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Some of the most difficult kinds of problems in the math section of the SAT are the problems where there doesn’t seem to be enough information present to solve. Fear not brave test-taker! Often times, a problem that seems to be lacking simply has information hidden somewhere in the question. But like the great detectives of the past, it is possible to use our wits to find this information. The first step is to know the common shapes hidden in SAT math questions.

1. For non-right triangles, look to draw a height. Here is an example problem:

The triangle shown here is isosceles. If the angle measure of the vertex opposite one of the sides is 60 degrees, what is the area of the triangle in terms of x?

This is a surprisingly simple problem when you get down to it. However, it does require us to put on our Sherlock Holmes cap for a moment. First, lets fill in what we know. The fact that this is an isosceles triangle with one angle measuring 60 degrees should quickly tip us off that this is an equilateral triangle. Now the information we are looking for is the area, which is ½ the triangle’s base times the triangle’s height. It would then behoove us to draw a height in our triangle above.

If we recall the rules of the special triangles (30-60-90, 45-45-90), we will realize that the height, in terms of x, is simply the small side of the triangle times the square root of 3 so the height would be ½ x√3. Plugging this information back into the area equation, the area of the whole triangle would be ½ x (½ x√3) which simplifies to (½ x)²√3. Once we draw in the height this becomes a fairly standard area problem: how useful finding the hidden pieces can be!

2. When possible, draw radii and diameters. One of the most common places information is hidden is within the relationship between the length of radii and other measurements given in a problem. Here is an example problem:

Two congruent circles are inscribed within a rectangle. What is the length of the diagonal of this rectangle?

This problems is more straight forward than the first, but it also requires a little detective work. The first step is to draw some diameters and radii, just to see if it helps us notice anything.

AHA! This small act has yielded a lot of information. We see that the the diameter is equal to the small side of the rectangle and the length is equal to twice the diameter of the circle. This means the long side is twelve units and the diagonal can be calculated by using the Patagonian theorem.

6² + 12² = x²

x² = 180

x = √180

There are many other ways the SAT can hide information from our sight, but these are two important tools in helping us to fill in some of the information that might not have been provided. Though it can be difficult to see what pieces are missing, with a little practice, you will be a first rate detective. Happy studying!

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

One of the most important profile characteristics for any b-school applicant is their work history. Unlike Law School, Medical School and just about every other terminal degree or master’s level program, business school requires students to come with some kind of work experience under their belts in order to “qualify.” In addition to being unique, therefore it’s also very important to have this credential, since much of what you learn in business school ends up coming from your classmates, and in turn, they learn from your perspective and experience.

This all comes in handy when using the case method, because pulling from the collective experience of your classmates proves invaluable in seeing problems in a variety of ways. Hopefully you considered all this in the years leading up to your application, since it’s very difficult to build a compelling work history in a small amount of time.

The ideal candidate arrives at application season with a well-rounded and impressive professional experience. While colleges will certainly consider internships and other “alternative” work experiences, these will generally be discounted vs. full time, professional work that was logged after you graduated from college. Ideally, you have some international experience, or even multi-national experience to tout, which will make you more competitive to be sure especially when you are compared against the “average” applicants, who have only some international personal travel to reference. Clearly having worked internationally or with international teams will have provided you with a much deeper understanding and more valuable perspective.

Additionally, you will need to show how your role has been progressively responsible and impactful to your employer. Both quantitative and qualitative impact is useful to demonstrate and if you can measure your impact, even better. Some examples of measurable impact might include an increase in growth or revenue statistics, sales, turnover or other hard numbers to which you can associate your contributions.

As you have advanced in your role, how have your responsibilities increased? More importantly, have you been asked to lead others? Leadership is one of the most important traits to show the admissions committees. Past and present leaders usually make good future leaders. Don’t forget about peer leadership either—it’s not only managing others which can show you have strong leader potential. Thought leadership, persuasive skills, leading from below, and servant leadership are all great examples of how you have what it takes to leverage an MBA to be a thoughtful leader going forward.

Giving specific examples in your essays or on the application goes a long way. Tell them about how you got your coworkers on board with one of your ideas or how you took the initiative to make a change which resulted in a more efficient operation. Finally, don’t forget to paint a picture of teamwork and collaboration in your work history. Team work is a huge component of business school and those who have done this in their careers will appear more prepared for the b-school experience.

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. See more of his articles here.

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

On the GMAT, you will be asked to answer multiple questions in a relatively short period of time. One of the main difficulties test takers have with the GMAT is that they run out of time before finishing all the questions. For the quant section, there are 37 questions to solve in 75 minutes, which gives an average of just over two minutes per question. Since you don’t want to finish at the 74:59 mark (unless you’re MacGyver), you can figure two minutes per question as a good target. The good news is that most questions can easily be solved within a two minute timeframe. Unfortunately, many test takers spend three or four minutes on questions because they do not understand what they are trying to solve.

One important thing to remember is that you won’t have a calculator on the exam, so blindly executing mathematical equations will be an exercise in futility. If the numbers seem large, the first thing to do is to determine whether the large numbers are required or just there to intimidate you. The difference between 15^2 and 15^22 is staggering, and yet most GMAT questions could use these two numbers interchangeably (think unit digit or factors).

Once you determine whether the bloated numbers truly matter, you need to ascertain how much actual work is required. If the question is asking you for something fairly specific, then you might need to actually compute the math, but if it’s a general or approximate number, you can often eyeball it (like proofreading at Arthur Andersen). Even if you end up having to execute calculations, you can usually estimate the correct answer and then scan the answer choices. Even in data sufficiency, determining how precise the calculations need to be can save you a lot of time and aggravation.

Let’s take a look at a question that can be somewhat daunting because of the numbers involved, but is rather simple if we correctly determine what needs to be done:

If 1,500 is the multiple of 100 that is closest to X and 2,500 is the multiple of 100 closest to Y, then which multiple of 100 is closest to X + Y?

(1) X < 1,500

(2) Y < 2,500

(A) Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.

(B) Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.

(C) Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question but neither statement is sufficient alone.

(D) Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.

(E) Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.

The first step here is to try and understand what the question is asking. It can be a little confusing so you might have to read it more than once to correctly paraphrase it. Essentially some number X exists and some number Y exists, and the question is asking us what X + Y would be. The only information we get about X is that 1,500 is the closest multiple of 100 to it, meaning that X essentially lies somewhere between 1,450 and 1,550. Any other number would lead to a different number being the closest multiple of 100 to it. Number Y is similar, but offset by 1,000. It must lie between 2,450 and 2,550. At this point we may note that the problem would be exactly the same with 100 and 200 instead of 1,500 and 2,500, so the magnitude of the numbers is simply meant to daunt the reader.

Without even looking at the two statements, let’s see what we can determine from this problem: Essentially if we add X and Y together, the smallest amount we could get is (1,450 + 2,450 =) 3,900. The largest number we could get is (1,550 + 2,550 =) 4,100. The sum can be anywhere from 3,900 to 4,100, and therefore the closest multiple of 100 could be 3,900, 4,000 or 4,100, depending on the exact values of X and Y. This tells us that we have insufficient information through zero statements, which isn’t particularly surprising, but it also sets the limits on what we need to know. There aren’t dozens of options; we’ve already narrowed the field down to three possibilities.

