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How to Approach Overrepresentation and Old Achievements in Your MBA Es  [#permalink]

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New post 17 May 2018, 22:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How to Approach Overrepresentation and Old Achievements in Your MBA Essay
Image

Many MBA applicants worry that they are overrepresented—male investment bankers and Indian software engineers, for example. Applicants cannot change their work histories, of course, but they can change the way they introduce themselves to the admissions committee in their MBA essay. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: “As an investment banker, I…”

Example 2: “Managing a team to code a new software product for ABC Corp., I…”

In these brief examples, each candidate introduces the very overrepresentation that he/she would like to minimize. Many applicants feel they must start their MBA essay by presenting their titles or company names, but this approach can immediately make the reader pause and think, “Here we go again.”

Overrepresented business school candidates should therefore consider the opening lines of their MBA essay especially carefully. Rather than stating the obvious, an applicant might instead immerse the reader in a situation or present a special aspect of his/her position:

Example 1 (launching into a story): “At 5:30 pm, I could rest easy. The deadline for all other offers had passed. At that point, I knew…”

Example 2 (stand out): “While managing a multinational team, half in Silicon Valley and half in Pakistan, I…”

In the first example here, the banker candidate avoids drab self-introduction and instead plunges the reader into the midst of a mystery that is playing out. In the second example, the software engineer candidate introduces him-/herself not as a “coder” but as a multinational manager. Of course, every applicant’s situation is different, but with some effort, your story can be told in a way that avoids the pitfalls of overrepresentation.

Another issue that aspiring MBAs should consider is the relevance of the stories they tell in their MBA essay. Because business school candidates must share examples of a variety of experiences with admissions committees, we encourage applicants to truly reflect on their lives and consider all potential stories, including academic, professional, community, extracurricular, athletic, international, and personal. However, candidates inevitably have questions about which anecdotes are truly appropriate and effective. “Can I use stories from high school and college?” “Can I use a story from four years ago?” “How far in the past is too far in the past?” Although no definitive rule exists, with the exception of questions that specifically ask about personal history or family background, schools generally want to learn about the mature you—the individual you are today. So we ask you, “How long have you been the you that you are today?”

When considering experiences that occurred long ago, ask yourself, “Would this impress an MBA admissions committee today?” If you ran a few successful bake sales six years ago when you were in college, this clearly would not stand the test of time and impress a stranger today. However, if, while you were still a student, you started a small business that grew and was ultimately sold to a local firm when you graduated, you would have a story to tell that would likely impress an admissions reader.

Inevitably, judgment is always involved in these decisions. Nonetheless, we offer this simple example as a starting point to help you decide which stories to share. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

The post How to Approach Overrepresentation and Old Achievements in Your MBA Essay 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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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Work Performance is All That Matter  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2018, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Work Performance is All That Matters
Image

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.

Because you spend so many of your waking hours at work, and the MBA is the vehicle you are choosing to use to drive your career forward, you may naturally believe that your professional experiences are all that matter to the admissions committees. Do not get us wrong: you need to have strong professional stories to share, but top-tier business schools are looking for much more than just examples of professional excellence. If you discuss only your work experiences in your application, you will present yourself as a one-dimensional character, and today’s managers need to demonstrate that they can handle a multitude of tasks, situations, and personalities—both inside and outside the workplace.

Occasionally, we at mbaMission post an offer on our blog to review applications submitted by candidates who did not use our services and who did not receive an offer of admission from a single MBA program of their choice. We find that the most common error committed by these applicants is that they discussed only their work accomplishments and gave no sense of who they truly are as well-rounded human beings. Although professional accomplishments definitely have a place in your applications, do not go overboard and focus on this one aspect of your candidacy to the exclusion of all else—balance is crucial. To the best of your ability, strive to offer a mix of accomplishments from the professional, community, and personal fields. Your goal is to keep the reader learning about you with each essay. A diversity of stories will reveal that you have the skills to accomplish a great deal in many different fields and circumstances, which is the hallmark of a modern general manager. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

The post MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Work Performance is All That Matters 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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Using Data to Ace the GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2018, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Using Data to Ace the GMAT
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Over the last two articles, I analyzed what we know about missing GMAT Quant questions and missing GMAT Verbal questions. As it turns out, you can miss a lot of questions on the GMAT. Getting a lot of wrong answers doesn’t guarantee you a bad score—and getting a lot of right answers doesn’t guarantee you a good score.

That’s both good news and bad news. On the one hand, the GMAT is a very forgiving test. You can get way more wrong answers on the GMAT than you could on a college final. On the other hand, taking the GMAT is complicated. You aren’t just trying to get a lot of right answers—you’re making tough executive decisions at the same time.

1. Give yourself some free passes on the GMAT.
Every single person in our data set, including the highest scorers, missed some questions on the GMAT. That means you’re going to miss some questions on the GMAT.

Imagine if the GMAT gave you a list, at the very beginning of each section, of all of those questions you were going to miss. What would you do when you got to one of those questions? Hopefully, you’d guess immediately! If you’re going to miss it anyways, you might as well miss it quickly.

Unfortunately, the real GMAT doesn’t give us a list like that. Have you ever spent a very long time on a GMAT question, just to get it wrong in the end? That happened for two reasons: because you thought you were going to get it right, and because you thought you had to get it right.

You actually didn’t have to get that problem right! If that was true, then the 700+ scorers in our data set wouldn’t have missed so many questions. On the GMAT, a wrong answer is not your enemy.

You can also train yourself to anticipate whether you’ll miss a question. Start with this series of articles on when to guess on the GMAT. Before test day, build a mental list of problems you’re very likely to get wrong—and give yourself permission to miss them.

I recommend starting each section with at least three “free passes,” or GMAT questions that you’ll guess on without even trying. You should also cut your losses and guess on any problem that isn’t going your way! Does it mean you’ll miss more questions? Maybe. Does it mean you’ll get a lower score? According to the data, almost certainly not.

2. Don’t spend extra time on the first few GMAT questions.
Let’s take a look at three test takers from our data set. They all got nearly the same score on the Quant section, but they did it in three very different ways.

Alice (not her real name) started the Quant section strong. Here’s how she performed on each quarter of the Quant section:

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Britt had a weaker start:

Image

Finally, Clara was consistent all the way through the section:

Image

There are limits to these data—since Alice, Britt, and Clara took the test at different times and saw different questions, we can’t really directly compare them to each other. However, we can draw a few tentative conclusions from these and the other data.

You definitely don’t have to get the first few questions right to get a great score. If you’re strong at a section overall, the GMAT algorithm will eventually figure that out. That’s how Britt and Clara ended up with similar scores. On the other hand, a very strong start doesn’t guarantee you a higher score than someone who started off more slowly.

There’s nothing special about the first eight Quant questions or the last eight Quant questions. What the GMAT is looking for is the level you can perform at consistently. You don’t get any bonus points for a strong start if you can’t keep it up!

The GMAT data is complicated, but the two pieces of advice we can draw from it are easy to follow and might help you get a stronger score on test day. Here they are:

  • Plan ahead of time to quickly miss a small number of questions. When you practice, think about which questions you might guess on when you take the GMAT.
  • Don’t spend too much time on the early questions (or the late questions). The easiest way to take the test is to stay consistent and work at a steady pace.
Happy studying! Image

Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.

[b]Chelsey CooleyImage
 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 Using Data to Ace the GMAT 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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Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 1)  [#permalink]

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New post 29 May 2018, 13:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 1)
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The Executive Assessment (EA) shares a lot of roots with the GMAT, GMAC’s flagship graduate business school exam. In certain ways, the Executive Assessment feels almost like the GMAT on steroids—it’s even more stereotypically GMAT-like than the GMAT itself, if that’s possible.

One of those ways has to do with the way in which you can solve math problems. Most of the same math content areas are tested on the Executive Assessment, but a higher proportion of released Executive Assessment problems share a certain characteristic: You can use general “Fast Math” principles to make your job much easier—and you can do even more with the overall Fast Math idea on the Executive Assessment.

Here’s the overall idea: Don’t do math that you don’t have to. Don’t do math until you have to. Before you actually do something you think you need to do, lay it out and ask yourself what the best path is through the math—giving heavy consideration to estimation and other shortcuts.

Let’s try some problems out and see how this really works! All problems in this series are from the free problem sets that appear on the official Executive Assessment website.

Give yourself four minutes (total) to try these two problems; we’ll discuss the solution to the first one today and the solution to the second one in our next installment. They currently appear (as of September 2017) as questions 2 and 3 in the free online Quant Problem Solving problem set.

“The table below represents the combined net income of all United States companies in each of five sectors for the second quarter of 1996. Which sector had the greatest net income during the first quarter of 1996?

Image

“(A) Basic Materials

“(B) Energy

“(C) Industrial

“(D) Utilities

“(E) Conglomerates”

“According to the table below, the number of fellows was approximately what percent of the total membership of Organization X?

Image

“(A) 9%

“(B) 12%

“(C) 18%

“(D) 25%

“(E) 35%”

Got your answers? Even if you’re not sure, guess—that’s what you want to do on the real Executive Assessment, too, so practice that now (even if your practice consists of saying, “I have no idea, so I’m randomly picking B!”).

Ready? Let’s do this!

In both cases, you’ve got a table of information (though that’s not actually why I grouped these two together), so the first order of business is to understand what the question wants and what the table tells you.

Here’s the table for the first problem:

Image

There are 5 sectors. Each one shows a certain net income for the second quarter and then a percent change from the first quarter. What’s the significance of a negative vs. positive percent change?

Think in terms of real business. If your division had a net income of 4.83 billion this quarter, but that represents a –26% change from last quarter…then last quarter was better and this quarter your boss might not be very happy.

Okay, now what do they want to know? Which sector had the greatest net income in the first quarter… hmm. So we’re going to have to backwards-engineer this somehow.

Start by jotting down the starting point for each sector and whether that one was higher or lower in the first quarter:

BM: 4.83, –26%….Q1↑

E: 7.46, +40%…….Q1 ↓

I: 5, –1%……………..Q1 ↑

U:  8.57, +303%..Q1 ↓

C: 2.07, +10%…….Q1↓

They want to know which one was the highest once we back out the numbers. Sector C is already the lowest by far and it was even lower last quarter, so it’s not that one. Eliminate answer (E).

Sector I only went down by 1% in the second quarter, so basically it was still at about 5 in the first quarter. Call that your baseline point and test the other answers against it.

Was Sector BM above or below 5 in the first quarter? The 4.83 figure reflects about a 25% decline from the previous quarter.

Image

If 4.83 represents about a 25% decline from Q1, then it represents about 75% of Q1. Use this to estimate the value for Q1: If the 4.83 figure is about 75%, then what would 25% be?

You would divide 75% by 3 to find 25%, so do the same with the value 4.83.

4.83 is kind of annoying to divide. Try a number that seems like it’s in the ballpark, like 1.5. (1.5)(3) = 4.5, so the value is around 1.5 (but really a little larger). The 1.5 estimate, then, is on the low side. Keep track of that.

