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SAT Tip of the Week: 8 Ways to Decide if You Should Take the SAT or AC [#permalink]

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New post 23 Sep 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: 8 Ways to Decide if You Should Take the SAT or ACT
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One of the questions nearly every college-bound student wrestles with is which college entrance examination is right for them. There are a number of widely-spouted, all-encompassing statements about these tests flying around, such as one test is a skills test and the other is an aptitude test, or one test is more suited to creative thinkers than the other.

The long and the short of it is that BOTH tests are skills tests and test a student’s ability to take each test. The best way to determine which test is right for a student is to take a practice test of each and see which test taking experience yields the highest score. With that said, here are a few important things to know when considering which test is right for a perspective student.

1) The SAT and ACT are both accepted by every top university.

Since about 2007, every reputable, four-year college has accepted both entrance examinations, however there are some differences in the exact requirements for submitting each test between schools. For example, Harvard College requires the SAT or ACT, with a writing component, and two SAT subject tests (they state the subject tests are optional if taking them poses a financial hardship), whereas Brown University does not require two SAT subject tests if the student submits an ACT score (Brown will also stop requiring the writing component of the SAT when it becomes optional in the next year).

The main thing to be aware of is what the individual requirements of the school or schools to which a student hopes to apply are.  In general, taking the SAT or ACT, with the writing component, and two SAT II subject tests will cover all bases for most schools.

2) The SAT Math slightly favors lateral thinking, but requires less specific knowledge.

The above statement is somewhat difficult to quantify and seems to be changing as College Board unveils its new SAT for 2016, however it has generally been the case that the most difficult questions on the SAT require more creative problem solving, such as drawing in lines and figures that are not given by the problems, and finding patterns that can be applied to solve seemingly untenable problems.

The ACT, however, tends to favor integration of different concepts in their difficult questions as well as some simple trigonometric knowledge, such as the Law of Sines and Co-Sines, and basic knowledge of sine co-sine and tangents and their inverses.

Neither requires higher knowledge than is covered in a basic Algebra 2 and Geometry class, and neither requires any knowledge of Calculus or Advanced Statistics. The ACT is also more likely to require the use of a calculator to determine an exact value, while the SAT favors abstract problems using variables and fractions that require no calculator use.

3) The ACT favors punctuation errors (especially commas), while the SAT favors conjugation and structure errors.

In general, the ACT writing is slightly more straight forward as it is all based on finding errors in and improving the structure of a passage.  The ACT writing is very similar to the third portion of the SAT writing section, where a student must improve a short passage. The main difference between the two, is that the ACT tests on a wider variety of punctuation errors and favors comma errors, while the SAT tends to focus on structural and conjugation errors. The SAT only really tests on commas in relation to their roll separating clauses.

4) The SAT Reading is slightly more straightforward than the ACT Reading.

The two reading sections of these tests are very similar – the only real discernible difference is that the SAT reading section is set up so the questions are chronologically related to the passage. That is to say, the questions can be answered as the student reads the passage and the order of the questions should more or less follow the order of the passage. The only questions that this does not apply to on the SAT are the questions which ask the passage’s main idea, and these can simply be skipped and returned to after reading the entire passage.

The ACT, however, is not chronological and therefore requires a student to read the whole passage first and then go back to answer each specific question. This can be an issue for many students who have problems with time management on standardized tests.

5) The ACT has a Science section, but requires very little specific science knowledge.

Apart from general scientific knowledge, such as how to read a graph and what entropy is, the scientific section of the ACT is really just a scientific reading test. This section does not require much specific knowledge about any scientific field, and is more similar to the reading comprehension section of the SAT or ACT than a true science test.

6) The ACT has an optional writing section.

The Writing Section on the ACT (and the newly revamped SAT) is optional, but is strongly encouraged, if not required, by most top schools. The main difference between the ACT and the SAT essay is the ACT favors a full paragraph acknowledging the opposing viewpoint to the one that the student chooses to argue. The ACT also gives the student the main arguments for each side, which requires less spontaneous generation of arguments by students.

7) The ACT has no penalty for guessing wrong answers.

Students should answer every question on the ACT, however they should only answer a question on the SAT if they can eliminate two or more answer choices.

8) The ACT is in four (or five if a student elects to do the writing) longer sections, whereas the SAT is split up into ten shorter sections.

The fact that the ACT is broken up into only five sections means that it is potentially easier to get stuck on difficult problems or mismanage time and not complete a large portion of the test. It is VERY important to skip problems that seem too difficult to attempt on the ACT because lingering on such problems early on in the test can be problematic for the whole section.

The SAT is also challenging in terms of time management, but stopping on one question that requires a lot of time early on in a section is less likely to hurt the entirety of a student’s score because the sections are more broken up. The SAT also requires students to shift between topics more quickly, so students who enjoy a variety of questions as opposed to focusing on only one academic area at a time tend to favor the SAT.

As stated above, the SAT and ACT are both tests that require a student to understand the structure of the test being taken, and how to best approach the question types. The best way to determine which test is best for which student is to take a free practice test, widely available online or through schools, and see which test seems to be a better fit.  From there, it is simply a matter of learning the techniques that are useful to approaching each exam, and using them to conquer the test!

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!

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.

The post SAT Tip of the Week: 8 Ways to Decide if You Should Take the SAT or ACT appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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99th GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 9: Talk Like a Lawyer [#permalink]

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New post 23 Sep 2015, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 99th GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 9: Talk Like a Lawyer
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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 99thpercentile 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 the previous lessons in this series: 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8!

Lesson Nine: 

Talk Like a Lawyer. When you click “Agree” on a user contract (think iTunes) or read through a GMAT question, you may just see an overkill of words. But thanks to lawyers, every word on that user agreement is carefully chosen – and that GMAT question is written the same exact way. In this final “9 for 99th” video, Ravi (a member of the bar himself) shows you how to talk and read like a lawyer, noticing those subtle word choices that can make or break your answer to those carefully-written GMAT problems you see on test day.​



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

The post 99th GMAT Score or Bust! Lesson 9: Talk Like a Lawyer appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Do You Need an MBA for a Career in Management Consulting? [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Do You Need an MBA for a Career in Management Consulting?
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Management consulting is one of the most “glamourous” industries among business professionals – a career path that can transform even the most polished of resumes – and the names of the firms which consultants covertly provide solutions for are known as the “Who’s Who” of American commerce. Prestigious firms like Bain & Co, McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group commonly rank at the top of many job seekers’ wish lists.

So what are some of the common tracks for entering one of the most competitive industries in the world? The entry points below are your best bets if interested in joining the ranks of the consulting elite:

Undergraduate

Top consulting firms do recruit students out of undergraduate academic programs, but not in major numbers. Recruits from this level are just a fraction of the classes of consultants they bring in at the MBA level. Typically, consulting companies will use students at this level to fill their analyst-level responsibilities on project teams.

Firms target the majority of recruiting at this level at prestigious universities and at regional powerhouses near local offices. If you’re a student at this level, make sure you are a top performer in your class. Top consulting firms are notorious for identifying only elite students, so to get on their radar you will have to bring a strong track record of academic performance to the recruiting process.

MBA 

MBA recruiting is the crown jewel of talent acquisition for top consulting firms. The rigorous training and diverse experience common in MBA-level talent makes business school a natural feeder for consulting firms. MBAs make up the majority of the associate-level talent at consulting firms, with a small selection of other graduate school recruits coming from programs like law, engineering and computer science.

