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GMAT Prep: Stop Wasting My Time [#permalink]

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FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Prep: Stop Wasting My Time
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Have you ever worked with someone who inevitably managed to come up with things to do that were a complete waste of time? Maybe it was an insecure boss who was never confident about what he was doing, so he went for the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to generating deliverables in the last few days before the deadline. Or maybe it was a fellow student on a group project, someone so diligent (cough, cough) that she wanted to turn in a 20-page report when the teacher suggested 10 pages (and actually specified a 12-page limit).

You know who I’m talking about, right? We’ve all run across these situations in our academic or working lives. You want to be polite…but you also want to get your work done and not waste time on activities that don’t really help you reach the overall goal.

The GMAT is trying to waste your time

Okay, the test writers are not literally sitting there cackling and saying, “How can we get them to waste their lives?!?” But the overall sentiment still holds because of the way that the GMAT is constructed. You already know the classic “If you get something right, they give you something harder” pattern, right?

Well, at some point, that “something harder” is going to be something that isn’t worth your time. You’re probably not going to get it right no matter what you do. Even if you do, you’re going to use up valuable time that you could be using on other problems.

Most important of all, you’re going to be using up your finite brain energy on something that probably isn’t going to pay off. How many times in your life have you crashed towards the end of a test or a long day at work because your brain just couldn’t keep going any longer? The GMAT is a “where you end is what you get” test: if you crash before the end of the section, your score will suffer greatly.

This is basically no different than that co-worker who’s trying to get you to build a marketing presentation when the client has specifically requested that you analyze the pros and cons of acquiring a competitor. Tomorrow at the client meeting, it won’t matter how good your intentions were. Your client is going to be mad that you wasted time on something that doesn’t actually help them.

So turn to your co-worker and say, “Stop wasting my time!”

No, don’t really do that! Be nice to people. But do turn to the GMAT and say that when the test gives you something that’s just too hard or will take too long. Don’t feel that you didn’t study enough, that you’ve failed and this is all your fault. Look at the test and say, “Are you kidding me? Get out of my way. I’ve get better things to do.”

Really? But I can’t just give up…

Sure you can. You can train yourself to do anything. You just have to believe that this is what you’re supposed to be doing.

The GMAT is not an academic test, though it can feel like one. It’s a test of your Executive Reasoning skills—how well you make decisions, manage scarce resources (time and mental energy), evaluate opportunities. A good business person needs to know how to assess various opportunities and when to decide to pursue certain ones and dump others. That’s what the GMAT is really testing.

Okay, how do I learn to internalize this?

First, literally have that person in mind, the one you know who usually manages to find a way to waste time. You’re going to visualize that person and push the problem onto him or her: Yeah, why don’t YOU go work on this? I’ll be spending my time on more useful activities.

Second, know the hallmarks of a “time-waster” problem. Roman numeral quant problem? Usually a time waster (TW). CR and RC EXCEPT questions? TW. The entire sentence is underlined and when I read it for the first time, I can’t even follow the sentence? TW. I recently saw a GMATPrep quant problem that was a roman numeral and gave an inequality with 4 variables and fractions. No, thanks!

Second, know your strengths and weaknesses. Those weaknesses that are also infrequently tested are TWs for you. 3-D geometry? No way— unless it’s literally just plugging given numbers into a volume formula, I’m probably going to mess it up.

But give me any weighted average problem and I can do it on time. You might be the exact opposite. As long as the topic is not something that is frequently tested, you can get away with knowing the basics (in case you get an easier question) and bailing if you get a hard one.

Third, know where you are on your pacing. When the deadline is in an hour, your priorities change: you get even more ruthless about how to spend that precious time. If you are behind on time, bail even faster when you hit a weakness or a time-waster problem. Don’t even try to make an educated guess; just pick your favorite letter and move on.

In sum, change your mindset.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the optimal mindset for the GMAT. People who struggle on this test almost universally struggle with mindset (among other things). People who score 720+ on the GMAT have at least partially mastered the optimal mindset. It’s that important.

So here it is in a nutshell:

The GMAT is not an academic test; it is a test of executive reasoning skills. (Yes, this is the same article I linked to earlier. It’s that important.)

Good business people know how to distinguish between good opportunities and bad ones—and don’t hesitate to dump the bad ones.

Great business people can make the hard decisions to manage scarce resources—on the GMAT, time and mental stamina. (I’d also link to this article that you’re reading right now, but that would be kind of…redundant.)

Approach this test with a business mindset, not an academic one, and you’ll lift your score!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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GMAT Sentence Correction: Where do I start? [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2014, 12:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Sentence Correction: Where do I start?
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On some Sentence Correction (SC) problems, an error jumps out at you immediately. On others, you’re left trying to figure out where to start. How do you dig in when the starting point isn’t obvious?

Try this GMATPrep® problem from the free exams and then we’ll talk about it.

* “A recording system was so secretly installed and operated in the Kennedy Oval Office that even Theodore C. Sorensen, the White House counsel, did not know it existed.

“(A) A recording system was so secretly installed and operated in the Kennedy Oval Office that

“(B) So secret was a recording system installation and operation in the Kennedy Oval Office

“(C) It was so secret that a recording system was installed and operated in the Kennedy Oval Office

“(D) A recording system that was so secretly installed and operated in the Kennedy Oval Office

“(E) Installed and operated so secretly in the Kennedy Oval Office was a recording system that”

The first step on SC is to glance at the start of the underline (even before you read the sentence) in order to see whether the opening change in the answers gives you a clue about where to start. In this case, the underline starts right at the beginning of the sentence. A scan down the beginning of each answer choice signals exactly nothing on this problem. Now what?

Okay, on to step 2: read the original sentence (for both meaning and grammar). What do you think?

The sentence sounds kind of clunky. It uses an idiom (so X that Y). Is the idiom used correctly? Here are some correct examples.

She was SO extraordinarily lucky THAT she actually won the lottery three separate times.

The CEO was SO preoccupied with profits THAT he missed the signs of a market collapse.

Notice the structure in these examples. There are actually two subject-and-verb pairs—one set before the word that and one set after. In addition, the Y portion of the sentence (after that) represents evidence to support the scenario in X or some consequence of that scenario. The fact that she won the lottery three times is evidence that she’s really lucky. The CEO’s preoccupation actually caused the CEO to miss signs of the collapse.

The original sentence has this same structure:

(A) The system was SO secretly installed THAT even Sorensen did not know it existed.

This structure, then, is correct in the original sentence. What about the other answers?

Here’s where things start to get messy! Strip down the structures for each choice:

(B) SO secret was the system (even Sorensen did not know it existed.)

(C) It was SO secret THAT a system was installed (even Sorensen did not know it existed.)

(D) A system that was SO secretly installed (even Sorensen did not know it existed.)

(E) Installed SO secretly was a system THAT (even Sorensen did not know it existed.)

Answer (B) is missing the that portion of the idiom. People often skip this word in real life but notice what happens when you do so:

She was so late, I wasn’t even sure she was coming!

There are two complete sentences connected only by a comma. That’s a comma splice error! Eliminate (B).

Answer (D) does have the word that, but it’s before the so. This sentence turns out to have no main verb for the subject (system). That was so secretly installed modifies system, and even Sorensen… doesn’t provide a verb for system. Eliminate (D).

In both cases, the missing that signaled a problem with sentence structure.

Answer (C) has the that…but wait a second. It moved. Is it still okay?

No! That a system was installed is just a modifier of secret; it’s not actually finishing off the idiom by providing some follow-on info or consequence of the so portion. There should still be a that before even Sorensen:

It was SO secret that a system was installed THAT even Sorensen did not know it existed.

(That sentence may still sound clunky to you. The double that may be tripping your “sounds bad!” instincts, or possibly the passive It was opening. I definitely wouldn’t write the sentence this way myself!)

Eliminate (C). Okay, what about answer (E)?

The so X portion of the sentence should provide the opening information that is later addressed in the that Y portion. What was so surprising that Sorensen didn’t know?

The surprise was that this system had been installed and was being operated in the area where he worked. In answer (E), though, those verbs come before the so—that is, they are not part of the X portion of the sentence. Eliminate (E).

Only answer (A) uses the idiom to convey the proper meaning: This system was SO secretly installed and operated THAT even someone who worked there didn’t know about it!

The correct answer is (A).

Key Takeaways: Meaning, Structure, and Idioms in SC

(1) When you don’t spot an obvious way into the sentence, consider examining the core sentence, particularly if the sentence contains a structure that extends across nearly the whole thing, such as parallelism or an idiom (as in this case).

(2) Messing up an idiom can lead to both meaning and structure errors. Even if you don’t know the idiom, then, you might still be able to narrow down the answers! In the problem above, answer (B) was a run-on and answer (D) was a fragment, all because the usage of the idiom was messed up.

(3) Stripping the sentence down to the minimum necessary to test the sentence (and idiom) structure takes some time but may be your best shot at answering the question. This may not get you all the way to the right answer, but there’s a good chance it will help you eliminate some wrong answers.

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

 
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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What is a good GMAT score? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Aug 2014, 10:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: What is a good GMAT score?
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A 780 is a great score, sure—but you don’t need that kind of score. You probably do need something higher than 500, though. How good is good enough?

The short answer to the question is this: a good score is a score that will make you competitive at a particular school. So the first question to ask yourself is where do you want to go?

Then, hit the Inter-web and find out what kinds of scores those schools report. Most schools report both an average score and a “middle 80% score” (the latter gives the score range for the middle 80% of people admitted in that year).

So, if Stanford has an average of 732 (which is what their website says as I write this!), then clearly you need a 750, right?

Wrong. Really wrong, in fact. I was inspired to write this article because of two recent blog posts written by my colleague Jeremy Shinewald, founder of MBA Mission. The posts are fantastic—and they are both linked in this article. They are mandatory reading for all of my students (and not because he mentions me in one of them!).

First, remind me what the word “average” means.

Right…in other words, many of the admitted students scored below 730. In fact, Stanford’s reported scoring range is from 550 to 790. (Yes, someone got into Stanford with a 550! I’m sure that person was absolutely amazing in some other way or ways, and so the admissions committee didn’t care about that one below-average data point.)

I’m not suggesting, of course, that you only need a 550 or 600 to get into Stanford. Ideally, you want to be pretty close to the school’s average. The school is not, however, going to ding you for getting “only” a 700. (You might get dinged for other reasons of course…)

But don’t take my word for it; read what Jeremy has to say on the topic.

