The post Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017 Book Review appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>Each year, the major test prep companies trot out the same test prep guides. Exact same content, typos and all — but with one major change: the glossy cover will now have the most recent year on it and a new stock photo model with a forced smile. Unless the test undergoes a major overhaul, which hasn’t happened since the IR section (more of an add-on, by the way), then we can go 15 years with the exact same content, albeit with strikingly different hairstyles on the person smiling away deliriously on the cover.

Yet Kaplan has really worked in the last few years at improving their GMAT guide. They’ve added a diagnostic test at the beginning and this year they even added 40 advanced GMAT Quant questions. For that, I commend them for bucking the trend of simply slapping a new cover on an old book.

And this new guide might have been the perfect “one stop shop” for your GMAT needs were it not for the questions. Indeed, at a superficial level, that is exactly what I imagine a perfect GMAT prep guide to look like: you start off with a diagnostic test (much as the Official Guide does), you offer easy-to-follow explanations (as Kaplan does here) and you break up each section with clearly laid out strategies and practice questions in which you can apply these very strategies.

But success on the GMAT is very much about doing well on GMAT questions–and the questions in this book aren’t that GMAT-like.

**Grade: D**

This lack of GMAT question verisimilitude especially goes for the Verbal questions, which, to be frank, are not worth your time. Sure, you might get some mileage out of the practice strategies mentioned in this book, but the questions are too easy.

Let’s take Sentence Correction questions. First off, the sentence structure is too basic. You aren’t going to get those multiple clauses chained together and sophisticated punctuation such as em-dash, semicolons, and colons are all but absent. And that semi-sophisticated register of a GMAT question (meaning it sounds like it was written by a college professor) has been replaced by a voice that it sounds more like a well-read high school senior.

On the more difficult Sentence Correction questions, you’ll get two long, long answer choices that are exactly the same, save for one word. Essentially, you’ll have to hunt for that one word. The GMAT will never do this. And so this question, much like most of the difficult Kaplan questions, are difficult in an un-GMAT like way.

So what? Well, the skills you use on the hard official questions aren’t getting sharpened. Instead of looking for such nuances as awkward phrasing or faulty idiom, you brain begins to approach the GMAT in “scanning mode” — A big no-no.

This is but one example. I could go on and on, Kaplan GMAT verbal question after verbal question, pointing out how none of the answer choices are staggered in the way in the GMAT would and that many lack the sophistication of the trap answers. And how about most of these questions end up being flat out easy — something you just won’t see on the GMAT. Or, I can tell you the save your time and money, and stick to the verbal questions in the Official Guide.

There is the Critical Reasoning section, in which I could spend another 1000 words describing why it is subpar and why going through it would likely hurt — or at least not help — your score. (You can ask me in the comments if you want to know more). But basically the content is far too easy. Again, use the Official Guide. Much the same can be said for the reading passages.

Does that mean all of the Kaplan verbal is bunk? No. For the absolute beginner, the lessons are instructive and do provide a reasonable foundation — albeit a basic one. But even that student would be better off totally ignoring the practice questions in Kaplan and picking up a copy of the Official Guide.

**Grade: C**

The good news is that, in terms of practice content, the Kaplan Math is slightly better. But that’s mostly because the Verbal is so subpar. I’d say most of the questions in both the diagnostic test and the mini-lessons are good practice for somebody starting out. You’ll get to practice concepts that might be rusty for you and try practice questions that to help you reinforce those concepts. What newbies won’t get from the Kaplan *GMAT Premier 2017 with 6 Practice Tests* book is how to crack GMAT math questions — that is, the specific methods that can save you lots of time (how to eliminate wrong answers, backsolving and plugging in, estimation, etc.)

Then, there are those folks who are not beginners, who have have already spent time with other GMAT sources, mainly official material. If you are in that group, I have one thing to say to you: stay away from this book.

See, you’re probably in the market for the hard stuff done in the GMAT style. But it’s when Kaplan tries to do difficult questions that we end up more with questions that are in the tedious brain teaser category and are totally inelegant. They are not at all the kind of questions GMAT would actually ask. So, essentially, you aren’t getting any questions that are actual hard GMAT questions. It’s only on these questions that you can really practice. By doing the GMAT Kaplan questions, you’ll develop an approach that works for these questions. You’ll look for “Kaplan-like tricks” on the official questions. What you won’t be looking for are the real GMAT tricks. This will hurt both the GMAT beginner and one who has worked for months with official GMAT questions.