(1) X < 1,500

Looking at statement 1, we can narrow down the scope of value X. Instead of 1,450 ≤ X ≤ 1,550, we can now limit it to 1,450 ≤ X < 1,500. This reduces the maximum value of X + Y from 4,100 to under 4,050. This statement alone has eliminated 4,100 as an option for the closest multiple of 100, but it still leaves two possibilities: 3,900 and 4,000. Statement 1 is thus insufficient.

(2) Y < 2,500

Looking at statement 2 on its own, we now have an upper bound for Y, but not for X. This will end up exactly as the first statement did, as we can now limit the value of Y as 2,450 ≤ Y < 2,500. This is fairly clearly the same situation as statement 1, and we shouldn’t spend much time on it because we’ll clearly have to combine these statements next to see if that’s sufficient.

(1) X < 1,500

(2) Y < 2,500

Combining the two statements, we can see that the value of X is: 1,450 ≤ X < 1,500 and the value of Y is 2,450 ≤ Y < 2,500. If we tried to solve for X + Y, the value could be anywhere between 3,900 and 4,000 (exclusively), so 3,900 ≤ X+Y < 4,000. This still leaves us in limbo between two possible values. To illustrate, let’s pick X to be 1,460 and Y to be 2,460. Both satisfy all the given conditions and give a sum of 3,920, which is closest to 3,900. If we then picked X to be 1,490 and Y to be 2,490, we’d get a sum of 3,980. The second situation clearly gives 4,000 as the closest multiple. If we can solve the equation using valid arguments and yield two separate answers, we have to pick answer choice E.

These types of questions can be daunting because of the big numbers and the ambiguous wording, but the underlying material on these questions will never be something that can’t be solved in a matter of minutes. The difficulty often lies in determining how much work we really need to do to solve the question at hand. The old adage is that you get A for effort, but that’s applicable when you tried earnestly and failed. On the GMAT, you want to put in as much effort as is needed, but the only A you want to get is for Awesome GMAT Score (admittedly an AGMATS acronym).

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.

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

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently announced its application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season. After dropping from four required essays to three last year, the Ross MBA admissions team decided to shed another one, going down to just two required essays this year. And, the two required essays that remain are entirely new this year. The changes just keep coming!

Here are Ross’s MBA application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2017, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: October 6, 2014

Round 2: January 5, 2015

Round 3: March 23, 2015

Here Ross bucked the trend that we’ve seen at other top business school — Ross actually pushed back its deadlines a bit this year. The Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines really only moved back by a few days apiece, but it’s interesting to see given that admissions deadlines have been creeping earlier and earlier over the past few years. The biggest change is in Ross’s Round 3 deadline, which comes about three weeks later than it did last year (although we normally advise applicants to aim for Round 1 and 2 if they can hit those deadlines). Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will receive a decision from Ross before Christmas, giving you at least a couple of weeks before most other MBA programs’ Round 2 deadlines come in early January.

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays

What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)

As mentioned above, this essay prompt is new this year. This and the next essay question — and you really can’t think about one without considering the other — are asking you to be choosy and pick two things that you really want the MBA admissions committee to remember about you. Regarding this professional question, the best responses will demonstrate a time when you went outside your comfort zone or went beyond what was expected of you. Did you take a risk? Did you notice a problem that no one else was willing to tackle, and constructively solve it? While doing that, did you grow as a result?

This essay is a great place to use the “SAR” method (Situation, Action, Result) that normally works so well in admissions essays. You only have 400 hundred words, so you need to strike the right balance between properly setting the stage (otherwise, admissions officers may not fully appreciate the significance of your accomplishment) and getting right into describing what you did and what results you achieved.

Finally, don’t overlook the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. While what happened is obviously important, evidence of how you grew and how you got to know yourself better is even more critical. A great essay tells about how you learned valuable about yourself and how you were able to act and improve upon it. That’s the type of response that has the potential to stick with the application reader.

What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

Even though this is about the personal side of you, our advice here isn’t radically different from what we wrote above. Use the “SAR” to succinctly help the reader understand the challenge or opportunity you faced, describe what you did, and then move into how you grew as a result. Again, how you answer the second part of the question is really what can turn this from an okay essay into a memorable one that will help admissions officers really feel like they got to know you better.

A final thought: Don’t feel that your personal achievement needs to be something that’s outwardly impressive, such as completing a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. Some of the best essays we’ve seen have dealt with intensely personal issues, such as overcoming a speech impediment or putting life ahead of work to care for a sick relative. Be real and honestly discuss how you’ve grown, and odds are that you will write a great essay as a result.

Optional question:Is there anything not addressed elsewhere in the application that you would like The Admissions Committee to know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (300 words)

As always, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay. Yes, the fact that there are only two required essays in which you can tell your story, but don’t feel compelled to command admissions officers’ attention for an extra 300 words if you don’t need to.

Are you thinking about applying to Ross? Download our Essential Guide to Ross, one of our 14 guides to the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA application plan, 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!

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

In today’s post, we will give you a question with two solutions and two different answers. You have to find out the correct answer and explain why the other is wrong. But before we do that, let’s give you some background.

Given an n sided polygon, how many diagonals will it have?

An n sided polygon has n vertices. If you join every distinct pair of vertices you will get nC2 lines. These nC2 lines account for the n sides of the polygon as well as for the diagonals.

So the number of diagonals is given by nC2 – n.

nC2 – n = n(n-1)/2 – n = n(n – 3)/2

Taking quick examples:

Example 1: How many diagonals does a polygon with 25 sides have?

Example 2: How many diagonals does a polygon with 20 sides have, if one of its vertices does not send any diagonal?

The number of diagonals of a 20 sided figure = 20*(20 – 3)/2 = 170

But one vertex does not send any diagonals. Each vertex makes a diagonal with (n-3) other vertices – it makes no diagonal with 3 vertices: itself, the vertex immediately to its left, and the vertex immediately to its right. With all other vertices, it makes a diagonal. So we need to remove 20 – 3 = 17 diagonals from the total.

Total number of diagonals if one vertex does not make any diagonals = 170 – 17 = 153 diagonals.

We hope everything done till now makes sense. Now let’s go on to the part which seems to make no sense at all!

Question: How many diagonals does a polygon with 18 sides have if three of its vertices, which are adjacent to each other, do not send any diagonals?

Answer: We will use two different methods to solve this question:

Method 1: Using the formula discussed above

Number of diagonals in a polygon of 18 sides = 18*(18 – 3)/2 = 135 diagonals

Each vertex makes a diagonal with n-3 other vertices – as discussed before.

So each vertex will make 15 diagonals.

Total number of diagonals if 3 vertices do not send any diagonals = 135 – 15*3 = 90 diagonals.

Method 2:

The polygon has a total of 18 vertices. 3 vertices do not participate so we need to make all diagonals that we can with 15 vertices.

Number of lines you can make with 15 vertices = 15C2 = 15*14/2 = 105

But this 105 includes the sides as well. A polygon with 18 vertices has 18 sides. Since 3 adjacent vertices do not participate, 4 sides will not be formed. 15 vertices will have 14 sides which will be a part of the 105 we calculated before.

