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Use Smart Numbers to Speed Up Your GMAT Quant
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20 Jan 2018, 23:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Use Smart Numbers to Speed Up Your GMAT Quant

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
Are you having trouble finishing GMAT Quant word problems within two minutes? Here’s a technique that will help.
How Do I Know to Use Smart Numbers? First of all, this technique is only for Problem Solving problems. It won’t work on Data Sufficiency.
It also doesn’t work on every Problem Solving problem. There are two scenarios where smart numbers will work:
 The answer choices are given in terms of a variable, not a number.
 The answer choices are ratios, percents, or fractions.
In both scenarios, the clues are in the answer choices. This means you have to build a new habit. From now on, you have to read the answer choices before you choose an approach. This will feel strange at first. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to start writing down variables and equations before you even finish reading the problem, let alone the answer choices.
The problem is, once you’ve started writing down a bunch of algebra, you’ve already committed yourself to doing the problem with algebra. But algebra isn’t usually the smartest approach on these problems. The GMAT doesn’t give you enough time to test out an algebraic approach, then start over with smart numbers. Read the answer choices early, and start with smart numbers.
How Do I Do It? It’s a little easier to apply smart numbers when there are percents, fractions, or ratios in the answer choices, so we’ll start there. Here’s an example problem:
Team A and Team B are raising money for a charity event. The ratio of money collected by Team A to money collected by Team B is 5:6. The ratio of the number of students on Team A to the number of students on Team B is 2:3. What is the ratio of money collected per student on Team A to money collected per student on Team B?
(A) 4:5
(B) 5:4
(C) 5:6
(D) 5:9
(E) 9:5
Step one: read through the entire problem, including the answer choices. It’s okay to jot down the given information on your paper, but don’t start writing equations.
Step two: identify the simple unknowns. In this step, ask yourself: what number or numbers would I most like to know? In this problem, you’d like to know the number of students on each team and the amount of money raised by each team.
Step three: choose your numbers. The numbers should fit what the problem tells you, and they should be easy to do math with. For instance, you can’t just pick any number for the number of students on Team A and the number of students on Team B. You need to pick numbers that have a 2:3 ratio, in order to match what the problem says.
Here’s what your scratch paper might look like after this step:
Team A: $50, 2 students
Team B: $60, 3 students
Step four: solve the problem, using your numbers instead of the variables. Don’t write down equations with variables! Instead, just do math with the numbers you’ve already picked.
Team A: $50 / 2 students = $25/student
Team B: $60 / 3 students = $20/student
25:20 = 5:4
The answer to this problem is 5:4. Choose (B) and move on to the next problem!
If there are variables in the answer choices, rather than relationships, you’ll need to do one extra step before picking the answer. The first four steps are exactly the same, so practice them on your own with this problem before reading further.
If a, b, c, and d are consecutive integers and a b c d, what is the average (arithmetic mean) of a, b, c, and d in terms of d?
(A) d – 5/2
(B) d – 2
(C) d – 3/2
(D) d + 3/2
(E) (4d – 6)/7
Step one: Read the entire problem! You know you can use smart numbers because the answer choices are written in terms of the variable d.
Step two: The simple unknowns are the four unknown values, a, b, c, and d.
Step three: Choose some small, simple consecutive integers, like 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Step four: Solve the problem. You’ll end up with a number as your answer. The arithmetic mean of 1, 2, 3, and 4 is (1 + 2 + 3 + 4)/4, which equals 5/2.
Step five: This is the trickiest part. You know what your answer should equal: it should come out to 5/2. However, the answer choices are expressions with variables, not numbers. To finish the problem, you need to determine which of those expressions comes out to 5/2.
To do that, you have to replace the variable d with a number. Don’t replace d with 5/2! You chose a value for d earlier in the problem: d equals 4. Plug in 4 to each answer choice.
(A) 4 – 5/2 = 3/2
(B) 4 – 2 = 2
(C) 4 – 3/2 = 5/2
(D) 4 + 3/2 = 11/2
(E) (166)/7 = 10/7
Answer choice (C) comes out to 5/2. Since we know that the right answer to the problem is 5/2, it’s a match! (C) is the right answer.
How Can I Practice? Using smart numbers to solve GMAT Quant problems will probably feel unnatural at first. That goes away with consistent practice. Part of what the GMAT tests is your ability to learn new approaches and unusual ways of thinking—think about how weird Data Sufficiency problems seemed when you first saw one!
The best way to practice is to consistently use smart numbers whenever you get the opportunity, even if you don’t feel comfortable with them yet. Try this exercise to really drive the concept home, as well. Open your Official Guide to the GMAT to the Problem Solving section. Skim through the problems, only looking at the answer choices. You’ll notice that most problems have numerical answer choices, but many problems have variables, fractions, percents, or ratios. Whenever you see any of those things in the answer choices, stop and read the entire problem from beginning to end. Then, try to solve it using smart numbers. Finally, take notes: did it work? Why or why not? Did you do all of the steps correctly? If you really get stuck, check out the explanations in GMAT Navigator—when a GMAT Quant problem can be solved using smart numbers, we’ll walk you through exactly how to do it.
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
[b]Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. [/b]Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.
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Sign Up for Our Free GMAT Practice Test Analysis Workshop!
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22 Jan 2018, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Sign Up for Our Free GMAT Practice Test Analysis Workshop!

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
We know your time is precious while you’re prepping for the GMAT. To get the most out of your prep, we recommend analyzing your GMAT practice test results and then using those findings to create a smart study plan moving forward. This will help you strategize, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and get more accustomed to the format of the test.
But how do you do that? We’ll show you! We’re hosting a free 90minute workshop on February 3 to help you analyze your practice tests and focus your GMAT prep with a datadriven study plan. The workshop will be hosted by 99thpercentile instructors Jamie Nelson and Logan Thompson, who are experts at this, so you’ll be in great hands.
You can even submit your own GMAT practice test for live expert analysis!
What: GMAT Practice Test Analysis and Study Plan WorkshopWhen: Saturday, February 3 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: Live Online
Register here to save your spot—we’ll see you there!
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
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GMAT Approach: Think Like a Computer
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03 Feb 2018, 15:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Approach: Think Like a Computer

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
The GMAT is a computeradaptive test, so it makes sense that to beat it, you might need to think like a computer, right? It really is true, but maybe not in the way that you would expect. You might think that a computer is really smart and could solve lots of problems on the GMAT. Actually, the problems on the GMAT require a fair amount of creativity and critical thinking that would be hard for a computer. For solving problems, you need your own human brain.
But here’s where a computer would excel on the GMAT: the computer can’t get flustered and will always make completely rational decisions. That’s the part of computer thinking you want to emulate.
If you’ve been studying the GMAT for a while, you’ve probably heard that the GMAT is a test of executive reasoning. It may look like a math test or a grammar test, but it’s really a decisionmaking test. Can you follow the proper process for each question type? Can you let go of a challenging problem and invest your time in problems you’re more likely to get right? Can you choose to skip problems when you’re behind on time?
In many ways, these are all fairly straightforward decisions with clear answers, but it’s hard to execute them under pressure. This is when the computer brain excels and you want to train your brain to function the same way.
Let’s say you’re in the middle of the test and you’re struggling. You know you’ve missed four questions in a row and then a crazy, convoluted exponents question pops up. You remember your instructor saying that if you don’t understand a problem or you don’t have a plan or you know it would take a really long time, it’s not worth doing. But you’ve already gotten 4 in row wrong!! Surely you can’t miss ANOTHER one, so you dive in and try to work it out. Three minutes later, you have to give up, even more frustrated and discouraged.
That’s your human brain at work, unwilling to give in to five in a row wrong and irrationally hoping against hope that you’ll be able to pull this one out. But the computer doesn’t care, the computer is totally rational about it. The computer brain says, “Right now at this time, I’m looking at a question that I’m not likely to get right, so the best thing to do is to let it go and save my time for another problem.”
And the computer is totally right here, as you can see looking in from the outside. Rationally, there is little chance of getting this question right, so all you gain by trying it is frustration and the loss of two to three minutes spent working it out. The computer knows that’s not a good bet, so it just takes a guess and goes on to the next problem.
And that’s just one example. For another, the computer brain doesn’t care that you studied rates last week and really SHOULD know how to do this rates problem in front of you. It only cares what you DO know how to do right now. And if right now, you don’t know how to do the rates problem in front of you, it’s time for a guess. The computer brain takes the guess and feels good about it.
There are more, of course, but that’s enough for this post! The more you can simplify your GMAT decisionmaking to concrete rules and then apply those rules rigorously without getting caught up in the emotion and stress of the moment, the better off you will be. Happy computer thinking!
Want some more amazing GMAT tips from James? Attend the first session of one of his upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
James Brock is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Virginia Beach, VA. He holds a B.A. in mathematics and a Master of Divinity from Covenant Seminary. James has taught and tutored everything from calculus to chess, and his 780 GMAT score allows him to share his love of teaching and standardized tests with MPrep students. You can check out James’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have Botched the Interview
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03 Feb 2018, 15:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have Botched the Interview