I’m not saying that you should only use official material, that only the GMAC can get it right. For example, if you compare this to the Quant in the Manhattan GMAT Quant prep, you’ll see that, while even harder than the actual GMAT, the writers of the Manhattan questions are seasoned adepts at the GMAT and know the test very well.

The person writing this Kaplan book doesn’t really get all the nuances of the test. So the tough questions, especially those in the advanced GMAT Quant section, are likely to be more frustrating than enlightening. Again, for tough questions, done in the GMAT vein, head over to Manhattan GMAT (this company also provides an Advanced Quant guide section that while super hard is still in line with the GMAT style).

And for any who claims that I’m some grumpy test prep dude out to get Kaplan, keep in mind that Kaplan owns Manhattan GMAT, so a sale for the latter is a sale for the former. I just want to make sure students out there are using the best material, and staying away from the subpar stuff.

**Overall Grade: C-**

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June, 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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]]>The post The Official Guide for the GMAT 2017 Book Review appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>The three new volumes are as follows:

1) The Official Guide for the GMAT 2017 (white cover)

2) The Official Guide for the GMAT Verbal Review 2017 (pink cover)

3) The Official Guide for the GMAT Quantitative Review 2017 (blue cover)

As it turns out, #1 was littered with mistakes. We have a blog about the corrections to this guide. GMAC found all the mistakes, and put out a new version that (theoretically) has everything corrected.

4) The Official Guide for the GMAT 2017, Corrected (green cover)

**FACT**: Each one of #1-3 of these replaces a corresponding 2016 version published about a year ago.

**FACT**: Each one of #1-3 has about 25% new content, compared to its 2016 correlate.

**FACT**: Version #4 has no new content, just the same content as in #1 but with no typos!

As readers of this blog may know, I have the highest respect for the GMAT exam as one of the finest standardized tests in existence. As a consequence, I have the highest respect for the content creators and psychometricians at GMAC who design this test. I have met some of these people, and they are quite impressive individuals.

Having said that, GMAC is a company, and like any company, it has a tendency to leverage what it has to generate profits. In the “old days” (up until a couple years ago), they would publish a new OG every 3-4 years, and often they would have a particularly good reason to do so. For example, they published the OG13 when they were releasing the then-new Integrated Reasoning section in 2012: that was a 100% legitimate reason to update the OG. In the past couple years, they have started publishing a new OG every year, and they are rushing each new edition out so fast that the last one (version #1 above) was full of mistakes. Thus, if you bought the #1, they would be happy to sell you #4 as well, even though the content is identical. This new-OG-every-year rhythm is clearly being driven much more by pure profit chasing, rather than by any legitimate pedagogical concerns. It’s basically a ploy to separate the vulnerably anxious test-taking population out there from as much of their money as possible. *Caveat emptor*.

I will point out that the newest OG 2017, like the OG 2016 and OG 2015, have all the questions in the book also online, if you want to practice them on a computer rather than from the print version. Furthermore, that online question bank is where they keep the practice Integrated Reasoning questions.

Putting the criticisms aside, I will address the most pertinent question to an individual test taker reading this blog: should I, the student studying for the GMAT, buy these new books?

Here’s what I’ll say. If you are just starting your studies for the GMAT, if you haven’t bought any official materials yet, then yes, by all means, you should buy some version of the GMAT OG, and you might as well buy the newest one available.

If you already have an earlier edition, the OG 2016 or even the OG13 or OG2015, and are already working through it, then I would say that definitely is good enough. If you master everything in either one of those volumes, that’s still enough for a high 700s score. After all, the GMAT itself hasn’t changed since the introduction of IR in 2012. The new OG may be marginally more GMAT-like, but I am NOT going to say that it’s so revolutionarily better that you should throw away the previous edition and run out to buy the new one. Undoubtedly, some marketers at GMAC would love it if a large number of students thought that way, but with all due respect, I want to discourage this line of thinking.

If you have already finished working through the OG2016, and need more practice questions, that would be another reason to buy the new guide, because about 25% of the questions are new, not repeats from the previous edition. Similarly, if you exhausted an earlier edition studying for a first take of the GMAT, and now you need to study for a retake, then the new questions in one of the earlier editions would help you.

