GMAT Performance Tips

Categories : GMAT Tips

Best GMAT Performance TipsYour performance on the GMAT, like all peak performances tend to come in a familiar three-step pattern: ready, set, go; bump, set spike; game plan, warm up, perform. All signs point to I came, I saw, I conquered.

The GMAT begins with the AWA essays, a pair of 30-minute writing samples designed to test your communication ability, and for which the scores are used sparingly in MBA admissions. Effectively, the biggest threat to your MBA candidacy from the AWA section is not necessarily the essay score itself, but more likely the way in which that hour will impact your overall performance on the ever-important Quantitative and Verbal sections, which combine for your score between 200 and 800. How can you use the AWA section as a competitive advantage, and not a threat?

Game Plan
Assume that the AWA section comes first for a reason - in spending an hour writing about generic topics, students are apt to lose track of (or at least worry that they'll lose track of...

How to Handle Passive and Active Voices in GMAT Sentence Corrections

Categories : Sentence Correction, Voice

GMAT Active Voice vs Passive VoiceThese two sentences have an important difference.  Can you spot it?

1) She spoke persuasively, arguing for major legislative changes.

2) Major legislative changes were argued for in her persuasive speech.

The first sentence is written in the active voice, and the second is written in the passive voice.

In the first sentence above, the subject is “she,” and the verb is “spoke.” In the second sentence, the subject is “major legislative changes” and the verb is “were argued for.”

Writing in the active voice means that the subject of the sentence is performing the action; writing in the passive voice means that the subject of the sentence is the object of an action. It’s tricky sometimes to distinguish between passive and active voices, but it’s worth practicing, because sometimes on GMAT Sentence Corrections, the difference between two grammatically sound answers is passive and active voice.  Many people in this situation end up guessing because they can’t think of any good reason to reject either of the choices. By learning how to use passive and active...

(GMAT 800)The function g(x) is defined for integers x such that if x

The function g(x) is defined for integers x such that if x is even, g(x) = x/2 and if x is odd, g(x) = x + 5.  Given that g(g(g(g(g(x))))) = 19, how many possible values for x would satisfy this equation?

A. 1
B. 5
C. 7
D. 8
E. 11


The easiest way to approach this problem is probably to work backwards, at least until we see a pattern.

With g(...) = 19, then we can consider which operation applied to (...).  If it was x/2, then (...)= 38.  38 is even so that is fair.   If it was x + 5, then (...) was 14.  14 is even, so that operation would not have been applied.

On paper, you could make a tree, with 19 as the root, and 38 as the first node.  

Next consider 38.  38 could have come from 76/2 or 33 + 5.  Two possibilities give us two nodes branching from 38:

19  -> 38 -> 76, 33.

We can now observe the pattern that with an odd number, it must have come from an even, but an even could come from either of two numbers.

Therefore our 76 will branch into 2 numbers, and the 33 into just one.

33 -> 66
76 -> 73, 152..

We can represent this as shown here:


How to correctly use Pronouns and Antecedents in GMAT Sentence Corrections

Pronoun GMATErrors in pronouns—words like he, she, it, they, our, etc.—and antecedents—the words that the pronouns refer to—are among the most common errors in English Grammar.  Take this sentence as an example:

Sentence A:  I spoke to someone at the help desk, and asked what kinds of product returns the company allows; they told me that they only take unopened items.

This sentence wouldn’t set off any “grammar alarms” for the average reader and speaker of English; however, you, intrepid GMAT test-taker, need to be wiser than average and spot a couple of pronoun/antecedent errors, such as:

1.  “They” and “their” are plural pronouns, and CAN’T be used as gender-neutral singular pronouns

One of the most frequently-committed grammar sins in every day speech is the use of “they” and “their” to indicate gender neutrality.  Sentence A, above, says “I spoke to someone.”  The sentence later says, “they told me,” and based on context it is clear that the “they” in question is the “someone at the help desk.”  “Someone” is...

5 Steps for GMAT Data Interpretation

Data Interpretations GMAT1. Read the labels first. Mentally categorize each graph, chart and table. (EX: “This is a graph showing the change in the price of gas per gallon over the course of one year.”) Do not just skip the statistics entirely and go straight to the question! While you may think this will save you time, it actually significantly decreases your accuracy.

Data Interpretation questions are like an open-book test. You wouldn’t skip a Reading Comp passage, so don’t skip the data. Make sure you read every tiny piece of writing on or near the data, including titles, the labels for the x and y-axes, column names, and even footnotes. Scroll down to make sure you’ve caught everything.

2. Note the units. Once you understand the labels, take special care to note the units (mph, m/sec, cm2, etc.). Are we dealing with seconds, minutes, or hours? Does one graph represent the month of June, while the other graph represents the entire year? The units may change from graph-to-graph or chart-to-table. Especially note any given information about percentages, as DI questions frequently require you to work with...

