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Understanding 1337 GMAT Logic  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Oct 2014, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Understanding 1337 GMAT Logic
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One of the most difficult tasks on the GMAT is to properly interpret what the question is really asking. The GMAT is loaded with dense terminology, accurate but irrelevant prose and confusing technical jargon (and that’s just the instruction page!) The verbiage is dense on purpose, with the deciphering of the information part of the skills being tested. And since this task only gets more challenging as you get more tired throughout the exam, it’s important to recognize the vocabulary used on the GMAT. To borrow from geek culture, you need to understand the GMAT 1337 speak.

For those unfamiliar with 1337, it is known as “leet” or “leetspeak” wherein English alphabet letters are replaced by the number that resembles them the most. It uses 1 for L, 3 for E and 7 for T, allowing the number 1337 to stand in for leet, cacographic shorthand for “elite”. (Think of it as pig Latin for the 21st Century). In essence, some people have devised a sublanguage of English that is hard to read for the average person, but very easy to understand for anyone versed in the language’s rules. The same logic can be applied on GMAT questions.

Many terms that you’ll encounter on the GMAT are commonplace in math milieus, but most GMAT students don’t spend much time in such environments. Almost all students have also learned many of the terms long ago, like quotient and decimal, but have since forgotten their definitions because they don’t use them in everyday situations. Other concepts, like Data Sufficiency, only really exist on the GMAT and are not used in the same manner in the real world. This melange of issues can sometimes make it feel like the exam is speaking a language you don’t.

The ideal situation would be to avoid encountering any new or exotic word on test day, which hopefully means you’ve seen all of them during your test preparation. Moreover, simply understanding what each individual word means isn’t enough either, the entire meaning of the sentence must be clear in order to get the correct answer. As always, practice makes perfect, so let’s look at a sample GMAT problem and put the pieces together:

If R and S are positive integers, can the fraction R/S be expressed as a decimal with only a finite number of nonzero digits?

(1)    S is a factor of 100

(2)    R is a factor of 100

(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.

For many students, a question worded in this way is dreadful. The question is asking about two positive integers, R and S, and what happens if we divide one by the other. Could the resulting fraction be expressed as a decimal, and if so, would that decimal have a finite number of nonzero digits?

Let’s tackle these issues one at a time. If we divide R by S, could the fraction be written as a decimal? Yes, say the fraction were 2/3, this could be rewritten as 0.666… However this decimal would go on forever with 6’s, as opposed to the fraction 2/4 which would be rewritten as 0.500 and would stop there. The second part of this question is asking us to make this distinction: does the number continue on forever or does it have a finite number of digits after which it is completed. A number like 2/3 continues with an infinite number of 6’s, whereas 2/4 culminates in a finite number of nonzero digits.

Once you understand exactly what the question is asking for, it becomes much simpler to answer it. We can answer “no” if we find a decimal that goes on to infinity (and beyond). We can answer “yes” if the decimal ends at a specific point. We can determine a few simple examples in our heads (1/3, ½, ¾, etc) and then look at statement 1.

Statement 1 tells us that integer S (the denominator) is a factor of 100. A factor means that I can divide 100 by an integer and get another integer, so 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100 are all factors of 100. It wouldn’t take too long to test that every one of these nine numbers, as the denominator, will end in a finite point. Logically, this is because the prime factorization of 100 is 2^2 * 5^2, and therefore all the factors of 100 will be some multiples of 2’s and 5’s, both of which are finite decimals (0.5 and 0.2, respectively). Try as you might, any numerator over 2 will end in x.0 or x.5, and any numerator over 5 will end in x.0, x.2, x.4, x.6 or x.8 (next five series of X-box consoles?). Since it is impossible to get an infinite decimal with these denominators, statement 1 will be sufficient to say the decimal will definitely end.

Statement 2 tells us that integer R (the numerator) is a factor of 100. This means that R can be the same 9 options we had for statement 1 (1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100), but it doesn’t provide the same amount of help as defining the denominator does. If the numerator is 1, then the denominator can be 2 (finite) or 3 (not finite) and I’d have completely different answers. For the same reason that the numerator didn’t matter in statement 1, it doesn’t matter in statement 2, either.

If statement 1 gives us a definitive answer and statement 2 can go either way, then the correct answer to this question must be answer choice A. However getting the right answer is dependent on first understanding the question being asked. Just as with any language, maximum exposure will lead to maximum comprehension and retention, even if sometimes the terms seem peculiar. Remember that if you speak the GMAT’s language on test day, you’re more likely to get a 1337 score.

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.
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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Prospective Student Days for MBA-Bound Military Veterans  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Oct 2014, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Prospective Student Days for MBA-Bound Military Veterans
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Each year military veterans typically make up around 5% of the incoming classes as top MBA programs in the U.S., making veterans an important demographic for business schools. Prospective military applicants have a secret weapon for business school applications not available to applicants from other industries:  armed forces clubs. These clubs are a great way to learn more about individual programs in addition to providing a wealth of insider information. Whether you are just beginning your b-school research or planning on submitting applications this season, one of the first things I recommend to all military applicants is to reach out to these clubs.

Some schools have a central contact point while others, like Fuqua, go as far as listing the names of all their current students who are veterans, along with their contact information. Regardless of how you connect with these clubs and their members, you’ll find they are more than willing to help you answer questions and chat about their experience as veterans. You will also get a sense of what programs may be the best fit for you as a result of interacting with members of the current class.

If your schedule allows, go one step further and take advantage of the military prospective student events being held around the country at business schools this fall.  Military visit days are typically daylong sessions complete with admissions FAQ sessions, campus tours, class visits and the opportunity to network with current students.

Of the top ten MBA programs in the U.S., seven hold a yearly military day event.  While the majority of these days happen between September and November, Tuck and MIT host their military day events in the spring.  Here’s a rundown of the military events at top programs this fall to put on your radar screen:

HBS Military Prospective Student Day, September 26

http://hbs.campusgroups.com/afaa/home/

Wharton Veteran Prospective Applicant Day, September 25

http://whartonveterans.org

NYU Stern Military Event, Saturday October 4

By invitation only, deadline has passed to apply.

http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/students/military-veterans/military-event

Duke Veteran’s Symposium for Military Applicants, October 10-11

https://events.fuqua.duke.edu/veterans/

Kellogg Military Visit Day, October 17-18 http://kellogg.campusgroups.com/veterans/web_page?url_name=about&club_url2=veterans

Columbia, Veterans Matter@ Columbia Event, November 10

http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/programs-admissions/why-a-columbia-mba/community/diversity-columbia/veterans

Cornell Military Preview Day, November 13, 2014

https://www.johnson.cornell.edu/About/Veterans-at-Johnson/Military-Preview-Day

Michigan Ross Military Preview Day, November 15

https://michiganross.umich.edu/events/military-preview-day

All of these events, with the exception of Stern, which is by invitation only, are open to anyone with a military background. Whether you are active duty and just beginning to research business school or a veteran already planning on R2 applications, attending these tailored events and reaching out to Armed Forces Clubs will give you a strategic advantage in the application process. For the events that have passed, keep these in mind if you plan to apply next year!

Emily Sawyer Kegerreis is a Head Consultant at Veritas Prep and specializes in the career development needs of transitioning military veterans through her company, CareerWise Consulting.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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The Best Strategy for Completing Your MBA Applications  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2014, 08:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The Best Strategy for Completing Your MBA Applications
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The stress of any approaching deadline causes some degree of anxiety, but if the task is something of monumental importance such as your application to business school, the anxiety can be downright debilitating.  Managing your schedule in a way which leaves you not only enough time to create a fantastic application but also enough time to do your day job can be tough.

Even with the recent trend of shorter essays for schools, it still takes quite a bit of thoughtfulness to craft a compelling case for admission, and this thoughtfulness takes time—plain and simple.  Essays are not going to write themselves, not to mention all the ancillary items you must also complete such as obtaining your transcripts, sitting down with recommenders and going on school visits.

It’s probably not too much trouble to pull everything off if you are applying to only one or two schools, but if you decide to cast a wider net in order to boost your odds, you might find yourself with five or six applications to knock out.

So what is the strategy?