What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, mbaMission debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.
Maybe you are among the unlucky applicants who were/are on the outside looking in this year, shaking your head trying to understand why you did not get into an MBA program. As you look back and assess where you went wrong, you may narrow your focus and reexamine your interviews. After all, you were invited to interview but were rejected thereafter, so there must be a causeandeffect relationship, right? Your rejection must mean that everything was at stake during those 30 to 60 minutes and that your interviewer just did not feel that you are of the caliber preferred by your target school, right? Wrong.
Bruce DelMonico, the Yale School of Management (SOM) assistant dean for admissions, explained to mbaMission that the school uses a “consensus decisionmaking model [in which] we all need to agree on an outcome for an applicant [to be accepted].” Each file is read multiple times. With the need for a consensus, we can safely conclude that the committee is not waiting on the interview as the determinant. There is no postinterview snap judgment but rather serious thought and reflection by the admissions officers.
Although we have discussed this topic before, it is worth repeating that no simple formula exists for MBA admissions and that the evaluation process is thorough and not instinctive/reactive. Yes, a disastrous interview can certainly hurt you—but if you felt positively about your interview, you should not worry that you botched it and that this was the determinant of the admissions committee’s decision.
mbaMission offers even more interview advice in our FREE Interview Primers, which are available for 17 topranked business schools.
mbaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a fulltime and comprehensively trained staff of consultants, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.
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Does the GMAT Really Just Test Your TestTaking Skills?
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06 Feb 2018, 14:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Does the GMAT Really Just Test Your TestTaking Skills?

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There are a lot of things the GMAT can’t measure. It can’t measure your intelligence, your value as a person, or your ability to succeed. But is it really just about your testtaking skills? And if you’ve always done poorly on tests, are you doomed to GMAT failure?
The first time I really studied for a standardized test, I resented having to learn the “tricks.” By “tricks,” I mean things like plugging in the answer choices or picking the most “boring” answer on a Verbal problem. In my mind, the test wasn’t rewarding me for being good at math or good at English. It was just rewarding me for memorizing a bunch of silly, useless testtaking tricks that I’d never use anywhere else. And that didn’t seem right to me.
Now that I’ve been teaching standardized tests for close to a decade, I think about them a lot differently. I now think that the GMAT does do a very good job of measuring certain testtaking skills. If you reduce those skills to “silly, useless tricks,” you’re selling yourself and your learning short.
My mistake, when I started studying, was to think that admissions committees cared about whether I was great at math and English. Sure, the schools you’re applying to would like you to be comfortable with numbers and with formal, written English. That’s one reason that you need a basic level of math and verbal skill to succeed on the GMAT.
However, the content on the GMAT doesn’t go beyond a highschool level. That means that just about everyone who’s applying to business school, even those of us who hate math or grammar, can learn all of the math and grammar that the GMAT asks for. (And if you’re struggling to get started, why not check out Foundations of GMAT Math and Foundations of GMAT Verbal?) In that sense, the GMAT is a fair test: it doesn’t expect you to understand concepts, like quantum physics, that ordinary people can’t wrap their heads around.
When I resented having to learn “testtaking tricks,” I mistakenly thought that the test really wanted to evaluate my math and English skills, but the “tricks” were muddling everything up. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The tricks are the test, and succeeding on the “tricks” means developing testtaking skills that matter in business school.
Take estimation, for instance. Every time you estimate the answer to a Quant problem, you’re demonstrating two skills. First, you’re demonstrating that you know how to estimate. We aren’t born with that ability. But the ability to estimate is vastly more useful in life (and in business school) than the ability to, say, algebraically solve for the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle. Second, you’re demonstrating that you know when to estimate, and when you really need an exact answer. That kind of highlevel decisionmaking—how precise of an answer do I really need?—is a hallmark of people who are great at solving problems in general, not just on the GMAT.
Or think about time management. A lot of people will make GMAT time management sound like a trick: “you’ll get a higher score if you take more time on the first ten questions.” “You should never skip more than three questions in a row.” However, the reality is that there isn’t just one simple trick to managing your time on the GMAT. Good time management requires strong executive reasoning skills. Someone who successfully manages their time on the GMAT is someone who can make difficult decisions, with limited information, while under stress, even though the consequences of those decisions aren’t immediately obvious. Doesn’t that sound like the kind of person who would succeed in business school?
Sure, the GMAT isn’t really about math or English. But that doesn’t mean it’s just about how good you are at taking tests. It’s really about a whole constellation of skills, some of which you already have, and some of which you’ll need to develop. They include:
There are dozens of other life skills that will help you on the GMAT. (And the GMAT, in turn, will help you develop many of these skills!) We’re not talking about tricks like “always guess C” or “pick the shortest answer choice” here—we’re talking about testtaking skills that will actually serve you well in business school and beyond. So take some time to cultivate them, and don’t get too bogged down in learning more and more GMAT content. Once you’ve studied the basics, it’s really more about what you do with your knowledge than about how much you know.
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
[b]Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. [/b]Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.
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Know the GMAT Code: Work Backwards on Problem Solving Problems (Part 1
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06 Feb 2018, 14:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Know the GMAT Code: Work Backwards on Problem Solving Problems (Part 1)

Guess what? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free—we’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
Do you know how to work backwards on Problem Solving problems? More important, do you know when to work backwards—and when not to? To get a really high score on this test, you’ve got to Know the Code in order to get through the questions efficiently.
I’ve got two Problem Solving problems for you to try from the GMATPrep® free question set. On one, working backwards is a great option. On the other…not so much. If you think you already know this strategy, test out your skills by trying both Problem Solving problems and articulating (out loud, so you know that you really know it!) how to know where you can work backwards and where you shouldn’t try.
If you don’t already know how to work backwards, just go ahead and try both problems however you’d like and then we’ll learn all about this strategy.
Ready? Set your timer for 4 minutes and…Go!
“*If (2x)(2y) = 8 and (9x)(3y) = 81, then (x, y) =
“(A) (1, 2)
“(B) (2, 1)
“(C) (1, 1)
“(D) (2, 2)
“(E) (1, 3)”
If x2 = 2y3 and 2y = 4, what is the value of x2 + y ?
“(A) –14
“(B) –2
“(C) 3
“(D) 6
“(E) 18”
Okay, what do you think? Don’t just keep reading. Take a stand now—even if you’re not sure, just guess. (That goes for your actual answers and what you think re: when to work backwards.) Making yourself take a guess invests you more in the outcome—and helps you to better retain what you’re about to learn.
Let’s do this!
We’re going to do the first one first. Glance at the problem. Problem Solving. Exponents. Glance at the answers…pairs? Is this like coordinate plane or something?
Read. No, it’s not actually geometry—it’s just writing the x and y answers this way. Jot down the given equations.
Note that I didn’t repeat the parentheses in the equations when I jotted this down because I’m confident that I won’t make a mistake by removing them. (Though I could make a different mistake!) If you aren’t confident about that, then keep using the parentheses.
All right, let’s think about what we’ve got here.
Variables in the exponents. I can solve algebraically by getting the bases on each side to be equal and then dropping the bases and setting the exponents equal to each other. Anything else?
Glance at those answers again. There’s something pretty awesome about them.
First, the answers actually give you the possible values for the only two variables in this problem, x and y. This is the classic sign that you can work backwards, if you want to: The answer choices give you the actual value for at least one discrete variable in the problem.
But, in this case, it gets even better! In order to work backwards, you have to have that first criterion (actual value for one discrete variable), but there are additional criteria that make the problem easier to do this way. First, the values should be “nice” numbers—they’re not too hard to plug back into the problem. In this case, the possibilities are 1, 2, and 3…as nice as it gets.
Second, tell me what the possible values for x are.
Check it out! Although there are 5 answer choices, there are only 2 distinct possibilities for x: 1 or 2. Just try them both and you’ll be done in about 1 minute.
212y = 8
2y = 4
y = 2
For the first equation, when x = 1, y = 2, which matches answer (A). Is that actually the correct answer?
Try the numbers in the second equation to see. If they work, answer (A) is correct. If they don’t, then x must equal 2, and you’ll have to plug into one of the two equations to find out what y equals.
9x3y = 81
9132 = 81
9×9 = 81 CORRECT!
The pairing (1, 2) does work for the second equation, so the correct answer is (A).
You can of course also solve this problem algebraically, and the algebra is not super hard on this one. But given that you only have to try a maximum of two numbers—and that those two numbers are 1 and 2—working backwards should still be a serious consideration.
Since I told you at the beginning that only one problem could be done by working backwards, you now know that you can’t use this technique for the second one. Why? Use what you’ve learned so far to articulate the answer to my question, then join me next time, when we’ll dive into the full solution!
Key Takeaways for Knowing the Code on Problem Solving Problems (1) If the answers give you possible values for (at least) one discrete variable in the problem, then you can work backwards. Should you? If the numbers are also “nice” numbers for the problem, then you should seriously consider it.
(2) Practice working backwards enough that you learn how to spot other signs that working backwards is a great strategy for a particular problem. In this case, the paired answers meant that we had to try only 2 (really easy) numbers—doesn’t get a lot better than that. Even if you felt fine doing this one algebraically, that lesson is a great lesson to learn so that you know how to spot this characteristic on harder Problem Solving problems in future.
(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:
* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.
Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most wellknown instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Open Waitlist is Not a Flood!
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15 Feb 2018, 12:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Open Waitlist is Not a Flood!

