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Last Updated Nov 14, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: You’re right, the questions do get easier!

The Reading Comprehension section can be less tangible for test takers, because we don’t have the opportunity to practice the exact concept being tested in the same way as the quantitative section. The feedback we often hear is “fortunately, the passages were easy for me” or “I had no idea what they were even talking about, so I am sure I blew the questions.” While you won’t necessarily have the chance to practice the exact passages you will be presented with on your actual exam, the GMAT is repetitive in the types of passages it presents to test takers. There tend... Read more »

Last Updated Nov 7, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Eliminate Out of Scope

Believe it or not, getting to the right answer for a Critical Reasoning question can be as simple at reading the prompt carefully and strategically eliminating answer choices that are out of scope of the passage. A lot of answer choices can “sound good” but really don’t do anything in the form of answering the question being asked or give the additional information required to strengthen or weaken the argument. The below question is a perfect example of when out of scope answer choices help us to quickly get to 50/50: Boreal owls range over a much larger area than... Read more »

Last Updated Jul 25, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Inequalities…and Then Some, Part II

In our last post, we talked about the challenges that inequalities can pose for GMAT test takers. While not as simple as they seem, inequality questions can be huge time wasters that keep scores back at the 600 level. As with any GMAT quantitative concept, there is always the possibility that a curve ball will be thrown your way. Thought that just assessing > or < was the gist of all inequality questions. Think again. One of the big “add-ins” that we see with inequality questions is absolute value. Remember that, by definition, absolute value is the magnitude of a number... Read more »

Last Updated Jul 18, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Inequalities…and then some…(Part 1)

When it comes to tricky quantitative questions, inequalities take the prize for serving as one of the biggest deceivingly easy questions. Test takers should just treat inequalities as algebraic “equal to” equations with just a < or > symbol in place of the = sign, right? If only it was so simple. Inequalities are designed to assess your critical thinking skills, working beyond solving for a value of a variable to considering the range of variable possibilities. Furthermore, inequalities questions are set up as data sufficiency questions the majority of the time. Smart test takers know to be on their... Read more »

Last Updated Jul 11, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: You Don’t Need to Solve for S

Memorizing endless numbers of formulas is never the path to high-scoring success on the GMAT. Nevertheless, formulas can give you a leg up – provided you understand how to use them appropriately. As with any quantitative question, the key is to be flexible, incorporating a variety of approaches to efficiently get to the correct answer choice. Problems that are primarily geometry-based are where utilizing formulas you have memorized can be the most helpful. Equilateral triangles are very commonly tested questions and knowing the formula for the area of an equilateral triangle: s^2(sqrt 3) / 4 Can save you valuable seconds... Read more »

Last Updated Jun 27, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Just When You Think You’re Done, Keep Going

Many test takers preparing for the GMAT get frustrated with questions in the quantitative section, often providing responses like “I took advanced math in college!” and “I did great on my SAT math, what gives?!” The GMAT Quantitative section is a tricky beast, with one key theme to the questions – just when you think you have done enough work to solve the problem, you still have more work to do. Test takers often don’t recognize this key strategic mindset for problem solving and data sufficiency questions, instead feeling frustrated because they’ve selected what they thought was a cut and... Read more »

Last Updated Jun 20, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Consider Algebra, not Arithmetic

Many test takers fail to make the connection between not being permitted to use a calculator on the quantitative section of the GMAT and, well, not making intensive, calculator-required calculations. The reality is, when you are working through a question and think a calculator is needed and/or there is some simplistic, obscure formula is required, you are not using the right strategy. This proves most true for arithmetic questions, when tedious calculations take test takers down the road where an algebraic approach should be considered instead. Let’s look at an example: 5^10 + 5^10 + 5^10 + 5^10 + 5^10... Read more »

Last Updated Jun 13, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: When You Can’t Swim in Critical Reasoning, Eliminate

With Critical Reasoning questions, many test takers forget the immense importance of figuring out the gap, or disconnect, in the reasoning in the question being provided. Understanding this gap is essential to determining what answer choice fits to resolve the gap. The next step is moving to evaluate what the question asks you to find – say, whether you need to select an answer choice that strengthens or weakens the prompt provided. Many test takers fail to spend adequate time evaluating the gap, and find themselves stuck between 2 or 3 answer choices. Without fundamentally understanding the gap, figuring out... Read more »

Last Updated Jun 6, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Consider the Possibilities and Make a Well-Reasoned Guess

In the GMAT Quantitative section, there are often problems that appear simple but turn into big time-wasters that detract from test takers’ ability to get to the tougher questions and/or finish the quantitative section of the exam. These time-wasters are a) often arithmetic questions b) also data sufficiency questions and c) seem very simple from the outset. The GMAT is testing your ability to manage your time, and a test taker with excellent time management skills recognizes that when you are at 85% of the way in solving a problem, often an educated guess (and likely correct) guess is more... Read more »

Last Updated May 30, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Stop with the Calculations, Already!