These are similar enhancements over the earlier editions. If you only have about a month to study for the GMAT, you probably wouldn’t have time to do any questions other than the OG questions. Even in some of our three month study schedules, folks barely have enough time simply to learn and review just the content they need to master: they don’t have time for these extra questions.

If you are a practice-question maven who has already raced through the OG and you need more official questions, or if you exhausted the OG on your first take and now you want to practice for a retake, then these books are an excellent source of more official practice questions.

If you already have the earlier editions, by all means, use those first. Only buy these new books if you don’t already own the earlier editions.

Understandably, most students studying for the GMAT want to do everything in their power to prepare. By all means, use the best resources, follow proven study schedules, and pursue the habits of excellence (without which the resources & study schedules are considerably less valuable!) All that is very important. Nevertheless, don’t feel compelled to leap for your credit card every single time GMAC publishes a new edition of something. The OG 2017 is a collection of absolutely excellent GMAT practice questions, but the same description also applies to the two previous editions. If you are starting from scratch, you might as well start with the newest. If you already have an earlier GMAT OG, trust the one you have.

If you have any experience with using any of these new books, we would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March, 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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]]>The post Save money and time with these GMAT resources… appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>The amount of time GMAT students spend researching the best prep options is rivaled only by the amount of money spent on unnecessary (and occasionally sub-par) GMAT prep materials. This stops now.

Magoosh’s mission is to make test prep accessible to all. One way that we achieve this is by creating, finding, and aggregating top GMAT prep materials for our students.

When researching and developing GMAT prep resources, we keep several facts in mind:

1. Successful GMAT prep requires excellent resources

2. Sometimes the best GMAT prep books aren’t the newest editions

3. GMAT students are busy, therefore prep needs to be efficient

4. GMAT students are on a budget, therefore prep needs to be affordable

Given this information, we compiled a comprehensive list of the best GMAT books and resources available today. Some are free and some require payment. All are worth the investment of time and money.

**Click here to view our newest resource.**

Your prep starts and stops with this material.

Happy Studying!

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]]>The post GMAT Quant: Rates and Ratios appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>In fact, rates are just ratios in disguise. Here are a four GMAT practice problems exploring rates and ratios. Remember: no calculator!

1) Someone on a skateboard is traveling 12 miles per hour. How many feet does she travel in 10 seconds? (1 mile = 5280 feet)

(A) 60

(B) 88

(C) 120

(D) 176

(E) 264

2) At 12:00 noon, a machine, operating at a fixed rate, starts processing a large set of identical items. At 1:45 p.m., the twenty-first item has just been processed, and 15 have not yet been processed. At what time will all 36 items be processed?

(A) 2:25 pm

(B) 3:00 pm

(C) 3:27 pm

(D) 4:13 pm

(E) 5:15 pm

3) An importer wants to purchase **N** high quality cameras from Germany and sell them in Japan. The cost in Germany of each camera is **E** euros. He will sell them in Japan at **Y** yen per camera, which will bring in a profit, given that the exchange rate is **C** yen per euro. Given the exchange rate of **D** US dollars per euro, and given that **profit = (revenue) – (cost)**, which of the following represents his profit in dollars?

(A) N(YC – DE)

(B) ND(YC – E)

(C) ND((Y/C) – E)

(D) N((Y/C) – DE)

(E) ND(Y – E)/C

4) Machine A and machine B process the same work at different rates. Machine C processes work as fast as Machines A & B combined. Machine D processes work three times as fast as Machine C; Machine D’s work rate is also exactly four times Machine B’s rate. Assume all four machines work at fixed unchanging rates. If Machine A works alone on a job, it takes 5 hours and 40 minutes. If all four machines work together on the same job simultaneously, how long will it take all of them to complete it?

(A) 8 minutes

(B) 17 minutes

(C) 35 minutes

(D) 1 hour and 15 minutes

(E) 1 hours and 35 minutes

Solutions will come to these at the end of the article. Can’t contain your excitement? Click here to skip to the explanations.

**Ratios** are fractions. When we have an equation of the form **fraction = fraction**, that’s called a **proportion**. By far, the hardest part of dealing with a proportion is what you CAN and what you CAN’T cancel in a proportion. Many students are quite confused on this issue.