1. Why an MBA?

Since every school wants to know some version of three basic questions, a good way to get the process rolling is to think about why you want an MBA at all, why now is the right time, and why your specific target schools appeal to you (hint: don’t mention the rankings).

2. Get Organized

Organizing yourself is also important.  Make sure you set aside time specifically for application work, or else you might fall into the procrastination trap.  Unfortunately, trying to do things piecemeal is typically a recipe for disaster, so plan to work in at least half-hour to one hour chunks if you want to make meaningful progress.

3. One at a Time

Another tip is to try and work on only one school at a time.  This achieves two things; firstly, it prevents you from getting confused about the reasons for going to each school and helps you focus on the details of individual school requirements.  Secondly, it gives you a nice feeling of achievement when you are able to complete a school in its entirety, which can provide critical momentum (especially if you are running out of time).

Of course some of the heavy lifting you must do on b-school applications is completely transferrable, such as getting copies of transcripts, sending your GMAT scores, and lining up recommenders, but the school specific list is something that is best accomplished if you focus on that school only until you are finished.

4. Submit Your Best

The last piece of advice I have is to make sure you create the best application you can before you hit the submit button.  Even though the process can be arduous at times, don’t succumb to the pressure of a deadline to potentially put you in a situation to submit something that could be better if you only had more time.  Better to bump into a subsequent round with an improved package, than to hit an earlier deadline having left things on the table.

Learn about top MBA programs by downloading our Essential Guides! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or 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.

Bryant Michaels 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

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GMAT Tip of the Week: Sentence Correction in Real Life  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2014, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Sentence Correction in Real Life
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Totes McGotes. FML. Sorry for partying. I know, right? Of the common phrases that have permeated pop culture and everyday conversation, easily one of the most common is, wait for it…

Wait for it.

And that one phrase can totes make your GMAT score supes high. Like, for real.

How?

Perhaps the best example comes from an all-staff email sent at Veritas Prep headquarters this week regarding the holiday vacation schedule. It began “With pumpkin spice season nearing its apex, it’s…” Seeing that introduction, multiple Veritas Prep staffers commented later that “it’s” after the comma made them nervous, as the possessive of “season” is its, not it’s (which grammatically means “it is”).

Now later in that sentence it became clear that the intention was “it is” (…”it’s time to start making holiday vacation plans.”), but the fact that so many Sentence Correction experts were on the edge of their seats just seeing that contraction “it’s” next to a possessive should demonstrate for you how to become great at Sentence Correction. To be efficient and effective with Sentence Correction, it’s helpful to anticipate what types of errors you might see, rather than simply sit back and wait for them to appear. Those who are most successful at Sentence Correction read sentences looking for signs of potential danger; they’re proactive as they search for likely Decision Points. For example, if you were to read the introduction:

Particularly for a leadership or management role, it is important that a candidate be both…

your senses should be heightened for parallel structure with “both X and Y,” number one, and secondly you should be acutely aware that the word “be” precedes the word “both,” so there is a very high likelihood that there will be an extraneous “be” after the word “and” to follow. In other words, when you see “both,” wait for it…where’s the “and,” and is the portion directly after it parallel to the first portion?

Correct:

(A) qualified to perform the duties of most subordinates and able to inspire subordinates to perform those duties at a higher level.

Incorrect:

(B) qualified to perform the duties of most subordinates and be able to inspire subordinates to perform those duties at a higher level.

While the grammar of this problem is crucial, true expertise comes from knowing where to focus your attention and expend your mental energy. Analyzing every word of every answer choice is exhausting, so the experts train themselves to see clues and “…wait for it” focusing back in on the parts of the sentence most highly correlated with errors. Clues can be:

Signals of parallel structure: both, either, neither, not only

Signals of verb tense: since, from, until

Signals of pronoun or subject/verb agreement: it, they, its, their

To train yourself to spot those clues that tell you to “wait for it…”, pay attention not only (wait for it…) to the grammatical reasons that an answer choice is right or wrong in your homework, but also (here it is…is it parallel?) to the signals outside the underline that required the application of that grammar. Sentence Correction is to an extent about “what do you know” but to really excel it also has to be about “what do you do” – the clues and signals that tell you what to look for and where to spend your time and energy.

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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Answer the Why in Reading Comprehension GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2014, 08:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Answer the Why in Reading Comprehension GMAT Questions
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The most common question type that people tend to waste time on is Reading Comprehension. More than any other question type on the GMAT, students report reading and rereading the same sections of a passage, only to find themselves at the bottom of the page having retained no information. There are many reasons for this, from fatigue to mental inertia to daydreaming about the end of this test. However, it’s fairly common to have not internalized all the information in the passage, and still be able to answer the question asked.

Why would this be? (Rhetorical question) The passage may discuss many different facets, but each question is typically about one specific thing. As such, you don’t need to know everything; you only need to know about the information being asked in the problem. Better than that, the questions on Reading Comprehension passages can be categorized into four broad categories. This means that you can prepare for any question that could be posed, even if you haven’t read a word of the passage yet (like book reports in high school).

Today I’d like to delve deeper into one of the question types: Function questions. Function questions, like an inquisitive toddler, seek only to ask “why”. Why would the author say this? Why would this issue be mentioned? Why would the author use that specific word? The question is more interested in asking you “why” than in asking you “what”. In these instances, we must determine why something was mentioned, be it a word or a sentence, and what function it served in the passage.

The first strategy on these questions is always to read the surrounding sentences. The context often provides the framework for the passage or word in question, and helps explain it in a larger sense. The most important words will be contained in the sentence before or after what you’re being asked to evaluate, but the entire paragraph may be relevant to the issue. We expand our search in concentric circles from the epicenter and evaluate the entire context in order to ensure we capture the essence of what’s being asked.

Let’s look at an example of a function question and how to approach this type of Reading Comprehension question. As on the exam, we will begin with a passage and then the question:

Nearly all the workers of the Lowell textile mills of Massachusetts were unmarried daughters from farm families. Some of the workers were as young as ten. Since many people in the 1820s were disturbed by the idea of working females, the company provided well-kept dormitories and boarding-houses. The meals were decent and church attendance was mandatory. Compared to other factories of the time, the Lowell mills were clean and safe, and there was even a journal, The Lowell Offering, which contained poems and other material written by the workers, and which became known beyond New England. Ironically, it was at the Lowell Mills that dissatisfaction with working conditions brought about the first organization of working women.

The mills were highly mechanized, and were in fact considered a model of efficiency by others in the textile industry. The work was difficult, however, and the high level of standardization made it tedious. When wages were cut, the workers organized the Factory Girls Association. 15,000 women decided to “turn out”, or walk off the job. The Offering, meant as a pleasant creative outlet, gave the women a voice that could be heard by sympathetic people elsewhere in the country, and even in Europe. However, the ability of the women to demand changes was severely circumscribed by an inability to go for long without wages with which to support themselves and help support their families. The same limitation hampered the effectiveness of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association (LFLRA), organized in 1844.

No specific reform can be directly attributed to the Lowell workers, but their legacy is unquestionable. The LFLRA’s founder, Sarah Bagley, became a national figure, testifying before the Massachusetts House of Representatives. When the New England Labor Reform League was formed, three of the eight board members were women. Other mill workers took note of the Lowell strikes, and were successful in getting better pay, shorter hours, and safer working conditions. Even some existing child labor laws can be traced back to efforts first set in motion by the Lowell Mill Women.

So after a lot of text (340 words), we can finally look at a function question. However, a rudimentary understanding of the passage would be helpful, so let’s can sum up some of the main elements of this text before proceeding. The passage is concerned with worker rights in 1820s at the Lowell Textile Mills, and at one point, these workers went on strike for better conditions. In the end the women who worked there couldn’t do much for themselves but their efforts led to many other workers acquiring better rights, and their legacy is unquestionable (also they may have founded LMFAO). Now that we understand the broad strokes of the passage, let’s look at the question:

The author uses the word “ironically” in the 1st paragraph to indicate that

(A) None of the people who ran the Lowell Mills expected that the workers would organize to express dissatisfaction with working conditions.

(B) The women who worked at the Lowell Mills did not realize how fortunate they were to work at such a place.

(C) It could be considered surprising that an early effort to demand better working conditions began in an environment that was especially designed to promote worker satisfaction.

