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College Life: Getting Involved in Extracurriculars On Campus [#permalink]

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FROM Veritas Prep Blog: College Life: Getting Involved in Extracurriculars On Campus
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I came into college with no idea how to find or get involved in extracurriculars, nor did I have any mentors to help me through the process. This (and a general lack of preparedness for the less academic aspects of college life) meant that I didn’t become active in clubs and groups until my second semester of freshman year. While I’m very happy with the groups I’ve come to know and love–I spent two semesters in a hip-hop dance group, I am currently the president of a law club, and have edited for an undergraduate journal–I know I missed out on a lot of opportunities just because I didn’t have much time to explore college before my academic and career planning workload really kicked into high gear. Here are a few tips I wish I had known earlier in my college career.

  • Pay attention to deadlines. Many groups, clubs, and student-run classes have signup deadlines, after which they won’t take new participants. Many of those deadlines pass within the first few weeks of school (the really strict ones might even close within the first week). Keep an eye out for club directories, fairs, and advertisements, and be sure to look for a signup deadline on every one that you’re interested in. Mark down deadlines on your planner so you don’t forget them.
  • If you don’t have a calendar or planner, get one immediately. If you thought high school schedules get chaotic, college schedules might be a bit of a shock, especially in the first month or so of each semester. This does, of course, vary by school and university, but at least in my freshman year experience at UC Berkeley I collected so many flyers that I’m sure I lost at least ten before taking note of their contact and deadline information. I also remember regularly having to choose between different orientations, socials, and events I was interested in. Advance planning is key.
  • There are many opportunities out there, but they don’t necessarily advertise themselves. Some of my favorite programs and clubs have been very small ones without much of an advertising budget. I usually found these through recommendations by friends, professors, and advisors. If you aren’t sure what you’d like to get involved in, classmates and teachers are usually happy to suggest their favorites. Look for people who share your interests, and ask them about the clubs and groups they enjoy working with.
  • Act early. Orientations usually begin within the first week or two of school. It’s tempting to put off extracurricular signups until after you feel settled in to college, but at most universities the orientation schedule won’t wait for you to get comfortable. You don’t want to find out a month later that you’ve missed the signup deadline for a program you really wanted to be part of. As soon as you can, look for a list or directory of clubs and events, and mark down their deadlines and orientation times; it doesn’t take long, and can save you a good deal of headache later.
  • I never recommend overfilling a schedule, but this is the exception. Orientations tend to be short (30 – 120 minutes, usually closer to 30) and are efficient ways to learn about new opportunities, but they only take place at the beginning of the semester. Take solace in the knowledge that you’ll have more free time after club signup season ends, and make the most of the time you have before deadlines close.
  • Try new things. College is place for personal exploration and growth. Explore new fields, sports, arts, and social groups that you’ve never been exposed to; people discover new passions all the time. If you end up backing out, at worst, you’ve lost a bit of your time going to an orientation (and you probably got free pizza there anyway). I thought I wanted to go to law school, but my law club helped me realize that my skills and interests are far more oriented towards a master’s degree in policy or international relations. Learning what you aren’t interested in is very nearly as valuable as learning what you are interested in. I never thought of myself as a dancer, but I made a lot of close friends in my dance group and pushed my social, musical, and physical limits.
Be adventurous in college. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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

 

 
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3 Similarities Between the Hobbit and the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 15 Jan 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 3 Similarities Between the Hobbit and the GMAT
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Over the holiday season, you may have taken the time to go see the Hobbit, the much-hyped precursor to the Lord of the Rings movies which breathed life into the seminal Tolkien books published over a half century ago. If this sentence looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same one I used two years ago to begin an article about the similarities between the first Hobbit movie and the GMAT. Lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago I was watching the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy, and I noticed more parallels to the GMAT. I decided then to pen a follow up to my original article to finish the comparison between the two disparate, yet often overlapping events.

To quickly recap some of the main points from the original article, I mentioned that both the GMAT and the Hobbit movie require a significant allocation of your time and that both should contain very few surprises. The Hobbit (pick any of the three movies) is about three hours between run time and previews, whereas the GMAT is just short of four hours if you take all the breaks (which I recommend). Since you know you’ll be there for a while, you should plan accordingly in terms of snacks, medication and fatigue. Bring anything you might need to manage the lengthy endeavour.

The other main point I brought up is that the Hobbit movies should contain very few surprises because the source material is already known. If you want to know what happened in the Hobbit, you could read the book first published in 1937. If you want to know what’s on the GMAT, you can read the OG (or other specialized GMAT study guide). All the material you need to know is contained within. The only thing that will change is the execution. Indeed, just knowing there will be a question about triangles doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the right answer, but you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself using the Pythagorean theorem to solve the second quant problem. If you don’t want to be surprised, do your research.

However, while watching the newest installment of the franchise, I noticed more elements that are similar to the GMAT. Specifically, I was struck by how the first sequence of this movie was essentially a warm up for the main event, how the protagonists constantly had to think strategically, and how the entire movie was the culmination of an arduous journey. For the purposes of this analogy, I will assume you have seen the movie (or at least read the book). It’s hard to spoil a book published during the great depression, but I want a disclaimer noting that there might be some minor spoilers ahead (#spoilers).

The Warm Up Section

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies begins with the dragon Smaug unleashing his fury on nearby Laketown. This continues from where the last movie leaves off, but even though there is much action from the start, viewers know that this scene will not take very long to conclude. Why? Because the movie is called “The Battle of the Five Armies”, and not “Smaug Burns Everything” (or even “Smaug Gets his Comeuppance”). The scene certainly looks frightening, but we know it is just a matter of time before one of the dwarves gets his mystical arrow and shoots it perfectly at a specific weakness on the dragon whizzing around at hurricane speed. The movie will then get on with the gathering of multiple armies to face off in a grandiose climax of sword and steel.

Similarly, the opening act of the GMAT, the AWA and IR, are simply warm ups to the main event commencing at around the one hour mark. Certainly no one wants to do poorly on these early sections, but just doing okay on them and performing well on the verbal and quant sections of the GMAT will do just fine. The score out of 800, which is really what most people look for, is composed entirely of your blended verbal and quant scores. You still have to go through the first two sections, but if you could conserve mental energy for the final two sections, you’ll typically see your score improve. (I could see this exam being called “GMAT: the Struggle of Verbal and Quant”).

Strategic Thinking

Having never engaged in warfare (beyond Starcraft), I cannot say definitively that having one opponent is easier than having four, but it certainly seems that way. If you only have one enemy to deal with, you can focus all of your attention on them. However, if five separate armies are entering the fray, as was the case in the movie, you had to coordinate strategically among your allies and adjust to your enemy’s changes rapidly. If the orcs suddenly overrun the dwarves, then the elves have to switch strategies and defend their vulnerable flank. Similarly, if a new army appears from a different direction, you may have to redeploy to avoid being surrounded.

The GMAT is very similar, as the exam is designed to test your mental agility. If you are great at algebra, that can help you with a lot of questions, but some questions will be almost impossible to solve purely through algebra (and without a calculator). You must consider other options such as backsolving or using the concept to avoid wasting time and getting frustrated. Some questions are designed to be time-consuming if approached in a straightforward way, so you always have to think strategically. If your approach looks like it will take 4-5 minutes, you might be better off thinking of it in another way.

The Culmination of a Long Journey

The final installment of the Hobbit has a runtime of about 2.5 hours, but it is the conclusion of something much greater. Two other movies (some might argue five) are closed at the end of this spectacle, so even if it only took a few hours to complete, it is the ending of months or even years of preparation. Few people spontaneously decide to take the GMAT without studying or at least researching the exam a little. For most, hundreds of hours are devoted to the 3-4 hour endeavour that is the exam. Just because the exam is over in the blink of an eye (more or less), doesn’t mean that there weren’t hours of studying, of wondering, of panicking and of persevering that all concluded in one day at the Pearson center.

