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Our Thoughts on Wharton's MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016 [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2015, 14:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Our Thoughts on Wharton's MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016
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Application season at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 MBA admission essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. There is only one required essay question this year, but an additional “optional” essay that candidates should strongly consider addressing is also presented.

 

Essay 1:

What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

A very similar essay to last year’s returns from the Wharton School. This is a classic “Why School X”/“Career Goals” question but with a little Wharton twist. The biggest trap in this prompt is to treat this question like the typical school fit variety. I caution against simply repurposing responses to similar questions from other schools. This question implores candidates to address not only the professional fit with Wharton but also the personal fit.

Breakthrough candidates will utilize a very personal narrative that uniquely captures the essence of why Wharton is the ideal fit for the applicant’s development goals. Wharton is looking for specifics here so avoid general statements that could be harbored by any candidate. This is your chance to connect 1 to 1 with the Admissions Committee, so do not waste this opportunity. The personal element is what makes this question a bit more unique, particularly since many applicants tend to struggle with the personal, more holistic side of the application process.

Really take a future-oriented approach to this essay and think of how the Wharton MBA is uniquely positioned to help you achieve these personal and professional goals. Don’t limit your response to just what things you can gain from Wharton – make sure to also share what elements you bring to the student community as well.

Essay 2 (Optional): 

Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy? (400 words)

Another dreaded “open ended” prompt from an elite program, and to complicate your application, this essay is technically an “optional” one. My first recommendation is to avoid treating this like an optional essay in two key ways:

The first, answer the question! With limited opportunities to tell your story in the Wharton application process, the chance to share additional details should not be missed.  The second, do not approach the response to this question as you would a typical optional essay – avoid discussions about low GPAs or gaps in employment in lieu of a well-developed, concrete essay response.

When contemplating topic selections here in Essay 2, consider focusing on topics that will round out the perception of your candidacy. This essay should offer additional information to showcase the candidate as a “360 degrees” applicant, so avoid any previously mentioned information that may live elsewhere in the application and put this additional real estate to use!

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Wharton, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Wharton essays and deadlines, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Wharton, download our Essential Guide to Wharton, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Wharton and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube 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. You can read more of his articles here.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Advanced Averages Concepts for the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Advanced Averages Concepts for the GMAT
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Let’s discuss an advanced averages concept today.

Say, you have the following set of consecutive integers: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

What is the average of this set? There are 7 consecutive integers here and the average is 5, the middle number.

Say the set is changed to: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (another consecutive number is added to the extreme right). Now what is the average? It is the average of the two middle numbers (5+6)/2 = 5.5.

Let’s edit the set one more time: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (another consecutive number is added to the extreme left). The average now is 5 again.

Whenever you add a number on either side of a set of consecutive integers, the average changes by 0.5. This is obvious because odd number of consecutive integers have the middle number as the average and an even number of consecutive integers have the average of two middle numbers as the average. Since every time you add an integer, the number of integers changes from odd to even or from even to odd, the average changes by 0.5.

By the same logic, what happens when you remove an integer from either extreme?

Given a set 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, how will its average change if you remove 3?

The average of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 is 6, and the average of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 is 6.5 — the average increases to 6.5 because you removed a small number.

Now how will the average change if you remove 9 instead of 3?

The average of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 is 6, and the average of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 is 5.5 — here, the average decreases to 5.5 because you removed a large number.

So, every time you add or remove a number from one of the extremes, the average will move by 0.5.

What happens if you remove a number from somewhere in the middle?

The average changes but by how much? When you remove the greatest or the least number, the average changes by 0.5. So when you remove some other number, the average will change by something less than 0.5. For example, from the set 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, if you remove 8, the average changes from 6 to 5.667. If instead, you remove 7, the average changes to 5.833.

A few takeaways:

  • When you remove an integer very close to the average, the average changes by very little. If you remove the average, the average doesn’t change (changes by 0). When you remove a number close to the extreme, the average changes by a larger number (up to a maximum of 0.5).
  • When you remove a number less than the average, the average increases. When you remove a number more than the average, the average decreases.
  • When you remove the smallest number, the average increases by 0.5. When you remove the greatest number, the average decreases by 0.5.
Now, a question based on this concept:

In a class, the teacher wrote a set of consecutive integers beginning with 1 on the blackboard. A student erased one number. The average of the remaining numbers was 29(14/19). What was the number that the student erased?

(A) 13

(B) 16

(C) 28

(D) 36

(E) 50

Solution:

The numbers on the board: 1, 2, 3, 4, …

The new average is 29(14/19). Since the average changes by not more than 0.5 when you remove an integer from a set of consecutive integers, the original average was either 29.5 or 30. So originally there were either 58 numbers (average 29.5) or 59 numbers (average 30).

When you remove a number, you are left with either 57 numbers or with 58 numbers. Now, the new average will tell you whether you are left with 57 numbers or 58 numbers. The denominator is 19 in the fraction, so when you divide the sum of all remaining integers by the number of integers, the number of integers (denominator) is 19 or a multiple of 19 — 57 is a multiple of 19, 58 is not. So you must have been left with 57 integers and the original number of integers must be 58. This means the original average must have been 29.5.

The original average of 29(1/2) increases to 29(14/19), i.e. an increase of 14/19 – 1/2 = 9/38.

When an integer was removed, the average increased by 9/38 so the integer must be less than the original average. Now use the concept of average that we have learned. One integer was bringing the rest of the numbers down by 9/38 each so the integer must have been (9/38)*57 = 13.5, which is less than the original average of 29.5.

This means the integer that was removed must have been (29.5 – 13.5) = 16, so the answer is B.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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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The First 3 Areas You Should Tackle in Your MBA Application Process [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The First 3 Areas You Should Tackle in Your MBA Application Process
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Applying to business school can be a very daunting experience for the uninitiated. With so many different programs, specialties, and teaching styles, knowing how to get started in the process is an area that many applicants struggle with. Should you start with school research or extra coursework? Ordering your transcripts from your undergrad institution or reaching out to current students for a chat?

The process of applying to business school can be overwhelming to even the most polished and organized professional. Now the initial first few steps will vary from candidate to candidate given your timeline before the application submission due date, application strengths/weakness, and time available to commit to the admissions process.

The key to being most efficient when applying to business school is to avoid redundant steps like working on applications for schools that are not a fit. So the steps we will discuss should limit major opportunities for redundancies

Let’s take a structured approach into thinking about the 3 best areas to tackle to jump-start your business school application process:

1) Career Goals

Why are you applying to business school? A very simple question that often gets overlooked amidst the myriad of other tasks candidates tend to prioritize. But this fundamental question is critical as it feeds into many aspects of the application process. Applicants will identify schools based off of which programs may provide the best fit for their career development goals, along with a host of other elements that reflect the ideal compatibility.

2) GMAT

The choice of tiers of schools to target will also be influenced by your performance on the GMAT. Depending on the score a candidate receives, this will help determine the most realistic range of school options when choosing which MBA programs to apply to. The GMAT is higher on the list than other numerical benchmarks like GPA because GPA is for, most applicants, a historical figure, while the GMAT is a future oriented step that can still be influenced.

3) School Selection

After clearly articulating career goals and the type of schools that reflect your ideal fit, and filtering this list through performance on the GMAT, candidates should be able to start closing in on a realistic list of target programs. School selection is a critical element because it will directly influence chances of admission, and eventually overall satisfaction once accepted. There are few things worse than spending two years at an MBA program that does not address your necessary career and personal development goals.

