online bank of questions for additional practice

• Six full-length Computer Adaptive Practice Tests, designed in-house by our veteran instructors to simulate the GMAT’s uniquely adaptive format

• Detailed practice dashboards that show you how you’re performing (including stats on accuracy, speed, and difficulty level) across every specialized math and verbal topic

• On Demand Class Recordings so you can review course concepts anytime

• eBook downloads of every Manhattan GMAT Strategy Guide, accessible on your iPad, Nook, smartphone, or other compatible mobile device

• Challenge problems, interactive labs, essay grading software, and dozens of additional resources

Space is limited and filling quickly, so be sure to register for Ron Purewal’s upcoming Live Online GMAT Course at this special international time before it’s too late.

 

 
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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Ron Purewal’s Upcoming Live Online GMAT Course Available at  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Mar 2014, 14:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Ron Purewal’s Upcoming Live Online GMAT Course Available at Special International Time
Image

Manhattan GMAT’s Live Online Spring P2 Course is a comprehensive GMAT course designed specifically for high-achieving, international students looking to earn an MBA from a top business school. Taught by famed GMAT instructor, Ron Purewal, our Live Online Spring P2 Course will be hosted in the early morning (5:30AM-8:30AM PDT) from Silicon Valley, California.

We’re inviting students from all around the world to join, with the hope that this unique time will fit more conveniently into international students’ schedules. The course aims to teach mastery of GMAT content and the test-taking skills and strategies that are necessary to conquering every question type with confidence.

The Live Online Spring P2 Course with Ron Purewal begins April 16th, 2014 and includes:

• 54 hours of class time & coaching – at a time specifically selected to best support international GMAT test-takers.

• Strategy Guides that equip you for the entire GMAT: math and verbal theory, problem solving techniques, essential formulae, and hundreds of examples

• Every Official Guide for GMAT Review (that’s over 1400 real GMAT problems!)

• Foundational math and verbal primers—including books, question banks, and online workshops to help you review

• Full Integrated Reasoning training, plus an online bank of questions for additional practice

• Six full-length Computer Adaptive Practice Tests, designed in-house by our veteran instructors to simulate the GMAT’s uniquely adaptive format

• Detailed practice dashboards that show you how you’re performing (including stats on accuracy, speed, and difficulty level) across every specialized math and verbal topic

• On Demand Class Recordings so you can review course concepts anytime

• eBook downloads of every Manhattan GMAT Strategy Guide, accessible on your iPad, Nook, smartphone, or other compatible mobile device

• Challenge problems, interactive labs, essay grading software, and dozens of additional resources

Space is limited and filling quickly, so be sure to register for Ron Purewal’s upcoming Live Online GMAT Course at this special international time before it’s too late.

Want to meet Ron? Join him this Thursday, March 20th, from 7-8:30PM (EDT) for a free online GMAT workshop! Click here to register.

 
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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Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: M [#permalink]

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New post 21 Mar 2014, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: March 28
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Do you promote positive social change? Do you work for a non-profit? Manhattan Prep is offering special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan GMAT’s Social Venture Scholars program. SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan GMAT’s live online Complete Courses (a $1290 value).

These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their MBA to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan GMAT’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline is fast approaching!: March 28, 2014! 

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

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When is it Time to Guess on Quant? [#permalink]

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New post 24 Mar 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: When is it Time to Guess on Quant?
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So you’ve been told over and over that guessing is an important part of the GMAT. But knowing you’re supposed to guess and knowing when you’re supposed to guess are two very different things. Here are a few guidelines for how to decide when to guess.

But first, know that there are two kinds of guesses: random guesses and educated guesses. Both have their place on the GMAT. Random guesses are best for the questions that are so tough, that you don’t even know where to get started. Educated guesses, on the other hand, are useful when you’ve made at least some progress, but aren’t going to get all the way to an answer in time.

Here are a few different scenarios that should end in a guess.

Scenario 1: I’ve read the question twice, and I have no idea what it’s asking.