You can learn a lot about the GMAT from this final Hobbit movie, most remarkably that the beginning is just a set up for the second portion. You should also recognize that you must always think strategically on this test, for it is designed to trick people who consistently depend on one single approach. Finally, you can also note that the GMAT, like the Hobbit is the last step on a long (and unexpected) journey. Ironically, in both cases, it is often the beginning of an even greater journey, but I’ll save that analogy (LotR/MBA) for another day.

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: Stop Trying to Re-Write the Verbal Section of th [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jan 2015, 18:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Stop Trying to Re-Write the Verbal Section of the Test
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Which ineffective habit do nearly all GMAT aspirants have when it comes to studying for the verbal section?

Thou doth protest too much. Meaning:

We all think we can write verbal questions better than the authors of the test.

When it comes to GMAT verbal questions, we critique but don’t solve Critical Reasoning problems, we correct rather than solve Sentence Correction problems, and we try to write but don’t thoroughly read Reading Comprehension questions. And this hubris can be the death of your GMAT verbal score, even if it comes from a good place and a good knowledge base.

Wander into a GMAT class or scan a GMAT forum and you’ll see and hear tons of comments like:

“I feel like the question should say people and not individuals.”

“I would never use the word imply like that.”

“I don’t think that’s the right idiom.”

“I would have gotten it right if it said X…I think it should have said X.”

Or you’ll hear questions like:

“But what if answer choice D said and and not or?”

“If that word were different would my answer choice be right? And if so would it be more right than B?”

And while these questions often come from a genuine desire to learn, they more often come from a place of frustration, and they’re the type of hypothetical thinking that doesn’t lend itself to progress on this test. Even if it’s not always perfect, the GMAT chooses its words very carefully. When the word in the Reading Comprehension correct answer choice isn’t the word you were hoping it would be (but it’s close), they picked that word for a reason – it makes the problem more difficult. When none of the Sentence correction answer choices match the way you or your classmates would have phrased it, that’s not a mistake – that’s an intentional device to make you eliminate four flawed answers and keep the strange-but-correct one. The GMAT can’t always match your expectations, not just because doing so would make it too easy but also because it’s trying to test other critical-thinking skills. It has to test your ability to see less-clear relationships, to make logical decisions amidst uncertainty, to find the least of five evils, and it has to punish you for jumping to unwarranted conclusions.

GMAT verbal is constructed carefully, and as you study it you have to learn how to answer questions more effectively, not to write better questions. The only thing you get to write on test day is the AWA essay; everything else you must answer on the GMAT’s terms, not on your own, so as you study you have to resist the urge to protest the problem and instead learn to see the value in it.

So as you study, remember your mission. Your job isn’t to find a flaw with the logic of the question, but rather with the logic of the four incorrect answers. When you get mad at a wrong answer, use that energy to attack the next problem with the lessons you learned from that frustrating mistake. Take the GMAT as it is and don’t try to justify your mistakes or fight the test.

Save your writing energy for the AWA essay; on the verbal section, you only get to answer the problem in front of you. When you accept that the test is what it is and commit yourself to learning how to attack it through critical thinking and not just general angst, you’ll have a competitive advantage over most frustrated examinees. Think like the testmaker, but don’t try to be the testmaker.

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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Intelligent Guessing on GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2015, 15:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Intelligent Guessing on GMAT
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We often tell you that if you are short on time, you can guess intelligently on a few questions and move on. Today we will discuss what we mean by “intelligent guessing”. There are many techniques – most of them involving your reasoning skills to eliminate some options and hence generating a higher probability of an accurate guess. Let’s look at one such method to get values in the ballpark.

A few months back, we had discussed a 700 level ‘Races’ question.

Question 1: A and B run a race of 2000 m. First, A gives B a head start of 200 m and beats him by 30 seconds. Next, A gives B a head start of 3 mins and is beaten by 1000 m. Find the time in minutes in which A and B can run the race separately.

(A)   8, 10

(B)    4, 5

(C)   5, 9

(D)   6, 9

(E)    7, 10

Check out its complete solution here.

Now, what if we had only 30 seconds to guess on it and move on?  Then we could have easily guessed (B) here and moved on. Actually, the question implies that the only possible options are those in which the time taken by B is somewhere between 3 mins and 6 mins (excluding) – we would guess 4 mins or 5 mins. Since only option (B) has time taken by (B) as 5 mins, that must be the answer – no chances of error here – perfect! Had there been 2 options with 4 mins/5 mins, we would have increased the probability of getting the correct answer to 50% from a mere 20% within 30 seconds.

Now you are probably curious as to how we got the 3 min to 6 min range. Here is the logic:

Read one sentence of the question at a time -

“A and B run a race of 2000 m. First, A gives B a head start of 200 m and beats him by 30 seconds.”

So first, A gives B a head start of 1/10th of the race but still beats him. This means B is certainly quite a bit slower than A. This should run through your mind on reading this sentence.

“Next, A gives B a head start of 3 mins and is beaten by 1000 m.”

Next, A gives B a head start of 3 mins and B beats him by 1000 m i.e. half of the race. What does this imply? It implies that B ran more than half the race in 3 mins. To understand this, say B covers x meters in 3 mins. Once A, who is faster, starts running, he starts reducing the distance between them since he is covering more distance than B every second. At the end, the distance between them is still 1000 m. This means the initial distance that B created between them by running for 3 mins was certainly more than 1000 m (This was intuitively shown in the diagram in this post). Since B covered more than 1000 m in 3 mins, he would have taken less than 6 mins to cover the length of the race i.e. 2000 m. A must be even faster and hence would take even lesser time.

Only option (B) has time taken by B as 5 mins (less than 6 mins) and hence satisfies our range! So the answer has to be (B).

Let’s try the same technique on another question.

Question 2: If 12 men and 16 women can do a piece of work in 5 days and 13 men and 24 women can do it in 4 days, how long will 7 men and 10 women take to do it?

(A)   4.2 days

(B)   6.8 days

(C)   8.3 days

(D)   9.8 days

(E)    10.2 days

Solution: If we try to use algebra here, the calculations involved will be quite complicated. The options are not very close together so we can try to get a ballpark value and move forward. Let’s take each sentence at a time:

“If 12 men and 16 women can do a piece of work in 5 days”

Say rate of work of each man is M and that of each woman is W. This statement gives us that

12M + 16W = 1/5  (Combined rate done per day)

In lowest terms, it is 3M + 4W = 1/20

“13 men and 24 women can do it in 4 days,”

This gives us 13M + 24W = 1/4

“how long will 7 men and 10 women take to do it?”

Required: 7M + 10W = ?

Solving the two equations above will be tedious so let’s estimate:

(3M + 4W = 1/20) * 6 gives 6M + 8W = 1/10

So 6 men and 8 women working together will take 10 days. Hence, 7 men and 10 women will certainly take fewer than 10 days.

(13M + 24W = 1/4) / 2 gives 6.5M + 12W = 1/8

So 7 men and 10 women might take about 8 or perhaps a little bit more than 8 days to complete the work. There is only 0.5 additional man (hypothetically) but 2 fewer women to complete it. So we would guess that the number of days would lie between 8 to 10 and closer to 8 days.

Answer (C) fits.

Note that it seems like there are many equations here but all you have actually done is made two equations. Once you write them down, you don’t even need to actually multiply them with some integer to get them close to the required equation. Just looking at the first one, you can say that 6 men and 8 women will take 10 days. It takes but a couple of seconds to arrive at these conclusions.

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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4 Ways to Make the Most of Your First Year in Business School [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 4 Ways to Make the Most of Your First Year in Business School
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The first year in business school is an often overwhelming time for most students There is so much that is new about this setting from what most admits have ever experienced. The biggest challenge most students suffer from is FOMO. What is FOMO you ask? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out and when you consider all of the social, academic, professional, and cultural options students are tempted with during year one of business school the phrase makes a lot of sense.

No matter how hard many students try it is not possible to do everything once they get onto campus. Explore these categories below for some tips on how best to make the most of your first year in business school.

Socially

You just got to campus and what better way to learn the ins and outs of your new world than with other people. Utilize school specific pre-term networking programs and trips to start off your MBA experience the right way. Once formally on-campus, student clubs allow students to bond over similar interests. Leverage these clubs to meet other like-minded students. You’ll want to be selective here; clubs can take up a lot of time so be judicious with what you sign up for.