General Strategies for Critical Reasoning

Categories : Critical Reasoning

Unless the question is a GMAT conclusion question, there will always be two parts to an argument:  The premises—these are the facts that the author presents—and conclusion—the sentence that the author wants you to believe is true, but is not necessarily true.  

Since you cannot mess with the facts that are presented, almost any question impacts the conclusion.  Therefore, there are always two basic steps to answering a critical-reasoning question:

Step 1:  Read the question first!  When you start reading that long, wordy, cumbersome paragraph of an argument, you want to already know what you are looking for so that you do not get lost in the text.

Step 2:  Find the conclusion!  Unless the question is a conclusion question (in which case you have synthesize all the facts presented in the paragraph), your job is to strengthen, weaken, identify the flaw of, identify the assumption of, or infer something from not the entire argument, but the conclusion of the argument.  So make sure you really zone in on that one...

Top 10 Tips to Ace GMAT Data Sufficiency

Ever heard of a Math problem that you actually don't have to solve. If you have just started your GMAT prep, then this can be confusing. Don't worry! With some practice, your mind will be trained to think like a DS Wizard. Follow these 10 tips and you will be on your way to mastering GMAT Data Sufficiency.

1. Familiarize with the Answer Choices

No excuses: On Data Sufficiency, they’re always the same! Know in the blink of an eye what choice C is. On test day, if you find that Statement 1 is insufficient, be able to cross out choices A and D without hesitation.

2. Takes notes efficiently

Each statement alone will be sufficient if both of the statements on their own contain all the information necessary to answer the question. The statements will be sufficient together if they contain every piece of necessary information between them. Take the area of a parallelogram: Do you need to know every side length to determine the area? If you have every side length, can you find the area?

3. Don’t look at the statements together.

Statement 2 may tell you that x is negative, but that fact has no bearing on Statement 1 when viewed by itself. Explore all the possibilities offered by each statement individually. If you’ve...

When is a right time to start preparing for the GMAT?

Categories : GMAT Preparation

This is a question that goes in the mind of every test taker. When should I really start preparing? Well the answer depends on when do you want to attend the business school.  GMAT scores are valid for a couple of years (5) and thus if you are not planning as soon as you give the GMAT then this is not a concern for you. This post is intended more for people who want to finish the process- from GMAT to attending a B school- in a single shot- meaning take the GMAT and then apply for the schools right away.

That needs some planning and you need to understand the application process of the B schools. Let me cover a little bit about the application process. Most of the schools have a couple of rounds in the application process- early bird, round 1, round 2, round 3 etc. Although there are many rounds, typically it is round 1 and round 2. You have to plan your applications around the round 1 and round 2 deadlines. I have visited many schools and talked with the Adcom of schools and typically there is much difference between your acceptance rate between round 1 and round 2. Round 3 become more competitive and you might want to avoid that. Now Round 1 deadlines for most of the schools are in the first week of October and Round 2 deadlines are in the first week of Jan. In order to come up with good applications and plan the schools visits and talking to professors, you will require about 3...

Learn when Diction Impacts Grammar in GMAT Sentence Correction Questions

Tone Diction GMATAs you may know, diction refers to word choice. Usually, we use the term “diction” to describe an author’s tone or style - rarely does word choice have an effect on grammar. In some cases, though, it does. The GMAT Sentence Corrections will test you only on those occasions when word choice affects grammar, not when one word will be more effective than another.

1. Adverbs vs. Adjectives

While the subject of adverb usage may deserve its own category, the topic can be included under diction. Simply put, an adverb (those words that often end in ly) describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb, while an adjective describes a noun.

Adverb usage is the reason we say “I did well on my test” and not “I did good on my test;” well is an adverb while good is an adjective.

Example 1. Scientists dream of one day creating armies of nanobots, tiny robots smaller than a cell, that can enter the human body and use their practical unlimited access to find and repair defects in bodily structures.

(GMAT 800) Conventional wisdom holds that financial markets

GMAT 800 Reading Comprehension QuestionConventional wisdom holds that financial markets are informationally efficient—that stocks are always priced and traded at the intrinsic value of their underlying assets. Thus, investors cannot expect to achieve returns consistently in excess of average returns, given information that is publicly available at the time, without taking on large economic risks akin to gambling risks. In other words, one can only obtain higher returns by purchasing riskier investments, and not through expert timing or speculative stock selection. There are three major interpretations of this efficient market hypothesis: Weak Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), which holds that current prices for assets, such as stocks, bonds, and property, reflect all past prices, Semi-strong EMH, which argues that prices change instantly to reflect all new public information (such as news of a take-over or a change in fiscal policy), and Strong EMH, which claims that prices adjust perpetually to reflect hidden, insider information not yet made public.

Weak EMH holds that technical analysis, the analysis of past stock performance, will not consistently produce excess returns because future price movements are only determined by...

