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How to Quickly Solve Standard Deviation Questions on the GMA [#permalink]

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New post 08 May 2014, 10:00
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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Quickly Solve Standard Deviation Questions on the GMAT
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The quantitative section of the GMAT is designed to test your understanding and application of concepts you learned in high school. The exam focuses on core mathematical concepts such as algebra, geometry and statistics. However some concepts are more engrained in the high school curriculum than others. Everyone’s done addition, multiplication, subtraction and division, but sometimes figuring out factorials or square roots may be a little more unusual.

Perhaps no concept perplexes students on the GMAT more than the standard deviation. The standard deviation (often represented by σ) is measure of dispersion around the mean. It indicates how close the numbers in a set are to the set’s average. As a simple example, the sets {5, 10, 15} and {8, 10, 12} both have the same mean (10); however they do not have the same standard deviation.

Knowing how to calculate the standard deviation is not required on the GMAT, but knowing how it’s calculated gives you a tremendous edge in answering questions. It’s a four step process:

1)      Find the average (mean) of the set.

2)      Find the differences between each element of the set and that average.

3)      Square all the differences and take the average of the differences. This gives you the variance.

4)      Take the square root of the variance.

In this example, the average of the first set is clearly 10. The differences between the three elements are (-5, 0 and -5). Taking the square of these numbers, we get (25, 0 and 25). The average of these numbers is 50/3 or 16.67. The square root of this number will not be an integer, but it will be very close to 4. So we can assume roughly ~4 or ~4.1.

In contrast, the second set of numbers will have a much smaller standard deviation. The average is still 10, but the differences are now (-2, 0 and 2). Taking the square of these numbers, we get (4, 0 and 4). The average of these numbers is 8/3 or 2.67. The square root of 2.67 is roughly ~1.6 or ~1.7, but it’s very hard to pin down without a calculator or a lot of extra time.

This example should help highlight why the standard deviation is not explicitly calculated on an exam without a calculator: the chances of it being an integer are relatively low. However the concept it represents and the idea behind it are fair game on the test. One of the simple takeaways from the math behind the process is that, the farther the number is from the mean of the set, the more the standard deviation will increase. Specifically, the distance increases with the square of the difference, so 5 looks much farther out than 2.

This kind of concept can be tested on the exam, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can answer standard deviation questions very quickly. Let’s look at an example:

For the set {2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, x}, which of the following values of x will most increase the standard deviation?

(A)   1

(B)   2

(C)   3

(D)   4

(E)    5

If you recall the steps to calculating the standard deviation, what we really need to do first is to calculate the mean. (i.e. how mean are you?) You can add the eight elements together and divide by eight, but the fact that these elements follow a fairly obvious pattern helps us as well. The numbers each appear twice, and they are evenly spaced. This means that the average will be the same as the median, and the median is 3.5. Even if you take the long way, it shouldn’t take you more than 20 seconds to find that the mean of this set is 3.5

The next step is to take each element and find the difference from the mean, but this is what we need to do if the goal is to actually calculate the standard deviation. All we’re being tasked to do here is to determine which number will increase the standard deviation the most. In this regard, all we need to do is figure out which answer choice is furthest from the mean. That number will produce the biggest distance, which will then be squared and in turn produce the biggest difference in standard deviation. So although you can spend a lot of time calculating every last detail of this question, what it actually comes down to is “which of these numbers is furthest from 3.5”.

Asking about distance from a specific number is much more straightforward, and probably an elementary school level question. Yet, if you understand the concept, you can turn a GMAT question into something a 5th grader could answer (Are you smarter than a 5th grader?). The answer is thus obviously choice A, as 1 is as far from 3.5 as possible given only these five choices.

The important thing about the standard deviation is that you will never have to formally calculate it, but understanding the underlying concept will help you excel at the quantitative section of the GMAT. Most standard deviation questions hinge primarily on the distance from the mean, as everything else is just a rote division or addition. Much like taking five practice exams and getting wildly different scores, having a high variance is bad for knowing what to expect. Understanding the way standard deviations are tested on the GMAT will help you consistently get the questions right and reduce the variance of your results (hopefully with a very high mean).

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.
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GMAT Tip of the Week: Mother Knows Best on Sentence Correcti [#permalink]

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New post 09 May 2014, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Mother Knows Best on Sentence Correction
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So it’s Mother’s Day weekend, and all of us should be thanking our moms this weekend. For all kinds of things, of course, but for one that you may not have realized all these years growing up:

Your mom taught you one of the greatest Sentence Correction lessons you’ll ever learn.

How? She told you to clean your room. Now, remember – when your mom told you to clean your room you were rarely doing it with disinfectant or using a deep-cleaner on the carpet. Your job wasn’t so much to deep clean your room chemically, but more to just “declutter” it, putting things away and tidying up for a cleaner, more livable space. She taught you the virtue of “everything in its place and a place for everything,” and in doing so gave you the tools you need to make Sentence Correction significantly easier.

Let’s demonstrate with a problem:

Visitors to the zoo have often looked up in to the leafy aviary and saw macaws resting on the branches, whose tails trail like brightly colored splatters of paint on a green canvas.

(A) saw macaws resting on the branches, whose tails trail

(B) saw macaws resting on the branches, whose tails were trailing

(C) saw macaws resting on the branches, with tails trailing

(D) seen macaws resting on the branches, with tails trailing

(E) seen macaws resting on the branches, whose tails have trailed

Much of this sentence is simply clutter. So many of the phrases add extra description, but are the kinds of things your mother would tell you to put away and “declutter” – namely, the prepositional phrases. So let’s get rid of the clutter with “to the zoo”; “often”; “in to the leafy aviary”; “on the branches”; and “whose tails trail like brightly colored splatters of paint on a green canvas”. On the GMAT, description often serves as clutter, so if you can envision the sentence without the descriptive clutter (similar to how your mom wanted to envision your bedroom), you’d be left with;

Visitors have looked up and saw macaws resting.

Without all of the clutter, your ear should tell you that this is just wrong – the expression should be parallel in timeline: “Visitors have looked up and seen macaws.” And that only leaves D and E.

Now, to make this next decision you’ll need to bring back some of the description, as you can see that the only remaining decision is between “with tails trailing” and “whose tails have trailed”. And here, yet again, is where your mother’s life lessons can help you. What did you often do to make sure your room passed your mom’s test? You took anything that *might* be considered clutter, buried it in a closet or under a bed, and then dug back in to pull out the things that you really wanted. And that’s the case on GMAT Sentence Correction – when you “eliminate” clutter you don’t get rid of it forever, you just ignore it temporarily. Here if you bring back the description in question, you have:

(D) seen macaws resting on the branches, with tails trailing

(E) seen macaws resting on the branches, whose tails have trailed

Here the description/modifiers are important, and astute test-takers should see that branches don’t have tails, but birds do (your mom probably took you to the zoo, too – one more lesson to thank her for). So E cannot be right, and the answer is D.

Most importantly here, remember what your mother taught you – a clean room is a happy room, and a clean, clutter-free sentence makes for much happier and more effective Sentence Correction. This weekend you have millions of reasons to thank your mom, but as you study for the GMAT you know that she’d be thrilled with even 700…

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Brian Galvin
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A Remainders Shortcut for the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 12 May 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: A Remainders Shortcut for the GMAT
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We firmly believe that teaching someone is a most productive learning for oneself and every now and then, something happens that strengthens this belief of ours. It’s the questions people ask – knowingly or unknowingly – that connect strings in our mind such that we feel we have gained more from the discussion than even our students!

The other day, we came across this common GMAT question on remainders and many people had solved it the way we would expect them to solve. One person, perhaps erroneously, used a shortcut which upon reflection made perfect sense. Let me give you that question and the shortcut and the problem with the shortcut. We would like you to reflect on why the shortcut actually does make sense and is worth noting down in your log book.

Question: Positive integer n leaves a remainder of 4 after division by 6 and a remainder of 3 after division by 5. If n is greater than 30, what is the remainder that n leaves after division by 30?

(A) 3

(B) 12

(C) 18

(D) 22

(E) 28

Solution: We are assuming you know how people do the question usually:

The logic it uses is discussed here and the solution is given below as Method I.

Method I:

Positive integer n leaves a remainder of 4 after division by 6. So n = 6a + 4

n can take various values depending on the values of a (which can be any non negative integer).

Some values n can take are: 4, 10, 16, 22, 28, …

Positive integer n leaves a remainder of 3 after division by 5. So n = 5b + 3

n can take various values depending on the values of a (which can be any non negative integer).

Some values n can take are: 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28, …

The first common value is 28. So n = 30k + 28

Hence remainder when positive integer n is divided by 30 is 28.

Answer: E.

Perfect! But one fine gentleman came up with the following solution wondering whether he had made a mistake since it seemed to be “super simple Math”.

Method II:

Given in question: “n leaves a remainder of 4 after division by 6 and a remainder of 3 after division by 5.”

Divide the options by 6 and 5. The one that gives a remainder of 4 and 3 respectively will be correct.

