verbalQ
 Identifying Important Words

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The answer choices are not the only place where your knowledge of vocabulary is necessary in Sentence Equivalence questions. What is the most important word in the following sentence?

Question of the Day


If myth is an instance of _______ thinking because it deals with tangible phenomena, it is an instance of thinking itself because it classifies phenomena.

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By far, the most important word of the preceding question is “tangible”. Without knowing what it means, this question is basically impossible. On the other hand, if you know what the word means, then choosing the correct answers becomes very simple – its only synonyms are “concrete” and “material”.

 We’re Expecting… And It’s Triplets!

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The Ancient Greeks made substantial contributions to the modern world. They massively expanded our understanding of science and medicine. They made significant contributions to drama, literature and the arts. And if my history books are to be believed they also had some pretty epic facial hair. But, some of the Greeks’ biggest contributions were in the field of math. One of the great thinkers of that time was Pythagoras who along with coming up with a very important theorem for your GMAT was no slouch in the facial hair department. Let’s take a look at that theorem:

This Pythagorean Theorem gives us the relationship between the lengths of the sides of a right triangle where a and b are the legs and c is the hypotenuse. It’s a formula that you’ve probably used countless times, but it has one key limitation. Since plugging in values for the legs gives you , you must take a square root in order to find c. With legs of 7 and 9 you get a hypotenuse of 11.402. With legs of 14 and 11 you get a hypotenuse of 17.804. Such “ugly” numbers are exactly why you won’t see legs of that length on the GMAT.

So what will you see instead? Triplets. There are certain combinations of leg lengths that will result in an integer as the hypotenuse. Since the GMAT is a multiple-choice test, these triplets of leg : leg : hypotenuse ratios that result in three integers are very common.

The Triplets

Memorizing these triplets will allow you to save vital time on the test. If you see a hypotenuse with length of 5 and one leg with length of 4, you can know instantly that the other leg has a length of 3. You may also notice that I’ve included an x next to the terms in the ratios. That’s to further remind you that they are ratios! For instance, if you have side lengths of 10 and 24, that just tells you that you’re using the second triplet with all terms multiplied by two, so the hypotenuse must be 26.

My general rule of thumb is that if you have to perform a difficult Pythagorean calculation, you’ve either missed a triplet or you’ve done something wrong. The Pythagorean theorem is a great tool, but make sure that you’re spending your time thinking about how to use it, rather than scratching out calculations by hand.

verbalQ
 Trigger Words

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Trigger words – words that change the direction of a sentence – are an absolutely vital part of answering Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions on the GRE. How does the trigger word in this example affect the answer?

Question of the Day


Horton follows Tylor so much that he is called a ‘neo-Tylorian’ – a label intended to be ______ but one accepted by him with pride.

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The word but in the sentence completely changes the trajectory of the sentence. It causes the blank to oppose the phrase “one accepted by him with pride” instead of agree with it. Therefore, the words “pejorative” and “derogatory” are the best choices.

verbalQ
 Confusing Words

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Don’t let confusing words throw you off. If you are certain about your correct answer choice, then don’t let rare or difficult words in the answer choices distract you from the correct choice!

Question of the Day

The staff thought it was very ____________ of Dr. Koy to declare himself the best surgeon in the entire hospital.

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The word “refragable” is very rare and it is unlikely that you know its definition or have even seen it before. However, being confident in the word “pompous” can effectively take it out of your consideration for this question. If you don’t know what a word means, you generally shouldn’t make any assumptions, but if you can identify the correct choice outside of it, then stick with your first choice!