Kick-off your application process with the above steps to make the most out of your application experience!

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube 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. You can read more of his articles here.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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College Separation Anxiety: Reflecting on the Past and Embracing Your  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: College Separation Anxiety: Reflecting on the Past and Embracing Your New Surroundings
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At the start of July 2012 (I started early), I was thrilled to move in to the dorms and excited for the year to start. A few of my floor mates had bad cases of homesickness, but since my parents lived only a few miles away from my dorm room, I figured I’d be able to avoid the separation anxiety that so famously plagues new undergraduates.

I wasn’t entirely wrong; I had it easier than my friends, since most of them were out-of-state students. I still, though, had to deal with more than a few late nights spent sorely missing my old haunts and social groups, and I still found myself taking in new experiences by comparing them to my favorite things about my old life. My favorite professor reminded me of my favorite high school history teacher, my roommate liked the same authors my high school best friend did, and my new running trails just weren’t as relaxing and familiar as my old routes had been. At its best, separation anxiety was wistful nostalgia. At its worst, it was as though gravity had suddenly been sucked away, and I waded through my class schedule full of self-pity and longing for the sense of security I hadn’t properly appreciated in my high school days.

I was mindful enough, at least, to cope well. I spoke to my old friends regularly, but resisted the urge to call too late at night. I made new friends and built a new support system that has stayed with me to this day. When I felt particularly lonely, I watched my favorite TV shows from grade school or hand-wrote letters to the people I missed most. I went out of my way to build a new normal out of new favorite restaurants, new hobbies, and new study spots. Over the next few months I largely moved on, almost without realizing it. Today I can’t even imagine going back to the way I lived before college, and that’s how I know I was ready to move on.

The last time it really hit me was when I was visiting my old high school teachers in November of the same year. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I instinctively scanned the halls for familiar faces and found exactly that—faces. No one I had really known and loved was still there besides the teachers, and they had their hands full with new students coming in. Because my real attachment to my high school had been to the students in my grade, the world I missed wasn’t gone—it just wasn’t living in the same buildings anymore. I was still in touch with everyone who had really mattered to me, even though my friend group had spread across the country. My old world had just expanded, not disappeared, and I felt dumb for not having realized it earlier.

I still visit my high school friends whenever I get the opportunity. I’ve gotten to know their new cities and schools and friends, and I’ve become more able to think of my past as something I carry with me rather than something I leave behind. It’s been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned here, and as I gear up to transition out of college in a few months I’m far less nervous about leaving than I am grateful to have three and half wonderful years to miss.

Need help prepping your college application? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

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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How to Tackle Evenly Spaced Sets on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Tackle Evenly Spaced Sets on the GMAT
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There’s an amusing anecdote told about the great 18th century mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss. Apparently, when Gauss was young, he was something of a troublemaker in school, and as a punishment for one of his disruptive outbursts, his teacher ordered him to calculate the sum of all the numbers from 1 to 100 inclusive, thinking that such a calculation would be taxing and time-consuming. Gauss simply scratched his head, thought for a few seconds, and then astonished his teacher and classmates by spitting out the answer: 5,050. He was about seven years old when this happened.

So then, how is it possible for a child – a genius, perhaps, but still a child – to do such an extensive computation in his head? The answer involves exploiting certain properties of evenly spaced sets. An evenly spaced set, as the name implies, is one in which the gap between each successive element in the set is equal. So a set consisting of consecutive integers would be evenly spaced, as would a set consisting of consecutive multiples of 2 or consecutive multiples of 3, etc.

It is always true of evenly spaced sets that the median – the middle term of the set – is equal to the mean, or arithmetic average, of the set. Moreover, the mean can be calculated by adding the high and the low terms of the set, and then dividing by 2. We can use this property in conjunction with the equation: Average * Number of Terms = Sum to calculate the sum of any large evenly spaced set.

In the case of the set of the integers from 1 to 100 inclusive, it works like this:

Average = (High + Low)/2 = (100 + 1)/2 = 101/2 = 50.5.

The Number of Terms = 100. Technically, the equation for finding the number of terms in an evenly spaced set is [(High-Low)/increment] + 1, but clearly, there are 100 terms between 1 and 100. Just remember, when using this formula, we want to add one to make sure we’re not leaving off the last term.

Average * Number = 50.5 * 100 = 5050.

Not too bad, even for a seven-year-old. (Note to those curious about the history of mathematics, this isn’t exactly how Gauss did the calculation, but it’s close enough.)

Now let’s see this concept in action on the GMAT:

For any positive integer n, the sum of the first n positive integers equals (n(n+1))/2. What is the sum of all the even integers between 99 and 301?

A) 10,000

B) 20,200

C) 22,650

D) 40,200

E) 45,150

Notice that we don’t have to bother with the formula they give us. The set of all evens from 99 to 301 inclusive will really be from 100 to 300, as those are the lowest and highest even terms of the set, respectively.

Average = (High + Low)/2 = (300 + 100)/2 = 400/2 = 200.

Number of Terms = [(High-Low)/increment] + 1 = [(300-100)/2] + 1 = 101. (Note: we divide by ‘2’ here because we only want even numbers, or multiples of 2. Thus, there is an increment of 2 between each successive term in the set.)

Average * Number = 200 * 101 = 20,200. The answer is B. Not bad.

Great, you think. Now I can just go on autopilot and apply these formulas anytime I encounter a huge evenly spaced set. But the GMAT doesn’t work like that. Sometimes we use a formula, but just as often, we’ll use logic, or we’ll pick a number, or we’ll work with the answer choices.

This cannot be repeated enough: Quantitative Reasoning is not a math test. It’s a test that requires some mathematical knowledge in order to make good decisions under pressure. Sometimes the best decision is doing little or no math at all.

Consider the following question:

How many positive three-digit integers are divisible by both 3 and 4?

A) 75

B) 128

C) 150

D) 225

E) 300

First, note that any number that is divisible by both 3 and 4 will be divisible by 12, as 12 is the least common multiple of 3 and 4. Perhaps you also noted that we’re dealing with an evenly spaced set here, and that, if the set consists of multiples of 12, the increment is clearly 12. But this question is very different from the previous one because we’re not required to calculate a sum. We just need to know how many multiples of 12 exist between 100 and 999.

If my increment is 12, I know I’ll be dividing by 12 at some point. But I can see that my (High – Low) will be at most (999 – 100) = 899. (Technically, our highest multiple of 12 in this set is 996 and our low term is 108, but there’s actually no need to discern this.) Clearly 899/12 will be less than 100, so there have to be fewer than 100 terms in the set. Now look at the answer choices. Only A is less than 100, so I’m done. I don’t have to finish the calculation.

Takeaway: You will be learning many useful formulas for the GMAT, but make sure you don’t use them blindly. Expect to mix formal algebra with the well-worn strategies of picking numbers and working with the answer choices. On the GMAT, flexibility and mental agility will always take precedence over rote memorization.

*GMATPrep questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.
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MBA Applications: How You Can Stand Out When We All Look the Same [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2015, 16:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: MBA Applications: How You Can Stand Out When We All Look the Same
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So many applicants these days look alike on paper in terms of experience, education, test scores and outside involvement, that even highly qualified candidates get lost in the shuffle. We all think we’re pretty unique until we find out that the next guy also volunteered at a similar NGO, or was promoted to VP before his colleagues. Particularly if you come from a feeder industry such as banking, finance or technology/engineering, it gets harder every year to stand out.