Business school is not just about business so take advantage of the bustling social life on campus and connect with your classmates outside of class and start to forge real, long-lasting connections. Limit these social outings to a few times a week so you don’t short change your performance on the academic and career front.

Academically

This will be the core of your time spent in business school. But certainly not your only obligation so you will need to balance these obligations with everything else going down on campus. A great way to manage time spent on academics is to schedule in your time for classes, group meetings and studying so you have clear visibility into your academic obligations.

Professionally

Business school is about improving your professional career, so the commitments on your end here will be very time consuming. Many 1st years struggle in this department because of all of the career options that are available. The earlier you can identify your recruiting path the faster you can begin to focus your time and resources on reaching those pesky career goals you wrote down in those application essays.

Culturally

Finally, a great aspect of business school is the opportunity to integrate into your local and global community. Locally, make sure to take advantage of the great cities and college towns in which your business school exists. Areas like Evanston, Palo Alto, Hanover, and Ann Arbor are some of the best college towns in the country.

Globally, the opportunity to interact with a diverse set of classmates and immerse yourself in other cultures is something that should be an aspect of every students MBA experience. International travel via experiential learning opportunities as well as social trips are a great way to connect with your domestic and international classmates as well as expand your knowledge of global markets and culture.

Approach your first year of business school by trying to balance time spent in each of these four categories and it will go a long way towards maximizing your experience.

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: Don't Think Abstractly With Abstract Math [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jan 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Don't Think Abstractly With Abstract Math
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One of the more challenging classes of math problems for any aspiring SAT master is what we in the biz calls the “Abstract Problem” (it even sounds confusing). This is simply an easy and all-encompassing term to describe problems that ask for an understanding of a concept rather than an exact number answer. “But we have only been taught to arrive at a numerical answer to difficult math questions!” you might exclaim. The truth of the matter is that conceptualizing difficult math topics is very hard to do without some input of real numbers. But with the input of actual computations, even confusing concepts can become crystal clear. Let’s look at an example:

The daytime telephone rate between two cities is 60 cents for the first 3 minutes and c cents for each additional minute. The total charge is reduced 60 percent on calls made after 10:00 P.M. The cost, in dollars, of a 35-minute call made at 10:30 P.M. between these two cities is:

(A) 0.4(0.60) + 35c

(B) 0.4(0.60 + 0.32c)

(C) 0.4(0.60 + 9c)

(D) 0.6(0.60 + 32c)

(E) 0.6(0.60 + 0.35c)

Though this is not the only way to approach this problem, a good way to start is to plug in some real numbers so that we don’t have to conceptualize what this equation does. We could, solely based on our knowledge of how these kinds of equations are formed, construct the equation we desire, but we can also attempt to use real numbers to elucidate which answer choice makes sense.  Let’s imagine you are charged 10 cents per minute after the first three minutes (c =10 ). If you made a thirty five minute phone call, you would be charged $0.60 for three minutes, and then ($0.10)(32) for the next 32 minutes giving a total cost of $3.80 for the call.

That whole number is reduced by 60% because the call is after 10pm. Does that mean I multiply $3.80 by 0.6? If I did, the result would be 2.28, but 60% is more than half, so a reduction of 60% would make a number smaller than 3.8(0.5) or 1.9. This makes it clear that reducing by a percentage is different from multiplying by a percentage. If I reduce by 60%, I am actually taking 60% away, which leaves me with 40%, so my final answer will be $3.80(0.4) = $1.52. Now, all I have to do is plug in 10 for c and in all the equations and see which on gives me 1.52, which will be answer choice (B).  Let’s look at another example:

On the number line, the distance between a point whose coordinate is c, and the point whose coordinate is d is greater than 50. Which of the following must be true?

[*]c – d > 50[/*]
[*]| c – d | > 50[/*]
[*]| c | * | d | > 50[/*]
[/list]
(A) II only

(B) III only

(C) I and II only

(D) II and III only

(E) I, II, and III

This is a kind of problem with which many students struggle.  With this problem, even more than the last, using real numbers will be very helpful in trying to find a solution. The distance between c and d is 50, this means that the numbers c and d could both be positive, both be negative, or one could be positive and the other could be negative. One or both numbers could also be a fraction.  Let’s think of some example numbers that take these possibilities into account:

[*]c = 1/2 d = 52[/*]
[*]c = 26 d = – 27[/*]
[*]c = -1 d = – 52[/*]
[*]c = -26 d = 27[/*]
[/list]
From here, all we have to do is test the three statements with each group of numbers. Remember, the conditions MUST be true, so if any of these numbers doesn’t work we can throw out the condition. Condition one fails with number set 3 and 4 (both give negative values), and condition III fails with the fraction in number set 1, so only condition II holds up. The answer, then, is (A).

These types of problems can seem exceedingly challenging, but so much clarity can be provided real numbers into a situation instead of trying to conceptualize a problem.  So use numbers – they are there to help! Happy test mastering!

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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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Ariana Grande's Real Problem with the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jan 2015, 12:02
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Ariana Grande's Real Problem with the GMAT
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As a GMAT aficionado, I often find GMAT themes in everyday things. This is what happened last week when I was listening to the radio and Ariana Grande’s “Problem” started playing. I’d heard the song before, and despite its catchy melody, there is a glaring grammatical error in the chorus. This may not be that surprising: songs in general are dubious sources of grammar to begin with, and R&B songs often take additional liberties with their lyrics (Timbaland’s “The Way I Are” jumps to mind). However this error is the kind a lot of people make in their daily speech, so I figured I’d use it as an opportunity to improve our grammatical skills beyond what we hear on the radio.

Firstly, if you’ve never heard the song, please feel free to listen to it now. The chorus is discussing how Ariana would have “one less problem” without the person she’s currently serenading (surprisingly this isn’t a Taylor Swift song). The issue with the lyric is that problems are countable, and as such she should actually be singing “one fewer problem without you”. Perhaps the extra syllable messed up the harmony, or perhaps the songwriter hadn’t brushed up on their grammar prior to writing the song, but this is the type of issue students often struggle with because they don’t understand the underlying rule.

When it comes to counting things, there are two broad categories: items that are countable, and items that are not countable. The former comprises most tangible things we can imagine: computers, cars, cats, cookies, cans of Coke and countless conceivable commodities (This sentence brought to you by the letter C). The latter comprises things that are uncountable, such as water, sand or hair. You can count grains of sand or strands of hair, but you cannot count actual sand or hair, so these words get treated a little differently.

The rule is that for any noun that is countable, you must use “fewer” if you are going to decrease it. For any noun that is not countable, you must use “less” to decrease it. As an example, I want less water in my cup; I do not want fewer water in my cup. That example makes sense to most people. However, the converse is just as true: I want fewer bottles of water, not less bottles of water. If the item in question is scarce, similar words will be used. You can say that there is little water, but you wouldn’t say that there is few water left. Note how these words have the same etymology as “less” and “fewer”, respectively.

If the sentence calls for an increase, more is acceptable for both countable and uncountable elements. As an example, you can say that you want more water in your cup, or you can say that you want more bottles of water. Other synonyms exist as well, of course, but the delineation is much cleaner for decreases than for increases, so that structure appears more often on the GMAT. If the item in question is in abundance, similar words will also be used. You can say that there is much water, but you can’t say that there is many water. Much and many follow these same countable/uncountable rules.

The difference between items that are countable or uncountable is not unique to the GMAT, these rules apply to everyday language, they are simply enforced more rigorously on this test. Failure to choose the proper word in a Sentence Correction problem will result in an incorrect answer choice. As such, it behooves us to be aware of the grammatical difference between countable and uncountable elements, as it regularly comes up on the GMAT.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate the point:

The controversial restructuring plan for the county school district, if approved by the governor, would result in 20% fewer teachers and 10% less classroom contact-time throughout schools in the county.