Potential recruits have two chances to enter the industry: during internship recruiting in Year 1 and during full-time recruiting throughout Year 2. The recruiting support for candidates in MBA programs exceeds that at any level, so students tend to have the opportunity to build in-depth relationships throughout the process.

Industry

A less common source for talent from consulting companies is plucking employees from within “industry”. Industry talent tends to be more experienced and individuals in this category are poached for their specific industry knowledge to operate as subject matter experts.

Consulting is a tough industry to crack – your best bet to making the transition into a career in this industry is to consider an MBA as your entry point.

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.

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

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5 Tips for Ivy-Worthy Extracurriculars [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2015, 12:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 5 Tips for Ivy-Worthy Extracurriculars
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Extracurricular activities are an enormous part of your college application; they’re the main tool that admissions counselors use to imagine your contributions to campus life and culture. They’re also enormous time commitments, so choose wisely. Below are a few tips to help you figure out which ones to choose…

1. Quality, Not Quantity

Take this advice from someone who is always spread too thin: it’s not worth it. It’s OK in your freshman year to be involved with a number of extracurricular activities, but as you progress through high school, find the extracurriculars that you value most and actively search for more meaningful ways to participate.

I didn’t have enough space on my Common Application to include all of the clubs and activities from my four years of high school. But frankly, I’d wager that only 2-3 of those extracurriculars — the handful that I deeply committed to during my senior year — mattered to admissions counselors.

2. Seek Leadership Positions

College admissions counselors look for initiative and influence in prospective students. This doesn’t mean that you need to be the president of every single group you’re in, but it does mean that you need to show personal growth and engagement in each activity. Be cognizant of tangible ways to display your individual achievement— possibly by running for club treasurer, representing your organization at community events, or submitting your extracurricular work for awards.

3. Dare To Be Different

Activities such as school sports, community service, debate, yearbook, and orchestra demonstrate well-rounded skill sets, but they aren’t especially unique. There’s nothing wrong with joining the clubs that your friends are in, but be aware that following the crowd in all of your activities will make standing out that much harder.

One of my most significant extracurriculars was an internship with my National Public Radio affiliate. Radio journalism opened my mind to a new spectrum of careers, introduced me to friends from distant neighborhoods, and distinguished my work experience dramatically from the rest of my peers.

4. D.I.Y.

If your dream extracurricular doesn’t exist, make it happen. This is another great way to demonstrate your leadership skills, in addition to your own powers of innovation. I really enjoyed theater in high school, but none of the local troupes were performing the types of plays that interested me. So I co-founded a teen-powered theater company dedicated to performing student-written work and sci-fi productions. It ended up being one of the most fun and rewarding decisions I’ve ever made.

5. Love What You Do, Do What You Love

Never ever, ever, ever join an extracurricular for the sake of your college application. Extracurriculars are an opportunity to enrich yourself with connections, experiences, and insights that you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. A college acceptance is just one of the many, many benefits to engaging with your passions and your community.

Remember, extracurricular activities are an enormous part of your college application, so be sure to stay active and involved things you are most passionate about. Best of luck in preparing your applications!

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

Madeline Ewbank is an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Her current extracurriculars include producing feature-length student films, interning for the U.S. Department of State, and teaching ACT 36 courses. She is excited to help students achieve their college aspirations as a member of the Veritas Prep team.

The post 5 Tips for Ivy-Worthy Extracurriculars appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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How to Use the Answer Choices to Solve GMAT Quant Problems [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Use the Answer Choices to Solve GMAT Quant Problems
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In your approach to solving Quantitative problems on the GMAT, do not forget that the answers are part of the problem and often provide valuable information.

Take for example, the following question:

 

 

 

If 3x4y = 177,147 and x – y = 11, then x =?

A) Undefined

B) 0

C) 11

D) 177,136

E) 177,158

Where do we begin here? 177,147 is a large (not familiar) number and there are not one, but two exponents in the equation.  Looking at the answer choices, we can see that D and E cannot be the answer as they are too large, so at least now we have a starting point.  Additionally, we can see that our choices come down to some mixture of x and y, all y, or all x.

If x = 0, then we can say that 177, 147 is not divisible by 3 and is divisible by 4, so checking the divisibility rule is the ticket! Knowing that to be divisible by 4, the last two digits must be divisible by 4, we can see that 177,147 is not divisible by 4, so 4y becomes irrelevant and we realize y must equal 0.  The sum of the digits of 177, 147 is 27, which is divisible by 3, so we can see that the 3x portion of the equation is relevant. We can now (correctly) conclude that the correct answer is answer choice C, x = 11.

Answer choices are little used resources by GMAT test takers.  In the heat of battle, we become so focused on solving the problems in front of us that we forget to utilize all of the information at our disposal.  Another way the answer choices can help you is by plugging them back into the problem to see if they work.

This “back-plugging” is useful when the problem to be solved is algebraic in nature and the answer choices are numbers (not variables). You may find it is easier on a certain problem to arithmetically calculate 2, 3 or even 5 answers by plugging in the answer choices, than in creating and manipulating a complex algebraic equation.  In these cases, plugging in answer choice C first will help you to eliminate up to 60% of the answers on the first calculation.

Many times, just understanding what the correct answer should “look like” by employing some reasoning on the front end will allow you to eliminate some, if not all of the incorrect answers.  Consider this problem:

((-1.9)(o.6) – (2.6)(1.2))/6.0 = ?

A) -0.71

B) 1.00

C) 1.07

D) 1.71

E) 2.71

This is not a difficult problem by any measure, and some test takers will not hesitate to jump in and begin multiplying and dividing decimals.  However, by spending a little bit of time looking at the big picture of this problem, an astute test taker would see that the answer must be negative.  The first term is negative and we are subtracting a larger number from it.  Therefore, the correct answer must be A.

So, instead of jumping in and crunching numbers on the GMAT, you can save yourself some time and brain power by using the answer choices to assist you in reasoning your way to the correct answer – or at least in eliminating several of the incorrect answers.

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 Dennis Cashion, a Veritas Prep instructor based in Denver.

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

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6 Simple Steps to Attack Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 25 Sep 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 6 Simple Steps to Attack Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT
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The first step in attacking any Critical Reasoning question on the GMAT is to identify the premises and conclusions of the argument being presented. While Strengthen, Weaken, Assumption and Resolve the Paradox questions include a conclusion in the stimulus, Inference questions require you to select the conclusion (answer choice) that directly follows from the information presented in the stimulus.

This can be difficult because several of the answers can appear attractive. Keep in mind, however, that for Inference questions, the correct answer must be true. Answers that are “likely to be true” or “could be true” based on the information provided in the stimulus seem attractive at first, but if they are not true 100% of the time, in every situation, then they are not the correct answer.

Another difficulty in approaching Inference questions is that with the many of the other question types (Strengthen, Weaken, etc.), your job is to select the answer that includes new information that either undermines or supports the conclusion. For Inference questions, you do not want to bring in information that is not in the stimulus. All of the information required to answer the question will be included in the stimulus.

Here is a 6-step approach that can help you to efficiently attack GMAT Critical Reasoning Inference questions:

1) Read the question stem first.

This will allow you quickly categorize the type of Critical Reasoning question (Strengthen, Weaken, Inference, etc.) and let you focus on identifying the premises in the stimulus. Questions such as, “Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the statements above?” and, “If the statements above are true, which of the following must also be true?” signify that you are dealing with an Inference question.

2) Speculate what you think the correct conclusion is.

Sometimes this may be difficult to verbalize, but having an outline or framework of what the “must be true” answer should include will help to eliminate some answer choices.