What’s a good quant score? What’s a good verbal score?
Schools do check the Quant and Verbal sub-scores as well as the overall score—and this is another source of anxiety for test-takers. Have you heard about the 80/80? Many years ago (actually, we could be speaking in decades at this point), some people did talk about wanting to see 80th percentile sub-scores for quant and verbal. I haven’t been able to verify whether actual business schools ever said they wanted this, but the topic has been around for a long time.

As of early July 2014, there are now only two Quant scores above the 80th percentile: 50 and 51. Clearly, the top business schools don’t admit only people with 50s and 51s any more than they only admit people with 750 scores. There wouldn’t be enough people to go around!

So what’s going on? Percentiles are a relative ranking; they change over time. The sub-scores themselves are fixed. The skill level that it takes to score 45 today is the same skill level required to get a 45 five years ago, or fifteen!

In 2007, a Quant score of 45 was the 77th percentile; today, a 45 is the 63rd percentile. But the underlying skill needed to reach that score hasn’t changed one bit, and here’s the important part: the schools know this.

They aren’t actually interested in how your percentile ranking stacks up against the rest of the pool of test takers. Their main goal is to make sure that you can handle the rigorous work that will be required of you when you reach b-school. Pay attention to the actual scoring level, which tells you something real. A quant 45 was once “good enough” for schools and nothing has changed: it still is today!

Here’s Jeremy again on this topic.

But seriously…If I just get a 750, I’ll be a shoo-in, right?
Wrong. The schools don’t admit based on GMAT scores. The GMAT is more of a threshold indicator: show me that you can handle my rigorous program, and then I’ll consider the other (more important) parts of your application, such as your work history, your essays, your recommendations…in short, your story. That’s how I’ll actually make my decision about your application.

Seriously, consider who’s telling you that you don’t actually need these crazy high scores. I work for a test prep company; our whole reason for existing (and making money!) is to help people get higher scores. If even I’m telling you that you don’t need a 750 or a 50 or 51 on quant, then believe it! J

But…But…This is the only thing I can control…
Here is the heart of the anxiety around this test. Your GPA is already set. Your work career can’t be substantially changed in a few months; your history is what it is. So you feel as though this is it: the GMAT is how you can give yourself the best possible chance to get in!

You can’t bomb the test, of course, but there are a lot of other things you can be doing with your very valuable time than chasing a 750 (or even a 720). You could actually pick up an extra project at work, try to get yourself into a team leader or mentor role, or work towards a promotion.

Also, don’t underestimate the time and effort required to put together a great application package. Ideally, your package will tell a coherent story, something that fits together across all pieces of the application and jumps off the page so that the admissions committee can really visualize you and get a sense of who you are and why they want to have you at their school. For instance, have you thought about what you want to tell your recommenders to emphasize (in terms of both strengths and weaknesses) so that their recommendations dovetail with your own essays?

I’m not going to give a bunch of application advice because that’s not my area of expertise—but you can control a lot more of your application than the GMAT score. Go read more on Jeremy’s blog to find out how.

(And, all right, fine: if you want to get better at the GMAT, start here!)

Manhattan GMAT

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GMAT Sentence Correction: Where do I start? (Part 2) [#permalink]

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New post 19 Aug 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Sentence Correction: Where do I start? (Part 2)
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Last time, we talked about how to find a starting point on a Sentence Correction problem when the starting point doesn’t leap out at you. If you haven’t read that article yet, go ahead and do so.

The first step of the SC process is a First Glance, something that didn’t help out a whole lot on last week’s problem. Let’s try out the First Glance again and see what happens!

This GMATPrep® problem is from the free exams.

* “Often incorrectly referred to as a tidal wave, a tsunami, a seismic sea wave that can reach up to 150 miles per hour in speed and 200 feet high, is caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

“(A) up to 150 miles per hour in speed and 200 feet high, is

“(B) up to 150 miles per hour in speed and heights of up to 200 feet, is

“(C) speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and 200 feet high, are

“(D) speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and heights of up to 200 feet, is

“(E) speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and as high as 200 feet, are”

What did you do for the First Glance? The glance is designed to give you an upfront hint about one issue that the sentence might be testing before you actually start reading the full sentence. Take a look at the beginning of the underline, including the beginning of all five answer choices.

The split is between up to and speeds of up to. There isn’t an obvious grammar rule here, so the issue is likely to revolve around meaning: do we need to say speeds of or is it enough to say just up to?

Think about this while reading the original sentence. What do you think?

The phrase reach up to could go in several different directions—is it going to say up to 150 miles in length? up to 150 feet high?—so it’s preferable to clarify right up front that the wave is reaching speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

In addition, the sentence contains parallelism:

can reach up to X [150 miles per hour in speed] and Y [200 feet high]

The portion before the parallelism starts must apply to both the X and Y portions, so the original sentence says:

can reach up to 200 feet high

That might sound kind of clunky and it is: up to and high are redundant.

Okay, answer (A) is incorrect and answer (B) repeats both issues (it neglects to specify speeds of up to 150 and it contains faulty parallelism.).

Check the parallelism in the other choices:

“(C) speeds of up to [150 miles per hour] and [200 feet high]

“(D) [speeds of up to 150 miles per hour] and [heights of up to 200 feet]

“(E) speeds of [up to 150 miles per hour] and [as high as 200 feet]”

In answer (C), the Y portion is the measurement (200 feet), so the X portion should also be the measurement…but it’s nonsensical to say speeds of up to 200 feet high. Likewise, in (E), the Y portion is a prepositional phrase, so it matches the prepositional phrase in the X portion. Now, the sentence says speeds of as high as 200 feet—equally nonsensical.

The only one that makes sense is answer (D): speeds of up to 150 and heights of up to 200.

The correct answer is (D).

You might also have noticed, in the original sentence, that the last underlined word is the verb is. Sentence Correction problems always have at least one difference at the beginning of the underline and at the end, so glance down the end of the choices.

Interesting! Is vs. are. What subject goes with this verb? Here’s the original sentence again:

“Often incorrectly referred to as a tidal wave, a tsunami, a seismic sea wave that can reach up to 150 miles per hour in speed and 200 feet high, is caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.”

The modifiers have been crossed out. The subject is tsunami, a singular noun, so the verb should be the singular is. Answers (C) and (E) are incorrect for this reason.

Key Takeaways: The First Glance in Sentence Correction

(1) Before reading the original sentence, make it a habit to glance at the word or couple of words at the start of the underline and each answer choice. Sometimes, the split will be obvious: an is vs. are split, for example, clearly indicates subject-verb agreement.

(2) Sometimes the split will be less obvious, as with up to vs. speeds of up to. In this case, if the split is fairly easy to remember, just keep the variations in mind as you read the original sentence, so that you can analyze the difference right away. You may see immediately that speeds of up to is more clear, and your knowledge that the sentence is testing this meaning might also alert you to some of the meaning issues introduced by the faulty parallelism.

(3) Making a subject-verb match in the midst of a bunch of modifiers can be tricky. Learn how to strip the modifiers out and take the sentence down to its basic core structure.

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

Manhattan GMAT

Studying for the GMAT? Take our free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!
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Updates from Manhattan GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2014, 20:17
I tried using discount code "GCINTERACT" for Manhattan GMAT Interact program, but manhattan gmat website doesn't allow to apply this discount. Can we use this discount to save $100 on Manhattan Gmat Interact program? Can someone please help?

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GMAT Sentence Correction: Where do I start? (Part 3) [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2014, 12:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Sentence Correction: Where do I start? (Part 3)
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Welcome to the third part of our series focusing on the First Glance in Sentence Correction. If you haven’t read the previous installments yet, you can start with how to find a starting point on a Sentence Correction problem when the starting point doesn’t leap out at you.

Try out the First Glance on the below problem and see what happens! This is a GMATPrep® problem from the free exams.

* “Most of the purported health benefits of tea comes from antioxidants—compounds also found in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C that inhibit the formation of plaque along the body’s blood vessels.

“(A) comes from antioxidants—compounds also found in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C that

“(B) comes from antioxidants—compounds that are also found in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and they

“(C) come from antioxidants—compounds also found in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and

“(D) come from antioxidants—compounds that are also found in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C and that

“(E) come from antioxidants—compounds also found in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and they”

The First Glance definitely helps on this one: comes vs. come is a singular vs. plural verb split, indicating a subject-verb agreement issue. Now, when you read the original sentence, you know to find the subject.

So what is the subject of the sentence? It’s not the singular tea, though it’s tempting to think so. The subject is actually the word most, which is a SANAM pronoun.

The SANAM pronouns: Some, Any, None, All, More / Most

These pronouns can be singular or plural, depending on the context of the sentence. Consider these examples:

Most of the cake was gobbled up immediately.

Most of the cakes were sold today.

Both sentences use most as the subject and both are correctly written, but in the first, most is singular and in the second, most is plural. Why?

The singular vs. plural question is answered by the noun describing most of what? Most of the (one) cake that I baked yesterday was gobbled up by my voracious family immediately.

On the other hand, most of the (many) cakes made by the bakery shop did actually sell today.

Let’s go back to our original sentence; is most singular or plural?

Most of the purported health benefits of tea

Hmm. There are two prepositional phrases here. Should we go with benefits or with tea?

As a general rule, go with the first one. Of the purported health benefits directly modifies most. Of tea modifies benefits.

All right, the subject is plural! Eliminate answers (A) and (B) for using a singular verb. Now what?

Find a new starting point. If you spotted anything else during your read of the original sentence, go back to it. Otherwise, vertically compare the three remaining answer choices, looking for splits (differences).

Let’s try that second approach. There is always a difference at the beginning of the underline—we’ve already dealt with that one—and there’s also always one at the end, so look there next.

The split is and vs. and that vs. and they. What’s the significance of these words?

I don’t know exactly how to fix this yet, but I do know the word and requires parallelism (X and Y), so now I have something else to examine. Find the parallel structures in the last three answers (make sure to include some of the non-underlined text at the end of the sentence):

“(C) antioxidants—compounds also found in B, E, and C, and inhibit the formation of plaque

“(D) antioxidants—compounds that are also found in B, E, and C and that inhibit the formation of plaque

“(E) antioxidants—compounds also found in B, E, and C, and they inhibit the formation of plaque”

(Note: I’ve abbreviated beta carotene, etc, because they are all parallel—and identical in each choice—so ignore them.)

Bingo. Okay, (C) isn’t parallel. The Y portion has to start with inhibit, a verb, so that verb would have to match with found. This construction would mean that the word compounds applies to both X and Y:

antioxidants—compounds found in B, E, and C

antioxidants—compounds inhibit the formation of plaque

Superficially, that might look okay, but there’s actually a big difference in usage. In the first half, compounds found in… is a modifier, describing antioxidants. How do you know? Compounds found in A, B, and C is not a complete sentence.

