# Technology and Your GMAT Prep

January 30, 2014 by

The GMAT is in many ways a technological marvel. Thousands of locations across the globe instantly report scores on the same test. The computer-adaptive test adapts to your skill level, adjusting difficulty on a question by question basis. Every center is equipped with a state-of-the-art palm scanner for additional security.

Technology can also help you prepare for this test. Every GMAT student knows that paper-based quizzes can’t produce a test-like experience. Full-length practice Computer Adaptive Tests, like those offered by Kaplan, are key to success. You can take the online prep a step further; most GMAT prep books, like Kaplan’s or the Official Guide, are also available as PDFs. Learning your lessons from a tablet or computer screen get your eyes used to reading on a monitor, and forces you to take your notes on separate scratch paper and not directly on the questions themselves. The more test-like … Read full post

# Using Common Knowledge on GMAT Critical Reasoning

December 27, 2013 by

Here is a very simple argument:

A – B = C. Over time, A has increased. Therefore, C has increased.

If the argument seems simplistic, that’s because it is—it’s not very test-like or very challenging. It gives evidence about changes in A and concludes about a change in C; the assumption (the missing piece necessary for the conclusion to be logical) is that B has not also increased. After all, if A went up but B went up as well, who knows what C will turn out to be!

But this simple example underlines a pattern that can turn into big points on Critical Reasoning questions. The GMAT testmakers expect students to understand certain common knowledge. And some of that common knowledge takes the form of simple three-part equations just like the one above. For instance:

Revenue – Cost = Profit

Price * Sales = Revenue

Imports – Exports = Read full post

# GMAT Arithmetic Shortcuts: Divide before you multiply

September 17, 2012 by

The GMAT loves to test complex proportions, cross multiplication, probability, and combinations. It’s a sure thing, therefore, that you will at some point encounter arithmetic like this:

This task probably won’t be given to you directly in the question stem—more likely, this would be an intermediate step after translating a word problem or plugging in numbers for variables. But it’s certain you’ll see something like this at some point on some GMAT problem.

In real life, you might plug these straight into a calculator. Doing so would give us this:

Ugly, huh? A five-digit number divided by a three-digit number. But the result is a nice even 30. There must be a better way to get there if the division is so neat! The shortcut is to divide. Any time you have numbers over numbers, you should always cancel, cancel, cancel. Dividing first keeps your numbers small … Read full post

# GMAT Quantitative Section: Stacking Percents

September 15, 2012 by

The Wrentham Village Premium Outlets are a great place to stop for cheap brand-name clothes, and they’re a popular tourist destination for visitors to Massachusetts.  Like all tourist/retail locations, they need to get people in the door. They’ve tried lot of things, but their latest gimmick has interesting implications for GMAT students. They’ve started stacking discounts.

Nearly every store in the mall has signs that say something like, “65% off, PLUS take an additional 20% off!” Moreover, a coupon book gives additional discounts—the particular store with that sign also offered 15% off purchases over a certain value.

To the unenlightened, this seems too good to be true. After all, 65% + 20% + 15% = 100%. Are we seriously to believe that the outlet store is giving away things for free?

Well, that might be a trap answer on the GMAT—and it’s a trap answer for the unwary … Read full post

# GMAT Tech

September 8, 2012 by

The GMAT is in some ways a technological marvel. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, thousands of locations across the globe are instantly reporting scores on the same test. The computer-adaptive test adapts to your skill level, adjusting difficulty on a question by question basis. Every center is equipped with a state-of-the-art scanner that records examinees’ handprints as a security measure.

Unsurprisingly, technology can also help you prepare for this test. Every GMAT student knows that paper-based quizzes can’t produce a test-like experience. Full-length practice Computer Adaptive Tests, like those offered by Kaplan and from www.mba.com, are key to success. But you can take the online prep a step further; most GMAT prep books, like Kaplan’s or the Official Guide, are also available as PDFs. Learning your lessons from a tablet or computer screen get your eyes used to reading on a monitor, and forces you to … Read full post

# GMAT Problem Solving: There Can Be Only One

September 4, 2012 by

On the GMAT, there is only one correct answer to each question (How many caught the Highlander reference in the title?  Be honest!).