3) Evaluate the answer choices using your speculated answer.

You want to carefully read all 5 answer choices. As you read the answers, compare them to the answer, or the outline of the answer, you speculated. Some answers are obviously incorrect – either they are too narrow in scope, too extreme to be always be true, or do not follow the criteria laid out in the stimulus. Eliminate these answers. For other answer choices that seem attractive, keep them as possibilities. Once you have read all of the answer choices, you can then compare your list of possible answers using the criteria that the correct answer must be always be true.

4) Become a Defense Lawyer.

When comparing your list of possible answers, try to come up with plausible scenarios that would prove the answer being considered not true. Just because the stimulus says that “everyone sitting in the dentist’s office waiting room at 9:00 a.m. was a patient” does not necessarily mean that they were waiting for an appointment. Some could have already finished their appointment, and some could have been there dropping off another patient. Like a defense lawyer, you need to find every every scenario in which an answer choice might not be true in order to eliminate it from your options.

5) Be aware of exaggerated or extreme answers.

Because the correct answer must always be true, modifiers that exaggerate an element of the premise or make an extreme claim usually signify an incorrect answer. If the stimulus says, “Some of the widgets produced by Company X were defective,” an attractive, yet incorrect answer choice may exaggerate this statement with a modifier such as “most” by claiming, “Most of Company X’s widgets were found to be defective.” Furthermore, answers that include the terms “always”, “never”, “none” and the like are good indicators that the answer will not be true 100% of the time.

6) Be aware of answers that change the scope of the stimulus.

On more difficult Inference questions (as if they were not difficult enough), the test makers will tempt you to select an answer choice that slightly changes an element of the facts laid out in the stimulus. For example, the stimulus might discuss the decrease in the violent crime rate in City A over a certain time period.

The attractive answer that follows all of the elements of having to be true 100% of the time, but is still incorrect might discuss decrease in the murder rate of City A over that time period. While the answer would seem to fit the bill, the murder rate is not the same as the rate of violent crime – this changes the scope of the initial stimulus and we can therefore rule that answer out.

The correct inference or conclusion on Critical Reasoning Inference questions is very close to what is stated explicitly in the stimulus. Remember, the right answer choice on these question types must be true 100% of the time.

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 Dennis Cashion, a Veritas Prep instructor based in Denver.

The post 6 Simple Steps to Attack Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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GMAT Tip of the Week: Yogi Berra Teaches GMAT Sentence Correction [#permalink]

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New post 25 Sep 2015, 14:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: GMAT Tip of the Week: Yogi Berra Teaches GMAT Sentence Correction
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The world lost a legend this week with the passing of Yogi Berra, a New York Yankee and World War II hero. Yogi was universally famous – his name was, of course, the inspiration for beloved cartoon character Yogi Bear’s – but to paraphrase the man himself, those who knew him didn’t really know him.

As news of his passing turned into news reports summarizing his life, many were stunned by just how illustrious his career was: 18 All-Star game appearances (in 19 pro seasons), 10 World Series championships as a player, 3 American League MVP awards, part of the Normandy campaign on D-Day… To much of the world, he was “the quote guy” who also had been a really good baseball player. His wordsmithery is what we all remembered:

  • Never answer an anonymous letter.
  • It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
  • It gets late early out here.
  • Pair up in threes.
And his command (or butchering) of the English language is what you should remember as you take the GMAT. Yogi Berra famously “didn’t say some of the things I said” but he did, however inadvertently, have a lot to say about GMAT Sentence Correction:

Pronouns Matter

What’s funny about his quote, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours”?

It’s the pronoun “they.” You know what Yogi means – go to other people’s funerals so that other people will come to yours. But in that sentence, the logical referent for “they” is “other people(‘s)”, and those other people have already been designated in the sentence as people who have already died. So the meaning is illogical: those same people cannot logically attend a funeral in the future. When you use a pronoun, it has to refer back to a specific noun. If that noun cannot logically do what the pronoun is said to be doing, that’s a Sentence Correction, illogical meaning problem.

What’s funny about his quote, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”?

Again, it’s the pronoun, this time “it.” Since a fork in the road is a place where the road diverges into two paths, you can’t take “it” – you have to pick one path. And this is a good example of another sentence correction theme. In order to fix this thought (and the one above), there’s really not a pronoun that will work. “Them” has no logical referent (there’s only one fork) so the meaning is extremely important.

The only way to fix it is to change something prior in the sentence. Perhaps, “When you come to a turnoff on the road, take it,” or, “when the road presents a turn, take it.” On the GMAT, a pronoun error isn’t always fixed by fixing the pronoun – often the correct answer will change the logic that precedes the pronoun so that in the correct answer the previously-incorrect pronoun is correct.

Modifiers Matter

What’s funny about his quote, “Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken”?

Of course records stand until they’re broken, but in a grammatical sense Yogi’s primary mistake was his placement of the modifier “until it was broken.” What he likely meant to say is, “Until the record was broken, I thought it might stand forever.” That’s a perfectly logical thought, but we all laugh at the statement he actually made because the placement of the modifier creates a laughable meaning. So learn to spot similarly-misplaced modifiers by checking to make sure the language means exactly what it should.

Redundancy Is Funny (but sometimes has its place)

What’s funny about, “We made too many wrong mistakes,” and “It’s like déjà vu all over again”?

They’re redundant. A mistake is, by nature, something that went wrong. And déjà vu is the feeling that something happened before, so of course it’s “all over again.” Redundancy does come up on the GMAT, but as Yogi himself would point out, there’s a fine line between “redundant (and wrong)” and “a useful literary device”.

Take, for example, his famed, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” quote. In a sports context, even though the word “over” is repeated, that sentence carries a lot of useful meaning: “when someone might say that the game is over, if there is still time (or outs) remaining there’s always a chance to change the result.” The world chuckles at this particular Yogi quote, but in actuality it’s arguably his most famous because, in its own way, it’s quite poignant.

What does that mean for you on the GMAT? Don’t prioritize redundancy as a primary decision point! GMAT Sentence Correction, by nature, involves plenty of different literary devices and sentence structures, and it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll feel like an expert on all of them.

Students often eliminate correct answers because they perceive redundancy, but a phrase like “not unlike” (a “not” next to an “un-“? That’s a redundant double-negative!) actually has a logical and important meaning (“not unlike” means “it’s not totally different from…there are at least some similarities,” whereas “like” conveys significantly more similarity). Rules for modifiers and pronouns are much more absolute, and you can get plenty of practice with those. Be careful with redundancy because, as Yogi might say, sometimes saying it twice is twice as good as saying it once.

It’s all in your head.

“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

To paraphrase the great Yogi Berra, 90% of Sentence Correction is mental and the other half is grammatical. When he talked about baseball, he was talking about the physical tools – the ability to hit, run, throw, catch –  as meaning substantially less than people thought, but the mental part of the game – strategy, mental toughness, stamina, etc. – being more important than people thought. The exact percentages, as his quote so ineloquently suggests, are harder to pin down and less important than the takeaway.

So heed Yogi’s advice as it pertains to Sentence Correction. Memorizing and knowing hundreds of grammar rules is “the other half” (or maybe 10%) of the game – employing good strategy (prioritizing primary Decision Points, paying attention to logical meaning, etc.) is the more-important-but-often-overlooked part of success. However eloquently or inelegantly Yogi Berra may have articulated his lessons, at least he made them memorable.

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!

By Brian Galvin.