First of all, let’s be clear that cancelling is simply division. If I start with the fraction 24/32, and I “cancel the 8’s” to get 3/4, what I have really done is divide both the numerator and the denominator by 8. Similarly, if I have 5/35, and I cancel the 5’s, in the numerator, I am left with 1: the simplified version is 1/7. Too many student have the naïve view that canceling means “going away” or some other fairy-godmother operation. Instead, cancelling is a card-carrying legitimate mathematical operation, the operation of division.

Clearly, it’s always legitimate to cancel in the numerator and denominator of the same fraction, the same ratio, so of course we can do that on each side in a proportion.

We might call that “vertical canceling” in a proportion: that’s 100% legal. The one that often surprises folks is what we might call that “horizontal canceling” in a proportion, which looks like this:

Canceling a common factor from **a** & **c** would simply involve dividing both sides of the equation by the same number, a 100% legal move. Similarly, canceling a common factor from **b** & **d** would simply involve multiplying both sides of the equation by the same number, another totally legal move. Even though “horizontal canceling” across the equal sign may look suspect, it’s totally valid.

Now, the one that causes real problems is what we might call “diagonal canceling,” because so many students seem to be under the impression that is this OK, but in fact, it’s 100% illegal and incorrect.

I suspect people confuse this with “cross-canceling” in the process of multiplying fractions. I actually abhor that uses term, “cross-canceling”: I think this term causes dozens of times more harm than good. If we were to perform the canceling of **a** with **d**, that would essential be equivalent to dividing one side of an equation by a number and multiply the other side of the equation by the same number! That’s not allowed! We always have to do the same thing to both sides! This is why this kind of “diagonal canceling” in a proportion is always disastrously incorrect.

OK, that’s the relevant mathematics without the real world stuff involved!

Rates are ratios, that is, fractions. Any fraction with different units in the numerator and in the denominator is a rate: miles per hour, $ per pound, grams per cubic centimeter, etc. Most rate questions can be solved by setting up a proportion. One common proportion type involves a (part)/(whole) on each side: for example, part of the job over all of the job, and part of the price or time over all of the price or time. In setting up any rate proportion, we have to make sure that units match: the same units in the two numerators, and the same units in the two denominators. The GMAT will expect you to know a few common unit changes (e.g. 1 hour = 60 min; 1 dozen items = 12 items, etc.); because some test-takers are familiar with metric and other are familiar with English, the GMAT most often would specify the conversion, as in #1 above. In any case, a GMAT rate problem often involves reconciling units differences in some way before we can do the math.

Another pertinent topic is that of work rates. Suppose Machine P does a job in 3 hours and Machine Q can do the same job in 6 hours. How fast would it take both machines working together? You see, we can’t add or subtract the times it takes to perform jobs. What we can add are the work rates! It doesn’t matter that these work rates would have the ambiguous units of “job/hour”—it doesn’t matter as long as every rate in the problem has the same units. The rate of P, job per time, would be 1/3, which means either one job every three hours or one-third of a job every hour: either is correct. Similarly, the rate of Q would be 1/6. We can’t add or subtract times, but we can add individual work rate to find a combined work rate. Adding fractions, we get (1/6) + (1/3) = (1/6) + (2/6) = 3/6 = 1/2. The combined rate of P & Q working together is 1/2, or one job per 2 hours. Thus, if P & Q were working together, it would take them just two hours to get the job done. That is the basic logic of work rates.

If you understand the rules of fractions and the concept of work rate, there’s nothing about rates and ratios you can’t understand. If you had any “aha” moments while reading this article, give the practice problems above another look before jumping in the solutions below.

1) The speed is 12 mph. To change this to feet/second, we need to multiply by (5280 ft/mile), to cancel miles, and to multiply by (1 hour/3600 second) to cancel seconds.

So, in 10 seconds, the skateboarder moves 176 feet. Answer = **(D)**

2) At 1:45, that is, 105 minutes after starting, the machine has completed 21/36 = 7/12 of the job. Let **T** be the whole time in minutes. For the total time, set up a proportion

Remember, with proportions, we can cancel a common factor in the two numerators; cancel the factor of 7.

Now, cross-multiply, and use the doubling & halving shortcut for multiplying.

T = 15*12 = 30*6 = 180

Now, 180 minutes = 3 hours, so the task finishes 3 hours later, at 3 p.m.