Image

Then, multiply by 4 to find 100%: (1.5)(4) = 6. The value is really a little larger than 6, since 1.5 is a low estimate.

Therefore, sector BM, at 6+, was more than sector I, at 5; eliminate answer (C). Your new baseline point is 6+. Test the remaining answers against this number.

The other two sectors were both lower in Q1. For sector E, 7.46 reflects a 40% increase from Q1. What if the starting number for this sector were 6? What would a 40% increase be?

6 + 40% of 6

To find 40%, find 10%, then multiply by 4. Then add your starting point of 6 back in:

(6)(0.1) = 0.6

(0.6)(4) = 2.4

6 + 2.4 = 8.4

If Q1 were 6, then this sector would have been at 8.4 in the second quarter. It wasn’t; it was only at 7.46. Sector E, therefore, was not as high as sector BM, so eliminate choice (B).

Finally, sector U started at 8.57, but that represented a whopping 303% increase over Q1! If you started at 6 and increase that number by 300%, it would be way over 8.57. Sector U also must have started lower than 6, so eliminate choice (D).

The Basic Materials sector is the last one standing. The correct answer is (A).

You could have done all of the above with very precise calculations—but that’s really annoying when you don’t have access to a calculator or Excel. Note that you didn’t actually have to make very precise calculations because the problem was set up to allow you to estimate even though it didn’t tell you that you could.

The beauty of the Executive Assessment is that this is a business test, not a math test. They’re not interested in knowing whether you can do precise math calculations on paper. They’re interested in knowing whether you have a general number sense that allows you to reason your way to a conclusion—we call that the “back of the envelope” approach. All my boss really needs to know is which division did best last quarter, not what the exact numbers were, so I can just do a quick-and-dirty approach that addresses the big picture.

Key Takeaways for Executive Assessment Fast Math
(1) You often don’t need to calculate exact values. Look for opportunities to estimate and do back-of-the-envelope calculations wherever possible.

(2) You’re going to need to practice that! First, you need to get yourself into the mindset that the Executive Assessment isn’t a math test and you actually aren’t just trying to calculate, calculate, calculate. Second, you’re going to need to spend time thinking about how to back-of-the-envelope something in various different situations.

(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:

Image

Image

*Executive Assessment 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.

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

The post Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 1) appeared first on GMAT.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

http://manhattangmat.com

Manhattan GMAT Online Marketing Associate
User avatar
Joined: 14 Nov 2013
Posts: 176
How to Use Parallel Construction in Your MBA Application Essays  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2018, 05:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How to Use Parallel Construction in Your MBA Application Essays
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Longer and more complex sentences often require parallel construction. Simply put, parallel construction ensures that any given longer sentence has a standard rhythm or construction. With parallel construction, each pronoun corresponds with another pronoun, each verb corresponds with another verb, each adjective matches with a corresponding adjective, and so on. Parallel construction can certainly be found in shorter sentences as well, and to great effect.

Consider the example of Hamlet’s words “To be or not to be”—some of the most famous in the English language. Shakespeare wrote this short sentence in perfect parallel form; “to be” is matched perfectly with its corresponding negative “not to be” and is separated only by the necessary word “or.” Another short example of parallel construction from history is “I came, I saw, I conquered.” With these words, Julius Caesar spoke in perfect parallel construction—the grammatical form is a pronoun (the word “I”) followed by a verb in the past tense (“came,” “saw,” “conquered”).

If we were to change that second famous phrase just a touch, the amazing quality it now has would be lost, and the phrase would become unremarkable. For example, if Caesar had said, “I came, I saw, and I became the conqueror,” he would likely not be quoted today, because the rhythm would have been destroyed. Keep this rule in mind for everything that you write, especially for longer sentences.

Here are a few more examples:

Bad: We are successful for three key reasons: understanding our client, trying harder than our competition, and teamwork.

Good: We are successful for three key reasons: understanding our client, trying harder than our competition, and working as a team. (In this example, gerunds [the words ending in “ing”] parallel each other, unlike in the previous, “bad” example.)

Bad: We are in the forestry business. We sell wood to hardware stores and paper to stationery stores.

Good: We are in the forestry business. We sell wood and paper.

On another note, we have previously discussed the importance of thoroughly exploring and accessing your personal stories when writing your MBA application essays. Of course, having too much of a good thing is always a risk as well—admissions committees can be put off by candidates who go too far and become too personal.

Some stories are particularly challenging for admissions committees. For example, we strongly discourage candidates from writing about divorce as a moment of failure. If an individual were to take responsibility in an essay for a failed marriage, he/she would likely end up revealing intensely personal issues, rather than portraying him-/herself as having learned from a constructive professional or personal challenge.

Always keep in mind that in many ways, the admissions committee is meeting you for the first time via your application. So, a simple way to judge whether you are being too personal in your materials is to ask yourself, “Would I be uncomfortable if, immediately upon meeting someone, he/she were to share this sort of information with me?” If your answer is “yes,” you should most likely consider changing your topic. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

The post How to Use Parallel Construction in Your MBA Application Essays 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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Manhattan GMAT Online Marketing Associate
User avatar
Joined: 14 Nov 2013
Posts: 176
Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 2)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2018, 08:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 2)
Image

Last time, I gave you a couple of questions to try and then we discussed how to minimize your work on the first one. (If you haven’t read the first installment yet, go do that now.) Today, we’re going to review the second problem.

Here’s the second Executive Assessment problem from the official free practice set (this one is labeled #3 in the PS set on the Executive Assessment website, as of September 2017):

“According to the table below, the number of fellows was approximately what percent of the total membership of Organization X?

Image

“(A) 9%

“(B) 12%

“(C) 18%

“(D) 25%

“(E) 35%”

Before we dive in, what principles do you remember from our discussion of the first Executive Assessment problem?

Think about it.

Keep thinking about it.

Don’t read below yet.

Okay, here are some things I remember. Image
Don’t do math unless / until I have to. If I do have to do some calculations, lay things out first, then look at everything to decide what the best path is (and to see whether I can spot any shortcuts!).

These principles are reflected in the below graphic:

Image

When a new Executive Assessment problem first pops up, I glance: What have I got, big picture? Without reading the full text, I can see the following things: a table…with some fairly annoying numbers. Also, the answers are percentages, so this is a percent problem of some kind.

The annoying numbers are making me wonder whether I’ll be able to estimate. I’m going to keep an eye out for that possibility as I go to my next step, Read.

Yep, it’s a percent problem. What do they want? Jot it down.

Image

Don’t start solving yet! Go to the second row: Reflect & Organize.

Image

Glance at the Fellows number. Annoying. And then the total? I have to add that up. Ugh.

Look at the answers again. The bottom three are decently far apart—estimation would probably be close enough.

“(A) 9%

“(B) 12%

“(C) 18% → 20% = 1/5

“(D) 25% → 25% = 1/4

“(E) 35%” → 33.3% = 1/3

But answers (A) and (B) are both around 10%…hmm.

I know! If it does seem to be between those two, then I can estimate whether the number is greater than 10% or less than 10%—that’s not a hard estimate to make.

Great, now that I actually have an angle to solve, I can go ahead and do the work.

Oh, wait, one more annoying part to consider: adding up the five numbers to get the total. I only need to estimate, so I can estimate the individual numbers, first of all. I can also try to put them together into “pairs” that add up to “nice” numbers. Okay, let’s do this.

The first one is 78, which is almost 100. Look for another number that would “pair” well with 100: how about Associate Members, at 27,909? Add them up to get about 28,000, a “nice” number.

Any others?

Image

9,200 and 2,300 equal 11,500, another nice-ish number.

That leaves 35,500—oh, let’s pair that with 11,500 to get an even 47k. Then add in the 28k to get about 75k. Nice!

Now, the top of the fraction is the 9,200 number. Maybe 9k is close enough. What’s 9k / 75k? Or 9 / 75?

Reflect for a moment again. Dividing that fraction is kind of annoying.

I’m trying to find a percent. Percent literally means “of 100”—wouldn’t it have been nice if the fraction had already had 100 on the bottom? SO annoying that it doesn’t…

Hmm…

Is there any way to get that number on the bottom to be 100 instead of 75…?

What did we do with that 75% in the first problem (in the first installment of this series)? Go back and take a look.

(Seriously, go look! See what, if anything, you can figure out on your own before you keep reading.)

To go from 75% to 100%, take the 75% figure, divide by 3 to get 25%, then multiply by 4 to get 100%.

BUT, if I’m going to do that with the bottom of the fraction, then I have to do the same thing to the top of the fraction. I can manipulate a fraction in any way that I like as long as I do the same thing to the top and the bottom.

So, take 9, divide by 3 to get 3, then multiply by 4 to get 12. Boom! The new fraction is 12 / 100. Look at the answers—we have an exact match at 12%. Image

The correct answer is (B).

What did you learn on this Executive Assessment problem? Think about your takeaways before you read mine.

Key Takeaways for Executive Assessment Fast Math
(1) You often don’t need to calculate exact values. Look for opportunities to estimate and do back-of-the-envelope calculations wherever possible.

(2) Different problems might have some shortcuts in common; when you learn something on one problem, look for opportunities to apply that learning on different-but-similar-in-some-way problems. The 75% → 100% thing doesn’t require a table or even necessarily a story. It doesn’t even need to be 75% to start—it just requires you to know that you’re trying to get to 100% from a number that’s a little annoying.

(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:

Image

* Executive Assessment questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC. Image

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.

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

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Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2018-2019  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2018, 11:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2018-2019
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How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough Columbia Business School essay analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.

Columbia Business School (CBS) has just released its essay questions for this year, and the admissions office is offering applicants “a little bit old and a little bit new.” Its micro essay (really just a goal statement, to be fair) and first essay remain unchanged, while its second essay is a repackaging of a prompt from two years ago, and its third is brand new. In the past, for its third essay, Columbia Business School applicants could choose from two prompt options, generally pertaining to their personal lives and passions; now, candidates must respond to a question about a team failure instead. In short, this year, applicants have less choice with their essays (though the word counts have not changed), and the topics involved skew slightly in favor of the professional and academic and away from the personal. Let’s jump into our Columbia Business School essay analysis…

Goal: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)
Twitter’s recently expanded character count from 140 to 280 looks positively luxurious next to CBS’s miserly 50 for this goal statement—and that includes spaces! To get a sense of how brief your opportunity really is, note that the school’s prompt is itself exactly 50 characters. With such limited space, this can hardly be considered a true essay, but you will need to approach this with the same level of thought and focus as any of your other written responses for the school. During mbaMission’s recent Q&A with several admissions officers, Columbia Business School Assistant Dean of Admissions Amanda Carlson told our audience:

That 50 characters really helps people to just break it down very simply for themselves and simply for us… Pursuing business education, it’s a huge investment in time, in money, in effort, in energy, and I think this 50-character exercise is as much for the candidate as it is for our team, and we want to know that people are serious, they’re focused, and they’re ready for this kind of adventure.

