Learnist: 7 Ways to Make Studying for the GMAT Fun!

(No, really!) Here’s how to dance, snack, and gamify your way to a 700+ GMAT score.

Tip #1 – Use Music As Motivation (Exhibit A: The USC Marshall School of Buiness doing the “Harlem Shake”)

In this video the MBA candidates of the Class of 2013 and Class of 2014 at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business decided to do the Harlem Shake.

And while you may not want to waste a precious study-hour making your own Harlem Shake dance-video with your GMAT study group (but by all means, please feel free to do so!), you CAN and SHOULD use music as motivation while you study for the GMAT.

If you’re someone who needs to have background noise as you study, assign a genre of music to each GMAT question-type. Planning to do 20 minutes of Sentence Correction? It’s Britney Spears and Katy Perry! Moving on to Data Sufficiency? It’s Macklemore-time.

Check out Tips #2-7 on Learnist to learn more ways to make studying for the GMAT fun!

Learnist Board of the Week: Destroy GMAT Reading Comp (once and for all)

Check out this new Learnboard with a step by step guide to conquering RC once and for all!

Step 1 — To start, here’s the mandatory books you’ll need to get:

  • GMAT Official Guide – 13th edition
  • GMAT Official Guide – Verbal review, 2nd edition

You’ll want to know the RC questions in this book backwards, forwards, and upside down.

Other books with lots of passages to practice:

  • Veritas Prep – Reading Comprehension Guide
  • Manhattan GMAT – RC Strategy Guide
  • Artistotle Prep – RC Grail

Step 2 — Read The Economist, or other high-quality publications!

The Economist is a weekly newspaper focusing on international politics and business news. Not only is its subject-matter right up GMAT’s alley, but its written in a more advanced vernacular than your average newspaper — a level matched by the GMAT RC.

As you read these articles, do the following:

  • Circle the topic
  • Underline any transition words
  • Write down the purpose of each paragraph
  • Write down the author’s point of view in your own words
  • Write down the Main Idea in your own words

Do all of this to build your RC skills — ALWAYS read with a pen in your hand, and always ask the million dollar question, “Why is the author saying this?”

Fun fact: You can use your Delta Skymiles for a free subscription. 3,200 miles gives you 51 issues!

For Steps 3 through 7, check out How to Destory GMAT Reading Comp (once and for all)!

 

How to Start the GMAT from Scratch

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

-Aristotle

More than 5,400 programs offered by more than 1,500 universities and institutions in 83 countries use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs.  Just getting started with your GMAT prep? This Learnboard covers the fundamentals what you’ll expect to see on the exam: Quant (arithmetic, algebra, number properties, geometry, etc.), Verbal (grammar, reading comprehension, etc.), AWA, and Integrated Reasoning.

Fast facts:

  • The GMAT exam assesses higher-order reasoning skills: Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical Writing, and Integrated Reasoning. Its cost to test takers is US $250.
  • Available time slots at test centers change continuously based on capacity and ongoing registration. You will find out which times are available at your chosen test center when you register.
  • You’ll receive an individual score for each of the three sections on the GMAT. The combination of your quantitative and verbal scores determines your scaled score, which is given on a scale of 200-800.

Learnist: GMAT “Logical Structure” Reading Questions

Questions that ask about the “function” of a detail, sentence or paragraph is a Logical Structure question. These frequently appear on the GMAT — always look for the logical keywords that tell you where the author is taking the discussion.

Authors organize their ideas in paragraphs, and each paragraph has a mini-purpose. Why, otherwise, would the author write it? Try to get a sense of the function of EACH paragraph as you read by looking for the keywords. Put the “function” in your own words and write it down!

Since keywords and phrases are ALL you have to go on to extrapolate the structure of the passage and the author’s intentions, practice pulling out the key phrases in this passage. Then scroll down, comparing them to those the author identified.

 This blog is for GRE passages, but they are the same in terms of form and content to the GMAT. Notice the list of “Function” verbs here. Copy them down and try to “assign” an infinitive verb to each paragraph. What is author DOING with each paragraph?

Just like every paragraph has a function, each sentence within each paragraph has a function. Start with the overall function of the paragraph, then ask: how does this detail relate to the paragraph’s overall function? Is it aiding the main idea? Qualifying it? Making a concession?

700+ GMAT: Rock Set Theory

Venn diagrams and matrices getting you down? No clue what “elements” are? Sets on the GMAT have a reputation for being tough, but that’s just because most students are less familiar with them. This GMAT board will fill you in on the basics!

The “Intersection” is an upside-down U symbol, and is the OVERLAP of the sets. That is, the intersection contains all the elements that are in BOTH sets. Notice the Venn diagram is used to show the Intersection.