Answer = **(B)**

3) All the other currencies are related to euros, so we should focus on getting everything to euros and then changing it all at once to dollars.

Remember that **profit = revenue – cost**. For one camera, cost is E euros. The revenue of one camera is Y yen: let’s change that to euros, so that we can express cost, revenue, and profit all in euros.

We have an exchange rate of C yen/euro, with yen in the numerator and euros in the denominator. If we were to multiply this, we could cancel euros and wind up with yen. We don’t want that. We want to cancel yen and wind up with euros, so we need to divide by C. Y/C is the revenue of one camera in euros.

This means that ((Y/C) – E) is the profit in euros of one camera.

Now, the other exchange rate is D dollars/euro, with dollars in the numerator and euros in the denominator. If we multiply this, we cancel euros and get dollars. That’s exactly what we want. Thus, D((Y/C) – E) is the profit, in dollars, of one camera.

Now, just multiply by the number of cameras: **ND((Y/C) – E)**

Answer = **(C)**

4) Let A, B, C, and D be the rates of Machines A, B, C, and D respectively. We know that

(i) C = A + B

(ii) D = 3C

(iii) D = 4B

Starting with (ii) and (iii), equate the two expressions equal to D, and then substitute in the expression from (i) equal to C.

4B = 3C = 3(A + B) = 3A + 3B

B = 3A

Then, C = A + 3A = 4A, and D = 3*(4A) = 12A

The combined rate,

A + B + C + D = A + 3A + 4A + 12A = 20A

Since the combined rate is 20 times faster than Machine A alone, the combined time should be divided by 20.

Machine A alone takes 5 hr 40 min, or 340 minutes for the whole job. Divide this by 20:

340/20 = 17

The combination of the four machines will take 17 minutes to complete the job.

Answer = **(B)**

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August, 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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]]>The post GMAT Tuesday: Must Know Idioms #18 appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>Hello! Welcome to GMAT Tuesdays. You know how everyone says you can hold a shell up to your ear and hear the ocean? Well. If you have an empty five gallon jug, you can do the same thing. Hello, welcome to another addition of Must Know Idioms. This is number 18!

Holy smokes, we’ve been doing a lot of these. So many idioms in the English language to know. We’ve been covering idioms because they pop up in the sentence correction section of the GMAT. And you’ll get tested on some very specific idioms, so we’re trying to cover those in these videos.

So let’s dive right in. The first idiom we’re going to look at is *responsible in* or *responsible for*. So this is an idiomatic expression, and **the correct usage is responsible for**.

So if you were to have a sentence like parents are responsible for their children’s education, that would be correct. You wouldn’t want to say parents are responsible in their children’s education. That is completely wrong.

Next, defined. If you see the word defined, are you going to use *defined that* or *defined as*? Well, you’re not going to want to use that. **You’re always going to say defined as**.

So for example, the president defined his role as leader of the country. That’s pretty straightforward. You wouldn’t want to say the president defined that his role was the leader of the country, that’s wordy and not idiomatically correct, so defined as.

Next, this is a tricky one, *agreeing to* or *agreeing with*. Which one is correct? Hm, it’s a toughy, because **they both can be correct**. **It’s going to depend on the sentence**.

So agree to or agreeing to means that you are accepting, or the person is accepting a duty, or accepting some responsibility. For example, Evan is agreeing to lead a meet up every other Wednesday at a local restaurant. I’ve accepted the responsibility to lead a group.

If we’re using with, this is about agreeing with someone’s opinion. So, say that someone says something and you agree with them. You think their idea is good, and you hold the same opinion. So, for example, like Marcy said that it was a bad idea to spend all of that money on a trip. And I would say I am agreeing with Marcy, I don’t think we should spend that money on a trip, I think we should spend it on… or put it away in our savings.

So when you see the word agreeing it’s really gonna depend on the context of the sentence. Agreeing to means that that person is taking on responsibility, the duty. Agree with means sharing same opinion.

Okay, that was a toughie. All right, finally, we have the word range. And do we wanna say *ranges dot, dot, dot from* or *ranges dot, dot, dot of*? **We want to use from**. Get rid of “of” here.

So for example, you could say Jeremy’s repertoire on the guitar ranges from classical to jazz standards, for an example. So you’re gonna use ranges from dot dot dot to.