Total number of diagonals if 3 vertices do not send any diagonals = 105 – 14 = 91

Note that the two answers do not match. Method 1 gives us 90 and method 2 gives us 91. Both methods look correct but only one is actually correct. Your job is to tell us which method is correct and why the other method is incorrect.

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!

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

Wellesley College, an all-female liberal arts college and a member of the Seven Sisters consortium of women’s colleges, is ranked #37 among Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It is located in the upscale suburban town of Wellesley outside Boston, Massachusetts.

The school is guided by its belief in what it calls The Wellesley Effect, an abiding faith in their their ability to develop powerful young women who go on to impact the world in significant ways. To that end, notable women the like former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton; former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright; author, Nora Ephron; journalist, Diane Sawyer; actress, Elisabeth Shue; and astronaut, Pamela Melroy have all passed through Wellesley on their ways to imprint the Wellesley Effect on the world.

Wellesley has been providing higher education to women since 1875. It began as a liberal arts college focused primarily on humanities; it then added renowned science programs in the 1960s and began exchange programs with other colleges like MIT and Brandeis University. Today, the college emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to education. They offer over 30 departmental majors, 22 interdepartmental majors, and an individually designed major. Wellesley also belongs to the Babson, Olin, Wellesley Collaboration, which gives students the advantage of each college’s expertise in entrepreneurship, engineering, and liberal arts respectively. Students can take advantage of select double degrees with MIT or Brandies. Wellesley also offers internships and study abroad programs to further enrich their academic offerings. Eighty percent of Wellesley students go to graduate or professional schools within the first decade after graduation. Being one of the larger liberal arts colleges at over 2,500 students, they still maintain an 8:1 student to faculty ratio; only professors teach classes, and they are limited to teaching two classes per semester. This arrangement ensures ample attention for every student.

Students live in one of five dorms on the Quad, four dorms in the Tower Complex—although the Lake House is reserved for upperclassmen, or three dorms on the East Side. There are also apartments, houses for Davis Scholars non-traditional (older) students, Spanish and French only houses, and a Feminist/Vegetarian Cooperative. The five dining halls include Kosher and vegetarian options. Perhaps the most unique options are the student-run Café Hoop with late night snacks and drinks; El Table serving soups, salads, sandwiches, and snacks; and Punch’s Alley, a student-run pub featuring $3 beers. Wellesley has a total of four cafés from which to choose, plus a S’mores pit. There are countless clubs, groups, and societies that address nearly every interest imaginable; every student will be able to find her niche at Wellesley. Check out their list of 50 Things to Do Before You Graduate.

The Vil refers to the downtown area of Wellesley, which is within walking distance and where students can go for sushi, a haircut, or a new pair of jeans or shoes, plus a whole lot more. Nearby Boston offers a world of opportunity to unwind. Choose anything from taking in a game at Fenway Stadium to whale watching in Boston Harbor to a night out at House of Blues. Wellesley students have plenty of opportunities to take it all in and to socialize with students from other prestigious area colleges.

Wellesley supports 14 NCAA Division III competitive teams in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). The crew team, known as Blue Crew, is a frequent NEWMAC champion. Wellesley crew members comprised the country’s first intercollegiate rowing team for women. Many of the school’s varsity teams in other sports bring home conference championship titles, or have individuals in the sports who bring recognition to Wellesley. The school boasts two individual national champions in tennis and track and field. In addition to competitive conference sports, Wellesley hosts a vibrant group of club teams, including water polo, ultimate Frisbee, sailing, two styles of snow skiing, rugby, ice hockey, equestrian, and archery. Wellesley’s devotion to student fitness is grounded in brain research that connects physical activity to cognition. Students may participate at any level from competitive to recreational, depending on personal preference.

One of the longest held traditions at Wellesley is hoop rolling. It began in 1895 when graduating seniors, wearing their graduation gowns, participated in a race rolling wooden hoops. Traditionally, the winner was said to be the first to marry, and in the 1980s the first to become CEO, but these days she is said to be the first to be successful—in whatever way she defines that. The winner also receives a bouquet of flowers from the college president, and then her classmates throw her into Lake Waban. Sophomores traditionally plant a Class Tree on campus accompanied by a marker with their year of graduation next to it. Another longstanding annual tradition is Marathon Monday on Patriot’s Day, where Wellesley students create the “Wellesley Scream Tunnel” along the town’s portion of the Boston Marathon, cheering on participants. Other traditions include step-singing, Spring Week, and Lake Day. If you’re ready for high-octane engagement, you’re driven by a deep desire to succeed at a high level, and you enjoy the camaraderie of powerful women—Wellesley is your school.

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

Choosing which university to attend is one of the first big decisions you’ll make as you move into adulthood. Depending on the institution and location, substantial costs could be involved that impact you and your family’s future. Fortunately, you have literally thousands of options across the United States. One of the first choices to consider is whether an in-state or out-of-state university is for you. It’s not an easy decision, since there is so much more to it than simply cost and location… There are many factors to consider!

Take a look at our latest infographic below to get a head start on the research process. You can start with the pros and cons below to help yourself make an informed decision!

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

In addition to being a strong leader, a team player and an all-around impressive contributor to the workplace, business schools are looking for innovative thinkers. When you hear the word innovation, many think of filing patents or launching products, both of which would certainly go a long way towards demonstrating innovative thinking to be sure, but innovation can be so much more.

What business schools really like to see is creativity, even in roles where you wouldn’t think there’s much room for it. Perhaps you work in a bank and came up with a new and clever way to process the loan paperwork—something which cut down not only the processing time, but perhaps also the number of people required in the process? The accounting field is another one where you might not think a lot of innovation is going on, but there’s actually a goodly amount of creativity in managing the numbers, and showing the admissions committee how you have done so with passion can be just the right recipe for a winning application. After all, no two tax returns are alike!

Of course, entrepreneurs have a fairly easy time convincing the adcoms they are innovative, after all, starting up a company, especially one which has shown some success, takes a lot of ingenuity. But what about intra-preneurship? That is, taking processes and procedures within the rank and file of the everyday, established job and turning it upside down in a way which improves something for everyone involved? Even seemingly small, but creative contributions to your office can be presented in a way which shows the admissions committees you are unafraid to color outside the lines a bit and take a calculated risk in order to make things better.

You might have even demonstrated innovation as a student, for example, by pulling off a high GPA in an engineering program when high engineering GPAs are difficult to come by. In fact, being creative in how you think of creativity at the workplace can show innovation itself! Don’t be afraid to make novel connections between what you have done both in and out of work and how you are a unique thinker.

Business schools love to imagine their graduates will go on to lead the next generation of outside the box thinkers, so spend some quality time really asking yourself how you can demonstrate innovation in your own career and you will be on your way to impressing your target schools.

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. See more of his articles here.

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

For those of us who grew up speaking English, we rarely find a personal benefit from translating English into another language. One big exception to this is in the math world. We may find ourselves able to understand the most erudite texts with ease, but figuring out how to interpret mathematical terms can be difficult without a little translating. Here is a quick and easy guide to help translate our language of communication into a language of computation.

1. Define Your Variables

2. Look for key words (“Sum” “Product” “Is added to” “Is twice” “Fixed cost” “increases __ for every increase/rotation/” etc.)