(D) The people who created the working environment for the women at the Lowell Mills did not really understand what it was they needed.

(E) It was unusual for women workers of the time to organize, regardless of their work environment.

This question is asking about a specific word in the first paragraph, so we can already get a sense that correctly answering this question will hinge entirely on what we retain from the first paragraph. This would be an ideal opportunity to go back and reread the first paragraph (go ahead, I can wait). Apart from discussing how young the women were, the paragraph spends a lot of time going over the conditions of the workers. Specifically, the conditions seemed designed to assuage any fears about the workers’ condition. After several lines about how great the conditions were, and then states that “ironically, it was here that dissatisfaction with the conditions brought about a strike”

There’s a definite disconnect between extolling the features of the slave labor textile mills, and the fact that people actually revolted. The connection is that it’s ironic that a strike would begin here, of all places, as everything was designed to promote worker satisfaction. That’s our prediction, and one of the answer choices should more or less match that prediction. Looking at them one by one we can determine which answer is correct:

(A) None of the people who ran the Lowell Mills expected that the workers would organize to express dissatisfaction with working conditions.

This is close but it’s not about the organizer’s expectations, it’s about the fact that these conditions were likely better than everywhere else. Also the use of the word “none” is strong language and should raise eyebrows. What if one person expected it but nine didn’t? Would it still be valid? It wouldn’t be, which means this choice is incorrect.

(B) The women who worked at the Lowell Mills did not realize how fortunate they were to work at such a place.

How fortunate they were to be working long hours for low wages? Granted other jobs may not have been any better, but the author’s tone here is not this aggressive or patronizing. We cannot defend this choice.

(C) It could be considered surprising that an early effort to demand better working conditions began in an environment that was especially designed to promote worker satisfaction.

Bingo, this perfectly matches our prediction and will be our correct answer. We will evaluate the two others for completeness’ sake, though.

(D) The people who created the working environment for the women at the Lowell Mills did not really understand what it was they needed.

This may or may not be true, but it wouldn’t be ironic. (We could solve this issue with some sensitivity training!) This choice is incorrect.

(E) It was unusual for women workers of the time to organize, regardless of their work environment.

This is true, but again, it is not ironic. The irony is that the conditions were comparatively good, not that it was women organizing together. This choice is incorrect.

It’s important to remember that for many Reading Comprehension questions, having a full 360° understanding of the passage is not required to get the correct response. In this instance, it only took the information contained in the first paragraph to determine that the correct answer was C. Often, simply understanding a single paragraph or sentence can unlock the answer and allow you to move to the next question.

For function questions, the immediate context needs to be evaluated and then the function of the word (or paragraph) becomes apparent. I will delve into the other question types in subsequent blog posts, but for now hopefully you can practice putting the “fun” in function 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.
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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Busting Some GMAT SC Myths  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Oct 2014, 17:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Busting Some GMAT SC Myths
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Today we will bust some SC myths using a question. The following are the myths:

Myth 1: Passive voice is always wrong.

Active voice is preferred over passive voice but that doesn’t make passive voice wrong.

Myth 2: The same pronoun cannot refer to two different antecedents in a sentence.

A pronoun, say ‘it’, can refer to two different objects in a single sentence, but it should not refer to two different objects in the same clause since that creates ambiguity.

We will explain these two points to you using a sentence correction question:

Question: Once the computer generates the financial reports, they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements are in balance.

(A) Once the computer generates the financial reports, they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements balance.

(B) Once the computer generates the financial reports, it is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, named such because it demonstrated the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

(C) Once the computer generates the financial reports they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, which demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

(D) Once the financial reports are generated by the computer, it is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

(E) Once the financial reports are generated by the computer, they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, named such because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements are in balance.

Solution:  Let’s split the sentence into clauses:

-          Once the computer generates the financial reports,

-          they are then used to program a company-wide balance sheet,

-          so named because it demonstrates that every department’s accounting elements are in balance.

Find the decision points. The first clause is in active voice in the first three options and in passive in the other two. Both are correct.

The first decision point is they vs it. Should we use they or should we use it? The first clause talks about two things – computer (singular) and financial reports (plural). What do we want to refer to in the second clause? What do we use to program a balance sheet? A computer is used to program something. Reports cannot program anything. They can be used while programming but they cannot program. Hence, the use of ‘it’ would be correct here.

Only in options (B) and (D) do we use ‘it’ (singular) which refers back to the computer (singular). It cannot refer back to financial reports (plural). So eliminate options (A), (C) and (E).

Now comes our next decision point – we have to choose one of ‘named such’ and ‘so named’. ‘named such’ which is used in option (B) is awkward. Also, we use the past tense of the verb ‘demonstrate’ in option (B). This is not correct since a balance sheet is so called because is always demonstrates the balance of every element. It did not demonstrate it only in the past. Hence we need to use simple present tense.

This leads us to option (D). Everything is taken care of here.

Here are a couple of points about option (D):

(D) Once the financial reports are generated by the computer, it is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet, so named because it demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

Sometimes, people eliminate it because it uses passive voice “the financial reports are generated by the computer”. Be aware that passive is not wrong. You have learned active passive in school. Passive is just a bit weaker form of writing than active and hence, given a choice, active is preferred but not at the expense of grammatical correctness! Using passive is not incorrect.

At other times, people have problems with the use of the pronoun ‘it’ for two different antecedents

it (the computer) is then used to program a company-wide balance sheet,

- so named because it (the balance sheet) demonstrates the balance of every department’s accounting elements.

An OG problem has been pointed out here:

Starfish, with anywhere from five to eight arms, have a strong regenerative ability, and if one arm is lost it [animal] quickly replaces it [arm], sometimes by the animal overcompensating and growing an extra one or two.

The above answer is incorrect since the pronoun ‘it’ refers to two different antecedents in a single clause. Note that the pronoun ‘it’ refers to two different antecedents in the same clause. It is hard to understand what ‘it’ refers to.

But that is not the case in our option (D).

The first ‘it’ clearly refers to the computer since there is only one singular antecedent before it.

The second ‘it’ in the third clause clearly refers to the balance sheet because the clause talks about the balance sheet: … company wide balance sheet, so named because it …

There is no ambiguity of pronoun reference here.

We can’t re-iterate it enough – don’t try to learn up ‘rules’ for sentence correction. Every so called “rule” is not applicable in every situation. Use logic!

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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5 Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants and How to Overcome   [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 5 Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants and How to Overcome Them
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Military applicants to business school represent a non-traditional applicant pool but nonetheless a demographic that is consistently represented each year in the application process.  That said, it is no secret that many of the gatekeepers at top MBA programs most often have very little real world experience with the military.

While admissions committees tend to value the leadership experiences and professionalism military candidates bring to the MBA classroom, misperceptions can abound about other areas of strength and weakness among military applicants.  Accordingly, a critical part of your MBA application strategy should include understanding what these misperceptions and stereotypes are and how to overcome them in your application.

 Top 5 Most Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants (in no particular order):

1. You don’t have control of your military career.

Use your applications to talk about the opportunities you have created for yourself and challenging roles you have taken on of your own volition.  Let the admissions committees know that you aren’t simply moving up the ranks because it is time, but rather seeking out challenging assignments and driving your own career.

2. You don’t have experience thinking outside of the box or coming up with creative solutions.

As a consultant I find this misperception most frustrating and damaging because, regardless of service, most of the military clients I’ve worked with are not only coming up with creative solutions, they are doing so in stressful scenarios with limited resources.  Don’t be afraid to highlight these experiences!

3. Your teamwork skills may not be as robust as your civilian peers.

Teamwork is an important quality the admissions teams seek from all applicants and the military applicant pool is no exception.  Admissions committees can be cautious about applicants who spend too much time talking about top-down leadership.  Make sure to emphasize your lateral, team-based leadership as well in order to help admissions committees understand you are great at working in a group setting as well as at giving orders.

4. You are a good leader but not necessarily a good follower.

This idea is based on the notion that as an officer you are trained to lead subordinates.  But as anyone who has served understands, you also follow a chain of command.  While your MBA applications should always emphasize your leadership experience it can be an effective strategy to include a well-placed mention of when you have let someone else take the reigns.

