Archives For How To Study

scratch-paper-setupA student in one of my classes recently asked me how best to set up his scratch paper while taking the exam, so my first task is to give a shout-out to Robert and thank him for giving me the topic for this article!

I shared a few things with him during class and I’ll share these things with you below. Plus, now that I’ve had a chance to reflect, I have some other ideas for you.

What’s the Scratch Paper like?

You’ll be given a bound booklet of 5 sheets of legal-sized paper (that’s the overly long paper often used for legal documents). This yellow graph paper will be laminated, so you’ll use a special marker to write on it. (If you’re in one of our classes, then you received your very own scratch paper booklet as part of your books and other materials.)

While the booklet technically has 10 faces (front and back of 5 pages), the first page has a bunch of writing and instructions on it, so in practice you’ll have 9 faces on which to write. You can have only one booklet at a time, but you are allowed to exchange the booklet for a new one during the test.

AWA (essay)

The test is divided into four sections. Chances are that you won’t need much scrap paper, if any, during the essay section. In fact, I recommend typing your notes right onto the screen as you read the essay prompt. For example, every time I find a flaw in the argument, I type up a note, then hit enter. When I’m done, I look through the list of flaws, decide which ones to keep, and cut and paste to reorder them. Now, I have a template for what I’m going to write for each paragraph.

Integrated Reasoning (IR) and Organizing Your Page

You will definitely use your scrap paper during the IR section, but there are only 12 question prompts and 9 sheets of paper, so you should have plenty of space.

Organization, though, will be important, since most IR question types have two or three parts. Plan to spend about half a page per problem and keep that work discrete. In fact, I recommend drawing a horizontal line halfway down the page to force yourself to work in a discrete space and keep your steps organized.

Have you ever done this?

[Internal monologue] Hmm, there’s not a lot of room left on this page, but I think I can squeeze one more problem in here. Oh, there isn’t quite enough room after all, but if I turn the paper sideways and write in this blank space between some other work over here, I can finish it off. Argh, none of the answers match. I must’ve made a mistake…let me check my work… Wait, am I looking at work from this problem or from the last problem?

I’m one of the worst offenders on this on quant. Check this out. I just went and found an old piece of scrap paper (I did not create this just for this article—I promise!):

269 - Set up Scratch Paper image

I don’t even know whether that’s one problem or two different problems. Either way, that is NOT good scrap paper practice. I think this might have been one of our challenge problems and I was definitely struggling to figure the problem out.

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Breaking Down B-School Admissions

 

Are You Prepared for B-School Admissions?

Join Manhattan GMAT and three other leaders in the MBA admissions space—mbaMission, Poets & Quants, and MBA Career Coaches—for an invaluable series of free workshops to help you put together a successful MBA application—from your GMAT score to application essays to admissions interviews to post-acceptance internships.

We hope you’ll join us for as many events in this series as you can. Please sign up for each sessions separately via the links below—space is limited.

 

Session 1: Assessing Your MBA Profile,
GMAT 101: Sections, Question Types & Study Strategies
Monday, September 8 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)
Click here to watch the recording

Session 2: Mastering the MBA Admissions Interview,
Conquering Two 800-Level GMAT Problems
Wednesday, September 10 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)
Click here to watch the recording

Session 3: 9 Rules for Creating Standout B-School Essays,
Hitting 730: How to Get a Harvard-Level GMAT Score
Monday, September 15 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)
Click here to watch the recording

Session 4: 7 Pre-MBA Steps to Your Dream Internship,
Survival Guide: 14 Days to Study for the GMAT
Wednesday, September 17 (8:00 – 10:00 PM EDT)
Click here to watch the recording.

GMAT-sentence-correctionLast time, we talked about how to find a starting point on a Sentence Correction problem when the starting point doesn’t leap out at you. If you haven’t read that article yet, go ahead and do so.

The first step of the SC process is a First Glance, something that didn’t help out a whole lot on last week’s problem. Let’s try out the First Glance again and see what happens!

This GMATPrep® problem is from the free exams.

* “Often incorrectly referred to as a tidal wave, a tsunami, a seismic sea wave that can reach up to 150 miles per hour in speed and 200 feet high, is caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

“(A) up to 150 miles per hour in speed and 200 feet high, is

“(B) up to 150 miles per hour in speed and heights of up to 200 feet, is

“(C) speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and 200 feet high, are

“(D) speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and heights of up to 200 feet, is

“(E) speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and as high as 200 feet, are”

What did you do for the First Glance? The glance is designed to give you an upfront hint about one issue that the sentence might be testing before you actually start reading the full sentence. Take a look at the beginning of the underline, including the beginning of all five answer choices.

The split is between up to and speeds of up to. There isn’t an obvious grammar rule here, so the issue is likely to revolve around meaning: do we need to say speeds of or is it enough to say just up to?