(A) 3 / 6 gives Remainder = 3 -> INCORRECT

(B) 12 / 6 gives Remainder = 0 -> INCORRECT

(C) 18 / 6 gives Remainder = 0 -> INCORRECT

(D) 22 / 6 gives Remainder = 4 but 22 / 5 gives  Remainder = 2 -> INCORRECT

(E) 28 / 6 gives Remainder = 4 and 28 / 5 gives Remainder = 3 ->  CORRECT

Now let us point out that the options are not the values of n; they are the values of remainder that is leftover after you divide n by 30. The question says that n must give a remainder of 4 upon division by 6 and a remainder of 3 upon division by 5. This solution divided the options (which are not the values of n) by 6 and 5 and got the remainder as 4 and 3 respectively. So the premise that when you divide the correct option by 6 and 5, you should get a remainder of 4 and 3 respectively is faulty, right?

This is where we want you to take a moment and think: Is this premise actually faulty?

The fun part is that method II is perfectly correct too. Method I seems a little complicated when compared with Method II, doesn’t it? Let us give you the logic of why method II is correct:

Recall that division is nothing but grouping. When you divide n by 30, you make complete groups of 30 each. The number of groups you get is called the quotient (not relevant here) and the leftover is called the remainder. If this is not clear, check this post first.

When n is divided by 30, groups of 30 are made. Whatever is leftover is given in the options. 30 is completely divisible by 6 and by 5 hence the groups of 30 can be evenly divided into groups of 6 as well as groups of 5. Now, whatever is leftover (given in the options) after division by 30, we need to split that into further groups of 6 and 5. When we split it into groups of 6 (i.e. divide the option by 6), we must have remainder 4 since n leaves remainder 4. When we split it into groups of 5 (i.e. divide the option by 5), we must have remainder 3 since n leaves remainder 3. And, that is the reason we can divide the options by 6 and 5, check their remainders and get the answer!

Now, isn’t that neat!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!
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SAT Tip of the Week: Should You Retake the Test? [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2014, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Should You Retake the Test?
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A lot of students, after they have gotten their first score, feel unsure whether or not they should take the SAT again.  There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to endeavor to conquer the four hour test after it has already been battled, but here are a few things to consider when deciding what to do.

1.  Know the Scores You Want

As top level students, many of you will not wish to settle for anything less than the highest possible score on the SAT. As a tutor, I believe that any student, with some time and discipline, can improve their score on the SAT (if I didn’t think that, I would be remiss in pursuing this career), but this is only one aspect of the college admissions process.  If a student’s score falls squarely within the score range of his or her desired school, it may not be the best use of time to work for many more hours to raise that score to the upper limit of the admission range.

If a student is already a competitive candidate for his or her school of choice, it may be that a higher SAT score will only marginally affect the chances of admission. Perhaps that time would be better used focusing on other aspects of school or on the application itself (don’t forget to take some time to relax as well!).  If on the other hand, a student’s scores are on the low side for a school, it may be wise to give the SAT another shot.  The big mistake to avoid in taking the SAT again is to assume that simply taking the test again will increase your score.

2.  Understand Where You Are in Your Preparation

The SAT is a skills test; because of this, more preparation and an understanding of the skills necessary for success on the SAT translate DIRECTLY into a higher score.  With that said, a high score on the SAT can sometimes mean a lower increase in score in relation to the time put in.  Many students can improve scores dramatically if they have not put much time into studying for the SAT their first go around, but there often comes a point where students plateau in their scoring.

This does not mean the students cannot improve, but it does mean the students will have to work that much harder for an incremental increase in their scores. For this reason, it is an especially good idea to take the SAT again if the student put little preparation into the test the first time around.

3.  If Taking the Test Again, Work that Much Harder

It may seem a bit reductive to simply state “work harder” as a method of improving scores, but schools are looking to see improvements in SAT scores when the test is taken multiple times so simply taking the SAT again with the hope of improvement is not the most prudent move.  Figure out EXACTLY what was hard the first time and focus on that.

Were main idea problems difficult in the reading section? Were pronouns tough in the writing section? Was it difficult to find the hidden concepts in the later math problems? Figure out what the problem areas are and focus on them. Make sure to test your progress as you go to see if you are making improvements.  The biggest mistake to be made in taking the test again is to assume that simply retaking the test will improve scores.

The decision of whether or not to take the SAT can be difficult, but the right road can be made clearer by examining where you are coming from, and where you plan to go.  If your score is what you need for entrance into the school of your choice, perhaps it is not worth the time and energy of retaking the test.  If, however, you feel like you need a higher score, make sure to specifically work toward improving in areas that were difficult so that you show progress in your SAT scoring.  Good luck test takers!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.
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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School Profile: Will Cornell University be Your New Home? [#permalink]

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New post 14 May 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: School Profile: Will Cornell University be Your New Home?
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Cornell University is located in beautiful Ithaca, New York. Ranked #29 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings, it is among the top universities in the nation, boasting excellent facilities, faculty, and resources among other things. This is the perfect place to find a home away from home while working on your higher education and career goals. Amazing amenities, programs, and activities are among its many enduring qualities.

This is a place where you can take a canoe ride on Bebee Lake after a final exam to release some tension, walk through the botanical gardens after a study session, or hit the town with a few classmates to enjoy one of the many local eateries after class. You can find almost anything your heart’s desires on campus, from the Cornell Cinema to The Big Red Barn, a social hub for students to mingle and relax. If you’re looking for a top of the line education, strong community, and a place to call home for at least four years, Cornell is the university for you.

Cornell University wants to prepare their students for life’s journey, and their comprehensive academic plan allows them to do just that. By combining liberal arts with scientific examination students gain an education that focuses them on the global outlook, and provides them with the capability of overcoming challenges using critical thinking. There are seven undergraduate schools within Cornell offering a wide range of study and opportunity. Cornell offers more than 4,000 courses, over 60 undergraduate majors and roughly 90 graduate fields, allowing students an exceptional amount of freedom over their academic careers.

Aside from undergraduate degrees, there are many opportunities for advanced degrees, outreach programs, and continuing education. Cornell University enriches higher learning with their wide range of Institutes, Laboratories, Centers, and Programs.

It is one of the larger campuses, so much so that it has its own zip code, but don’t let that intimidate you; the well thought out design gives it a homey feel. Cornell has an amazing arboretum where you can enjoy nice walks, energizing bike rides, and luxurious botanical gardens. It’s a tranquil place to relax while working on your studies. There are several different types of housing opportunities that allow students to feel a sense of community, from high rise dormitories to themed living communities. Cornell offers a wide range of eateries both on and off campus. Along with a plethora of student services, they also boast an extensive health and wellness sector where students can receive top-of-the-line healthcare from primary care to counseling services.

Athletics and physical education are held in the highest regard at Cornell, whether you’re part of one of the 36 Division I teams or just enjoying some fitness classes at one of their state-of-the-art facilities.  The 36 varsity teams compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and are also part of the Ivy League. Cornell has earned many Division I championships over the years as well as won the Ivy League championship in football three times. Along with having successful varsity teams, they also open their athletic facilities for all students use. They boast excellent intramural programs, top tier physical education programs, and fun outdoor activities like the climbing wall. Cornell University is about achievement; making your mind, body, and spirit the best it can be. Their amazing facilities and programs manifest that philosophy.

This university has embraced tradition since its opening day on October 7, 1868, beginning with its chimes concerts. The chimes play three times a day making it one of the most frequently played chimes in the world. While new traditions have popped up frequently over the years, one of the oldest is the Dragon Day tradition. This is where first year architecture and art students create an enormous dragon and parade it throughout the campus leading it to be absorbed in the flames of a bonfire while being heckled by rival engineering students. Cornell has a strong history, where students make lasting memories by participating in the various traditions such as homecoming, Slope Day, and many more.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill
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 Keep a Proactive Approach when Solving Critical Reaso [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2014, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Keep a Proactive Approach when Solving Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT
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Critical reasoning on the GMAT requires you to evaluate the author’s conclusion and select the answer choice that best answers the given question. While there are four broad categories of questions, the two most common types of questions are the ones that ask the student to either strengthen or weaken the conclusion provided. In actuality, strengthen and weaken questions are two sides of the same coin (possibly Two Face’s trick coin) and together account for roughly ¾ of the critical reasoning questions on the exam. With stats like these, it’s important to be comfortable with these questions!

First, we must identify the author’s conclusion. This usually is done by trying to understand the author’s main point. Likely, the main idea being pushed will be the conclusion. You can usually recognize a conclusion if it contains a call for action or begins with conclusion language. This conclusion language is usually a telltale word like “Thus” or “Therefore” (or my favorite: “In conclusion”). The conclusion is likely based on the premises or evidence in the passage, so continuously asking yourself “why?” will usually help identify the conclusion. If there is an answer to the question “why” in the text, you might have the conclusion in your sights.