In the second half, however, compounds inhibit… is a complete sentence!

Image

A non-complete-sentence can’t be parallel to a complete sentence. Eliminate (C) and try the same test with (D) and (E). Here’s (D):

antioxidants—compounds that are also found in B, E, and C

antioxidants—compounds that inhibit the formation of plaque

Nice! The introduction of that at the end of the answer choice gives a very clear parallel structure: compounds that (modifier). No parallelism problems here.

Here’s (E):

antioxidants—compounds also found in B, E, and C

antioxidants—they inhibit the formation of plaque

Answer (E) has the same problem as answer (C): the first parallel component is not a complete sentence but the second one is. Eliminate (E).

The correct answer is (D).

Key Takeaways: The First Glance in Sentence Correction

(1) We’ve now used the First Glance on a series of questions. Some had very clear splits, such as comes vs. come on this problem. Some were less obvious but still gave us something to think about while reading the original sentence, such as up to vs. speeds of up to on last week’s problem. Sometimes, as on the first problem in this series, the First Glance yields nothing.

(2) Still, take the First Glance every time! More than 50% of the time, that first look will either clearly tell you one issue the problem is testing or it will give you an idea of what the problem might be testing. This is hugely beneficial to know before you start reading the original sentence.

(3) When the First Glance doesn’t immediately put an idea into your mind, just move on to the next step in the SC process. After you’re done with the problem, though, do analyze your work. Take a look at the beginning of each answer again and ask yourself whether you can actually spot something that you’d want to notice the next time you see a problem with the same split.

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

 
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GMAT Prep Story Problem: Make It Real [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2014, 13:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Prep Story Problem: Make It Real
Image
In the past, we’ve talked about making story problems real. In other words, when the test gives you a story problem, don’t start making tables and writing equations and figuring out the algebraic solution. Rather, do what you would do in the real world if someone asked you this question: a back-of-the-envelope calculation (involving some math, sure, but not multiple equations with variables).

If you haven’t yet read the article linked in the last paragraph, go do that first. Learn how to use this method, then come back here and test your new skills on the problem below.

This is a GMATPrep® problem from the free exams. Give yourself about 2 minutes. Go!

* “Machines X and Y work at their respective constant rates. How many more hours does it take machine Y, working alone, to fill a production order of a certain size than it takes machine X, working alone?

“(1) Machines X and Y, working together, fill a production order of this size in two-thirds the time that machine X, working alone, does.

“(2) Machine Y, working alone, fills a production order of this size in twice the time that machine X, working alone, does.”

You work in a factory. Your boss just came up to you and asked you this question. What do you do?

In the real world, you’d never whip out a piece of paper and start writing equations. Instead, you’d do something like this:

I need to figure out the difference between how long it takes X alone and how long it takes Y alone.

Okay, statement (1) gives me some info. Hmm, so if machine X takes 1 hour to do the job by itself, then the two machines together would take two-thirds…let’s see, that’s 40 minutes…

Wait, that number is annoying. Let’s say machine X takes 3 hours to do the job alone, so the two machines take 2 hours to do it together.

What next? Oh, right, how long does Y take? If they can do it together in 2 hours, and X takes 3 hours to do the job by itself, then X is doing 2/3 of the job in just 2 hours. So Y has to do the other 1/3 of the job in 2 hours.

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Y does 1/3 of the job in 2 hours, it can do the whole job in 6 hours.

6 hours for Y – 3 hours for X = 3 hours

Now, if this had been a Problem Solving question where you could use Smart Numbers, you’d pretty much be done. But it’s data sufficiency. Could you pick different numbers that would still work but give a different answer?

Sure. Double everything. If X takes 6 hours alone, then the two machines would take 4 hours together. Machine X would still do 2/3 of the job in that time, so Machine Y would still do 1/3, and therefore Machine Y could do the whole job in 12 hours. (You don’t, of course, have to take the calculation this far. Stop when you know that the calculation can be done.)

Statement (1) is not sufficient. Cross off answers (A) and (D).

Try the same process for statement (2).

Whenever you’re testing cases (using real numbers to see how the scenario would play out), try to re-use the numbers that you already used for the first statement, if possible.

Case 1: X = 3 hours alone, Y = 6 hours alone

Can I use this for statement (2)? Definitely! It actually says that Y takes twice the time of X, so this works perfectly! I already know that these numbers will give one answer, and then…

Case 2: X = 6 hours alone, Y = 12 hours alone

…this one also fits but gives a different answer. (Note: If you hadn’t completed the math during statement (1), you’d need to complete it now to see that when X = 6, Y = 12.)

Great! Statement (2) is not sufficient either.

Cross off answer (B). Now, you can revel in the beauty of trying the same numbers for both statements: you’ve already evaluated the two statements together as well! Even when used together, the two statements yield multiple possible answers to the question, so none of the given information is sufficient to answer the question.

The correct answer is (E).

Key Takeaways: Make Stories Real
(1) Put yourself in the problem. If someone really asked you to figure out this scenario as part of your job, you wouldn’t whip out a piece of paper and start jotting down equations. You’d plug in some real numbers and logic it out.

(2) Some problems allow for multiple possible scenarios—Data Sufficiency problems in general as well as Problem Solving “must be true” questions. When you get one of these, test different cases to see whether you can get contradictory answers. If so, that statement is not sufficient.

(3) When testing cases for the second statement, think about what you tried for the first statement. Whenever possible, re-use the same numbers (check to ensure that the numbers are allowed by the second statement!). This way, if you eventually have to test the two statements together, some of your work is already done for you.

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

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GMAT Prep Story Problem: Make It Real Part 2 [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2014, 11:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Prep Story Problem: Make It Real Part 2
Image
How did it go last time with the rate problem? I’ve got another story problem for you, but this time we’re going to cover a different math area.

Just a reminder: here’s a link to the first (and long ago) article in this series: making story problems real. When the test gives you a story problem, do what you would do in the real world if your boss asked you a similar question: a back-of-the-envelope calculation to get a “close enough” answer.

If you haven’t yet read the earlier articles, go do that first. Learn how to use this method, then come back here and test your new skills on the problem below.

This is a GMATPrep® problem from the free exams. Give yourself about 2 minutes. Go!

* “Jack and Mark both received hourly wage increases of 6 percent. After the wage increases, Jack’s hourly wage was how many dollars per hour more than Mark’s?

“(1) Before the wage increases, Jack’s hourly wage was $5.00 per hour more than Mark’s.

“(2) Before the wage increases, the ratio of Jack’s hourly wage to Mark’s hourly wage was 4 to 3.”

Data sufficiency! On the one hand, awesome: we don’t have to do all the math. On the other hand, be careful: DS can get quite tricky.

Okay, you and your (colleague, friend, sister…pick a real person!) work together and you both just got hourly wage increases of 6%. (You’re Jack and your friend is Mark.) Now, the two of you are trying to figure out how much more you make.

Hmm. If you both made the same amount before, then a 6% increase would keep you both at the same level, so you’d make $0 more. If you made $100 an hour before, then you’d make $106 now, and if your colleague (I’m going to use my co-worker Whit) made $90 an hour before, then she’d be making…er, that calculation is annoying.

Actually, 6% is pretty annoying to calculate in general. Is there any way around that?

There are two broad ways; see whether you can figure either one out before you keep reading.

First, you could make sure to choose “easy” numbers. For example, if you choose $100 for your wage and half of that, $50 an hour, for Whit’s wage, the calculations become fairly easy. After you calculate the increase for you based on the easier number of $100, you know that her increase is half of yours.

Oh, wait…read statement (1). That approach isn’t going to work, since this choice limits what you can choose, and that’s going to make calculating 6% annoying.

Second, you may be able to substitute in a different percentage. Depending on the details of the problem, the specific percentage may not matter, as long as both hourly wages are increased by the same percentage.

Does that apply in this case? First, the problem asks for a relative amount: the difference in the two wages. It’s not always necessary to know the exact numbers in order to figure out a difference.

Second, the two statements continue down this path: they give relative values but not absolute values. (Yes, $5 is a real value, but it represents the difference in wages, not the actual level of wages.) As a result, you can use any percentage you want. How about 50%? That’s much easier to calculate.

Okay, back to the problem. The wages increase by 50%. They want to know the difference between your rate and Whit’s rate: Y – W = ?

“(1) Before the wage increases, Jack’s hourly wage was $5.00 per hour more than Mark’s.”

Okay, test some real numbers.

Case #1: If your wage was $10, then your new wage would be $10 + $5 = $15. In this case, Whit’s original wage had to have been $10 – $5 = $5 and so her new wage would be $5 + $2.50 = $7.50. The difference between the two new wages is $7.50.

Case #2: If your wage was $25, then your new wage would be $25 + $12.50 = $37.50. Whit’s original wage had to have been $25 – $5 = $20, so her new wage would be $20 + $10 = $30. The difference between the two new wages is…$7.50!

Wait, seriously? I was expecting the answer to be different. How can they be the same?

At this point, you have two choices: you can try one more set of numbers to see what you get or you can try to figure out whether there really is some rule that would make the difference always $7.50 no matter what.

If you try a third case, you will discover that the difference is once again $7.50. It turns out that this statement is sufficient to answer the question. Can you articulate why it must always work?

The question asks for the difference between their new hourly wages. The statement gives you the difference between their old hourly wages. If you increase the two wages by the same percentage, then you are also increasing the difference between the two wages by that exact same percentage. Since the original difference was $5, the new difference is going to be 50% greater: $5 + $2.50 = $7.50.

(Note: this would work exactly the same way if you used the original 6% given in the problem. It would just be a little more annoying to do the math, that’s all.)

Okay, statement (1) is sufficient. Cross off answers BCE and check out statement (2):

“(2) Before the wage increases, the ratio of Jack’s hourly wage to Mark’s hourly wage was 4 to 3.”

Hmm. A ratio. Maybe this one will work, too, since it also gives us something about the difference? Test a couple of cases to see. (You can still use 50% here instead of 6% in order to make the math easier.)

Case #1: If your initial wage was $4, then your new wage would be $4 + $2 = $6. Whit’s initial wage would have been $3, so her new wage would be $3 + $1.5 = $4.50. The difference between the new wages is $1.5.

Case #2: If your initial wage was $8, then your new wage would be $8 + $4 = $12. Whit’s initial wage would have been $6, so her new wage would be $6 + $3 = $9. The difference is now $3!