I know, big surprise, right?

But that simple, obvious statement leads us to a powerful deduction. Some Problem Solving questions on the Quantitative section will have terms, variables, or unknowns that are unsolvable—they could take multiple values on the basis of the information in the stem. And we’re not talking Data Sufficiency here. “Not sufficient” isn’t a choice (Occasionally, “Cannot be determined” is a choice on problem solving questions. This answer is usually a trap, but you can use Data Sufficiency solving techniques to see if multiple answers are possible). So if the answer choices are numbers or proportions, and some term in the question stem is unsolvable, that undetermined x-factor can’t affect the outcome. Some ratio or mathematical step in the solution has to … Read full post

# GMAT Verbal: The Distributive Property of Grammar

August 27, 2012 by

One of the most important techniques to solving algebra problems, on the GMAT quantitative section or otherwise, is factoring. This technique, taking advantage of the “distributive property” of multiplication, lets you pull a common factor outside of a sum of terms, or to distribute it across those terms. In other words:

2x + 2y + 2z ↔ 2(x + y + z)

But did you know that the distributive property applies to grammar?

Well, not literally. But for quant experts confused by Parallelism in Sentence Correction, it can be helpful to imagine it as a distribution problem. When a sentence has a list of items, auxiliary verbs such as the “had” in “had been,” and prepositions such as “by” and “in,” can be “distributed” or “factored” across the list.

…by name, by date, or by subject ↔ …by (name, date, or subject)

# GMAT Prep: Be Assertive to Make Time

August 23, 2012 by

A few weeks ago, a group of break-dancers started dancing outside my GMAT classroom at a local university.

Now, a part of me thought this was very fun. I like to pretend I’m still cool to college students. So, I was smiling and trying not to bop my head to the music when I went out and asked them to turn down the music. They were pretty nice about it, too, and turned down their music. For about fifteen minutes. The second time I asked them to turn it down, I was a little less nice—and they were a little less happy to comply.

The third time, I didn’t ask. I called the Campus Police and had them rousted.

I felt bad about it. I was becoming “The Man.” I was an authority figure.  I was stern.  I wasn’t a “cool guy” anymore.  But I got over my guilt quickly, … Read full post

# GMAT Quantitative Problems: Defining the Negative Space

August 20, 2012 by

Take a look at the picture with this blog. It’s an iconic optical illusion. Stare at it—what do you see?  The picture is called the Great Wave off Kanagawa, painted by Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese artist famed for his brilliant compositions. This drawing is of a wave, of course, but do you see the other wave, the reverse wave in the sky?

This image utilizes negative space. You take the whole frame, the great big rectangle, you block out that actual image—and what remains is, in its own right, an interesting picture.

You’ve seen this on the GMAT, of course. Images like this occur frequently on the Quantitative section:

To find the area of the shaded region, we need to subtract the area of the smaller inner circle from the large outer circle—the difference is the area of the ring.

But the concept extends beyond … Read full post

# GMAT Verbal: More on Modifiers

August 10, 2012 by

We’ve already covered modifiers in GMAT sentence correction several times before. But, as one of the most common question types on the verbal section, and one of the types that requires the most finesse, there is still more to cover!

Today, I want to address a common misconception. Generally, modifiers must be placed as close as possible to the thing they modify. However, students sometimes mistake “as close as possible” for “adjacent.” Many test-takers find themselves confused when a long string of nouns, often peppered with prepositions, precedes a modifier. But as long as the modifier can be unambiguously linked to a specific part of that phrase, the sentence is grammatically correct. To illustrate, look at the following sentence, which is correct as written:

The members of parliament who attended the conference were pleased with the lush accommodations they received.

The modifier is the phrase “who attended the conference,” … Read full post

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