Once you have identified the conclusion of the passage, the next important element to look for is the supporting evidence in the passage, particularly in terms of gaps that can be exploited. Very frequently the gap between the evidence and the conclusion will yield the crux of the question. If you think the Miami Heat will win the NBA championship because Miss Cleo told you, there might be a gap to exploit…

If you’ve properly identified the conclusion and the evidence, the inevitable gap in logic between the two will form the basis of your prediction of the answer. Predicting the answer is a key step in correctly solving strengthen/weaken questions, as the erroneous answer choices are specifically chosen to tempt you into considering them as potentially worthy candidates. If you go in with an open mind, you might end up picking something that sounds reasonable but is irrelevant to the situation at hand (think of late night TV shopping: Yes I do need a knife that cuts through a shoe).

Once you feel comfortable in this approach, let’s try and apply it to a real GMAT question:

The retail price of decaffeinated coffee is considerably higher than that of regular coffee. However, the process by which coffee beans are decaffeinated is fairly simple and not very costly. Therefore, the price difference cannot be accounted for by the greater cost of providing decaffeinated coffee to the consumer.

The argument relies on assuming which one of the following?

(A)   Processing regular coffee costs more than processing decaffeinated coffee

(B)   Price differences between products can generally be accounted for by such factors as supply and demand, not by differences in production costs

(C)   There is little competition among companies that process decaffeinated coffee.

(D)   Retail coffee-sellers do not expect that consumers are content to pay more for decaffeinated coffee than for regular coffee.

(E)    The beans used for producing decaffeinated coffee do not cost much more before processing than the beans used for producing regular coffee.

If we apply the strategy above, the conclusion is clearly the last sentence of the passage (Therefore kind of gave it away). The conclusion states that the price difference cannot come from the cost of providing decaffeinated coffee. What is the evidence provided? Only that the process of decaffeination is simple and cheap. What could be an alternative explanation for the price difference? Anything else! For example, if the material provided cost more money or the process can only be performed by Tibetan monks on the third Saturday of the month. Any given reason could be valid to increase the price (sort of like cartels).

Let’s look through the answers to see which of these could cause legitimate increases in cost:

A)     Processing regular coffee costs more than processing decaffeinated coffee.

This choice is actually out of scope. The answer choice purports that regular coffee is more expensive than decaf. If we negate it, it tells you that processing regular coffee costs LESS than processing decaf. But we already know processing decaf is inexpensive, so this answer choice doesn’t help anything. Whether it’s true or false, it doesn’t give any more insight into producing decaf coffee.

B)      Price differences between products can generally be accounted for by such factors as supply and demand, not by differences in production costs.

This is a very tempting answer because many people know it to be true. However, it is incorrect because it is tangential to the point we’re trying to prove. Were this not true, would it change anything to the cost of processing coffee beans? Not at all. This answer choice is true in the vast majority of situations; however it is irrelevant to the author’s conclusion and therefore cannot be the correct answer.

C)      There is little competition among companies that process decaffeinated coffee.

Similar to the choice above, but much less tempting. What does this have to do with anything? There’s competition. If anything, that should drive the costs down, not up. This answer choice is also irrelevant to the conclusion, and if it were relevant, it would be pointing in the wrong direction.

D)     Retail coffee-sellers do not expect that consumers are content to pay more for decaffeinated coffee than for regular coffee.

This is a 180°. The answer choice suggests that people do not want to pay more for decaf, so why would the decaf coffee be so much more expensive? If anything, it should be cheaper. This answer choice is also incorrect.

E)       The beans used for producing decaffeinated coffee do not cost much more before processing than the beans used for producing regular coffee.

This is the correct answer. My prediction was to ensure nothing else was driving up the price of coffee. If the beans were much more expensive, then the cost of providing decaffeinated coffee could be very high even though the process is inexpensive. In economic terms, the labor was cheap but the capital was expensive. This answer choice would strengthen the argument tremendously, and without it, the argument has a sizeable flaw that could be exploited.

On strengthen and weaken questions, it’s very easy to get confused as to what the question is actually asking you, especially after 3 hours of brain taxing concentration. Actively predicting what the answer choice should look like will help you avoid tempting trap answer choices. When fatigue starts to creep in during the verbal section, keeping a proactive approach to critical reasoning questions will help you select the correct answer and keep your concentration level high. This is especially important if the only coffee beans you’ll get on the GMAT will be in critical reasoning questions.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.
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GMAT Tip of the Week: Maximizing Your Efficiency on Min-Max  [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Maximizing Your Efficiency on Min-Max Problems
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On nearly every GMAT, you’ll see at least one of the “Min/Max” variety of word problems, a category that’s difficult for even the brightest quant minds largely for one major reason: these aren’t your typical word problems, and they don’t lend themselves very well to algebra. They tend to be every bit as “situational” as “mathematical” and in fact are labeled “scenario-driven Min/Max problems” in the Veritas Prep Word Problems lesson. Why? Because they’re almost entirely driven by the situation, including:

The figures almost always have to be integers. The problems use situations like “the number of people” or “the number of trees,” a subtle clue that algebra won’t quite work because you’re not using all real numbers, but instead nonnegative integers. But be careful (as you’ll see below).

The questions ask for a very specific value in a very specific way. You’ll often see them ask “did at least three” (3 or more means “yes”) or “was the number sold greater than 50″ (50 itself means “no” – to get “yes” it has to be 51 or more, provided you’re dealing with integers).

The rules of the game often dictate whether repeat numbers are allowed. Quite often you’ll find a stipulation that “no two could be the same” (but make sure you see that stipulation before you act on it!).

Some of the information in a Data Sufficiency version of a Min/Max is much more sufficient than it usually appears. This is largely because of the scenario, numbers, and question stem they’ve carefully crafted to sneak sufficiency past you.

Let’s consider an example so that you can see how one of these works:

Five friends recently visited a famous chocolatier, and collectively purchased a total of 16 pounds of fudge. Did any one friend purchase more than 5 pounds of fudge?

(1) No two friends purchased the same amount of fudge.

(2) The minimum increment in which the chocolatier sells fudge is one pound.

Look at the familiar symptoms of a min/max problem:

*The question stem asks a yes/no question about a very specific value (5 pounds)

*Statement 1 provides the caveat “no two can be the same”

*While the problem itself doesn’t dictate “integers” via the scenario – “pounds of fudge” can certainly come in fractions – Statement 2 comes in to limit the values to integers

Now, if you’re looking at the information from the question stem and statement 1, you could try to set up some algebra:

The given information: a + b + c + d + e = 16

Statement 1: a > b > c > d > e

The question, then: Is a > 5?

You should immediately see that this isn’t sufficient; with nonintegers in play, a could be 15.9 and the other four could add up to 0.1 (“yes”) or they could each be right around the average of 3.2, just a hair off to satisfy the inequality (“no”). But you should also see what makes problems like this tricky with algebra – there are a lot of variables and there’s a lot of inequality. Min/Max problems tend to require a lot more trial and error, and live up to their name because the technique that works best on them is to minimize and maximize particular values to figure out the possible range of the value in question. Eschewing algebra, let’s look at statement 2:

Given Information: 16 total pounds were purchased.

Statement 2: The purchases had to be in integer increments.

The question: Was one of those integers 5 or higher?

Here, to find the maximum value you can minimize the other values. What if four friends didn’t buy anything (0, 0, 0, 0) and the fifth bought all 16 pounds? That’s a resounding “yes”. But they could have split things much more easily – you’d do this by maximizing the smallest value(s). 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 would give you 15, allowing that one final pound to go to the highest making the highest value 4. So there’s your “no” and statement 2 is not sufficient.

When you take the statements together, however, you should see what really makes these problems tick. With algebra it’s still awful:

a + b + c + d + e = 16

a > b > c > d > e

a, b, c, d, and e are integers

Is a > 5?

But with an intent to minimize the highest value (by maximizing the others, sucking as much value away as possible) and maximize the highest value (by minimizing the others to drive all value toward the highest), you have a blueprint for trial and error.

Maximize the highest value / Minimize the others. To make sure you can get a “yes”, minimize the smallest values to see how high the highest can go. That means 0, 1, 2, and 3 – a total of 6 pounds leaving 10 for the highest. It’s easy to get a “yes”.

Minimize the highest value / Maximize the others. Since highest = 5 gives you “no”, see if you can then minimize that highest (5) and maximize the others (4, 3, 2, and 1). But notice that that only gives you a total of 15, and you need to account for 16. And here you cannot give that extra pound to any of the lower values without matching a higher one (add it to 1 and you match 2; add it to 2 and you match 3; etc.). So this guarantees that the highest value is 6 or more, and the answer is sufficient, C.

More importantly, look at the technique – many great mathematical minds hate these problems because the “pure math” algebra is so ugly…but the GMAT loves these because they force you to think logically through a few situations. Since so many of these are Yes/No Data Sufficiency problems, keep in mind that your goals are to “prove insufficiency” looking for both a Yes and a No answer, by:

Minimizing the highest value by maximizing the others

Maximizing the highest value by minimizing the others

Minimizing the lowest value by maximizing the others

Maximizing the lowest value by minimizing the others

Essentially to ______ize one value, do the opposite to the others, and doing so will help you test the possible range. As you do so, make sure you consider:

-Can the values be nonintegers, negative numbers, or 0? (often the scenario dictates that the answer to a few of these is “no”)

-Can values repeat?