Often, the key to distinguishing oneself in the application process is contained within your Post-MBA vision statement. Leveraging the unique components of your profile to create a post MBA vision that is compelling can be the secret to application success. If you can unfold a plan to achieve something interesting which draws on your past experiences, you will have a better shot at getting noticed. Business schools can smell passion a mile away, so try your best to communicate your enthusiasm for the things you hope to accomplish. If these goals tie in nicely to your past achievements, even better.

As much as b-schools like to see passion, they can also spot a dreamer: someone who floats big plans but does not have the evidence in their profile to back it up. If schools feel your vision is unachievable, they will quickly move on. There is a fine line between vision casting and dream weaving. Vision casting is compelling, exciting and obtainable. Dream Weaving can be naïve, grandiose and unconvincing.

Will Stanford invite you to interview based on your grand post-MBA plan? You can’t know for sure until that call comes, but the key will be in how you position your past and future, working  together in a realistic, believable way to reach great heights.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook,YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Steps to Attack Wrong Answers on Test Day [#permalink]

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New post 16 Sep 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: 3 Steps to Attack Wrong Answers on Test Day
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One of the biggest mistakes students make while prepping for the SAT is fixating on the correct answer during practice tests and problems. While getting answers right is obviously the ultimate goal of the SAT, having too much of an obsession with the right answers during test preparation can actually be very harmful to your overall objective.

The reason for this is that focusing on the right answer takes away from the strategy and reasoning behind certain problems. You will never have the same exact problem on the actual SAT, so it does you no good to memorize the answer. Instead, focus on the process and it will pay dividends when the test comes.

Here is how you should properly review missed problems on practice SAT tests or homework:

1) Identify

First, you want to identify the type of question it is so you know if it is in an area that you struggle with, or it’s just this specific problem. For instance, if it’s an isosceles triangle problem, do you always have issues with geometry or triangles, or specifically with isosceles triangles. Getting down to the absolute specifics of your problem will allow you to properly pinpoint your areas of weakness in order to improve for the future.

2) Strategize

Once you have identified the specifics of the problem, figure out which strategy is best for you to use to attack these types of problems moving forward. Is it an algebraic problem that would be best solved by plugging in numbers, or are you better off testing answer choices? Once you determine the proper strategy for these types of problems, you will be way ahead of the game for similar future ones.

One way to check whether these strategies should be used moving forward is to redo the problem by either plugging in numbers, or testing answer choices or any other strategy of your choice. Only move forward if you now understand the conceptual aspect and are able to get the question right. Once you do this, you are ready for the last step of proper review.

You should keep a notebook where you chronicle all of the problems you got wrong, why you got them wrong and what you will do differently moving forward to get similar ones right in the future. While this is certainly time intensive, it helps you internalize the concept by dedicating more time to review.

3) Double-Check Other Errors

In addition to paying attention to the process, also check out the other errors you might be making. Maybe you aren’t labeling diagrams enough, or writing enough information down. Often students chalk up wrong answers to careless errors, but sometimes that is not enough. Until you figure out exactly what caused the careless error, it isn’t very helpful – you can’t just assume these problems will be fixed magically. Usually there is a reason for a careless error, whether it is not checking one’s work or relying to heavily on the calculator. Figure out the exact reason, and you will be in a much better position moving forward.

Determining the proper “why” of why you answered a practice question incorrectly is the proper way to attack wrong answers on the SAT. While you won’t be focusing on the actual answer, the ultimate result is getting it right in the future, and that’s what really counts on test day.

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, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help.
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Strategies for the New GMAT Questions that You Need to Know! [#permalink]

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New post 16 Sep 2015, 11:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Strategies for the New GMAT Questions that You Need to Know!
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About a month ago, GMAC released the latest version of the GMAT Official Guide, 25% of which consisted of new questions. Though the GMAT tends not to change too drastically over time – how else could a school compare a score received by one candidate in 2015 to a score received by another candidate in 2010? – there can be subtle shifts of emphasis, and paying attention to the composition mix of the questions in the latest version of the Official Guide is a good way to ascertain if any such shift is in the offing.

My concern as an instructor is whether the philosophy I’m advocating and the techniques I’m teaching are as relevant for the newer questions as they have been for the older ones.

This philosophy can be summarized as follows: the GMAT is not, fundamentally, a content-based test, but rather, uses certain elements of our academic background to test how we think under pressure. Because the test is evaluating how we think, and not what we know, the cultivation of simple strategies, such as using the answer choices or picking easy numbers, is just as important as the re-mastery of the content you may have initially learned in eighth grade, but have subsequently forgotten.

Having thoroughly dissected the new questions in the latest version of the Official Guide, I can confidently report that this philosophy is more relevant than ever. Of the over 200 new quantitative questions, I didn’t do extensive calculations for a single problem. If anything, the kind of fluid logic-based approach that we preach at Veritas is more critical than ever.

Take this new question, for example:

Four extra-large sandwiches of exactly the same size were ordered for m students, where m > 4. Three of the sandwiches were evenly divided among the students. Since 4 students did not want any of the fourth sandwich, it was evenly divided among the remaining students. If Carol ate one piece from each of the four sandwiches, the amount of sandwich that she ate would be what fraction of a whole extra-large sandwich?

A) (m+4)/[m(m-4)]

B) (2m-4)/[m(m-4)]

C) (4m-4)/[m(m-4)]

D) (4m-8)/[m(m-4)]

E) (4m-12)/[m(m-4)]

Of course, we could do this question algebraically. But if the GMAT is testing our ability to make good decisions under pressure, and if the algebra feels hard for you, then a better option is to make your life as easy as possible and select a simple number for m. If m is larger than 4, let’s say that m = 5. “m” represents the number of students, so now we have 5 students and, we’re told in the question stem, a total of 4 sandwiches. (The question of what kind of negligent, hard-hearted school knowingly packs only 4 sandwiches for all of its students to share will have to be addressed in another post. This question feels straight out of Oliver Twist.)

Okay. We’re told that 3 of the sandwiches are divided evenly among the 5 students. (3 sandwiches)/(5 students) means each student gets 3/5 of a sandwich.

Additionally, we’re told that 4 of the students don’t want any part of the remaining sandwich. Because we only have 5 students and 4 of them don’t want the remaining sandwich, the last student will get the entire fourth sandwich.

To summarize what we have so far: Each of the 5 students initially received 3/5 of a sandwich, and then one student received an entire additional sandwich, on top of that initial 3/5. The lucky fifth student received a total of 3/5 + 1 = 8/5 of a sandwich.

Last, we ‘re told that Carol ate a piece of each of the four sandwiches. But we established that only one student ate a piece of every sandwich, so Carol has to be that lucky student! Therefore, Carol ate 8/5 of a sandwich.

We’re asked what fraction of a sandwich Carol ate, so the answer is simply 8/5. Now all we have to do is plug ‘5’ in place of ‘m’ in each answer choice, and the one that gives us 8/5 will be our answer.

Most test-takers will simply start with A and work their way down until they find an option that works. The question-writer knows that this is how most test-takers proceed. Therefore, it’s a more challenging question if the correct answer is towards the bottom of our answer choices. So let’s use this logic to our advantage, start with E, and work our way up.