What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, mbaMission debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.
Have you heard the following admissions myth?
When a school that has placed you on its open waitlist says that it wants no more information from you, this is some kind of “test,” and you should supply additional materials anyway.
As we have discussed in the past, this is patently not true. Similarly, when programs tell their waitlisted candidates they are open to important additional communication, such applicants should not interpret this to mean constant communication. The difference is significant.
As is the case with any open waitlist situation, before you do anything, carefully read the waitlist letter you received from the admissions office. Frequently, this will include an FAQ sheet or a hyperlink to one. If the school permits candidates to submit additional information but offers no guidance with respect to quantity, this does not mean that you should start flooding the committee with novel information and materials. If you have another potential recommender who can send a letter that highlights a new aspect of your profile, you can consider having him/her send one in, but you should not start a lobbying campaign with countless alumni and colleagues writing on your behalf.
Similarly, you could send the school an update email monthly, every six weeks, or even every two months—the key is not frequency or volume but materiality. If you have something important to tell the admissions committee that can help shape its perspective on your candidacy (e.g., a new project, a promotion, a new grade, an improved GMAT score, a campus visit), then you should share it. If you do not have such meaningful information to share, then a contrived letter with no real content will not help you. Just because you know others are sending letters, do not feel compelled to send empty correspondences for fear that your fellow candidates might be showing more interest. They just might be identifying themselves negatively via their open waitlist approach.
Take a step back and imagine that you are on the admissions committee; you have one candidate who keeps you up to date with a few thoughtful correspondences and another who bombards you with empty updates, emails, and recommendations that do not offer anything substantive. Which candidate would you choose if a place opened up in your class? When you are on the open waitlist, your goal is to remain in the good graces of the admissions committee. Remember, the committee members already deem you a strong enough candidate to take a place in their class, so be patient and prudent, as challenging as that may be.
mbaMission offers even more interview advice in our FREE Interview Primers, which are available for 17 topranked business schools.
mbaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a fulltime and comprehensively trained staff of consultants, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.
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How to Turn GMAT Word Problems into Equations
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15 Feb 2018, 12:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How to Turn GMAT Word Problems into Equations

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GMAT word problems, like the ones from the Official Guide to the GMAT, usually come with explanations. A lot of those explanations start by turning the word problem into equations. Starting with the equations can make an explanation easy to understand: if the equations match up to what the problem says, then the explanation makes sense.
Unfortunately, it can also make an explanation look like a magic trick. When you had to do the problem, how on earth were you supposed to think of the right equation? What makes an equation the right one, anyways?
In simplest terms, an equation is just two pieces of math with an equals sign in between them.
5x + 10y = 500
In GMAT word problems, those two pieces of math have to match up with something in the real world. In fact, they both have to match up with the same realworld thing. The two sides of the equation have to talk about the exact same thing in two different ways.
For example, suppose that a school play makes a total revenue of $500. You can express the revenue using the number 500.
Another way to express the revenue is to split it up by ticket types. For instance, if the only types of tickets sold were children’s tickets and adult tickets, then this is also a good way to express the revenue:
revenue from children’s tickets + revenue from adult tickets
We now have two ways of describing the exact same thing, so we can create a good equation:
revenue from children’s tickets + revenue from adult tickets = 500
Depending on what information the problem gives you, this probably isn’t a very useful equation. Most GMAT equations are more complex. For instance, the problem might tell you that x children’s tickets were sold, and that each one cost $5. y adult tickets were also sold at $10 each. That gives you another way of writing out the total revenue:
5x + 10y
Because 5x + 10y describes the same thing (total revenue) as the number 500, this is a good equation:
5x + 10y = 500
This might seem basic. And it is! But it’s often the most basic things that are the toughest to really understand. When you write an easy equation, it might just seem obvious, and you can’t really explain why you wrote what you wrote. That makes it hard to handle much tougher equations that do require a lot of thought and explanation.
Let’s create an equation from some more complicated text.
Jordan planned to fold exactly 10 paper roses per day between now and his mother’s birthday in order to complete her birthday gift. Instead, he only folded an average of 7 roses per day until the very last day, when he had to fold 43 roses in one day to finish the gift. How many roses did Jordan fold in total?
In order to create an equation, we’ll have to find two different ways of talking about the same value. In this case, the number of roses that Jordan folded would be a good value to work with: it’s right there in the question.
One way to talk about the total number of roses is by looking at Jordan’s original plan. If he planned to fold 10 roses per day, then one way to write the total number of roses is:
10(days)
Now, let’s find another way to describe the total number of roses. When Jordan actually started folding roses, he did one thing until the last day, and then did something different on the very last day. That gives us a good way to divide up the number of roses:
roses folded before the last day + roses folded on the last day
On the last day, he folded 43 roses. Before the last day, he folded 7 roses per day, or a total of 7(days – 1) roses. So, here’s a second way to write about the total number of roses:
7(days – 1) + 43
Since we now have two ways of talking about the total number of roses, we can put an equals sign between them and create an equation.
10d = 7(d – 1) + 43
If you solve that equation, you’ll find the number of days Jordan spent on the project, which will let you calculate the number of roses. (It’s 120).
Let’s do one more. This time, you’ll need two equations.
Marisha recently completed a 300mile road trip at an average speed of 50 mph. For the first part of the trip, she drove at a speed of 40 mph. For the second part of the trip, she drove at a speed of 70 mph. How many hours of the trip were spent driving at 70 mph?
We could start by finding two different ways to talk about the total distance, or two different ways to talk about the total time. (We can’t start with the speed, because you can’t just do arithmetic with speeds—going 40 mph and then 70 mph isn’t the same thing as going 110 mph!)
We already know one way to express the total distance: 300 miles.
Another way to express the distance would involve splitting the trip into two parts:
distance of the first part + distance of the second part
We don’t know exactly how long the two parts of the trip were, though, so we’ll need to find a way to describe them in terms of what we do know.
If Marisha drove at 40 mph for the first part of the trip, then the total distance she covered was as follows:
(40 mph)(hours for first part of trip)
And if she drove at 70 mph for the second part of the trip, the distance she covered was as follows:
(70 mph)(hours for second part of trip)
So another way of writing the total distance is like this:
(40 mph)(hours for first part of trip) + (70 mph)(hours for second part of trip)
We now have two different ways of writing the total distance, so we have an equation!
(40 mph)(hours for first part of trip) + (70 mph)(hours for second part of trip) = 300
However, we aren’t quite finished. We have two variables, so we’ll need a second equation. That’s where the total time comes in. One way to express the total time is by just giving the number of hours: 6 hours. The other way is by splitting it up into two parts:
hours for first part of trip + hours for second part of trip = 6
Now we have a system of equations! It looks like this:
40x + 70y = 300
x + y = 6
The first equation gives two ways of talking about the total distance of the trip. The second equation gives two ways of talking about the total time of the trip. By combining them, it’s possible to solve. (The answer to the question is 2 hours.)
Try reframing how you think about equations in GMAT word problems. The right equation is always right for a reason—because both sides of the equation talk about the same realworld quantity. You don’t have to come up with that equation instantly, either. It’s okay to build an equation up from smaller pieces, just like we did here.
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
[b]Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. [/b]Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.
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Mission Admission: How to Handle the Round 2 MBA Application Rush
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03 Mar 2018, 21:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Mission Admission: How to Handle the Round 2 MBA Application Rush