So, this prompt is a no-nonsense request for information that is all about getting to the point and telling the admissions committee what it needs to know—that you have a clear and achievable goal. In the past, the school has provided a few sample responses, including “Work in business development for a media company” and “Join a strategy consulting firm,” illustrating that conveying the requested information in such a tight space is definitely doable and that you do not need to worry too much about grammatical issues (in other words, you do not need to start your statement with “I want to” or something similar). We like to offer the statement “Reveal true goals, not what you think Columbia Business School wants” as both our own example of keeping things concise and our advice on how to approach and fulfill this request.

Think about what you truly want to do with your career in the short term and state this aspiration directly. Keep in mind that the rest of your application will need to provide evidence that your stated goal aligns with your existing skills and profound interests, especially once they have been augmented by an MBA education. This will show that your professed goal is achievable and lend credibility to your statement. If you can do this in 50 characters (not words!), you will have done what you need to answer the school’s question quite well.

Essay #1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long term dream job? (500 words)
Columbia Business School starts this essay question by more or less telling you not to recap your career to date, so we strongly recommend that you do so (and briefly, at that) only if context is absolutely needed for your stated goals to be understood and/or believable—perhaps if you are making a fairly remarkable career change. Pay particular attention to the phrases “dream job” and “in your imagination” with respect to the long-term portion of the question. The school is prompting you to be creative and perhaps even to challenge or push yourself to think big. CBS wants individuals who do not just follow prescribed paths according to someone else’s blueprint but who are aspirational and more inclined to forge their own way. This is not to suggest that if you have a more traditional plan in mind that you are in trouble or at risk of losing the admissions committee’s attention, but you may need to take a little extra time to consider your ambitions from the perspective of “what if?” and delve more deeply into what you hope to achieve to find the more personal and inspiring elements of your goals. Showing creativity and individualism here can only be helpful.

Although this is not a request for a textbook personal statement essay, your response will certainly involve some elements of the topics covered in such a submission, such as short- and long-term goals. The mbaMission Personal Statement Guide offers advice on brainstorming and crafting such essays along with multiple illustrative examples and so may be helpful in preparing your CBS response to this prompt. You can download your free copy here.

Columbia Business School does not explicitly ask how its MBA program will factor into the achievement of your goals, but if you feel that particular resources the school offers could or will be uniquely influential and advantageous to you as you advance along your path, we believe you have sufficient room and leeway to mention these. However, generic claims or empty pandering have no place at all in this rather compact essay. Any CBS resources you reference must be specific to your needs, and the cause-and-effect relationship between these resources and your anticipated success must be very clear. For example, an applicant might discuss the appeal and instrumentality of Columbia Business School’s Value Investing Program and 5x5x5 Student Portfolio Fund in his or her aspirations to one day break into the asset management world or later launch a hedge fund. We do not recommend going so far as to dedicate an entire paragraph to discussing school resources, but you might consider thoughtfully embedding a relevant reference or two into your submission to acknowledge the program’s role in achieving your stated career intentions. Or should we say dreams?

Essay #2: How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? Please watch this short video featuring Dean Glenn Hubbard (250 Words)
We start our recommendation for approaching this prompt with a perhaps unorthodox suggestion: write down why you want to be at the center of business before you watch Dean Hubbard’s video. Why? Because after seeing Dean Hubbard passionately extol the virtues of the Columbia Business School program and New York City, you may inadvertently parrot his reasons right back at the school, rather identifying your own. This is not to say that you cannot have any overlap with the dean, but you should not feel obliged to echo his rationale or simply do so unconsciously. And if you legitimately do have similar themes, certainly make them your own by framing or presenting them in a different way.

For example, Dean Hubbard proudly notes, “Many of our students take the opportunity to intern during the school year”; if that opportunity is appealing to you, go beyond just mentioning that you would want to complete such an internship and actually identify a target firm, a role, skills you want to develop, and how this would all contribute to your experience as a Columbia Business School student. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to attend CBS, keep in mind that in an environment that prides itself on fusing “theory and practice,” the key is not to consider what the program itself offers but to focus on how your overall experience will be enhanced by the school’s proximity to practical opportunities.

To effectively answer this question, many applicants will need to conduct some significant research about Columbia Business School and the program’s relationship with New York City. You must create and present a plan of action, rather than simply cheerlead for the school or the city. Strive to create a narrative that explains where and how you will grow through the opportunities available there and benefit from the immersive experience.

Essay #3: Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (250 Words)
No excuses. No shifting blame. The key here is ownership. You must discuss a team failure—one in which you were responsible for all or part of a process that led to an undesirable outcome. If you present a scenario in which others were the determinants of the ultimate failure (and you, by contrast, were perfect!), the admissions committee will deduce that you are not a reflective (or worse, honest) person and that you will therefore be unable to improve your approach to problem solving as a student in the CBS program. Clearly, the admissions committee would not want to select such a person for a position in the next incoming class. We are not saying that you need to have been the sole cause of a catastrophe for the admissions committee to accept your story, but you do need to show that you recognize how you could have better affected the team’s outcome. Maybe you failed to speak up at a crucial moment or to monitor another’s poor decisions, for example. You would not have been the direct or singular cause in such a case, but you would have still played a significant role and could have learned from the experience.

Although you have only 250 words for this essay, you must still present a complete narrative that shows momentum toward a positive outcome, presents the inflection point at which the situation turned, and explains how the original plan ultimately failed, all the while revealing your particular role in the failure. A mistake that many candidates make is discussing a failure and then revealing their involvement at the end of the essay, unrelated to the context of the story. Your takeaway from the experience—essentially what you would do differently if given a second chance—needs to be clearly supported by the depiction of the problems in your story. In discussing how you would have changed or improved the outcome, you are effectively explaining how you would have changed or improved the process, of course. And to achieve this, you cannot simply include a few basic statements like “I would create greater transparency in this process if given another chance,” but must show that you have seriously reflected on the experience and would now have a better plan, both tactically and personally, for achieving success.

Optional Essay: Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

This optional essay question starts out sounding like an open invitation to discuss almost anything you feel like sharing with the admissions committee, but the second line (which was not part of the prompt last season) dials things in and puts the spotlight on addressing problem areas specifically. The additional directive about bullet points seems to be a not-too-veiled implication that the school wants you to focus on imparting key information rather than offering a detailed and long-winded explanation of the issue in question. Without a doubt, this is not an opportunity to share another cool story or otherwise try to impress or pander to the admissions committee. If you do not truly need to explain an issue or potentially confusing element of your candidacy (a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT score, a gap in your work experience, etc.), we do not recommend that you submit an optional essay; if you do have issues to clarify, keep things concise. In our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.

For a thorough exploration of Columbia’s academic offerings, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, community/environment, and other key facets of the program, please download your free copy of the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to Columbia Business School.

The Next Step—Mastering Your CBS Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. And, on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the Columbia Business School Interview Primer today. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

The post Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2018-2019 appeared first on GMAT.
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Sucking All the Juice Out of GMAT Quant Problems (Part 2)  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2018, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Sucking All the Juice Out of GMAT Quant Problems (Part 2)
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Grab your Official Guide as we walk through 3 GMAT Quant problems (Problem Solving), hoping to drink every drop of knowledge from the problem before we say, “Yo, that keg is kicked.”

In part 1, we discussed the process of maxing out the value of the GMAT Quant problems you do.

As you review them, classify your current level of mastery for that problem.
1: Basic exposure, little to no clue what to do

2: Partial clue, knew how to do some stuff (may have even guessed the correct answer), but didn’t know a “real way” to get a definite answer

3: Got the answer correct through a legitimate process, but it felt hard

4: Got it correct and felt totally in control and normal (you can even think of other problems it’s similar to or more than one way to do the problem)

Take an inventory of all the component parts of a problem and assess whether you could be better at any of those parts.
  • I know how to simplify/reframe the question being asked (if possible).
  • I know any underlying formulas/properties being tested.
  • I am aware of all constraints in the problem and know what inferences (if any) could be drawn from them.
  • I can make any applicable GMAT vocab translations.
  • I know what clues signify the Topic, and what my First Move/First Thought (if any) is for that Topic.
  • I can execute the arithmetic involved swiftly, accurately, and easily.
  • I can recognize any answer choices that would be savvy to eliminate if I’m guessing.
  • I can recognize the potential thinking traps or mechanical missteps involved in this problem.
  • For Problem Solving, I can recognize multiple ways of doing this problem (if they exist).
  • For Data Sufficiency, I can recognize any easy eliminations we get.
 Follow up on what you’ve attempted to learn on GMAT Quant problems by testing yourself later.
For any little blip of content or “recognition → move” we’re trying to memorize, we should create a flashcard (and we should look at flashcards at least five times a week).

For any problem whose overall process felt heavy or halting, we should schedule at least one Redo Appointment between 2-20 days later (the lower our level of mastery was initially, the sooner we’d schedule it).

—–

If you have a copy of the 2018 Official Guide, let’s try a few GMAT Quant problems in Problem Solving and practice modeling what our inventory of each problem might look like. I’m going to randomly pick three without looking: PS 75, 150, 225.

Go give them a try and then compare your breakdown to mine.

PS 75
1. Reframe the question: find the four possible numbers for total, or use some property that a legal answer needs (like “multiple of 16” in this case) to spot an illegal number.

2. Do we know, given a real number for some part of a ratio, how to scale up the rest of the numbers by the same multiplier?

3. No real important constraints here, because the 30 does all the work for us. Ratios usually have an integer constraint, meaning that the real numbers the ratio scales up to usually have to be integers (because they usually represent a quantity like number of people or number of items). This ratio doesn’t have an inherent integer constraint, because it’s fine for hours to scale up to a decimal or fraction.

4. No vocab translations needed here.

5. Seeing the word ratio tells me it’s a Ratio problem, and my First Move/First Thought is, “Write the ratio horizontally, add a column for total and add up the ratio, and then look for a real number to pair up with a ratio number so that we can solve for the multiplier.”

6. I needed to add 2 + 3 + 5 + 6 = 16. I needed to be able to do 30/2, 30/3, 30/5, and 30/6 in order to get multipliers of 15, 10, 6, and 5. Then I needed to be able to do 16*15, 16*10, 16*6, and 16*5 to find the four possible numbers for the total.

7. None of these answers are obvious bad ones.

8. No obvious traps being laid here. Just seems to be a time-sucker in terms of executing four computations.

9. I could definitely work backwards. Say I test (C) and say the total number of hours was 160. That would allow me to compute a multiplier of 10 and know that the four staff members worked 20 hrs, 30 hrs, 50 hrs, and 60 hrs. Since one of them worked 30 hours, this is a valid number for a total and I could eliminate (C) and test another answer.

PS 150
1. J (now) = ?

2. No content needed other than Algebraic Translations.

3. No constraints to worry about other than the Algebraic Translations.

4. Two sentences to translate into algebra:

Jake loses 8 → “J – 8”

(the verb) he will weigh → “=”

twice as much as his sister → “2s”

Together they weigh → “sum”

5. It feels like Algebraic Translations because it’s a story with two unknowns (Jake’s weight and his sister’s weight), and the story is providing us with relationships between the two unknowns.

