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Last Updated Sep 27, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Wacky Roots, continued…

In our last post we promised to review some tough roots and radicals questions incorporating the top tips we provided last week. We’ll keep this post simple by working through a common but complex GMAT questions that focus on radicals and roots. Can you figure out how you would identify the easiest way to get started on these questions? How would you apply our top four tips? Question #1 The first step to this question is to square both sides to get rid of the radical on the left-hand side: (square root of 3 – x)^2 = (square root of... Read more »

Last Updated Sep 20, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Square Roots Aren’t So Squarey

Radicals are very commonly tested on the GMAT, and frankly, can be overwhelming to a lot of students because there are so many rules to remember. Many students come to us saying, “Wait, I’m so confused!” often overcomplicating the need-to-know items on how to effectively tackle (most) GMAT radical questions. The reality is that many of the properties you know and feel comfortable with surrounding multiplication and division of integers (e.g. even x odd = odd) and exponents are represented with radicals, but in the reverse direction. But, we know radicals can seem pretty scary! So, we wanted to share... Read more »

Last Updated Sep 13, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: It’s Always the Same with Exponents

When evaluating exponent questions in the quantitative section, many test takers freak out when faced with seemingly messy but frequently appearing problems. “Do I need to know logs?” “Wait, is this testing something from Calculus?” Have no fear – while exponents show up often on the GMAT, how these questions show up is repetitive, requiring that we take the same steps over and to solve them. Key things we need to know when it comes to exponents:   When we multiply numbers containing exponents, we add the exponents… but they must have the same base. For example: 2^2 + 2^2... Read more »

Last Updated Sep 6, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Don’t Apply Your Outside Knowledge

The way that we tackle the GMAT Critical Reasoning section (or, you know, most of the GMAT) requires we have the unique mindset of pretending we are totally clueless, but also a keen expert who can find the gap in assumptions made by a critical reading prompt. What do we mean by clueless? Let’s start with one of our favorite Critical Reasoning questions: Numerous ancient Mayan cities have been discovered in the Yucatan peninsula in recent decades. The ruins lack any evidence of destruction by invading forces, internal revolts, or disease, and appear simply to have been abandoned. Some archaeologists... Read more »

Last Updated Aug 31, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Don’t Lose Sight at the End

Whenever tackling GMAT Quantitative section, we always encourage students to ask the essential self-reflection question “why am I here?” We mean with respect to each quantitative question, not necessarily pondering why you decided to spend at Saturday morning taking a GMAT exam or why we exist on this very planet….  well, you are welcome to do that, of course, but you may find that your test timer has reached zero very quickly! Perhaps a more appropriate way of looking at it is to consider what the GMAT has placed within the question, and how that is designed to achieved the... Read more »

Last Updated Aug 24, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Crazy Circles (Easier Than You Think)

For this week’s tip, let’s talk about circles.  You may struggle to remember anything around circles beyond they are round and are the shape of the bicycle or car wheels that get you to from point A to point B. Or, in some cases, the spinning wheel of death on a Macbook! For the GMAT, circles require you know a few key concepts and formulas: Diameter – the straight-line distance from each side of the circle that passes through the center of the circle Radius – half the diameter Circumference = 2 (pi)(radius) OR (pi) (diameter) Area = (pi) (r^2)... Read more »

Last Updated Aug 16, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Read It Right On The Screen

Many test takers get frustrated when they uncover that a point of weakness in their GMAT practice tests is the reading section. “But I have an English degree!” or “I read part of a book each day!” While reading difficult, dense reading material each day – like the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, or The Economist – can certainly boost and hone your reading comprehension skills, the reality is that (just like the rest of the test) there is a strategy behind the reading comprehension section that is more than, well, just reading. One strategy that a lot of... Read more »

Last Updated Aug 9, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: The IR Matters

Many test takers spent the vast majority of their preparation working towards improving in the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections, only taking a day or two to skim through the Integrated Reasoning sections, and almost always skipping the IR section on practice exams. Not giving the Integrated Reasoning section due diligence and/or just a tenth of preparation time may be detrimental for a competitive application. Set up as an experimental section, many b-school experts felt that the IR would never become a valid aspect of a GMAT application. But more recent surveys indicate that IR is, in fact, becoming an... Read more »

Last Updated Aug 2, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Inequalities… and then some…Part 3

If you’ve been following this series of posts, by now you’ve figured out that inequalities are not as simple a concept as they appear to be. But, in general, that is the gist of the GMAT exam – what seems to be a simple concept can often be twisted into a crazy difficult quantitative question. The same applies for critical reasoning, sentence correction… if it seems easy, then you are (likely) falling prey to GMAT deception. As we’ve found, inequalities with variables and absolute value can prove a tough nut to crack. Same applies for inequality questions that incorporate square... Read more »

Last Updated Jul 26, 2016 by

GMAT Tip: Inequalities…and then some…Part 2

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... Read more »

Last Updated Jul 19, 2016 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 12, 2016 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 28, 2016 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 14, 2016 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 7, 2016 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 31, 2016 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 24, 2016 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 17, 2016 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 10, 2016 by

GMAT: 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 3, 2016 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 »

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