A)     in 20% fewer teachers and 10% less

B)      in 20% fewer teachers and 10% fewer

C)      in 20% less teachers and 10% less

D)     with 20% fewer teachers and 10% fewer

E)      with 20% less teachers and 10% less

Looking at the answer choices, it becomes fairly clear that the correct answer will hinge primarily on the difference between “fewer” and “less”. If we recall the rules for countable vs. uncountable, anything that we can count must use the adjective “fewer”, while anything that is not countable must use the adjective “less”.

For this example, the first reduction is in the number of teachers. Teachers are human beings (often handsome ones!), and are therefore countable. You can want to spend less time with a specific teacher, but you cannot (correctly) say that you want the school to have less teachers. The request must be for fewer teachers. This already eliminates answer choices C and E because they use the incorrect term.

The second reduction is about classroom time. Time is a wondrous and magical thing (or so young people tell me), but it is not countable. Yes, you can break up time into countable units, such as seconds or minutes, just as you can break up sand into grams or ounces, but holistically time is intangible and therefore uncountable. The plan calls for less time in the classroom, not fewer time. This eliminates answer choices B and D because they use the incorrect term. Only answer A remains and it is indeed the correct answer.

As mentioned earlier, the rules around countable and uncountable nouns are fairly precise, but you are unlikely to be corrected in everyday conversation if you misuse a term. Since the GMAT is testing logic, precision and general attention to detail, it is a perfect type of question to try and trap hurried students who don’t always notice the difference. In daily conversation (and on the radio), you can often get away with imprecision in language. However, if you understand the nuances between countable and uncountable nouns, to paraphrase Ariana Grande, you’ll have one fewer problem on the GMAT.

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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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How to Tackle the Booth MBA Application [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jan 2015, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Tackle the Booth MBA Application
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I’m biased, but the Booth application is my favorite out of all of them.  I love the question – it’s simple, but not easy, and it forces applicants to do something that all of us should at some point in our lives: introspect.  The possibilities are endless.  The question not only challenges each applicant, but provides them with a great opportunity to stand out if answered well.

I have worked with clients on the Booth application since 2007, and while it has evolved over time – wherein applicants have had to write fewer and fewer words for Booth over the past decade – one constant remains: the presentation.

It is daunting.  At first.  Many of the clients I have worked with over the years approach the question initially with the “blank stare” strategy.  I’m sure many former and current Booth applicants who are reading this know the feeling.  Confusion.  Anxiety.  No idea where to start.  It happens all the time.  And that’s where we come in.

As we inch closer to Round 3, I’m going to share my own beliefs about the Booth application and how I recommend approaching it here on this blog.  We’ll incorporate some thoughts from other Booth experts as well.  Hopefully, after a few weeks, you’ll be in a much better position to answer the question, “Who are you?”

For now, let’s look at the advice Booth gives on how to think about the question. Booth gives the following five pieces of advice on the website.  I’ve added my own thoughts for each piece of advice below:

Be reflective.  This should go without saying, but often people don’t think deeply enough about what goes into their application.  Think about it this way – when the reviewer has finished reading your application, what are all of the things you want that person to know about you?  Have you shared those things in your answer in one way or another?  Introspection is a critical part of this process.

Interpret broadly.  Each applicant has a unique way of answering this question.  It should be personalized and customized based on you, not trying to force-fit what you think the admissions committee wants to know about you into some framework that doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fit.  The question allows for a lot of creativity in the response, and that is a tremendous advantage if done well.

Determine your own length.  They mean it when they say this.  I’ve already seen successful submissions that are in the 10-page range as well as half that or less.  There’s no right or wrong answer for length.  Each story will have its own natural length, and that must be determined by the format you use, the way in which you decide to tell your story, and other factors.  So when they ask you to determine your own length, they mean it.

Choose the format that works for you.  I’ll be writing about this in more detail in the next post, but I like to have people think outside the box here.  The initial instinct of many applicants is to write an essay.  But I challenge my clients to think differently in the way they tell their stories and use creativity to their advantage as a differentiator.

Think about you, not us.  The key message here is not to tell them what you think they want to hear.  Be original and sincere in your message.  But there are areas where it is perfectly fine to talk about Booth.  Your quest to get into Booth is part of who you are – sharing parts of that story is often essential (or necessary).

Hopefully, after you’re done with your Booth application – after you’ve looked at yourself objectively and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone creatively – you can look back and agree with me that it was your favorite application, too.

Good luck!

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!

Rich Williams is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His specialties include consulting, finance, and nonprofit applicants.
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3 Reasons to Consider Applying to Business School in Round 3 [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 3 Reasons to Consider Applying to Business School in Round 3
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Round 2 deadlines are closing in and you do not feel ready.  Your GMAT score may not be where you had hoped. Your essays feel rushed and not like an accurate representation of your story. But what do you do? Of course you want to apply by round 2 like the majority of MBA applicants, but you know doing so will put you at a disadvantage. The consensus is that the prime application periods are round 1 and round 2. You have had it in your head that you were applying this year though. So what do you do? Should you really consider applying in round 3?

Every year many applicants are faced with a similar dilemma. Round 3 has long been a cautiously avoided application round for most applicants. It is in fact the round where the least spots are typically available so the apprehension has merit. However, there are reasons why an applicant may still want to apply in round 3.

Age

For some candidates, age is a factor. The average age range for most schools is between 26 and 28. If a prospective applicant is well over the average age at a target school then delaying an entire year can raise even more questions for admissions. The older an applicant is, the more they have to prove to admissions that the program can add value to their career.

Timing

For other candidates, employment issues present round 3 as a realistic option. Turmoil at work, recently getting fired, or plain old discontentment in a current career path can warrant a last minute application from a candidate. The timeliness of the application round can make round 3 more attractive in atypical situations.

Qualifications

Finally, an impressive set of qualifications can make round 3 and frankly any round attractive to candidates with impressive profiles. Candidates with strong GPAs, GMAT scores, and blue chip resumes can often still be competitive even with the limited spots left in round 3. If the candidate’s application measurables align with or exceed target school class profile numbers then round 3 becomes a realistic option. In situations like this round 3 is not as far fetched as it seemed, and it may even make sense to apply in this round for the truly qualified.

Don’t automatically eliminate round 3 as a potential option as the situations above suggest round 3 may just be your best chance at admissions success.

We wanted to find a way to take out the risk in applying in Round 3 to top MBA programs, so whether you decide to apply in Round 3 or defer to Round 1 next fall, Veritas Prep’s Round 3 Guarantee has you covered every step of the way!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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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Paying for College: Beyond the Numbers [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Paying for College: Beyond the Numbers
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It’s no news that college is expensive. College finance considerations, however, go far beyond the simple price on a college’s website. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but every prospective freshman should know that in every case – advance planning is key. Here are some guidelines to consider before taking the plunge into your first year.

Talk to a counselor. If you anticipate needing financial aid or scholarships, talk to a counselor, preferably at the university you plan to attend (or the one you hope to be admitted to). Learn about the school’s financial aid and scholarship policies. Does the school itself offer scholarships? If you receive an outside scholarship, will it reduce your financial aid award by an equivalent amount (meaning that you see no difference in your fees)? If the latter is true, for instance, a student receiving a lot of financial aid might not want to spend time applying to small scholarships. Scholarship applications can take a lot of time and effort; the last thing you want to do is invest heavily in a scholarship application, only to find that you can’t actually benefit from the scholarship.

Know the deadlines. If your school of interest offers scholarships, peruse the school website to find out if those scholarships have special deadlines. For example, USC’s Trustee scholarship requires students to submit their admission applications earlier than the normal admission application deadline. Mark any special deadlines on your calendar to be sure you don’t miss them; school scholarships are more than worth the extra work.

Have a work-study plan. Think long and hard about how much you’re willing to work during your undergraduate career. Too many students send their SIR’s (statements of intent to register) to expensive schools they can’t quite afford, assuming that they’ll simply get a job once there in order to offset the costs, and end up with heavy student loans. Getting, keeping, and regularly working a job is a lot harder than it sounds, especially for students with little to no prior work experience. Working long hours can exhaust you, or can detract from your social, academic, or extracurricular undergraduate experiences. Before planning to get a job while at school, put together a balance sheet to see how many hours you’d need to work to make up the difference—and decide whether you can actually commit to those hours.