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The GMAT Quant Decimal Trend You NEED to Know [#permalink]

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New post 25 Sep 2015, 17:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: The GMAT Quant Decimal Trend You NEED to Know
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Whenever GMAC releases new material, I’m always on the lookout for conspicuous trends – esoteric or little known rules that end up being applicable in multiple questions. One type of question that has recently shown up with greater frequency involves terminating decimals. The concept isn’t, in the abstract, a terribly hard one. ½, for example, is .5, and so this is a terminating decimal. It ends. 1/3, on the other hand is .33333…, and continues indefinitely, so it’s not a terminating decimal. That’s not so hard. So, you say to yourself: all I have to do is perform a little division, and then I can see for myself if the decimal terminates or not, right?

But then you see a question like this:

Which of the following fractions has a decimal equivalent that is a terminating decimal?

A) 10/189

B) 15/196

C) 16/225

D) 25/144

E) 39/128

Once you spend a little time trying to divide 10 by 189, you realize that the question is going to be incredibly painful and time-consuming if you have to keep applying this approach until you find a fraction that results in a terminating decimal. So let’s be mindful of the fact that the purpose of the GMAT is not to test one’s facility for engaging in tedious arithmetic, but rather to assess our ability to recognize patterns under pressure.

Generally speaking, the best way to uncover a pattern is to use simple numbers first and then extrapolate our results to the more complex scenario we’re tasked with evaluating. We already established above that ½ is a terminating decimal and 1/3 is not. Let’s continue in that vein and see what we find (terminating decimals are in bold):

½ = .5

1/3 = .3333…

¼ = .25

1/5 = .2

1/6 = .166666…

1/7= .142857…

1/8 = .125

1/9 = .1111

1/10 = .1

Next, let’s examine our terminating decimal expressions and see if these numbers have any elements in common. Each of these fractions, it turns out, has a denominator whose prime factorization is composed solely of two prime bases, 2 or 5 or both. This turns out to be a general principle: if a fraction has been simplified, and the prime factorization of the denominator can be expressed in the form of 2^x * 5^y where x and y are non-negative integers, the fraction can be expressed as a terminating decimal.

Now back to our question. We can rephrase the question to be, “Which of the following denominators has a prime factorization that consists solely of 2’s or 5’s or both?”

Not bad. That certainly makes life a little easier. But before we dive in and begin taking prime factorizations with reckless abandon, let’s think like the test-maker. There is no way to do this question without working with the answer choices. Most test-takers will begin with A and work their way down. If you’re trying to create a difficult time-consuming question, where would you bury the correct answer? Probably towards D or E. So when we encounter this kind of scenario, we’re better off if we start at the bottom and work our way up.

E) 39/128. The denominator is 128, which has a prime factorization of 2^7. Because the denominator consists solely of 2’s, this fraction, when expressed as a decimal, must terminate. We’re done. E is the answer. (Intuitively, this makes sense, as all we’re really doing is cutting our numerator in half seven times.) Much easier than doing long division.

Before we commit this principle to memory, let’s make sure that it will be helpful in other contexts. After all, the rule that unlocks a single question won’t be terribly useful to us. So here is the same concept utilized in a Data Sufficiency question:

Any decimal that has only a finite number of nonzero digits is a terminating decimal. For example, 24, 0.82, and 5.096 are three terminating decimals. If r and s are positive integers and the ratio r/s is expressed as a decimal, is r/s a terminating decimal?

(1) 90 < r < 100

(2) s = 4

Notice how much easier this question is if we rephrase it as “if r/s is in its most simplified form, does the prime factorization of the denominator consist entirely of 2’s or 5’s?”

Statement 1 can’t be sufficient on its own, as it tells us nothing about the denominator. 91/2 is a terminating decimal, for example, but 91/3 is not.

Statement 2 tells us that the denominator is 4, or 2^2. If we’ve internalized our terminating decimal rule, we see right away that this must be sufficient, as anything dividing by 4 will result in a terminating decimal. The answer is B, Statement 2 alone is sufficient to answer the question.

Takeaway: When studying for the GMAT, it can feel as though there are an infinite number of rules, axioms, and formulas to memorize. Our job, when preparing, is to find the rules that are applicable in multiple contexts and internalize those. If we encounter a problem that seems unusually time-consuming, and no rule springs to mind, we can derive the necessary pattern on the spot by working with simple numbers.

*GMATPrep 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.

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5 Tips for Being Efficient with Data Sufficiency Problems [#permalink]

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New post 28 Sep 2015, 13:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 5 Tips for Being Efficient with Data Sufficiency Problems
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GMAT Data Sufficiency problems present test takers with several unique issues.  First, this type of problem has likely not been encountered before and thus, there is a learning curve for not only what the “rules” regarding such problems are, but also how to approach the various questions. Additionally, Data Sufficiency problems do not lend themselves to being solved through brute force – with Data Sufficiency questions you do not really need to answer the question in order to solve the problem.

Data Sufficiency questions are inherently more difficult than Problem Solving questions because they are more conceptual in nature.  Take for example the following problem:

Is xy > 0?

1) x < 6

2) 0 ≤ y < x

Right off the bat, we see that there are 2 variables, so to answer the question we need to know the values of x and y.  However, this problem is better viewed conceptually – instead of  determining the actual values of x and y, if we recognize that this problem is really testing us on the Properties of Numbers, we realize that what is actually being asked is if x and y are either both positive or both negative. Once we re-phrase the question this way, the problem is much easier to deal with.  Statement 1 says that x is less than 6, but this does not tell us definitively whether x is positive or negative. Nor, does Statement 1 give us any information about y.  Thus, Statement 1 is not sufficient.

Statement 2 gives us information about both x and y.  We now know that y is less than or equal to 0, and x is greater than y. This looks promising.  But, since y could be 0 (or greater than 0), we cannot say that xy is greater than 0.  Statement 2 is not sufficient.  Taking both Statements together provides no more information about y, so we still cannot answer the question (although some might be tempted to overlook the less than or equal to portion).

Here are some tips to efficiently and strategically approach these unique problems:

  • Memorize the answer choices! They are the same for every Data Sufficiency question on the GMAT, so you can save valuable time by knowing them and knowing that if Statement 1 is sufficient, your answer choices are either A or D.
  • Before reading the statements, try to verbalize what information you need to answer the question. This will help you to determine whether the statements provide the information you need.
  • Leverage as much information as you can from the prompt. Often times, important information is included in the prompt but not readily apparent.
  • Be very wary of statements that provide information that blatantly and obviously answers the question. If a question asks what the value of x is and one statement tells you x = 6, take a very close look at the other statement. Many times, the other statement will contain information that is difficult to decipher and the test makers are baiting you to select the obvious answer and move on.
  • Be on the lookout for statements that give no new information. The circumference of a circle, for instance, contains just as much information as the length of the radius. If you know the circumference, you can find the radius; conversely, if you know the radius, you can find the circumference. Often on Data Sufficiency questions, Statement 2 will just be a repackaging of the same information provided by Statement 1.
Even though GMAT Data Sufficiency problems require some different thinking, with some strategic practice, you will master them. Start with becoming familiar with the structure of the questions and the concepts they most commonly test.

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 Dennis Cashion, a Veritas Prep instructor based in Denver.

The post 5 Tips for Being Efficient with Data Sufficiency Problems appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Advanced Exponent Properties for the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2015, 09:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Advanced Exponent Properties for the GMAT
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Today, let’s discuss the relative placements of exponents on the number line.

We know what the graph of 2^x looks like:

 

 

 

 

[url=http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Graph-of-2^x.gif][img]http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Graph-of-2^x.gif[/img][/url]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It shows that when x is positive, with increasing value of x, 2^x increases very quickly (look at the first quadrant), but we don’t know exactly how it increases.

