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
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?
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
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
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)
Of … Read full post
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
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.
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
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
Translating word problems into algebra is a staple skill of GMAT test-takers, one that underlies countless problems in practice and on Test Day. But some challenging translations occur as part of probability and combinatorics problems. That’s because a pair of the most basic words in the English language, “And” and “Or,” suddenly become overburdened with mathematical significance.
“And” is the simpler of the two. When “And” represents independent choices—cases in which one option or arrangement has no impact on the other choice—just multiply the outcomes. For instance:
“The number of ways to purchase three board games and two video games” is an independent choice. The board games we pick have no impact on the video games we pick. So, to translate: [The number of ways to purchase three board games] × [the number of ways to select two video games]. Of course, we’d need the combination … Read full post
As anyone who has spent any time on GMAT Sentence Correction can tell you, the English language is complex. SC problems will frequently test idioms and tricky verb tenses, among other things. But despite a few exceptions (do you know the difference between economic and economical?), subtle shifts in the meanings of similar words aren’t usually tested in GMAT sentences. They are, however, tested on Critical Reasoning and Analytical Writing prompts.
Assumptions on the GMAT occur when the scope of discussion shifts between the evidence and the conclusion. In an earlier article, I discussed a stimulus involving burgers. One such “scope shift” in that article was that the evidence discussed cholesterol, while the conclusion discussed health in general; another involved evidence about a price reduction and a conclusion about increased consumption of burgers. Some of these are easier to spot than others, but all of them involve looking for … Read full post