It makes sense that the symbol for “Union” would be a “U” shape. The Union is always the total combined elements. If an element is in EITHER of the sets, then it’s in the Union.

Sometimes Sets questions will be combined with other concepts, such as percentages. They often will not require fancy Venn diagrams or the ability to use a matrix to solve. Watch this Grockit video to see an example of this. You probably didn’t even know this could be considered a “sets” question! 🙂

Like a Venn diagram, a Sets Table (or matrix) is a great way to systematically organize a lot of information, especially for a Sets word problem. Read through this blog on how to set one up! Notice how the table is set up 3 x 3.

 

Learnist: Point of View in ACT Science questions

The key to better scores on the ACT Science Test Conflicting Viewpoints passages is to hunt down each author’s point of view. As you read each passage, look closely for keywords that help you identify the author’s opinions.

If there are multiple paragraphs, remember that the scientist or student usually uses the first few sentences to introduce his topic and start a discussion of the main idea. The final paragraph wraps up the discussion and reinforces the Main Idea. If you are having trouble finding what the overall point of view is for the passage, go back to the very beginning and the very end.

Don’t feel like you need a big background in Science to get Point of View or other Science questions correct. These are very close to Reading Test questions! Use these three tips:

  • Don’t Be Confused by the Extraneous Information
  • Cut Through the Scientific Jargon
  • Never Leave an Answer Blank

Try a few practice questions on this ACT Science: Point of View learnboard!

Learnist: GMAT Critical Reasoning Overview

The Verbal section of the GMAT consists of 41 questions that you must complete in 75 minutes. Critical Reasoning is one of three Verbal question types you’ll see on Test Day!

In this video, Abi from GMAXOnline reviews the basic format of CR questions, discusses what an argument is, and the parts of the argument: premises, conclusions, assumptions, inferences. She also covers some of the common keywords to look out for on this question type!

As you can see in this video, there are more than half a dozen question-types. Always determine what type of CR question it is by reading the question stem first. This 3-step method is a general guideline for all the CR question types.

This is a “weaken” questions as shown by the phrase “would most weaken.” Weakening questions are one of the most common CR question-types.

Check out more practice Critical Reasoning questions on Learnist!

Learnist: How to Get Letters of Recommendation

Even if you have a bad SAT or GRE score, a few strong recs can tip the scales back in your favor when it comes to undergrad and grad school admissions! Here’s how to get awesome ones!

If you succeed in undergrad and graduate school, your old teachers, employers, and friends will be thrilled that they were able to help you along the way. Everyone needs recs, so don’t ever feel guilty about asking. Think about who really knows your character and who can best comment on your readiness to take on graduate school.

Don’t feel like you need to get the most famous person you know to write you a letter of recommendation. A letter from Bill Gates is worthless if Bill Gates doesn’t really know you. As this blog suggests, even research advisors or volunteer coordinators will work!

This post is geared to JD applicants, but makes an important point: you need to help your recommenders know more about you!

Don’t write their letter for them, but do give your recommenders your personal statement, recent resumes/transcripts, and describe for them your “story.” They should know how you want the admissions committee to perceive you, so they can gear their letter towards your strengths.

All About the SAT!

Fast facts to help you cover everything you need to know about registering, prepping for, and taking the SAT exam!

  • The SAT is a 10-section test, testing three areas: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math.
  • The SAT is offered seven times each year in the U.S. and six times internationally. It is offered in October, November, December, January, March (U.S. only; SAT only), May and June.
  • High school students in the U.S. or U.S. territories who can’t afford to pay test fees may be eligible for SAT fee waivers! Find out if you qualify here!
  • If you have a documented disability, you may be eligible for accommodations on SAT Program tests. Arrangements can be made if you need accommodations such as: wheelchair accessibility; preferential seating; special test formats such as Braille or large print; written copy of spoken directions; or other accommodations.
  • Your raw scores are calculated for each section based on the number of questions you got correct or incorrect, or that you omitted. From this raw score, a scaled score is derived. Finally, you’ll receive a percentile score.

Looking for a diagnostic to see where you’re at? Take a free Princeton Review practice test here!

Dealing with Detail Questions on GMAT Reading Comp

Supporting idea questions ask about details directly stated in the passage. You can identify them because they will refer to only one part of the passage (and usually give line numbers). This is a common RC question-type on the GMAT!

One of the first places you should look for official GMAT information is in the Official Guide made by GMAC. On p. 360 it provides a brief intro on Supporting Ideas questions. The takeaway: these questions ask for the main point of a small portion of the passage!

Learning #7 on this Learnboard is a great example of how a relatively easy question can be disguised with unfamiliar vocabulary and harder scientific topics. Don’t let words and phrases like “quantum computers” and “electron charges” throw you — just go back to the passage!