Timing is hands down one of the biggest challenges test takers have for the GMAT. The exam recognizes this, of course, and in fact sets up a penalty for those who leave the exam unfinished. Smart test takers have a solid understanding of the foundation of the GMAT – high scores come not from being a math whiz or spending your time memorizing obscure grammar topics, but realizing that the GMAT is looking to assess how well you critically think and leverage your assets in a demanding, time-sensitive environment. That being said, when faced with complex, or seemingly complex, quantitative... Read more »

Last Updated May 23, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Simplifying Fractions

In previous posts, we have discussed how the best way to tackle a difficult looking quantitative question on the GMAT is to clean it up – consolidating like terms, adding or subtracting inside of parentheses, or reorganizing variables to where it is easier not substitute equations. Not only is cleaning up quantitative questions helpful to cutting down on the amount of time you spend solving a question, but often, can be essential to seeing conceptually how to get to a correct answer choice. Consider the below data sufficiency question: Given n > 5, when (n! + n + 1) is... Read more »

Last Updated May 16, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Don’t Fret Over Two Letter Words

Many students get frustrated when evaluating sentence correction problems, with the biggest point of frustration coming from feeling that they need to memorize chart after chart of idioms. While knowing idioms can certainly be helpful, if you are facing a short timeline, sometimes you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Just like quantitative problems, there are frequently multiple ways to evaluate sentence correction problems. Not clear on determining that we arrive “at” an airport and arrive “in” a city, but we don’t tend to arrive “to” places? Don’t completely despair that – while you should have a decent... Read more »

Last Updated May 9, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Consider Algebra, Not Arithmetic

Many test takers fail to make the connection between not being permitted to use a calculator on the quantitative section of the GMAT and, well, not making intensive, calculator-required calculations. The reality is, when you are working through a question and think a calculator is needed and/or there is some simplistic, obscure formula is required, you are not using the right strategy. This proves most true for arithmetic questions, when tedious calculations take test takers down the road where an algebraic approach should be considered instead. Let’s look at an example: 5^10 + 5^10 + 5^10 + 5^10 + 5^10... Read more »

Last Updated May 2, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Only a Kitchen Calculator

There are many different approaches in tackling a GMAT Quantitative question effectively. Algebraically, working backwards from the answer choices, considering “lucky twins” – a smart test taker is flexible and takes a fresh new approach by evaluating each quantitative question individually, taking the route that is efficient and effective. But how does said test taker become the smart test taker – what kinds of signs tip us off that we should go down a certain strategy road for a tricky and/or difficult quantitative question? Think of the “kitchen calculator” – the kind of cheap plastic, four-digit calculator that you find... Read more »

Last Updated Apr 25, 2018 by

So, You’re Terrible at Integrated Reasoning…

Since its release on the June 2012 exam, the Integrated Reasoning portion of the GMAT has had some test takers stumped. This 30-minute, 12 question section is oddly scored on a 1 to 8 scale, and no partial credit is given, even for multi-part, multi-answer questions. For the past several years, it was a matter of debate on whether business schools evaluated applicants on the basis of the Integrated Reasoning section. Admissions offices can be slow to adapt to changes in standardized tests, waiting for enough points of comparison to consider whether the change corresponds with other ways that applicants... Read more »

Last Updated Apr 18, 2018 by

Combinations: Consider the Grouping with the Slot Method

The GMAT loves to present combination questions that force people to sit next to each other, or in certain seats, and then have the test taker figure out how many different ways people not forced to be glued to possibly a very uncomfortable chair can be seated around them. Because free will, clearly, is not an option for many movie-goers, committee members, and/or people seated in a kumbaya circle. Take this question, for example: A group of 5 students bought movie tickets in one row next to each other. If Bob and Lisa are in this group, what is the... Read more »

Last Updated Apr 11, 2018 by

Sentence Corrections: Not About the Grammar?

Gerunds, prepositional phrases, past perfect test, idioms…if you are a test taker who knows your E.B. White and Will Strunk book by heart, you should ace the Sentence Corrections section every single time, right? Not necessarily. While a cursory review of grammar is important to do well in verbal, a common mistake that test takers make is assuming that knowing good grammar is the number one path to success on Sentence Correction questions. Furthermore, test takers rely on “what sounds good,” not focusing on what the GMAT test makers are seeking to understand from those test takers – the ability... Read more »

Last Updated Apr 4, 2018 by

Probability Tip: Three Strategies That Aren’t Used Enough

Some GMAT instructors will say that students often place too much emphasis on studying for Probability and Combinatorics, rather than spending more time focusing on the heavy lifters of Algebra and Arithmetic. Like it or not, GMAT students get fixated on combinatorics and probability because a) these questions are never, never as straightforward as remembering and plugging into the permutation or combination formula and b) these problems have the illusion of being easy and attainable. But these sticky types of GMAT questions are notorious time wasters, driving test takers deep into a rabbit holes without consideration the right strategies. In... Read more »

Last Updated Feb 28, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: Put the Critical in Critical Reasoning

As you read GMAT Critical Reasoning problems, you might be struck by how different the questions can be: some are about biology, others about geology, and still others about politics, home repair, corporate strategy, and a whole host of other topics. But, strategically speaking, Critical Reasoning problems are all a lot more similar than meets the eye. There are a handful of blueprints for the structure of these problems, and if you can see those blueprints the subject matter becomes window dressing. The most popular Critical Reasoning blueprint? It looks like this: Fact that guarantees that X is true. Conclusion... Read more »

Last Updated Feb 14, 2018 by

GMAT Tip: How to Master Critical Reading Questions

When I was a kid, all I wanted was a cool mono-syllabic last name. People would fumble through my clunky last name and inevitably layer some hybrid of odd accents in all of the wrong places. I just wanted to play lacrosse and hear “Go Capps” or “Go Carp!” Since I couldn’t change my name, I wished for a good nickname instead because let’s be honest, that can be even cooler. But you can’t pick your nickname, so I ended up getting labeled “JC” (my initials). When you go to a Catholic high school and your nickname is a shared... Read more »

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