Min/Max Scenario problems can be a pain, as they maximize the amount of time you have to spend on them while minimizing your score. But if you know the game, you have an advantage – these problems are all about trial-and-error of Min/Max situations and about taking acute inventory of what is allowable for the values you do try. Play the game correctly, and you’ll be set up for maximal success with minimal (comparative) effort.
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Medians, Altitudes and Angle Bisectors in Special Triangles  [#permalink]

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New post 19 May 2014, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Medians, Altitudes and Angle Bisectors in Special Triangles on the GMAT
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We are assuming you know the terms median, angle bisector and altitude but still, just to be sure, we will start our discussion today by defining them:

Median – A line segment joining a vertex of a triangle with the mid-point of the opposite side.

Angle Bisector – A line segment joining a vertex of a triangle with the opposite side such that the angle at the vertex is split into two equal parts.

Altitude – A line segment joining a vertex of a triangle with the opposite side such that the segment is perpendicular to the opposite side.

Usually, medians, angle bisectors and altitudes drawn from the same vertex of a triangle are different line segments. But in special triangles such as isosceles and equilateral, they can overlap. We will now give you some properties which can be very useful.

I.

In an isosceles triangle (where base is the side which is not equal to any other side):

- the altitude drawn to the base is the median and the angle bisector;

- the median drawn to the base is the altitude and the angle bisector;

- the bisector of the angle opposite to the base is the altitude and the median.

II.

The reverse is also true. Consider a triangle ABC:

- If angle bisector of vertex A is also the median, the triangle is isosceles such that AB = AC and BC is the base. Hence this angle bisector is also the altitude.

- If altitude drawn from vertex A is also the median, the triangle is isosceles such that AB = AC and BC is the base. Hence this altitude is also the angle bisector.

- If median drawn from vertex A is also the angle bisector, the triangle is isosceles such that AB = AC and BC is the base. Hence this median is also the altitude.

and so on…

III.

In an equilateral triangle, each altitude, median and angle bisector drawn from the same vertex, overlap.

Try to prove all these properties on your own. That way, you will not forget them.

A few things this implies:

-          Should an angle bisector in a triangle which is also a median be perpendicular to the opposite side? Yes.

-          Can we have an angle bisector which is also a median which is not perpendicular? No. Angle bisector which is also a median implies isosceles triangle which implies it is also the altitude.

-          Can we have a median from vertex A which is perpendicular to BC but does not bisect the angle A? No. A median which is an altitude implies the triangle is isosceles which implies it is also the angle bisector.

and so on…

Let’s take a quick question on these concepts:

Question: What is ∠A in triangle ABC?

Statement 1: The bisector of ∠A is a median in triangle ABC.

Statement 2: The altitude of B to AC is a median in triangle ABC.

Solution: We are given a triangle ABC but we don’t know what kind of a triangle it is.

Jump on to the statements directly.

Statement 1: The bisector of ∠A is a median in triangle ABC.

The angle bisector is also a median. This means triangle ABC must be an isosceles triangle such that AB = AC. But we have no idea about the measure of angle A. This statement alone is not sufficient.

Statement 2: The altitude of ∠B to AC is a median in triangle ABC.

The altitude is also a median. This means triangle ABC must be an isosceles triangle such that AB = BC (Note that the altitude is drawn from vertex B here). But we have no idea about the measure of angle A. This statement alone is not sufficient.

Using both statements together, we see that AB = AC = BC. So the triangle is equilateral! So angle A must be 60 degrees. Sufficient!

Answer (C)

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!
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International Business Experience Could Make All the Differe [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: International Business Experience Could Make All the Difference in Your MBA Applications
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There’s no arguing that the world is getting smaller.  Technology has finally connected just about any remote part of the globe which until just a few years ago, still operated in many cases as if in the dark ages.  Even in the remotest villages of Africa, we now find cell phones and smart phones.  Where we once had to fly to client locations to meet “face to face,” we can now meet remotely via telepresence, which has become as easy as finding a mobile connection.

Businesses have led the charge in shrinking our world by adopting and creating the latest technologies, and in doing so they now place a new importance on global experience in the workplace. The employees who know their way around international business practices have an advantage, not only in a multi-national corporation, but also with the smaller firm which wields the worldwide web to waggle their wares.

This desire for international exposure has trickled downhill, and the companies which recruit at top business schools more than ever demand students who have both a global worldview and practical experience abroad.  Of course at the bottom of this hill are the business schools, whose job it is to prepare students for this diverse international environment.

It’s not enough, unfortunately to cram this experience in during business school, and schools know this.  In fact many schools, especially at the top tier, are looking for applicants who arrive at b-school already having international experience.  This is more complicated than it sounds, because that semester abroad you spent in college taking a couple of courses in Italy and ingesting Spaghetti alla puttanesca all summer (if you know what I mean) won’t impress them.  Study abroad is great, and can sometimes help you land that post undergraduate job with the international firm, but it’s really the international firm experience itself that’s going to win you points with the admissions committee.  And as great as international pleasure travel is for broadening your cultural horizons and revealing some personal passions, it’s not going to check that box at the elite schools for international exposure.

What schools are really looking for is tangible, professional interactions in the workplace either physically in a foreign country or at least with people in foreign countries.  This puts many American workers at a distinct disadvantage, but before you write it off as a weakness in your application, make sure you are not selling yourself short.

Most firms these days have some sort of connection to the international marketplace.  If you are not familiar with what your firm does outside your home country, start looking into it.  Perhaps you can take on some extra responsibilities with a team which has an international assignment?   Even if you simply deal with employees or customers in different countries on a regular basis without ever leaving your office, you can begin to garner an international perspective on the business landscape which you can leverage for business school.

Worst case is you describe your personal travel or study abroad time in a narrative that shows gravitas and sage insight, but try if you can to seek out true international work experience.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the edge it gives your application.

If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.
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Harvard Business School Admissions Essays & Deadlines for 20 [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Harvard Business School Admissions Essays & Deadlines for 2014-2015
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And just like that, the new MBA admissions season is starting to happen. Harvard Business School has announced its application essay prompt and Round 1 deadline for 2014-2015. Last year we made much of the Great Essay Slimdown, in which many business schools cut their number of required essays or reduced word counts. Harvard went down to just one essay last year (and made it optional!) meaning that there wasn’t much more slimming down the school could do, short of eliminating the essay altogether.

Not only has HBS kept one essay this year, but it has also kept the exact same essay prompt. When a school carries over an essay from one year to the next, that means admissions officers like what they’re seeing in the essays they receive. Based on what we’ve learned from our clients over the past year (many of whom were admitted!), we feel very good about the advice we’ve been giving on this essay, so our advice mostly remians the same.

Harvard Business School Application Deadlines

Before we dive into the essay, one note on Harvard Business School’s admissions deadlines: The school hasn’t yet released its full calendar of deadlines for 2014-2015, but they did announce their Round 1 deadline — September 9, 2014. That’s one week earlier than last year, which was already the earliest the school had ever made its Round 1 deadline. To give you an idea of how much this deadline has crept up over the years, back in 2008 HBS’s Round 1 deadline came on October 15!

This means that you had really plan on having a great GMAT score under your belt by no later than early August. Why? Because very few applicants are successful when they’re writing their essays, managing their recommendation writers, and tracking down transcripts all while also trying to break 700 on the GMAT. And pulling together your applications (and doing it well) will take you at least a few weeks from start to finish.

Now, here’s that optional essay, followed by our comments in italics:

Harvard Business School Application Essays

  • You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)

    HBS still calls this an “optional” essay, although the admissions office hasn’t given any concrete indication of what percentage of applicants (especially successful applicants) chose to skip this essay altogether. We bet that the number of brave souls who skipped this essay is very low. However, it is indeed conceivable that you could skip this essay. After all, this question is worded very similarly to how many MBA programs phrase their optional essays, and we always advise applicants to only use those ones if necessary. optional.

    On the flip side, be careful about the signal you send by not submitting anything: This is a huge opportunity to embark on a transformational experience early in your career. You really don’t have anything else to say? Harvard is one of the few business schools that don’t need to be convinced that you really want to attend, but not having anything to say is consistent with being a casual applicant, one who is applying for the heck of it, just to see if you get in. Don’t paint yourself as one of those applicants.

    Assuming you do tackle this essay, whhat should you write about? Notice that they didn’t ask, “What ONE THING would you like us to know?” in the prompt. You should, however, resist the temptation to cover half a dozen things here. Many applicants’ essays have had a high word-to-value ratio, and Harvard Business School has been trying to correct this by reducing the number of essays and the expected word counts. (When we say “value” here, we mean information that helps admissions officers get to know applicants better.) Keep this trend in mind as you decide what to write about here… Hitting on more than one theme here is fine, but resist the temptation to go beyond 1,000 words. (In fact, we expect that the best essays will be closer to 500 words than to 1,000.)

    We always tell every applicant that they need to do two things to get into HBS or any other top MBA program: Stand out vs. other applicants (especially those who are most similar to the applicant) and show fit with the school. If you come from a very common background — think management consultant, or IT consultant from Asia — then you need to stand out more, and this essay is your chance to do it. If your background makes you unusual vs. the typical HBS class profile — perhaps you have more than the typical amount of work experience or have zero quantitative abilities to point to — then you need to use this essay to demonstrate that you will fit in and thrive at Harvard.