6. If we’ve gone the Algebraic route, then we should be able to solve the system of equations in 45 seconds or less.

J – 8 = 2s

J + s = 278

We can isolate one variable and then substitute the other side of that equation into the other equation. Or we can stack the two equations (possibly scaling them up in order to make the coefficients of a given variable match), and add or subtract the equations in order to eliminate one of those variables.

If we initially isolate s by saying s = 278 – J, then we’ll have the unenviable task of doing J – 8 = 2(278 – J). The burden of 2 * 278 should suggest to us that there’s probably a friendlier route.

If we’ve gone the Working Backwards route, we need to be able to subtract 8 from a three-digit number, divide that number by 2, and then add up a three-digit and two-digit number to see if it’s equal to 278.

7. Since they’re asking us to solve for Jake’s present weight, but the problem talks about Jake losing 8 pounds, there might be Evil Twin answers (one answer is Jake’s real weight, the other is 8 less, in case someone accidentally solves for that number). 131 and 139 are Evil Twins, because they’re 8 apart, as are 139 and 147. We’d be ditching the lower one, since that one would be solving for Jake – 8 rather than for Jake. So we wouldn’t guess 131. But 139 appears as the bigger twin and as the lower twin, so we’d probably not know what to do with that one.

8. The big potential errors on Algebraic Translation are always botched translations. People might accidentally do (J-8)*2 = s.

9. Since the answers are friendly integers, we could Work Backwards. If we started with (C), for instance, and said that Jake’s present weight is 139, we could calculate that if he loses 8 pounds, he’ll be 131. His sister would therefore be 65.5 lbs. That decimal weight is already enough to know this number is wrong, but going a step further and thinking, “together, they weigh about 130 + 70 = 200 lbs,” we know that this number was way too small. We’d eliminate (A) and (B) and (C) and probably jump to (E) since 137 was way too small and (D) is only somewhat bigger. We also might recognize that if J – 8 = 2R, then J – 8 = even (since 2 * anything is even). If J – 8 = even, then J = even + 8, which means that J = even. That makes (E) the only legal number to pick.

PS 225
1. Say whaaaaa? No, I don’t know how to simplify this dumpster fire. This question SCREAMS out, “Use one of your three free skips on me!” It’s clear from the size of the paragraph, the number of variables or functions being named and defined, the complicated constraints (1/3 of the decimals have a tenths digit that’s even), the cryptic question (“possible value”) and the three-case answer choices that this is a very hard problem.

2. Anyone, including a teacher, who thinks that they are at level 4 of mastery on this problem the first time they try it is lying to you or themselves. Now that we’ve established that it would take several times doing this problem to be able to answer these 10 questions, we’ll pretend like we’re already at THAT stage of understanding it.

There really isn’t one compact reframing for this dense a question, but whenever questions are asking which is a possible value, then the question is either asking:

-which of these values adheres to the number property that any possible value would have?

or

-which of these values is within the range of possible values?

In other words, you’re either going to know that “all possible values are multiples of 11” and pick accordingly, or you’re going to know “all possible values are between 4 and 18” and pick accordingly.

So we could reframe this question by asking ourselves, “Is this asking me to infer a potential number property of E – S, or is it asking me to find the min/max of E – S?”

2. There aren’t any formulas or properties at work here (for example, we AREN’T using the normal property we think of with rounding decimals: “If it’s .5 thru .9, round up… if it’s .4 thru .1, round down”).

3. Lots of vocab here.

“30 positive decimals, none of which is an integer” = must have some nonzero digit to the right of the decimal

“tenths digit is even” = tenths digit is .0, .2, .4, .6, or .8

“tenths digit is odd” = tenths digit is .1, .3, .5, .7, or .9

S = sum of the non-rounded numbers

E = sum of the rounded numbers

4. We need to apply the function rules to think about what’s happening with E.

“1/3 of the decimals have even tenths digits” = 1/3 of the numbers get rounded down

and we need to think about the complementary leftover

“2/3 of the decimals have odd tenths digits” = 2/3 of the numbers get rounded up

If we’ve figured out that we’re seeking the minimum/maximum value of E – S, we are saying:

MAX VALUE: E is as big as it can be, compared to S

MIN VALUE: E is as small as it can be, compared to S

Biggest E compared to S comes when the even tenths digits are all 0’s, because the function forces us to round up, so we get more upgrade going from something like 0.01 to 1 than we would going from 0.81 to 1.

Also, we need the odd tenths digits to be 1’s, because they will be rounded down, and we want to minimize the downgrade we get out of rounding down. We lose less when we go from 0.11 to 0 than when we go from 0.91 to 0.

Smallest E compared to S has the opposite logic. We’d want to have all the even tenths digits be 8’s so that we have as little rounding up as possible. And we’d want the odd tenths digits to be 9’s so that we have as much rounding down as possible.

5. The big topic clues are DECIMALS, ODD/EVEN, but the normal first moves don’t apply.

The normal first move with DECIMALS is to “clean it up into integers and powers of 10.” For example, change 0.0034 into 34 * 10-4. The normal first move for ODD/EVEN is to “think about the rules of adding/subtracting/multiplying two evens, two odds, or a mix.” For example, seeing 3x + 4y is odd and thinking “if 3x + [even] is odd, then 3x is odd, so x is odd.”

The real topic is FUNCTIONS, and the giveaway there is “The estimated sum, E, is defined as follows.”

Our first move on FUNCTION problems is usually just to think, “Should I bail on this problem? Do I typically do poorly on function problems? I know it’s a topic that skews hard, so it wouldn’t hurt me to miss this.” or “Calm down, FUNCTIONS problems are designed to be brain-numbing the first time we read them. Read this multiple times and think flexibly about what process it’s describing.”

6. It should be easy to take 1/3 of 30 and getting that 10 of these numbers have even tenths digits (i.e. will be rounded up) and that 20 of these numbers have odd tenths digits and will be rounded down.

When we’re calculating biggest E and smallest E, we will get to some ugly numbers that suggest we should switch over to approximating.

Biggest E: 10 of the numbers of a tenths digit of 0 and 20 of them have a tenths digit of 1. What’s the net gain/net loss, compared to what we would have gotten by just adding all 30 numbers (S)?

For each of our 10 round ups, we’re getting something as big as 0.9999… since we can go from a 0.01 to a 1. Let’s approximate and say that these 10 numbers are being rounded up by 1. So we get +10 from those. Meanwhile, we’re losing 0.10 from each of the 20 odd numbers, because we’re going from 0.1 to 0. We get a -2 from that (20 * 0.10).

For our Biggest E, then, we have a net gain of about +8.

E – S

To calculate our Smallest E, we’re going from 0.89 to 1, and we’re going from 0.99 to 0. So we have 10 gains of roughly 0.11 = +1.1. We have 20 losses of roughly 1 = -20.

So E could potentially be about 19 smaller than S.

-19

7. It would be weird for (D) to be right. It’s the only answer that thinks case 1 fails. Since case 1 is in four of the answers, it’s much more likely that it actually works.

It would be weird for the middle number NOT to work. Most of these “possible values” questions are basically testing whether we’ve solved for the mix/max of possible values. The middle number is usually safe and one or both of the extreme numbers have gone beyond the legal range. Since the middle number probably works, (B) or (E) would be a smart guess.

8. It’s possible that people would rule out “0” as one of the potential even tenths digits, although it mercifully doesn’t affect our getting the correct answer. People often forget to consider 0 when they think about even digits.

People might waste time trying to find a case where they land on E – S = 6, instead of realizing that 6 is just some arbitrary number they’re picking that’s somewhere within the legal range.

9. There aren’t really multiple ways of doing this problem. Subbing in each of the three cases as a possible value of E – S wouldn’t allow us to calculate anything, so Backsolving is off the table. We sort of do need to Make Up Numbers to get through this, but this problem largely hinges on two things:

-sensing that a problem asking “Which of these are possible values of E – S” is really asking us to figure out the min and max value of E – S

-understanding that finding the min/max of E – S means picking which odd or even tenths digit would achieve the most rounding up / least rounding down or the opposite.

Now’s the REAL practice:

We’ve dissected all three GMAT Quant problems. Which of those are you putting on your Redo Calendar and when? (Remember that PS 225 is a stupid problem for us to attempt on test day, so we should not prioritize getting better at it in practice.) Which little nuggets / moves / properties / translations we mentioned were ones that had escaped you? Go write some flashcard quizzes for each of those, so that you can reinforce those ideas a few more times in the next couple weeks. Image

Want some more GMAT tips from Patrick? Attend the first session of one of his upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.

ImagePatrick Tyrrell is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Los Angeles, California. He has a B.A. in philosophy, a 780 on the GMAT, and relentless enthusiasm for his work. In addition to teaching test prep since 2006, he’s also an avid songwriter/musician. Check out Patrick’s upcoming GMAT courses here!

The post Sucking All the Juice Out of GMAT Quant Problems (Part 2) 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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Why Robots Aren’t So Good at GMAT Sentence Correction  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jun 2018, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Why Robots Aren’t So Good at GMAT Sentence Correction
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Greetings, reader. I wish to determine whether you are a robot. To help me do so, I will show you a sentence, and then ask you a very simple question about the sentence. Just so you know, the sentence uses correct grammar and would be an acceptable answer choice were it to appear in a GMAT Sentence Correction question. Please don’t worry about correcting the sentence; instead, just read it and then answer the question. Ready?

The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too small.

Question: What was too small?

Did you answer “the suitcase?” Congratulations, you are a human! A robot might have answered “the trophy.” A sassy robot might have answered “it.” An indecisive robot would have just self-destructed in a burning feedback loop of glory. It turns out that robots have a heck of a time answering this question. But for humans, it’s a piece of cake. This is one of the reasons why robots aren’t so great at the GMAT (yet), but I’ll get to that in a bit.

First, it’s worth considering why this task, known as a “Winograd Schema,” is so easy for us humans (with sincerest apologies to any search engine robots currently indexing this page). The human brain is built for complex language. One part of our brain immediately calls up the definitions words “trophy,” “fit,” “suitcase,” and “small.” But another part of our brain constructs an experimental scenario involving all of these concepts; we imagine a huge trophy being shoved unsuccessfully into a tiny suitcase. It’s easy for us to pick out the small item by simply referencing our scenario. A robot, however, can do no such trick. The robot knows the definitions, sure, but for a robot to combine the definitions of the four crucial aforementioned words, which the robot has never seen all in the same sentence before, into an experimental scenario that makes any amount of sense would require an artificial intelligence savvier than any we have yet conjured.

Let’s savor our present cognitive edge over the robots a little longer, shall we? Consider this sentence and associated question:

The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big.

Question: What was too big?