3. Replace English with an equation

4. Check with real numbers for plausibility

Let’s look at an example of how you may use these steps on a problem on the SAT.

“A number is multiplied by 4. This product is the same as the sum of this initial number and 4. What is 3 times the initial number?”

In this problem we are simply told that we start with “a number”. If the problem gives us “a number” or “some number”, it is trying to communicate that we are dealing with a variable. Let’s define our variable as m. We could call it anything. The letter is a placeholder to indicate it is unknown at this time.

Now let’s look for key words. “Is multiplied by 4” and “is the sum of” indicate multiplication and addition respectively. So the problem is stating that if you times m by 4, it should equal m plus four or:

4m = 4 + m

3m = ?

I added the “3m = ?” because I like to write down the thing that I am solving for and quantity that we need is “3 times the initial number”. From here on, it should be a piece of cake to solve this equation.

4m = 4 + m

-m -m

3m = 4

/3 /3

m = 4/3

3m = 4

Let’s look at what I call a “Taxi Problem.” Taxi problems are not always about taxis; they are essentially derived from problems where a taxi is charging some amount per mile over a certain distance. This could also be used to define phone call charges or any situation where there are costs accrued after some quantity of distance, time, or use. This example would be a classic taxi problem:

“A taxi traveling m miles charges a fixed charge of $3.50 for the first mile and then c cents for every quarter mile traveled. What is an equation that describes the cost of taxi ride over 2 miles in terms of dollars?”

We can start at the very beginning and define our variables. I’m going to call the cost we are trying to find in dollars d. This may seem obvious, but be sure that the variable you are solving for is alone on one side of the equation. An equation for d should solve for d, which means having d by itself on one side of the equation. We have defined d as the cost in dollars, and m, the number of miles, and c, the cost per quarter mile in cents, are defined for us. Let’s get to work on finding those key words.

“Fixed charge for the first mile” is a big key phrase that tells us we are going to be adding the per mile cost to $3.50. We can pretty much guarantee our equation will look something like “3.5 +[per mile charges][number of miles]”. We are also told that the cost of the first mile is included in this fixed cost, so any per mile charges should be multiplied by m - 1 (instead of m) to reflect that the charges are for all travel after the first mile. This is a detail that many students miss the first time around.

“Cents for every quarter mile” indicates that the taxi will charge c cents four times for every mile after the first, so in order to convert the cost per quarter mile to a cost per mile, we will have to multiply the cost by four. Let’s skip to step four and check for plausibility. If the cost was 25 cents per quarter mile, every mile of travel after the first would cost 4 (25 cents) or one dollar. This demonstrates another problem. c is in cents right now, so if we plug in the work we just did to our initial work we would have an equation that looks like this:

d = 3.5 + 4(c)(m-1)

If we stick with c as 25 cents, then a trip of 3 miles would cost 3.5 + 4(25)(2) = $203.5! Even in NY, that is too much money. This shows us we still need to convert c to cents, which can be done by dividing c by 100. Let’s check our work with real numbers now.

d = 3.5 + 4(c/100)(m – 1)

d = 3.5 + 4(25/100)(2) = 5.5

This answer is much more reasonable and accounts for all of key phrases in the word problem.

Though word problems can be tricky, with a little translation they can become simple equations that are easy to solve or manipulate. Just remember to go through these steps and always check with real numbers to see if the equation is plausible. Happy test taking!

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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Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently released its application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Like so many other top MBA programs these days, Tuck has eliminated an essay, going down to just two required essay prompts this year. The two essays that remain are taken directly from last year’s application (with just one subtle tweak to the second essay prompt).

Without further ado, here are Tuck’s MBA application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Deadlines

Early Action round: October 8, 2014

November round: November 5, 2014

January round: January 6, 2015

April round: April 1, 2014

Tuck barely changed its application deadlines since last year. Note that Tuck is one of the few top business schools to offer an Early Action admissions option. “Early Action” means that the decision is non-binding, although if you are admitted you will need to send in a $4,500 deposit by mid-January, or else you will give up your seat. If Tuck is your top choice, or at least a very strong 2nd or 3rd choice, Early Action is a great way to signal your enthusiasm for the school. Also, if you want to know the fate of your Tuck application before most other schools’ Round 2 deadlines come, then aim for Early Action, which allows you to receive your decision by December 18. Applying in any other round means that you won’t receive your decision until mid-February.

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Essays

Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck? (500 words) This question carries over from last year with no changes, and so our advice mostly remains the same. Last year, Tuck dropped “what will you uniquely contribute to the community?” and replaced it with the more straightforward “why are you the best fit for Tuck?” This newer phrasing puts more explicit on one of our favorite subjects — fit with a school! — and we expect it will work better for all parties involved.

Beyond that important change, this question is the fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that most business schools ask. Tuck takes the concept of “fit” very seriously when evaluating candidates — maybe more so than any other top school, given its small class size and remote location — so you need to take it seriously, too. The Tuck admissions committee knows that you’re probably applying to multiple top schools, and knows that it is a bit unique among programs… What really excites you about Tuck, and what about you should get the Tuck admissions team excited about adding you to the Tuck community?

Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience? (500 words) This question also carried over from last year, with just one small (but important) change: Last year this prompt asked for a collaborative leadership experience, and now the “collaborative” part is gone. (Interestingly, they added the word “collaborative” last year, and have now gone back to the wording they used two years ago.) It’s easy to overstate the importance of this change, but it likely indicates that the admissions team felt that last year’s prompt led applicants to bit too much emphasis on teamwork and not quite enough on actual leadership. Note that those things are definitely not mutually exclusive, but err on the side of discussing a time when you really made something happen, vs. a time when you were an active participant in something that was already happening.

You only have 500 words in which you need to describe what the situation was, what action you took, and what the results were (“Situation-Action-Result,” or “SAR” as we call it). Don’t overlook the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. What exactly happened is very important, but evidence of how you grew and how you got to know yourself better is even more critical. A great essay tells about how you learned valuable about yourself, such as a shortcoming or lack of experience, and how you were able to act and improve upon it. That’s the type of response that has the potential to stick with the application reader.

(Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (500 words) As we always tell applicants when it comes to the optional essay for any business school, only answer this essay prompt if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay!

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Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently released its application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Like so many other top MBA programs these days, Tuck has eliminated an essay, going down to just two required essay prompts this year. The two essays that remain are taken directly from last year’s application (with just one subtle tweak to the second essay prompt).

Without further ado, here are Tuck’s MBA application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Deadlines

Early Action round: October 8, 2014

November round: November 5, 2014

January round: January 6, 2015

April round: April 1, 2014

Tuck barely changed its application deadlines since last year. Note that Tuck is one of the few top business schools to offer an Early Action admissions option. “Early Action” means that the decision is non-binding, although if you are admitted you will need to send in a $4,500 deposit by mid-January, or else you will give up your seat. If Tuck is your top choice, or at least a very strong 2nd or 3rd choice, Early Action is a great way to signal your enthusiasm for the school. Also, if you want to know the fate of your Tuck application before most other schools’ Round 2 deadlines come, then aim for Early Action, which allows you to receive your decision by December 18. Applying in any other round means that you won’t receive your decision until mid-February.

