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GMAT Sentence Correction: Subject-Verb Agreement

GMAT SC Subject Verb AgreementSentence corrections on the GMAT tests many of the same issues in subject-verb agreement as in pronoun-antecedent agreement: it’s important to distinguish singular nouns from plural ones, even when the test-makers have made it difficult to do so.  For example, take a look at the first sentence of this article: there’s a mistake.  The subject of that sentence is “[s]entence corrections,” which is plural, but the verb, “tests,” is singular.  Because the singular “GMAT” is placed between them, the singular verb SOUNDS right, but is actually incorrect.  

Let’s look at a couple more examples:

The team of football players are accompanied by their trainer and head coach.

This sentence demonstrates the same common trick, which is that a singular subject (team) is associated with a plural noun (players); a plural verb (are) is then placed next to that plural noun, and the unwary test-taker, relying on his or her sense of what “sounds right,” is lulled into thinking that the sentence is correct as written.

Incidentally, there’s a second, similar issue here: the pronoun-antecedent problem.  While the test tricks you into thinking that “team of football...

Read about Properties of Zero Before attempting GMAT Questions

Categories : Number Properties

Zero Properties GMATThe number 0 on the GMAT is tricky as its properties are the trap in to which a seemingly logical solution can lead you or are often either the key to unlocking a difficult solution. Learning the properties of zero (keep in mind that it is an even number) is a crucial skill, particularly on data sufficiency problems. Even more importantly, never forget to consider zero as a potential value for a variable, as it often produces surprising results. Consider the case of zero as an exponent:

x^0 is, by definition, equal to 1. Noting the properties of exponents can help you to prove and more easily remember this useful device: take, for example, the expression x^2 * x^-2. You could rearrange this two ways:

a) (x^2) / (x^2) --> The negative exponent moves that term to the denominator

b) x^(2-2), or x^0 --> When multiplying terms with the same base, taken to different exponents, you add the exponents

Because we can prove that (x^2) / (x^2) must be equal to 1, and that the two expressions above are...

Idioms irrelevant for GMAT?

Categories : Idioms

Idioms Not Important GMATThe fact that the GMAT does not require explicit knowledge of idioms is nothing new. Sheer memorization of idiomatic rules is not rewarded on the GMAT test.

If you’ve browsed the GMAT forums and blogs recently, you may have encountered quite a bit of handwringing about the “Next-Generation GMAT” (a legitimate change) and the major changes to Sentence Correction (which are much ado about nothing).  Recently, the Graduate Management Admissions Council held a series of test-preparation industry summits around the world, and the New York event stirred up some internet fervor with the industry’s interpretation of comments made by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of GMAC.  Dr. Rudner mentioned that the GMAT Sentence Correction format does not emphasize or require knowledge of idiomatic rules, and that many questions do feature multiple grammatically-correct answers, but only one grammatically-and-logically correct answer.

These comments have prompted quite a few threads and...

GMAT Formal Logic Basics: And, or, neither, nor…

GMAT LogicWe’ve covered, in an earlier blog post, how to deal with the simplest formal logic statement: If X, then Y.  But what happens when our necessary or sufficient factors become more complicated?  Let’s look at a couple of examples, using the idea of a vegetable salad.  The simplest statement and its contrapositive might look like this:

If the salad has lettuce, then it has tomatoes.
If the salad has no tomatoes, then it has no lettuce.

Now let’s add more vegetables (and more complicated logic):

If the salad has lettuce or spinach, then it has tomatoes and peppers.

Here’s an important idea: when you are forming a contrapositive, you already know that the necessary and sufficient factors are switched around and negated.  But now you also have to remember that “and” becomes “or,” and vice versa.  So the statement above becomes:

If the salad has no tomatoes or no peppers, then it has no lettuce and no spinach.

I find it extremely helpful to individually negate each element of the statement; otherwise, it’s easy to get confused. ...

GMAT Sentence Correction Flow Chart

GMAT Sentence correction

The above is no substitute for reading each sentence carefully, predicting what the correct answer might look like, and finding it in the answer choices of course.  A little more on each of the decision points:

•  Whole sentence underlined: There isn't much to say about this.  With no part of the sentence left static, there's more to keep in mind; the other decisions still help.

Answer start or end with a verb: Beware nouns close to the verb that may distract you from the real subject

Answer start or end with a pronoun: Read carefully for the pronoun's antecedent (the word it's replacing in the sentence)

Modifying phrase, set apart by comma(s): These phrases are easier to spot and work with when they start the sentence, since you need only look at the first thing after the first comma, but these modifying phrases can appear anywhere.

