GMAT Quant: Question of the Day!

Try Picking Numbers with the GMAT practice problem of the day!

Last year the price per share of Stock X increased by k percent and the earnings per share of Stock X increased by m percent, where k is greater than m. By what percent did the ratio of price per share to earnings per share increase, in terms of k and m?

A. k/m
B. (k – m)
C. [100 (k – m)]/ (100 + k)
D. [100 (k – m)]/(100 + m)
E. [100 (k – m)]/ (100 + k + m)


If the original price per share of Stock X = 100
Let’s say k = 20
New price per share = 120

Original earnings per share of Stock X = 100
Let’s say m = 5 (since k > m)
New earnings per share = 105

Old ratio of price/earnings = 100/100 = 1
New ratio of price/earnings = 120/105 = approx 1.14

The percent increase is approx 14%.

Plug in our numbers into the answer choices, and look for the choice that also yields 14%:

A. k/m = 20/5 = 4 too small

B. (k – m) = 20 – 5 = 15 too big

C. 100 (15) / 100 + 20 = 1500 / 120 = 12.5 too small

D. 100 (15) / 100 + 5 = 1500/105 = approx 14. CORRECT!

E. 100 (15) / 100 + 20 + 5 = 1500/125 = 12

The answer is (D).

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).

Tough GMAT: “Idiom” Sentence Correction – Problem of the Day!

Try this Idiom question from the Official Guide!

That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said that it is their fault: Alvin Toffler, one of the most prominent students of the future, did not even mention microcomputers in Future Shock, published in 1970.

(A) That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said that it is their fault
(B) That educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said to be at fault
(C) It can hardly be said that it is the fault of educators who have not anticipated the impact of microcomputer technology
(D) It can hardly be said that educators are at fault for not anticipating the impact of microcomputer technology
(E) The fact that educators are at fault for not anticipating the impact of microcomputer technology can hardly be said


Think of “that educators have not anticipated the impact of microcomputers technology” as one long noun. We could replace it with something like “This fact….” If we did that the original sentence would read:

This fact can hardly be said that it is their fault.

“that it is their fault” is incorrect. Something is “said TO BE” something, idiomatically. It would need to read, “can hardly be said TO BE their fault.”

Thus, A is eliminated.

E takes a different approach. If we replaced the full noun again with “this fact,” the sentence would read: “This fact can hardly be said.” This meaning is unclear. The focus is not that this fact literally can’t be said; the focus is that there are no grounds for saying the educators are at fault.

Looking at D, it makes it very clear what “can hardly be said” by neatly putting the noun-verb “educators are” after the “that.” Everything starting with “for…” is a long prepositional phrase that we could eliminate.

D would then read: “It can hardly be said that it is the fault of educators.” Clear, concise, logical. The correct answer is (D).

Quick Tips to Shift your GMAT AWA Score

1. Use effective transitions. Transitions are words or phrases that connect ideas. They are used by writers to assist the reader in understanding shifts in thought between ideas. They also reveal the relationship between ideas presented in an essay, and they reveal the role a paragraph plays with the rest of the essay. You’ve probably noticed a lot of Transition words in the Reading Comp passages in the GMAT Verbal section without even realizing it! This table provides an overview of most of the common types of Transitions!

2. Don’t try to “have it both ways. ” Choose a side for the Issue essay and stick with it. Don’t try to take a “middle of the road” approach. Even if you don’t 100% believe in the side you’ve chosen to defend, defend it to your full capacity. In 30 minutes, you won’t be able to address the full complexity of the issue.

3. Make a concession before reiterating your thesis. A great way to strengthen your own argument is to acknowledge that there is in fact complexity to the issue. However, if you bring up and describe the opposing side, make sure to criticize it effectively and reiterate that your side is the only one that is valid. This is a great tool to use in your conclusion and can work in either the Issue essay or the Argument essay.