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Essays

Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck? (500 words)

This question carries over from last year with no changes, and so our advice mostly remains the same. Last year, Tuck dropped “what will you uniquely contribute to the community?” and replaced it with the more straightforward “why are you the best fit for Tuck?” This newer phrasing puts more explicit on one of our favorite subjects — fit with a school! — and we expect it will work better for all parties involved.

Beyond that important change, this question is the fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that most business schools ask. Tuck takes the concept of “fit” very seriously when evaluating candidates — maybe more so than any other top school, given its small class size and remote location — so you need to take it seriously, too. The Tuck admissions committee knows that you’re probably applying to multiple top schools, and knows that it is a bit unique among programs… What really excites you about Tuck, and what about you should get the Tuck admissions team excited about adding you to the Tuck community?

Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience? (500 words)

This question also carried over from last year, with just one small (but important) change: Last year this prompt asked for a collaborative leadership experience, and now the “collaborative” part is gone. (Interestingly, they added the word “collaborative” last year, and have now gone back to the wording they used two years ago.) It’s easy to overstate the importance of this change, but it likely indicates that the admissions team felt that last year’s prompt led applicants to bit too much emphasis on teamwork and not quite enough on actual leadership. Note that those things are definitely not mutually exclusive, but err on the side of discussing a time when you really made something happen, vs. a time when you were an active participant in something that was already happening.

You only have 500 words in which you need to describe what the situation was, what action you took, and what the results were (“Situation-Action-Result,” or “SAR” as we call it). Don’t overlook the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. What exactly happened is very important, but evidence of how you grew and how you got to know yourself better is even more critical. A great essay tells about how you learned valuable about yourself, such as a shortcoming or lack of experience, and how you were able to act and improve upon it. That’s the type of response that has the potential to stick with the application reader.

(Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (500 words)

As we always tell applicants when it comes to the optional essay for any business school, only answer this essay prompt if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay!

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

One common complaint I hear from GMAT students is: “I can get the right answer but it takes me too much time.” Many people preparing for the GMAT feel this way at one point or another during their preparation. While this complaint has some merit, it can usually be paraphrased as “I’m approaching the problem with little to no strategy.” Relying on brute force to get the right answer is rarely the best approach. The old adage states that a million monkeys writing on a million typewriters will eventually produce the greatest novel of all time (It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times…).

This problem speaks to the inherent time management skill required to succeed on the GMAT. Almost any question you will face on test day can be solved with a brute force approach. However, you won’t have a calculator and you will be under constant time pressure to complete each question fairly quickly, so simply running through every possible numerical combination seems like a fool’s errand. There may be a time when the brute force approach works, but it is like trying to break into someone’s e-mail by trying 00000001, 00000002, 00000003, etc until you find the correct password. You’d probably have more success with a logical approach (such as guessing birthdays or other important dates) than with trying every possible permutation until the lock opens.

Approaching the problem in a logical and methodical way should be your goal for both quant and verbal questions. The approach as such may vary a little, but pattern recognition and extrapolation are two skills that will come up over and over again. If you’ve ever asked a 5-year-old what 2 + 2 was, they generally answer 4. If you ask them what 1,002 + 1,002 was, you’d usually get a lot of blank stares and puzzled looks. (My attempts to explain that they are essentially the same question have led to more crying fits than I’d care to admit). The GMAT uses the same elements of misdirection to bait you into thinking this particular problem is one that you can’t solve.

Let’s look at a quant problem to get an idea of what we’re looking to do on these questions:

How many positive integers less than 250 are multiple of 4 but NOT multiples of 6?

(A) 20

(B) 31

(C) 42

(D) 53

(E) 64

This is the type of question that most people can get with unlimited time. You can simply go through every possible number from 1 to 249 and see if each number meets the criteria. Apart from going cross-eyed halfway through, you will also spend an atrocious amount of time on a question clearly designed to reward you for using logic. Let’s look at this question logically and see what we can determine.

Firstly, it only cares about positive integers, so we can disregard zero. This is helpful because a lot of questions hinge on whether or not zero is included, but that won’t matter in this instance. Furthermore, only integers matter, and we’re looking for multiples of 4 but not 6. Your initial pass on a question like this might look might concentrate on the multiples of 4 and you might write (part of) the following sequence down:

After writing a couple of dozen numbers, you may try to figure out the pattern and extrapolate from there. Numbers divisible by 6 are to be eliminated, so you could rewrite this sequence:

Even with this, we have a long sequence of numbers, some of which are crossed off, and less than halfway through the entire sequence. Perhaps approaching the question from a more strategic approach would yield dividends:

The number must be divisible by 4 but not by 6. Calculating the LCM gives us 12, which means that every 12th number will be divisible by both of these numbers. We want the integers to be divisible by four, but not by six, so 12 is out. Along the way, we stop by 4 and 8, both of which are divisible by four but not by six. So every 12 numbers, our count goes up by two, and we start the pattern again. 1-12 will give two numbers that work. 13-24 will give two more numbers that work. 25-36 gives two more, 37-48 gives two more and 49-60 gives two more as well. Thus, through 60 numbers, we have 10 elements that are divisible by 4 and not 6.

From here, it might be easier to go up in bounds of 60, so we know that 61-120 gives 10 more numbers. 121-180 and 181-240 as well. This brings us up to 240 with 40 numbers. A cursory glance at the answer choices should confirm that it must be 42, as all the other choices are very far away. The numbers 244 and 248 will come and complete the list that’s (naughty or nice) under 250. Answer choice C is correct here.

There are other ways to get the right answer, but the fastest ones all hinge on pattern recognition. Figuring out that every 12 numbers gives two more answers can take us from 1 to 240 in one shot (20 sequences x 2). Alternatively, once finding 4 elements at 24, you can probably easily envision multiplying the total by 10 and getting to 240 straight away (like warping over worlds in Super Mario Bros).

Timing is one of the key elements being tested on the GMAT, and one of the goals of the exam is to reward those who have good time management skills. Given 10 minutes, almost everyone would get the correct answer to this question, but the exam wants to determine who can get it right in a fraction of that time. On the GMAT, as in business, timing is everything.

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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Colleges judge applicants by pouring over a variety of materials, from test scores and grades to personal statements and a list of extracurriculars. One component of the application, however, can seem particularly nebulous and perhaps beyond the control of students: The teacher recommendations.

They are required by many colleges around the country and serve as a way for admissions committees to get an external perspective on their applicants. Nearly every other component of the application is more or less within the direct control of the student: grades can be boosted with extra effort and new study techniques, test scores can be improved with sufficient preparation, and extracurriculars are available to you to make your own. Teacher recommendations, on the other hand, are much more subjective, personal, and they rest in the hands of someone other than yourself. How then, can you ensure that you make the right impression?

1. Choose wisely.

Different colleges have differing policies on the number and type of teacher recommendations you can submit. Never submit more than the allowed number, but try to pick your teacher recommendations strategically. You should always pick teachers that like you and know you well. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the teachers from classes you got straight A’s in. Having recommendations from subjects you struggled in can show your ability to work through a challenge.

2. Remember your manners.

This is not trivial advice. Simple gestures like saying “please” and “thank you,” indicate a level of politeness and maturity that are bound to make your teacher think more highly of you.