Answer choice E:  (4m-12)/[m(m-4)]

Substituting ‘5’ in place of ‘m,’ we get (4*5 – 12)/[5(5-4) = 8/5. That’s it! We’re done. The correct answer is E.

Takeaway: Keep reminding yourself that the GMAT (even with its new questions) is not designed to test what you know. While it is important to brush up on all of the fundamentals you acquired years before, the most successful test-takers will fluidly incorporate simple strategies when attacking complex questions, rather than simply grinding through longer calculations. Each new version of the Official Guide validates the wisdom of this approach.

*Official Guide question courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.
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99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 8: Reading is FUNdamental [#permalink]

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New post 16 Sep 2015, 15:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 99th Percentile GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 8: Reading is FUNdamental
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Veritas Prep’s Ravi Sreerama is the #1-ranked GMAT instructor in the world (by GMATClub) and a fixture in the new Veritas Prep Live Online format as well as in Los Angeles-area classrooms.  He’s beloved by his students for the philosophy “99th percentile or bust!”, a signal that all students can score in the elusive 99th percentile with the proper techniques and preparation.   In this “9 for 99th” video series, Ravi shares some of his favorite strategies to efficiently conquer the GMAT and enter that 99th percentile.

First, take a look at lessons 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7!

Lesson Eight:

Reading is FUNdamental:  If you can read this video prompt, there are several GMAT quantitative problems that you should answer correctly…but might not on test day.  As Ravi notes in this video, often students supply incorrect answers to quantitative problems not because they can’t do the math, but because in doing the math they take their attention off of reading the question carefully.  So heed Ravi’s advice: if you’re going to get a math problem wrong, get it wrong because you can’t do the math, not because you can’t read.



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

Want to learn more from Ravi? He’s taking his show on the road for a one-week Immersion Course in New York this summer, and he teaches frequently in our new Live Online classroom.

By Brian Galvin
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Should You Worry About Your GMAT Integrated Reasoning and Writing Sect [#permalink]

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New post 17 Sep 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Should You Worry About Your GMAT Integrated Reasoning and Writing Section Scores?
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With a fairly consistent test format for more than fifty years, the Graduate Management Admissions Council revamped the test a couple of years ago with new assessments.  Most recently, the Integrated Reasoning Section, a 30-minute portion of the GMAT made up of 12 questions, was designed to measure one’s ability to discern patterns and combine verbal and quantitative reasoning so solve problems.

While the admissions committees at top schools seem to continue focusing on the traditional verbal and quantitative score combination (out of a possible 800), and have shown no signs of using this new IR nor the 30-minute writing section to make admissions decisions, it is likely we will see an emphasis shift towards these new sections in the future, since the skills they measure are critical to today’s business leaders.

Making sound decisions in business is perhaps the most important skill for the global business person in today’s marketplace. Even though they are often confronted with incomplete information, MBA professionals are still required to make choices on a daily basis which can impact organizations around the world.

While the quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT do a good job of measuring and predicting how students are likely to perform in business school, the fact that these sections separately measure these attributes, they are not necessarily a good indicator of how someone will combine these skills to make sound decisions. The Integrated Reasoning section measures these skills in a format which requires test takers to quickly assimilate information from a variety of sources and evaluate that information to discern the correct answers.  We can probably all agree that bringing complex ideas together and analyzing data in a variety of formats are necessary to succeed in today’s technology and data-driven global marketplace.

It was a massive survey of 740 business school faculty worldwide which resulted in the list of skills this section of the GMAT was designed to test.  These faculty identified the most important skills they thought today’s matriculating students needed to possess as they embarked upon the next phase of their business careers.  Over time, as the admissions committees and rankings boards come to share the view that these skills are important, the Integrated Reasoning score will provide a new measure for adcoms to find candidates who are the right fit for their programs, and it will also provide another way for you as an applicant to stand out .

In the meantime, if you happen to score well on this section of the GMAT, you may need to highlight your results to the adcoms yourself.  Until the Integrated  Reasoning section of the GMAT catches on in the admissions process, at the very least you can rest assured the time spent preparing for this section and the extent to which you can develop your skillset in this area will only help you navigate a challenging business school curriculum.  It may just help you shine on the job in your chosen post MBA career as well.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.
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Our Thoughts on Duke Fuqua's MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016 [#permalink]

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New post 17 Sep 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Our Thoughts on Duke Fuqua's MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016
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Application season at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. With all of your essays for Fuqua, treat your responses holistically and try to paint a complete picture of your candidacy. This post will focus on the actual required essay prompts but keep in mind, Fuqua does also have three required short answers focused on career goals, so it makes sense to limit those discussions to that that section.

Essay 1: 25 Random Things About Yourself

The Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you-beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. Share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are.

This essay from Fuqua is one of the more unique questions asked among top MBA programs. It really takes most applicants outside of their comfort zone and implores them to put some thought into some of the more insightful elements of who they are as a person. This can be a tough task that many applicants will struggle to address properly.

A good start is drafting a broad list of items and curating this list based on the elements that best connect with the values the Fuqua MBA is best known for. Make sure to select your list in alignment with the prompt by avoiding information already available elsewhere – take this as an opportunity to let your personality shine through while getting creative. If this list does not truly reflect who you are as a person then it is time to start over, so make that connection and try to have fun with this one.

Essay 2A: Why Duke?

When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful. (2 pages)

This is one of two optional questions for Essay 2, which may actually be the simpler of the two options, but decide for yourself which option will allow you to most impressively tell your story. Keep in mind the areas you have already covered in the other short answer/essay responses, and use your choice here to complement the previous narrative.

I love this first question option from Fuqua, as it really strikes at the core of the desire for an authentic response. You are not addressing the AdComm here, but those close to you instead, so the expectation with your response is that it should touch on some more honest elements that might differ from the more formal, canned responses typically provided. Be honest and personable here, and try and connect with the AdComm on a more human level. Also, don’t forget to include some program specifics – it is still important to communicate how Fuqua is the ideal fit for your personal and professional development goals.

Essay 2B: Team Fuqua Principles

If you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” – Authentic Engagement, Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Impactful Stewardship, Loyal Community, Uncompromising Integrity. Which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student. (2 pages)

Another very unique essay prompt coming from Fuqua. A common theme should be becoming obvious to applicants with this school: Fuqua really wants to get to the core of who you are, what you will bring to the student community, and whether Fuqua is the right MBA program for you. This question seeks to address exactly that.

A strong foundation of school research is the key to crafting a successful response to this essay question. Leverage research about the program to identify which “Team Fuqua Principle” is most consistent with who you are and what you plan to bring to the table. The requested timeframe for your selection is worth noting, so keep your planned contributions focused on your time at Fuqua and less on the past.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Fuqua, hopefully this will help you get started.

If you are considering applying to Fuqua, download our Essential Guide to Fuqua, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Fuqua and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube 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. You can read more of his articles here.
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Which Business Schools Should You Be Applying To? [#permalink]

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New post 18 Sep 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Which Business Schools Should You Be Applying To?
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This time of year, the biggest question I get from clients seems to be which business schools they should be targeting for application. We understand that with so many choices out there, both domestically (in the US) and internationally, it can be a bit overwhelming. Time and time again, we find ourselves having to remind everyone of the one key word to focus on when choosing schools:  FIT.

While it is often recommend people go to the best business school where they can get accepted, it’s so much more than a school’s ranking that figures into this decision. Because rankings change all the time, and because your b-school decision is for life (it’s considered a terminal degree after all, meaning you will likely never go back to school again after the MBA), it makes much more sense to go to the school where you fit the best. So what does fit mean exactly?