5. Your recommenders don’t really know you that well.

Recommendations can be an important point of distinction for military candidates in the application process.  It isn’t uncommon for military recommendations to come from supervisors who are accustomed to writing military performance reports.  The style of military performance reports is predicated on effusive language (my #1, best of, etc.) and military supervisors may make the mistake of using that same approach in academic recommendations.  Without the use of specific examples, this can come across as being distant or reflecting a supervisor who really doesn’t know you all that well.  Coach your recommenders to give specific examples of your successes, compare you directly with your peers and discuss your potential for success outside of the military.

As you develop your application with these considerations in mind you will differentiate yourself from your peers and assuage any perceived concerns the admissions teams may have about your ability to perform in their program and excel in the private sector.   Just as you would prepare a briefing with your target audience in mind, prepare your MBA applications with the same awareness.

Want to craft a strong application? 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!

Emily Sawyer Kegerreis is a Head Consultant at Veritas Prep and specializes in the career development needs of transitioning military veterans through her company, CareerWise Consulting. Take a look at her other post here.
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SAT Tip of the Week: Why You Should Take Our Live Online Class  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2014, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Why You Should Take Our Live Online Class
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The future is now, and that does not simply mean that we must all Instagram pictures of puppies  wearing hats on an hourly schedule (that said, it would be a shame to keep such pictures to yourself). There has never been a greater capability of connecting with people across the globe, and this means that learning does not simply have to take place in an “in person” classroom.  Live Online classes and tutoring allows eager students to access the best educational methods for SAT prep.

1. What is this technology?

Online platforms are not simply a Facetime call. They are actual online classrooms that utilize the same tools of an in person classroom but from the convenience of the students own home.  From virtual whiteboards that can be manipulated, to file sharing that allows green transfers without printing. These classrooms can feel just as intimate as some regular classrooms, and more intimate than many others. Online classrooms provide an avenue for real time responses to questions, voice and video communication, and the ability to pose questions without raising a hand or disrupting the flow of a lesson via chat and private messaging functions. As a teacher, I am able to simultaneously use multimedia resources, including videos, 3D models, and Powerpoint presentations, while commenting and expanding on these ideas through the video and audio chatting.  The most astounding part of all of this is that it all can happen from anywhere that has an internet connection and can incorporate the vastness of internet resources into the lesson.

2. What are the benefits?

The greatest benefit of all of this is convenience.  I know as an instructor, a huge portion of my time is devoted to scheduling when to meet with my students, which must incorporate travel time, the potentiality of traffic at different times of day, and many other logistical considerations.  This is also a big issue with my students, many of whom are jetting from soccer to violin lessons and after to some charitable work before trying to make it to a tutoring session.  Imagine if just the time in the car or train could be eliminated from a few of these activities?  Online learning can be done from home, school, or sitting by the soccer field with a wireless hotspot.  This saved time can equal hours more constructive work time or even a few more hours of much needed sleep. Online learning can also provide real time feedback for work.  I can have my students do practice problems or even full sections from standardized tests and have access to what they missed and what topics should be covered in seconds.

This type of digital learning can connect some of the best teachers in the world, not simply with students in their close communities, but with anyone who has access to an internet connection.  I have personally worked with students from the Dominican Republic, Chile, Switzerland, and throughout the United States.  Many locations do not have a large number of instructors with the same familiarity with the material and experience in teaching these fields that the instructors at a highly effective organization like Veritas Prep possess. Many of the Veritas instructional practices that I have found most useful are difficult to convey to students who don’t live close enough to facilitate a face to face meeting with an instructor unless these online tools can be utilized.  Because of the convenience of this type of meeting, online learning also tends to be more cost effective for many students.

3. How can you troubleshoot?

It used to be the case that online learning was very passive and did not allow for participation from students.  Now, this is no longer the case.  While it can still be tricky to not have the ability to go around a classroom and examine work being done, with web cams and still cameras, students can simply show me their processes and I can diagnose issues with approach or method and demonstrate an improved method in real time.  It used to be that it was a challenge to obtain a reliable internet connection.  Now that the internet has become so ubiquitous, if I have some technical issue with my computer or my internet connection, I can simply switch locations to a nearby coffee shop, or move to another device to conduct my lesson.  As time goes by and internet distribution technologies become even better, these problems will only become less and less frequent.

The potential applications of the widespread use of cameras, microphones, and wireless information transfers are limitless, but with education the ability to utilize these to aid with didactic processes is now.  For anyone who is on the fence about this technology, I would encourage giving it a try.  It might be surprising how personal and effective this seemingly cold new technology can actually be.  Happy studying in the new technological world, and keep those puppy pics coming!

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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Should I Cancel My GMAT Score? (Hint: Probably Not)  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Oct 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Should I Cancel My GMAT Score? (Hint: Probably Not)
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Last year, I wrote an article for this blog discussing the pros and cons (and pros and cons and pros) of cancelling your GMAT score. At the time, you had to sit through an entire 3+ hour exam, go through every question asked and then be offered the possibility of cancelling your score without ever knowing what your grade would have been.

Needless to say, many people opted to cancel their scores out of fear that a disappointing result would reflect badly on them and hinder their chances of being accepted into the school of their choice. The overall takeaway of my article was that most people felt that they did badly on the GMAT, and therefore tended to cancel their scores more often than they should have.

Lo and behold, in the summer of 2014 the GMAC (the FIFA of the GMAT) decided to change this policy and allow students to see their scores before deciding whether or not to cancel them. This decision was met with jubilation and applause (by me) from most prospective students, as this situation was entirely preferable to the previous circumstances. However, some students still are unclear when they should cancel their scores and when they shouldn’t. As such, I figured this would be a golden opportunity to revisit this topic and discuss cancelling your scores under the new world order.

First, let’s begin with the bad news. If you cancel your score, you are not refunded your 250$ fee for taking the exam. Nor can you retake the exam the next day; the same 31 day waiting period applies. Perhaps most jarringly, your record will still indicate that a score was cancelled, meaning that there will still be some record of the GMAT having been taken, just no accompanying score. Finally, if you do decide to cancel your score, you can subsequently change your mind and ask for the score to be reinstated, although this will incur an additional cost of 100$, and must be done within 60 days of the test date.

Let’s begin with some valid reasons why someone would consider cancelling their scores. Firstly, if you sleep very badly the night before or something goes very wrong in your personal life (worse than Menudo breaking up), you may be incapable of concentrating properly and your score will consequently suffer. In these situations, when you know you can do significantly better, it may be a good idea to cancel your score. Another instance would be if you took the exam and got some score, perhaps a 600, and then retook it and scored 450, a considerably worse result. Since the goal is to try and show improvement from one GMAT to the next, a marked decline could send the wrong message to the schools of your choice. This is another instance where cancelling your score may be a legitimate option.

If we explore some of the situations where it may be less advisable to cancel your score, we can start with a good rule of thumb: If it’s your first GMAT, you should (practically) never cancel your score. Why? Because if you cancel your score, you remove your baseline GMAT score. The best case scenario may be to take the exam once, ace it, and never look back (or possibly go back to teach it years later), but the reality is most people end up taking this exam more than once. The current average number of times someone takes the GMAT is about 2.7, meaning that many people take the exam two or three times before getting the score they want. If you’re aiming for a 650, and only get a 550 on the first try, then subsequent scores will demonstrate perseverance and determination, two skills sought after in business professionals. Cancelling your first score will only raise questions as to how badly it went (210?) and why you elected to remove the only thing on an otherwise blank canvas.

Sometimes, you score a 600 the first time, decide you want a 650, and retake the exam and only get a 610 or 620. This shows some improvement, but many people become depressed that it doesn’t show enough improvement, especially if they studied for several months to achieve this moderate increase. Again, cancelling this updated score will only raise questions as to how badly the test went, and a small improvement is still an improvement. Most GMAT schools take the best GMAT score as their reference, so even a 10 point progress from 600 to 610 could be enough to make a difference in your application. The same principle applies if your score went down slightly, say to 580. While a slight decline isn’t cause for a celebration, it’s a minor hiccup that demonstrates that you can consistently stay within the same range. Also, cancelling a slight drop opens the possibility that you did very badly on this second attempt and opted to cancel the score, artificially exaggerating how poorly the test actually went.