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admissions tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, mbaMission.
When the round 2 MBA application rush begins, many candidates who are just beginning to contemplate their MBA applications will call us and ask, “How many schools can I apply to at this stage?” or “Am I too late to start my round 2 MBA application now?” Unfortunately, no clearcut answers to these questions exist.
First and foremost, your focus should be on quality over speed. As a candidate, you are far better off completing applications to three schools with 100% effort than applying to five schools and putting forth just 60% effort. MBA admissions offices notice sloppy mistakes and will conclude that you did not pay full attention to your application and therefore may not really care about their program.
One thing some candidates may not realize is that they do not need to commit to a specific number of schools up front. We typically suggest that candidates master one application and then apply what they have learned to the next. Submitting applications to five schools simultaneously can generally be problematic, but if you make significant progress on one school’s application and then begin work on the next, you can be confident that you will complete each one with a degree of excellence.
The ideal number of target schools varies from candidate to candidate and depends on each individual’s professional and personal schedule, written communication skills, risk profile, ambitions, and other similar factors. So approach your applications methodically, recognize what is realistic, and then work aggressively—but not haphazardly—toward your end goals.
As you prepare your round 2 MBA application, try to keep a clear head and a focused mind. Every once in a while, a concerned business school candidate calls us and says something along the lines of, “Star491 wrote that Wharton won’t read past the 500word limit, but IndianaHoops09 wrote that 10% over the limit is fine. Meanwhile, WannabeTuckie says…” Reading this may amuse some of you, but the truth is that many MBA applicants have difficulty not visiting the various message boards, and some have even more difficulty not believing everything they read there. At the risk of stating the obvious, most message boards are completely unregulated, and you should be skeptical when reading the opinions expressed by anonymous posters. For every individual who claims to know something authoritatively, you can always find another individual who claims to know that the opposite is true. Round and round we go…
Thus, our message is to ignore anonymous message board posts. Although this is valuable advice now, as you complete your applications (ideally with your sanity intact), it will become even more valuable as the admissions season progresses and many posters begin to make unsubstantiated claims about admissions statistics (offers given, GMAT scores of accepted candidates, etc.). If you tune out such noise now and put your energy instead into creating your best possible round 2 MBA application(s), you will be far better off.
Of course, if you do have any questions, you can always ask us on the message boards over at Manhattan Prep, Beat the GMAT, or GMAT Club. Or sign up for a free oneonone consultation!
mbaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a fulltime and comprehensively trained staff of consultants, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.
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When is an Absolute Value Not an Absolute Value?
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03 Mar 2018, 21:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: When is an Absolute Value Not an Absolute Value?

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… when it’s a distance on a number line!
Okay, that doesn’t quite work as a joke. But it does work as a GMAT Quant strategy. Intimidated by absolute value GMAT problems? Read on to learn a quick and painless strategy.
Absolute values always come out as positive numbers. For instance, the absolute value of 7 is 7:
7 = 7
Distances are also always positive, both in the real world and on the GMAT. There’s no such thing as a negative distance. That means we can use distances—something we already understand intuitively—to think about absolute value.
The town of Greatport is at mile marker 5 on the highway, and the town of Fairmont is at mile marker 35.
If you want to travel from Greatport to Fairmont, you calculate the distance like this:
35 – 5 = 30
But if you want to travel from Fairmont back to Greatport, you don’t do this:
5 – 35 = 30
You know intuitively that the distance is still 30 miles, not negative 30, regardless of which direction you’re traveling. What you’re really doing, mathematically, is taking an absolute value.
5 – 35 = 30 = 30
35 – 5 = 30 = 30
The distance between two towns is the absolute value of the difference between their mile markers.
Let’s add a third town: Veltria. But I’m not actually going to tell you where Veltria is. All I’m going to tell you is that it’s 5 miles away from Fairmont.
Here’s the equation that shows that:
v – 35 = 5
By the way, this would be equally correct:
35 – v = 5
What this equation means is that the distance between Veltria and the 35mile marker is 5 miles. Your intuition should tell you that Veltria can only be in two different locations: the 30mile marker or the 40mile marker. And in fact, those are the two values that fit the equation:
30 – 35 = 5 = 5
40 – 35 = 5 = 5
So, when you see an equation like 10 – x = 7, you can read it like this:
“The distance between 10 and x is 7.”
Without actually doing algebra, you can figure out that x can only equal 3 or 17.
Let’s bring a fourth town into the mix. It’s called Halfwayville, and here’s an equation that tells you where it’s located:
h – 35 = 5 – h
If you see this in an algebra problem on the GMAT, don’t start simplifying it with math. Instead, read it as if it’s telling you about the real world.
h – 35 = “The distance between Halfwayville and the 35mile marker”
5 – h = “The distance between Halfwayville and the 5mile marker”
The equals sign between them means that those two distances are the same. In other words,
“Halfwayville is equally far from the 5mile marker and the 35mile marker.”
There’s only one place Halfwayville could be located: halfway between those two markers! That places it at the 20mile marker.
What if they start bringing inequalities into the mix? Let’s locate the town of Easton on the highway. Here’s what you know:
e – 35 > 7
The left side of the inequality is the distance between Easton and the 35mile marker. So, read this inequality like this:
“The distance between Easton and the 35mile marker is more than 7 miles.”
In other words,
“Easton is more than 7 miles from the 35mile marker.”
Where could Easton be? Anywhere, as long as it’s at least 7 miles from Fairmont.
Let’s locate a new town: Middleburg. This time, all you know about it is this inequality, which has two absolute values:
5 – m > 35 – m
Read it in plain English:
“The distance between Middleburg and the 5mile marker is greater than the distance between Middleburg and the 35mile marker.”
Or:
“Middleburg is closer to the 35mile marker than to the 5mile marker.”
Where could Middleburg be? It can’t be off to the left side of Greatport; if it was over there, it would be closer to Greatport. We want it to be closer to Fairmont. It could be between Greatport and Fairmont, as long as it’s closer to Fairmont. It could also be over to the right side of Fairmont. Here are all of the possibilities:
That inequality, 5 – m > 35 – m, is really just saying that Middleburg is to the right of the halfway point between Greatport and Fairmont.
What if they give you even less info? Let’s suppose that we’re now in a foreign country, where we don’t know where anything is at all. You see this equation:
x – y + y – z = x – z
Read it out piece by piece. We have three towns: Xandria, Yelby, and Zorb.
On the left side of the equation, we have this:
“The distance from Xandria to Yelby, plus the distance from Yelby to Zorb”
On the right side, we have this:
“The distance from Xandria to Zorb”
In other words, if you drive straight from Xandria to Yelby, then drive from Yelby to Zorb, you’ll cover the exact same distance as you would if you drove directly from Xandria to Zorb.
What does that mean?
Suppose that Xandria, Yelby, and Zorb were laid out like this. If you traveled from X to Y, then from Y to Z, you’d be going out of your way:
There’s actually only one situation where going through Yelby doesn’t add any distance to your trip. That’s the situation where Yelby is right on the line between Xandria and Zorb.
In that case, the distances are equal. If you go from X to Y, then from Y to Z, you’ve covered the same distance as going straight from X to Z.
In other words, this equation:
x – y + y – z = x – z
Means this:
“Y is located on the line that goes from X to Z.”
On a number line—which is where we do most absolute value problems—that just means that Y is in between X and Z, rather than being off to one side.
Absolute value problems are more intuitive than you might think, even when they’re combined with inequalities! The next time you see an absolute value of a difference, pause before you start applying algebra rules. Can you think about the problem in terms of distances, instead? If so, you may find that the solution is faster and simpler than you expected!
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
[b]Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. [/b]Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have a Recommendation from My S
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09 Mar 2018, 04:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have a Recommendation from My Supervisor

What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, mbaMission debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.
MBA admissions committees often say they understand if an applicant does not have a recommendation from a supervisor, but do they really mean it? Even if they say it is okay, if everyone else has a supervisor writing a recommendation, not having one would put you at a disadvantage, right? Wrong.
We estimate that one of every five applicants has an issue with one of their current supervisors that prevents them from asking for a recommendation. Common issues include the following:
 The applicant has had only a brief tenure with his/her current firm.
 Disclosing one’s plans to attend business school could compromise potential promotions, bonuses, or salary increases.
 The supervisor is “too busy” to help and either refuses the request or tells the applicant to write the recommendation him/herself, which the applicant is unprepared to do.
 The supervisor does not believe in the MBA degree and would not be supportive of the applicant’s path.
 The supervisor is a poor manager and refuses to assist junior staff.
 The candidate is an entrepreneur or works in a family business and thus lacks a credibly objective supervisor.
We have explained before that admissions offices have no reason to disadvantage candidates who cannot ask their supervisors to be recommenders over those who have secured recommendations from supervisors. What incentive would they have to “disqualify” approximately 20% of applicants for reasons beyond their control?
Therefore, if you cannot ask your supervisor for his/her assistance, do not worry about your situation, but seek to remedy it. Start by considering your alternatives—a past employer, mentor, supplier, client, legal counsel, representative from an industry association, or anyone else who knows your work particularly well. Then, once you have made your alternate selection, briefly explain the nature of your situation and your relationship with this recommender in your optional essay. As long as you explain your choice, the admissions committee will understand your situation.
mbaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a fulltime and comprehensively trained staff of consultants, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.
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Big GMAT Skills: Shedding Your Biases
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09 Mar 2018, 04:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Big GMAT Skills: Shedding Your Biases