Statement (2) is not sufficient. The correct answer is (A).

Now, look back over the work for both statements. Are there any takeaways that could get you there faster, without having to test so many cases?

In general, if you have this set-up:

- The starting numbers both increase or decrease by the same percentage, AND

- you know the numerical difference between those two starting numbers

? Then you know that the difference will change by that same percentage. If the numbers go up by 5% each, then the difference also goes up by 5%. If you’re only asked for the difference, that number can be calculated.

If, on the other hand, the starting difference can change, then the new difference will also change. Notice that in the cases for the second statement, the difference between the old wages went from $1 in the first case to $2 in the second. If that difference is not one consistent number, then the new difference also won’t be one consistent number.

Key Takeaways: Make Stories Real
(1) Put yourself in the problem. Plug in some real numbers and test it out. Data Sufficiency problems that don’t offer real numbers for some key part of the problem are great candidates for this technique.

(2) In the problem above, the key to knowing you could test cases was the fact that they kept talking about the hourly wages but they never provided real numbers for those hourly wages. The only real number they provided represented a relative difference between the two numbers; that relative difference, however, didn’t establish what the actual wages were.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.
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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Breaking Down B-School Admissions: A Four-Part Series [#permalink]

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New post 16 Sep 2014, 08:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Breaking Down B-School Admissions: A Four-Part Series
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Are You Prepared for B-School Admissions?

Join Manhattan GMAT and three other leaders in the MBA admissions space—mbaMission, Poets & Quants, and MBA Career Coaches—for an invaluable series of free workshops to help you put together a successful MBA application—from your GMAT score to application essays to admissions interviews to post-acceptance internships.

We hope you’ll join us for as many events in this series as you can. Please sign up for each sessions separately via the links below—space is limited.

 

Session 1: Assessing Your MBA Profile,

GMAT 101: Sections, Question Types & Study Strategies

Monday, September 8 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Click here to watch the recording

Session 2: Mastering the MBA Admissions Interview,

Conquering Two 800-Level GMAT Problems

Wednesday, September 10 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Click here to watch the recording

Session 3: 9 Rules for Creating Standout B-School Essays,

Hitting 730: How to Get a Harvard-Level GMAT Score

Monday, September 15 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Session 4: 7 Pre-MBA Steps to Your Dream Internship,

Survival Guide: 14 Days to Study for the GMAT

Wednesday, September 17 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Sign up here.

http://www.manhattangmat.com/classes/details/14499
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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GMAT Prep Story Problem: Make It Real Part 2 [#permalink]

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New post 19 Sep 2014, 05:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: GMAT Prep Story Problem: Make It Real Part 2
Image
How did it go last time with the rate problem? I’ve got another story problem for you, but this time we’re going to cover a different math area.

Just a reminder: here’s a link to the first (and long ago) article in this series: making story problems real. When the test gives you a story problem, do what you would do in the real world if your boss asked you a similar question: a back-of-the-envelope calculation to get a “close enough” answer.

If you haven’t yet read the earlier articles, go do that first. Learn how to use this method, then come back here and test your new skills on the problem below.

This is a GMATPrep® problem from the free exams. Give yourself about 2 minutes. Go!

* “Jack and Mark both received hourly wage increases of 6 percent. After the wage increases, Jack’s hourly wage was how many dollars per hour more than Mark’s?

“(1) Before the wage increases, Jack’s hourly wage was $5.00 per hour more than Mark’s.

“(2) Before the wage increases, the ratio of Jack’s hourly wage to Mark’s hourly wage was 4 to 3.”

Data sufficiency! On the one hand, awesome: we don’t have to do all the math. On the other hand, be careful: DS can get quite tricky.

Okay, you and your (colleague, friend, sister…pick a real person!) work together and you both just got hourly wage increases of 6%. (You’re Jack and your friend is Mark.) Now, the two of you are trying to figure out how much more you make.

Hmm. If you both made the same amount before, then a 6% increase would keep you both at the same level, so you’d make $0 more. If you made $100 an hour before, then you’d make $106 now, and if your colleague (I’m going to use my co-worker Whit) made $90 an hour before, then she’d be making…er, that calculation is annoying.

Actually, 6% is pretty annoying to calculate in general. Is there any way around that?

There are two broad ways; see whether you can figure either one out before you keep reading.

First, you could make sure to choose “easy” numbers. For example, if you choose $100 for your wage and half of that, $50 an hour, for Whit’s wage, the calculations become fairly easy. After you calculate the increase for you based on the easier number of $100, you know that her increase is half of yours.

Oh, wait…read statement (1). That approach isn’t going to work, since this choice limits what you can choose, and that’s going to make calculating 6% annoying.

Second, you may be able to substitute in a different percentage. Depending on the details of the problem, the specific percentage may not matter, as long as both hourly wages are increased by the same percentage.

Does that apply in this case? First, the problem asks for a relative amount: the difference in the two wages. It’s not always necessary to know the exact numbers in order to figure out a difference.

Second, the two statements continue down this path: they give relative values but not absolute values. (Yes, $5 is a real value, but it represents the difference in wages, not the actual level of wages.) As a result, you can use any percentage you want. How about 50%? That’s much easier to calculate.

Okay, back to the problem. The wages increase by 50%. They want to know the difference between your rate and Whit’s rate: Y – W = ?

“(1) Before the wage increases, Jack’s hourly wage was $5.00 per hour more than Mark’s.”

Okay, test some real numbers.

Case #1: If your wage was $10, then your new wage would be $10 + $5 = $15. In this case, Whit’s original wage had to have been $10 – $5 = $5 and so her new wage would be $5 + $2.50 = $7.50. The difference between the two new wages is $7.50.

Case #2: If your wage was $25, then your new wage would be $25 + $12.50 = $37.50. Whit’s original wage had to have been $25 – $5 = $20, so her new wage would be $20 + $10 = $30. The difference between the two new wages is…$7.50!

Wait, seriously? I was expecting the answer to be different. How can they be the same?

At this point, you have two choices: you can try one more set of numbers to see what you get or you can try to figure out whether there really is some rule that would make the difference always $7.50 no matter what.

If you try a third case, you will discover that the difference is once again $7.50. It turns out that this statement is sufficient to answer the question. Can you articulate why it must always work?

The question asks for the difference between their new hourly wages. The statement gives you the difference between their old hourly wages. If you increase the two wages by the same percentage, then you are also increasing the difference between the two wages by that exact same percentage. Since the original difference was $5, the new difference is going to be 50% greater: $5 + $2.50 = $7.50.

(Note: this would work exactly the same way if you used the original 6% given in the problem. It would just be a little more annoying to do the math, that’s all.)

Okay, statement (1) is sufficient. Cross off answers BCE and check out statement (2):

“(2) Before the wage increases, the ratio of Jack’s hourly wage to Mark’s hourly wage was 4 to 3.”

Hmm. A ratio. Maybe this one will work, too, since it also gives us something about the difference? Test a couple of cases to see. (You can still use 50% here instead of 6% in order to make the math easier.)

Case #1: If your initial wage was $4, then your new wage would be $4 + $2 = $6. Whit’s initial wage would have been $3, so her new wage would be $3 + $1.5 = $4.50. The difference between the new wages is $1.5.

Case #2: If your initial wage was $8, then your new wage would be $8 + $4 = $12. Whit’s initial wage would have been $6, so her new wage would be $6 + $3 = $9. The difference is now $3!

Statement (2) is not sufficient. The correct answer is (A).

Now, look back over the work for both statements. Are there any takeaways that could get you there faster, without having to test so many cases?

In general, if you have this set-up:

- The starting numbers both increase or decrease by the same percentage, AND

- you know the numerical difference between those two starting numbers

? Then you know that the difference will change by that same percentage. If the numbers go up by 5% each, then the difference also goes up by 5%. If you’re only asked for the difference, that number can be calculated.

If, on the other hand, the starting difference can change, then the new difference will also change. Notice that in the cases for the second statement, the difference between the old wages went from $1 in the first case to $2 in the second. If that difference is not one consistent number, then the new difference also won’t be one consistent number.

Key Takeaways: Make Stories Real
(1) Put yourself in the problem. Plug in some real numbers and test it out. Data Sufficiency problems that don’t offer real numbers for some key part of the problem are great candidates for this technique.

(2) In the problem above, the key to knowing you could test cases was the fact that they kept talking about the hourly wages but they never provided real numbers for those hourly wages. The only real number they provided represented a relative difference between the two numbers; that relative difference, however, didn’t establish what the actual wages were.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.
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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Breaking Down B-School Admissions: A Four-Part Series [#permalink]

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Are You Prepared for B-School Admissions?

Join Manhattan GMAT and three other leaders in the MBA admissions space—mbaMission, Poets & Quants, and MBA Career Coaches—for an invaluable series of free workshops to help you put together a successful MBA application—from your GMAT score to application essays to admissions interviews to post-acceptance internships.

We hope you’ll join us for as many events in this series as you can. Please sign up for each sessions separately via the links below—space is limited.

 

Session 1: Assessing Your MBA Profile,

GMAT 101: Sections, Question Types & Study Strategies

Monday, September 8 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Click here to watch the recording

Session 2: Mastering the MBA Admissions Interview,

Conquering Two 800-Level GMAT Problems

Wednesday, September 10 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Click here to watch the recording

Session 3: 9 Rules for Creating Standout B-School Essays,

Hitting 730: How to Get a Harvard-Level GMAT Score

Monday, September 15 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Session 4: 7 Pre-MBA Steps to Your Dream Internship,

Survival Guide: 14 Days to Study for the GMAT

Wednesday, September 17 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)

Sign up here.

http://www.manhattangmat.com/classes/details/14499
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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How to Set up your GMAT Scratch Paper [#permalink]

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New post 23 Sep 2014, 12:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: How to Set up your GMAT Scratch Paper
A student in one of my classes recently asked me how best to set up his scratch paper while taking the exam, so my first task is to give a shout-out to Robert and thank him for giving me the topic for this article!

I shared a few things with him during class and I’ll share these things with you below. Plus, now that I’ve had a chance to reflect, I have some other ideas for you.

What’s the Scratch Paper like?

You’ll be given a bound booklet of 5 sheets of legal-sized paper (that’s the overly long paper often used for legal documents). This yellow graph paper will be laminated, so you’ll use a special marker to write on it. (If you’re in one of our classes, then you received your very own scratch paper booklet as part of your books and other materials.)

While the booklet technically has 10 faces (front and back of 5 pages), the first page has a bunch of writing and instructions on it, so in practice you’ll have 9 faces on which to write. You can have only one booklet at a time, but you are allowed to exchange the booklet for a new one during the test.