Sometimes, the idea of cancelling your score will come up before you’re even done with the test. Halfway through the verbal section, when you’re wallowing in the fact that you guessed the last three questions, your brain may take solace in the idea of cancelling the exam score. Sometimes you’ll contemplate it during a difficult stretch in the quantitative section (sometimes even on question 1!). The fact that you can now see your score before deciding whether to cancel it is a huge benefit in your choice as it removes the guesswork from the equation. No matter how badly you think you’re doing, at least you can see the score, make a decision, and even potentially reverse that decision within a couple of months.

When it comes to cancelling scores on the GMAT, the rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t cancel your score unless some “force majeure” or act of God came into the equation. The rule change allows us more flexibility in our decision making process, but the same factors must still be considered. If this is the first time you take the exam, your score is higher than any of your previous scores or if you just feel like you’re stinking up the exam (figuratively, not literally), you probably shouldn’t cancel your score. If your score truly is abysmal, then you can take a page from Pacific Rim and say “We are cancelling the apocalypse!” and be confident in your decision. The GMAT is designed to be tricky, but at least all the guesswork about cancelling your score has been removed for 2014 and beyond.

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: The Most Common Wrong Answer to Any GMAT Problem  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2014, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: The Most Common Wrong Answer to Any GMAT Problem
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The GMAT is more than just a math or verbal test – it’s a reasoning test.  And so it’s important to think not merely about content, but also about the strategy games that the authors of these questions play with that content.  One mantra to keep in mind is “Think Like the Testmaker”, reminding yourself to pay just as much attention to why the wrong answer you chose was tempting (how did the author trick you) as to why the correct answer was right.

Arguably the single most common trap the authors set for you is evident in this question, which we invite you to answer before you read the rest of this post:

Uncle Bruce is baking chocolate chip cookies. He has 36 ounces of dough (with no chocolate) and 15 ounces of chocolate. How much chocolate is left over if he uses all the dough but only wants the cookies to consist of 20% chocolate?

(A) 3

(B) 6

(C) 7.2

(D) 7.8

(E) 9

Now, we don’t want to gloss over the math here but there’s plenty of opportunity to practice with word problems and ratios in other posts and resources, so let’s cut to the true takeaway here.  Most students will correctly arrive at the amount of chocolate used by employing a method similar to:

If the 36 ounces of dough are to be 80% of the total weight, then 36 = 4/5 * total.

That means that the total weight is 45 ounces, and so when we subtract out the 36 ounces of dough, there’s 9 ounces of chocolate in the cookies.

So…the answer is E. Right?

Wrong.  Go back and double-check the question – the question asks for how much chocolate is LEFT OVER, not how much is USED.  To be correct, you’d need to go back to the 15 original ounces of chocolate, subtract the 9 used, and correctly answer that 6 were left.

What’s the trap?  GMAT questions are frequently set up so that you can answer the wrong question.  If a question asks you to solve for y, it typically makes it easier to first solve for x…and then x is a trap answer.  If a question asks you to strengthen a conclusion, the best way to weaken it is likely to be an answer choice.  If a question asks for the maximum value, the minimum is going to be a trap.

The most common wrong answer to any problem on the GMAT is the right answer to the wrong question.

So take precaution – to avoid this trap, make sure that you:

  • Circle the variable for which you’re solving, or write down the question at the top of your work.
  • Jot a question mark at the top of your noteboard on test day, and tap it with your pen before you submit your answer to double check “did I answer the right question?”
  • Keep track of your units in word problems (minutes vs. seconds, amount used vs. amount remaining) and double check the units of your answer against the question
  • Make note of every time you make that mistake in practice, and as a more general tip be sure not to write off silly mistakes as just “silly mistakes”.  If you made them in practice, you’re susceptible to them on the test, so make a note to watch out for them particularly if you’ve made the same mistake twice.
Few outcomes are more disappointing than doing all the work correctly but still getting the question wrong. The GMAT doesn’t do partial credit, so on a question like this falling for the trap is just as bad as not knowing how to get started.  Get credit for what you know how to do – make sure you pause before you submit your answer to make sure that it answers the proper question!

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 750+ Level Question on SD  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Nov 2014, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: A 750+ Level Question on SD
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A couple of weeks back, we looked at a 750+ level question on mean, median and range concepts of Statistics. This week, we have a 750+ level question on standard deviation concept of Statistics. We do hope you enjoy checking it out.

Before you begin, you might want to review the post that discusses standard deviation:Dealing With Standard Deviation

So here goes the question.

Question: Given that set S has four odd integers and their range is 4, how many distinct values can the standard deviation of S take?

(A) 3

(B) 4

(C) 5

(D) 6

(E) 7

Solution: Recall what standard deviation is. It measures the dispersion of all the elements from the mean. It doesn’t matter what the actual elements are and what the arithmetic mean is – the standard deviation of set {1, 3, 5} will be the same as the standard deviation of set {6, 8, 10} since in each set there are 3 elements such that one is at mean, one is 2 below the mean and one is 2 above the mean. So when we calculate the standard deviation, it will give us exactly the same value for both sets. Similarly, standard deviation of set {1, 3, 3, 5, 6} will be the same as standard deviation of {10, 12, 12, 14, 15} and so on. But note that the standard deviation of set {25, 27, 29, 29, 30} will be different because it represents a different arrangement on the number line.

Let’s look at the given question now.

Set S has four odd integers such that their range is 4. So it could look something like this {1, x, y, 5} when the elements are arranged in ascending order. Note that we have taken just one example of what set S could look like. There are innumerable other ways of representing it such as {3, x, y, 7} or {11, x, y, 15} etc.

Now in our example, x and y can take 3 different values: 1, 3 or 5

x and y could be same or different but x would always be smaller than or equal to y.

- If x and y were same, we could select the values of x and y in 3 different ways: both could be 1; both could be 3; both could be 5

- If x and y were different, we could select the values of x and y in 3C2 ways: x could be 1 and y could be 3; x could be 1 and y could be 5; x could be 3 and y could be 5.

For clarification, let’s enumerate the different ways in which we can write set S:

{1, 1, 1, 5}, {1, 3, 3, 5}, {1, 5, 5, 5}, {1, 1, 3, 5}, {1, 1, 5, 5}, {1, 3, 5, 5}

These are the 6 ways in which we can choose the numbers in our example.

Will all of them have unique standard deviations? Do all of them represent different distributions on the number line? Actually, no!

Standard deviations of {1, 1, 1, 5} and {1, 5, 5, 5} are the same. Why?

Standard deviation measures distance from mean. It has nothing to do with the actual value of mean and actual value of numbers. Note that the distribution of numbers on the number line is the same in both cases. The two sets are just mirror images of each other.

Image

For the set {1, 1, 1, 5}, mean is 2. Three of the numbers are distance 1 away from mean and one number is distance 3 away from mean.

For the set {1, 5, 5, 5}, mean is 4. Three of the numbers are distance 1 away from mean and one number is distance 3 away from mean.

The deviations in both cases are the same -> 1, 1, 1 and 3. So when we square the deviations, add them up, divide by 4 and then find the square root, the figure we will get will be the same.

Similarly, {1, 1, 3, 5} and {1, 3, 5, 5} will have the same SD. Again, they are mirror images of each other on the number line.

Image

The rest of the two sets: {1, 3, 3, 5} and {1, 1, 5, 5} will have distinct standard deviations since their distributions on the number line are unique.

In all, there are 4 different values that standard deviation can take in such a case.

Answer (B)

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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How to Utilize the Re-Applicant Essay  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2014, 09:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Utilize the Re-Applicant Essay
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A year ago you put together what you thought was the perfect application at your dream school and when the smoke cleared things did not quite work out as you expected. So you’re back at it again, a year has past since your last application, and you’re ready for another shot at admissions glory at your dream school. Of course you spent the year wisely improving your profile and now its time to tackle the re-applicant essay, but what should you include?

The optional essay should be all about showing admissions how you have changed (and hopefully improved) in the interim time between applications. The first step should be conducting a personal year in review. Take inventory of all the great things you accomplished over the year and frame them for admissions. Let’s look at the ideal areas candidates can mark improvement in their profiles in the re-applicant essay.

GPA/Courses:

Did you suffer from a low GPA or poor performance in analytical classes? Show the admissions team how you improved or counteracted past poor performance. If you took additional coursework or gained another degree in between applications this is a great place to showcase all of your hard work.

