They All Count


No matter what your level is, you’re likely to see several problems that are fairly easy and straightforward. Make sure you get them right!

Question of the Day

If the product of 4 and is 20, and the product of 6 and is 30, what is the average of and ?

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Don’t miss easy points just because you didn’t bother to follow through on a simple question, and don’t psyche yourself out if you’re faced with something that really is simple. Thank the testmakers for a gift, and move on.

 Developing A Proper Test/Life Balance


Many students are guilty of ignoring the law of diminishing utility when it comes to test prep. Stated more plainly, I mean that students often operate under the assumption that “studying more is always better”. This is simply not the case.

The final week before the test is a time that students commonly misuse or, in some egregious cases, actually regress. This is because, instead of treating the GRE as a performance, which it is, students treat it simply as a test of knowledge, which it most certainly is not. The top priority of any student during the last week before taking the test should be resting well and staying healthy. Resist the urge to take a full-length practice test, as it will most likely contribute to fatigue on the actual test day, and by all means, don’t study anything on the day before the test.  Just take care of yourself, relax, and mentally prepare yourself for game day.

Students also ignore the law of diminishing utility during normal study hours. The number of hours that you can be actively engaged in absorbing and executing new information is limited; just because you put in the extra hours does not mean that your score will continue to improve. In order to perform optimally on the test, you should view taking care of yourself as an equally important part of your study as pouring vocabulary words into your brain.

How long can you productively study in each day? The answer is not infinite; during your studies try to take note of how productive your study is. If you are wasting time, or not making effective progress, or not feeling well, then STOP! Watching Dumb and Dumber, believe it or not, may be a more valuable use of your time. And it won’t make you as dumb as you think.

Developing a proper study/life balance is a vital part of your prep and should not be ignored. In addition to the number of hours that you can spend during each session, there is a limited amount of study time that you can put your body through each week. Ensuring that you are taking adequate time to exercise, eat well, and sleep sufficiently is an often undervalued but highly sensitive aspect of your test prep so take your mother’s advice and take care of yourself, darnit!

 How to Prepare for the Integrated Reasoning Section


If you’re planning on taking the GMAT soon after June 5, 2012, you may be concerned about preparing for the newly introduced Integrated Reasoning section.  Although some guidance has been provided about the kinds of question types you’re likely to see, there isn’t nearly enough practice material out there to make most people feel comfortable facing the IR section.  Add to that the fact that dealing with large data sets can be intimidating and you have quite the task.  How do you prepare for a section you know little about that concerns a subject that you’re not comfortable with?

That dilemma brings to mind a quote by baseball player Charley Lau.  When asked how he tried to catch the famously unpredictable knuckleball pitch Lau responded, “There are two theories on catching the knuckleball… unfortunately, neither of the theories work” [sic].  But, preparing for the IR section doesn’t have to feel as hopeless as catching a knuckleball.  Here are a few hints for starting the process of getting ready for the IR section.

First, start with what you know.  If you need to get comfortable with data sets, you don’t have to jump right into spreadsheets on mortality rates for drosophilia melanogaster with specific genetic mutations… unless of course you’re into that sort of thing.  One of my passions is sports, so I might start with the readily available stats page for my beloved San Francisco Giants.  While the context is familiar, the goal now is to look at those numbers from a GMAT perspective and to start to think about what kinds of conclusions you can draw from the data.

Next, start hypothesizing.  In my example, I might guess that Tim Lincecum’s Earned Run Average was lower at home than on the road.  I can then move through the numbers to see if that hypothesis is correct or not.  By asking questions about things you’re curious to know, and finding the answers in a set of data, you’re building a comfort level that will serve you well on test day.

After you’ve done that, try moving on to less familiar sets of data.  The US Census offers a huge amount of information that is just begging to be sorted through.  Start working through that information and pose questions to yourself to answer.  For instance, in what decade did the population ofNevadaincrease the most, or which ethnic group inCaliforniasaw the greatest percentage increase in population between 2000 and 2010.  By posing these questions and seeking out the answers, you will gain a comfort level that will serve you well on the IR section.

Even if you’re not a number cruncher by nature, these simple steps will help prepare you for the new and unforeseen Integrated Reasoning section of The Next Generation GMAT.