It also shows that when x is negative, 2^x stays very close to 0. As x decreases, the value of 2^x decreases by a very small amount.

Now note the spacing of the powers of 2 on the number line:

Image

2^0 = 1

2^1 = 2

2^2 = 4

2^3 = 8

and so on…

2^1 = 2 * 2^0 = 2^0 + 2^0

2^2 = 2 * 2^1 = 2^1 + 2^1

2^3 = 2 * 2^2 = 2^2 + 2^2

2^4 = 2 * 2^3 = 2^3 + 2^3

So every power of 2 is equidistant from 0 and the next power. This means that a power of 2 would be much closer to 0 than the next higher powers. For example, 2^2 is at the same distance from 0 as it is from 2^3.

But 2^2 is much closer to 0 than it is to 2^4, 2^5 etc.

Let’s look at a question based on this concept. Most people find it a bit tough if they do not understand this concept:

Given that x = 2^b – (8^30 + 16^5), which of the following values for b yields the lowest value for |x|?

A) 35

B) 90

C) 91

D) 95

E) 105

We need the lowest value of |x|. We know that the smallest value any absolute value function can take is 0. So 2^b should be as close as possible to (8^30 + 16^5) to get the lowest value of |x|.

Let’s try to simplify:

(8^30 + 16^5)

= (2^3)^30 + (2^4)^5

= 2^90 + 2^20

Which value should b take such that 2^b is as close as possible to 2^90 + 2^20?

2^90 + 2^20 is obviously larger than 2^90. But is it closer to 2^90 or 2^91 or higher powers of 2?

Let’s use the concept we have learned today – let’s compare 2^90 + 2^20 with 2^90 and 2^91.

2^90 = 2^90 + 0

2^91 = 2^90 + 2^90

So now if we compare these two with 2^90 + 2^20, we need to know whether 2^20 is closer to 0 or closer to 2^90.

We already know that 2^20 is equidistant from 0 and 2^21, so obviously it will be much closer to 0 than it will be to 2^90.

Hence, 2^90 + 2^20 is much closer to 2^90 than it is to 2^91 or any other higher powers.

We should take the value 90 to minimize |x|, therefore 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 FacebookYouTube 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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Are You An Alumni, an Alumnus, or an Alumna? [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2015, 13:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Are You An Alumni, an Alumnus, or an Alumna?
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I see this mistake so often in applicant essays, I thought it warranted explanation. If you get this right, you will appear smart for the rest of your life, so pay attention.

Collectively, you and everyone you graduated with from your institution are alumni. Alumni is the latin plural form of a word that originally meant foster son or pupil. Everyone who graduated from your school is a former pupil or “foster son” (or daughter) of that institution. You might even have a sticker on your car that says “State U Alumni,” which is a nod to everyone who graduated as an entire group, male and female alike.

The mistake comes when you try to use that word to refer to yourself as an individual graduate of your school.  You are not “an alumni” of State U. You are either an alumnus or an alumna. While alumni has no gender connotation, the word alumnus is most often used as masculine and alumna is feminine. So each of your fraternity brothers is “an alumnus,” or as the case may be, each of your sorority sisters is now “an alumna.” There’s nothing that makes someone appear less like a college graduate than to refer to themselves as “an Alumni”— and we all want to appear like college graduates when we apply to business school, right?

A couple of other notes… Long ago, some clever (or lazy) person decided to avoid the risk of looking dumb and chopped off the vowel on the end of the root word, and refer to himself as “an alum” or collectively as “we alums.” This is technically incorrect, but has been so commonly used  that you will indeed find it in the dictionary as the second definition of what “alum” actually is, which is a white powder used in medicine (pronounced differently of course). It’s an “informal” use of the word alumni, which is a nicer way to say it’s wrong.

To further complicate the issue, just in case it ever comes up, if you are trying to refer specifically to a group of women-only graduates, you should use “alumnae,” (pronounced “alum-knee”) which is simply the plural form of “alumna.” Got it? Now you can really consider yourself a college graduate and make us all look good! You’ll also win favor from the admissions committees.

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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SAT Tip of the Week: Looking for Roots [#permalink]

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New post 30 Sep 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: SAT Tip of the Week: Looking for Roots
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Arguably the most infamous subject tested on the SAT is vocabulary. My students moan when I present them with a lengthy list of hundreds upon hundreds of words they need to learn by test day. Many report that vocabulary-based questions are responsible for most of their missed points on the Reading Section, others complain that they’ve never even heard of at least half of the tested vocabulary words.

In fact, even Collegeboard, the company that makes the SAT, is dropping the vocabulary section from the new version of the test, which will come into effect in March of 2016. However, the following trick that will help you ace sentence  completion questions is still relevant to any of you students taking the SAT over the next six months.

The reason the vocabulary on the current SAT is so tricky is that the tested words tend to be unfamiliar. By unfamiliar, I mean words you don’t throw around in everyday conversation with your friends, family, and peers. On the SAT, you won’t see words like “lol”, “fomo” or “candid”. Instead, you’ll see words like “anachronism”, “strident”, “quotidian”, and “panacea”, all of which, I’m guessing, you haven’t recently dropped in casual conversation.  However, just because these words are unfamiliar, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to deduce the rough meaning of some of them simply by looking for recognizable roots, or parts of the words.

Take the word “anachronism”, for example. In the middle of the word I spot the root “chron” which reminds me of “chronological”, a word most of us are more likely to know than “anachronism”. So, if I were to make an educated guess, I’d wager that anachronism has something to do with time. And in fact, the dictionary definition of the word is, “A thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.”

So how can I use this trick of looking at the roots of unfamiliar words to improve my scores on the SAT? Take a look at the following sentence completion question:

Many economists believe that since resources are scarce and since human desires cannot all be _____, a method of ____ is needed.

A) indulged… apportionment

B) verified…distribution

C) usurped…expropriation

D) expressed…reparation

E) anticipated…advertising

Let’s say that I narrowed my answer choices down to A and B, because the second word in each answer (apportionment and distribution, respectively) makes sense in the sentence (as both suggest that resources need to be divided because they are scarce). However, let’s say I couldn’t choose between A and B, because I know the meaning of “indulged”, but not the meaning of “verified”.

Before guessing between the two, I would scan the word “verified” for roots. In this case, I can spot the root “veri”, which I know is a version of “verus”, meaning true, accurate, or real. It makes much less sense, in context, for resources to be divided because human desires cannot all be true rather than for resources to be divided because not all human desires can be satisfied. So, my final answer is A.

Let’s take a look at another example:

Even in her fiction writing, Denise Chavez functions as a kind of historian in that she _____ the real experiences of Hispanic women through her characters.

A) predicts

B) defends

C) chronicles

D) averts

E) surmises

I can eliminate D and E, because it doesn’t make sense in context for Chavez to ward off or to make guesses about the experiences of her characters.  However, let’s say I was considering A because “predict” seems relevant to history, and B because defending the real experiences of hispanic women also seems relevant. Also, let’s say I’m unsure about C, because I don’t know what the word “chronicles” means. Note: rather than guessing at random between the three remaining choices, I would want to scan the unfamiliar word for roots.