Did you answer “the trophy?” Man, you are just killing it today! The robot probably would have answered “the suitcase,” especially after last time, because this sentence is constructed exactly the same way. And there, friends, is the point: All the robot has is structure. It does not have meaning. Sure, the robot might know the dictionary, but true meaning comes from our seeing a combination of words never before encountered, yet still being able to construct a scenario that allows us to understand them. I’m going to take a wild, unscientific guess and say that a world-class team of artificial intelligence researchers could probably build a robot that would get about 60% of GMAT Sentence Correction questions in the Official Guide to the GMAT correct. But the other 40% of questions, the ones that make the difference between good scores and great ones, are the ones that hinge at least partly on meaning, not just on grammar. And thankfully, those questions more than any others are the ones to which the human brain is uniquely suited.

But here’s the catch: you have to actually use that part of your brain when you take the test. It’s a very easy part to shut off. If you’ve been studying for the GMAT for a while, consider how many times you’ve asked yourself questions like “Does a pronoun refer to the first noun in the sentence or the noun that’s closest to the pronoun? Man, if only I knew that rule, I would ace this test. Maybe I should take the GRE instead.” So I’ll tell you a secret: there isn’t really a rule. Or, more accurately, the so-called “rules” are very complex, and linguists sometimes even disagree on what the rules should be. But what we (even linguists) can agree on is that a big trophy won’t fit in a small suitcase, but a small trophy will fit in a big suitcase. So in the end, it doesn’t matter what some linguist’s rule is, it just matters what the sentence is trying to convey. So next time you’re in a GMAT Sentence Correction pickle, stop asking yourself about the rules, start asking yourself about the meaning, and celebrate our dominion over the robots. Who knows how long it will last? Image

Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.

ImageRyan 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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Michigan Ross Essay Analysis, 2018-2019  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jun 2018, 12:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Michigan Ross Essay Analysis, 2018-2019
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How can you write essays that grab the attention of MBA admissions committees? With this thorough Michigan Ross essay analysis, our friends at mbaMission help you conceptualize your essay ideas and understand how to execute, so that your experiences truly stand out.

The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan must have liked the essay questions it used last year, because it has made only the smallest of tweaks to them for this season. Previously, the school gave applicants nine options for its 100-word short answers—this year, candidates have just six. One has to wonder whether the admissions committee received an abundance of responses to the prompts that were kept, while those that were largely ignored by applicants were discarded. Similarly, Michigan Ross has maintained a second 300-word career goal essay but has refined it, dropping verbiage about long-term goals and asking only about applicants’ short-term goals. Again, we will make an inference here: Michigan Ross is saying that most long-term goals are so vague and prone to change that it is interested in learning only about the short term, which the school can more directly influence. Anyway, those are the tweaks; our Michigan Ross essay analysis follows…

Part 1: Short Answer Questions
Select one prompt from each group of the three groups below. Respond to each selected prompt in 100 words or fewer (
[b]Group 1


I want people to know that I:

I made a difference when I:

Group 2

I was humbled when:

I am out of my comfort zone when:

Group 3

I was aware that I was different when:

I find it challenging when people:

In a blog post last year, Michigan Ross Managing Director of Full-Time Admissions Soojin Kwon said of the then new short-answer prompts, “[We want to] get to know more about you than we would in a traditional essay where you’d talk at length about one topic.” So, we encourage you to thoughtfully brainstorm and carefully consider which response in each group feels most authentic to and revelatory of who you are as an individual. You might be tempted with a 100-word response to just start writing, but thinking strategically about who you are as an applicant is critical to making the most of these “short answers,” which we think of more as mini essays.

We recommend starting by reading through all the options for the three groups and considering each one thoroughly in turn. You want to be able to “own” your answer—as we like to say—meaning that no other applicant could write the same thing as you do. Using the second prompt of the first group as an example (“I made a difference when I …”), writing something like “committed the entirety of myself to a public service project” would be far too general a response and could easily be stated by a large number of applicants. Although this person may very well have committed him/herself to this project in a fiercely original manner, the reader does not have a window into how he/she performed. Instead, something much more specific like “…ignored the objections of countless peers and launched a charity pie-eating contest” would stand out for its originality and paint a clearer picture of the candidate who wrote it with respect to his/her values, persistence with an unpopular idea, and sense of humor in executing an idea. We suggest that in treating this as a mini essay, you use a narrative approach to allow the reader to enter into your story. With only five sentences (or so), you can still craft a visual of how you conduct yourself and engage and guide a reader with a compelling story that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. If you choose to simply discuss a trait without a narrative, at worst, you will risk bragging, and at best, you will waste an opportunity for the admissions reader to get to know you.

When you are done writing, take a look at your two responses and see if they are complementary of one another. If you feel they seem repetitive or focus on the same general idea, story, or area of your life, you will likely want to rewrite one. Your goal is to have each response reveal something new and interesting about you. Another factor to consider is everything the admissions committee will already know about you from the other portions of your application; you do not want to waste this opportunity to paint a well-rounded picture of yourself by repeating information the school already has.

So, to recap, strive to make sure your responses (1) genuinely reflect who you are as a candidate and are as specific to you alone as possible; (2) present a narrative that allows the reader to walk in your shoes, so to speak; (3) are complementary of each other, with each one revealing something different about you; and (4) do not discuss a part of your profile that is already well explained or represented elsewhere in your application.

​Part 2: Essay
Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this the right choice for you? (300 words)
With just 300 words, you do not have any space to waste here, so focus on presenting your answer as clearly and thoroughly as possible—and give the admissions committee what it wants! That said, this is a rare instance where we suggest giving the school a tiny amount of what it has not specifically asked for. Stating your goals in a vacuum, without any connection to where you have been, can be a little bit confusing for the reader, especially if you are a career changer. Imagine you plan to move from consumer marketing to equity research for consumer goods companies after graduating. If you were to simply state, “Post-MBA, I want to join a boutique equity research firm” as your opening sentence, your reader could be left wondering where this interest comes from. But if you were to instead write, “For the past four years, I have lived and breathed Fruity Pebbles in a way I would not have believed humanly possible. I now understand how the tiniest increase in the price of coconut oil or a ten-cent Cocoa Pebbles coupon can affect my product’s margins. As a result, I have become obsessed with the big data that drive computer goods and want to spend the next phase of my career in equity research, helping investors to understand the riddle.” These are two very different answers, all because of some helpful context. From here, you can delve deeper into why equity research is right for you—how you intend to grow in your role and further develop your passion for the position.

Michigan Ross does not ask you why its program is the right one for you, but we encourage you to nevertheless note two or three resources at the school that would enable you to make this professional goal a reality. Remember to not just tout stereotypes but truly integrate your mention of these resources into your essay in a way that shows true professional need. We explain these concepts and how to achieve them in more detail in our mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which is available free of charge. Download your complimentary copy today!

And for a thorough exploration of Michigan Ross’s academic program/merits, social life, unique offerings, and other key characteristics, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, which is also available for free.

Optional Statement
This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.
This optional essay prompt may start out sounding like an invitation to discuss anything more you wish to share with the admissions committee, but a closer look—paying particular attention to the word “only” and the nature of the examples offered—seems to restrict the possible topics to problem areas and auxiliary elements of your profile that may not be readily conveyed elsewhere in your application. The additional directive about bullet points seems to be a not-too-veiled implication that the school wants you to focus on imparting key information rather than offering a detailed and long-winded explanation of the issue in question. This is not the time or place to share another cool story or otherwise try to impress or pander to the admissions committee. If you do not truly need to explain an issue or potentially confusing element of your candidacy (a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT score, a gap in your work experience, etc.), we do not recommend that you submit an optional essay; if you do have issues to clarify, keep things concise. In our free mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, including multiple examples.

The Next Step—Mastering Your Michigan Ross Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. We therefore offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the Michigan Ross Interview Primer today. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

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Cracking the GMAT Code  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jun 2018, 12:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Cracking the GMAT Code
Image

The GMAT will never lie to you. But, it doesn’t always tell you what you really want to know. The GMAT is a little bit like my friend in this exchange:

Me: “What do you think of this outfit?”

My friend: “Well, it’s very… creative.”

Sure, it’s not like she lied (zebra striped leggings are pretty creative). But she also didn’t come right out and call me a fashion victim. In order to work that out, I had to crack the code.

You already know how to “crack the code” in English. Codebreaking is how we figure out what people really mean, even though we exaggerate, simplify, avoid touchy topics, and change the subject. And on the GMAT, codebreaking is how you start to understand a Quant problem.

Here’s an example of a problem that’s full of GMAT code:

What is the largest integer n such that 10n is a factor of 40!?

(A) …

(B) …

The people who write GMAT problems want to intimidate you a little, if they can—that way, they can reward people who calm down, take a deep breath, and focus on what the problem really means. Let’s do exactly that right now.

The term ‘factor’ is our first piece of GMAT code. If you’ve been studying for the GMAT for a while, you probably know what the term means: a factor of a number is another number that divides into it evenly. But that sort of definition isn’t quite what I mean when I talk about GMAT code. On the GMAT, when you see the term factor, especially combined with large numbers, that’s actually code for “look at the prime factors.”

Or, as a flashcard:

Image

We have a little more decoding to do before we can rewrite this problem in plain English. That largest integer n thing is making the problem complicated. What does it mean? It’s code.

When you raise 10 to the nth power—or when you raise any number to the nth power—what happens to its prime factors is predictable. The prime factors of 10¹, or 10, are 2 and 5. The prime factors of 10², or 100, are 2, 5, 2, and 5. The prime factors of 10³ are 2, 5, 2, 5, 2, and 5. In other words, n is code for the number of twos and fives you have!

Image

Combine those two pieces of GMAT code. If you want to find the largest integer that n could possibly be, then you want to find the largest number of twos and fives that could be prime factors of 40!. So, we need to take a look at the prime factors of 40!. Let’s break that down with another code flashcard.

Image

To find the number of twos and fives in the prime factorization of 40!, work your way through the list of numbers from 1 to 40. The number 5 has a five in its prime factorization; so do 10, 15, and 20. Since 25 = 5×5, there are actually two more fives there. 30, 35, and 40 have one more five apiece. In total, there are 9 fives.

We don’t actually have to count the number of twos! That should save some time. There are definitely more than 9 twos; since we need the same number of twos and fives in order to make powers of ten, the limited number of fives will be the bottleneck.

Let’s see how we translated the entire problem, from GMAT code into plain English. If you don’t have a flashcard that looks like this yet, make one!

Image

The version on the back of the flashcard looks much simpler—because it is. By translating GMAT code into simple terms, we’ve turned a seemingly complex Number Properties problem into a Counting problem.

Let’s practice some codebreaking and get a few more flashcards made. Here are some snippets of “GMAT code.” Take your time and work out what they’re really saying, in plain English. Then, make a flashcard or two for each one.

  • xy ≠ 0
  • x is divisible by 6, but not by 12
  • x² + 1 is odd
  • p has exactly two factors
  • p has an odd number of factors
  • a²/b
Try it out, and let us know what you think in the comments! Image

Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.

