Understanding "Of" for GMAT Quant and Verbal Sections

Word OfOne of the smallest and least noteworthy words in the English language, the word “of” is crucial to your success on the GMAT, on both the quantitative and verbal sides of the exam. It is of great importance that you recognize these two common appearances of, and traps set by, the word “of“:

1) Sentence Correction

In Sentence Correction questions, the word “of” is usually employed as a modifier, which the GMAT often throws in to lengthen sentences and distract you from subject-verb agreement errors. Consider the following items:

The number of applicants to business schools are increasing given the current economic climate.

The House of Representatives are meeting this week to continue working on an environmental bill.

In each instance, the subject is actually the singular noun before the word “of” – “of applicants to business schools” just tells us “which number?”, and “of Representatives” simply indicates “which House?”. The authors of the GMAT know that examinees are often unsure of which noun to choose as the subject; by using the word “of” to set up modifiers with multiple nouns, the writers can exacerbate this problem. If you are aware of, and searching for, these modifiers, you can quickly avoid these common mistakes.

2) Percentages:

The most common error that examinees make on percentage-based questions is that they take the percentage of the wrong number. Asking yourself “of what?” is the easiest way to ensure that you never make this mistake. Take, for example, the problem:

If a car dealership wants to earn $20,000 from the sale of a car, and wants that price to reflect a 50% discount to the customer, where should the dealer mark the retail price?

Many students will take 50% of 20,000 and add that to the original number, coming up with an answer of $30,000. That is incorrect – ask yourself “50% of what”?

A discount is always taken off of the retail price, so this problem should correctly be set up to reflect that $20,000 is equal to 50% off of the retail price. Mathematically, that is: 20,000 = Retail – (50/100) Retail, and the retail price works out to be $40,000.

Be cautious with percentages – asking yourself that crucial question “of what?” will help you to avoid common errors.

Author : 

Veritas PrepVeritas Prep is the world’s largest privately-owned GMAT preparation and admissions consulting provider, offering industry-leading programs to help applicants improve their test scores and gain admission to the world’s best graduate schools. Founded in 2002 by graduates of the Yale School of Management, Veritas Prep is now live in more than 90 cities worldwide, as well as interactive online courses available everywhere. Additionally, Veritas Prep offers industry-leading admissions consulting services for applicants seeking admission to the most competitive business schools, law schools, and medical schools in the world.

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