Foresee your expenses. Come up with a four-year financial plan, and note any potential changes to your financial changes or aid package. Are you guaranteed a four-year scholarship, or are you relying on aid which will change depending on your school’s finances and your parents’ income level? If your financial aid offer decreases, are you willing to take on loans; and if not, do you have other options to afford tuition? Are you willing to graduate early by a semester or two in order to save the tuition money? If so, are there community college classes in the area that can help you finish your major and graduation requirements more quickly? Plan ahead to avoid a budget crises down the line.

Remember that advanced planning can set you up for financial success in college. Best of luck to you in your application process!

Still need to take the SAT? 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!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.
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GMAT Tip of the Week: Learn from DeflateGate and Don't Get Caught Unin [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Learn from DeflateGate and Don't Get Caught Unintentionally Cheating
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It’s Super Bowl week, and instead of Seattle’s miracle comeback over Green Bay or a fantastically-intriguing matchup between the longstanding dynasty in New England and the up-and-coming dynasty in Seattle, all anyone wants to talk about is DeflateGate. Did the Patriots knowingly underinflate or consciously deflate footballs? Did doing so provide a competitive advantage? Will/should they be punished?

Some will say it’s a heinous act committed by serial cheaters. Others will say it’s a minor violation and that “everybody does it.” And still others will say it’s an inadvertent mistake that happened to run afoul of a technicality. What does it mean for you, a GMAT aspirant?

Be careful about honest mistakes that could be construed as cheating!

While the NFL isn’t going to kick the Patriots out of the Super Bowl, the Graduate Management Admission Council won’t hesitate to cancel your score if you’re found to be in violation of its test administration rules. So beware these rules that honest examinees have accidentally violated:

1. You cannot bring “testing aids” into the test center.

Don’t bring an Official Guide, a test prep book, or study notes into the test center with you. You may want to have notes while you’re waiting to check in, but if you’re caught with “study material” in your hands during one of your 8-minute breaks – which has happened to students who were rearranging items in their lockers to grab an apple or a granola bar – you’ll be in violation of the rule, and GMAC has cancelled scores for this in the past. Don’t take that risk! Leave watches, cell phones, and study aids in your car or at home so that there’s no chance you violate this rule simply by having a forbidden item in your hand during a break.

2. You cannot talk to anyone about the test during your administration.

You’ll be at the test center with other people, and someone’s break might coincide with yours. Holding a restroom door or crossing paths near a drinking fountain, you might be tempted to socially ask “how is your test going?” or sympathetically mention “man these tests are hard.” But since those innocent phrases could be seen as “talking about the test” you would technically be in violation of the rule, and GMAC has cancelled scores for this in the past. Your 8-minute break isn’t the time to make new friends – don’t take the risk of being caught talking about the test.

You know that you’re not a cheater, but as most New Englanders feel today it’s very possible to be considered a cheater if you end up on the wrong side of a rule, however accidentally. Learn from the lessons of test-takers before you: avoid these common mistakes and ensure that the score you earn is the score you’ll keep.

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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Pre-thinking in Quant GMAT Questions [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jan 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Pre-thinking in Quant GMAT Questions
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We all know about the role of pre-thinking in Critical Reasoning and how anticipating the answer can be supremely beneficial in not just the physical aspect of saving time in analyzing options but also the psychological aspect of promoting our self-confidence – we were thinking that the answer should look like this and that is exactly what we found! Pre-thinking puts us in the driver’s seat and we feel energized without consuming any red bull!

The exciting thing is that pre-thinking is useful in Quant too. If you take a step back to review what the question asks and think about what you are going to do and what you expect to get, it is highly likely that you will not get distracted mid-way during your solution. Let’s show you with the help of an example:

Question: Superfast train A leaves Newcastle for Birmingham at 3 PM and travels at the constant speed of 100 km/hr. An hour later, it passes superfast train B, which is making the trip from Birmingham to Newcastle on the same route at a constant speed. If train B left Birmingham at 3:50 PM and if the sum of the total travel time of the two trains is 2 hours, at what time did train B arrive at Newcastle?

Statement I: Train B arrived at Newcastle before train A arrived at Birmingham.

Statement II: The distance between Newcastle and Birmingham is greater than 140 km.

Following are the things that would ideally constitute pre-thinking on this question:

- Quite a bit of data is given in the question stem with some speed and time taken.

- Distance traveled by both the trains is the same since they travel along the same route.

- We could possibly make an equation by equating the two distances and come up with multiple answers for the time at which train B arrived at Newcastle.

- The statements do not provide any concrete data. We cannot make any equation using them but they might help us choose one of the answers we get from the equation of the question stem.

Mind you, the thinking about the statements helping us to arrive at the answer is just speculation. The answer may well be (E). But all we wanted to do at this point was find a direction.

Image

The diagram given above incorporates the data given in the question stem. Train A starts from Newcastle toward Birmingham at 3:00 and meets train B at 4:00. Train B starts from Birmingham toward Newcastle at 3:50 and meets train A at 4:00. Let x be the distance from Birmingham to the meeting point.

Speed of train A = 100 km/hr

Speed of train B = Distance/Time = x/(10 min) = x/(1/6) km/hr = 6x km/hr (converted min to hour)

If we get the value of x, we get the value of speed of train B and  that tells us the time it takes to travel from the meeting point to Newcastle (a distance of 100 km). So all we need to figure out is whether the statements can give us a unique value of x.

By 4:00, train A has already travelled for 1 hour and train B has already travelled for 10 mins i.e. 1/6 hour. Total time taken by both is 2 hrs. The remaining (5/6) hrs is the time needed by both together to reach their respective destinations.

Time taken by train A to reach Birmingham + Time taken by train B to reach Newcastle = 5/6

Distance(x)/Speed of train A + 100/Speed of train B = 5/6

x/100 + 100/6x = 5/6

3x^2 – 250x + 5000 = 0

3x^2 – 150x – 100x + 5000 = 0

3x(x – 50) – 100(x – 50) = 0

(3x – 100)(x – 50) = 0

x = 100/3 or 50

So speed of train B = 6x = 200 km/hr or 300 km/hr

Statement 1: Train B arrived at Newcastle before Train A arrived at Birmingham.

If x = 50, time taken by train A to reach Birmingham = 50/100 = 1/2 hour and time taken by train B to reach Newcastle = 100/300 = 1/3 hour. Train B takes lesser time so it arrives first.

If x = 33.33, time taken by train A to reach Birmingham = (100/3)/100 = 1/3 hour and time taken by train B to reach Newcastle = 100/200 = 1/2 hour. Here, train A takes lesser time so it arrives first at its destination.

Since train B arrived first, x must be 50 and train B must have taken 1/3 hour i.e. 20 mins to arrive at Newcastle. So train B must have arrived at 4:20.

This statement is sufficient alone.

Statement 2: The distance between Newcastle and Birmingham is greater than 140 km.

Total distance between Newcastle and Birmingham = (100 + x) km. x must be 50 to make total distance more than 140.

Time taken by train B must be 1/3 hr (as calculated above) and it must have arrived at 4:20.

This statement is sufficient alone.

Answer (D)

So our speculation was right. Each of the statements provided us relevant information to choose one of the two values that the quadratic gave us.

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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What You Should Do after Your Acceptance to Business School [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: What You Should Do after Your Acceptance to Business School
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First it was the GMAT, then it was the essays and finally the interviews and after months and months of hard work you’ve received admission to the school of your dreams. Now what do you do? I’m sure you thought the hard part was done, but not so fast, there are a few things you should do once school decisions start flowing in.

Make A Decision

If you were fortunate enough to get into multiple programs then it is time to make a decision. Pay attention to deadlines and deposit dates as each school has a different policy and timeline for each stage of the process. Evaluate your options and make the best decision for you. But don’t forget about the other schools, so make sure to remain professional and notify the other schools of your decision.

Determine How You Will Pay for School

Some students will not only receive admission but also scholarship news from their target schools. This is great news and will help to lessen the burden for those lucky students. There are also outside scholarships available from corporations, civic groups, and philanthropic organizations. So do your due diligence and make sure you are not missing any opportunity to get school paid for. Financial Aid for domestic admits is also another option, so make sure to fill out the necessary forms provided by the school. Don’t fret if you did not receive scholarship money at the time of admission as many schools still have dollars available for students before, after, and during their time in business school.