AWA (essay)

The test is divided into four sections. Chances are that you won’t need much scrap paper, if any, during the essay section. In fact, I recommend typing your notes right onto the screen as you read the essay prompt. For example, every time I find a flaw in the argument, I type up a note, then hit enter. When I’m done, I look through the list of flaws, decide which ones to keep, and cut and paste to reorder them. Now, I have a template for what I’m going to write for each paragraph.

Integrated Reasoning (IR) and Organizing Your Page

You will definitely use your scrap paper during the IR section, but there are only 12 question prompts and 9 sheets of paper, so you should have plenty of space.

Organization, though, will be important, since most IR question types have two or three parts. Plan to spend about half a page per problem and keep that work discrete. In fact, I recommend drawing a horizontal line halfway down the page to force yourself to work in a discrete space and keep your steps organized.

Have you ever done this?

[Internal monologue] Hmm, there’s not a lot of room left on this page, but I think I can squeeze one more problem in here. Oh, there isn’t quite enough room after all, but if I turn the paper sideways and write in this blank space between some other work over here, I can finish it off. Argh, none of the answers match. I must’ve made a mistake…let me check my work… Wait, am I looking at work from this problem or from the last problem?

I’m one of the worst offenders on this on quant. Check this out. I just went and found an old piece of scrap paper (I did not create this just for this article—I promise!):

Image

I don’t even know whether that’s one problem or two different problems. Either way, that is NOT good scrap paper practice. I think this might have been one of our challenge problems and I was definitely struggling to figure the problem out.

However, when I’m working under testing conditions, I’m super anal about writing much more neatly and uniformly. I make sure that my work is line by line so that I can easily review the steps if need be.

I also clearly delineate the “given” information (from the question stem) versus the work that I’m doing to try to solve the problem. The given info comes first. Then I leave a blank line before I start working. If I need to back up, I know that I only need to back up to that line; the given info doesn’t change.

Of course, that last part depends upon the assumption that I wrote down the given info correctly in the first place. To that end, when I’m done writing down what I need from the question stem, I quickly glance back over the question on screen to make sure that I hit everything and that it’s all correctly transcribed.

Quant and Timing

Next up, you’ll have an 8-minute break before you start the quant section. Turn in your scratch paper now and get a fresh booklet.

(Note: I have had occasional reports from students saying that the test center proctors sometimes don’t want to give a fresh pad if you haven’t used up the existing pad. I spoke with GMAC—the organization that owns the GMAT­—and you are allowed to ask for a fresh pad even if you have not used up the existing pad. If your proctor balks at this, tell them that you specifically asked about this and GMAC affirmed that you are allowed to get a new scratch booklet at the break even if it’s not yet full. Of course, be super nice to the proctor while having this conversation.)

For the quant section, your scratch paper organization method is also going to let you keep track of your timing; how awesome is that? [Another shout-out, this time to MGMAT instructor Jane Cassie for devising this fantastic method!]

Okay, here’s what you’re going to do:

Image

That graphic contains 9 “sheets” of scrap paper. Flip to the last page and draw a cross on the page, dividing it into 4 quadrants. Then give yourself a smiley face or a “Done!” in the lower-right corner.

Flip to the second to last page. Divide that one into quarters, too, but this time write “8” in the lower-right corner. Keep doing this, counting up by multiples of 8, until you reach the first page.

On that first page, divide the page into 5 sections, not 4. (But you’re still counting by multiples of 8, so the final number you’ll write is 64.)

Now, you’ve got 37 discrete spaces in which to complete your 37 quant problems. What’s more, as you finish each page, you’ll know how much time should be left on the clock. If you’re more than about 2 minutes off in either direction, take action!

If you’re going too fast, slow down and start writing out all of your work and checking that you’re answering the right question.

If you’re going too slowly, do two things: guess immediately on the next hard question that pops up, and start being more careful about spending extra time on problems.

One more important thing: when do you set up your scratch paper this way? You cannot do so over the break or before the proctor starts up your test again—you’re not allowed to use the scratch paper at that time. So here’s what you do: at the beginning of the section, there is a 1-minute “instructions” tutorial that tells you basic instructions for working through the section. Set up your scratch paper during this time—practice ahead of time and it won’t take you more than a minute!

Verbal: the Annoying One

Again, ask for a new scratch booklet between the quant and verbal sections.

Verbal is annoying for a couple of reasons. First, the average question time is different for each question type. Second, the amount of what we need to write also varies by question type. Since we don’t know the order in which we’re going to get questions, there isn’t an easy set-up, as there is for quant.

Here’s how to set up your scratch paper:

Image

You don’t have to turn the booklet sideways and open up two pages at once, the way I do, but I do so because then when I write the timing benchmarks (see below for more), it’s good for two pages. Try it out and see what you think.

To the left, I write ABCDE with some space in between each letter. The scratch paper is graph paper, so gridlines are already set up. Then, I assess each problem’s answer choices underneath, moving to a new line for each new problem. You may notice that I didn’t number the problems. It’s unnecessary: the only thing that matters is the problem up on the screen right now!

Then to the right of the answer grid, I start taking notes whenever I need them. When I finish a problem, I box off the notes, so that I know I’m done with the notes. The writing that doesn’t have a box around it is the stuff I’m working on right now.

When I move to the right side, I do typically re-draw the ABCDE thing, because I find it annoying to go all the way back to the left-hand side to use the answer grid. Others don’t, though; play around with it and see what you like.

Now, here’s what you’re going to do for the timing. Split the verbal test into four quarters. You’re going to spend approximately 19 minutes on each quadrant, so you have to memorize 3 somewhat annoying numbers—but only 3:

question number

time remaining

10

56m

20

37m

30

18m

Notice that the tens digit goes down by 2 each time and the units digit goes up by 1 each time. Memorize those rules plus the first number, 56, and you’ve got the three numbers.

Okay, now here’s the more annoying part. Those numbers assume that you start exactly one new RC passage in each quarter. So you’re going to keep track of your RC passages by drawing a little dot or line on your hand each time you start a new passage.

When you glance at the clock for your first check, you should have one dot on your hand. At the second mark, you should have two dots, and at the third, three dots.

If you have fewer dots than expected, then you need to have MORE time left on the clock than your standard benchmark time—a few minutes more. If you have more dots than expected, then your remaining time should be a few minutes lower than you’d be expecting by the standard benchmark, because you’ve started more RC passages than expected at this point in the test.

As with quant, if you discover that you’re off by more than 2 minutes in either direction, take action right away!

Key Takeaways: Organize Your Scratch Paper

(1) Think about this! Good scratch paper technique will help you to minimize careless mistakes, use less mental energy, and keep yourself on track throughout the test. Work on this throughout your studies so that you’ve had a chance to figure out what works for you and practice it before test day.

(2) Use the above suggestions as a starting point, but feel free to try other techniques or configurations that occur to you as you’re studying. Above all, be consistent. Find methods that work for you and stick with them!
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Online Open House 9/28: Earn $100/hr Teaching the GMAT, LSAT, or GRE [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2014, 13:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Online Open House 9/28: Earn $100/hr Teaching the GMAT, LSAT, or GRE
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Learn about the rewarding teaching opportunities with Manhattan Prep at our upcoming online open house on September 28th. Here’s the scoop:

We are seeking expert teachers across the US, who have proven their mastery of the GMAT, GRE or LSAT — and who can engage students of all ability levels. All Manhattan Prep instructors earn $100/hour for teaching and tutoring – up to four times the industry standard. These are part-time positions that come with flexible hours, allowing you to pursue other career interest. Many of our instructors maintain full-time positions, engage in entrepreneurial endeavors, or pursue advanced degrees concurrently while teaching for Manhattan Prep. (To learn more about our exceptional instructors, read their bios or view this short video).

Our instructors teach in classrooms and in one-on-one settings, both in-person and online. We provide extensive, paid training and a full suite of print and digital instructional materials. Moreover, we encourage the development and expression of unique teaching styles that allow you to flourish in this excellent opportunity.

To learn more about teaching with Manhattan Prep, please select from one of the following open houses, and follow the on-screen instructions:

Open Houses on September 28th:

To teach the GMAT:

http://www.manhattangmat.com/classes/details/14132

To Teach the GRE:

http://www.manhattanprep.com/gre/EventShow.cfm?EID=3&eventID=832

To Teach the LSAT:

http://www.manhattanlsat.com/EventShow.cfm?EID=3&eventID=1434

About Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep is a premier test-preparation company serving students and young professionals studying for the GMAT (business school), LSAT (law school), GRE (master’s and PhD programs), and SAT (undergraduate programs).  We are the leading provider of GMAT prep in the world.

Manhattan Prep conducts in-person classes and private instruction across the United States, Canada, and England.  Our online courses are available worldwide, and our acclaimed Strategy Guides are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  In addition, Manhattan Prep serves an impressive roster of corporate clients, including many Fortune 500 companies.  For more information, visit www.manhattanprep.com.

 
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Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: September 2 [#permalink]

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New post 25 Sep 2014, 07:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: September 26
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Do you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. The SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan GMAT’s live online Complete Courses (a $1299 value).

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

The deadline is fast approaching: September 26, 2014! 

Learn more about the SVS program and apply to be one of our Social Venture Scholars here.

Studying for the GMAT? Take our free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!
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Get Ready to Rumble: GMAT RC Start to Finish (part 1) [#permalink]

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New post 16 Oct 2014, 15:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Get Ready to Rumble: GMAT RC Start to Finish (part 1)
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We’ve done a lot of RC over the years, but a passage contains so much text that I rarely do a full passage with all of its questions.

We’re going to remedy that, starting today! First, we’ll talk about the passage below (from the free problem set that comes with GMATPrep®). Then, we’ll tackle the series of questions that comes with it.

Give yourself approximately 2.5 to 3 minutes to read the below and make yourself a light Passage Map.

* ” The modern multinational corporation is described as having originated when the owner-managers of nineteenth-century British firms carrying on international trade were replaced by teams of salaried managers organized into hierarchies. Increases in the volume of transactions in such firms are commonly believed to have necessitated this structural change. Nineteenth-century inventions like the steamship and the telegraph, by facilitating coordination of managerial activities, are described as key factors. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century chartered trading companies, despite the international scope of their activities, are usually considered irrelevant to this discussion: the volume of their transactions is assumed to have been too low and the communications and transport of their day too primitive to make comparisons with modern multinationals interesting.