    Also, If you have a real sore spot in your application, such as a low undergraduate GPA, then you should expect to devote some words to that here. Don’t dwell on it, and don’t sound like Mr. Excuses, but do address it and move on.
  • Post-Interview Reflection: You just had your HBS interview. Tell us about it. Did we get to know you?

    Note that the HBS admissions team has said little about whether the post-interview reflection will change or be replaced this year, but our assumption is that it will stay. Here we analyze last year’s post-interview prompt. (We will update this piece once this is confirmed.)

    While the above essay is optional, this post-interview reflection is required. It gives you a chance to include anything you wish you had been able to mention in the interview, and to reframe anything that you discussed but have since thought about a bit more. You will submit this piece within 24 hours of your interview.

    Especially since this letter has no word limit, the temptation will be for you to cram in half a dozen additional things that you wish you had covered in the interview. However, less is always more — keep the note limited to no more than two or three core ideas that you want to highlight. Ideally you covered all of the important things in the interview already, but of not, then this is a chance to hit on those here. Keep in mind, though, that sharing these ideas in the interview is always going to be more effective than cramming them into this note.

    Finally, be realistic about how much this letter will help you. Chances are that it won’t turn a dud of an interview into a terrific one in hindsight.Do NOT go into the interview with this note already drafted; let it truly be a reaction to the discussion, which was hopefully an interesting and provocative one. If your interviewer reads this note and it sounds like a replay of an entirely different discussion than what he or she remembers, that will only serve to hurt you come decision time.
Every year we help dozens of applicants apply to Harvard Business School. If you’re just starting your HBS research, download our Essential Guide to Harvard Business School, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools (it’s free!). Getting ready to apply? You can get a free profile evaluation from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum
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SAT Tip of the Week: Can You Answer These 3 Comma Questions? [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Can You Answer These 3 Comma Questions?
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Considering how ubiquitous a piece of punctuation the comma is, it is surprisingly misunderstood. The comma has a number of uses that are described quite thoroughly here, but the most common comma errors on the SAT are comma splices, omission of commas when used with a conjunction to combine two independent clauses, and misuse of commas with the word ‘which’.

Let us take a quick look at each to make sure that we understand how each is used.

Firstly, let me define an ‘independent clause’. This is simply a clause with a subject and a verb that could stand alone as a sentence. I’ll use this term interchangeably with ‘complete sentence’.

Let’s look at our first example:

“A comma splice is used to combine two complete sentences without the aid of a conjunction, using a comma in this way is improper.”

In the example sentence above, we see that two complete sentences (independent clauses) are joined by only a comma. This is called a comma splice and is a very common error on the SAT. There are a number of ways to fix this problem, but the three most common methods are adding a conjunction, changing the comma to a semi-colon, or combining the two sentences into one. Here are some example answer choices:

A) A comma splice is used to combine two complete sentences without the aid of a conjunction, using a comma in this way is considered improper.

B) A comma splice is used to combine two complete sentences without the aid of a conjunction, and so using a comma in this way is considered improper.

C) A comma splice is used to combine two complete sentences without the aid of a conjunction; and using a comma in this way is considered improper.

D) A comma splice is used to combine two complete sentences without the aid of a conjunction, but using a comma in this way is considered improper.

E) A comma splice is used to combine two complete sentences without the aid of a conjunction, the use of which is improper.

Only answer choice (D) fixes the comma splice and does not create a new error, either by adding too many conjunctions, as in (B) and (C), or by creating an improper second clause, as in (E).

Let’s take a look at another example:

“As with a comma splice, omission of a comma can also incorrectly join two sentences but they may appear correctly joined at first glance.”

In our example sentence we have an omission error. This can similarly be fixed by adding a comma, combining the sentences, or replacing the conjunction with a semi-colon.

A) As with a comma splice, omission of a comma can also incorrectly join two sentences but they may appear correctly joined at first glance.

B) As with a comma splice, omission of a comma can also incorrectly join two sentences, they may appear correctly joined at first glance.

C) With the omission of a comma, as with a comma splice, two sentences can be incorrectly joined while appearing to be combined correctly.

D) As with a comma splice, omission of a comma can also incorrectly join two sentences, however, they may appear correctly joined at first glance.

E) As to a comma splice, omission of a comma can also incorrectly join two sentences, but it may appear correctly joined at first glance.

In choices (A), (B), and (D) either a comma is absent, or a conjunction capable of combining two independent clauses is absent (‘however, is not a strong enough conjunction to join two independent clauses). Answer choice (E) has an idiomatic error with “As to a comma splice” and a number error in “but it may appear”. Answer choice (C) combines the two clauses into one sentence and also makes the sentence sound a little more parallel by using the construction “With…as with…”.

Our final example is a comma error with the word ‘which.’

“When the word ‘which’ is used to describe something different than the subject of the sentence, the sentence needs a comma which marks the change of subject.”

In the example above, the comma necessary to show a change of subject between the independent and subordinate clauses has been omitted. We need a comma there in order for the sentence to function.

A) When the word ‘which’ is used to describe something different than the subject of the sentence, the sentence needs a comma which marks the change of subject.

B) When the word ‘which’ is used to describe something different than the subject of the sentence, the sentence needs a comma, which marks the change of subject.

C) When the word ‘which’ is used to describe something different than the subject of the sentence, the sentence needs a comma, and it marks the change of subject

D) When the word ‘which’ is used to describe something different than the subject of the sentence, the sentence needs a comma because of marking the change of subject

E) When the word ‘which’ is used to describe something different than the subject of the sentence, the sentence needs a comma, being that is marks the change of subject

In these example answers, only answer choice (B) adds a comma, maintains the original construction with the word “which”, and does not add some awkward phrasing to the sentence, so (B) is the correct answer.

Though commas can be tricky to understand fully, these are the main comma errors to be found on the SAT. If students can get a handle on what an independent clause is and when two such clauses are being combined, the comma problem should be simple as syrup. Happy studying!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.
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First Mover Advantage: Start Your MBA Applications Early & I [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: First Mover Advantage: Start Your MBA Applications Early & Improve Your Chances of Admission into Top Business Schools
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At Veritas Prep headquarters, spring is definitely one of our favorite times of the year!  Not just because of the warmer weather, but also because our admissions consulting clients are letting us know what top-tier MBA programs they’re hearing from and sharing their success stories with us.

Along with help from their consultants, we know our clients put a lot of effort into their applications.  And for many clients who are heading to the most elite business schools this fall, they also started the application process months ahead of deadlines.

Being admitted to a top-ranked MBA program requires much more than a high GMAT score and a set of grammar-perfect essays.  Allotting yourself plenty of time ahead of deadlines gives you an opportunity to show business schools that you mean, well, business.

Veritas Prep First Movers start the application process months in advance of their competition and capitalize on their head start in a number of ways.

Here are just a couple of great reasons to get started early:

  • School fit that’s genuine: Veritas Prep First Movers don’t have to simply rely on rankings and school websites. They actually have time to visit campuses, network with alum, attend information sessions, and really understand each target school’s unique culture.  This allows a First Mover to not only find a program that feels right, but also effectively showcase to the admissions committee why they’re a perfect fit and will thrive in the program.
  • Improve application weaknesses:  First Movers don’t have to simply explain profile weaknesses in their application, but they have time to actually improve weaknesses.  This can mean leading a new project at work or in a volunteer organization, taking classes at your local community college or strategically preparing and retaking the GMAT.  Veritas Prep First Movers are taking action now so that no explanations are necessary!
To learn even more about the advantages of being a Veritas Prep First Mover, visit our Veritas Prep First Mover Advantage page today!  Call us at 1-800-925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Jennifer Nakao
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Use This Process When Solving Sentence Correction Questions  [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Use This Process When Solving Sentence Correction Questions on the GMAT
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Sentence correction questions are among the least understood questions on the GMAT. Many native English speakers feel they can get by using their ears on sentence correction. However, the questions chosen on the GMAT generally have specific logical elements that must be evaluated in order to get to the right answer. Simply put, the grammar matters, but it’s more about the meaning than about the grammar.

The golden rule in sentence correction is that you should eliminate incorrect answer choices until you’re left with only one option. This process of elimination approach is helpful in an environment when there are many (or several) ways of expressing (or phrasing) the same ideas (or data). One easy way to eliminate an answer choice is if it creates an illogical meaning. The intent of the sentence must be clear, which means if a choice changes the original intent or produces something that just doesn’t make sense, it cannot be the correct answer.

By that same token, an answer choice that creates an unclear or uncertain meaning must also be an incorrect answer. If the correct answer must be clear and devoid of ambiguity, then any statement that is unclear or ambiguous cannot be the right choice. This distinction extends to all facets of the sentence, from nouns to verbs to pronouns and even to the syntax. If the syntax is ambiguous, or could mean two different things, then it’s not the correct answer.