Address Any Gaps

Are you weak analytically? Need to start making contacts in the Private Equity industry? Take this time to start mitigating some weaknesses before business school. Take an MBA Math course, start networking in your industry, and figure out what ways you can set yourself up for success once you start school.

Plan Your Move

Determine when you plan to pause your professional career for your academic career to move to campus. This also involves notifying your employer that you will be pursuing your MBA. You should find the time that makes the most sense at your organization. For some admits it’s right away and for others its much closer to the start of school, do what makes sense for your situation.

Relax

Finally, you have worked so hard over the last year. Now it is time to relax. Find some time before school starts to engage in some fun, relaxing activities to help you mentally and physically prepare for your upcoming business school experience.

Congratulations!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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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9 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2015, 18:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 9 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad
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Most universities offer the opportunity to explore other countries. You may be hesitant to do so, but here are 9 reasons why you should take advantage of your college’s international student programs:

1. Experience new surroundings. If you’re like the great majority of undergraduates (or incoming undergraduates), you haven’t traveled much before, much less on your own. Far too many students never study abroad simply out of a fear of, or distaste for, intense unfamiliarity. Don’t be scared of the fact that you may not have done anything like this before; the study abroad program will help you adjust to your new surroundings, you can work with the students you travel with to learn new things together, and friends and family back home are just a phone call away. If you’re anything like the overwhelming majority of study abroad students I know, once you actually arrive, you’ll find it a lot more fun than daunting.

2. Study abroad teaches self-confidence and independence. There’s something about surviving for months in a completely foreign place that makes the whole world, including your own country, considerably less intimidating.

3. Routines can get monotonous. Keep yourself engaged with the learning process and avoid burning out by spending a semester doing something completely new and different.

4. It may never again be this easy to travel. The future you could have a family, a demanding job, pets, and other responsibilities that (while wonderful) can serve as serious obstacles to travel. As an undergraduate, you have the time and the freedom to see the world. Make the most of it while you can.

5. Financial aid … Abroad! If you qualify for financial aid, you may receive financial support to study abroad. Even if you don’t, it may still be cheaper to travel now than to travel later in your life. You only need to worry about sorting out accommodation, transportation, and other logistics for one person, and your student status makes you eligible for plenty of deals, scholarships, and discounts that can ease the strain on your wallet.

6. Study abroad helps you get to know your classmates better. Being thrown into a new environment with others just as excited, confused, and nervous as you are creates plenty of opportunities for teamwork, socializing, and new friendships.

7. Study abroad exposes you to new types of people. Reading about a culture will never compare to immersing yourself in it. They say that travel and tolerance go hand in hand because travel, by exposing you to different types of people, helps you to better understand the common thread of humanity we all share.

8. You’ll learn to better appreciate and contextualize the place you come from. It’s difficult to understand the uniqueness of your home community until you’ve had to personally face the fact that only your tiny corner of the world lives and thinks the way you do.

9. Today’s rapidly globalized world increases the value of international experience. It is becoming increasingly necessary for all of us to regularly deal with people, institutions, and ideas from other parts of the world. As a result, the ability to do so is increasingly valuable.

You’ll have a great story to tell–not just to friends and family, but also to future employers, supervisors, and professors. Study abroad helps to differentiate you from others in your classes and applicant pools, and serves as a strong resume booster. Safe travels!

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!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.
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SAT Tip of the Week: This is How You Use Vocabulary to Increase Your S [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jan 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: This is How You Use Vocabulary to Increase Your Score
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A good grasp of advanced vocabulary can be very helpful on the SAT, but far too many students spend hours memorizing and digesting long lists of long words without seeing much benefit to their scores. Fortunately, the reasons behind this are usually pretty simple. Here are a few of them.

  • Poor concentration. Good memorization requires strong focus and regular, repeated practice; without these, retention is difficult if not impossible. Three hours of fully attentive study, divided evenly over three different days, is far, far more effective than a single block of eight hours of halfhearted or distracted study.
  • Poor memorization technique. Reviewing words already studied, constructing associations, fully grasping word meanings, using the seven-repeat rule, and other good memorization techniques can boost retention powerfully. To learn more about these, read the Vocabulary section of the SAT 2400 Book, or explore the substantial body of research on memorization. Here is good starting point as well: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060809082610.htm.)
  • Forgetting about usage. Correct usage is very nearly, if not just as, important as correct definition. Take, for instance, the simple word “debt”: saying “Give the debt to the bank” when you mean “Pay the debt to the bank” significantly changes the meaning expressed, even if the meaning of the word itself was technically correct.
  • Estimating definitions in the SAT essay section. An important rule: Only write using words you know. It seems simple enough, but is actually very commonly broken. Using big words can be impressive, but using big words incorrectly is worse than not using them at all. (It makes your grader think you don’t know what you’re talking about, and makes you sound less experienced with English than you actually are. It’s also very obvious that you are using the advanced word simply for the sake of using an advanced word, rather than for the purposes of conveying important ideas.) If you want to use an advanced vocabulary word, be absolutely sure you know both its specific definition and its usage. If you are even a little bit unsure of either, don’t use it.
  • Not estimating definitions in the SAT reading section. Because you don’t need to worry about usage and because you’re limited to choosing one of five words which almost always differ significantly from each other, you can choose a word as an answer choice even if you’re not 100% sure of the detailed definition. A general idea will suffice; just be sure that you have a good enough sense of it that you can somewhat confidently eliminate the other answer choices. For instance, if the only thing you know about the word “blasphemous” is that it describes something very negative, you could select it as your answer so long as context clues and other strategies told you that you needed a very negative word to fill the blank. Because you can estimate definitions in the reading section, I always recommend that students read through the definitions of all the words in their vocabulary lists that they don’t have time to fully memorize, because even a passing understanding of a word can be enough grounds to choose it as an answer choice with reasonable confidence.
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!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.
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Use This Strategy for Fractions and Save Time on GMAT Test Day [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jan 2015, 16:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Use This Strategy for Fractions and Save Time on GMAT Test Day
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One of the most uncomfortable aspects of the GMAT is that you are not allowed to use a calculator for the quantitative section. This is uncomfortable because, throughout your everyday life, you are never more than about 5 feet from a calculator (yes, even in Death Valley). Almost everyone has a cell phone, a laptop, a desktop or a GMAT guru nearby to compute difficult calculations for them. Even high school students are generally allowed their calculators on test day. However, the lack of a calculator allows the GMAT to test your reasoning skills and time management skills much more easily than if you had access to electronic help.

As an example, remember open-book tests. These tests always seemed easier when they were discussed in theory than when they were attempted in practice. An open book test must necessarily test you on more obscure and convoluted material, otherwise the test becomes too easy and everyone gets 100. Closed-book tests, by contrast, can concentrate on the core material and gauge how much preparation each student has put in. Adding more tools only serves to make the test more difficult in order to overcome these enhancements.

With a calculator, asking you to calculate the square root of an 8 digit number or the 9th power of an integer is trivial if you only have to plug in some numbers. However, if you need to actually reason out a strategic approach in your head, you have accomplished more than a thousand brute force calculations would. On the GMAT, the mathematics behind a question will always be doable without a calculator, but the strategy chosen and the way you set up the equations will generally be the difference between the correct answer in two minutes and a guess in four.

Let’s look at a question where the math isn’t too difficult, but can get tedious:

Alice, Benjamin and Carol each try independently to win a carnival game. If their individual probabilities for success are 1/5, 3/8 and 2/7, respectively, what is the probability that exactly two of the three players will win but one will lose?