In this case, “chronicles”, like anachronism, has the root “chron”, meaning “time”. So, given that the sentence is about an author being comparable to a historian, I’ll keep C for now. Does it make sense to call Chavez a sort of historian because she predicts the experiences of hispanic women? Upon consideration, it doesn’t, because historians record the past; they don’t predict the future. Does it make sense to call Chavez a sort of historian because she defends the experiences of hispanic women? That sounds more like an activist than a historian. So, I can eliminate the other answers through logic, and even though I don’t know the exact meaning of “chronicles”, I can reasonably assume the word fits in context, as it has to do with time. In fact, chronicles means to record, so the correct answer is indeed C.

I know some of you might be thinking that it’s unfair that you have to learn so many vocabulary words for so few questions, especially with the new, vocabulary-free SAT just around the corner. However, the skill you’ve learned today will prove valuable to you whenever you see unfamiliar words, which means that it will be especially relevant in college.

Building a strong vocabulary and looking at words critically aren’t skills you should only invest in for the SAT; they will come in handy for the rest of your education! And in case you’d like some further practice, take a look at the tricky question below. See if you can spot roots that you know in any of the words you are unfamiliar with! Also, be sure to look up the words after you finish the question, so you can learn new roots!

No longer narrowly preoccupied with their own national pasts, historians are increasingly _____ in that they often take a transnational perspective.

A) conciliatory

B) bombastic

C) mendacious

D) cosmopolitan

E) jocular

Correct answer: D. Cosmopolitan means worldly, and is derived from the roots “kosmo” (world) and “polites” (citizen).

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!

By Rita Pearson

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How to Solve Probability Problems on the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 30 Sep 2015, 15:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Solve Probability Problems on the GMAT
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At some point in every class I teach, I’ll take a poll from my students about which topics they struggle with most. The answers will vary, but one topic that comes up over and over again is probability. Though I do recall finding probability somewhat vexing when I studied it as an undergraduate, I’ve always found it surprising that this is such an area of concern for GMAT test-takers, for the simple reason that probability questions, historically, have tended not to be very common on the test.

I suspect there are two reasons for the concern. First, is simply that the human brain isn’t naturally wired to do probability very well. Whereas many branches of mathematics are thousands of years old and have their roots in ancient civilizations, there was no working theory of probability until the 16th century.

This is pretty surprising. The ancient Greeks, for example, possessed the rudiments of integral calculus, but when it came to probability, they were clueless. Moreover, there is plenty of research demonstrating that, even now, well-educated adults struggle with probability even when the question touches on material within their field of expertise.

Secondly, GMAC seems to be realizing that probability is such an elastic concept that other question types can be incorporated into a probability question. Consequently, probability questions have been showing up a bit more frequently on some of the newer material released by GMAC. If we’re not wired to do probability very well, and these questions are showing up more frequently, some anxiety about the topic is inevitable.

The reason that probability can encompass other categories so easily is that the probability of an event occurring is, at heart, a simple ratio: the number of desired outcomes/the number of total possible outcomes. To simplify matters, it can be helpful to break this ratio into its component parts. First find the total possible number of outcomes. Then find the number of desired outcomes. When we think about the issue this way, it seems much more manageable. Take this newer official question, for example:

If an integer n to be chosen randomly between 1 and 96 inclusive, what is the probability that n(n+1)(n+2) is divisible by 8 ?

A) 1/4

B) 3/8

C) 1/2

D) 5/8

E) 3/4

On the surface, this is a probability question, but because we’re talking about divisibility, it’s also testing our knowledge of number properties. So let’s start by thinking about our total possible outcomes. There are 96 numbers between 1 and 96 inclusive, so clearly, there are 96 total possible outcomes when we select a number at random. We have the denominator of our fraction.

Now we just have to figure out how many ways we can multiply three consecutive numbers, n(n+1)(n+2), to get a multiple of 8. Put another way, any multiple of 8, or 2^3, must contain three 2’s. One way this can happen is if the middle number, n+1, is odd, because every odd number must be sandwiched between a multiple of 2 and a multiple of 4.

If n+1 is 3, for example, you’d have 2*3*4, which is a multiple of 8. (We need three 2’s in all. The 2 gives us one, and the 4 donates the other 2’s.) If n+1 is 5, you’d have 4*5*6, which is also a multiple of 8. (The 4 donates two 2’s and the 6 donates one. So long as we have three 2’s, we have a multiple of 8.) Between 1 and 96, we’ve got 48 odd numbers.

The other way we can get a multiple of 8, when we multiply n(n+1)(n+2)  is if n + 1 is itself a multiple of 8. Clearly 7*8*9 will be a multiple of 8. As will 15*16*17. We can either count the multiples of 8 between 1 and 96, or we can use the trusty formula: [(High-Low)/Interval] + 1. The first multiple of 8 between 1 and 96 is 8. The largest is 96. And the interval will be 8. So we get [(96-8)/8] + 1 = 11 + 1 = 12 multiples of 8.

So we have two categories of desired outcomes: there are 48 ways that n+1 can be odd, and there are 12 ways that n+1 can be a multiple of 8, giving us a total of 48 + 12 = 60 desired outcomes.

We’re done! The number of desired outcomes/number of total possible outcomes is 60/96, which will reduce to 5/8. The correct answer is D.

Takeaway: There’s no reason to be intimidated by probability questions, particularly when we remember that a probability calculation can be viewed as a ratio of two numbers. If we break the problem into its constituent parts, the question is often revealed to be quite a bit easier than it seems at first glance, a realization that proves true for almost any challenging GMAT problem.

*GMATPrep 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 How to Solve Probability Problems on the GMAT appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Tackling the Short-Answer Questions in Your Business School Applicatio [#permalink]

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New post 01 Oct 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Tackling the Short-Answer Questions in Your Business School Applications
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With the recent changes in the 2015 Harvard Business School application, it is clear that shortening the number of essays is a trend that is here to stay. With only one essay again on the HBS application this year, it is becoming more important than ever to not only communicate effectively and concisely, but also to leverage the balance of the application (and of course the interview) to stand out from the crowd.

One result of the decreasing essay trend is an expansion of in-application short answer questions.  Just a few years ago, there were few or none of these questions, but schools have since moved several opportunities to share your story out of the essay section and into the application itself.  So just how do you go about preparing to answer these short questions?  The preparation is remarkably similar to how you approached the essays in the past.

Sounds simple, but you must always be thinking about how you look compared to someone else with the exact same background, cultural experience and involvement because trust us, they are out there. Everyone thinks of themselves as unique, but when you are placed into a pile with other similar folks, suddenly you are not so unique anymore!

The challenge comes when you are limited to just a few sentences (or even characters in some cases) to get your point across.  There’s no room for dramatic storytelling or elaborate embellishment, but you still need to explain why something mattered to you or how it has shaped you.

You will need to be able to selectively draw from your basket of experience to answer your short questions in a way that presents the right amount of balanced evidence.   The key word is balance.  Business schools like to admit candidates with the “total package,” that is, they possess a broad offering of skills and experience.  It’s not enough to just be the best darn leader your company has ever seen.  If you can’t work well in teams, schools will pass on you.  Are you mature with great strengths in teamwork, but lack the creative spark of innovation?  Schools may pass.

Sometimes, this exercise will expose an area where you need to go out and bolster your experience further.  That’s why it’s good to do this early in the application process.  Ultimately, the information you offer in the short answer questions is just as vital as the info in your essays.  Don’t be fooled into thinking these are throwaway questions.  The ability to concisely and completely answer a question with a very limited word restriction is an exercise in restraint and economy that demonstrates a very valuable skill in itself to the admissions committees.  Don’t blow your chance to impress them!