Separation of subject and verb: The further apart they are, the more words there will be to confuse you.  Try...

GMAT Parallelism - How to Make Your Lists and Comparisons Parallel

GMAT ParallelismIt’s important to make sure that whenever you compare two things, those things are similar enough to make a comparison appropriate.  For example, if you and a friend are both preparing for the GMAT, but your friend has the luxury of studying full-time while you have a job and a family competing for your attention, it’s not appropriate to compare your score improvements with those of your friend.  Doing so would be an example of what is idiomatically called “comparing apples to oranges.”

The same thing is true on GMAT Sentence Correction questions.  When items are being compared, they must be “apples to apples,” or parallel.  For instance, take a look at the following example of a comparison:

Unlike most business students at her school, who attended classes full time, Carla’s schedule was so full that she could only attend part-time.

The sentence as written compares “most business students” to “Carla’s schedule.”  Schedules are things, and business students are people; this is an apples-to-oranges comparison.  In order to correct it, we should put the items being compared into parallel form, like this:

Area , Perimeter and Circumference

A sizeable number of GMAT math test questions belong to the Geometry section.  Some of these questions test  a candidate’s ability to understand 2-Dimensional Geometry by asking the candidate to calculate the area, perimeter or circumference of a geometrical shape.

The following geometrical shapes are most common – Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Rectangles, Rhombuses, Squares, Circles and Trapeziums.

Triangles – A triangle represents an enclosed shape made by joining three straight lines. The area of a triangle can be calculated as follows:

Area = ½*Base Side*Height of the triangle

In this formula, the Base Side can be any side of the triangle. However, depending on the base side chosen, height of the triangle needs to be ascertained. Height of the triangle is the shortest perpendicular distance from the Base side to the height of the Apex of that triangle.  Note that the height of a triangle may need to be calculated outside the triangle, depending on the base side chosen.  

Area of Triangle

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...

How to study for the GMAT in Two Weeks?

Categories : GMAT Study Plan

GMAT Two Weeks Study PlanKnewton: Let us start by saying "Try not to prepare for your GMAT in 2 Weeks". Two weeks is not enough time to master the topics or the test taking strategies (Read GMAT One Month Study Plan and GMAT Three Month Study Plan) But circumstances like a B-School Deadline might force you to cram for the test in two weeks. Follow this efficient GMAT Study Plan:

Day 1 – Diagnosis: Take a practice test. This will likely be your one and only assessment. If you score evenly on both sections, then you will need a more comprehensive study plan. If you ace verbal but bomb the quant, then you know to focus your attention there.

Days 2 to 4 – Prime the Pump: After you take an official practice test,  spend the next few days going through as many practice problems as possible. If you have an Official Guide, make certain you read the explanations for all of the questions you answer incorrectly. Try to focus...

Never actually understood Absolute Values ? Here is your chance!

Categories : Absolute Value

GMAT Absolute ValuesAbsolute Values (AVs) questions in GMAT can be a time saver for you if you understand a few rules. Capture the following notes and use it as a reference for your GMAT exam.

1. Absolute Value equations are two equations disguised as one

You can split up any equation involving absolutes into two, and solve for each solution. One will look identical to the given, and the other is found by multiplying the inside by -1. Remember to multiply the entire expression by -1.

| (x + 5)/3 | = 11 turns into:

(x + 5)/3 = 11, and

(x+5)/3 = -11

x + 5 = 33

x + 5 = -33

x = 28 x = -38

Note that plugging either x = 28 or x = -38 into the original equation will check out. Also note that solutions for variables within absolute value questions can be negative. What is spit out of the AV cannot be negative, but what goes in can be anything.

2. Think of Absolute Values as distances from zero

If an AV = 15, that means whatever is inside the AV is exactly 15 above or below zero on the number line.

How to solve work and rates problem in GMAT

Work Rate ProblemsCarefully go through the following question types. These are the standard work rate problems that you would encounter in your GMAT Exam.

Working Together

In questions where individuals work at different speeds, we typically need to add their separate rates together. Make sure you keep your units straight. This doesn’t mean wasting time and writing each and every one out, but rather simply recognizing their existence. Note that when working together, the total time to complete the same task will be less than BOTH of the individual rates, but not necessarily in proportion. Nor, are you averaging or adding the given times taken. You must add rates.