Every school has its own unique culture and personality, which often can mirror or complement your own working style and preferences. For example, do you like a school with a competitive atmosphere? Perhaps this feeling brings out the best in your performance, with classmates pushing you to achieve your goals. Or maybe you like a more collaborative environment, where everyone bends over backwards to “never leave a man behind.” Do you like a boot camp mentality, or a work hard, play hard philosophy? Do you have a family, or are you single? Demographics can heavily influence the atmosphere at business school. Any way you size up the various schools, rest assured there is a match out there for you.

In addition to culture, there are the curriculum differences to consider. Make sure you research the coursework and expertise of a particular school to ensure they provide the academic preparation you need, particularly if you plan to have a specific focus such as operations, marketing, or finance, for example. Even more specifically, some schools have carved out a niche, say in the energy field or health care. You would be wise to conduct a thorough due diligence effort to make sure the academic fit is right for you before applying.

Finally, you must take a hard assessment of your core profile to make sure you fit from the perspective of competency. The last thing you want to do is to face the outright rejection from a school where you simply are not qualified based on their admissions requirements. So if you have a 500 GMAT, a degree from a top 300 state college and a spotty work record of 12 months, it’s unlikely the top 10 is in the cards for you. Confidence is a great quality, but blind overconfidence is only going to end up wasting your time.

One of the best ways to ascertain fit is to visit the school. There is truly no substitute for an in-person class visit, or a chat with current students or faculty. Some schools will even give you kudos for taking the time to visit, and still others will allow you to schedule an actual interview while you are there. Take full advantage of every opportunity to assess which school is the right fit for you. If you do, you will be much happier during your program and much more satisfied down the road. Remember, the people you go to school with will be your friends and business contacts for life! And there’s also the decision of which sweatshirt you want to be wearing out there in the real world.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.
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4 Things To Consider When Reviewing College Rankings [#permalink]

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New post 18 Sep 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 4 Things To Consider When Reviewing College Rankings
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It’s that time of year again. The excitement and frenzy surrounding college applications is starting to pick up and colleges are trying to put their best foot forward in appealing to high school students around the world. When it comes to appealing to potential applicants, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be highly ranked in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list!

We know how important college rankings are – graduating from a school that consistently ranks at the top often leads to jobs sooner after graduation, higher salaries and a competitive advantage when applying to graduate programs. As we’ve seen for the past several years, Princeton University, Harvard University and Yale University continue to hold the top three spots, respectively. These top schools are all members of the Ivy League and admit less than 8% of applicants each year.

While their acceptance rate is quite low, they estimate that over three quarters of students who apply for admission are qualified candidates. This is a true testament to the sheer number of talented and successful students are out there. That means there are hundreds of thousands who are fighting for spots at the most selective schools in the country.

With these published lists comes the (sometimes daunting) task of assembling a ranking system for your own. When assembling your list of top schools, it is important to not only consider where they rank overall, but also where they rank in terms of other important factors like academic programs, student life, size and value. So, when you scroll through the lists and get a sense of the top schools in the U.S., you should also focus on the factors that could make them your top pick. Just a few things to consider when reviewing the college ranking lists:

1. Academic programs: Do they have a strong academic program for the area you’d like to study? What kind of classes can you take? Who are the Professors and what are their backgrounds? Will this school help you get an internship in this industry? What percentage of graduates get jobs in this industry after graduation?

2. Student life: Does this school have students who live on or off campus (or both)? Do they guarantee housing for freshman? What athletic programs do they offer? Do they have clubs already on campus that you’re interested in joining? Is Greek Life prominent on campus?

3. Size: How many undergraduate students are there? What is the average number of students in each class? What is the faculty to student ratio? How many clubs are on campus? Is Greek Life part of the student community?

4. Best value: How well does the school support students who require need-based financial assistance? What is the average cost after receiving grants based on needs? What scholarships are available? Do they have funding in the programs you’re interested in?

Answering these essential questions early on will help you narrow down your college list and develop a ranking system for your own top schools. It is important to remember that the schools you select should meet your own specific criteria, not necessarily the criteria that others use to make these annual rankings.

Speaking of, you might be interested to know how the U.S. News & World Report makes their rankings! To learn more about how U.S. News & World Report generates these rankings every year, click here!

Need help prepping your college application? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

 

The post 4 Things To Consider When Reviewing College Rankings appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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New School, New Friends: 2 Things to Remember When Communicating in Yo [#permalink]

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New post 21 Sep 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: New School, New Friends: 2 Things to Remember When Communicating in Your New College Community
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You’ve probably heard adults say that college is “an important learning experience”, but you may not have realized that in college, you’re learning more than high-level academic content. For example, the instant you leave your hometown – and with it, your family and childhood friends – to begin life in your college dorm, you’ll be learning how to live with strangers, which, I can say with certainty, is a skill. In fact, your whole social and personal life is going to “restart” once you go to college, because you won’t be waking up to your mom’s or dad’s breakfast anymore, or going to classes with people you’ve known for years. With a few exceptions, you’re going to be surrounded by veritable strangers 24/7, which is a thrilling and a nerve-wracking prospect: thrilling, because you’ll have a chance to meet all sorts of new unique people, and scary because, well, who doesn’t feel a little anxious about getting along with people they don’t know?

A lot of the advice I’m going to give you is only going to make sense once you’ve been in college for a while. Even so, the following can help you navigate the social element of the “college experience” as you begin to figure out what you want in your adult life.

Balance community events and one-on-one hang-outs

When you first get to college, you and many other freshman will be “on the hunt” for new friends – seriously, it’s a little like speed-dating. Roommates will ask you to come to parties with them; peers living on your floor will ask you if you want to grab lunch after class; you’ll get 14 new friend requests a day on Facebook from people you hardly know, etc. However, despite all of this feverish socializing, you may find that you aren’t forming any deep connections, at least not right away. My advice to you is to attend community events – whether they take the form of sport games, barbecues, a new club meeting, or a lecture – that you are interested in, and also make it a point to ask some people you meet at these events to hang out one-on-one. Why? Community events in college can give you a feel of the campus vibe, can help you make form new interests, and can introduce you to people who are looking for similar things as you – whether that’s sustainable living, or learning new languages, or cooking together. So, if you aren’t finding close friends in your dorm or your classes, you can meet other people by getting involved in community life. And don’t be shy about asking people you meet to hang out – you’ll be amazed to find how many other underclassmen are still looking for close friends, even many months into college.

It’s important to also consider the fact that once you graduate college, you may move to a new city to start your career. That means that developing the abilities to get out to local and community events, and to meet people at them, will be useful and necessary in your adult life.

Communicate clearly and kindly with your roommate:

Passive aggressive relationships between roommates are far too common in college, which is a shame, because they are stressful (to the point that they can affect academics) and easily avoidable. Even if you’ve shared a room with a sibling or with another kid before at a summer camp, sharing a room in a college dorm is a different ball-game. First of all, you won’t know your roommate as well as you do a sibling, so there’s a good chance you’ll find it more difficult to tell him or her why he/she needs to turn down his/her music, or pick his/her clothes up off the floor, etc. Second of all, it’s easy to quickly develop poor communication habits with a roommate, and as I said, this can affect your academics.