3. Ask early—timing is essential.

Teachers, much like students, are very busy people. Recommendations are best when done well ahead of the deadline. Not only will recommendations be of the highest caliber when you give the teacher sufficient time to write them, but also it is easier on the teachers if you ask them early. Certain high schools might have policies for the dates in which you are allowed to request recommendations, so abide by those if they exist. Either way, however, make sure you are aware of the deadline set forth by the colleges and ask well in advance of those deadlines. Also keep in mind that there are far more students than teachers, and you won’t be the only student asking for a recommendation.

4. Waive the right to see your recommendation.

Most applications have a box to check that gives you the option to waive your right to view your recommendation. While this may seem like a leap of faith to have your recommendation be sent directly from the teacher to the institution, it demonstrates a certain level of trust between you and your teacher, which is a good message to send to perspective colleges. From the admissions committee lens, it eliminates any possibility that you might be in cahoots with your teacher.

5. Help the teachers get to know you before asking for a recommendation.

The truth is that if a teacher doesn’t know you well, he or she simply cannot write a recommendation with the level of enthusiasm, nuance, and familiarity that you need. A generic teacher recommendation might not hurt your application, but it certainly won’t help your chances at getting into an exclusive “top-tier” college.

Throughout sophomore and junior year in high school, try your best to get to know a handful of teachers really well. Go see your teacher in their office to ask questions and express a genuine interest in their subject. Have a memorable (positive) presence in the classroom by being prepared and raising your hand frequently.

While a relationship with your teacher can’t really be forced, making this effort to reach out to teachers can make the difference between a decent recommendation and a glowing one.

Best of luck to you in your college application process!

Michael Rothberg is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor. He began tutoring his freshman year of college and is excited to help students conquer the SAT by unlocking their academic potential. Currently a rising sophomore at Harvard University, he is a Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology major and Staff Reporter at the Harvard Crimson.

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It’s all anyone can talk about today – LeBron James has decided to reverse “The Decision” and return home to play for Cleveland. In doing so he forced many people to change their minds.

Let’s take a look at some of those people:

-LeBron himself, who once decided to leave and now comes home as the prodigal son

-Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who once wrote a scathing letter about James the week he left the Cavs for South Beach

-Cavaliers fans, who once burned LeBron’s jersey and rallied against him

-Dwayne Wade, who just last week opted out of a $40 million contract to restructure his deal to create space to attract more players to his and LeBron’s Heat team

-And hopefully you, in the way that you approach Data Sufficiency

What does that mean? Consider this question:

A Miami-based sporting goods store is selling LeBron James #6 jerseys at a deep “everything must go” discount. If each jersey sells for (not one, not two, not three, but…) four dollars, how much revenue did the store earn from the sale of discounted LeBron James jerseys on Friday?

(1) On Friday, the store sells 100 of the white jerseys LeBron wore for home games, and 80 of the black jerseys that LeBron wore for away games.

(2) On Friday, the store sold 50 of the red jerseys that LeBron wore for nationally-televised Sunday games.

After statement 1, you were probably thinking “sufficient” and taking your talents to A or D, right? “Home” and “Away” seem mutually exclusive, so shouldn’t that tell you that there were 180 jerseys sold total at $4/each? If you made The Decision to pick either A or D, you’re not alone…and you have a lot of reason to feel confident. But like LeBron has shown us, it’s never too late to change your mind. Statement 2 supplies information that *should* give you reason to change your mind about statement 1 – there’s a third type of jersey that the store sold, and so statement 1 didn’t tell the complete story. Statement 2 helps to prove that statement 1 actually wasn’t sufficient, allowing you to change your mind and reconsider your answer*.

(*This problem probably doesn’t have a valid solution since there’s no great way to tell mathematically if there might be a 4th type of jersey; this wouldn’t appear as a question on the actual test, but the logic of “statement 2 should prove to you that you didn’t know everything you thought you did on statement 1″ is absolutely fair game)

The lesson, really, is this – although “the book” says that you should treat the statements as completely separate, wisdom will show you that often one statement will give you a clue about the other and allow you to change your mind. Typically this happens when:

-One statement is OBVIOUSLY not sufficient

or

-One statement is OBVIOUSLY sufficient

In either of these cases, that obvious piece of information will likely shed some light on what may be important for the other statement. For example:

Is a/b > c?

(1) a > bc

(2) b < 0

Here statement 1 may well look sufficient…but look how obviously unhelpful statement 2 is. Why is it there? To alert you to the fact that b could be negative – in which case you would have to flip the sign when dividing by b in statement 1:

Statement 1 when b is positive: a > bc becomes a/b > c (YES!)

Statement 2 when b is negative: a > bc becomes a/b < c (NO!)

So while you may have quickly made The Decision – in a youthful spirit of hubris – that statement 1 is sufficient, patience and maturity should lead you to reconsider after statement 2 offers useless-by-itself information that can only serve as a clue: maybe you should change your mind!

Such is the game of Data Sufficiency – much like in NBA Free Agency, hasty, youthful decisions can be reversed, and often on challenging questions the correct answer requires you to let “the other statement” convince you that you’ve made a mistake. So learn from LeBron – it’s okay to change your mind; maybe, in fact, that’s The Decision that’s correct.

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

People often ask – how do we go from 48 to 51 in Quant? This question is very hard to answer since we don’t have a step by step plan – do theory from here – do questions from there – take a test from here – read posts from there etc. Today and in the next few weeks, we will discuss how to go from 48 to 51 in Quant.

Above Q48, the waters are pretty choppy! Questions are hard less because of the content and more because they look so unique – even though they’re testing the same concepts. Training yourself to see familiarity in the obscure is difficult, and that happens from seeing a lot of problems. There is barely any scope for making silly mistakes – you must run through all simple questions quickly and neatly, leaving you plenty of time to think through the tougher ones. It’s important to have enough time and keep your cool, which is easier to do if you have more time.

The question for today is: how do you handle simple questions quickly? We have mentioned many times that most GMAT Quant questions do not need Algebra. We can easily solve them by just analyzing while reading the question stem!

Here is how we can do that:

Question: School A is 40% girls and school B is 60% girls. The ratio of the number of girls at school A to the number of girls at school B is 4:3. if 20 boys transferred from school A to school B and no other changes took place at the two schools, the new ratio of the number of boys at school A to the number of boys at school B would be 5:3. What would the difference between the number of boys at school A and at school B be after the transfer?

(A) 20

(B) 40

(C) 60

(D) 80

(E) 100

Solution: This is a pretty simple non-tricky PS question. To solve it, most people use an algebraic method which looks something like this.

Girls in school A : Girls in school B = 4 : 3

So number of girls in school A = 4n and number of girls in school B = 3n

Since in school A, 40% students are girls and 60% are boys, number of boys is 6n.

Since in school B, 60% students are girls and 40% students are boys, number of boys is 2n.

If we transfer 20 boys from school A, we are left with 6n – 20 and when 20 boys are added to school B, we get 2n + 20 boys in school B.

(6n – 20)/(2n + 20) = 5/3

You get n = 20

Boys at school A after transfer = 6*20 – 20 = 100

Boys at school B after transfer = 2*20 + 20 = 60

Difference = 40

Answer (B)

This method gives you the correct answer, obviously, but it does take quite a bit of time. On the other hand, this is what should go through your mind while reading the question if you are focused on using logic:

“School A is 40% girls and school B is 60% girls.”