(A)   3 / 140

(B)   1 / 28

(C)   3 / 56

(D)   3 / 35

(E)    7 / 40

This is a probability question, and therefore we must calculate the chances of any one event occurring. However, the question is asking about several possibilities, specifically any occurrence where two players win and the third loses (think of any romantic comedy). This means that we have to calculate several outcomes and manually add these probabilities. This is entirely feasible, but it can be somewhat tedious. Let’s look at the best way to avoid getting bogged down in the math:

Firstly, the three players’ are suitably abbreviated as A, B and C (convenient, GMAT, convenient). We therefore want to find the probability that A and B occur, but that C does not occur (denoted as A, B, ⌐C). This represents one of our desired outcomes. However, this is not the only possibility, as any situation where two occur and the other doesn’t is acceptable as well. Thus we can have A and C but not B (A, ⌐B, C), or B and C but not A (⌐A, B, C). The sum of these three outcomes is the desired fraction, so only some math remains.

Let’s do them in order. For (A, B, ⌐C), we take the probability of A, multiplied by the probability of B, and then multiplied by the probability of 1-C. If the chances of C are 2 / 7, then the probability of them not occurring must be the compliment of this, which is 5 / 7. The calculation is thus:

1 / 5 * 3 / 8 * 5 / 7.

In a multiplication, we only care about multiplying the numerators together, and then multiplying the denominators together. There is no need to put these elements on common denominators. The math gives us:

(1* 3 * 5) / (5 * 8 * 7). This is 15 / 280.

There is a strong temptation to cancel out the 5 on the numerator and on the denominator to make the calculation easier, but you should avoid such temptation on questions such as these. Why? (I’m glad you asked). If you simplified this equation, you would get the equivalent fraction of 3 / 56, which is easier to calculate, but since we still have to execute two more multiplications, we will end up adding fractions that have different denominators. This is not a pleasant experience without a calculator, and likely will cause us to revert to our common denominator for all three fractions, which is 5 * 8 * 7 or 280. Additionally, now that we’ve calculated it once, we don’t need to worry about the denominator for the following fractions, it will always be the same. Let’s continue and hopefully this strategy will become apparent.

The next fraction is (A, ⌐B, C), which is equivalent to

1 / 5 * 5 / 8 * 2 / 7. Note that ⌐B is (1 – 3/8)

Executing this calculation yields a result of 10 / 280.

Finally, we need (⌐A, B, C), which is equivalent to

4 / 5 * 3 / 8 * 2 / 7. Note that ⌐A is (1 – 1/5)

Executing this last fraction gives us 24 / 280.

Once we have these three fractions, we must add them together in order to get the probability of any one of them occurring (“or” probability, as opposed to “and” probability”). This is simple because they’re all on the same denominator, so we get 15 / 280 + 10 / 280 + 24 / 280 which is 49 / 280.

Now that we have this number, we can try to simplify it. 49 is a perfect square that is only divisible by 1, 7 and 49, whereas 280 has many factors, but one of them fairly clearly is 7. We can thus divide both terms by 7, and get 7 / 40. Since the numerator is a prime number, there is no additional simplification possible. 7 / 40 is answer choice E, and it is the correct pick on this question.

Had we simplified each probability as much as possible, we would have ended up with 3 / 56, 2 / 56 and 3 / 35. While the addition would not be impossible, it would become much more difficult. In fact, to correctly add these numbers together, you’d have to put them on their least common multiple, which would be 280 again. There is usually no point in simplifying fractions in questions like this because they must usually be recombined at the end. Save time and don’t convert once only to convert back.

The math on this question is not difficult, but having to add together multiple fractions and simplifying expressions can be quite time-consuming. With a calculator, you could simply add the decimals together, regardless of their fractional equivalents. However, the GMAT doesn’t allow you that shortcut on test day (unless you approximate in your head), so you must find a better tactic. The difference between solving all the questions and running out of time on the math section is often the approach you take on each question. Keep up a consistent strategy and you’ll solve a large fraction of the questions you face on test day.

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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Why You Felt Good on the GMAT Quant Section but Didn't Score Well [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Why You Felt Good on the GMAT Quant Section but Didn't Score Well
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This is a problem that I have seen many times before. It leaves students bewildered because all of the signs that would lead them to expect a lower score are absent. They did not run out of time, they did not have to guess at lots of questions, and they did not feel overwhelmed. Even I have suffered from this a bit, my lowest Quant score came on the exam where I felt most comfortable – and my highest score on Quant came on the exam that felt the worst.

How is it that you can confidentially answer question after question while obviously missing quite a few questions that felt “easy?”

One culprit is the subtlety of the official GMAT questions overall. No other questions do as good a job of luring you into confidently choosing the wrong answer. This can happen on problem solving, but today I would like to focus on Data Sufficiency.

I sometimes refer to Data Sufficiency as “the Silent Killer” because the very structure of the Data Sufficiency question invites you to choose the wrong answer. This is because you do not know that you have forgotten to consider something. There are no values in the answer choices to help you see what you might have overlooked. That is why the person choosing the incorrect answer is often more confident than is the one who got the question right.

As you can see it is often difficult to gauge how you are doing on Data Sufficiency. And because the Quantitative section adapts as a whole, missing these data sufficiency questions results in the computer selecting lower-level questions in problem solving. So the problem solving questions may have seemed easier because they actually were at a lower level.

This is a pattern that I have seen repeated many times on practice exams. Students miss mid-level data sufficiency questions in the first part of the exam. This results in lower level questions being offered, and the student keeps missing just enough problems (of both Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving) to keep the difficulty level from increasing.

The result? A quant section that felt comfortable because most of the questions were below the level that would really challenge the student. This may be what happened to you.

How to avoid this fate:

With Data Sufficiency questions there are no answer choices to provide a check on your assumptions or calculations. You must be your own editor and look for mistakes before you confirm your answer. Fortunately, there are several things you can do:


    Think with your pen. Do not presume that you will remember what the question is asking, the facts you are given, or the hidden facts that are implied by the question stem. Note these things on your scratch paper so that you do not forget them. It may seem unnecessary to write “x is integer” or “must be positive” but just think of how dangerous it would be to forget this information!


Do your work early. Rewording the question is a great way to make data sufficiency more fool-proof. For example, it is much easier to comprehend the question “Is x a multiple of 4” than it is to wrestle with the questions “Is x/2 a multiple of 2?” Think about what the question is really asking and re-word it when you can.

[/list]

Catch mistakes before you submit. Always keep in mind the most common number properties, “positive/ negative” “integer/ non-integer” and “the numbers 0 and 1.” The test makers can really hide these number properties so that even experts could overlook them, so just run through these three number properties on every problem and you will catch lots of your mistakes before you submit.[/list]
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!

David Newland has been teaching for Veritas Prep since 2006, and he won the Veritas Prep Instructor of the Year award in 2008. Students’ friends often call in asking when he will be teaching next because he really is a Veritas Prep and a GMAT rock star! Read more of his articles here.
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GMAT Tip of the Week: The Super Bowl Provides Super GMAT Lessons [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: The Super Bowl Provides Super GMAT Lessons
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It’s Super Bowl weekend, one of the busiest gambling weekends of the year. Maybe you’ll play a squares pool and end up with the dreaded 6:5 combination, maybe you’ll parlay three prop bets and lose on the third, and maybe you’ll bet on your team to win and lose both the game and your cash. How can you turn your gambling losses into investments?

Well, if you’re a GMAT student, you can think about what the odds mean in terms of probability and you can watch the announcers miss Critical Reasoning lesson after Critical Reasoning lesson. For example:

Probability

Before the last piece of confetti hits the turf on Sunday, oddsmakers will have posted their odds on next year’s winner. For example, New England and Seattle might open at 4:1, Green Bay might come in at 7:1, etc. And while you might look at those odds and think “if I bet $100 on the Packers I’ll win $700!” you should also think about what those mean. 7:1 for Green Bay is really a ratio: 7 parts of the money says that Green Bay will not win, and 1 part says that it will. So that’s a good bet if you think that Green Bay has a better than 1 out of 8 chance (so better than 12.5%) to win next year’s Super Bowl. And if those are, indeed, the odds (4:1 for two teams and 7:1 for another), Vegas is essentially saying that there’s a less than likely chance (1/5 + 1/5 + 1/8 = 52.5% chance that one of those two teams wins) that someone other than Green Bay, New England, or Seattle will win next year.

So consider what the probability of those bets means before you make them. Individually odds might look tempting, but when you consider what that means on a fraction or percent basis you might have a different opinion.