GMAT:

The GMAT tends to be one of the biggest reasons students believe they are denied admission. If you made a major improvement on your GMAT, share it in this essay. But don’t stop there. Share your hard work and how this score is a more accurate reflection of your aptitude and watch as potential red flags disappear in your profile.

Resume:

Were you really ready for business school? Some applicants suffer from lack of work-related accomplishments, impact, and management experience resulting in tough news come decision day. If you have received a promotion, more responsibility, led others, closed big deals or otherwise made a major impact at your company – the school wants to know. Don’t waste this opportunity to highlight the great work you did during the year. Additionally, changing jobs or careers warrants a mention as well. New roles can really show growth, round out a candidate’s profile, and eliminate skill gaps for the applicant.

Career Goals:

Have your career goals changed or even simply been refined? Lack of clarity with regards to career steps post-MBA can signal lack of research and immaturity when it comes to the process. Schools want to admit candidates they feel can be placed in their careers of interest. If in the past you have identified goals that don’t sync up well with your background or the specialties of that particular school, this may have been a reason for being denied. Re-evaluate your goals and make sure they are well aligned with your background and your target school. Don’t let this opportunity to explain any changes in your career trajectory pass you by.

If you’ve done your job in between your last application, writing the re-applicant essay should be the final piece in helping you claim a spot on decision day.

Want to craft a strong application? 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!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.
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SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Writing Section  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Writing Section
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For many students, the writing portion of the SAT is the easiest section to study and prepare for. There a variety of contributing factors towards this phenomenon, but most importantly is the set structure of the writing sections.

Every test will start with the essay. Every test will end with a ten minute, fourteen question writing section. Somewhere in between section two and section seven will be a twenty five minute, thirty five question section. If there are two, you can quickly identify that the writing portion is the experimental section on the test.

The structure provides a measure of comfort to students as they prep for the test. While the math and reading comprehension sections are also fairly predictable, they still have a degree of variability that is not present in writing. Students feel more assured as they enter the test, knowing it will start and end the same way all of the practice tests have. This mental boost plays a major role in helping students get in the right mindset to succeed on the writing section. In addition to this inherent bonus, there are some other easy tips and tricks that can help any student significantly improve their score.

Come in with your essay already written. The prompt is not revealed ahead of time. However, SAT prompts almost exclusively focus on very broad topics. If you have solid examples ahead of time that you feel comfortable applying in any context, you will ace the essay. It is best to use a variety of examples, pulling from current events as well as your education in literature and history.

Most essays should follow the same template on the SAT. The only real difference between practice essays and your real one will be the explanation of your evidence. You should have a template that you feel comfortable with and have it ready to go prior to the test. This will substantially boost your essay performance. Additionally, when you leave the first section feeling great about the test, it can pay off later as you will be mentally engaged and ready to conquer the meat of the test.

Use order of difficulty to your advantage. On the two writing multiple choice sections of the test, the order of difficulty increases as the questions continue. On the twenty five minute section of the test, numbers one through eleven increase in difficulty on each problem. It restarts and continues from number twelve to twenty nine. Thirty through thirty five are improving paragraphs, and the rule does not continue there. On section ten, it will be a straight increase as number one will be the easiest and fourteen the hardest.

While it’s pretty simple to understand this, taking advantage of this structure is a bit harder. Knowing this, it is important to do all the easy ones first. You don’t want to leave any points on the table by spending too much time on a difficult one, and not having time to even analyze an easier question. Furthermore, sometimes some of the more difficult questions will seem like they have no error. A lot of times, these are idiom type questions and are harder to spot errors. Be cognizant of this fact and really examine the question in detail. That being said, if nothing sounds wrong don’t hesitate to go with no error as there are generally a few questions that are correct.

Ignore prepositional phrases. This is something you should be doing on almost every question. I see the most benefit on these with subject-verb agreement questions. There will be three or four questions on each test where the error becomes readily apparent the minute you ignore the prepositional phrase. Just from these questions, you can see a tremendous jump in your scores.

Knowing all this, with a lot of practice and preparation, every student has the ability to ace the writing section. Best of luck and happy studying!

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminarevery few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.
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Think Inside the Box on Tricky GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2014, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Think Inside the Box on Tricky GMAT Questions
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When dealing with questions that ask us to compartmentalize information, there are two major sorting methods that we can use on the GMAT. The first, and perhaps more familiar concept, is the Venn diagram. This categorization is very useful for situations where information overlaps, as it allows a visual representation of multiple categories at once. However, if the information provided has no possible overlap, such as indicating whether something is made of gold or silver, or if they’re male or female (Bruce Jenner notwithstanding), the preferred method of organization is the matrix box.

The advantage of the matrix box is that it highlights the innate relationships that must be true, but that are not always easy to keep track of. For instance, if a box contains 100 paperclips, some of which are metallic and some of which are plastic, then if we find 40 paperclips made of metal, there must necessarily be 60 that are made of plastic. The binary nature of the information guarantees that all the elements will fall into one of the predetermined categories, so knowing about one gives you information about the other.

The matrix box allows you to catalogue information before it becomes overwhelming. Anyone who’s studied the GMAT for any length of time (five minutes is usually enough) knows that the exam is designed to be tricky. As such, questions always give you enough information to solve the problem, but rarely give you the information in a convenient manner. Setting up a proper matrix box essentially sets you up to solve the problem automatically, as long as you know what to do with the data provided.

Let’s look at an example and what clues us into the fact that we should use a matrix box.

Of 200 students taking the GMAT, all of them have college degrees, 120 have been out of college for at least 3 years, 70 have business degrees, and 60 have been out of college for less than 3 years and do not have business degrees. How many of them have been out of college for at least 3 years and have business degrees.

A) 40

B) 50

C) 60

D) 70

E) 80

The principle determinant on whether we should use Venn diagrams or matrix boxes is whether the data has any overlap. In this example, it’s very hard to believe that a student could both have a business degree and not have a business degree, so it looks like the information can’t overlap and a matrix box approach should be used. Before we set up the matrix box, it’s important to know that the axes are arbitrary and you could put the data on either axis and end up with essentially the same box. We can thus proceed with whichever method we prefer. The box may look like what we have below:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

Less than 3 years

Total

Without filling out any information, it’s important to note that the “Total” column and row will be the most important parts. They allow us to determine missing information using simple subtraction. If we have the total figures, as little as one piece of information in the inside squares would be enough to solve every missing square (like the world’s simplest Sudoku). Let’s populate the total numbers provided in the question:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

120

Less than 3 years

Total

70

200

With these three pieces of information, we can fill out the remaining “Total” squares by simply subtracting the given totals.

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

120

Less than 3 years

80

Total

70

130

200

Now all we would need to reach the correct answer is one piece of information: any of the remaining four squares. Luckily the question stem will always provide at least one of these, as the problem is unsolvable otherwise. Problems may be tricky and convoluted on the GMAT, but they will never be impossible. Looking back at the question, there are 60 students who have been out of college for less than 3 years and do not have business degrees. Plugging in this value we get:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

120

Less than 3 years

60

80

Total

70

130

200

Using a little bit of basic math we can turn this into:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

70

120

Less than 3 years

20

60

80

Total

70

130

200

And finally the completed:

Business Degree

No Business Degree

Total

At least 3 years

50

70

120

Less than 3 years

20

60

80

Total

70

130

200

The question was asking for how many students have been out of college for at least 3 years and have business degrees, but using this method we could solve any potential question (Other than “What is the meaning of life”?). Since the number of students with business degrees who have been out of college three years or more is 50, the correct answer will be answer choice B.

In matrix box problems, setting up the question is more than half the battle. Correctly setting up the parameters will ensure that the rest of the problem gets solved almost automatically, and all you have to do is avoid silly arithmetic mistakes or getting ahead of yourself too quickly. Remember that if the information doesn’t overlap, it will likely make for a good matrix box problem. On these types of questions, don’t be afraid to think inside the box.