“In reality, however, early trading companies successfully purchased and outfitted ships, built and operated offices and warehouses, manufactured trade goods for use abroad, maintained trading posts and production facilities overseas, procured goods for import, and sold those goods both at home and in other countries. The large volume of transactions associated with these activities seems to have necessitated hierarchical management structures well before the advent of modern communications and transportation. For example, in the Hudson’s Bay Company, each far-flung trading outpost was managed by a salaried agent, who carried out the trade with the Native Americans, managed day-to-day operations, and oversaw the post’s workers and servants. One chief agent, answerable to the Court of Directors in London through the correspondence committee, was appointed with control over all of the agents on the bay.

“The early trading companies did differ strikingly from modern multinationals in many respects. They depended heavily on the national governments of their home countries and thus characteristically acted abroad to promote national interests. Their top managers were typically owners with a substantial minority share, whereas senior managers’ holdings in modern multinationals are usually insignificant. They operated in a preindustrial world, grafting a system of capitalist international trade onto a premodern system of artisan and peasant production. Despite these differences, however, early trading companies organized effectively in remarkably modern ways and merit further study as analogues of more modern structures.”

What did you get out of the passage? My thoughts (by paragraph) are on the left and my notes are on the right:

The MMC “is described as having originated when…”? So this author is probably going to contradict that idea. Otherwise, she’d just say “MMCs originated when…” 

Yep! “commonly believed…” also foreshadows a contrast.
P1: MMC: 19c Brit int’l ? became hierarch b/c of volume(old view?)

16, 17c = irrel (old?)

“In reality, however…” Here we go. The author actually thinks those older companies were already hierarchical and dealt with large volumes of transactions.
P2: earlier coms already hierarchex: Hudson

But those earlier companies did have some differences from MMCs.
P3: early com diff from MMCgov’t

owners

but still mod in ways

 

 

I included the info on the left so that you’d see how I was thinking about the passage as I read. Note that I focused on the big picture as well as contrasts. I paid attention to language that foreshadowed where the author might be going with her message.

I didn’t write much about the details—because I didn’t think much about the details. I did read all of the sentences, but as I was reading the example about the Hudson Bay Company, for instance, I was just thinking, “Okay, this is an example of an early company that still had a lot of hierarchy going on.” I don’t care exactly how that hierarchy functioned. I care only that this example is used to support the big idea that early companies did, indeed, have a hierarchy.

That’s your goal on the initial read-through: understand the big ideas and leave the details for later.

We (Manhattan Prep) call the notes a Passage Map because they’re designed to help you figure out where to go when answering a specific question. The goal is not to write down all of the details—it’s an open book test! You can go find and re-read the details any time you want! The trick is to be able to find the relevant details quickly.

Okay, if you feel comfortable with all of that, then click here to answer your first question (you can skip down the article until you get to the problem). Keep this page open, though, so that you have the full passage text.

If you want more practice reading and taking effective notes, I’ve got another article for you.

Join me next time, when we’ll dive into more questions from this passage.

Key Takeaways for Reading Comprehension

(1) Your first read-through is designed to get the big picture, not all of the nitty-gritty details. Worry about those later (and only when you actually get a question about that detail!).

(2) Do create a Passage Map to help you navigate around the passage while answering questions. Some people are able to keep this Map in their heads, but most of us have to jot down at least a few words.

(3) If you hit something that throws you for a loop, assess: is it the first sentence of a paragraph? Does it seem like a big-picture message? If so, read that sentence again and try to pick it apart to get to the core message, using your SC skills. If, on the other hand, the sentence is just detail, skip it for now (and possibly forever).

 

Manhattan GMAT

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Help! I’m applying 2nd round but don’t have my GMAT score yet! [#permalink]

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FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Help! I’m applying 2nd round but don’t have my GMAT score yet!
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It’s October again. People are starting to panic because they want to apply second round (early January!) and they don’t yet have the score they want on the GMAT. Let’s talk about what to do.

What’s your goal?

First of all, you need to set a realistic goal for yourself. What is your current score? How far are you from your goal?

We’re only about 2.5 months from most 2nd-round deadlines. In that timeframe, it might be reasonable to make the jump from 550 to 650, from 600 to 670, or from 650 to 700. (The higher you go, the harder it is to go even higher.) Those ranges are just rough benchmarks; some people will be able to make larger jumps, while others unfortunately won’t hit even those rough benchmarks.

If you are currently at a 550 and want to get to 720, it’s likely that you’ll need more time (especially considering that you also have to complete applications in the same 2.5 month timeframe!). You may need to choose between lowering your goal score and delaying your application—to the third round or to next year.

You might also need to reduce the number of applications you’re planning to submit. It would be challenging to apply to 6 schools and commit to a full GMAT study schedule at the same time.

How have you been studying?

Have you already taken the real test? Perhaps you have been studying for months using a comprehensive set of materials but, though you have improved your score, you haven’t reached the level that you want. If this is the case, then you may need specialized help in the form of a class or tutor to help you break through the plateau that you have reached. (Note: this isn’t true in every case, of course, but when you have only a couple of months left and you have to do applications simultaneously, then you need a new approach to help you break the logjam quickly.)

Or maybe you have been studying a bit and know what you need to do, but you haven’t found the time to do a comprehensive review. If that’s the case, it’s time to commit 100%, get your study plan together, and start a daily study regimen.

Finally, perhaps you’ve been procrastinating altogether—life is busy and nobody really wants to study for the GMAT. If this describes you, my best advice is to get yourself into a class immediately. You likely don’t have the time to evaluate the various resources available, put together a full self-study plan, and then execute. At this stage, it’s better to dive into a complete program and get cracking.

The one exception to that is someone who has done very well on standardized tests in the past. If you self-studied for the SAT (or a similar test) and did a great job in a relatively short period of time, then self-study may be the way to go for the GMAT.

What do I need to do to lift my GMAT score?

Finally, we get down to the important question. J

First, the single most important mistake that people make on the GMAT is to treat it as an academic test, especially on the math section, where every question has a right answer (vs. a “best” answer on verbal). The GMAT is not an academic test! I know it feels like one, but it’s not.

This is what the GMAT really tests.

In the past month, I have told multiple of my students to read that article every day for two weeks and to email me on days 1, 7, and 14 to tell me why I gave them this assignment. If you would like to participate in this exercise, come and visit me on the Manhattan GMAT Forums. (I answer the questions in the General GMAT Strategy Questions folder of the Ask An Instructor section.)

If you want to hit your maximum potential, you have to wrap your head and heart around the mindset described in that article. You can’t just know it intellectually; you actually have to believe it, or you are likely to revert to the old “school test” mentality under the stress of the real test.

Next, you of course need to know the content—the facts, rules, and concepts tested on the exam—as well as how to handle the various question types. That’s all the 1st level of GMAT study; if you’ve been studying for a while, you likely have a decent handle on a lot of that material.

Beyond that, you need to learn how to think your way through GMAT-type questions, what we call the 2nd level of GMAT study. If you have hit a plateau in your scoring level, then it may be because you haven’t made the leap to the 2nd level.

I’m going to go back to the “set a realistic goal” idea for a moment. The higher you want to score on this test, the more you will need to master that 2nd level. If you haven’t really begun to study yet, and you want a 700+, then you are setting yourself the task of getting through both levels in 2.5 months (or sooner). That is a very ambitious goal—too ambitious for most people.

So you’re saying there’s not enough time? I should just give up?

No, of course not. You’ve got to try! Just be realistic and, as with anything important in life, have a back-up plan. If you just can’t make it happen this year, you can always apply next year.

(I know that you’ve probably already told people in your life that you’re going to apply this year. You’re allowed to change your mind, and you don’t have to tell people why. Just say that you decided it was better for your career to wait another year—after all, if you can get a substantially better score by giving yourself more time and applying next year, that may very well change your admissions prospects, and that could change your career!)

I’m actually within 50 points of my goal score. I just need a little boost…

If you’ve been studying and are decently close to your goal already, then there are some additional things you can do to try to secure a final boost to your score.

You need to figure out exactly what’s pulling you down. Most people have timing problems on this test. (If your current thought is that you don’t have timing problems, you’re likely wrong. More than 95% of people have timing problems on this test! Many, if not most, are just unaware of it.)

The good news is this: it’s reasonable to pick up 20 to 30 points (sometimes more, if your timing issues are severe) in about 2 months by fixing timing issues alone. Analyze your most recent one or two Manhattan GMAT CATs to determine what your particular timing issues are. Then learn how to manage your time on the GMAT, starting with developing your 1-minute time sense (section 4 of the article).

Next, focus on the low-hanging fruit. Don’t try to turn your biggest weaknesses into strengths—that will take forever. Instead, minimize careless errors. You already know how to get those questions right, so make sure you earn those points! The article in the previous paragraph that details how to analyze your CATs will help you to place your strengths and weaknesses in one of several “buckets.” Focus on bucket 2.

If you want to enlist a tutor to help you over that final hump, the best thing you can do is take a practice CAT (not GMATPrep, but one that actually provides good data to analyze) and have your tutor analyze it. Use that to set up a study plan, making sure to focus on timing as well as low-hanging fruit. When you feel you’ve made good progress on the issues identified in that first CAT (approximately 2 to 3 weeks, if you’re studying regularly), take another CAT, have the tutor analyze it, and start all over again. Repeat until you’re ready to take the real thing.

You don’t have to use a tutor of course—you can analyze your tests yourself, using the article I linked above. Just go through slowly and carefully to give yourself the best shot of catching everything. Expect to take at least an hour for the analysis; if it takes less time than that, then you are probably missing some important clues that could help you in your studies.

Finally, pick your battles. Don’t try to learn everything. Your best strategy for your bucket 3 categories is just to get them wrong fast and use that time and mental energy elsewhere. Don’t bother trying to turn your biggest weakness into a strength. Don’t spend 10 hours studying combinatorics, when most people see 0 or 1 combinatorics question on the real test. Focus on the low-hanging fruit in bucket 2.

In sum…

If you’re within 100 points of your goal score, then you may be able to get there in the 2 to 2.5 months before second-round deadlines. If you’re more than 100 points away, you can (and should!) still go for it, of course, but be realistic and have a plan B. (In fact, I would have a plan B even if I were within 100 points of my goal.)

In general, make sure to:

(1) Cement the GMAT mindset. (It’s not a school test; it’s a business / decision-making test.)

(2) Fix your timing. Everyone has timing issues; figure out your own issues and make them better.