Syntax errors are not the most common issues in sentence correction, but they do appear, and so it’s worth ensuring that the syntax works with the other key elements of the sentence. In honor of mother’s day last week, let’s examine a question that everyone deals with on day one:

As a baby emerges from the darkness of the womb with a rudimentary sense of vision, it would be rated about 20/500, or legally blind if it were an adult with such vision.

A) As a baby emerges from the darkness of the womb with a rudimentary sense of vision,

it would be rated about 20/500, or legally blind if it were an adult with such vision.

B) A baby emerges from the darkness of the womb with a rudimentary sense of vision that

would be rated about 20/500, or legally blind as an adult.

C) As a baby emerges from the darkness of the womb, its rudimentary sense of vision would

be rated about 20/500; qualifying it to be legally blind if an adult.

D) A baby emerges from the darkness of the womb with a rudimentary sense of vision that

would be rated about 20/500; an adult with such vision would be deemed legally blind.

E) As a baby emerges from the darkness of the womb, its rudimentary sense of vision,

which would deemed legally blind for an adult, would be rated about 20/500.

The first thing we can note is that the entire sentence is underlined, so we don’t have to worry about connectors or how the underlined portion relates to the rest of the sentence. Apart from that, we can see that children probably don’t have very good vision (which is why I don’t support infant drivers), but all the sentences seem to say roughly the same thing. The most logical place to start would be to look for low hanging fruit (i.e. easy to spot errors) in the original sentence.

Looking at the sentence, it describes the baby’s momentous escape from the womb, and then discusses the dreadful eyesight all babies possess. After a comma, the sentence continues with the pronoun “it”. This pronoun could refer back to the baby, the vision, or potentially even the womb, as any singular noun in the sentence could potentially be the correct antecedent. The context kind of guides you into understanding that the vision must be what’s considered, because babies are not rated 20/500 (except on Toddlers & Tiaras). The presence of another “it” later on, ostensibly referring to the child this time, cements the notion that the pronouns are unclear and the answer cannot be A.

Looking through the other choices, answers C and E commit the same pronoun error, and can be eliminated for the same reason. It’s interesting to note that commas can be used to elaborate on the previous word (womb, vision) or the subject of the sentence (baby), and either would be grammatically acceptable. Therein lies the strength of the English language, its versatility and flexibility apparent (I’d give it a 9 on the parallel bars). However, this same strength is also a weakness to be exploited: on the GMAT, the sentence must be crystal clear or it is incorrect.

We can also eliminate option C because the semi-colon should link two sentences that could stand on their own, whereas the second portion is clearly dependent on the first section. Similarly answer choice E is missing a crucial “be” between the words “would” and “deemed”. We’ve already eliminated these choices, but it’s noteworthy that there are often multiple errors and it’s just a question of which one you notice first. No matter how you eliminate the answer choices, you should be left with two options: B and D.

Examining answer choice B: A baby emerges from the darkness of the womb with a rudimentary sense of vision that would be rated about 20/500, or legally blind as an adult. Until the comma, the sentence is a bit of a run-on, but it makes logical sense; everything after the comma changes the meaning of the sentence. The portion: “…rated about 20/500, or legally blind, …” would have been acceptable had the sentence ended with something about the baby. However the way the sentence is written does not convey the meaning that the baby’s eyesight is just dreadful. Instead it implies that the vision would be an adult, which is completely nonsensical. This answer choice cannot be correct.

By process of elimination, it must be answer choice D: As a baby emerges from the darkness of the womb, its rudimentary sense of vision, which would deemed legally blind for an adult, would be rated about 20/500. This sentence uses syntax correctly and avoids ambiguous pronoun usage. The pronoun which is used properly (it always refers to the term right before the comma), and the meaning is clear and unambiguous. Not only are the four other answer choices incorrect, this choice is grammatically flawless and aesthetically pleasing. On sentence correction, always make sure to eliminate answer choices that contain grammatical errors, and keep going until there is only one clear choice (vote Ron in 2016: The Clear Choice).

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Ron Awad is a GMAT instructor for Veritas Prep based in Montreal, bringing you weekly advice for success on your exam.  After graduating from McGill and receiving his MBA from Concordia, Ron started teaching GMAT prep and his Veritas Prep students have given him rave reviews ever since.
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Stanford GSB Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015 [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Stanford GSB Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015
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Stanford GSB has released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Last year Stanford resisted the urge to cut an essay (while many other top MBA programs did reduce their number of required essays), but this year is another story: Stanford now only requires two essays, including its famous “What matters most to you, and why?” question. Plus, the Stanford GSB admissions team made a curious change to what we thought was one of last year’s most interesting application essays.

Here are the Stanford GSB application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford MBA Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: October 1, 2014

Round 2: January 7, 2015

Round 3: April 1, 2015

Not many changes here. Stanford’s application deadlines are virtually the same as they were last year. Note that, if you apply in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 10. That’s critical if you plan on applying to some other programs in Round 2 if you don’t receive good news from Stanford in Round 1. It gives you close to a month to get your applications ready in time for most top schools’ Round 2 deadlines.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (650 – 850 words suggested, out of 1,100 total)

    Despite all of the changes that have taken place in the MBA admissions essay landscape over the past few years, this question manages to hang on. Before you start to work on this essay, consider the advice that the Stanford MBA admissions team provides: “Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.”

    This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to the job of getting into Stanford GSB. Naturally, telling a random story that has nothing to do with anything of relevance can hurt your chances, but mainly because you will have wasted this valuable space to reveal something about yourself. Where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.

  • Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions. (250 – 450 words suggested)

    This essay prompt is new this year, and it’s sort of too bad that Stanford got rid of last year’s version, which asked, “What do you want to do — REALLY — and why Stanford?” We kind of liked that extra emphasis that they added last year, but for whatever reason, the Stanford admissions team has decided to tone it down a bit, and make it a bit more like the standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that many business schools ask.

    Just like HBS, Stanford has the luxury of not having to spend too much time sleuthing how interested you are in the program. Most people who are admitted to Stanford end up going there. However, the guidance that the admissions team provides with this question (“Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.”) shows that they really are paying attention to see if you’ve done your homework, and if you have given any real thought to making the most of your time at Stanford (beyond “Plan to be insanely rich one day.”)

    However, you should resist the urge to do a few web searches and then simply drop the names of some programs or professors into this essay. An effective response will provide specific details that tie back to you (think about your past and your future) as much as they tie to Stanford. Many applicants will read that “distinctive opportunities” advice and think “The scavenger hunt is on! Let me find something no one else will write about!” but that misses the point. Stanford wants to know that you’re applying for reasons other than the fact that it’s such a platinum name in education, so spell out how You + Stanford = A More Effective Business Leader.
Note Stanford’s Take on “Feedback” Vs. “Coaching”

Stanford includes some noteworthy language re: what is an acceptable form of guidance to seek as you craft your application essays. As the admissions team writes:

Appropriate feedback occurs when others review your completed application – perhaps once or twice – and apprise you of omissions, errors, or inaccuracies that you later correct or address. After editing is complete, your thoughts, voice, and style remain intact. Inappropriate coaching occurs when you allow others to craft your application for you and, as a result, your application or self-presentation is not authentic.

It is improper and a violation of the terms of this application process to have someone else write your essays. Such behavior will result in denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission.

We couldn’t agree more. If you can’t even write your own essays, then you already know that you’re not Stanford GSB material. For more than 10 years we have been helping people apply to the world’s most competitive MBA programs, and we have done it (pretty well, we might add) without writing essays or putting words in our clients’ mouths.

To see how we do it, download our Essential Guide to Stanford GSB, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools… for free! If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum
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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School Profile: Find Your Personal Greatness at West Point [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: School Profile: Find Your Personal Greatness at West Point
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The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York is not your ordinary liberal arts college. Ranked #33 among colleges in the Veritas Elite College Rankings, the US Military Academy is a prestigious liberal arts college, and one of the oldest military academies in the world, that enrolls over 4,600 students (military cadets) who upon graduation enter the military as officers to serve five year tours of duty. There is no tuition, and student housing and meal plans are free. There is even a small monthly stipend while attending school. Summer sessions are spent in military training.

West Point is dedicated to developing leaders. They combine a rigorous academic life with an equally regimented and disciplined lifestyle. As one of the first engineering schools in the nation, it still offers civil, electrical, environmental, mechanical, systems, and nuclear engineering programs as well as engineering management. Other academic departments include behavioral sciences and leadership, chemistry and life science, English and philosophy, foreign languages, history, law, mathematical sciences, and social sciences. Research at the college is divided into twenty-two centers from the Center for Molecular Science to West Point Center for the Rule of Law. Students participate in research associated with their degree choice at the appropriate centers. Admission is based on the Student-Athlete-Leader (SAL) model, so prospective students should focus their attention on strengthening all three areas prior to application.

All students/cadets live in one of the barracks buildings on campus. They are required to attend meals at least twice daily at West Point’s Washington Hall, or the “mess hall,” where there is a rotating selection of meals. All cadets eat at tables of ten in thirty-minute intervals. There is no Greek life on campus. Clubs and organizations number over 100 athletic and non-athletic clubs including glee, theater, and sailing. Free time is limited due to rigorous academics and multiple military trainings and duties. The campus is located 90 minutes from New York City in a largely rural New York setting. The social scene is limited due to location and the fact that West Point is a regimented military school. Drinking is allowed only for students who are 21 and over, and cadets are randomly and regularly drug tested. The student body is predominately white and male; it is more racially diverse than gender diverse. If you are looking for a laid-back party school, this college couldn’t be further from that. If you are looking for an environment that focuses on excellence, discipline, leadership, and honor, then this could be just the place for you.