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In our first post, we discussed what I would call the behemoth of big GMAT skills: reading with specificity and objectivity. Today, we’re going to focus on the latter of the two to delve into another one of the most important big GMAT skills: stripping yourself of biases.
But first, let’s play a game. My email is rarnold@manhattanprep.com. I have written a number less than 50 on a piece of paper. For one month after this blog post hits cyberspace and becomes the viral sensation I know it will become, you can email me once a day your guess for what this number is. I will give correct guesses a hundred dollars. This isn’t a joke.
But it’s a trick (or is it?).
I feel reasonably confident that I won’t be paying up, despite the fact that you’ll have 30 guesses for this number less than 50. If you’re wondering how I feel so confident, it’s because you are not seeing through your bias.
When I say ‘number less than 50,’ are you thinking 1, 2, 3, 10, 24, 41, etc.? Hey, that’s true, those are numbers less than 50. But you are a numberist, and your implicit bias is showing. For instance, I never said positive number.
In the words of Scooby Doo, “Ruh roh.”
Now there are infinite negative numbers you have to choose from.
I also never said my number is an integer.
“Alright, you little smart a—”
I know. I’m sorry.
Now you have all kinds of numbers to guess from. Fractions, negative square roots, powers of negative pi… Point is, I feel pretty safe no one is going to guess my number.
People have an inherent positiveinteger bias. But you don’t want to let it blind you to what could be possible on a GMAT Quant problem.
When an equation lets us solve for x, our expectation is that x is the answer… But what if the problem asked for 3x? Obviously, this is related to ‘reading specifically,’ but it’s hard to read specifically when you’re letting your own expectations blur the language in the problem.
This is an especially important skill on Reading Comprehension. When you start a passage, even a bias like, “Ugh, I hate this topic” can affect your understanding. If anything, you’re not reading carefully—you’re thinking about how much it sucks that you have to read about the electrophoresis of DNA extracted from snapping turtles. Other topics will be about certain sociological topics that we are bound to have emotional responses to. This will bring with it a proclivity to read things a certain way, even if that’s not really what the passage says.
For Reading Comp, there are good ways to practice this skill of objective reading. Find an editorial arguing for something you disagree with from a news source you don’t much love. In today’s nigh utopia of political harmony, I just don’t know where you’ll find such a thing, but search one out. Read the article and try to quell the emotional response you’ll definitely feel rising. Read the article for the words that are written and express the ideas as coldly and nonjudgmentally as you can. I bet that, sometimes, what you first thought you read wasn’t what was actually written. Then, find your favorite news source and an article arguing for something you agree with, but do the same exercise. Practice specifying exactly what the author is arguing. Different pieces about the same topic can have slightly different conclusions, so make sure you’re pinpointing what is really said.
Note that none of this need change your mind. You don’t have to suddenly start agreeing with arguments you didn’t before. It’s purely an exercise to get better at reading coldly and objectively. That’s hard enough on the GMAT, when the passages are rather removed from our daytoday life, and it’s even harder when we make it personal. But by actively practicing suppressing your biases, you’ll improve your skills of reading specifically.
In Sentence Correction, you’re going to have a bias for the answer that ‘sounds good.’ And sometimes it’s right! Sometimes. One reason I think the GMAT wants you to learn grammar rules that no one really cares about is just to make sure you can apply rules and processes in situations that seem a certain way, because often they will turn out another. But if you always go with the answers that seem good, you’ll miss opportunities.
(Here, opportunities = GMAT points).
Biases are why √(x^2 + y^2) is so often simplified to x + y. In all our years of mathematics, nobody ever told us this was allowed (…hopefully). But it’s such a strong impulse because, dang it, it looks so nice and easy, it must be true. It’s why when a triangle looks isosceles, we assume it is. It’s why when a question asks for the ratio of x and y we might think, incorrectly, that we need the value of x and the value of y (when really, knowing x/y is enough). In general, don’t assume something is the way it is because it looks a certain way. Use the processes to verify.
No doubt, sometimes your biases will be right—but they’ll be wrong enough to keep your score down, unless you learn to see through them.
Want some more GMAT tips from Reed? Attend the first session of one of his upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Reed Arnold is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. He has a B.A. in economics, philosophy, and mathematics and an M.S. in commerce, both from the University of Virginia. He enjoys writing, acting, Chipotle burritos, and teaching the GMAT. Check out Reed’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
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Mission Admission: Why the MBA Interview is Not a Quiz Show, and What
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06 Apr 2018, 23:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Mission Admission: Why the MBA Interview is Not a Quiz Show, and What Makes a Good Thank You Note

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, mbaMission.
This time of year, many business school candidates receive invitations to interview with their target MBA programs. Many of these applicants inevitably fret and ask themselves, “What if I don’t know the answers to my interviewer’s questions?” The good news is that, as the title of this blog post states, a business school interview bears no resemblance to a TV quiz show. The admissions officer, alumnus/alumna, or student interviewing you will not ask you about esoteric topics and will not expect you to answer questions pertaining to business management. The vast majority of the questions you will encounter in your MBA interview will pertain to your life and experiences—in other words, the interviewer will be asking you about you—so you will already have all the answers in hand from the beginning.
As a first step in preparing for your MBA interview, take time to reacquaint yourself with your own story, especially as you have thus far presented it to the school in your application. Go back and reread your essays, contemplate pivotal moments in your life, and consider your major accomplishments and failures. By doing so, you will be sure to have the basic knowledge necessary to perform at your very best during your MBA interview.
After the MBA interview, many candidates choose to write thank you letters to their respective hosts, and we would recommend doing so. But what makes a good thank you note?
Personalization: When writing to your host/interviewer, show sincerity by personalizing your letter. By handwriting your letter and mentioning specifics about your conversation and experiences, you will continue to foster your connection with your interviewer and show that your interaction truly made an impression.
Brevity: Your letter should be no more than a few sentences long. If you write several paragraphs, you run the risk of creating the negative impression that you are trying too hard or do not respect limits (possibly even suggesting that you might carry on too long in class). By being brief and sincere, you will instead make a powerful impression that will yield results.
Speed: Ideally, send your letter within 24 hours of your visit and within 48 hours at the most. Most interviewers must submit their reports very soon after the MBA interview, and your thank you note will have a better chance of positively influencing this report if it is received before the report is submitted. Also, after too long, your interest may logically fall into question, or your host may simply forget some of the details of your conversation that you are trying to reinforce. By writing your letter immediately, you will give the impression that you have been energized by the experience and are eager to maintain your connection.
Thank you notes are generally not a “make or break” aspect of your candidacy, but they can establish continuity and demonstrate your continued interest to your target school’s representatives. We encourage candidates to follow up with such notes because they are a lowcost way of reinforcing a positive impression and relationship.
mbaMission offers even more interview advice in our free Interview Primers, which are available for the 17 topranked business schools.
mbaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a fulltime and comprehensively trained staff of consultants, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.
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Big GMAT Skills: Seeing Possibilities Under Constraints
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06 Apr 2018, 23:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Big GMAT Skills: Seeing Possibilities Under Constraints