[b]Chelsey CooleyImage
 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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Join us at The MBA Tour U.S.!  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jul 2018, 14:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Join us at The MBA Tour U.S.!
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This is your chance to meet Columbia, MIT Sloan, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Stanford, and more top business programs. Connect in person to ask MBA questions, learn about program offerings, and discover how a graduate business degree can boost your career.

We’ll be there giving away a free complete course for the GMAT or GRE, and we’ll also have special discounts for attendees.

Join us in a city near you:

Register free today to reserve your spot, but hurry—space is limited! Image

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Mission Admission: Set the Tone Early and Use Active Verbs in Your MBA  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2018, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Mission Admission: Set the Tone Early and Use Active Verbs in Your MBA Application Essay
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Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, mbaMission.

As any good journalist will tell you, the key to writing a good newspaper story or opinion piece is to make sure the very first line grabs the reader’s attention. Many authors employ this tactic when writing books. Perhaps few of us have actually read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, but many know that the novel begins with three famous words: “Call me Ishmael.” A powerful first line can stick with readers long after they have finished reading—and sometimes even when they have not read something firsthand. For example, we all likely recognize the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night,” but few of us may know that it is the opening line of a book by an obscure writer (Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton).

Although beginning an MBA application essay with a very short introduction is the norm, sometimes a punchy opening line can grab the reader’s attention in a useful way. Consider the differences between these pairs of openers. Which line in each example better captures your attention?

Example 1: A “Why MBA?” essay

A: “After I graduate with my MBA, I want to work in the wine industry.”

B: “Blood runs in the veins of all humans, but wine also runs in mine.”

Example 2: A “What are you most passionate about in life?” essay

A: “I enjoy nothing more than playing ice hockey.”

B: “As soon as the nearby river freezes, I wake at 6 a.m. each day and join my teammates for a prework hockey scrimmage.”

No set formula exists for opening lines—the possibilities are endless, and each opener depends on the context of the story being told. Nonetheless, our point is that you must carefully consider your opening line, because it will set the tone for your MBA application essay and determine whether your reader will want to read more.

Now, let us examine the role of active verbs in your MBA application essay. Anyone who has ever written an email that has been misunderstood—let alone an MBA application essay—is no doubt aware of the subtleties of language and the nuances that can change a message’s meaning. Indeed, you can enliven a basic sentence simply by choosing more active verbs.

For example, consider the verb “earn.” By using “earn” rather than a more passive verb in the following examples, we can alter the meaning and impact of each sentence. Suddenly, you are in control. Suddenly, you worked hard and, as a result, accomplished great things.

Passive/poor example: “I was promoted from junior to senior analyst.”

Active/good example: “I earned a promotion from junior to senior analyst.”

Passive/poor example: “After being awarded my MBA, I will be able to…”

Active/good example: “After earning my MBA, I will be able to…”

Once you have finished your MBA application essay, review it to see how often you can replace certain words with “earn” or a similar verb—such as “achieve,” “gain,” and “attain”—that denotes action on your part. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

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Shed Your Pride on the GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2018, 09:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Shed Your Pride on the GMAT
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“Just tell us the answer!” a student demanded of me in a recent class. She wasn’t rude, but she definitely wasn’t happy. And I understand—I wasn’t being an easy teacher. I try not to be. I don’t want to be an explanation parrot, because my explanations don’t really transform into my students’ learning. Learning is harder than that. It requires active thought and wrestling with difficult concepts. So even when my students give a right answer, I ask them the often-feared question, “Why do you think that?”





This is a teaching tactic called the “Socratic Method,” named after the infamous inquisitive nuisance, Socrates. Socrates asked ‘Why do you think that?’ so often that his fellow countrymen finally just put him to death to shut him up. Fortunately, I don’t think my students keep hemlock handy.

But many of Socrates’ teachings come with some great advice for GMAT test takers. The one I’d like to talk about today is a famous paradox. When someone asked an oracle who the wisest man in Athens was, she responded “Socrates.” Socrates himself made such claims, and often, but when asked why it was so, he replied, “I know that I know nothing.”

Elsewhere in the world, a similar phrase is attributed to Buddha: “The fool who knows he is a fool is that much wiser. The fool who thinks he is wise is a fool indeed.”

When such a similar thought crops up in both Western and Eastern philosophies, it’s probably worth paying attention to.

Socrates was being, in many ways, humble. He was arrogant about his humility, yes, which is a lovely contradiction, but he made his point: I’m not smart because I think I’m smart. I’m smart because I know how dumb I am.

This is GMAT wisdom, in multiple ways.

We’ve spoken before about how you need to admit when you’re not going to know how to answer a question and need to move on. We’ve also pointed out how this is a feature of the test—practically everyone misses many, many questions, even very high scorers. But those very high scorers virtually always guessed on questions they realized weren’t going well—they acknowledged what they did not know. You cannot be too proud on the GMAT. You have to be comfortable missing questions, and you have to admit to yourself that you don’t know everything, and be proud of that self-realization.

But there’s another way that humble thinking can be useful.

The other day I was working with a student on a 600-level GMAT word problem. It was something similar to this:

“A toy maker is filling 9 bags with marbles. 8 of the bags hold the same number of marbles, the other holds two times that amount. In each of the first 8 bags, he makes 1/4 of the marbles red, and in the final bag he puts in X times as many red marbles. If 3/8 of the total marbles are red, what is X?”

It wasn’t terribly easy, but it wasn’t terribly hard, either—at least conceptually. Conceptually, this is just fractions of totals and, basically, reading comp.

He missed the question, and I asked him, “What do you think makes this problem difficult?” He thought for a moment and said, “The setup.”

“Why?” I asked, predictably.

“It’s complicated. There are bunch of moving parts, we have fractions of different totals, we’re multiplying a bunch of numbers by different things, it’s just complicated and easy to mix up.”

“So what do you think went wrong for you?”

“Probably the setup.”

Yep.

I pointed out to him that he was 2/3 ‘done’ with the problem before I had even finished the setup. Why? Because I knew the setup was a nightmare. It was subtle and required pinpoint accuracy. So I told him something I don’t think he expected to hear: “Don’t be so arrogant.”

I got the problem right and he didn’t, not because I’m smarter than him. I got it right because I knew how likely I was to mess up that setup if I wasn’t incredibly careful. He had no such self-doubt. He knew the problem looked tough, but flew through the setup anyway. And though he was 2/3 ‘done’ before I’d felt convinced I had set up the problem correctly, I was able to work quickly through the rest of my work, and his last ‘third’ was a nightmare, because it was wrong. His answer was hard to come by (because the numbers didn’t work out, because they’d been set up incorrectly), and when he finally got an answer, it wasn’t one of the choices, so he had to start looking back, scanning for a mistake, reworking arithmetic, rereading the problem… He was dead in the water.

(Here’s a tip: you don’t move fast by “moving fast.” You move fast by moving carefully and correctly, in discrete, understandable steps).

The same student also missed another question that looked something like:

10 – [ -8 + 5*3 – 2(3-4) -1] = ?

Again, I got it right. Is it because I know what 5*3 is better than that student? I might be somewhat faster at arithmetic, due to how often my job requires it, but there’s no difficult calculation to be found there. It’s just care. I told myself, “Okay, be really, really specific about the order of operations here, and keep good organization, or I’ll mess things up.” He told himself, “This is just arithmetic, I got this.”

Take one statement of a DS problem:

Image

If all angles are right angles, what is the perimeter of the polygon above?

1) x = 12, y = 6

Pretty much everyone’s instinct is the same on this statement. “Well, that’s not sufficient. I don’t know anything about the measurements of the corner that’s cut out.” What would a more humble test taker do, though? They would probably say, “But let me just check for anything funny.” Try that. How might you check?

Maybe you’d assign some variables for the other sides. You might realize you could label those opposite side y as “a” and “6-a,” and across from side x as “b” and “12-b.” And then you might add all the sides together and realize that the ‘a’ and ‘b’ cancel out, and you have a perimeter of 36. What?! Weird. It definitely felt not sufficient, but I guess… Ah, I see! I always go 12 ‘over,’ and I always go 6 ‘up,’ even if it’s in ‘pieces,’ so the perimeter is always 36. But if you go by what seems obvious at first, without any self-doubt, you’d never make this realization.

Good test takers know how fallible they are. They know where the difficulties in a problem lie. They know that the test makes things that ‘seem’ or ‘feel’ a certain way but that still need to be investigated. They are, in the end, humble—they know they mess up.

They don’t do work in their heads because they know how hard it is to remember something you’ve just done and try to take the next step forward, they don’t jump to conclusions because they know their conclusions are often wrong, they don’t presume they can just handle a difficult thing because they’re good at the test. I’ve said something like “-10 > -9” or messed up math like “(-3) – 7 = ?” so many times in my life, I’ve finally started to tell myself, “You’ll mess this up if you’re not careful, so be careful” whenever negatives crop into a problem. And I am. I take a few extra seconds to make sure I don’t mess it up.

Start taking pride in a healthy chunk of self-doubt as you work on the GMAT. Admit you don’t know what you don’t know, admit that difficult things are difficult and might require specific care, admit that you’re not good at the test and you might find yourself getting better at it. It’s a bizarre paradox, but the recognition of fallibility will make you less fallible.

And then we can all drink the hemlock together and become one with everything, finding the self-aware ignorance of nirvana. Image

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 ArnoldImage
 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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GMAT Sentence Correction and the Search for Easy Decisions  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jul 2018, 09:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Sentence Correction and the Search for Easy Decisions
Image

Consider the following two sentences, adapted from a GMAT Sentence Correction example I use in my classes:

(A)  Marissa would like to visit France, climb the Eiffel tower, and eat snails, but she may have to wait for some time, being short on funds at the moment.

(B)  Marissa would like to visit France, to climb the Eiffel tower, and to eat snails, but she may have to wait until the future, because she is short on momentary funds.

Which version is preferable?

Unless you are new to the test, you probably recognize this as a typical example of the kind of decision required of you by the GMAT Sentence Correction questions on the test. You may even know by name some of the issues being tested: parallelism, modifiers, and meaning. Whether you’re new to the GMAT or not, I’d also wager a guess that you ended up selecting the right choice. What I really want to do is show you one simple idea that will help you make that correct choice more quickly.

First, here are four differences I notice between the two choices:

(1)   “to” precedes the list in (A), but is part of each list item in (B)

(2)   (A) says “for some time,” while (B) says “until the future”

(3)   (A) says “being short on,” while (B) says “because she is short on”

(4)   (A) says “funds at the moment,” while (B) says “momentary funds”

Of those four differences, the one with which I am 100% confident in my preference is number 4. I know for a fact that the phrase “short on momentary funds” implies the funds themselves are somehow momentary—that doesn’t make any sense. I also know that the phrase “short on funds at the moment” means that right now, Marissa is short on funds. This is what I’m sure the author of the sentence means. If these are the only two possible answer choices, I now know (A) must be correct.

Now get up out of your chair and do your victory shuffle!