Probability #2

As you watch the Super Bowl, there’s a high likelihood that at some point the screen will start showing a line indicating the season-long field goal for either Steven Hauschka or Stephen Gostkowski (the Seattle and New England kickers…there’s a huge probability that someone named Steve will be incredibly important in this game!). And the announcers will use that line to say that it’s likely field goal range for that team to win or tie the game.

Where’s the flawed logic? If that’s the longest field goal he’s made all year, is it really likely that he’ll make another one from a similar spot with all that pressure? Or, in the case of a low-scoring game like many predict between these two elite defenses, how likely is either kicker to make two consecutive field goals from a relatively far distance?

Sports fans are pretty bad with that probability. Say that a kicker has been 70% accurate from over 50 yards. Is it likely that he’ll make two straight 50-yard field goals on Sunday (assuming he gets those attempts)? Check the math: that’s 7/10 * 7/10 or 49/100 – it’s less than likely that he makes both! Even a kicker with 80% accuracy is only 8/10 * 8/10 = 64% likely to make two in a row…meaning that fail to perform that feat 1 out of every 3 times he had the chance! Think of the probability while announcers talk about field goals as a near certainty on Sunday.

Critical Reasoning

The announcers on Sunday will try to use all kinds of data to predict the outcome, and in doing so they’ll give you plenty of opportunities to think critically in a Critical Reasoning fashion. For example:

“For the last 40 Super Bowls, the team with the most rushing yards has won (some massive percent) of them; it’s important for New England to get LeGarrette Blount rolling early.”

This is a classic causation/correlation argument. Do the rushing yards really win the game? It could very well be true (Weaken answer!) that teams that build a big lead and therefore want to run out the clock run the ball a lot in the second half (incomplete passes stop the clock; runs keep it going). Winning might cause the rushing yards, not the other way around.

Similarly, the announcers will almost certainly make mention at halftime of a stat like:

“Team X has won (some huge percentage) of games they were leading at halftime, so that field goal to put them up 13-10 looms large.”

Here the announcer isn’t factoring in a couple big factors in that stat:

-A 3-point lead isn’t the same as a 20-point lead; how many of those halftime leads were significantly bigger?

-You’d expect teams leading at halftime to win a lot more frequently; based on 30 minutes they may have shown to be a better team plus they now have a head start for the last 30 minutes. Over time those factors should bear out, but in this one game is a potentially-flukey 3-point lead significant enough?

Regardless of how you watch the game, it can provide you with plenty of opportunities to outsmart friends and announcers and sharpen your GMAT critical thinking skills. So while Tom Brady or Russell Wilson runs off the field yelling “I’m going to Disneyland!”, if you’ve paid attention to logical flaws and probability opportunities during the game, you can celebrate by yelling “I’m going to business school!”

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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Advanced Number Properties on the GMAT - Part V [#permalink]

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New post 02 Feb 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Advanced Number Properties on the GMAT - Part V
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Today, let’s look in detail at a relation between arithmetic mean and geometric mean of two numbers. It is one of those properties which make sense the moment someone explains to us but are very hard to arrive on our own.

When two positive numbers are equal, their Arithmetic Mean = Geometric Mean = The number itself

Say, the two numbers are m and n (and are equal). Their arithmetic mean = (m+n)/2 = 2m/2 = m

Their geometric mean = sqrt(m*n) = sqrt(m^2) = m (the numbers are positive so |m| = m)

We also know that Arithmetic Mean >= Geometric Mean

So when arithmetic mean is equal to geometric mean, it means the arithmetic mean is taking its minimum value. So when (m+n)/2 is minimum, it implies (m+n) is minimum. Therefore, sum of numbers takes its minimum value when the numbers are equal.

When geometric mean is equal to arithmetic mean, it means the geometric mean is taking its maximum value. So when sqrt(m*n) is maximum, it means m*n is maximum. Therefore, product of numbers takes its maximum value when the numbers are equal.

Let’s see how to solve a difficult question using this concept.

Question: If x and y are positive, is x^2 + y^2 > 100?

Statement 1: 2xy < 100

Statement 2: (x + y)^2 > 200

Solution:

We need to find whether x^2 + y^2 must be greater than 100.

Statement 1: 2xy < 100

Plug in some easy values to see that this is not sufficient alone.

If x = 0 and y = 0, 2xy < 100 and x^2 + y^2 < 100

If x = 40 and y = 1, 2xy < 100 but x^2 + y^2 > 100

So x^2 + y^2 may be less than or greater than 100.

Statement 2: (x + y)^2 > 200

There are two ways to deal with this statement. One is the algebra way which is easier to understand but far less intuitive. Another is using the concept we discussed above. Let’s look at both:

Algebra solution:

We know that (x – y)^2 >= 0 because a square is never negative.

So x^2 + y^2 – 2xy >= 0

x^2 + y^2 >= 2xy

This will be true for all values of x and y.

Now, statement 2 gives us x^2 + y^2 + 2xy > 200. The left hand side is greater than 200. If on the left we substitute 2xy with (x^2 + y^2), the left hand side will either become greater than or same as before. So in any case, the left hand side will remain greater than 200.

x^2 + y^2 + (x^2 + y^2) > 200

2(x^2 + y^2) > 200

x^2 + y^2 > 100

This statement alone is sufficient to say that x^2 + y^2 will be greater than 100. But, we agree that the first step where we start with (x – y)^2 is not intuitive. It may not hit you at all. Hence, here is another way to analyze this statement.

Logical solution:

Let’s try to find the minimum value of x^2 + y^2. It will take minimum value when x^2 = y^2 i.e. when  x = y (x and y are both positive)

We are given that (x+y)^2 > 200

(x+x)^2 > 200

x > sqrt(50)

So x^2 + y^2 will take a value greater than [sqrt(50)]^2 + [sqrt(50)]^2 = 100.

So in any case, x^2 + y^2 will be greater than 100. This statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.

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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Why You Should Try the Presentation for the Booth MBA Application [#permalink]

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New post 03 Feb 2015, 12:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Why You Should Try the Presentation for the Booth MBA Application
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The most challenging part of the Booth application for many is simply getting started.  Should you write an essay? Or should you build a PowerPoint presentation?  If you write an essay, what do you write about?  How long should it be?  If you build a presentation, where do you even begin?

It’s hard.  And it’s fun.  Trust me.

One general piece of advice that I give to all of my clients: try the presentation.  Since Booth has started giving candidates the choice between writing an essay and building a presentation, I’ve advised every single client to try the presentation.  And each one of them is glad they did.  Many clients have told me that they feel the presentation was the single most important factor in getting in, despite the fact that many struggled with ideas in the beginning.  That’s just part of the process.  Very rarely do candidates have the right idea on the first shot.

That’s not to say that there aren’t cases where an essay is more appropriate.  There probably are.  But I have yet to meet someone who didn’t have an equally compelling or creative story to tell with a presentation.

Why do I recommend the presentation over writing another essay?  There are two main reasons.

First, I believe that Booth is laying down a challenge to its applicants here and looking to see who is willing to step outside of his or her comfort zone.  And that’s exactly what the presentation does.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s not something everyone is used to working with, and it requires some creativity.

Which is my second point: the presentation allows candidates to showcase a very wide range of dimensions that are virtually impossible to share in an essay format.  Things like creativity, your personality, your passions, and more.  It can be incredibly fun, something that very few applications give you a chance to share with a business school, and something exponentially harder to pull off in an essay.

You can literally do anything you want with only two restrictions: it can’t move (no animation, videos, etc), and it can’t be over 16 MB.  As long as you abide by those two restrictions, it’s possible.  This year, there are no page limits.  No rules.  You can do whatever you want.  Which is what makes it both challenging and fun.

So now that you are convinced that the presentation is the right choice, where do you start?  Well, let’s start with answering the question, “Who Are You, Anyway?”

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!

Rich Williams is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His specialties include consulting, finance, and nonprofit applicants.
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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Kudos [?]: 156 [0], given: 2

Why You Should Try the Presentation for the Booth MBA Application   [#permalink] 03 Feb 2015, 12:00

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