Think about this while reading the original sentence. What do you think?

The phrase reach up to could go in several different directions—is it going to say up to 150 miles in length? up to 150 feet high?—so it’s preferable to clarify right up front that the wave is reaching speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

In addition, the sentence contains parallelism:

can reach up to X [150 miles per hour in speed] and Y [200 feet high]

The portion before the parallelism starts must apply to both the X and Y portions, so the original sentence says:

can reach up to 200 feet high

That might sound kind of clunky and it is: up to and high are redundant.

Okay, answer (A) is incorrect and answer (B) repeats both issues (it neglects to specify speeds of up to 150 and it contains faulty parallelism.).

Check the parallelism in the other choices:

“(C) speeds of up to [150 miles per hour] and [200 feet high]

“(D) [speeds of up to 150 miles per hour] and [heights of up to 200 feet]

“(E) speeds of [up to 150 miles per hour] and [as high as 200 feet]”

In answer (C), the Y portion is the measurement (200 feet), so the X portion should also be the measurement…but it’s nonsensical to say speeds of up to 200 feet high. Likewise, in (E), the Y portion is a prepositional phrase, so it matches the prepositional phrase in the X portion. Now, the sentence says speeds of as high as 200 feet—equally nonsensical.

The only one that makes sense is answer (D): speeds of up to 150 and heights of up to 200.

The correct answer is (D).

You might also have noticed, in the original sentence, that the last underlined word is the verb is. Sentence Correction problems always have at least one difference at the beginning of the underline and at the end, so glance down the end of the choices.

Interesting! Is vs. are. What subject goes with this verb? Here’s the original sentence again:

Often incorrectly referred to as a tidal wave, a tsunami, a seismic sea wave that can reach up to 150 miles per hour in speed and 200 feet high, is caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.”

The modifiers have been crossed out. The subject is tsunami, a singular noun, so the verb should be the singular is. Answers (C) and (E) are incorrect for this reason.

Key Takeaways: The First Glance in Sentence Correction

(1) Before reading the original sentence, make it a habit to glance at the word or couple of words at the start of the underline and each answer choice. Sometimes, the split will be obvious: an is vs. are split, for example, clearly indicates subject-verb agreement.

(2) Sometimes the split will be less obvious, as with up to vs. speeds of up to. In this case, if the split is fairly easy to remember, just keep the variations in mind as you read the original sentence, so that you can analyze the difference right away. You may see immediately that speeds of up to is more clear, and your knowledge that the sentence is testing this meaning might also alert you to some of the meaning issues introduced by the faulty parallelism.

(3) Making a subject-verb match in the midst of a bunch of modifiers can be tricky. Learn how to strip the modifiers out and take the sentence down to its basic core structure.

* GMATPrep® questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

Manhattan GMAT

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gmat-study-tipsHave you ever worked with someone who inevitably managed to come up with things to do that were a complete waste of time? Maybe it was an insecure boss who was never confident about what he was doing, so he went for the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to generating deliverables in the last few days before the deadline. Or maybe it was a fellow student on a group project, someone so diligent (cough, cough) that she wanted to turn in a 20-page report when the teacher suggested 10 pages (and actually specified a 12-page limit).

You know who I’m talking about, right? We’ve all run across these situations in our academic or working lives. You want to be polite…but you also want to get your work done and not waste time on activities that don’t really help you reach the overall goal.

The GMAT is trying to waste your time

Okay, the test writers are not literally sitting there cackling and saying, “How can we get them to waste their lives?!?” But the overall sentiment still holds because of the way that the GMAT is constructed. You already know the classic “If you get something right, they give you something harder” pattern, right?

Well, at some point, that “something harder” is going to be something that isn’t worth your time. You’re probably not going to get it right no matter what you do. Even if you do, you’re going to use up valuable time that you could be using on other problems.

Most important of all, you’re going to be using up your finite brain energy on something that probably isn’t going to pay off. How many times in your life have you crashed towards the end of a test or a long day at work because your brain just couldn’t keep going any longer? The GMAT is a “where you end is what you get” test: if you crash before the end of the section, your score will suffer greatly.

This is basically no different than that co-worker who’s trying to get you to build a marketing presentation when the client has specifically requested that you analyze the pros and cons of acquiring a competitor. Tomorrow at the client meeting, it won’t matter how good your intentions were. Your client is going to be mad that you wasted time on something that doesn’t actually help them.

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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2014-2015 application season. Here is their analysis for Harvard Business School. 

Last year, Harvard Business School (HBS) took a new approach to its application essay questions, moving from multiple queries to one very open-ended prompt with no clear word limit. This year, HBS Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold seems to have surprised even herself, judging from a recent blog post, by announcing that the school will be keeping its questions… err, question… exactly the same.