Athletics and fitness are important to West Point; it is an NCAA Division I program with 25 men’s and women’s competitive varsity sports teams. West Point Army Black Knight’s biggest rival is the Naval Academy, especially in football, whom they play as the last Division I football game of the season each December. Other rivalries include Notre Dame and Rutgers. The Army Black Knights also compete with Navy and Air Force for the Commander-In-Chief’s Award annually. Attendance at football games is mandatory, and all cadets are required to stand throughout the game. They have not had a winning season in several years. The men’s lacrosse team has won several national championships and is a regular top sixteen contender. The women’s basketball team has also had a number of winning seasons. All students are required to participate either on a sports team or on an intramural team every semester all four years.

West Point is steeped in tradition. Each class designs its own class crest which is put on one side of the traditional class ring. Senior cadets receive their rings on Ring Weekend. Graduates are listed in General Cullum’s Biographical of Officers and Graduates in numerical order from 1802 to the present. Bugle Notes is a collection of songs, poems, stories, traditions, and facts about West Point that first year cadets – or plebes, must memorize during their basic training. The Sedgwick’s spurs superstition is employed by cadets fearing the failure of an exam; they spin the spur on a statue of John Sedgwick and race back to the barracks avoiding capture by Sedgwick’s ghost. The Goat-Engineer game pits the lower half of the senior class against the upper half in an eight-man football game. If the goats (lower half of the class) win, it foretells of a victory over Navy that year; if the engineers win, Navy will beat Army in the big game. These are a few of many proud traditions at West Point.

West Point has a saying, “Much of the history we teach was made by the people we taught,” and there is no shortage of notable historical figures who have come out of the school. Notable graduates include two Presidents of the United States, three International Heads of State, and several members of congress and other high ranking government officials. Over seventy Medal of Honor recipients, 18 NASA astronauts, three Heisman Trophy winners, and several famous military generals. If you are in search of personal greatness and a way to serve your country, West Point is for you.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill
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GMAT Tip of the Week: The Most Important Word on the GMAT [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: The Most Important Word on the GMAT
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Over the course of your GMAT exam, you’ll read thousands of words. Each Reading Comp passage, for example, will have ~300 of them; each Sentence Correction prompt will have ~40. And while you won’t spend much time reading the words in the Data Sufficiency answer choices, having long since internalized what each letter means, you’ll spend plenty of time poring over keywords in the question stem. You’ll need to process tons of words as you take the GMAT, but on most questions one word will make all the difference:

The word they didn’t have to say.

Consider this new Data Sufficiency question from the Veritas Prep Question Bank:

What is the value of n?

(1) 36n > n^2 + 324

(2) 325 > n^2 > 323

Many will see statement 1 with its quadratic mixed with inequality and think “well, n could be anything”. But look a little closer – what word (or in this case symbol) did the question not have to use? What rare qualifier is in there?

That’s right – it’s not “greater than,” it’s “greater than OR equal to”. That little underline should stand out to you – almost any time we use an inequality we use > or >.

And here that should be your clue that it’s worth it to do the math. When you’re asked for a specific value and given a one-sided inequality (as opposed to a bracketed inequality like you see in statement 2) that usually isn’t going to help you. But that underline should indicate to you that something’s up…that you need to do some work. And if you do:

36n > n^2 + 324

becomes a quadratic:

0 > n^2 – 36n + 324

which factors:

0 > (n – 18)^2

meaning that:

0 is greater than OR equal to (n – 18)

And here’s where that sixth sense really kicks in…you know something’s up, so you investigate a little further. 0 can’t be greater than a square, as anything squared, no matter how negative, is either 0 or positive. So (n – 18) MUST BE 0, the “or equal to” portion. (and since statement 2 allows for noninteger values of n, too, the answer is A).

And the real lesson? Pay attention to the word (or symbol, or phrase) that the question doesn’t have to say. If there’s a word that seems out of the ordinary, it’s usually there for a reason and that’s your clue as to what will make the question interesting or challenging.

In a Critical Reasoning context this happens frequently, too. Consider:

Raisins are made by drying grapes in the sun. Although some of the sugar in the grapes is caramelized in the process, nothing is added. Moreover, the only thing removed from the grapes is the water that evaporates during the drying, and water contains no calories or nutrients. The fact that raisins contain more iron per food calorie than grapes do is thus puzzling.

Which one of the following, if true, most helps to explain why raisins contain more iron per calorie than do grapes?

(A) Since grapes are bigger than raisins, it takes several bunches of grapes to provide the same amount of iron as a handful of raisins does.

(B) Caramelized sugar cannot be digested, so its calories do not count toward the food calorie content of raisins.

(C) The body can absorb iron and other nutrients more quickly from grapes than from raisins because of the relatively high water content of grapes.

(D) Raisins, but not grapes, are available year-round, so many people get a greater share of their yearly iron intake from raisins than from grapes.

(E) Raisins are often eaten in combination with other iron-containing foods, while grapes are usually eaten by themselves.

Look at that question stem – what doesn’t it have to say? It could say:

Which one of the following, if true, most helps to explain why raisins contain more iron per calorie than do grapes?

And very few would notice or care that “per calorie” is missing. So that phrase “per calorie” becomes supremely important – it’s not about raising having more iron…it’s about a change to the iron-per-calorie ratio. That little phrase that didn’t really need to be said is what makes this question interesting, and what determines the correct answer B (which changes the iron/calorie ratio by reducing the number of calories in that ratio).

So train yourself to look for that word, symbol, or phrase that doesn’t really need to be there but that should now stick out like a sore thumb to you. If a question says that:

x and y are distinct integers —> that word “distinct” doesn’t need to be there, so it’s going to be important that x can’t equal y

Therefore, Company B will need to reduce its shipping costs in order to remain profitable –> that word “shipping” doesn’t need to be there, so it’s going to be important

What is the value of nonnegative integer y? –> “nonnegative” is just so slightly different from “positive” – it’s going to be important that y could also be 0

There are lots of words on the GMAT, but in many questions one word reigns supreme in importance over all the others. Train yourself to notice that word that doesn’t need to be said, and “your GMAT score” will require that extra word in there to read “your high GMAT score.”

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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

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When Permutations & Combinations and Data Sufficiency Come T [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: When Permutations & Combinations and Data Sufficiency Come Together on the GMAT!
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While discussing Permutations and Combinations many months back, we worked through several examples of arranging people in seats. Today we bring you an interesting question based on those concepts. It brings to the fore the tricky nature of both Data Sufficiency and Combinatorics – so much so that when the two get together, it is unlimited fun!

In some circumstances, we suggest you to travel the whole nine yards – i.e. solve for the answer in Data Sufficiency questions too even if you feel that sufficiency has already been established. This is especially true for quadratic equations which we assume will give us two values of x but might actually give just a single unique value (such that both roots are the same). In Combinatorics too, sometimes what may look like two distinct cases could actually give the same answer. Let’s jump on to the question.

Question 1: There are x children and y chairs in a room where x and y are prime numbers. In how many ways can the x children be seated in the y chairs (assuming that each chair can seat exactly one child)?

Statement 1: x + y = 12

Statement 2: There are more chairs than children.

Solution:

There are x children and y chairs.

x and y are prime numbers.

Statement 1: x + y = 12

Since x and y are prime numbers, a quick run on 2, 3, 5 shows that there are two possible cases:

Case 1: x=5 and y=7

There are 5 children and 7 chairs.

Case 2: x=7 and y=5

There are 7 children and 5 chairs

At first glance, they might look like two different cases and you might feel that statement 1 is not sufficient  alone. But note that the question doesn’t ask you for number of children or number of chairs. It asks you about the number of arrangements.

Case 1: x=5 and y=7

If there are 5 children and 7 chairs, we select 5 chairs out of the 7 in 7C5 ways. We can now arrange 5 children in 5 seats in 5! ways.

Total number of arrangements would be 7C5 * 5!

Case 2: x = 7 and y = 5

If there are 7 children and 5 chairs, we select 5 children out of the 7 in 7C5 ways. We can now arrange 5 children in 5 seats in 5! ways.

Total number of arrangements would be 7C5 * 5!

Note that in both cases the number of arrangements is 7C5*5!. Combinatorics does not distinguish between people and things. 7 children on 5 seats is the same as 5 children on 7 seats because in each case you have to select 5 out of 7 (either seats or children) and then arrange 5 children in 5! ways.

So actually this statement alone is sufficient! Most people would not have seen that coming!

Statement 2: There are more chairs than people.

We don’t know how many children or chairs there are. This statement alone is not sufficient.

Answer: A

We were tempted to answer the question as (C) but it was way too easy. Statement 1 gave 2 cases and statement 2 narrowed it down to 1. Be aware that if it looks too easy, you are probably missing something!