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In our previous articles, we’ve talked about two big GMAT skills: reading specifically and stripping away your biases. Now we talk about another behemoth: being aware of possibility.
I’m going to start with an easy demonstration:
At a pet store that sells only dogs and cats, the number of dogs is 40% more than the number of cats. There are 84 animals in the store. How many are cats?
A) 1
B) 2
C) 35
D) 84
E) 85
Sure, you could have translated into a system of equations and solved, but that would have been a waste of time. With only a little bit of thought, you should realize that 35 is the only possible answer to this question out of the answer choices given (reminder: don’t ignore the answer choices in Quant problems).
But what if these were my answer choices?
A) 12
B) 35
C) 41
D) 49
E) 55
Again, the equations could give you 35, but could you come to the same answer using just a high awareness of possibility?
For instance: are there more cats or dogs, and how does that help you narrow down?
You know there are more dogs. Which means cats have to be less than half of the total 84—leaving you with only A, B, and C as possible choices. Can you narrow down from there?
Well, 41 is only slightly less than half of 84, which would put the dogs and cats roughly equal—but there are 40% more dogs. So C is out. And 12 cats would leave over 70 dogs, which is way too much a spread for 40% more, so you’re left with B. No equations, no real math other than dividing 84 by 2 and thinking about how far apart these numbers would be.
(Bonus: I know my cats have to be a multiple of 5. How do I know that? Think about what ratio ‘40% more than’ gives you.)
You’ll be surprised by how many GMAT Quant questions can have answer choices narrowed down—sometimes even to a single one—simply by asking yourself which number needs to be larger. It’s a highawareness question, one that you won’t ask yourself if you just immediately jump to good ol’ trustworthy algebra. But algebra is just one of many tools you have on the Quant section, and the test isn’t really testing your ability to do algebra, but to recognize when to do algebra, and when another method is a better choice.
Without doing the math, what can you tell me about the product of 16 and 987? List as many things as you can think of. Then see if you can pick the answer without calculating.
16 x 987 = ?
A) 15,433
B) 15,784
C) 15,792
D) 16,101
E) 16,292
Well, what is possible? For starters, my answer must be less than 16,000 (since 16 x 1000 = 16,000, and 987 is less than 1000). Second, it must be even. And, most usefully, my answer must end in a 2 (because the units digits 6 and 7 will multiply to a number ending in a 2). Answer C is correct. None of the ‘hard math’ done—I just recognized what was possible with the numbers given.
The testing cases process is a direct application of this skill. You are given constraints, so you find cases that are possible given these constraints. Then you see what answers to the main question there could be.
Sometimes you’ll find questions that don’t even seem like math (examples: DS 329 and Diag number 45). Recognizing what situations could be (or must be) true under certain conditions is entirely the game being played. The ‘math’ is simple arithmetic. The ‘possibilities’ are the tricky part. So often, the only thing I’ll ask a student is, “What does that mean?” or “What possibilities are there here?” And after a few moments of thinking, they’re able to answer, and this gets them to where they need to be. So what do they need to learn? To ask themselves that very question. “What could be possible here?”
You’ll also see dozens of Critical Reasoning problems that are testing you on your ability to recognize ‘what could be the case.’ A Critical Reasoning argument will give premises that support some conclusion, and very often the conclusion is a jump too far—it hasn’t considered what else could be possible in the situation. That’s where you step in. Your constraints are the premises—you’ll never really want to throw those out or mess with them in any way. What you do is grant the author the premises but consider what else might be the case.
As a simple example:
Eating apples has been shown to increase someone’s GMAT score, and Lipica improved from a 550 to a 680. Lipica must have eaten a lot of apples!
You know that’s not a great argument, I bet, but a lot of GMAT arguments use the same faulty reasoning. You’re probably thinking, “Couldn’t Lipica have just studied a lot, and used an error log, and read Reed’s incredibly insightful GMAT blog posts?” And that’s a good point. Just because apples are one thing that increases GMAT scores (this isn’t true, to my knowledge, just to be clear), doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that could have caused Lipica’s score to jump. There are plenty of other possibilities to consider.
Inference questions in Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension ask you to find out not what could be the case, but what must be, given what’s written in the passage. These require you to make logical connections about the given situation and see what is implied. But it’s about an awareness of possibility.
The biggest thing you can do to get better at this skill is to start asking yourself the questions “What could be the case?” and “What must be the case?” as you work through or review problems. Then specify—really specify—what in the problem reveals to you this possibility. This will help you recognize a similar clue in the future. But you’ll be amazed at how often just asking yourself the right question unlocks the problem for you. If you stop thinking, “What should I do next?” and instead ask, “What could be the case based on what I know?” you’ll probably find yourself unlocking problems that seem to have you stuck.
Want some more GMAT tips from Reed? Attend the first session of one of his upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Reed Arnold is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY. He has a B.A. in economics, philosophy, and mathematics and an M.S. in commerce, both from the University of Virginia. He enjoys writing, acting, Chipotle burritos, and teaching the GMAT. Check out Reed’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
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A Quick Idea to Improve Your GMAT Critical Reasoning Overnight
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12 Apr 2018, 10:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: A Quick Idea to Improve Your GMAT Critical Reasoning Overnight

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
Today, I want to share with you one of the easiest and quickest ways I’ve ever found to improve your accuracy when doing GMAT Critical Reasoning questions.
First, here’s an example of such a question, which I’ve made much easier by stripping it down to just two answer choices (I’m guessing you won’t have too much trouble solving it):
Ignacio must have studied hard, because he got an A on the test.
Which of the following would most weaken the argument?
(A) Ignacio’s classmate Horace studied hard and got a C on the test.
(B) Ignacio is a habitual cheater.
Just in case you need it, the correct answer is at the end of this article (feel free to check now), but I’m guessing you’re pretty confident you got it right. I’m pretty confident you got it right too—there’s no trick or anything, it really is a fairly straightforward question.
In my view, here is the most interesting thing about this question: the wrong answer includes many words that were already part of the argument and contains no surprising ideas. However, the correct answer includes some new information that even very strong test takers may not have considered before seeing it presented in the answer choices.
The reason I bring this up is because when I teach GMAT Critical Reasoning in my classes, and I ask my students why they eliminated an answer choice that they thought was incorrect, the single most common reason they give me is some variation of the following:
 “They didn’t mention that in the argument.”
 “That wasn’t something the author of the argument brought up.”
 “That seems random/like it came out of nowhere.”
Yet when you think about it, all those things are true of the correct answer to the question above! If, right now, any of these are the reason you’re eliminating answer choices, then you’re often eliminating the correct answer.
Here is my superquick fix. Stop saying “that answer choice wasn’t mentioned, so it’s wrong.” Start saying “that answer choice doesn’t affect the argument’s conclusion, so it’s wrong.” That’s it! You’ll improve your GMAT Critical Reasoning accuracy overnight.
Consider that advice in the context of the question under discussion here. Answer choice (A) mentions Ignacio, studying, the test, and grades, whereas answer choice (B) mentions only Ignacio. Yet when we consider the conclusion of the argument itself, “Ignacio must have studied hard,” answer choice (A) doesn’t convince us that the conclusion is untrue, as Horace could have gotten a poor grade for many other reasons: maybe he showed up to class halfway through the test, or maybe he was madly in love with his classmate in front of him and couldn’t concentrate. But that tells us very little about Ignacio, who still should have gotten an A, thanks to his conscientious study habits. When we look at answer choice (B), however, we are presented with an alternative explanation for Ignacio’s stellar performance. Ignacio got an A because he cheated. Though the conclusion that he studied hard may still be possible, it is now very much in dispute. So choice (B), though it is something we may not have considered, does have a significant effect on the argument’s conclusion, and is therefore correct according to our new litmus test.
Finally, a big caveat: this idea does not work well for questions that ask you to make an inference, draw a conclusion, or explain a discrepancy (your Manhattan Prep books refer to these as “Evidence Family” questions). For those question types, you really do want an answer choice that sticks pretty close to the facts presented. But, since those types of questions are less common than Assumption Family questions, for which the advice presented here is quite helpful, I still believe the simple change from “that answer choice wasn’t mentioned, so it’s wrong” to “that answer choice doesn’t affect the argument’s conclusion, so it’s wrong” will be a helpful one. Try it today!
And you already knew this, but the correct answer is (B).
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
Ryan Jacobs is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in San Francisco, California. He has an MBA from UC San Diego, a 780 on the GMAT, and years of GMAT teaching experience. His other interests include music, photography, and hockey. Check out Ryan’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.
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Everything You Need to Know about GMAT Time Management (Part 3)
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12 Apr 2018, 10:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Everything You Need to Know about GMAT Time Management (Part 3)