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 Spice Up Studying: How to Overcome That Boring Class [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: 3 Ways to Spice Up Studying: How to Overcome That Boring Class
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Most colleges have general education requirements outside of one’s major. While this is great, and extremely important, for building a well-rounded student, it can sometimes lead to less than exciting class choices. Having a liberal arts educational base helps many students develop as critical thinkers, but in the moment it may not be the most enjoyable process. Sometimes, it is hard to just get started to study for these classes. If they don’t necessarily connect to your future employment prospects, and it’s something you are utterly disinterested in, here are some things to do to get your excitement juices flowing.

1. Turn it into a contest

Nothing gets people excited like a little healthy competition. Find some friends in the class, and turn study time into fun academic type contests. While this certainly sounds a little nerdy, it can help compensate for the lack of excitement these classes create. It may not be that intriguing to you to learn about architecture in Egypt in 1000 BCE, but if you can beat a friend by memorizing a couple facts, the motivation to study becomes slightly more compelling.

Now this is not to say you should turn your general education class into a high stakes gambling ring, but tying the class to external incentives may just give you the pop you need to get into action and really start hitting the books. Whether it is figuring out who knows the material the best, or seeing who will get the best score on a test, any type of healthy competition can be good for studying.

2. Tie it into something you care about

You may not be that interested in East Asian art from 2500 BCE, or early Greek scientific hypotheses, but something within that content has to be interesting and connected to your major or a hobby. Take some time and explore the subject in detail, which also gets you studying, and try to find connections to things you care about. However loose they may be, a connection that adds a personal interest or pushes you to crack open a textbook is extremely helpful in spicing up your study habits.

If you are a business major and in a history class, try to figure out what the commerce was at the time. How did merchants succeed in a different economy and what can you take from that to apply it to your life? If you are a premed student and learning about early English poetry, what kind of subjects did they discuss in relation to medicine. How far have people advanced. The world is full of connections, it is just about making them to ensure your study process is somewhat enjoyable.

3. Challenge yourself

Finally, challenge yourself. If you force yourself to sit front and center in the classroom, you will feel a personal motivation to study. Nothing is more embarrassing than being called out by a professor, and not knowing the answer to the question. Sitting in the front turns on a type of self-preservation that will motivate you to study no matter what the class is. If you know that you will be called on, it doesn’t matter how disinterested you are in the subject, you will be studying and paying attention in class.

This may seem a little cruel and unusual, but it is a good strategy! Whatever the case is, you will be thankful you learned these somewhat random subjects later on, as you never know when they will come in handy to discuss.

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

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

 

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All About Business School Interviews [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: All About Business School Interviews
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The process of applying to business school involves several steps: filling out an admissions application, writing an essay, and submitting GMAT or GRE scores are just a few of them. Another important step is the admissions interview. An interview allows business school admissions officials to get a look at the student behind the application. It also gives students the chance to ask the admissions officials a few questions about the school and it’s MBA program.

At Veritas Prep, our knowledgeable consultants help students prepare their admissions application, create a convincing essay, and organize all of the documents and deadlines involved in applying to business school. We know what business schools are looking for, and we share that valuable information with our students. Consider some typical questions asked of business school applicants, and learn some other helpful tips for students getting ready for an interview.

Typical Questions Asked During Business School Interviews

For students pursuing an MBA, interview questions can range from the academic to the personal. Generally, the official conducting the interview will start by asking a student why they want to attend that school. The interviewer is looking for specific answers to this question. For instance, a student may bring up certain internship opportunities available due to the school’s longtime relationship with a variety of companies. Or a student may mention the school’s average class size of just 30 students. These answers show that the candidate is familiar with what the school has to offer, and that they are dedicated to pursuing that particular school.

Another typical question asked in business school interviews concerns a student’s strengths and weaknesses. This question reveals the character, motivation, and work ethic of a student, and helps to reveal the student’s suitability for the study program. It’s a good idea for you to mention here what you are doing to improve in any weak areas.

Generally, students are asked about their career plans and how a degree from business school will help them in the pursuit of a particular profession, as well as about their personal academic accomplishments and their unique leadership skills. All of these answers and others help an interviewer to envision the candidate as a student in the business school.

How to Prep for the Interview

One of the best ways to prepare for interview questions is to review a school’s website. Most school websites include information about class size and faculty member qualifications, as well as statistics on the number of students who find jobs after graduation. This is an efficient way to find specific facts.

Students should practice answering potential questions with a friend or family member. The person playing the interviewer can offer helpful suggestions on how the student can improve upon certain answers, plus students can use this opportunity to come up with questions for the interviewer about the school and its courses.

What to Bring to the Interview

Most of the time, business schools will have a copy of a student’s résumé at the interview, but it’s a good idea for students to bring a few extra copies of their résumé as well, as there might be additional officials in the interview room. Students may also want to bring a copy of their GMAT or GRE test scores as well as a copy of their latest transcript – you may not need to take any of these documents out of their folder, but it’s a good idea to have them on hand.

What to Wear to the Interview

Dressing in an appropriate way plays an important part in a student’s success in an MBA interview. Although interview questions and answers are the most important elements of an interview, a student must also make a good visual first impression. It’s best for a student to wear conservative clothes and have a well-groomed appearance. A student doesn’t have to invest in designer clothes to make a positive impression on an interviewer – just look neat and professional.

Our consultants at Veritas Prep guide students through the process of applying to business school. We have the resources to prepare students for the GMAT, advise them on their admissions application, and offer strategies for success in business school interviews. Call or email Veritas Prep today and let us partner with you on the path toward an advanced degree in business.

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 onFacebookYouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

The post All About Business School Interviews appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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How Understanding Sampling Can Help You Conquer the GMAT [#permalink]

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New post 05 Oct 2015, 10:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How Understanding Sampling Can Help You Conquer the GMAT
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Today, we will discuss the concept of sampling. People with a statistics background will be very comfortable with it, but if you have not studied statistics, a little bit of knowledge will be helpful. You are not required to know this for the GMAT, however there could be questions framed on the sampling premise, and you will be far more comfortable solving them with some understanding in place. A sample is a selection made from a larger group (the “population”) which helps you examine certain characteristics of the larger group using limited resources.

For example:

In a large population, say all the people in a state, it is difficult to find the number of people with a certain trait, such as red hair. So you pick up 100 people at random (from different families, different areas, different backgrounds) and find the number of people who have red hair in this selection of 100.

Let’s say 12 have red hair. You can then generalize that approximately 12% of the whole population has red hair. The more unbiased your sample, the better the approximation.

In this example, you found something about the entire population (12% has red hair) based on a small sample and hence, using few resources. To find the actual percentage of people who have red hair in the entire population, you would need far more effort, time and money. Usually the use of fewer resources justifies the use of sampling even though it comes with some error.

So that is a bit of background on sampling. It will help you make sense of the  official question given below:

In a certain pond, 50 fish were caught, tagged, and returned to the pond. A few days later, 50 fish were caught again, of which 2 were found to have been tagged. If the percent of tagged fish in the second catch approximates the percent of tagged fish in the pond, what is the approximate number of fish in the pond?

A) 400

B) 625

C) 1,250

D) 2,500

E) 10,000

This is what took place: From a pond, 50 fish were caught, tagged and returned to the pond. Then 50 were caught again and 2 of those were found to be tagged.

Why was this done?

The total number of fish in the pond is the population of the pond. It is unknown. Since counting the total number of fish in the pond was hard, they tagged 50 of them and let them disperse evenly in the population. This means they gave a certain trait to a known number of fish in the pond – they tagged 50 fish.

Then they caught 50 fish again and these fish became the sample. Out of these 50, 2 were found to be tagged. So 2 of the 50 fish caught were found to have the trait given (tagged) – 4% of our sample was tagged.