This one is pretty straightforward. Don’t worry about whether the question is objectively easy or difficult. If it’s too hard for you, it’s not worth doing. In fact, it’s so not worth doing that it’s not even worth your time narrowing down answer choices to make an educated guess. In fact, if it’s that difficult, it may even be better for you to get it wrong!

To make the most of your random guesses, you should use the same answer choice every time. The difference is slight, but it does up your odds of getting some of these random guess right.

Scenario 2: I had a plan, but I hit a wall.

Often, when this happens, you haven’t yet spent 2 minutes on the problem. So why guess? Maybe now you have a better plan for how to get to the answer. I know this is hard to hear, but don’t do it! To stay on pace for the entire section, you have to stay disciplined and that means that you only have one chance to get each question right.

The good news is that no 1 question you get wrong will kill your score. But, 1 question can really hurt your score if you spend too long on it! Once you realize that your plan didn’t work, it’s time to make an educated guess. You’ve already spent more than a minute on this question (hopefully not more than 2!), and you probably have some sense of which answers are more likely to be right. Take another 15 seconds (no more!) and make your best educated guess.

Scenario 3: I got an answer, but it doesn’t match any of the answer choices.

This is another painful one, but it’s an almost identical situation to Scenario 2. It means you either made a calculation error somewhere along the way, or you set the problem up incorrectly to begin with. In an untimed setting, both of these problems would have the same solution: go back over your work and find the mistake. On the GMAT, however, that process is too time-consuming. Plus, even once you find your mistake, you still have to redo all the work!

Once again, though it might hurt, it’s still in your best interest to let the question go. If you can narrow down the answer choices, great (though don’t spend longer than 15 or 20 seconds doing so). If not, don’t worry about it. Just make a random guess and vow to be more careful on the next one (and all the rest after that!).

Scenario 4: I checked my pacing chart and I’m more than 2 minutes behind.

Pacing problems are best dealt with early. If you’re more than 2 minutes behind, don’t wait until another 5 questions have passed and you realize you’re 5 minutes behind. At this point, you want to find a question in the next 5 that you can guess randomly on. The quicker you can identify a good candidate to skip, the more time you can make up.

This is another scenario where random guessing is best. Educated guessing takes time, and we’re trying to save as much time as possible. Look for questions that take a long time to read, or that deal with topics you’re not as strong in, but most importantly, just make the decision and pick up the time.

Wrap Up

Remember, this test is not like high school exams; it’s not designed to have every question answered. This test is about consistency on questions you know how to do. Knowing when to get out of a question is one of the most fundamental parts of a good score. The better you are at limiting time spent on really difficult questions, the more time you have to answer questions you know how to do.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have the world’s best GMAT prep programs starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!
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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My Score Dropped! Figuring Out What Went Wrong [#permalink]

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New post 09 Apr 2014, 06:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: My Score Dropped! Figuring Out What Went Wrong
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I’m reviving an old article I first wrote five years ago (time flies!) because the topic is so important. I hope that no one ever again experiences a significant score drop on the real test (or even a practice one!), but the reality is that this does happen. The big question: now what?

If this happens to you, the most important thing to do next is figure out why this happened. If you can figure out why, then you may be able to do something to prevent a score drop from happening again.

 

1: Official Test Conditions
Did you take your practice tests under official test conditions? Did you:

  • Do the essay and IR sections?
  • Take only two 8-minute breaks (the first between IR and quant, the second between quant and verbal)?
  • Complete the test in one sitting (e.g., you didn’t do the verbal section later that evening or the next day)?
  • Pause the test, look at books or notes, eat and drink during the test, or do anything else that wouldn’t be allowed on test day
If you did not take your practice tests under official testing conditions, then your practice scores were likely inflated—possibly just a little or possibly a lot, depending upon how far you were from official test conditions. If your practice test scores were inflated, then the bad news is that your scoring level wasn’t as good as you thought it was. In other words, your official test didn’t represent as much of a drop as you first thought (and, possibly, the official test didn’t represent any drop at all).

While this is not great news, it is crucial to know, because it tells you what the problem is. You need to figure out in which areas you’re falling short and do what you need to do (math, grammar, time management, problem-solving skills) in order to improve. (And don’t forget to take tests under official conditions in future, so that you get a true picture of your current scoring level.)