All right, those are the four idioms for this week. Hope you find those useful. If you have any questions or need any help, please, please leave comments down below. And if you have any ideas for potential GMAT Tuesday videos I’m always looking for something new to do so leave comments about that as well and then finally if you need more help head over to gmat.magoosh.com where there are even more people like me ready to help you to dominate the GMAT.

All right, be excellent to the universe

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]]>*Book images by The Princeton Review*

When one reads these books, one may think that they are actually “cracking” the test: the questions are very straightforward, and The Princeton Review almost seems to be nudging you, smugly saying, “See how easy this is.”

But the GMAT is not easy, and cannot be reduced to simple estimation and process of elimination. While both are useful techniques, to an extent, The Princeton Review tries to predicate its entire pedagogy on what it fondly dubs POE: Process of Elimination.

**Buyer Beware: The GMAT is far more difficult and requires learning the actual fundamentals and concepts behind the test.**

I’m going to delve into the specifics of how the Princeton Review GMAT book handles Verbal and Math concepts and strategies. But first, let me preface both the Verbal and Math write-ups with a note: this organizational set up (sub-categories within Verbal and Math) is particularly suited to books that take the time to delve into each section independently. The Princeton Review skims the surface in each section, sometimes wasting an entire page with a single problem or distracting blurb in the margins telling us how the B-school student likes to wake up at 6:45 and watch CNN.

What is clearly missing from every section of the Princeton GMAT books is the ease-of-use and organization found in the Kaplan books. (That is not to say Kaplan is great — it too has numerous issues). Nonetheless, I’ve maintained the structure to highlight the different sections of the test and how The Princeton Review handles them.

The only section on the Verbal that The Princeton Review does semi-decently is the Critical Reasoning section. The different question types are introduced. One learns how to take apart an argument. And one learns how to spot wrong answer choices. One doesn’t, however, get much practice. We learn the eight question types, but we do not get eight practice questions. It’s funny how little the book delivers compared with how much the cover promises.

Doing well on Sentence Correction requires learning both the fundamentals and advanced aspects of English grammar. To achieve this aim, the Manhattan GMAT has a 300-page book. The Princeton Review GMAT book tries to dispense Sentence Correction wisdom in a mere twenty pages (many of which do a poor job maximizing space).

To be fair, I could see this section being helpful to an absolute beginner. But even that person would need to learn far more grammar than what is provided here, and would, at the very least, want more practice after learning about a specific grammar concept. (If there is a section on Parallelism it would be nice to have some practice questions). Ultimately, this points to the fact that this book is teaser. For the actual Princeton Review class? Maybe. My guess is they are hoping people purchase their other GMAT guides, those loaded with more questions.

Again, The Princeton Review makes everything seem much easier than the test. Passages seem like they were lifted from the encyclopedia. True, that level of reading can be warranted when a book is trying to impart a specific approach. Even then Princeton GMAT techniques are too general: at times I felt like I was reading an SAT guide.

With The Princeton Review, unlike Kaplan, I don’t feel that I’ve learned much I can directly apply. Sure, I get the main idea of the passage and know to avoid extreme language in the answer choices… but really there is so much more to the GMAT than that. Terms such as ‘yin-yang’ tend to be more distracting than helpful.

That is not to say nothing is helpful here. But for an introduction to the GMAT, Kaplan does a far better job.

For an absolute beginner — somebody whose mind goes numb as soon as somebody says the word ‘fraction’ — Princeton GMAT offers an un-intimidating, straightforward approach to basic math. You get math drills, i.e. practice questions to help you learn the basics. Techniques such as “Picking Numbers” are introduced.

Unless you are looking to score about 500, the math help in this book will not help you attain a competitive score. Nevertheless, many of us are rusty in math, and in that sense, The Princeton Review provides a better primer than Kaplan (which already presupposes a decent level of math knowledge).

The usual suspects: you’ll learn everything from mean, median, and mode to combinations. Again, everything is at a basic level to help reacquaint you in case you haven’t seen many of these concepts in awhile.

There is an entire section on Data Sufficiency, and even a section on advanced Data Sufficiency. That said, the latter is *not* advanced, rather medium-difficulty. Again, same advice: if you are just beginning this will be helpful. That said, Kaplan does a far better job of introducing this tricky section. It essentially provides a framework to build off. The Princeton Review provides practice problems but not much of a framework.