The question tells us that “… the percent of tagged fish in the second catch approximates the percent of tagged fish in the pond …” that is, the question tells us that the sample is representative of the population. This implies that 50 (the number of fish we tagged) is 4% of the entire fish population of the pond.

50 = 4% of Total Fish Population, therefore, we can calculate that the Total Fish Population = 50 * 100/4 = 1250. Our answer is then C.

Using sampling, we were able to calculate the total population of the pond without actually counting each fish. For increased accuracy, often the exercise of taking samples is repeated many times and then some kind of average is used to get the best approximation.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube 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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An Introvert’s Survival Guide to College: The Importance of “Me” Time [#permalink]

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New post 05 Oct 2015, 11:00
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: An Introvert’s Survival Guide to College: The Importance of “Me” Time
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All I ever did in my freshman year of college was sleep, socialize, and work. Predictably, I burned out only a little more than halfway through the semester.

I’ve always been fairly introverted, but until college I had never felt any significant pressure to be any other way. Socially speaking, elementary school prepared me well for middle school, which prepared me well for high school. I always had structured work time, structured social time, structured free time (leisure hours after school) and structured alone time (home hours after leisure hours). “Me” time was abundant, automatic, and sometimes even boring. I even had my own room throughout middle school and high school, where I regularly hid from the world to relax, reflect, and recharge my social batteries.

The opposite was true in college. I shared a dorm room with another freshman, lived in a packed and noisy eight-floor dorm building in a six-building dorm unit, and was bombarded every day with people I wanted to meet and people who wanted to meet me. During the day I networked obsessively for reliable study friends, smart project partners, internships, research positions, and club leadership positions; at night, I bonded with dorm-mates, explored parties on frat row (overrated), and attended sorority recruitment events.

The result of all this was that I ended up with almost no “me” time at all, not including hours spent catching up on homework. I got so carried away by my excitement about college that I forgot to pay attention to my own needs. Even though I was getting all of my work done (usually in groggy frenzies twenty minutes before my 10am class), I was selling myself short mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

As the novelty of college life wore off, I realized that I had built up an unhealthy lifestyle. It was hard to accept at first, but I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was simply not made for the routine in which so many of my more extroverted friends seemed to thrive.

I soon became very sure that the reason I felt so burned out was that my demanding course load required not only intellectual energy but also enthusiasm and focus, which I was only able to sustainably generate when I felt settled and healthy. I began whittling down my social commitments, turning down or rescheduling invitations, and cutting my personal party time allowance to no more than one or two nights a week. I ate more healthily and worked out more, I became more aware and appreciative of my small circle of truly close friends, and my grades went up.

I realize now that the problem was that I had failed to recognize how valuable my own time was. I thoughtlessly committed the limited hours in my day to every passing event, extracurricular, or outing that happened to pique my interest. I know now that because I’m introverted, I badly need to keep some of that time to myself if I’m to benefit from the time that I do choose to spend being productive or social. I’m happy to say I learned my lesson: these days I make sure to save a block of time every week just for me, and I can’t imagine life without it.

Are you starting to think about applying to college? 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 Show Balance Across Your MBA Application [#permalink]

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New post 05 Oct 2015, 14:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: How to Show Balance Across Your MBA Application
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One thing we generally recommend to clients is to use a matrix to ensure you are communicating a balance of core essentials to the admissions committees. If you use this approach, you will be much more organized as you apply and will also be able to quickly ascertain where you may be coming up short. How does this work? We view the four core essentials of a perfect application as the following: Leadership, Innovation, Maturity, and Teamwork. These are the four critical areas that all business schools desire to see in their applicants.

Make a grid on a piece of paper with these four attributes across the top columns. Now on the left side of the grid, list the areas down the rows that are covered by the short answer questions (by the way, this also works with the long essay topics).  For example, if there is a question in your application about your short and long term goals, write “short term goals” and “long term goals” in separate rows. Make sure you skip some rows between each topic to give you space to fill in information about yourself.

Now comes the easy part. Simply revisit your experience in your mind, and jot down what you see as relevant or compelling information about each topic. Don’t worry about whether or not you get everything exactly right, just stream your thoughts. Once you have the rows filled in, go across the grid and check off boxes which you think are adequately demonstrated by that piece of information.

For example, if your short term goal is to work in investment banking, and your background is analyst work in an investment bank, you can check off the “maturity” box as well as the “teamwork” box, since you probably worked in a team environment and your post MBA goal selection demonstrates a mature plan (because it builds upon something you did in the past). If you feel something is detrimental to a particular area, or does not demonstrate leadership, innovation, teamwork or maturity, give yourself an X in that box.

Of course by the end of this exercise, you will have a scorecard from which you can see where you are strong and where you are weak regarding these four critical areas. If you don’t have any checks in the leadership column, for example, you should dig deeper into your experience to try and draw out examples of such. Feeling like your information communicates immaturity in some way? Try to tighten up your goals and plans or think of a situation you’ve had to handle which required wisdom. Thinking your job was a bit independent of working with others? Draw out examples of how you’ve worked in teams in your extracurricular activities.

Sometimes, this exercise will expose an area where you need to go out and bolster your experience further – that’s why it’s good to do this early in the application process.

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 onFacebookYouTube 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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Advice for Determined Re-applicants: Part 1 [#permalink]

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New post 06 Oct 2015, 10:01
FROM Veritas Prep Blog: Advice for Determined Re-applicants: Part 1
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With the recent release of 2015 MBA applications, you may be considering trying again at a school where you were rejected last year. Schools are generally encouraging with re-applicants, but it’s a good idea to also come up with a plan B for this go-round. It’s fine to re-apply to your dream school, but you if you happen to get rejected again, you need to have a fallback this time — a program you’d be satisfied attending even if it’s not your top choice.

Life is too short to spend three years trying to get into grad school, and if you haven’t been able to impress the committee for two years in a row, it may simply not be in the cards for you to go there. Often we see clients becoming enamored with a particular school, when in reality, they could receive the same or very similar education and tools (and networks and contacts and jobs) from another school. We are very much in favor of dogged determination, but at the end of the day, we want to see you get your MBA and not spend half your career applying to school.

The biggest factor in deciding whether or not to re-apply has to do with what you have done since last year to make you a better candidate this year. This is far and away the number one most important issue to consider when re-applying. In fact, many schools will only require one essay for a re-applicant, which is basically some version of “what has changed to make you a more viable candidate?”

This is where you should focus, and hopefully you recognized this task soon enough after your rejection last year and have spent the past 12 months doing things to improve your candidacy. From bettering your GMAT results, to getting a promotion at work, to seeking out new leadership opportunities, there is really no limit to what you can do to improve your profile. If those efforts happen to directly address an identified weakness, even better.

Many schools show favor to re-applicants. Some say your odds go up 30% when you reapply. Maybe schools like the determination they see, or appreciate the demonstration of passion for and commitment to their program. Or perhaps it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, with re-applicants simply working harder in the 12 months between seasons to sharpen their attractiveness as a potential MBA candidate. Whether it’s self-fulfilling prophesy or statistical advantage,  there are good reasons to try again at your target schools, so long as you give some thoughtful analysis to why you didn’t make it the first time, and apply some concerted effort into new achievements to enrich your profile.

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 onFacebookYouTube 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.

The post Advice for Determined Re-applicants: Part 1 appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.
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Advice for Determined Re-applicants: Part 1   [#permalink] 06 Oct 2015, 10:01

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