(3) Focus on the low-hanging fruit! Start with careless errors. Next, concentrate on improving moderate weaknesses. Guess quickly on your biggest weaknesses and use that time elsewhere on the test.
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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Get Ready to Rumble: GMAT RC Start to Finish (part 1) [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2014, 07:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Get Ready to Rumble: GMAT RC Start to Finish (part 1)
Image
We’ve done a lot of RC over the years, but a passage contains so much text that I rarely do a full passage with all of its questions.

We’re going to remedy that, starting today! First, we’ll talk about the passage below (from the free problem set that comes with GMATPrep®). Then, we’ll tackle the series of questions that comes with it.

Give yourself approximately 2.5 to 3 minutes to read the below and make yourself a light Passage Map.

* ” The modern multinational corporation is described as having originated when the owner-managers of nineteenth-century British firms carrying on international trade were replaced by teams of salaried managers organized into hierarchies. Increases in the volume of transactions in such firms are commonly believed to have necessitated this structural change. Nineteenth-century inventions like the steamship and the telegraph, by facilitating coordination of managerial activities, are described as key factors. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century chartered trading companies, despite the international scope of their activities, are usually considered irrelevant to this discussion: the volume of their transactions is assumed to have been too low and the communications and transport of their day too primitive to make comparisons with modern multinationals interesting.

“In reality, however, early trading companies successfully purchased and outfitted ships, built and operated offices and warehouses, manufactured trade goods for use abroad, maintained trading posts and production facilities overseas, procured goods for import, and sold those goods both at home and in other countries. The large volume of transactions associated with these activities seems to have necessitated hierarchical management structures well before the advent of modern communications and transportation. For example, in the Hudson’s Bay Company, each far-flung trading outpost was managed by a salaried agent, who carried out the trade with the Native Americans, managed day-to-day operations, and oversaw the post’s workers and servants. One chief agent, answerable to the Court of Directors in London through the correspondence committee, was appointed with control over all of the agents on the bay.

“The early trading companies did differ strikingly from modern multinationals in many respects. They depended heavily on the national governments of their home countries and thus characteristically acted abroad to promote national interests. Their top managers were typically owners with a substantial minority share, whereas senior managers’ holdings in modern multinationals are usually insignificant. They operated in a preindustrial world, grafting a system of capitalist international trade onto a premodern system of artisan and peasant production. Despite these differences, however, early trading companies organized effectively in remarkably modern ways and merit further study as analogues of more modern structures.”

What did you get out of the passage? My thoughts (by paragraph) are on the left and my notes are on the right:

The MMC “is described as having originated when…”? So this author is probably going to contradict that idea. Otherwise, she’d just say “MMCs originated when…” 

Yep! “commonly believed…” also foreshadows a contrast.
P1: MMC: 19c Brit int’l ? became hierarch b/c of volume(old view?)

16, 17c = irrel (old?)

“In reality, however…” Here we go. The author actually thinks those older companies were already hierarchical and dealt with large volumes of transactions.
P2: earlier coms already hierarchex: Hudson

But those earlier companies did have some differences from MMCs.
P3: early com diff from MMCgov’t

owners

but still mod in ways

 

 

I included the info on the left so that you’d see how I was thinking about the passage as I read. Note that I focused on the big picture as well as contrasts. I paid attention to language that foreshadowed where the author might be going with her message.

I didn’t write much about the details—because I didn’t think much about the details. I did read all of the sentences, but as I was reading the example about the Hudson Bay Company, for instance, I was just thinking, “Okay, this is an example of an early company that still had a lot of hierarchy going on.” I don’t care exactly how that hierarchy functioned. I care only that this example is used to support the big idea that early companies did, indeed, have a hierarchy.

That’s your goal on the initial read-through: understand the big ideas and leave the details for later.

We (Manhattan Prep) call the notes a Passage Map because they’re designed to help you figure out where to go when answering a specific question. The goal is not to write down all of the details—it’s an open book test! You can go find and re-read the details any time you want! The trick is to be able to find the relevant details quickly.

Okay, if you feel comfortable with all of that, then click here to answer your first question (you can skip down the article until you get to the problem). Keep this page open, though, so that you have the full passage text.

If you want more practice reading and taking effective notes, I’ve got another article for you.

Join me next time, when we’ll dive into more questions from this passage.

Key Takeaways for Reading Comprehension

(1) Your first read-through is designed to get the big picture, not all of the nitty-gritty details. Worry about those later (and only when you actually get a question about that detail!).

(2) Do create a Passage Map to help you navigate around the passage while answering questions. Some people are able to keep this Map in their heads, but most of us have to jot down at least a few words.

(3) If you hit something that throws you for a loop, assess: is it the first sentence of a paragraph? Does it seem like a big-picture message? If so, read that sentence again and try to pick it apart to get to the core message, using your SC skills. If, on the other hand, the sentence is just detail, skip it for now (and possibly forever).

 

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Help! I’m applying 2nd round but don’t have my GMAT score yet! [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2014, 07:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Help! I’m applying 2nd round but don’t have my GMAT score yet!
Image

It’s October again. People are starting to panic because they want to apply second round (early January!) and they don’t yet have the score they want on the GMAT. Let’s talk about what to do.

What’s your goal?

First of all, you need to set a realistic goal for yourself. What is your current score? How far are you from your goal?

We’re only about 2.5 months from most 2nd-round deadlines. In that timeframe, it might be reasonable to make the jump from 550 to 650, from 600 to 670, or from 650 to 700. (The higher you go, the harder it is to go even higher.) Those ranges are just rough benchmarks; some people will be able to make larger jumps, while others unfortunately won’t hit even those rough benchmarks.

If you are currently at a 550 and want to get to 720, it’s likely that you’ll need more time (especially considering that you also have to complete applications in the same 2.5 month timeframe!). You may need to choose between lowering your goal score and delaying your application—to the third round or to next year.

You might also need to reduce the number of applications you’re planning to submit. It would be challenging to apply to 6 schools and commit to a full GMAT study schedule at the same time.

How have you been studying?

Have you already taken the real test? Perhaps you have been studying for months using a comprehensive set of materials but, though you have improved your score, you haven’t reached the level that you want. If this is the case, then you may need specialized help in the form of a class or tutor to help you break through the plateau that you have reached. (Note: this isn’t true in every case, of course, but when you have only a couple of months left and you have to do applications simultaneously, then you need a new approach to help you break the logjam quickly.)

Or maybe you have been studying a bit and know what you need to do, but you haven’t found the time to do a comprehensive review. If that’s the case, it’s time to commit 100%, get your study plan together, and start a daily study regimen.

Finally, perhaps you’ve been procrastinating altogether—life is busy and nobody really wants to study for the GMAT. If this describes you, my best advice is to get yourself into a class immediately. You likely don’t have the time to evaluate the various resources available, put together a full self-study plan, and then execute. At this stage, it’s better to dive into a complete program and get cracking.

The one exception to that is someone who has done very well on standardized tests in the past. If you self-studied for the SAT (or a similar test) and did a great job in a relatively short period of time, then self-study may be the way to go for the GMAT.

What do I need to do to lift my GMAT score?

Finally, we get down to the important question. J

First, the single most important mistake that people make on the GMAT is to treat it as an academic test, especially on the math section, where every question has a right answer (vs. a “best” answer on verbal). The GMAT is not an academic test! I know it feels like one, but it’s not.

This is what the GMAT really tests.

In the past month, I have told multiple of my students to read that article every day for two weeks and to email me on days 1, 7, and 14 to tell me why I gave them this assignment. If you would like to participate in this exercise, come and visit me on the Manhattan GMAT Forums. (I answer the questions in the General GMAT Strategy Questions folder of the Ask An Instructor section.)

If you want to hit your maximum potential, you have to wrap your head and heart around the mindset described in that article. You can’t just know it intellectually; you actually have to believe it, or you are likely to revert to the old “school test” mentality under the stress of the real test.

Next, you of course need to know the content—the facts, rules, and concepts tested on the exam—as well as how to handle the various question types. That’s all the 1st level of GMAT study; if you’ve been studying for a while, you likely have a decent handle on a lot of that material.

Beyond that, you need to learn how to think your way through GMAT-type questions, what we call the 2nd level of GMAT study. If you have hit a plateau in your scoring level, then it may be because you haven’t made the leap to the 2nd level.

I’m going to go back to the “set a realistic goal” idea for a moment. The higher you want to score on this test, the more you will need to master that 2nd level. If you haven’t really begun to study yet, and you want a 700+, then you are setting yourself the task of getting through both levels in 2.5 months (or sooner). That is a very ambitious goal—too ambitious for most people.

So you’re saying there’s not enough time? I should just give up?

No, of course not. You’ve got to try! Just be realistic and, as with anything important in life, have a back-up plan. If you just can’t make it happen this year, you can always apply next year.

(I know that you’ve probably already told people in your life that you’re going to apply this year. You’re allowed to change your mind, and you don’t have to tell people why. Just say that you decided it was better for your career to wait another year—after all, if you can get a substantially better score by giving yourself more time and applying next year, that may very well change your admissions prospects, and that could change your career!)

I’m actually within 50 points of my goal score. I just need a little boost…

If you’ve been studying and are decently close to your goal already, then there are some additional things you can do to try to secure a final boost to your score.

You need to figure out exactly what’s pulling you down. Most people have timing problems on this test. (If your current thought is that you don’t have timing problems, you’re likely wrong. More than 95% of people have timing problems on this test! Many, if not most, are just unaware of it.)

The good news is this: it’s reasonable to pick up 20 to 30 points (sometimes more, if your timing issues are severe) in about 2 months by fixing timing issues alone. Analyze your most recent one or two Manhattan GMAT CATs to determine what your particular timing issues are. Then learn how to manage your time on the GMAT, starting with developing your 1-minute time sense (section 4 of the article).

Next, focus on the low-hanging fruit. Don’t try to turn your biggest weaknesses into strengths—that will take forever. Instead, minimize careless errors. You already know how to get those questions right, so make sure you earn those points! The article in the previous paragraph that details how to analyze your CATs will help you to place your strengths and weaknesses in one of several “buckets.” Focus on bucket 2.

If you want to enlist a tutor to help you over that final hump, the best thing you can do is take a practice CAT (not GMATPrep, but one that actually provides good data to analyze) and have your tutor analyze it. Use that to set up a study plan, making sure to focus on timing as well as low-hanging fruit. When you feel you’ve made good progress on the issues identified in that first CAT (approximately 2 to 3 weeks, if you’re studying regularly), take another CAT, have the tutor analyze it, and start all over again. Repeat until you’re ready to take the real thing.

You don’t have to use a tutor of course—you can analyze your tests yourself, using the article I linked above. Just go through slowly and carefully to give yourself the best shot of catching everything. Expect to take at least an hour for the analysis; if it takes less time than that, then you are probably missing some important clues that could help you in your studies.