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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The #1 Avoidable Mistake in MBA Applications  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2014, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The #1 Avoidable Mistake in MBA Applications
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As application deadlines loom ever nearer, the cutting realization that you’re running out of time to submit can set in.  If you find your anxiety level rising, it may be because you have put things off along the way and they are now stacking up on you, causing stress.  Classic procrastination is a dangerous enemy to business school applications in particular, since the assignment is pass/fail.  It’s not like in college, where you would receive a letter grade or score from your efforts.  Maybe you didn’t get that ‘A’ grade you would have liked, but your ‘C’ got you through without much damage.

With b-school applications, it’s all or nothing, and watching your seat go to someone else is a cold reminder that you “shoulda-coulda-woulda,” had you only stayed on top of the deadlines.

One particularly devastating effect of waiting until the last minute comes in the form of quality degradation of your application materials.  Sixty percent of admissions officers site careless mistakes as a reason for an applicant’s rejection, and careless mistakes are far more likely when rushing to put final touches on an application.  The reason is simple and it ties into the classic Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Psychology actually dictates that the more anxiety behind a process, the more focused you will be on the “big” stuff—did you answer all the questions, are all the required materials included, did you arrange to have your transcript and GMAT score sent, etc.  What gets lost are the finer points, the details, and to paraphrase another idiom, that’s where the devil is.  Admissions committees are very adept at spotting a comma splice or a misspelled word.  Keep in mind that spell check will not point out the problem with your having said “conversation” instead of “conservation” or vice versa, as long as they are spelled correctly.

This is why having an objective third party evaluate your essays and materials prior to submission is so important.  When you hurriedly look over your own essay for the 1000th time in the waning hours until the cutoff, your brain ceases to see errors that will jump off the page at someone who reads it for the first time.  The problem with procrastination is, your carefully selected third party evaluator may or may not be at your beck and call at 1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time when the deadline is midnight Pacific and the clock is ticking away.

I always recommend clients finish essays at least a week or two before they are due.  Ideally, you can have all your schools done early, since often, working on subsequent schools can help identify ways you can go back and improve the earlier apps.  If you put your applications “on ice” and then go back to revisit them before submission, you will not only see them with fresh eyes and potentially improve them, but you will also eliminate the stress which comes with an 11th hour submission.  Plus don’t forget about Murphy’s law.   Schools are very unsympathetic to missing deadlines due to server crashes, slow computer uploads or power outages.   Even when things are out of your control, there’s always the fact that you could have avoided problems if you’d only submitted earlier.

Learn about top MBA programs by downloading our Essential Guides! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or 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.

Bryant Michaels 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.
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How to Get Started on Your Business School Application Essays  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Nov 2014, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Get Started on Your Business School Application Essays
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You’ve made the decision to apply to business school and you begin sorting through a virtual pile of applications essay topics. You’ve written essays throughout high school and college, and for some candidates even other graduate programs like law school, but these business school essays are different. The schools seem to want something a bit different from you this time around.

Business school essays differ from other traditional essays because of what they require of the writer. Succeeding with this unique type of essay requires introspection, maturity, clarity, focus, preparation, and of course good writing skills don’t hurt either. Understanding that these are the necessary inputs is the first step in creating breakthrough essays.

The next step, and probably the most important, is creating what I like to call “mini-stories.”  The thought behind these mini-stories is that they are designed to be independent of the essay questions asked by schools and more-so select anecdotes that you choose to reflect the 4 dimensions of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity emphasized by many MBA programs. The focus is on highlighting your strongest and most in-depth personal, professional, and extra-curricular life experiences. You will later apply these mini-stories to specific essay questions asked from each school.

To get started I would aim for 5-8 mini-stories covering a diverse set of experiences. With each story include a short description and then some supporting bullets describing some of the players involved and why the situation was transformative. Make sure to especially highlight the impact and what you specifically learned from the experience. After you have created your set of mini-stories its time to utilize all of your hard work. Now don’t start writing any essays yet, you’re not quite ready.

I’m sure you’ve already done a bit of research but take another pass at exploring your target schools and their unique DNA. Review recent press clippings, news and information published by the school, and hold conversations with current students and recent alums to get an in-depth feel for the program. Now take a look at the essay questions of your target schools utilizing your recent review of the school to identify not only what the question is directly asking you but also what the school is seeking to learn about you.

Once you determine this for each school match up your mini-stories to the corresponding application essay. As you decide which mini-stories to select keep in mind that each school specific set of essays should showcase the diversity within your profile and paint a complete picture of your candidacy. So be judicious with your essay selections and make sure each one builds upon the other. The essay writing process does not have to be daunting, follow these steps and you will be writing breakthrough essays before you know it.

Want to craft a strong application? 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!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.
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The Holistic Approach to Mods on the GMAT - Solutions  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2014, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The Holistic Approach to Mods on the GMAT - Solutions
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First, we would like to refer you back to a post we put up quite a while ago: The Holistic Approach to Mods

In this post, we discussed how to use graphing techniques to easily solve very high level questions on nested absolute values. We don’t think you will see such high level questions on actual GMAT. The aim of putting up the post was to illustrate the use of graphing technique and how it can be used to solve simple as well as complicated questions with equal ease. It was aimed at encouraging you to equip yourself with more visual approaches.

We gave you two questions at the end of that post to try on your own. We have seen quite a bit of interest in them and hence will discuss their solutions today.

The solutions involve a number of graphs and hence we have made pdf files for them.

Question 1: Given that y = |||x – 5| – 10| -5|, for how many values of x is y = 2?

Solution 1

Question 2: Given that y = |||x| – 3| – x|, for what range of x is y = 3?

Solution 2

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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Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Rankings for 2014  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Nov 2014, 18:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Rankings for 2014
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Bloomberg Businessweek has just announced the 2014 edition of its influential biennial MBA rankings, and boy are there changes afoot! Business school rankings are normally only interesting when there are big changes, and the folks at Businessweek did not disappoint this year.

Here are Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 rankings of the top 25 business schools in the U.S., followed by our analysis of what’s changed:

1. Duke (Fuqua)

2. Pennsylvania (Wharton)

3. Chicago (Booth)

4. Stanford

5. Columbia

6. Yale

7. Northwestern (Kellogg)

8. Harvard

9. Michigan (Ross)

10. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

11. UCLA (Anderson)

12. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

13. Cornell (Johnson)

14. MIT (Sloan)

15. Dartmouth (Tuck)

16. Indiana (Kelley)

17. Maryland (Smith)

18. Emory (Goizueta)

19. UC Berkeley (Haas)

20. Virginia (Darden)

21. USC (Marshall)

22. NYU (Stern)

23. Texas at Austin (McCombs)

24. Georgetown (McDonough)

25. Rice (Jones)

Winners in This Year’s Rankings

There’s no doubt that they’re partying down in Durham today, as Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has taken over the #1 spot in Businessweek’s rankings for the first time, knocking previous champ Chicago Booth down to #3. Columbia also had a huge day, climbing eight spots from #13 to the fifth slot.

It’s hard to top Duke’s big day, but if anyone is even more excited than Team Fuqua, it may be the folks at Yale SOM, which climbed a whopping 15 spots, jumping from #21 all the way to #6. No doubt the student body in New Haven is feeling energized by the school’s new building and the leadership of new dean Ted Snyder.

UCLA Anderson also had a terrific day, climbing from #18 all the way to #11. UNC’s Kenan-Flagler was just a smidge less successful, jumping from #17 to #12 in the new rankings.

Losers in This Year’s Rankings

We already mentioned Booth, which lost the top spot this year, although there’s no real shame in being ranked the third best business school in America. Among business schools in the top ten, Harvard is smarting from a six-spot drop from #2 down to #8. And Kellogg fell out of the top five, drooping two spots to #7.

Looking a bit further down the list, Cornell’s Johnson School fell out of the top ten, dropping from 7th place down to 13th place. MIT Sloan had a similarly bad day, falling from ninth place to the 14th spot.

How Businessweek Ranks the Business Schools

Bloomberg Businessweek uses three data sources for its rankings: It relies on a survey of student satisfaction (which is given a 45% weighting), a survey of employers who hire those graduates (45%), and a measure of the faculty’s clout, judged by how much the faculty publishes in academic journals (10 percent). You can read about Businessweek’s ranking methodology in more detail here.

So, remember that these rankings are largely a measure of how happy MBA students are with their schools, and how happy employers are with the grads that the schools turn out. This is no better or worse of a methodology than any other, but keep that in the back of your mind as you consider whether any school really just got better or worse than 10 other top-ranked U.S. business schools.

