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!

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How Drawing a Picture Can Help you Get More GMAT CR Correct!

Take a look at this Critical Reasoning question from 1000 CR:

Archaeologists seeking the location of a legendary siege and destruction of a city are excavating in several possible places, including a middle and a lower layer of a large mound. The bottom of the middle layer contains some pieces of pottery of type 3, known to be from a later period than the time of the destruction of the city, but the lower layer does not.

The force of the evidence cited above is most seriously weakened if which of the following is true?

(A) Gerbils, small animals long native to the area, dig large burrows into which objects can fall when the burrows collapse.
(B) Pottery of types 1 and 2, found in the lower level, was used in the cities from which, according to the legend, the besieging forces came.
(C) Several pieces of stone from a lower-layer wall have been found incorporated into the remains of a building in the middle layer.
(D) Both the middle and the lower layer show evidence of large-scale destruction of habitations by fire.
(E) Bronze ax heads of a type used at the time of the siege were found in the lower level of excavation.

This one is interesting since we are not provided with a conclusion, so we have to draw one based on the evidence.

Evidence: Bottom of middle layer contains pottery 3. Pottery 3 is made AFTER the destruction.

I’m going to draw a picture, because drawing is fun, and totally under-rated when it comes to GMAT Critical Reasoning. 🙂

We can infer that usually the deeper the level = the older the time period. Since as we move forward in time, we generally build up on things.

So, the city was probably destroyed around the lower layer, or in the middle layer but beneath where the pottery was found.

Question: What casts doubt on the Type 3 pottery in the middle layer/destruction of city inference?

Prediction: If the pottery was moved around — if the location doesn’t represent the time period accurately.

A – decent choice, shows pottery could’ve been moved
B – doesn’t comment on Type 3 pottery
C – this implies at some point the middle-layer people used the wall below them to build up — but doesn’t show that the pottery could have moved down or up
D – Fire is totally irrelevant
E – “at the time of the siege” is vague — and this doesn’t relate at all to the pottery evidence

The correct answer is (A).

GMAT CR: “Weaken” Practice Question!

Try this “Weaken” question — remember to take notes on the passage, then compare them to mine!

Although the organic farms in the agricultural community of Greendale are destined to shut down within the next decade as a result of competition from the organic mega-farm Full Foods, the farmland will not go unused for long. In the decade since the opening of OmniFoods, Inc., a non-organic farm conglomerate, a new owner has bought and reopened every farm in Greendale that has shut down due to competition with OmniFoods, Inc.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

A. Many customers of OmniFoods, Inc. are expected to buy less nonorganic food than they did before the Full Foods farm opened in Greendale.
B. The new farms that have opened in the agricultural community of Greendale since OmniFoods, Inc. opened have been primarily organic farms.
C. Many farms in Greendale sell produce that is not available to buy from either OmniFoods, Inc. or from Full Foods.
D. The demand for organic food is expected to increase at a faster rate over the next decade than at any time over the past fifty years.
E. The agricultural community of Greendale currently has more different farms operating within its borders than it ever has before

Here’s how to break this one down!

Conclusion: Farmland will not go unused when small farms shut down.

Evidence: Omnifoods precedent

Assumption: What is true for non-organic Omni is true for organic Full Foods.

Question: What WEAKENS?

Prediction: If there is a difference between Full Foods & Omni’s practices

A – customers are irrelevant
B – shows a difference
C – farmland could still be used regardless of what is sold
D – demand is irrelevant
E – change in diff types of farms over time is irrelevant

Tough GMAT: Problem of the Day!

Political Analyst: Because our city is a border city, illegal immigration is an important issue in the current race for mayor. Of the two candidates for mayor, one supports a plan that would attempt to deport the city’s 9,000 illegal immigrants and the other does not. Surveys consistently show that about 60% of the city’s residents are opposed to the plan, while about 35% are in support of the plan. Therefore, the candidate who does not support the plan will win the election for mayor.

All of the following statements weaken the analyst’s argument, EXCEPT:

A) In the city at issue, most voters make their voting decisions based on the candidates’ positions on abortion.

B) Of the 35% of residents who support the plan, some are willing to consider alternate plans for addressing illegal immigration.

C) Many of the residents who oppose the plan are not registered voters.

D) The candidate who supports the plan is the incumbent mayor, and has been elected to four consecutive terms despite taking controversial positions on many important issues.

E) Just under 30% of the city’s residents are illegal immigrants who cannot vote.

Explanation:

Conclusion: Candidate who does NOT support the plan will win.

Evidence: 60% of the residents oppose/35% support.

Assumption: That the majority of the voters support the plane (i.e. the 60%/35% breakdown accurately represents those who will vote).

Question: What will STRENGTHEN or be IRRELEVANT?

Prediction: Anything that aligns the resident-poll with voting accurately, or tips the favor into the hands of those against the plan. Or does not relate to the argument (neither weakens, nor strengthens).

A. Abortion is out of scope…so potentially “irrelevant”
B. If the 35% who are supportive might change their minds, this would strengthen the anti-plan contingent. Correct.
C. This hurts the conclusion.
D. This hurts the conclusion by showing the city re-elects the candidate who only has 35% support.
E. This only tells us info about those that support it — we need to know whether the 60% who don’t support it can/will vote.

The correct answer is (B).

Learnist: How to Rock the “Bolded Statement” Questions on the GMAT

GMAT “Bolded Statement” (or “Boldface”) questions ask about the structure of a GMAT Critical Reasoning passage. Since they’re rare (and fairly confusing), many students struggle with them.

GMAT Arguments have a tendency to follow predictable patterns of organization and are always comprised of a conclusion, premise (or evidence), and assumptions. This is one of the core fundamentals in Critical Reasoning!

If what I just wrote makes no sense to you, you’ll definitely want to thoroughly review this Learnboard on Argument Structure before proceeding.

According to this article, here’s some sample bolded statement question stems:

  • In the argument given, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles?
  • The first boldface statement has what relationship to the second boldface statement?

Most of the bolded statement questions will follow one of these two lines: either asking about the “roles” of each boldface OR about their relationship to one another.

But remember that the REAL question behind the question will always be this: what function does each bolded statement perform within the argument?

To successfully decipher the given options, you’ll want to categorize each part of the passage and each answer choice with a predetermined, specific set of symbols. Make use of that yellow scratch pad! Here’s the symbols I like to use:

MC = Main Conclusion (the author’s argument or position)

OC = Opposing Conclusion (an argument in opposition to the main conclusion)

F = Fact (basic given information, backstory, premise, etc.)

A = Stated Assumption (think of this as part of the passage that “links” given facts/evidence to stated conclusions)

E (+) MC = Evidence Supporting Main Conclusion (this is what the author cites to support his conclusion)

E (+) OC = Evidence Supporting Opposing Conclusion (this is evidence that is cited in support of the opposing conclusion; it undermines the author’s conclusion and can also be expressed as E (-) MC).

Try out two free practice questions with full explanations on this board: How to Rock the “Bolded Statement” Questions !