When I was in college, I saw far too many situations in which roommates were extremely upset with each other over relatively minor problems (like cleaning dishes) because neither had taken the time to sit down with the other person, discuss their schedules, and figure out a compromise that everyone could accept. Instead, both parties complained about the other, meaning the apartment wasn’t amicable for anyone.

Given that there’s a good chance you’ll end up living with apartment-mates if you move to a city after college, being able to 1) speak directly to your housemates about your needs and 2) be considerate of your housemates’ needs is one of the more important sets of skills you can learn in college. For example, when you get upset over something, it’s important to tell your housemates why, and to do so in a constructive fashion. I.e., telling your roommates that when they don’t clean the dishes, you aren’t able to cook dinner, which is impacting your schedule, in a firm but calm tone, is much more constructive than calling your housemates ‘a bunch of slobs’. And if you can also pay attention to your housemates’ needs and schedules, and work towards an empathetic agreement that takes everyone into consideration, you’ll be demonstrating true leadership, which is one of the most important signs of real maturity.

Need some help with your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

By Rita Pearson

 

The post New School, New Friends: 2 Things to Remember When Communicating in Your New College Community appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Know the Concept of Cost Price for the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 21 Sep 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Know the Concept of Cost Price for the GMAT
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Most of us are quite comfortable with the concepts of percentages, cost price and sale price, but when we come across a toughie from these topics, we feel lost. Then we go back to the theory but there seems to be nothing new there – nothing new that could potentially help us tackle such questions with ease in the future. The point is, the basic theory of these topics is quite simple – there isn’t anything else to it – but it’s application to GMAT questions is an altogether different deal. There are small but critical things that you need to keep in mind, one of which we will discuss today: what is the cost price?

Let’s take a look at this with an official question:

A photography dealer ordered 60 Model X cameras to be sold for $250 each, which represents a 20 percent markup over the dealer’s initial cost for each camera. Of the cameras ordered, 6 were never sold and were returned to the manufacturer for a refund of 50 percent of the dealer’s initial cost. What was the dealer’s approximate profit or loss as a percent of the dealer’s initial cost for the 60 cameras?

(A) 7% loss

(B) 13% loss

(C) 7% profit

(D) 13% profit

(E) 14% profit

Solution:

Here are the various data points:

  • 60 cameras bought at 20% markup.
  • Selling Price = $250
  • 6 not sold and 50% of initial cost refunded
  • Profit/Loss = ?
Now look at the solution:

The cost price per camera = 250/1.2 = 1250/6

The total cost price = (1250/6)*60 = $12,500

50% of the cost of 6 cameras was returned.

The cost price of 6 cameras = (1250/6)*6 = $1250

50% of this = 1250/2 = $625

This means the effective cost price = 12,500 – 625 = $11,875

If the selling price per camera = $250, the total selling price = 54 * 250 = $13500 (only 54 cameras were sold)

Hence, the profit % = [(13500 – 11875) / 11875] x 100 = (1625/11875) x 100 = 13.684%

This gives us approximately 14% as the answer (rounding up). But that is not correct. Before you move ahead, try to figure out the problem with this solution. If you are able to, it means you do understand this topic very well.

Here is the problem with the solution:

The cost price is the total initial cost price. You cannot subtract the refund out of it. The refund is effectively the price at which the 6 cameras were sold. You cannot cancel off your cost price with your sale price and have a smaller cost price. Your initial investment in the transaction is your cost price. When you reduce it by cancelling off some sale price (or refund), you are artificially increasing your profit percentage.

Say, we buy a few thing for $100. While selling them off, we get $50 for half of them. We reduce our cost price by $50 and get $50 as cost price. For the other half, we sell them for $60. We say that $50 is out cost price and $60 is our selling price. The profit we made is $10, which is fine. The issue is that our profit percentage is not (10/50) * 100 = 20%. Rather, our profit percentage will be (10/100) * 100 = 10% only, so $100 would be our actual cost price.

Keeping this in mind, here is the correct algebra solution:

The total cost price = (1250/6)*60 = $12,500

The total selling price = 54 * 250 + $625 = $13,500 + $625 = $14,125 (60 cameras were sold, 54 at $250 each and 6 at 50% of cost price)

The profit = 14,125 – 12,500 = $1625 (same as before)

The profit percentage = (1625/12,500) * 100 = 13%

Therefore, the answer is (D).

Obviously, we can always use our trusted weighted averages formula here for a quick and efficient solution:

Weighted Averages

On 54 cameras, the dealer made a 20% profit and on 6 cameras, he made a 50% loss. The ratio of the cost price of 54 cameras:cost price of 6 cameras = 54:6 = 9:1

Average Profit/Loss percentage = (.2*9 + (-.5)*1)/10 = 1.3/10 = .13 = 13% profit.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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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Min/Max Questions on the GMAT are a Piece of Cake (or Pie)! [#permalink]

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New post 21 Sep 2015, 14:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Min/Max Questions on the GMAT are a Piece of Cake (or Pie)!
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When I was a child, dessert was serious business. If my family were having pie, that pie had to be evenly distributed among family members, or violence would ensue. Portion size was something we understood at a primal, instinctive level. A larger piece for my brother meant a smaller piece for me. If I wanted to be generous, I could cut myself a smaller piece, thus providing one of my fortunate brothers with a larger dessert share. Every child knows this. But somehow what a child knows intuitively about pie, an adult can forget when dealing with a GMAT question.

I’m talking specifically about min/max questions. For these problems, there are only two things we need to do. First, we need to determine the size of the pie. Then, if we’re trying to maximize one slice, we need to minimize the size of all the other slices and see what’s left over. Similarly, if we’re trying to minimize one slice, we need to maximize all the other slices. Let’s see this principle in action with an official question:

Five pieces of wood have an average length (arithmetic mean) of 124 centimeters and a median length of 140 centimeters. What is the maximum length, in centimeters, of the shortest piece of wood?

A) 90

B) 100

C) 110

D) 130

E) 140

First, let’s determine the size of the pie. If the average is 124 centimeters, and there are five pieces of wood, we know that the total sum of all the pieces of wood would be 5*124 = 620. Let’s call the smallest piece, ’s.’ So far, we have the following:

s ___, 140, ___, ___

Next, we want to maximize the smallest piece. Think pie. If I want to maximize the size of one piece, in this case ‘s,’ I want to minimize the size of all the other slices. The minimum size for the second smallest slice is ‘s.’ (If it were any smaller, it would be the smallest slice.) The minimum size for our two larges slices is 140. (If those were any smaller, the median would change.)

Now, we’re left with the following set:

s, s, 140, 140, 140.

Well, we already know that the sum is 620, so now we have the following equation:

s + s + 140 + 140 + 140 = 620.

2s + 420 = 620

2s = 200

s = 100. The answer is B.

Let’s try a tougher one:

For a certain race, 3 teams were allowed to enter 3 members each. A team earned 6 – n points whenever one of its members finished in nth place, where 1 ≤ n ≤ 5.

There were no ties, disqualifications, or withdrawals. If no team earned more than 6 points, what is the least possible score a team could have earned?

A) 0

B) 1

C) 2

D) 3

E) 4

We know it’s a min/max question, so first we need to determine the size of the pie. We’re told that a team will earn 6 – n points whenever one of its members finishes in nth place. The team that has the first place finisher (n = 1) will earn 6 – 1 = 5 points. The second place finisher (n =2) will earn 6 – 2 = 4 points. The trend quickly becomes clear:

First place: 5 points

Second place: 4 points

Third place: 3 points

Fourth place: 2 points

Fifth place: 1 point

One of the conditions of the problem is that ‘n’ cannot be any larger than 5, so at this point, there are no more points to earn. Summing all the available points, we get 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15. So there are 15 points total for the three teams to divvy up.