3 Crucial GMAT Sentence Correction Strategies

Categories : Sentence Correction

GMAT SC StrategiesOf all the question types on the GMAT, a global exam for which the pool of test takers includes more than half of its examinees from outside the United States, Sentence Correction may seem the most arbitrary to prospective examinees.  Math we get: nearly all MBA graduates will have to make decisions using numbers and nearly all MBA programs require coursework in areas like finance and accounting for which some baseline math skills are important.   But English grammar?  Why would schools like INSEAD and ESADE, located in countries where English is not an official language and attracting students from all corners of the globe, be concerned with English grammar subtleties?  Especially when, as about 1/3 of the verbal section, sentence correction counts for about 17% of someone’s GMAT score.  It’s probably nice to know that everyone can speak the same language, but 17% of someone’s entry value?  Isn’t that overkill?

That should be a clue to you that Sentence...


On the GMAT sentence corrections, an “idiom” is a recognized grammatical construction that is a rule simply because of tradition. The idiom constitutes the ultimate tautology: we say something a certain way because, well, that’s how we say it.

On the test, most of the idioms you will face involve preposition usage. Why do I listen “to” the radio instead of listen “at” the radio? We say “listen to” because that is how English speakers have said it for hundreds of years. We like it that way, and we are not willing to change.

For some test-takers, idiom errors can be the easiest to spot on the exam. To these test-takers, an idiom error sticks out like a sore thumb. When they read something like “listen at the radio,” they hear dissonance. The only way to restore grammatical harmony is to replace the grating “at” with the soothing “to.” Balance is restored.

English as second language

Not everybody thinks this way. For many who learned English as a second language, and even for those who have a purely logical--as opposed to intuitive--understanding of language, idiom errors are extremely difficult to detect. After all, there is no logical explanation for why we say “listen to” instead of “listen at.”...

GMAT Reading Comprehension Time Management - 7 Rules

Categories : Reading Comprehension

GMAT RC Time ManagementTiming is everything in GMAT. Computer Adaptive Tests (CATs) have additional constraints apart from limited time: You cannot return to previous questions, you can't skip a question and you are penalized more for unanswered questions than for wrong answers.

For many GMAT test takers, the ticking clock on the top right corner of the screen is a constant source of worry. "How much time should I spend on this question?". "Should I guess and move on?". These questions will force even the coolest test takers to make irrational decisions.

Don’t let stress over the clock have a negative impact on your confidence or your GMAT score! You do not want the time crunch to take focus away from answering the questions correctly.

Consistently practicing time management skills will allow you to become more comfortable with this aspect of the test and refocus your energy on reasoning skills necessary to pick the correct answer choice.

1) 6 Minutes vs 8 Minutes: Spend around 6 minutes on a reading comprehension passage with 3 questions, and around 8 minutes on a passage with 4 questions.

2) 2 Minutes Quick...

International Students - Are you ready for GMAT Verbal?

Categories : GMAT Verbal

For some international students who are new to the language, ESL classes might be a necessary step before they even start thinking about business school . For others, whose foundation in English grammar is stronger, study time may be better spent reading books in English, writing essays, taking practice tests, or doing focused grammar drills. So how can you know whether your English is at the right level for the GMAT?

Simply put, to do well on the GMAT you should know enough English to function in a university environment. First, check your proficiency by listening to sample lectures on Youtube. This is a practical recommendation that pertains to spoken as well as written English. In business school you will be expected to make arguments, back up opinions, and discuss case studies in depth. You should be comfortable stating your opinions and answering questions. Though you want to have better grammar than Borat or Jackie Chan, don’t worry if you have an accent or make a few mistakes when speaking.

Here’s an easy test: Watch a movie in English without subtitles; try something business related, like Glengarry GlenRoss, Wall Street, or Working Girl if you can. When you’re done, read a detailed summary of its plot online. If you find that you missed out on...

GMAT Critical Reasoning – How to solve the weakness question type?

Start solving the GMAT Critical Reasoning weaken question by reading the question first. Why? This would help you determine the task before you go into the argument.

For example:

Healica, a new drug that can cure a common disease that until now has been fatal for 50% of those infected, is made from the root of the New Zealand banananut tree.  The banananut tree is rare in New Zealand, and large quantities of the root are necessary in order to make Healica.  Therefore, if Healica remains in production, the banananut tree will eventually become extinct.

If true, which of the following most calls into question the conclusion above?

a) The company that holds the patent to Healica has exclusive rights to produce the drug for another 10 years.
b) Healica is expensive, and is not currently covered by most major insurance plans.
c) Banananut leaves are considered a gourmet delicacy in many parts of the world.
d) The banananut tree, although native to New Zealand, can easily be grown in other parts of the world.
e) Producing Healica is time-consuming and expensive for the drug manufacturer.

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