School A – 40% girls

School B – 60% girls

“The ratio of the number of girls at school A to the number of girls at school B is 4:3”

When we read this line, we should take a step back to the previous line with the % figures. We see that school A has more girls than school B (4:3) but its % of girls is lower (only 40% compared to 60% in B). This means that school A has more students than school B. Say something like school A has 200 students while school B has 100 (use easy numbers). So school A has 80 girls while school B has 60 girls. This gives us a ratio of 4:3. (If you do not get 4:3 on your first try, you should tweak the assumed numbers a bit but you should stick to simple numbers.) Then verify the rest of the data against these numbers and get your answer.

School A has 120 boys and school B has 40 boys. Transfer 20 boys from school A to school B to get 100 boys in school A and 60 boys in school B giving us a difference of 40 boys.

This takes lesser time but requires some ingenuity. That could be the difference between Q48 and Q51.

Hope this gave you some ideas. Try the reasoning approach on other simple questions. With practice, you can save a ton of time!

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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This month, the Graduate Management Admissions Council began offering new versions of the popular Official Guide for GMAT Review series, now labeling by year (OG 2015) as opposed to edition (the last was the 13th). For the nuts and bolts we’ll let you read the official press release or visit the official website, but here’s what you should know about the new resources:

1) The questions in the Official Guide 2015 series are the same as in the previous editions. So if you already have the Official Guide 13th edition or the Verbal or Quant 2nd editions, you won’t find new questions with the new books.

2) The biggest new feature is that the practice questions in the book are also available in an online tool. If you love the GMAT Question Pack the way that we do, this is a fantastic feature, allowing you to carve up the ~900 problems into quizzes, delineate your practice by difficulty level, and take advantage of study tools like the ability to bookmark questions and type in notes to remember later.

3) The online tool includes ~20 question diagnostic quizzes for each practice type, using GMAC’s knowledge of question difficulty to help you gauge your ability level relative to your goals.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

If you already have the previous versions of the Official Guide (the 13th edition of the Official Guide for GMAT Review or the 2nd edition of the Official Guide Quant Review or Official Guide Verbal Review), don’t race out to buy the new Official Guide 2015 books. Instead, put that money toward the aforementioned Question Pack, which will provide you with new questions and increased computer-based functionality.

If you don’t have a previous edition Official Guide, by all means purchase the new one. There’s no better resource for practicing officially-written questions, and the new tech tools will enhance your practice sessions with diagnostic feedback and the opportunity to practice on a computer screen, just like you’ll attempt questions on test day.

What to Watch For

As with any unveiling of new technology, the current web interface includes a few things that may not be ideal and may end up being tweaked. But for this first phase of deployment, you should be careful to note that:

•The question delivery order online is not the same as the delivery order in the book. So if you’re planning to start online, then continue in the book (or vice versa) there isn’t an easy way to ensure you won’t see repeat questions.

•Reading Comprehension problems in the “Practice” and “Exam” modes are delivered without keeping passages together, so you’ll usually only get one problem for the passage you just read (and then the other problems associated with that passage will come at some point later). For this reason, it’s still likely best to do your RC practice out of the book and not online. (Note: the diagnostic quizzes deliver RC problems in order with their passages, so that functionality works well)

•Presumably since so much of the GMAT’s recent tech investments have been for Integrated Reasoning, the online tool includes an on-screen calculator for all problems. This does NOT mean that you’ll have it for quant problems on test day – ignore this tool as you practice the quantitative section!!

•The user interface takes a few quizzes to get used to; you’ll need to name each problem set that you begin (so think about meaningful names to keep yourself organized) so that you can review them later. Importantly, the diagnostic quizzes do not save once you’ve left the review screen, so when you take a diagnostic quiz make sure that you review it thoroughly before you click away!

•The online access is good for six months from activation, whereas the book lasts just about forever. Keep this in mind when you activate – the clock is ticking…

Overall Review

As always, the Official Guide for GMAT Review series remains the best destination for officially-produced practice problems and belongs on the bookshelves and in the backpacks of virtually all serious GMAT students. And GMAC continues to evolve into newer, more user-friendly ways of delivering practice problems, helping students to better simulate the test-day experience. The online tool is launching with a few little hiccups that will surely be cleaned up soon – among standardized tests GMAC has to rank as one of the most student-friendly and open-to-feedback – and should prove a useful resource. As we’ve said, the biggest “negative” to the new suite of OG books is that you won’t find any new problems, so if you’re currently studying with the “old” versions (13th overall, 2nd of subject-specific) don’t feel the need to rush out and buy the new ones. But if you’re ready to begin your Official Guide journey, the Official Guide 2015 series is an invaluable study tool.

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The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University has released is MBA admissions deadlines and essays for the Class of 2017. Duke hasn’t added or cut the number of required essays this year, although it did add a new option for the second required essay. The “25 Random Things” prompt remains, which makes us happy!

Here are the Duke (Fuqua) application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Deadlines

Early Action: September 17, 2014

Round 1: October 20, 2014

Round 2: January 5, 2015

Round 3: March 19, 2015

Fuqua’a admissions deadlines are virtually unchanged vs. last year. On important note about the school’s Early Action deadline: Even though it’s called “Early Action,” which most schools interpret as “non-binding,” Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if Fuqua is clearly your first choice. If it’s not, then save your application for Round 1, which still gets you your final decisions from the admissions committee before the holidays.

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Essays

Required Short Answer Questions (Just 250 characters each)

What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

What are your long-term goals?

Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

This trio of short questions (and really, really short answers!) has not changed since last year, so our advice mostly remains the same. The three above short answers should add up to only about 150 words, if it’s easier for you to think about them that way. With the three short questions, the Fuqua admissions team really is just looking for the high-levels facts about you. In other words, they’re looking for less hand-waving and “big picture”-speak and for a more succinct, “to the point” story to help them quickly get a read on why you’re even applying to Fuqua in the first place. Think of this as your chance to make the admissions team’s job a little easier… Rather than making the admissions team sort through your application essays to figure out why you’re applying to Fuqua, here you’re spelling it out in three bold, unmistakeable headlines.

One more thought: It’s easy to look at the third question and think it’s meant to be a curve ball, but this sort of adaptability is important to show. No one knows how exactly their career will unfold, and with this question the Fuqua admissions team wants to see if you “get” that idea and have at least thought through some alternatives.

First Required Essay

The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

Fuqua has used this fun, unique question for several years now. This exercise makes many applicants uncomfortable since it’s so far removed from the “typical” MBA admissions essay, but it’s one of our favorite questions in the MBA admissions world. While you shouldn’t generate a completely frivolous list, you definitely don’t want to rehash what else is in your application. Seemingly random facts such as “I once came in dead last in a karaoke contest” are relevant and reveal something important about you (that you’re fun!), whether you realize it or not.

Some admissions experts tell applicants that all 25 items must be “unique” and “aligned with their brand,” but it would be a mistake to apply that rule to all 25 items. If the favorite part of your week is playing pickup basketball with friends, then it would be crazy for that not to make it into this list, whether or not other applicants might possibly say the same thing. For us, a good rule of thumb is that approximately half of this list should reinforce your application themes (which you should have nailed down long before drafting this list), and the other half can be more “fun”… Don’t run the risk of putting the admissions committee to sleep with your list. Finally, take a look at these examples that Fuqua admissions officers and students have posted about themselves… You’ll see that they’re far from 100% serious!