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Are you ready for the third and final installment of our GMAT Time Management series?
In the first part of this series, we established some overall principles for GMAT time management:
(1) Why is time management so important on the GMAT?
(2) Know (generally) how the scoring works.
(3) When solving problems, follow two principles.
In the second part, we talked about perquestion timing:
(4) First, train per question: Develop your “1minute time sense”
Today, we’re going to graduate to persection timing. Let’s do this!
(5) Second, Manage an Entire Section Using Benchmarks The GMAT doesn’t time you per question, of course. You’ll need to manage 62 minutes across 31 Quant questions and 65 minutes across 36 Verbal questions.
On most questions, you’re going to spend somewhere between 1 minute and 3 minutes.
You’ll also likely have a few on which you guess immediately (because the question is a big weakness for you or looks horrible for some other reason). We recommend planning to bail on 2 to 4 questions in each section (Quant, Verbal, and IR). Know ahead of time what you really dislike and tend to get wrong anyway—so that you can quickly decide that something is not worth your time.
And you’ll hopefully prevent yourself from spending much longer than 3 minutes on any one question, since that’s usually a big waste of time. (Think about it: there is a faster solution but you aren’t finding it. Better to let that one go!)
So how do you balance all of that to come out to 2 minutes on average? We’re going to use our scratch paper to help us keep track.
GMAT scratch paper is a bound booklet of 5 sheets of legalsized paper (that’s the overly long paper often used for legal documents). This yellow graph paper will be laminated, so you’ll use a special marker to write on it. (If you’re in one of our classes, then you received your very own scratch paper booklet as part of your books and other materials.)
While the booklet technically has 10 faces (front and back of 5 pages), the first page has a bunch of writing and instructions on it, so in practice you’ll have 9 faces on which to write. You can have only one booklet at a time, but you are allowed to exchange the booklet for a new one during the test. Ask for a new booklet during each break so that you start each section with a clean slate.
Quant Section Timing Just before each new section of the test begins, you will have a 30second introduction screen (also known as a “breather” screen). You, of course, won’t actually need to read these instructions; you’ll already be prepared.
Instead, you’re going to use that 30 seconds to set up your scratch paper. (Note: you cannot set up your scratch paper during the break; you are not allowed to write anything or even sit in the testing room during your break.)
Here’s what to do:
Flip the booklet over (so that you’re on the back face of the very last page), and write Extra at the top. If you ever need more room, you can flip to the back.
Next, flip to the prior face (the front face of the last page) and write 0 or draw a smiley face or whatever message you like in the lowerright corner. This is where you’ll be done with the Quant section! Draw two lines to split the page into quadrants.
Then move to the secondtolast page and write 8 in the lowerright corner. Again, split the page into quadrants.
Keep doing this, counting up by multiples of 8 and working from the back of the booklet to the front. When you get to the page where you write 56, split the page into 3 boxes, not 4. And now you’re ready to start!
As you take the test, the number in the corner of each page tells you approximately what the clock should read when you’re done with that page. If you’re within 3 minutes in either direction, you’re fine.
If you are more than 3 minutes behind (e.g., you get to the timemarker 40 but you only have 36 minutes left on the clock), then somewhere in the next set of 4, choose a hard question on which to bail immediately. As soon as you see that it’s testing a topic you don’t like, or the wording is confusing, or whatever, guess your favorite letter and move on. Boom! Now you’re within 3 minutes again and can continue normally.
(By the way, what is your favorite letter, A, B, C, D, or E? If you don’t have an immediate answer, pick one anyway. Congratulations, you now have a favorite letter! Whenever you need to guess randomly, always pick that same one. If you have eliminated that letter via educated guessing, then pick from among the remaining answers.)
If you discover that you are more than 3 minutes ahead (e.g., you get to the timemarker 40 but you still have 45 minutes left on the clock), then work more methodically. Make sure that you are actually writing all of your work down. Don’t rush so much that you start making a bunch of careless mistakes!
Practice setting up your scratch paper this way during your practice tests. You’ll need to be able to set it all up in 30 seconds (it’s harder than it sounds!) and you’ll need to practice how to react appropriately if you discover that you’re too far ahead or behind.
Verbal Section Timing The different Verbal question types have different average time lengths, so tracking your timing is not going to be quite as clean as it is on Quant.
Here’s how to set up the scratch paper for Verbal:
Since the Verbal questions have different averages, you’re going to do more problems before you check the time. This allows you to better balance across the different kinds of questions you’ll see on the test.
This time, you’re going to use only the last 4 faces of your booklet. You’ll count up by multiples of 16 minutes, and you’ll do 9 questions on each page.
We have to account for one more thing: the time it takes to read passages for Reading Comprehension problems. We typically see 4 passages on the test. The timing shown here assumes that you will start one new passage on each of the 4 pages. In other words, you will start one passage somewhere in the first 9 questions. You’ll start the second passage somewhere in the next 9 questions. And so on.
The test could, though, space out the passages differently. So here’s what you’re going to do. First, you’re going to write a little R after each of your timemarkers: 0R, 16R, 32R, and 48R.
When you start reading a new RC passage, go cross off that R in the corner of the page. You’re expecting one RC passage and now you’ve gotten it.
The “default” scenario is that you’ll get one new passage in each block or quadrant of your scrap paper, as in the top right example here:
If you start the expected one passage on that page, check your time against the expected 48 and carry on normally. If you’re within 3m you’re fine; if you’re not, take action. As on the Quant, if you’re too far ahead (too much time on the test clock), slow down a little and make sure you’re working systematically. If you’re behind (not enough time on the test clock), bail on a question in the next set to get back on time.
If, on the other hand, you start a second RC passage on that page, write down another R (and don’t cross it off). That’s your signal that you should expect to be a little short on time compared to the time marker written on that page. Expect to be about 2 minutes down—so if the time marker says 48, for example, then you should really be at about 46. Check your time against that 46 to see whether you need to make any adjustments. If you’re more than a few minutes off, take action.
There’s one more scenario: What if you haven’t crossed off the first R? That means you didn’t start any new RC passage on that page, so expect to be a little ahead of your time marker. In the example above, you’d expect to be at about 50 minutes; if you’re more than a few minutes off, take action.
One last note for Verbal: on the graphic above, we show the ABCDE written out for each question. If you prefer, you can write out the letters just once vertically and then continue tracking your work on subsequent problems to the right (without repeatedly writing the letters). Just continue to use your symbols to eliminate or circle the empty spaces that represent A, B, C, D, and E.
You will definitely need to practice this setup multiple times before you get into the real test. Use this procedure on all of your practice CATs from now on. You can also use this whenever you do problem sets. Make Quant problem sets in multiples of 4 from now on (4, 8, 12, or 16) and Verbal problem sets of 9 or 18.
Then, analyze your timing both globally and perquestion. Where did you make good decisions? Where should you have made different decisions? Figure out exactly how you should have known to make that different decision so that you can retrain yourself for next time and master GMAT time management.
Good luck and happy studying!
Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most wellknown instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
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How Many GMAT Questions Can I Miss? What the Data Really Says
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12 Apr 2018, 13:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How Many GMAT Questions Can I Miss? What the Data Really Says

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how many GMAT questions you can miss. But it’s time to revisit it, because we’ve got something that’s even better than birthday presents (when you’re a test prep nerd): new data.
A few years back, the GMAC started providing the Enhanced Score Report. This report gives you a ton of extra data about your performance on the GMAT—you can even use it to figure out approximately how many questions you got right.*
For this article, I looked at 44 different Enhanced Score Reports, with scores ranging from 410 to 750. I focused on two things: the score each test taker got on each section of the GMAT, and the percent of the questions he or she got right in that section.
Quant Here’s what you need to know about the Quant section.
1. Nobody got an A. Even though several students got a 49 on Quant—two points from a perfect score—nobody got more than 82% of the Quant questions right. In fact, more than half of the test takers got between 55% and 70% of the questions right. Statistically, that’s where you’ll probably end up on test day!
If you’re getting about that many GMAT Quant questions right when you practice, you’re probably working at a realistic level. If not, consider either challenging yourself more or backing off a bit.
2. You can miss a lot of questions and still get a high Quant score. One student who earned a 49 only got 68% of the Quant questions right. That would be a lousy grade in almost any college class—but it can correspond to a nearly perfect GMAT score. Several others got even fewer questions right, and still got (excellent) Quant scores of 45 to 47.
The numbers don’t lie! You don’t have to get every Quant question right to get a strong score, or even a truly excellent score. You will get GMAT questions wrong! The trick is to recognize those questions, move on from them quickly, and not let them mess with your head.
3. You can get a lot of questions right and still get a low Quant score. Good testtaking strategy means you don’t have to get a ton of questions right to score well. Unfortunately, poor strategy can keep you from scoring well overall, even if you really nail some hard GMAT questions. One test taker scored a 38—in the 36th percentile—despite getting 75% of the Quant questions right. The ESR doesn’t include enough data to figure out exactly why this happened, but it’s probably down to poor timing, careless errors, or missing lots of questions in a row.
This might seem like bad news, but you should actually find it heartening. Getting a lot of GMAT questions right won’t get you a 700, so you can stop beating yourself up over missed problems and start focusing on the test as a whole. Taking the GMAT is about much more than just each individual problem—it’s a challenge for your executive reasoning skills.
4. In fact, the number of GMAT questions you get right doesn’t have that much to do with your score. There is some relationship between how many GMAT questions you get right and the score you get on the Quant section. For instance, test takers who got 55 to 65% of questions right got an average score of 39.9, while test takers who got 65 to 75% right got an average score of 46.3.
However, the variance within each group is huge. Check out this table:
The numbers do trend upwards, but they’re also all over the place. Test takers who got virtually the same ‘grade’—55 to 65% correct—scored anywhere from 25 to 47 on the Quant section. The number of GMAT questions you get right might be related to your score, but it definitely doesn’t determine your score.
That’s the situation for the Quant section of the GMAT! Everyone misses questions on the Quant section, and most of us miss a lot of GMAT questions. But that isn’t a problem—you can still get an excellent score with a lot of wrong answers, provided you approach the test thoughtfully. How to do that (and what the data says about Verbal) will be the topics of a couple of upcoming articles!
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
[b]Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. [/b]Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.
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Our GMAT Practice Tests Are UptoDate: Practice the NEW GMAT!
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16 Apr 2018, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Our GMAT Practice Tests Are UptoDate: Practice the NEW GMAT!