Q) A worker can load 1 full truck in 6 hours. A second worker can load the same truck in 7 hours. If both workers load one truck simultaneously while maintaining their constant rates, approximately how long, in hours, will it take them to fill 1 truck?

A. 0.15
B. 0.31
C. 2.47
D. 3.23
E. 3.25

The rate of worker #1 is 1 truck/6 hours. This can also be 1/6 trucks/1 hour. The rate of worker #2 is 1/7. When together, they will complete 1/6 + 1/...

How to practice for the GMAT without pen and paper?

Categories : GMAT Preparation

Even without using a GMAT prep Book, you can still strengthen your GMAT Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension skills. Here is an excellent video by Knewton on how to improve your GMAT RC and CR Skills:

1. Read News Websites

News sites are great for practicing both Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Short, detail-heavy articles from The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post make for a good GMAT-level challenge on their own. In terms of evaluating arguments, however, the real value comes from the comments on these articles that people leave online. Here you have a wonderful chance to test your CR logic skills.

As people bicker about market trends or Obama’s economic policies, you will see examples of good and bad reasoning in action. Treat them all like a GMAT excerpts. Ask yourself what their arguments rely on, and you will sharpen your ability to identify assumptions.

2. Read Opinionated Authors

Instead of re-reading the GMAT official guide for the ninth time, try taking a good book along with you for your long train rides. There is a wide variety of opinionated non-fiction writing that can help refine your understanding of tone and rhetoric. From Steven Levitt’s...

How to study for the GMAT in one month?

Categories : GMAT Study Plan

Ideally you should spend 3 months for your GMAT Prep(Read How to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months?). If you have one month, here is a focused way to plan your studies:

Week 1: Diagnosis and Practice

Take a practice test and carefully go over your wrong answers. Look for patterns. You want to see if there is one particular section or problem type that is hurting you more than all others. Do additional practice problems if the practice test yields inconclusive information. Read explanations for wrong answers and map out three to five consistent weaknesses. You will focus on these in the next week.

Week 2: Focused Study

Now is the time to deal with your weaknesses. Depending on how many you identified, you will want to spend 1 – 2 days focusing on each. If strengthening arguments questions are your Kryptonite, put a night or two of studying into that. If data sufficiency algebra is killing you, spend an afternoon reading strategies and explanations related to it. You should spend this week doing a combination of practice problems and content coursework about math and English. Take super-concise notes that you can review later.

The goal during this period is...

Set A consists of integers -9, 8, 3, 10, and J; Set B consists of integers -2, 5, 0, 7, -6,

Set A consists of integers -9, 8, 3, 10, and J; Set B consists of integers -2, 5, 0, 7, -6, and T. If R is the median of Set A and W is the mode of set B, and R^W is a factor of 34, what is the value of T if J is negative?

(A) -2
(B) 0
(C) 1
(D) 2
(E) 5


This problem demonstrates a helpful note about statistics problems – quite often the key to solving a stats problem is something other than stats: number properties, divisibility, algebra, etc. The statistics nature of these problems is often just a way to make a simpler problem look more difficult.

Here, the phrase “factor of 34? should stand out to you, as there are only four factors of 34, so you can narrow down the possibilities pretty quickly to 1, 2, 17, and 34. And because the number in question must be an exponential term that becomes a factor of 34, it’s even more limited: 2, 17, and 34 can only be created by one integer exponent – “itself” to the first power.

The base of that exponent is going to be the median of Set A, and because we know that the median of Set A will be 3 (a negative term for variable J means that 3 will be the middle term), the question becomes that much clearer. 3^W can only be a factor of 34 if it’s set equal to 1, and the only way to do that is for W to be 0. REMEMBER: anything to the power of...

GMAT Simple Interest and Compound Interest

Compound and Simple Interest GMATSimple interest and compound interest - essential topics for an MBA. GMAC thinks the same too. So you will find these questions randomly distributed in your GMAT Exam.

Simple interest is the most basic and is a function of P, the principle amount of money invested, the interest rate earned on the principle, i, and the amount of time the money is invested, t (this is usually stated in periods, such as years or months).

The resulting equation is:

Interest = iPt

In basic terms, the above equation tells us the amount of interest that would be earned on a principle amount invested (P), for a given time (t) at a given interest rate (i).

If you invested $1,000 (P = your principle) for one year (t = one year) at 6% simple interest (i = given interest rate), you would get $60 in interest at the end of the year and would have a total of $1,060.

For compound interest, you would earn slightly more. Let’s look at similar type problem, though this one involves compound interest.