Now we’re trying to minimize the number of points one team earned. What did we do in the Goldstein household when we were feeling particularly sadistic and wished to stick my youngest brother with the smallest possible piece of pie? We’d maximize the size of all the other pieces, leaving the youngest, most vulnerable Goldstein with a sad pile of unpalatable mush. Let’s do the same here.

We’re told that no team scored more than 6 points, so 6 is the max number of points a team could have earned. If two teams earned the max – 6 points – they’d have earned 12 points between them. If there are 15 points total, and two of the teams earn a total of 12 points, that leaves 3 points for the stragglers. D is the answer.

Takeaway: As soon as you see a min/max term such as “least,” “most,” “minimum,” “or “maximum,” you’ll be well-served to summon some traumatic memories of divvying up your favorite childhood dessert.

*GMATPrep questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.

The post Min/Max Questions on the GMAT are a Piece of Cake (or Pie)! appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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What 3 Things Should You Do On Orientation Day? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Sep 2015, 08:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: What 3 Things Should You Do On Orientation Day?
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College orientation is one of the most exciting days ever! For the first time, students are in an entirely new environment taking on an entirely new challenge. Orientation can seem daunting at first, but really it is one of the best ways to start your college experience.

For some, this is the first new school they have gone to since freshman year of high school. Even if you have already met your admissions counselor, there will definitely be a plethora of new people who you haven’t met . Orientation is the perfect place to meet your roommate/floormate and practice getting comfortable in naturally uncomfortable settings.

You may be a little nervous about this event, but the good news is many other students feel the same way you do! There is no need to be anxious or concerned about going up to a complete stranger – this is what advisors, counselors, and professors are hoping you will do. That is just one of the many secrets of orientation, and here are a couple more to help you start your new college experience on a high note.

1. Make friends with your orientation advisor

Every school has orientation advisors; these are current students who work to make the orientation process an exciting one. These students are passionate about the university, knowledgeable about classes and majors, and most importantly – willing to be of assistance to new students. It may be intimidating to try and befriend one of these orientation advisors but that is what they are there for. Plus, it is really the first chance for you to communicate with a classmate in college. In high school it was normal to be friends with primarily students in your grade. While that also happens in college, it’s perfectly natural to make friends with seniors, juniors, and sophomores as well.

2. Pay attention during the information sessions

Getting off to a strong academic start as a freshman will put you ahead of the general population who may struggle their first few weeks. One of the best ways to be prepared academically, is to pay attention during the information sessions at orientation. Sometimes orientations can take place two months before your freshman year will start, othertimes, they are only days away from the first day of school. It is important to stay motivated to pay close attention to what the advisors are saying. Try your best to focus and soak up all the pertinent information related to your major because it will come in handy later.

3. Schedule your classes

Many universities have dedicated time to schedule your classes during orientation. This is a new process for incoming students, and having advisors and current students there to help is an invaluable resource that you should use. Sometimes, students like to put this off until they can do more research and figure out the best classes to take. You can always reschedule or further customize your classes, so get something down on paper during orientation.

Overall, keep these things in mind (and remember to have fun!) during student orientation. Navigating through this event will lead you to success  your freshmen year and set you up for a great first start of college!

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!

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

The post What 3 Things Should You Do On Orientation Day? appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Should You Apply to MBA Programs Early Action? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Sep 2015, 09:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Should You Apply to MBA Programs Early Action?
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Deciding when to apply to business school can often get applicants twisted up, as they attempt to inject strategy into the process. We can speak more specifically to this strategy in another post, but it also makes sense to talk about early action. It seems more and more schools have an early action option which throws yet another wrench in the round one vs. round two vs. round three discussion.

Early action is simply a special status application round whereby the schools provide “preferential consideration” to applicants who 1) apply early according to a specific deadline imposed by the admissions committee and 2) promise to drop the pursuit of other schools if they are admitted. Why do they do this? It is a simple matter of yield. Yield is a dreaded figure for most business school admissions offices because it’s the number of applicants who are offered admission who actually end up enrolling at the school.

The flip side of yield, however, is the number of student who decline the offer and leave their seat to be filled by someone else. Granted, this is not as much of a problem for schools like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, who seem to have no trouble getting folks to enroll for some reason, but even at these super elite schools, there are people every year who are admitted but end up turning them down.

For some schools, yield is a sizable headache, particularly schools often found bouncing around in the bottom of the coveted top ten group. Despite being top schools in their own right, believe it or not, they are often used as safety schools for the most qualified applicants. So if someone has a bullet-proof profile and applies to Wharton, Harvard and Duke, when they get the call that they got into both HBS and Duke, they often choose HBS and drop Duke.

This happens enough to some schools that they have to scramble each year with their waitlists to fill every seat before the semester begins. In order to combat this problem, many have started using this early action offer in an attempt to avoid this stress. By bringing in a certain number of guaranteed students early in the process, they begin the admissions season with the assurance of a core group of students whom they know are very unlikely to change their minds (mostly because beyond the promise of admission comes the requirement of paying a hefty deposit to hold your spot).

So should you apply early action or not?  There are two important questions to ask yourself first:

1) Would you be happy going to this school even if you were accepted by another school?

2) Could your core profile and application benefit from a bit of extra consideration, without which, you’d be more concerned about your chances of admission?

If the answer is yes to both questions, or even if the answer is yes at least to #1, then early action is a good option. So get busy! Early action deadlines are under a month away!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Bryant Michaels has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons. See more of his articles here.

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3 Ways to Improve Brain Function for Better Studying [#permalink]

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New post 22 Sep 2015, 13:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 3 Ways to Improve Brain Function for Better Studying
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I recently read The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin, a book teeming with insights about simple adjustments we can make in our daily routines to improve our productivity. I’ve written about this topic in the past, but it can’t be emphasized enough – the primary problem most test-takers encounter is that they struggle to find enough time to study consistently.

According to GMAC, test-takers who score 700 or above spend, on average, 114 hours preparing for the exam. There’s nothing magic about that number, but it does reveal that getting ready for the GMAT is an intensive ordeal. As technologies improve and our focus becomes increasingly fragmented by our proliferating gadgets, the challenge, whether we’re studying for the GMAT or trying to complete a project at work, is how we can be productive and still have enough time and energy to enjoy some semblance of a personal life.

1) Sleep

First, Levitin emphasizes the importance of sleep. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, our instinct is to work more and sleep less – we feel as though we need more waking hours to complete whatever tasks we have to perform. The problem with this approach is that sleep deprivation causes us to be significantly less effective and productive, so much so that the additional time we gain is more than offset by the diminished performance that results from a sleep-debt.

The statistics on the subject are nothing short of astonishing. According to economists, sleep deprivation costs U.S. businesses more than $150 billion dollars a year from accidents and lost productivity. It is also associated with increased risk for heart disease, obesity, suicide, and cancer. This is an easy fix.

Levitin recommends going to bed at the same time each night (preferably an hour earlier than you’re accustomed to) and waking at the same time each morning. If it isn’t possible to sleep more at night, a nap as short as 15 minutes can serve the same refreshing function. Napping has been shown to reduce our risk of developing a host of medical conditions, and the beneficial effects are so striking that many companies have designated nap rooms filled with cots.