2: Timing
Mismanaged timing might be the most common cause of big score drops on the test. If your scores keep jumping up and down on practice tests and you’re not sure why, your timing may be the culprit.

Timing is so crucial because of certain consequences that can kill your score. You tend to make more careless mistakes when you’re rushing. You may get multiple questions wrong in a row. You may run out of time entirely before the section is over. All of these things will have a negative impact on your score.

There are two major categories for mismanaged timing: too slow and too fast. These two categories lead to three common scenarios:

  • Run out of time before the section is over
  • Finish the section with lots of time left
  • Finish just on time—but a review of the timing patterns shows that you spent too long on some, then rushed on others to catch up. (We call this “up and down timing.”)
The vast majority of students who mismanage time badly enough to experience a big score drop will do so by going too slowly at some point on the test and, consequently, either running out of time with questions left or being forced to move too quickly at other points, thereby increasing the error rate.

People do sometimes move too quickly throughout an entire section because of general test anxiety; if you finish with more than 5 minutes left, you definitely moved too quickly through that section, and likely made careless mistakes as a result.

The common factor in either scenario: going too quickly at some point. Going too quickly basically equates to giving yourself lots of chances to miss lower-level problems, because most people will try to make up time by going faster on problems that they know how to do.

The “death spiral” (otherwise known as “my score dropped in a big way!”) occurs when you start to get a lot of lower-level problems wrong that you knew how to get right – if only you weren’t rushing and making mistakes.

If timing is part of your problem (and timing is a problem for almost everyone taking the GMAT!), first learn what the GMAT really tests. Then, break that habit of thinking that if you just spend a little more time, you’re sure that you’ll figure it out. Finally, learn everything you need to know about time management on the GMAT.

3: Stamina
Did you prepare yourself adequately for the stamina required to perform at a high mental level for more than 3.5 hours? Did you:

  • Take the tests under official conditions? (including essay, IR, and breaks—see section 1)
  • Have a consistent sleep schedule the week before the exam?
  • Avoid taking a second test (practice or official) within a few days of taking another practice test? Generally wind down your studies and not do too much in the last couple of days before the official test?
  • Eat good “energy” food before the test and during the breaks, drink liquids to stay hydrated, and stretch or do light exercise to loosen up and get your blood flowing?
This is a long test; stamina is critical to your ability to perform well. Don’t tire yourself out in the days before the official test (don’t study too much, don’t take a practice test within a few days of the real thing, etc.). And experiment with food and liquid until you find a combination that gives you good energy without making you overly stimulated (too much caffeine is a bad thing).

In addition, many people skip the essay and/or IR sections on practice tests and then see a substantial drop on the verbal section of the official test. People are surprised when this happens, but if you use your Critical Reasoning skills, it shouldn’t be that surprising! If you don’t do the early sections, then you’re only spending about 2.5 hours on your practice tests. The real thing, with the essays, will take a bit more than 3.5 hours. Your brain is, quite simply, not prepared to last for that entire 3.5 hour period… and verbal is the last section.

That’s why, although nobody cares about the essay score and IR is still not very important, I still tell my students to do those two sections on every practice test. Your mental stamina is going to affect your quant and verbal scores, and you do care (very much!) about those scores, so you have to make sure you’re prepared to function at a high level for the entire 3.5 hour length of the test.

4: Anxiety
The test is a nerve-wracking situation for everyone, but some people experience anxiety symptoms that are strong enough to interfere with rational thinking and the ability to perform. Meditation has been shown to help people stay more calm in testing situations so that you’re able to show what you’re capable of doing on the test.

If you are experiencing physical symptoms (nausea, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing), you should consult a medical professional.

The most important thing to remember
If you can figure out what went wrong, then you can do something to prevent another score drop in future—so do take the time to think through everything that happened. Also, use the Manhattan GMAT community to help—your fellow students and the GMAT experts on our forums can be great resources in helping you figure out what went wrong and what to do next.
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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My Score Dropped! Figuring Out What Went Wrong   [#permalink] 09 Apr 2014, 06:00

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