You can read more about 14 of the the most competitive business schools in Veritas Prep’s Essential Guides, 14 in-depth guides to the most elite MBA programs, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA candidacy, 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.
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SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Math Section  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2014, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Breaking Down the Math Section
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Last week, we discussed how to break down the Writing Section of the SAT. Today, we’re focusing on Math.

Anyone can get an 800 on SAT Math. It doesn’t matter if you struggle just to get through class in high school or you’ve tested out of advanced Calculus. The content of the SAT Math section is designed in a completely different manner than that of conventional math class. This is good news for anyone who wants a high score on the SAT. This means regardless of how you might fare in class, you can succeed on the math section . All it takes is knowledge of Algebra I and II, Geometry, and basic arithmetic. If you have all that down (and work hard to understand patterns of SAT questions) you will be on the road to success! Here are some helpful tips that will assist you dominate the SAT math sections.

ORDER AND DIFFICULTY. There are three sections on the test. There is one twenty five minute, twenty question section (all multiple choice). There will be another twenty five minute, eighteen question section (eight multiple choice and ten grid in questions). Finally, you will have a twenty minute, sixteen question section near the end of the test composed solely of multiple choice questions.

The SAT math questions follow the “order of difficulty rule.” More specifically, question one is the easiest and question twenty is the hardest. The same rule follows on the sixteen question, twenty minute section. The order of difficulty resets on the grid in section, with questions increasing in difficulty from one to eight and then restarting from nine to eighteen. The one caveat to this rule is when you have a graph of table and two questions referring to the example. In this case the first question is fairly easy and the second question is significantly more difficult. If you find yourself having trouble with these remember that the question is generally more challenging than the normal question for that stage of the test. These types of questions appear almost always near the middle of a section.

TYPES OF QUESTIONS. It’s important to be aware of where each question lies on the spectrum of the test. If a question is in the early stages and you are having trouble with it, it is fair to say you are probably doing something wrong. These questions are usually pretty easy and only take a step or two to solve. On the other hand, if there is a question near the end of the test and you solve it pretty quickly, you might have fallen into a trap laid by the SAT. These questions are multi-step problems that require a level of critical analysis before using math to find the answer.

In addition to the order of difficulty it is helpful to be cognizant of the type of questions that come up on the test. A lot of times, a more difficult question will deal with geometric figures. Occasionally, this will be asking for the volume of a cylinder or something of that nature. However, the bulk of these types of questions deal with circles. The circles can have circumscribed squares or triangles, they can be on graphs, or they can be asking for the arc, radius, or area of segments. Whatever the case may be, it will serve you very well to familiarize yourself with the difficult circle questions. Many students are able to solve one or two difficult questions each test just from practicing the multiple variations of these types of problems.

CONCEPTUAL TRICKS. In addition to geometric figures, the SAT will also try to get you with abstract concepts through the use of multiple variables. The best thing to do in this case is to plug in numbers for the variables. Whenever you do this it takes abstract ideas and turns them into concrete concepts. Doing this helps you avoid traps the SAT sets knowing students will try to solve these problems using letters instead of numbers.

If you understand the structure of the test, do enough practice tests and sections, and remember to study geometric figures and plug in numbers, there is no doubt you will succeed on the Math sections of the SAT.

Still need to take the SAT? We run a free online SAT prep seminarevery few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.
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1 Simple Way to Solve Puzzling GMAT Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Nov 2014, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 1 Simple Way to Solve Puzzling GMAT Questions
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If you’ve ever built a puzzle, you probably know that you can’t expect to start at a certain point and build the entire puzzle without moving around. You may find two or three pieces that fit together nicely, but then you find three pieces that fit together nicely somewhere else, and then work to connect these disparate sections.

A common strategy in puzzles is to build the outsides or the corners first, as these pieces are more easily identifiable than a typical piece, and then try and connect them wherever possible. Indeed, you are unlikely to have ever solved a puzzle without needing to jump around (except for puzzles with 4 pieces or so).

Similarly, you are often faced with GMAT questions that seem like intricate puzzles, and this same strategy of jumping around can be applied. If you start at the beginning of a question and make some strides, you may find your progress has been jammed somewhere along the way and you must devise a new strategy to overcome this roadblock. Jumping around to another part of the problem is a good strategy to get your creative juices flowing.

Let’s say a math question is asking you about the sum of a certain series. A simplistic approach (possibly one used by a Turing machine) would sequentially count each item and keep a running tally. However, a more strategic approach might involve jumping to the end of the series, investigating how the series is constructed, and finding the average. This average can then be multiplied by the number of terms to correctly find the sum of a series in a couple of steps, whereas the brute force approach would take much longer. Since the GMAT is an exam of how you think, the questions asked will often reward your use of logical thinking and your understanding of the underlying math concepts.

Let’s look at a sequence and see how thinking out of order can actually get our thinking straight:

In the sequence a1, a2, a3, an, an is determined for all values n > 2 by taking the average of all terms a1 through an-1. If a1 = 1 and a3 = 5, then what is the value of a20?

(A) 1

(B) 4.5

(C) 5

(D) 6

(E) 9

This question is designed to make you waste time trying to decipher it. A certain pattern is established for this sequence, and then the twentieth term is being asked of us. If the sequence has a pattern for all numbers greater than two, and it gave you the first two numbers, then you could deduce the subsequent terms to infinity (and beyond!). However, only the first and third terms are given, so there is at least an extra element of determining the value of the second term. After that, we may need to calculate 16 intermittent items before getting to the 20th value, so it seems like it might be a time consuming affair. As is often the case on the GMAT, once we get going this may be easier than it initially appears.

If a1 is 1 and a3 is 5, we actually have enough information to solve a2. The third term of the sequence is defined as the average of the first two terms, thus a3 = (a1 + a2) / 2. This one equation has three variables, but two of them are given in the premise of the question, leading to 5 = (1 + a2) /2. Multiplying both sides by 2, we get 10 = 1 + a2, and thus a2 has to be 9. The first three terms of this sequence are therefore {1, 9, 5}. Now that we have the first three terms and the general case, we should be able to solve a4, a5 and beyond until the requisite a20.

The fourth term, a4 is defined as the average of the first three terms. Since the first three terms are {1, 9, 5}, the fourth term will be a4 = (1 + 9 + 5) / 3. This gives us 15/3, which simplifies to 5. A4 is thus equal to 5. Let’s now solve for a5. The same equation must hold for all an, so a5 = (1 + 9 + 5 + 5) /4, which is 20/4, or again, 5. The third, fourth and fifth terms of this sequence are all 5. Perhaps we can decode a pattern without having to calculate the next fourteen numbers (hint: yes you can!).

A3 is 5 because that is the average of 1 and 9. Once we found a3, we set off to find subsequent elements, but all of these elements will follow the same pattern. We take the elements 1 and 9, and then find the average of these two numbers, and then average out all three terms. Since a3 was already the average of a1 and a2, adding it to the equation and finding the average will change nothing. A4 will similarly be 5, and adding it into the equation and taking the average will again change nothing. Indeed all of the terms from A3 to A∞ will be equal to exactly 5, and they will have no effect on the average of the sequence.

You may have noticed this pattern earlier than element a5, but it can nonetheless be beneficial to find a few concrete terms in order to cement your hypothesis. You can stop whenever you feel comfortable that you’ve cracked the code (there are no style points for calculating all twenty elements). Indeed, it doesn’t matter how many terms you actually calculate before you discover the pattern. The important part is that you look through the answer choices and understand that term a20, like any other term bigger than a3, must necessarily be 5, answer choice C.

While understanding the exact relationship between each term on test day is not necessary, it’s important to try and see a few pattern questions during your test prep and understand the concepts being applied. You may not be able to recognize all the common GMAT traps, but if you recognize a few you can save yourself valuable time on questions. If you find yourself faced with a confusing or convoluted question, remember that you don’t have to tackle the problem in a linear fashion. If you’re stuck, try to establish what the key items are, or determine the end and go backwards. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to skip around (figuratively, literal skipping is frowned upon at the test center).

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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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1 Simple Way to Solve Puzzling GMAT Questions   [#permalink] 13 Nov 2014, 13:00

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