2) Stop Multi-Tasking

Next, Levitin discusses the cognitive impact of multi-tasking. We all know that it isn’t a great idea to try to study while texting or answering emails, etc., but what’s striking is that the impact of allowing other activities to siphon our attention is actually quantifiable. Glenn Wilson, a British researcher from Gresham College, conducted a study in which he found that when participants were informed that they had an unread email in their inbox, their effective IQ decreased by 10 points. Moreover, he documented that the cognitive-blunting effects of multi-tasking are more pronounced than the effects of smoking marijuana.

Other studies have revealed that task-switching, in general, heightens the brain’s glucose demands and amplifies anxiety, and the resulting discomfort ratchets up the desire to find some kind of distraction, such as, checking email again. Experts recommend designating two or three blocks of time a day for responding to email, and beyond that, strictly forbidding yourself to check for new messages.

A more ingenious idea comes from Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor. Lessig recommends declaring email bankruptcy, which would involve composing an automatic reply that informs whoever has contacted you that if this email requires an immediate response, they should call you, and if not, they should resend the email in a week if they haven’t heard from you. This technique will allow you greater latitude in structuring your day in terms of when you respond to emails, and will, hopefully, negate the multi-tasking concerns that lead to the aforementioned IQ drop. And when you’re studying for the GMAT, have a strict policy of not checking your phone or opening a new browser window.

3) Don’t Procrastinate

Last, and perhaps most importantly, the book addresses the problem of procrastination. Procrastination is a universal problem and likely results from the basic architecture of the human brain, wired as it is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Jake Eberts, a Harvard MBA and successful film producer, offers a bit of very simple but compelling advice: just get in the habit of always doing the most unpleasant thing on your agenda first. There is evidence that our willpower is gradually depleted throughout the day, so it’s best to tackle the most dreaded elements of our to-do list first thing in the morning.

Takeaway: Here are three very easy things you can do, starting today, if you’re having difficulty finding the time/energy to study:

1) First, sleep more. If that means a 15-minute midday nap, so be it – you will gain in productivity far more than you lose in time sacrificed.

2) Second, declare email bankruptcy and put away your phone. Multi-tasking produces a scientifically documented brain drain.

3) Last, do the most unpleasant thing first. Whether that unpleasant thing is 25 Data Sufficiency questions, or some work-related activity, your resilience will be greatest first thing in the morning, so that’s the time to tackle the task you want to do least.

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

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.

The post 3 Ways to Improve Brain Function for Better Studying appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Beat the GMAT Verbal Section by Personalizing Questions [#permalink]

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New post 23 Sep 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Beat the GMAT Verbal Section by Personalizing Questions
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My students often ask why the verbal section has to come at the very end of the GMAT. When they’re fresh, they complain, they’re able to answer a much higher percentage of questions correctly. Of course, this is precisely the point. Part of what the GMAT is assessing is your stamina and focus, both of which will certainly be flagging by the time you’ve been in the testing facility for over three hours.

Moreover, the questions themselves aren’t exactly known for their dazzling wit and soaring narrative verve. They’re boring. Reading Comp. passages are often tedious and technical, while Critical Reasoning arguments can feel so abstract as to be ungraspable. So how do we, as test-takers, combat this?

One answer, when it comes to those abstract Critical Reasoning questions, is to personalize the argument. I’ve blogged in the past about how our reading comprehension improves dramatically when we’re emotionally invested in what we’re reading, so why not attempt to trick ourselves into this state of heightened concentration?

If the CR question is about the impact of pesticide use on crop yields, I imagine I’m the farmer, and the well-being of my family is at stake. If the question is about how overtime pay will impact employee incentives, I imagine I own the business and that the consequence of my company’s compensation structure will impact not only me, but dozens of workers whose livelihood I’m responsible for. By creating these artificial stakes, I find that my brain is able to lock in on the minutia of the question in a way it can’t if the question is about some airy fictional farmer, whom I know exists only in the mind of some bureaucratic question writer.

Take an official question, for example:

In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on imported oil. Malvernia recently implemented a program to convert heating systems from oil to natural gas. Malvernia currently produces more natural gas each year than it uses, and oil production in Malvernian oil fields is increasing at a steady pace. If these trends in fuel production and usage continue, therefore, Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon.

Which of the following would it be most useful to establish in evaluating the argument?

(A) When, if ever, will production of oil in Malvernia outstrip production of natural gas?

(B) Is Malvernia among the countries that rely most on imported oil?

(C) What proportion of Malvernia’s total energy needs is met by hydroelectric, solar, and nuclear power?

(D) Is the amount of oil used each year in Malvernia for generating electricity and fuel for transportation increasing?

(E) Have any existing oil-burning heating systems in Malvernia already been converted to natural-gas-burning heating systems?

If you’re anything like most test-takers, your eyes glaze over a bit. You know that Malvernia is not a real country, that it’s been invented for the sake of the problem. Consequently, the details of energy consumption in this non-existent country are not going to be terribly compelling to, well, anyone. This is by design. So let’s create some artificial stakes. Let’s say you’re the President of Malvernia. The economic well-being of your country, and, therefore, the prospects of your reelection, are going to be impacted by your country’s energy policy. Now let’s break down the facts:

  • Historically, you’ve relied on oil imports.
  • A new program converts heating systems from oil to gas.
  • You produce more gas than you use.
  • Oil production is increasing.
Based on this, you’ve concluded that your reliance on foreign oil will soon decrease. The question is what do you, as President, need to know to determine whether this prediction is valid?

Let’s break down each answer choice:

(A) The question of when production of oil will outstrip production of gas isn’t really relevant. In fact, if you’re using less oil as a result of the change in heating systems, and oil production is up, it’s possible that you can reduce your dependence on foreign oil without having to produce more oil than gas. A is out.

(B) Whether you are among the most dependent countries on foreign oil doesn’t matter. You are now, and we’re trying to determine if you will be in the future. This doesn’t help. Eliminate B.

(C) Hydroelectric, solar, and nuclear power aren’t relevant for this argument. We know that you’re dependent on foreign oil now, irrespective of other energy sources. It’s increased oil production and switching to gas that will, according to the argument, reduce this dependence. C is out of scope.

(D) Let’s say your oil consumption for electricity and transportation is increasing. Suddenly, the fact that you’re switching heating systems from oil to gas might not help – if your oil needs are going up in other areas, you may remain dependent on foreign oil. But if your oil consumption in these other areas is not increasing, that would reduce your dependence on foreign oil because your heating systems are switching to gas. D looks good.

(E) This doesn’t matter at all. We know that the systems are going to switch from oil to gas, so the question of whether some systems have already made the switch sheds no light on whether you will remain dependent on foreign oil.

D is the answer. Once you have the answer to whether your oil consumption for electricity and transportation is increasing, you’ll be better able to assess whether you will remain dependent on foreign oil, and, consequently, whether your reign as supreme ruler of Malvernia will continue.

Takeaway: There is plenty of research indicating that our comprehension improves drastically when we’re reading something we care about. When we put ourselves into the position of the agents having to make decisions in these arguments, we can transform a tedious abstraction into something that has a bit of emotional resonance, which will, in turn, result in a higher GMAT score.

*Official Guide question courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

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By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.

The post Beat the GMAT Verbal Section by Personalizing Questions appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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