Second Required Essay

Instructions: Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

This question also carries over unchanged from last year, and that’s a strong hint that the Fuqua admissions team likes what it’s been getting from applicants. The purpose of this question is really to assess your fit with the school. The school used to simply ask, “Why Duke?” in an essay, but this question is still about fit: This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its culture, and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community. The first eight words of this question are the Fuqua admissions committee’s way of saying, “Please don’t just tell us what you think we want to hear.”

Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, or has a specific research center that interests you, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. But the school wants you to go beyond rattling off lists of professor and course names from its website and convince them that you will be eager to attend Fuqua if you’re admitted.

The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student. (You can read the rest of the question here.)

This question is new this year, and it’s another example of how much emphasis Fuqua places on fit and a desire to find applicants who truly want to attend the school. Fuqua is the classic example of a top business school that’s not quite in the uppermost echelon of MBA programs — it’s ranked highly enough that it attracts a lot of applicants, but there are enough schools ranked higher that Fuqua often loses out to other schools when an applicant has multiple offers to choose from. That’s not a knock on the school at all; rather, it underscores how tough it is for the Fuqua admissions team to try to determine just how enthusiastic an applicant is for the school.

This question is your chance to show that you really, truly are enthusiastic about Fuqua, so much so that you see yourself embodying one or more of the traits that Fuqua’s own students have identified as the community’s core principles. Don’t just regurgitate what you read in Fuqua’s brochures and on its website: Bring out specific examples of your own past experiences that demonstrate how you embody one of these important traits. There are few more effective ways to show how much you want to be a part of the Fuqua community!

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Memorizing vocabulary words is a basic component of SAT test preparation. Knowing advanced vocabulary is useful in Sentence Completion questions, passage comprehension, and essay writing. Advanced vocabulary is also handy beyond standardized tests; it can be applied to both academic and professional reading and writing, and builds cultural capital. Unfortunately, many students who spend hours memorizing vocabulary words do not retain them long-term. Others gain only a patchy understanding of each definition and end up capable only of recognizing the words in context, not actually employing them in writing.

Mastering vocabulary words is far more useful than simply memorizing them. Here are a few tips and tricks for moving beyond memorization towards gaining total command of advanced vocabulary.

Learn thoroughly and actively.

Do not attempt memorization if you are too tired, hungry, or stressed to concentrate. Cramming and skimming are inefficient—and sometimes entirely ineffective—ways of learning. Take occasional snack breaks to keep yourself energized and alert in order to make the most of every minute you spend.

Review frequently.

To embed information in your long-term memory, it is necessary to revisit that information regularly. Pick one day each week to review all of the vocabulary you have learned so far.

Study with a friend or ask someone to quiz you.

Working with a friend can keep you accountable and on task. If you’re naturally extroverted, working with a friend can also energize you, improving your focus and retention.

Vary your memorization techniques.

While studying new vocabulary words, read the words and their definitions out loud. Read them in reverse order. Read them silently to yourself. Write them by hand. Type them into a word processor. Make flash cards. Use online study tools like Quizlet. Varying your memorization techniques and patterns will help you to associate each word with its definition, rather than with a specific order or type of recitation.

Use them whenever you can.

The best way to learn a new word is to actually incorporate it into your daily vocabulary. Try using new words in conversation with friends and family, school assignments, or personal journal entries. Doing so will boost your confidence and familiarity with advanced vocabulary. The frequent repetition will strengthen your associations between each word and its definition.

Get creative.

As a member of my high school debate team, I regularly printed and laminated speeches I had to memorize, then hung them up on my shower wall. An old SAT prep student of mine recited SAT vocabulary words aloud every morning on the way to school. There are countless ways to review vocabulary words; try coming up with original strategies that work with your schedule and learning style.

Memorizing advanced vocabulary doesn’t have to be difficult or boring. Move beyond rote recitation in order to make your learning experience more effective, efficient, and interesting. Happy Studying!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

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One of the biggest differences between the SAT and other non-multiple choice tests is that for nearly every question on the SAT, the correct answer is right in front of you! Given that the answer is right there, the real trick is figuring out how to use this to your advantage. Let’s look at an example to show us how we can use these answer choices to our advantage.

“If x and y are numbers such that (x + 11) (y – 11) = 0, what is the smallest possible value of x² + y² ?”

A) 0

B) 11

C) 22

D) 121

E) 242

The first thing to recognize is that one of these answers is the correct answer. This means that, given the parameters of the problem, one of these choices should spit out an answer that makes sense if used in the above equations. The easiest thing to do to check which answer choice will give a plausible solution is to plug one of the choices in to our given equations.

A) 0

x² + y² = 0 (Plausible, both x and y must be 0)

(0 + 11)(0 – 11) = 0 (not possible)

By plugging in our first answer choice we are given some very important information. We see that in the equation “(x + 11) (y – 11) = 0”, one or both of the quantities within the parentheses must be zero. That is one of those rules of algebra that we all learned a million years ago in our first algebra class called the zero- product property : If ab = 0, then a = 0 or b = 0. Given this fact, we need x to equal -11 or y to equal 11 in order for the first equation to be possible. This will help us in testing our next answer choices.

B) 11

x² + y² = 11 (Not plausible given we need x to equal -11 or y to equal 11)

C) 22

x² + y² = 22 (Not plausible given we need x to equal -11 or y to equal 11)

D) 121

x² + y² = 121 (Plausible, x² could equal 0 and y could equal 11, or x could equal -11 and y could equal 0)

At this point we are actually done. The answer choices are always listed in order of smallest to largest and we are looking for the smallest number that would satisfy these parameters. Even if (E) gives us a plausible answer, it is a larger number than (D) and, thus, is an incorrect answer.

There are a number of different kinds of problems where plugging in the answer choices are useful, but these tend to be problems where either an equation or some parameters are given and the goal is to find out which answer choice fits given what is stated in the problem. Even if plugging in an answer choice doesn’t give an immediate answer, it can shed some light onto some aspect of the problem that might not be immediately visible, as we saw above. So go ahead and use those answer choices. They are there to help you – not to hurt you!

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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Are you applying to the world’s top business schools? Do you need help crafting the best application possible and standing out to admissions committees? Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry – we’re talking the Jedi Knights of admissions consulting – and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

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Entrepreneur

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What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“What is most rewarding is helping applicants leverage the non-traditional aspects of their backgrounds. This could be an applicant who doesn’t have any business background to speak of at all, or someone who works in finance but has some unique non-business extracurricular activities. Typically, the applicants are unaware of how powerful these non-traditional aspects of their backgrounds are. For me, it’s very rewarding to help them with this realization and then subsequently tell their story effectively to the admissions committee.”

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“Every applicant struggles with different aspects of their application. But the most common challenge is undertaking the required introspection for admission to a top tier school. Ultimately, this is what sets apart a good application from a great one. In order to guide my clients through this process, my job becomes that of coach rather than purely providing feedback, i.e. I ask the appropriate questions that triggers their own thought process.”

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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