Much like the questions throughout the book, the test questions are a dumbed-down version of what you’ll see on the GMAT. That is not to say that these questions are poorly written. In fact, if you have a copy of this book, especially if you are just starting off, doing these practice questions won’t hurt. The explanations are clear enough (though sometimes Princeton Review can be a little vague about why it eliminates certain choices – besides saying use process of elimination).

*Cracking the GMAT* provides a decent introduction. Indeed, if you are only looking to score about a 4, the templates the Princeton GMAT book provides may help you do so. I would have liked to see some example essays. Nonetheless, you can’t really fault any publisher for giving short shrift to the AWA, as most students are concerned only with their score out of 800.

- Provides a decent math refresher for those who haven’t seen math in a while.
- Makes the test un-intimidating (a pro for those who are already stressed out enough at the prospect of taking the GMAT).

- Focuses far more on techniques than on fundamentals
- Questions are far too easy compared to those found on the GMAT
- Seems somewhat disorganized and in many sections does not provide a coherent framework
- Nothing here at all for anyone looking to break 600
- Large book creates an illusion of content, an appearance belied by the relative dearth of material

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June of 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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1. made a lot of middle-of-the-night pots of coffee and

2. seen some big trends across applications.

Surprisingly, year in and year out, countless applicants make the *same* pretty big mistakes as they approach their MBA applications. Mistakes that can really hold them back in the process. I polled the team of Admissionado MBAs to find out which are most prevalent so we can help you avoid them, and save time in the already overwhelming MBA application process.

Here are the 3 biggest offenders:

You’d be surprised by how prevalent this issue is. After all, responding to a very clear prompt seems like the easiest and clearest part of the MBA application process. But after polling our team of 40+ MBA experts, this was the number one response. And this issue comes in many forms:

- Trying to get into the heads of the admissions committee members and just writing what you think they want to hear.
- Wanting so badly to tell that one story that makes you look awesome, you just try to make it work in whatever essay you can, despite the question.
- Trying to take essays for one school and smush them into essays for another.
- Spending an entire career goals essay talking about your previous accomplishments and then rushing in a sentence about your short- and long-term goals at the very end.

Do not fall into this trap. Besides flat out lying in your applications, this is the fastest route to Ding City. Not only are the adcoms asking very specific questions for very specific reasons (read: they are looking to learn *this* specific thing about you so give it to them!), but you don’t want to come across as someone who can’t follow easy directions.

The adcom isn’t looking for a certain “type” of applicant, so don’t waste your time trying to be someone that you’re not. And if they want to know about your greatest accomplishment, they’re going to ask for it! So save yourself some time and give them what they are asking for. Literally. Answer the question they are asking.

Let me save you from yourself right now and tell you that a job-hunting resume is not an MBA application resume. When you submit a resume in your apps, it should not merely be a list of all the things you’ve done. It should be a list of the things you’ve done *and* how you accomplished them *and* the impact of those accomplishments.

And don’t forget to put it all *in context*. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the person reading your application comes from your industry or even understands it. You need to present everything so anyone (even your grandma!) will know whether it is a big deal or not.

Your resume is your chance to highlight your leadership experience and your achievements, especially now that most MBA essays focus on the more personal side of things. You have very limited space to prove your impact, so you need to be clear, concise, and contextual.

If you’re about to drop $150K and 1-2 years of your life on something, it’s probably a good idea to do your due diligence. But even if you could see yourself being happy at any school with a strong brand, you still need to do your research. Why? To get in.

(Don’t believe me? Then listen to someone who is currently studying at MIT!)

When you’re applying to b-school, you need to prove to the adcom that you need this MBA in order to reach your career goals. And if you want to make that case, you need to also explain why that school – specifically – is going to get you there. Saying you like Columbia because it is in NYC is not enough. Neither is saying you like Kellogg because of their strong marketing program. You must go deeper. Get specific. Write a love letter to the school, laying out all the many ways it is going to get you exactly what you need to graduate, get a job, be super successful, and donate lots of money back to the school.

But you can’t do that without knowing the program inside and out.

Applying without doing research in is a waste of time. Yours and the adcom’s who will be reading that application. So take your time and do your research: talk to current students, talk to alum, visit the school… get as much information as you can.