With the benefit of a year of HBS acceptances under our belt using this specific question, we can at least offer some confident guidance on word limits, an issue that really perplexed last year’s candidates. Last season, we had many successful applicants to HBS, some of whom used as few as 750 words while others used as many as 1,250.  In general, we encouraged our clients to stick with 1,000 or fewer, but certain candidates who had plenty to say used more, expressed themselves well and ultimately succeeded. Although Leopold notes that the essay is actually optional, we report—and this will likely come as no shock to applicants—that we had no clients audacious enough to completely forgo submitting an essay. Every single one of our successful candidates did so, as expected.

Here is our analysis of tHarvard Business Schoolhe sole HBS essay question and the accompanying post-interview assessment…
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You’ve seen it. You’ve heard about it. And, today, we are excited to bring you what many are calling “the best self-study method out right now!”

Test Prep Reengineered

It took over 6,000 hours and countless instructors, developers, coders, and designers to bring you GMAT Interact. Designed around the student-teacher connection, a team of Manhattan Prep instructors will guide you through every topic tested on the GMAT, one section at a time. And, you won’t just sit back and hear them give some boring lecture about quant or verbal. GMAT Interact is designed to make you lean forward and engage.

So how is GMAT Interact different? Our on-screen instructors will actually ask you questions, respond to your answers, and tailor your GMAT lessons based on the your answers and the information you input. Like the adaptive nature of the actual GMAT, at times, if you get something right, we’ll take you to a tougher problem. Other times, when you get something wrong, we’ll take you through a detailed lesson. Finally, if you ‘bail’ too quickly from a question, we may push you back to try it again.

Experience The Difference

We’ve spent the past three years pushing education technology to bring you a cutting-edge platform, but what makes GMAT Interact special isn’t just the tech. It’s that we’ve translated what a student experiences in one of our classrooms into a sophisticated suite of digital lessons you actually engage with. Our interactive lessons play out as if you were receiving private tutoring – right from your computer or mobile device, anywhere, anytime. The instructors you’ll learn from are veteran Manhattan Prep instructors – not actors – who have 100+ combined years of teaching experience, so you can prep with confidence.

Kick off your studies with the full version of GMAT Interact now, or try it for free, at: www.manhattangmat.com/interact

Go behind-the-scenes and meet the creators of GMAT Interact to learn why so many are calling it “the best GMAT self-study method out right now.” We’re just 3 days away from launching the full version of GMAT Interact, but you can try a FREE Geometry Lesson from it right now, for a limited-time only: http://ow.ly/xNjBn.

gmat-self-studyYou’ve been thinking for a while now about going back to business school. You’ll go sometime in the future…but you haven’t started to do much about it yet.

Well, break out your pencils* and get ready to take advantage of your new membership in the GMAT Exercise Club! We’re going to set up a custom program for you to get the score you need by summer’s end—and then you can decide whether to apply this fall or to wait a year or two.

*Okay, okay, you don’t use pencils for this test anymore, nor is there an actual GMAT Exercise Club, and I can’t really give each and every one of you a completely customized, individual study program. But I can tell you what to start doing today to get yourself ready to take the GMAT by the end of the summer, as long as you make the commitment to get your brain in gear, do a little bit every day, and conquer Mount Everest…er, the GMAT.

This article will assume that you plan to study on your own. If you are still deciding whether to study on your own, take a class, or work with a tutor, the following article discusses the pros and cons of each approach: How to Choose an Approach: Self-study, Class, or Tutor.

Here’s how to develop a study plan that’s appropriate for you.

Week 1: Take a CAT

Your first step is to take a practice CAT under official testing conditions (including all 4 sections: essay, IR, quant, verbal).

It’s best to use a test-prep company CAT for this, not GMATPrep (the official practice test from the makers of the GMAT), as the purpose for taking this practice CAT is to gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses. While GMATPrep is the closest thing to the real test, it provides no data with which to evaluate your performance. Save GMATPrep for later in your study.

Right now, you might be protesting: but I haven’t studied anything yet! That’s okay. In fact, that’s the point! You need to determine what you do already know or understand and what you don’t so that you can set up an effective study plan for yourself. Don’t stress about your first score—use it as a study tool.

It is smart, though, to make sure that you learn a little bit about one particular question type before you take that test. Unless you’ve studied for the GMAT before, you probably haven’t seen anything like Data Sufficiency, so review that question type before your first CAT.

If you take an MGMAT CAT, use this two-part article to analyze your results: Evaluating Your Practice Tests. (The link given here is to the first part of the article; you can find the link to the second part at the end of the first part.)

Week 1: Choose Your Materials or Program

Next, you need a study plan. To start, figure out what materials you’ll use to study. At the least, you will need two things:

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