My question for you is, how much time did you spend trying to decide whether “to” should appear once or three times? If your answer is anything longer than about 3 seconds, this suggestion is for you: before you think too much about the first difference you see among the answers, make sure you’ve spotted as many differences as you can. In other words, the easiest decision may not be the first decision.

That idea, by the way, is part of why it’s a good idea to always take a “first glance” at any GMAT Sentence Correction problem before you really dig in; you’ll see that very sound advice repeated throughout the Manhattan Prep Sentence Correction Strategy Guide. I think of that skill as being similar to the skill required for those puzzle books that show you two pictures on facing pages, and the pictures are almost the same save for nine differences that you’re supposed to find.

Interestingly, one of the things I’ve noticed about the GMAT is that in harder Sentence Correction questions, the easiest issues to resolve often come closer to the end. To make things worse, not every difference even matters—remember the list in the example above? It doesn’t matter whether there’s one “to” or three. Both variations of that list are correct. Also, “being short on” and “because she is short on” are so close in meaning that I have to admit I’d have trouble deciding between those two options in a vacuum. That all may sound dire, but I actually think it’s great news for you, because it means that one of the ways you can improve your GMAT Sentence Correction performance doesn’t involve learning any grammar; you just need to practice spotting all of the differences you can before you commit to thinking deeply about any one.

One final caveat: when you’re studying, you still need to review all of the differences between the answer choices, even the difficult ones, so that you learn to spot nuances; that review process may come in handy when you see future problems with answer choices that lack any obvious problems. But while you’re actually taking the test, you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to be right. So remember, on GMAT Sentence Correction questions, look for the easiest decision; it may not be the first! Image

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ImageRyan 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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Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 3)  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jul 2018, 05:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Executive Assessment: Fast Math for Faster Solutions (Part 3)
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Welcome to the third installment of Fast Math for the Executive Assessment! If you’re just joining us now, you might want to go back to the first part and work your way back here.

I have another problem for you from the official free practice set (this one is labeled #4 in the PS set on the Executive Assessment website, as of September 2017):

“The regular price per can of a certain brand of soda is $0.40. If the regular price per can is discounted 15 percent when the soda is purchased in 24-can cases, what is the price of 72 cans of this brand of soda purchased in 24-can cases?

“(A) $16.32

“(B) $18.00

“(C) $21.60

“(D) $24.48

“(E) $28.80”

What did you think about this problem?

Image

I found it pretty annoying. Image
I mean, sure, I didn’t find it crazy hard to find the 15% discount off of $0.40:

10% of 0.40 is 0.04…

another 5% is half of that, or 0.02…

so the discount is $0.06…

and the discounted price is $0.34

And then I want to buy 72 cans, so it’s just (72)(0.34)…aaagh, but I don’t have a calculator.

I refuse to do that out the long way. Seriously! There’s got to be an easier way.

Picture this: You’re standing in the convenience store. You want to buy this soda. You’ve just figured out that it’s going to cost you $0.34 a can…and you know you want 72 cans…but you don’t have a calculator on you (your phone died) and you don’t even have pen and paper. Also, you forgot your credit card. (It’s been a long day.)

So how are you going to figure out whether you have enough cash on you to buy all 72 cans?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Close your eyes, picture yourself there, and try to figure out what you’d do.

Thinking?

Thinking?

Okay, here’s my idea. In the real world, I wouldn’t literally need to calculate to the penny—I’d just need to estimate to make sure I have enough cash. But this is a math test and the answers are down to the penny…so don’t I have to calculate exactly here?

Glance at the answers.

If the answers had been of the variety $10.01, $10.02, $10.03…, then yes, I’d have to calculate to the penny. But they’re not. They’re each at least a couple of dollars apart, so I can estimate. How?

Let’s see. It’s going to cost me $0.34 to buy one can. How many could I buy for a dollar?

I can get 3 cans (basically—technically, it’ll cost me $1.02 for 3 cans, but close enough!). So 3 cans for $1…how many do I want again? Oh yeah, 72 cans. So that’s going to cost me about 72 / 3 = $24.

Oh. Look at the answers. There’s only one that’s close—answer (D). Done!

You can also, by the way, do this same estimation from the math I set up before I got frustrated by my lack of a calculator: (72)(0.34). Just look at it in a different way, now that you’ve realized you can estimate. Since 0.34 is about 1/3, you’re just taking about one-third of 72…it’s the same math! $24.

What we just did is classic back-of-the-envelope math. You don’t need an exact number—you just need a quick-and-dirty, good-enough estimate. We certainly weren’t allowed to do that on math tests in school, but the Executive Assessment is not a math test.

Well, yes, it is, somewhat. But not in the way that you’re used to from school. We do have to know various math formulas and rules, but the Executive Assessment is really mostly interested in how well you can reason about math. After all, in the real world, you’re never going to be forced to do math on paper without the benefit of Excel or a calculator. But you are going to need to be able to think about mathematical concepts and draw conclusions—not in the “what’s the answer to this math problem” sense, but in a “what should we do about this problem that our division is facing?” sense.

So, while the Executive Assessment looks a whole lot like a traditional math test, it really isn’t at all. Most of the time, you can get to the answer through a combination of strategic approaches, like the back-of-the-envelope approach discussed above. That’s what you’re looking to learn and practice as you study for this exam.

Key Takeaways for Executive Assessment Fast Math
(1) You often don’t need to calculate exact values. Look for opportunities to estimate and do back-of-the-envelope calculations wherever possible.

(2) If the numbers in the problem or answers (or both!) seem annoying, there’s probably an opportunity to estimate somewhere. Also, get in the habit of glancing at the answers to see how far apart they are (when they’re just plain numbers)—the farther apart they are, the better the opportunity to estimate.

(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:

Image

* Executive Assessment questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC. Image

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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Should Worry Because My Coworker is   [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jul 2018, 05:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Should Worry Because My Coworker is Applying Too!
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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.

You look around your office and think to yourself: “I wish my coworker were not applying to the same school as I am. They can’t take two people who sit at the same desk. Also, his GPA is 0.15 higher!” On the surface, this reasoning may seem logical, and it can thus cause anxiety for some candidates—especially for those who are in positions for which an MBA is virtually a “must have” to move forward, such as in consulting and banking.

However—not to worry—this thinking has two significant flaws:

  • You are not the same MBA candidate as the person at the desk beside you. He/she may have similar work experience, but you have had different interactions with team members and clients and have worked on different projects. So, you have different perspectives on your experiences and so do your recommenders. Furthermore, your work experience is only one piece of the puzzle that is your application. Even if your coworker does have a slightly higher GPA or GMAT score, you are still quite different in terms of your personal/life experiences, community/leadership activities, ability to perform during interviews, and more. Instead of worrying that the MBA admissions committee will make an apples-to-apples comparison and cast you out, you must focus on what makes you distinct and present your best self.
  • The top schools have room for two great candidates. When we asked Harvard Business School’s (HBS’s) former admissions director whether she would accept two candidates who had worked at the same company, she quipped, “We have room for Larry and Sergei (referencing the two founders of Google).” An mbaMission consultant recalled that when she was at HBS, she had two classmates who worked on the same desk at the same private equity firm. At HBS, they ended up in the same section. Top-ranked MBA programs do not have quotas for certain firms, towns, ethnicities, etc. They just want the best candidates out there.
So, in short, as you eye that individual across the desk, try to avoid simplified comparisons. Focus on that which makes you distinct, and expect that the MBA admissions committees will not fulfill quotas, but rather identify talent. Image

ImagembaMission is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time 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 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. Click here to sign up today.

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4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 1)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jul 2018, 08:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: 4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 1)
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How many GMAT practice tests have you taken so far? Are you satisfied—or frustrated—with your progress?

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

Today, we’re going to talk about a global review of your GMAT practice tests: How did you do on executive reasoning and timing?

You Don’t Get Better While Taking a Practice Test
Wait, if you don’t get better while taking a practice test, then why are we starting here? Read on.

Have you ever done this? You take a test, but aren’t happy with your score, so a few days later (or even the next day!), you take another exam.

Bad move! First, your data from that first test already tells you what you need to know; your skills aren’t going to change radically in a week. Don’t waste 3 hours of valuable study time (not to mention, one of your limited GMAT practice tests!) in order to get the same data that you already have.

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

Sadly, that’s unlikely to work either. Do you remember that one kid from your school, the one who was always excited when standardized test days came around? She was super annoying because she just did well on these tests “naturally” and she actually liked taking them. (Yes, that was me. Sorry.)

Here’s the thing: for people like me, sure, the brute force approach seems to work. But we are, in fact, extensively analyzing our own data; we just do so more quickly than most. Everyone needs to use this data to figure out how to get better.

You’re going to use your GMAT practice tests to:

(1) practice what you’ve already learned,

(2) provide data to help you build a roughly 2-3 week study plan prioritizing certain things based on what your analysis told you, and

(3) figure out how to get better at executive reasoning.

Go ahead and click that link now. I’ll wait.

Ready? Let’s go!

Use Your GMAT Practice Tests to Learn Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Within the first roughly 2 weeks of your study, take a practice test. (Seriously! Don’t put this off!) Also: the gap between practice test 1 and 2 will be on the longer side—say 6 to 8 weeks. After that, you’ll settle into a more regular cycle of about 2 to 3 weeks.

I’ll base my discussion on the metrics that are given in Manhattan Prep GMAT practice tests, but you can extrapolate to other tests that give you similar performance data.

You will likely need at least 60 minutes to do this analysis, not counting any time spent analyzing individual problems. If that sounds like a lot, split this into smaller tasks. Plan to spend 30 minutes each for your initial analysis of Quant and Verbal.

Where Should I Start?
I know you’ll want to look at your overall scores first. But don’t do what so many people do—immediately become demoralized because you think your score is too low.

Right now, your score is what it is—but this isn’t the real test. You’re going to use this to get better. That’s the real focus here.

So, let’s put those scores into some context. First, how confident can you be that they reflect your current ability level?

  • Did you run out of time in any section and either guess randomly to finish or just not finish the section at all?
    • If so, your score will be pushed down, so your actual ability level is likely higher than your score reflects. (But you do need to fix the timing problem.)
  • Conversely, did you use the pause button or otherwise use extra time to solve anything? Did you take much longer breaks than the real test would allow or look something up?
    • If so, your score may be artificially inflated. (This is why we recommend sticking strictly to test conditions when taking a practice exam.)
  • Did you take the exam after a long day at work when you were already pretty mentally fatigued?
    • If so, your performance might have dropped as a result.
Next, pull up the problem list for Quant or Verbal. The problem lists show each question, in order as you took the test, as well as various data points about those questions.

“Correct / Incorrect” Column
Any strings of 4+ questions wrong?

  • If so, look at time spent. Were you low on time and rushing?
  • Alternatively, were they really hard? Maybe you’d done well on the prior problems, so got a few really hard ones…and maybe you should have gotten these hard ones wrong.
  • Did you happen to get a string of things that you just didn’t know how to do at the time, but looking at them now, you think you can learn (at least some of) this?
The “I did well! And then I didn’t…” scenario

The first one or two in a string were really hard, so you spent extra time. You got them wrong (because…they’re hard). You knew you spent extra time, so you sped up on the next couple and made careless mistakes, getting those wrong as well.