Finally, pick your battles. Don’t try to learn everything. Your best strategy for your bucket 3 categories is just to get them wrong fast and use that time and mental energy elsewhere. Don’t bother trying to turn your biggest weakness into a strength. Don’t spend 10 hours studying combinatorics, when most people see 0 or 1 combinatorics question on the real test. Focus on the low-hanging fruit in bucket 2.

In sum…

If you’re within 100 points of your goal score, then you may be able to get there in the 2 to 2.5 months before second-round deadlines. If you’re more than 100 points away, you can (and should!) still go for it, of course, but be realistic and have a plan B. (In fact, I would have a plan B even if I were within 100 points of my goal.)

In general, make sure to:

(1) Cement the GMAT mindset. (It’s not a school test; it’s a business / decision-making test.)

(2) Fix your timing. Everyone has timing issues; figure out your own issues and make them better.

(3) Focus on the low-hanging fruit! Start with careless errors. Next, concentrate on improving moderate weaknesses. Guess quickly on your biggest weaknesses and use that time elsewhere on the test.

Manhattan GMAT

Studying for the GMAT? Take our free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

The post Help! I’m applying 2nd round but don’t have my GMAT score yet! 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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The Last 14 Days before your GMAT, Part 1: Building Your Game Plan [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2014, 13:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: The Last 14 Days before your GMAT, Part 1: Building Your Game Plan
Image
What’s the optimal way to spend your last 14 days before the real test? Several students have asked me this question recently, so that’s what we’re going to discuss today! There are two levels to this discussion: building a Game Plan and how to Review. We’ll discuss the former topic in the first half of this article and the latter in the second half.

What is a Game Plan?
For the past several months, you’ve been focused on lifting your score. During the last two weeks before your test, your focus needs to shift: your skills are what they are and your score is what it is. These things are not going to change an enormous amount in the last two weeks.

What could happen, though, is that your score actually drops on test day because you spent the last couple of weeks trying to build up a few weaknesses and you forgot a bunch of strategies that you last reviewed 5 weeks ago. You can tweak some weaknesses in the final two weeks, but now you need to focus on the big picture.

(If your immediate reaction to this is, “But my score is nowhere near where I want it to be!!” then be smart and postpone your test. You’re not going to have a huge score increase in just 2 weeks.)

Your Game Plan will help you to make certain decisions quickly during the test. When is it a good idea to spend an extra 20 or 30 seconds on a problem? When should you decide to make an educated guess? When should you cut yourself off completely, guess immediately, and move on? What should you do if you find yourself ahead or behind on your timing? (We’ll discuss the answers to these questions later in the article.)

Your Game Plan will also help you to prioritize your review based upon your strengths and weaknesses. You’re going to review your major strategies in all areas, the major content you need to know (don’t try to cram everything into your brain; review the stuff that shows up the most!), your pacing, your educated guessing strategies, and so on. As you do that, the data you gather will help you to tweak your game plan further.

Building Your Game Plan
Your Game Plan is a dynamic thing. You perfect it a little bit more every few days as you gather more data and continue to review.

What Does My Gut Say?

First, make a list of your major strengths and weaknesses. Start with the five question types, but also drill down further into specific content areas (quant, SC) and question sub-types (CR, RC). Consider both accuracy and timing when assessing your strengths and weaknesses; the two factors are equally important.

What Does The Data Say?

We can’t rely only on our gut feelings to know our strengths and weaknesses. Our gut is often right, but it is sometimes wrong—more often than most people realize. It’s also important to check your data.

Here’s how to analyze your practice CATs.

If you have been tracking your accuracy and timing on OG problems, also examine that data. (Note: if you are using our GMAT NavigatorTM program, you can view the data reports there.)

Split individual OG question types (DS, PS, CR, RC, SC) into three broad groups: the first third in that section in the book (the generally easier questions), the middle third (the medium questions), and the final third (the generally harder questions). This will give you an idea of how your performance is changing as the questions get harder.

Note: if you’re early in the whole study process right now, I highly recommend tracking your work on the OG problems. Create a simple spreadsheet and keep track of the specific source (book), question number, time spent the first time you did it, and whether you got it right or wrong. You can also add notes about what you want to learn, memorize, review, or do, based upon each problem. (If you do have access to GMAT Navigator, use that too!)

How to Use Your Game Plan
Generally, it’s a good choice to spend an extra 20 to 30 seconds when a problem is a strength for you, and only then when you know exactly what to do but the problem is on the harder side and so needs a little extra time. Also, note that I said “20 to 30 seconds” above. Even if something is a strength, spending an extra minute or more pretty much guarantees at least one other question wrong on the test due to rushing, careless mistakes, or running out of time at the end.

Do not spend extra time on weaknesses (you can spend normal time, just not extra time). That may sound like common sense, but when we’re in the middle of the test, we’re often reluctant to let go of our weaker problems. If you know what your weaknesses are, you can let those problems go more easily—after all, you know it’s a weakness so you know there’s less chance you’re going to get it right. Get it wrong before you lose any time so that you don’t make the situation even harder for yourself.

If you suddenly realize that you have been on one problem for an awfully long time—you’re not even sure how long—stop yourself immediately, guess, and move on. Suppress the urge to think that you can get it right if you just spend a little more time. This is especially true if you are already behind on time.

If you realize that you are ahead or behind on timing at any point during the test, take steps to correct the situation right away. Do not think that the problem will fix itself (it won’t!) and don’t underestimate the dangers of being too far behind or too far ahead. Generally, if you’re within 2 to 3 minutes of your pacing plan, you’re fine. If you are off by more than that, take action.

If you are moving too quickly, make yourself start writing everything down. Take notes. Write down all calculations. Track the answers on your scrap paper. Basically, you need to be more systematic to ensure that you are not losing points to careless errors due to speed.

If you are moving too slowly, use your Game Plan. As soon as you see a problem that’s an area of weakness for you, guess immediately and move on. Sacrifice that problem to gain a significant amount of time back. If that’s not enough to catch you up, do it again the next time you see a “weakness” problem.

How To Practice Your Game Plan
About 10 to 14 days before the test (ideally closer to 14), review your Game Plan and take a practice test under official conditions, including the essay and IR sections, the lengths of the breaks, and so on. Practice implementing your Game Plan during that test. Then review the test with an eye toward improving your Game Plan. Where did you make good decisions about how to spend your time or how to handle a certain problem? Where did you make poor decisions? What should you have done instead? How are you going to make sure that you make the right decision next time? Figure out ahead of time how you’re going to handle different kinds of situations. Then, on the test, you don’t have to think about what to do; you can just react.

Spend the next 5 to 7 days practicing and refining your Game Plan on shorter sets of questions. Intersperse this with your general review of content, question types, and so on. Then, about 5 to 7 days before the test (ideally closer to 7), take another practice test under official conditions. Practice implementing your Game Plan again, then go through your analysis, and refine further.

Finally, implement your Game Plan on test day! And don’t forget to join us next time, when we’ll talk about how to Review during the last 14 days.

Take-Aways
1) Change your focus during the final two weeks of study: away from learning new stuff, and toward reviewing material and developing your Game Plan.

2) Practice and refine your Game Plan over the last two weeks.

3) Use your Game Plan on test day!

Manhattan GMAT

Studying for the GMAT? Take our free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

The post The Last 14 Days before your GMAT, Part 1: Building Your Game Plan 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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Top GMAT Prep Courses: Interview with Manhattan Prep Instructor Ron Pu [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2014, 08:00
FROM Manhattan GMAT Blog: Top GMAT Prep Courses: Interview with Manhattan Prep Instructor Ron Purewal
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The following excerpt comes from Top GMAT Prep Courses, a helpful resource for comparing your GMAT prep options, gathering  in-depth course reviews, and receiving exclusive discounts. Top GMAT Prep Courses had the chance to connect with Ron Purewal, one of Manhattan Prep’s veteran GMAT instructors, to ask questions about the GMAT that we hope all prospective MBA candidates will benefit from. Want more? Head on over to thefull article!

 

What are the most common misconceptions of the GMAT that you notice on a regular basis?

“There are two BIG misconceptions in play here.

The first is “knowledge.” Too many people view this test as a monumental task of memorization. A test of knowing stuff. If you’re new to this exam, it’s understandable that you might think this way. After all, that’s how tests have always worked at school, right? Right. And that’s exactly why the GMAT doesn’t work that way. Think about it for a sec: When it comes to those tests, the tests of knowing stuff, you already have 16 or more years of experience (and grades) under your belt. If the GMAT were yet another one of those tests, it would have no utility. It wouldn’t exist. Instead, the GMAT is precisely the opposite: It’s a test designed to be challenging, and to test skills relevant to business school, while requiring as little concrete knowledge as possible.

If you’re skeptical, go work a few GMAT problems.  Then, when the smoke clears, take an inventory of all the stuff you had to know to solve the problem, as opposed to the thought process itself.  You’ll be surprised by how short the list is, and how elementary the things are.  The challenge isn’t the “what;” it’s the “how.” …Continue reading for the second misconception.

 

How common is it for a student to raise his or her GMAT score 100 points or more, and what is the largest GMAT score increase you’ve personally seen while working at Manhattan Prep?

“We’ve seen such increases from many of our students. I’ve even seen a few increases of more than 300 points, from English learners who made parallel progress on the GMAT and in English itself. I don’t have statistics, but what I can give you is far more important: a list of traits that those successful students have in common.

1) They are flexible and willing to change. They do not cling stubbornly to “preferred” or “textbook” ways of solving problems; instead, they simply collect as many different strategies as possible.

2) They are resilient. When an approach fails, they don’t internalize it as “defeat,” and they don’t keep trying the same things over and over. They just dump the approach that isn’t working, and look for something different. If they come up empty, they simply disengage, guess, and move on.

3) They are balanced. They make time to engage with the GMAT, but they don’t subordinate their entire lives to it. They study three, four, five days a week—not zero, and not seven. They review problems when they’re actually primed to learn; they don’t put in hours just for the sake of putting in hours. If they’re overwhelmed, exhausted, or distressed, they’ll shut the books and hit them another day. In short, they stay sane… Continue reading for more traits of successful students.

 

Studying for the GMAT? Take our free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+,LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

The post Top GMAT Prep Courses: Interview with Manhattan Prep Instructor Ron Purewal 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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Top GMAT Prep Courses: Interview with Manhattan Prep Instructor Ron Pu   [#permalink] 12 Nov 2014, 08:00

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