Guess what? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free—we’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
More exciting news on the GMAT front: our amazing IT department has updated our GMAT practice tests to match the new test format! You can now take our GMAT practice tests under the new official conditions that will be given on the official exam starting April 16th.
As a reminder, the Quant and Verbal sections of the exam are getting shorter (by a total of 23 minutes!). The scoring will stay exactly the same and the test will still contain all of the usual question types and content areas. Check here for full details.
Wait, I’m Taking the Real GMAT Exam Before the 16th! Our updated GMAT practice tests can only be taken under the new format, but never fear: the official GMAT practice tests (currently called GMATPrep® and downloadable from www.mba.com) have not yet been updated, so you can take an “oldformat” practice test there.
But we do need to talk about one thing. Today is April 12th. The last day the exam will be given under the old format is April 15th…three days from now. I really can’t recommend taking a practice test within 3 days of the real thing. It’s like running a practice marathon 3 days before the real marathon—not enough time to get better at what you’re practicing, plus you’re likely to just tire yourself out right before the big day.
Still, you might want to do, say, just one section of the exam a few days before—I can get behind that. So I give you permission to use GMATPrep for that.
Is That All? One more thing, actually. You will need to update how you track your time across the Quant and Verbal sections of the test, since both are now shorter. Here’s how to use your Yellow Pad scratch paper to manage your time for the new format of the exam. We’re in the midst of updating other parts of our curriculum and study materials with this same timing strategy, so just bookmark that link and you’ll be good to go.
And I really have to give another shoutout to our entire IT team. Last summer, they updated our GMAT practice tests in just 24 hours to allow the three new sectionorder options. Now, and given a far more fundamental and farreaching change, they churned out an update in just 9 days. That’s truly exceptional and I’m proud to be associated with them!
Happy studying!
Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most wellknown instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
The post Our GMAT Practice Tests Are UptoDate: Practice the NEW GMAT! appeared first on GMAT.

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Managing Your GMAT Weaknesses on Test Day
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02 May 2018, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Managing Your GMAT Weaknesses on Test Day

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
My motherinlaw is amazing at baking. She’s the kind of person who can whip up a layer cake with no recipe, while having a conversation, reading the news, and playing a game of Scrabble.
Me, on the other hand—well, I once managed to melt a batch of lemon cookies. So, when I have to bake something, I triplecheck the recipe like it’s instructions for doing heart surgery.
In real life, when you’re good at something, you can breeze through it. And when you’re lousy at something, you slow down and work harder. But that’s not how it works on the GMAT.
Let’s look at an imaginary student. Her name is Paris, and one of her GMAT weaknesses is word problems. Now she’s taking the real GMAT, and she’s halfway through the Quant section. A nastylooking word problem pops up on the screen. Yikes.
But Paris isn’t behind on time, so she decides to read the problem and give it a shot. She thinks she gets what it’s saying—it still looks tough, but it might be doable. She dives in and gets to work. It takes her 3.5 minutes of hard work, but she gets an answer, and she’s ready to keep moving.
Let’s suppose Paris’s biggest strength is Data Sufficiency. Lucky for her, the very next problem is a Data Sufficiency problem. She knows she spent too much time on the last problem, so she decides to blow through this one, hardly writing anything on her paper. After 30 seconds, she has an answer, and she doesn’t even check it—she’s ready to keep rolling.
Paris just spent four minutes on two problems, just like you’re supposed to. The problem is, she just got both of them wrong.
The GMAT is all about highlevel decisions. You can’t just go fullsteam into every single problem: that’s how you run out of time halfway through the test and end up with a terrible score. You have to not only read the problem, but also choose how much time and energy you’ll put into it.
If you put your limited time and energy into a problem you’re probably going to get wrong, you just wasted that time! On the flip side, if you don’t put enough time and energy into a problem that you’ll probably get right, you’ve wasted an opportunity.
Let’s look at a different scenario. Paris is taking the GMAT again, but this time, she’s read this article. She knows that she needs to invest her time carefully. And she knows that word problems are one of her GMAT weaknesses—in other words, she’s likely to get them wrong.
When she sees the word problem, she goes ahead and reads it. (After all, you can’t skip every problem you might be weak at!) It doesn’t look easy, but because she has plenty of time, she decides to try it anyways. But, when the 90second mark approaches, Paris makes an executive decision. She knows that she usually misses tough word problems—even when she spends a long time on them. She knows that she could get this one, but she also knows that she’s likely to get it wrong under pressure! So, she spends another minute making an educated guess, and then she moves on.
Next up is the Data Sufficiency problem. Because she didn’t overinvest in the word problem, Paris is right on time. She takes her time and writes out the math carefully. After a minute, she’s confident that she has the right idea. It takes her another thirty seconds to finish up the arithmetic, doublecheck her work, and pick the right answer.
She spent the same amount of time on those two problems as she did in the other scenario. But this time, she definitely got one of them right—and, if she guessed well, she might have gotten them both.
When I bake something, I slow down and take the time to get it right. But that’s not how you should approach the GMAT, because the GMAT isn’t like the real world.
On the test, if you know a topic is one of your GMAT weaknesses, you should actually be more aggressive about guessing and moving on quickly. It’s fine to get problems wrong—but it’s not fine to waste a bunch of time getting there.
On the other hand, if you know you’re strong in a certain area, don’t just blow through those problems. If you could get a problem right, you really don’t want to miss it for a silly, careless reason.
In short: when you’re actually taking the test, spend a little less time on your GMAT weaknesses than you feel like you should, and more time on your strong areas. It’s counterintuitive, and it doesn’t work when you’re baking a batch of cookies, but it does work to get you the best GMAT score!
Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or inperson GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.
[b]Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington. [/b]Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.
The post Managing Your GMAT Weaknesses on Test Day appeared first on GMAT.

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GMAT Official Practice Exams Have Been Updated
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02 May 2018, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Official Practice Exams Have Been Updated

The GMAT® Official Practice Exams have been updated for the new (shorter!) test format—and that’s not all!
The GMAT official practice exams platform has been moved online and the whole look and feel has been updated. We do lose the ability to take an exam offline, but we gain so many other benefits that the tradeoff is worth it.
What did we gain with these new GMAT official practice exams? First, you can access the GMAT official practice exams and questions from your mba.com account. You don’t need to download any separate software and you don’t have to worry about any compatibility issues with your OS or device—and, yes, you can access the platform from tablets. You’ll be able to access the material from Safari, Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.
Second, we can now take GMAT official practice exams in the updated format (31 Quant questions and 36 Verbal questions)! The old software (known as GMATPrep) is still in the old format and it will never be updated—it’ll just quietly fade into the sunset.
Wait, so it’s not called GMATPrep anymore? Nope, now it’s called the GMAT Official Practice Exams and Questions. The free part is now called the Free GMAT Official Starter Kit + Practice Exams 1 & 2.
I just logged into my own mba.com account and, boom, it was already right there waiting for me under My Product Purchases. (You can also find it “for sale” for $0 on the website’s store page…but I didn’t even go there.)
What else do we get with the new GMAT official practice exams? There are also these paid products:
GMAT Official Practice Exams 3 & 4 (formerly Exam Pack 1)
GMAT Official Practice Exams 5 & 6 (formerly Exam Pack 2)
GMAT Official Practice Questions (formerly Question Pack 1)
All of the above exist in GMATPrep as well—they’re the same products, just renamed.
What material is new? Exam #2 (the second of the two free exams) used to have the same IR questions as Exam #1, but now exam 2 has its own dedicated set of IR problems. Yay!
Other than that, the content is the same (though there are some new features in terms of doing and tracking questions—more on that in another post at a future date). This is really more a platform upgrade than anything else (and, of course, the upgrade to the new test format).
What if I I’ve already been using GMATPrep? Should I switch to the online platform? This is important: Any data you’ve accumulated in GMATPrep will not transfer over to the new platform. So you do have to make a choice about whether you want to switch.
If you’re pretty close to the end of your studies and have a lot of data already built up in GMATPrep, then you may not want to switch. You can either use Manhattan Prep’s exams if you want to take exams under the new format or you can just still take the old format under GMATPrep, if you like. The perquestion timing averages are still the same; the test is just longer.
If your test date isn’t coming up soon, though, then I’d say it’s a good idea to switch. You might as well practice under the new official format for the test.
What if I bought a paid product for the old GMATPrep software? You can switch your product registration to the new online platform. Take a look at the official FAQ page to learn how to do so. That page also has all of the details in terms of how long your access will last and so on.
Same rules apply: Your data won’t transfer, so don’t make the switch if you’re pretty close to done, don’t want to lose existing data, and don’t mind taking practice exams in the old format. If that’s not the case, then switch to the new platform.
Is that all? That’s all for now! I’m going to go try the new IR problems in exam 2.
Happy studying!
Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.
Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most wellknown instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.
The post GMAT Official Practice Exams Have Been Updated appeared first on GMAT.

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