If this happened to you, what do you think you should do to remedy the issue?

The “I didn’t study this yet and/or this is a weakness” scenario

You ran up against a little string of things that you haven’t studied yet—or maybe it was a mix of things you don’t like and things you haven’t studied yet.

What should you do about this?

For the first scenario, you probably need to train yourself to bail quickly on the stuff that’s too hard even when you spend extra time. Then, you won’t be behind on time when you get a question at a level you can handle, and so you’ll be able to get that one right next time.

For the second scenario, which of these things is a good opportunity for you to learn? Add a couple of things to your study plan for the coming week or two—but don’t add everything. There’s only so much you can do in a couple of weeks, so be choosy.

“Cumulative Time” vs. “Target Cumulative Time”
Go back up to the top of the Problem List. The Cumulative Time column tells you how much time you spent to that point in the section. The Target Cumulative Time column indicates how much time you’d want to have spent based on the timing averages we need to hit for the exam. Compare the two columns.

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

  • Are you 3+ minutes behind (too slow)? If so, where was that extra time spent? How well did you really do on those problems?
    • They should be all or mostly correct, since you chose to allocate extra time to them!
    • For the ones you’re getting wrong even with extra time, start cutting yourself off when faced with a  similar problem in future.
  • Are you 3+ minutes ahead (too fast)? If so, where are you picking up that time? How well did you do on those problems?
    • If you know you don’t know how to do a problem, it’s a great idea to guess fast.
    • If you were going quickly because you did know how to do it, though, and then made a careless mistake, you’ll want to remedy the overall timing problem so that you don’t make that kind of mistake next time.
Pause and Reflect
We’re about halfway through our analysis of the Problem List. What have you figured out so far? What are your hypotheses about what went well and what didn’t go as well? Are there any particular things you want to look out for to help confirm or deny those hypotheses as you continue analyzing?

Join us next time for part 2, where we’ll dive more deeply into a timing analysis of individual problems on GMAT practice tests. Image

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.

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

The post 4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 1) appeared first on GMAT.
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Is GMAT Verbal Fair? (Part 1)  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2018, 11:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Is GMAT Verbal Fair? (Part 1)
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GMAT Quant might be frustrating, but at least there are rules! Verbal, on the other hand… well, I’ve had some arguments with the GMAT over what the right answer to a GMAT Verbal problem should be. You probably have, too. Or, you’ve wondered what makes this Verbal answer choice “more right” than that Verbal answer choice. After a lot of years and a lot of GMAT Verbal problems, here are my thoughts.

Sentence Correction: Yup, It’s (Mostly) Fair
There are definitely clear rules for Sentence Correction: they’re the rules of English grammar. (Of course, people argue about grammar rules all the time. But the GMAT stays out of the really contentious debates, like the Oxford Comma issue.)

The GMAT is only 99% consistent in applying these rules to Sentence Correction problems. There are very few issues—most notably, pronoun ambiguity—where different GMAT Verbal problems sometimes disagree with each other. However, most Sentence Correction problems can be solved in multiple ways. If you can’t tell whether one piece of grammar is supposed to be right or wrong, just look for another error that seems more clear-cut.

Official GMAT explanations for Sentence Correction problems can be really frustrating. Here are some actual quotes from the Official Guide to the GMAT 2018:

  • Having been based on is wordy.
  • The sentence structure makes it unclear what almost all females describes.
  • The sequence of information in this sentence is confusing.
Wordy, unclear, confusing—aren’t those subjective judgments? What I think is confusing might be perfectly clear to you. However, this is a problem with the explanations, not the problems themselves.

For a clear and thorough explanation of the grammar rules used in each problem, check out GMAT Navigator alongside the Official Guide. You’ll learn that the right and wrong answers are based on predictable rules, even if the official explanations don’t go into detail about them.

Critical Reasoning: Fairer Than You’d Think!
There are a few things that make GMAT Critical Reasoning problems seem unfair. One simple issue is the way the questions are worded:

  • Which of the following, if true, most seriously undermines the researchers’ reasoning?
  • Which of the following hypotheses best accounts for the findings of the experiment?
  • Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the force of the evidence cited?
To me, those questions sound pretty similar to this one:

  • Which of the following would you most like to have for dessert: brownies, ice cream, pie, or crème brulee?
Okay, I’d most like the crème brulee—any dessert that involves a blowtorch is good in my book—but I still love brownies, ice cream, and pie!

Questions like this make it sound like you’re looking for the “best” answer out of a bunch of “pretty good” answers. That seems really unfair. However, that isn’t actually how Critical Reasoning works. There’s always one “right” answer and four “wrong” answers, even if that doesn’t seem obvious at first glance. To see why, let’s take a look at how GMAT Verbal problems are actually created.

A Little Trip to GMAT Verbal Land
Imagine that you’re the one writing the problems. The GMAC puts thousands of dollars into writing and testing each GMAT problem, so if you want to keep your job, the problems you write had better be “successful.”

In other words, strong GMAT Verbal test takers should get your problem right almost all of the time, and weak GMAT Verbal test takers should usually get it wrong. It shouldn’t be based on luck, or personal opinion: your problem should tell you something about a test taker’s overall skill level.

So, you’ve got a challenge. Your problem should be fair, because otherwise, people would get it right or wrong randomly, not based on how well they performed overall. But it also shouldn’t be super-obvious, since GMAT Verbal problems should be hard! What do you do?

What GMAT writers seem to do is create one right answer that follows all of the rules for the problem type, and four wrong answers that “break the rules.” But then, they dress the right answer up to look boring, confusing, poorly-written, or irrelevant. They dress up the wrong answers to look interesting, clear, well-written, and relevant. High scorers are people who cut through the distractions and eliminate anything that breaks the rules, no matter how nice it looks.

Back to Critical Reasoning
So, for the GMAT to work at all, Critical Reasoning has to have objective rules and it has to be fair. That doesn’t mean the rules need to be obvious! In fact, the less obvious they are, the better that is for the GMAT. In the next article, we’ll talk a bit about what the rules really are, why they seem so unfair, and what you can do about it—and we’ll take a look at Reading Comprehension, the most “unfair”-looking GMAT Verbal problem type of all. Image

Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. Check out our upcoming courses here.

[b]Chelsey CooleyImage
 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 Is GMAT Verbal Fair? (Part 1) appeared first on GMAT.
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4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 2)  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2018, 10:01
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: 4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 2)
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Welcome back! If you haven’t already, start with Part 1 of this series, where we performed a global executive reasoning and timing review for your GMAT practice tests. Let’s continue with a deeper dive of the per-question timing data from your problem list. (And grab pen and paper to take note—this is going to be…geeky.)

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

The tables below show the rough timing categories to watch out for, by problem type, along with some commentary afterward about how to use the tables. (Don’t start your analysis till you’ve read this whole section.)

Image

The definition of “Warning Track” is really just getting close to the Too Slow time. I pay attention to how often I come close to Too Slow without actually going over.

It’s fine to have some Warning Track questions—just be careful not to have so many that you’re causing yourself big headaches elsewhere.

Averages for Verbal questions vary by type, so for Verbal, I recommend analyzing one type at a time.

Image

Now. How to use all of the above?

Too Fast has a question mark after the Too (?) because there are two great reasons to have a really fast problem:

(1) You knew exactly what you were doing and you got it right—fast.

(2) You knew you didn’t know how to do it and you guessed—fast.

If either of those is the case, great: I did the right thing! However, if I miss something I knew how to do because I made a careless mistake—I have a timing problem. Or if I misread the problem because I was rushing through…ditto.

From now on, when I say Too Fast, I’m referring specifically to the not-good reasons. When you have a good reason to go fast, it’s not too fast.

Too Slow is too slow even if you got the problem right. When you take that much time, you just cause yourself problems elsewhere in the section.

Now, in your problem list, click on the Time column header. This will re-sort the questions from fastest to slowest (you can click it again to sort from slowest to fastest). Examine the problems by time, using the tables as a guide.

  • How many “too fast” questions did you think you were getting right but you missed? Or you did get right but got lucky? Or you missed but think you could have gotten right if you’d only had time to try it properly?
  • How many “too slow” questions did you miss? Look at the problems—at what point should you have cut yourself off and guessed?
  • Did you have any crazy-slow problems (e.g. a minute beyond the Too Slow time)? Even if you got it right, maybe you should have gotten it wrong much faster and spent that time elsewhere.
How Was Your Timing on Your GMAT Practice Tests?
If you have more than a couple of questions in the too fast or too slow categories (for the latter, regardless of whether they’re right or wrong), then you’ve got a timing problem on GMAT practice tests. For example, if you had 4 questions over 3m each, then you almost certainly missed other questions elsewhere simply due to speed—that extra time had to come from somewhere. And chances are it came from a too fast problem on which you made a mistake.

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

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

  • not much of a timing problem (e.g., only 1 or 2 questions in the too fast or too slow range—and not way too slow),
  • a small timing problem (e.g., 4-5 questions in the warning track range, or a couple of problems in the too slow category, plus a few too fast questions), or
  • a larger timing problem (e.g., >5 questions in the warning track range, or 3+ questions that are too slow or some that are way too slow, plus multiple too fast questions).
Note that I don’t specify above whether the warning track and too slow questions were answered correctly or incorrectly. It isn’t (necessarily) okay to spend too much time just because the question was answered correctly.

Next, what is that timing problem costing you on your GMAT practice tests? How many problems fit into the different categories? Approximately how much time total was spent on the “too slow” problems? How many “too fast” questions did that cost you or could it have cost you? Did it cost you any other problems? Examine all of the problems (even those done with normal time) to locate careless errors. How many of your careless errors occurred when you were rushing or just plain tired out because you’d spent too much mental effort elsewhere?

Finally, are there any patterns in terms of the content area? For example, perhaps 80% of the “too slow” Quant problems were PS Story problems or two of the “too slow” SC problems were Modifier problems. Next time, we’re going to talk about how to use the assessment reports to dive more into this data on your GMAT practice tests, but do try to get a high level sense of any patterns that jump out at you.

All of the above allows you to quantify just how bad any timing problems are. Now, I’m going to make a pronouncement that will wow you: You have a timing problem, don’t you?

Actually, we all have timing problems. The question is just what yours are and how significant they are. If you’re having trouble letting go on hard questions (and, really, aren’t we all?), learn how to make better decisions during the exam.

And one more thing: Take a look at part 1 of this article on Time Management. (It’s a 3-parter. You don’t have to look at all three parts now.)

Now we’re done looking at the problem lists. What have you learned about yourself? How do you think that should inform your studies for the next several weeks?

Join us next time, when we’ll analyze the detailed data given in the assessment reports. Image

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.

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

The post 4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 2) appeared first on GMAT.
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4 Steps to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Tests (Part 2) &nbs [#permalink] 27 Jul 2018, 10:01

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