Now, what if we alter the question slightly and make it:

Question 2: There are x children and y chairs arranged in a circle in a room where x and y are prime numbers. In how many ways can the x children be seated in the y chairs (assuming that each chair can seat exactly one child)?

Statement 1: x + y = 12

Statement 2: There are more chairs than children.

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!
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School Profile: Find Your Freedom at Washington and Lee Univ [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: School Profile: Find Your Freedom at Washington and Lee University
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Washington and Lee University is located in beautiful Lexington, Virginia and is ranked #31 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. With a mix of historical significance and the charm of a college town, Lexington is revered as one of the most gorgeous towns in the nation. Alive with energy, it offers amazing galleries, fine dining, country inns, and quaint little shops among other perks.

The scenic and picturesque outdoors with the southern Appalachians and Blue Ridge mountains surrounding the campus and town inspires many students to attend this University. If you love the great outdoors Washington and Lee University is the perfect place to spend four years where you can enjoy white water rafting, skiing, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and more while making your academic dreams come true in a topnotch school.

Washington and Lee University is a small liberal arts school that combines the benefits of personal relationships with professors and smaller class sizes with a multitude of options usually only seen at large research universities. At Washington and Lee they understand the importance of technical and analytical skills combined with moral insights. They strive to nurture and educate their students into “strong leaders, visionary thinkers, compassionate citizens, and ethical decision makers.” Students can choose from more than thirty-five majors, over twenty minors, and an array of interdisciplinary programs to create individualized and well-rounded academic paths that upon graduation will light the passageway to successful careers.

This University offers a unique undergraduate calendar of two twelve-week semesters and a four-week intercession. This academic calendar allows students a great deal of time and freedom to pursue focused coursework as well as extracurricular activities and programs. Students at Washington and Lee have many opportunities to study abroad, and partake in research programs, internships, and fellowships. Along with the many academic offerings, students have access to many resources such as career development, faculty advising, peer tutoring, and more. By taking advantage of all Washington and Lee has to offer, students will enter the career world ready to face any challenge and inspire global growth.

At Washington and Lee University, the philosophy is that having a successful college experience begins by making your first year a smooth transition, so they provide personalized guidance. The goal of this University is to assist all students in growing socially, emotionally, and intellectually, with academic and student life programs complimenting one another.

First years and sophomores are required to live on campus in residence halls, themed housing, or apartments, whereas juniors and seniors can choose whether they want to live on campus or not.  There are more than one hundred student organizations for students to choose from. If you cannot find a club or organization that interests you, they encourage students to create something new and offer adequate resources and tools to support it. Throughout the year there are a multitude of activities for students, including concerts, speakers, movies, and more.

Washington and Lee University athletics program is NCAA Division III with twenty-four varsity teams, twelve for women and twelve for men. They have accumulated numerous athletic accolades over the years including Conference Championships in many of the different sports. Washington and Lee University’s philosophy of “a healthy mind in a healthy body,” is the impetus for their commitment to ensuring each student participates in one form of physical education or another.

The top-tier facilities include a golf course, a fitness center, the Cy Twombly pool, a  ropes course, and many others. If students are not a part of one of the varsity sports teams they are encouraged to participate in club sports, intramurals, group exercise, or open recreational activities. Washington and Lee not only offers excellent facilities, athletic programs, and fitness programs, but also faculty mentors that are there to inspire, encourage, and guide each student’s individual physical goals.

There are many long-standing and highly acclaimed traditions at Washington and Lee University from the Fancy Dress Ball to the Mock Convention. They believe in the significance of the little everyday things as evidenced through The Speaking Tradition, which is just simply saying hello to one another when meeting in the Commons or passing on the Colonnade. This simple gesture given to those who attend this University or those just visiting showcases how open and honest this University truly is.

The most unique thing about Washington and Lee is the honor system, which is the oldest tradition at this college. With the student- run honor system, each person is taken at their word to be upstanding and responsible members of the college. This allows campus buildings to stay open 24-7, and enables most undergrads to schedule their own final examinations, which are taken unsupervised. This type of academic and social freedom is what sets this University apart from the rest.

We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! Also, take a look at our profiles for The University of ChicagoPomona College, and Amherst College, and more to see if those schools are a good fit for you.

By Colleen Hill
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 Get a Hiring Advantage after Business School [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Get a Hiring Advantage after Business School
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Recently, a client and I were discussing their approach to the Harvard Business School application process.  This client was very excited about HBS and like many other applicants, saw himself as the perfect fit for Harvard for a variety of very good reasons.

As we began diving into his backstory and working together to organize an approach, it also came out that this person wanted to work for one of the top five investment banks after business school.  It seems part of his logic in applying to Harvard and assessing his fit for their program was that it would “look good” to these top investment banks who must of course think highly of HBS and enjoy hiring their freshly minted MBAs.

While I don’t disagree with this logic, and have certainly seen firsthand the impression HBS makes on recruiters, I also recalled a very interesting situation from my own experience being hired by a top five investment bank out of a top five business school, which reminded me of the “Big Fish in a Small Pond” idiom.

Not only was my summer internship class widely diversified across schools from the top 15 programs, my incoming hiring class was also similarly diverse across schools.  In fact, out of a class of around 50 new associates in my division, we had only one HBS grad who “made the cut.”   Now, this of course is not a statistical study of schools and firm yield, and perhaps my firm tried to hire more HBS grads who declined the offer for other opportunities, but from my own anecdotal observations, I saw no real trend or advantage for having gone to good school A vs. good school B when it came down to who was sitting in the orientation session in the end.  There was only a handful of schools who had more than one representative in the hiring class.

There a couple of interesting takeaways here.  One moral to the story is that firms are made up of people who hire people and it’s ultimately up to the candidate to stand out as a person—your school’s clout will only get you so far.  There is a short list of “target schools” from which top firms recruit new talent and beyond attending one of those schools, there is no real advantage in the hiring process.

The other moral deals with strategy and approach.  If you want to gain an edge on a specific firm or industry, take a look at how many graduates from your MBA program go into that industry and work for that firm.  If you go to a school where your target firm recruits but there are not as many trying for that job, you could have a simple mathematical edge vs. a school where you are competing against dozens for the same job.  Sometimes it pays off to be the big fish in the small pond.

In short, if you don’t get in HBS, don’t fret, you may end up having an advantage in the hiring process, which is really why you are going to b-school in the first place, right?

If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.
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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SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find Idiomatic Errors on Test Da [#permalink]

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New post 28 May 2014, 17:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find Idiomatic Errors on Test Day
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Of the errors on the SAT, the idiomatic error can seem to be the most difficult to spot. Though these kinds of errors are particularly tricky, there are some clear steps that can be taken to help prepare for the dreaded error of idiom.

What is an idiomatic error?

Essentially, an error of idiom is a mistake in the word or words, often prepositions, that are used in association with other words, often verbs. An example would be the previous phrase, “used in association with”. It would be incorrect to say “used for association with” or “used in association to”. There are literally thousands of idiomatic phrases in English. For this reason, it can be very difficult to strengthen this particular skill, though there are ways to increase one’s ability to spot an idiomatic error.

How can I strengthen this skill?

The first step is to be aware that idiomatic errors are most likely errors in the choice of the preposition being used. Often on the writing portion of the SAT, there are words or phrases that are underlined which could, hypothetically, contain an error. For instance, the verb in a sentence might be underlined because SAT writing problems contain errors with subject verb agreement, verb tense agreement, and so on. Most prepositions that are underlined on the SAT indicate possible idiomatic errors.

To be clear, this is not to say that most SAT questions with underlined prepositions contain idiomatic errors, this is simply to say that idiomatic errors are most commonly found in prepositions, so the primary error to check for when a preposition is underlined is an error of idiom. Identifying the prepositions is the first step in checking for an idiomatic error.

The second step is to try to identify the verb or other words the preposition is associated with and attempt to use the whole phrase in a different context to figure out whether or not the phrase is viable. Say we had an example like this:

“The inclination that the child had for reflexively putting questions back towards those asking them was as ingenious as it was irritating.”

Let’s imagine that “toward” is underlined in the above example. “Toward” is a preposition and is thus a prime suspect for an idiomatic error. As the sentence is, it is difficult to know whether or not “toward” is being used properly. To test its use, we can construct a new phrase that uses the verb phrase “put questions” and “toward”. Is it correct to say “Let me put this question toward you”? It sounds a bit funny, doesn’t it? It sounds much less strange to say “Let me put this question to you”. By using this little trick it is much easier to see that the above example has an error of idiom and should use the preposition “to” instead of “toward”

Idiomatic errors can be tricky to spot, but trust your instincts when you put the preposition and accompanying words in a new context. If it sounds wrong, it probably is. Also, the more a person reads and is exposed to language, the easier these types of problems become, so be sure to continue to expose yourself to lots of SAT passages and questions and continue to read for pleasure as well. It’s cheaper than a movie to go out and grab something from the used book store, and it can help to improve your score on the SAT. Happy studying.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.
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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SAT Tip of the Week: How to Find Idiomatic Errors on Test Da   [#permalink] 28 May 2014, 17:00

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