4. Don’t make up examples. Made up statistics and facts won’t impress the GMAT graders, but strong organization, logical arguments, and specific supportive examples will. You can see from the GMAT rubric that the structure, logic, and clarity of your essay are what counts the most, not its level of scholarship. You can get a perfect score even if you know very little of the subject matter.

5. Leave time to proofread. Make sure to spend at least 2-3 minutes at the end re-reading and editing your essay. Are your transitions clear? Are there any spelling or grammar errors? Focus on conveying your argument succinctly and forcefully and look to eliminate long-winded or pedantic phrases/clauses. Also avoid any slang or colloquial speech. The argument essay needs to be formal, but more importantly, forceful, and a couple minutes of editing can really help improve your score!

Tough GMAT: “Strengthen” CR Question of the Day!

Try this challenging Critical Reasoning question from Kaplan LSAT!

Editorial: When legislators discovered that some public service is not being adequately provided, their most common response is to boost the funding for that public service. Because of this, the least efficiently run government bureaucracies are the ones that most commonly receive an increase in funds.

The statements in the editorial, if true, most strongly support which one of the following?

(A) The least efficiently run government bureaucracies are the bureaucracies that legislators most commonly discover to be failing to provide some public service adequately.

(B) When legislators discover that a public service is not being adequately provided, they never respond to the problem by reducing the funding of the government bureaucracy providing that service.

(C) Throughout the time a government bureaucracy is run inefficiently, legislators repeatedly boost the funding for the public service that this bureaucracy provides.

(D) If legislators boost funding for a public service, the government bureaucracy providing that service will commonly become less efficient as a result.

(E)The most inefficiently run government bureaucracy receives the most funding of any government bureaucracy.

Here’s how I’d analyze this passage (it’s okay if your notes are slightly different!):

CONCLUSION: Less efficient agencies get MORE funds.

EVIDENCE: Legislators give more $$ to public services that aren’t functioning.

ASSUMPTIONS: Public services are run by bureaucracies; bureaucracies are getting the funds directly.

QUESTION REPHRASE: What would SUPPORT the conclusion?

PREDICTION: Something showing continued inefficiency.

The correct answer is (A). It is the clearest restatement of the passage. Notice how (E) uses some pretty extreme language (“most”…”the most”…”of any”…). On that basis, it can be eliminated.

15-Second Tips for Better Sentence Correction Scores

Here are a few quick tricks I like to use when Sentence Correction starts to feel overwhelming (especially when dealing with convoluted meanings, extremely bloated, wordy clauses, and completely-underlined sentences):

1. Mentally “remove” appositive phrases.

Long GMAT sentences often have way too much extra information. Try to mentally delete the useless info, and hone in on the main pieces of the sentence.

2. Listen to your gut.

Your accuracy was better when you were instinctually identifying what “sounded funny” to you. Hone in on that. The point of learning the common errors is to have a mental checklist to go through when you CAN’T identify what “sounds funny”.

3. Start by identifying the Subject & the Verb.

Every sentence must have them, and if you start here, you’ll be less likely to be overwhelmed by the sentence as a whole.

Contrast Words in GMAT Sentence Correction

Contrast keywords are fairly common on GMAT Sentence Correction questions. Some of the most common words you’ll see include:

  • but
  • however
  • on the other hand
  • unlike
  • in contrast to
  • different from
  • whereas
  • while
  • yet
  • as opposed to

Let’s look at an example question now

However a minimal role in causing air pollution, trash pollutes both land and sea, creates problems in wildlife habitats, and harms endangered species

A) However
B) With
C) Being
D) Therefore accounting for
E ) Despite playing

Here we have the phrases “minimal role” and “trash pollutes..creates problems…harms…” which tells us we’ll need a Contrast word to open the sentence. (B), (C), and (D) do not provide a contrast, so we can quickly eliminate them.

Between (A) and (E), (E) is the better choice since “However a minimal role…” is an awkward construction. A better way to use “however” here would be: However minimal its role….