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]]>The post How to Get a Perfect GMAT Score appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>Improbables of perfection, how can any ever hope to summit your slippery slopes?

Hard work won’t quite cut it. An element of luck, a touch of madness, and more than an average serving of raw talent might be enough.

If you’re aiming to get a perfect GMAT score, check out this SlideShare below, and read the following tips.

In terms of attainability, where does the GMAT perfect score fall — that perfect 800 we wish we could have emblazoned on our transcript? Well, fewer than 30 people a year attain this coveted score. Since I am sure a few of those 30 are tutors, even fewer test takers score a perfect 800 on the GMAT.

To put things into perspective, 150 people climb Everest each year (though 5 do die – which is something I’ve never heard befall a GMAT test taker).

Clearly, a perfect score is extremely difficult to achieve — though not necessarily impossible. Below are some points to keep in mind if you have your eye on GMAT perfection.

The philosopher-physicist has it best. Strong quant skills coupled with formidable problem-solving skills, this person is able to quickly see the big picture and discern the answer, that one tree in the dense forest of verbiage and equivocation.

Physicists are also adept at seeing some of the underlying patterns in the verbal section. But it is the philosopher who truly excels. The critical reasoning section? Philosophers have been doing this kind of analytical thinking for years – and the level of critical reasoning philosophers engage in makes the GMAT CR seem like a high school equivalency exam.

While the philosopher-physicist hybrid is ideal, there are other fields of study that also handle the GMAT well. If you have a computer science background, you will have the problem solving skills necessary to do very well on the test. In general, math types will fare well; even the verbal section is based on logic (think Sentence Correction). Yet math types out there might want to make sure they are avid readers. If they have a penchant for literature, growing up with the likes of Dickens and Steinbeck, they will likely do well on the verbal. **Ultimately, the student who will do best is the one who blends analytical and mathematical thinking with a healthy dollop of verbal panache — whether they be an English major who does Sudoku in their spare time or an engineer with a thing for Jane Austen. **

Those who read challenging books and articles should have little problem navigating the dense, quasi-academic language of the GMAT. Proper idiomatic construction should flow from their tongues with the same insouciant ease most of us have discussing the weather. Grammatical niceties will jump out from the page, amidst the noise of GMAT distractors. (I say this based on my literary-inclined friends who find that they can rely on their ear to ace the Sentence Correction section — something even most native English speakers can’t do).

**My advice: read challenging – but not utterly boring – works.** And pay attention to language and turns of phrases. Additionally, it will help if you read widely. An article on species extinction in The New Yorker for breakfast and post-lunch reading of the latest Booker Prize-winning novel.

**The perfect scorer isn’t necessarily the fastest. But they are the most careful.** The perfect scorer double-checks their answers and does not leap at an answer choice because it sounds good. He/she is aware of the traps that the GMAT lays, and is assiduously careful to avoid falling for them. Indeed, even perfect scorers aren’t always perfect scorers. Perhaps on their mock exams they missed a few questions.

Likely, once they saw their answer was incorrect, they could go back to the question and identify what was wrong with it. Their mistake wasn’t conceptual; it was careless.

When you get close to perfection on the GMAT, it is likely meticulousness keeping you from an 800. Double-check that answer on Data Sufficiency (that notoriously and deceptively tricky section), don’t gloss over an answer choice on Reading Comprehension and end up missing that one critical word that invalidates the answer choice.

Meticulousness carries over to other facets of the GMAT besides answering questions. How you prepare is key to improving your score, especially when that score is the difference between 750 to 800 (those extra 50 points will require an extra serving of self-discipline.)

The perfect 800 scorer will be highly regimented and devise a GMAT study schedule. They will focus on their weaker areas and be as precise as possible when determining exactly why they missed those precious few points keeping them from scoring an 800. “I’m bad at hard science passages” is not the kind of mindset you need. Rather, “I will make sure to pay attention to how the author slips in a technical term mentioned earlier in the passage, instead of trying to justify an answer that I know is not quite right because I’m looking at the wrong part of the passage”. Essentially, perfect scorers are sticklers who look out for everything, from small math errors to grammatical nuances.

**To be able to attain a perfect score on the GMAT, you have to understand the subtleties of the test, and only official practice material will truly give you that.** Yes, there is other material out there, some of which does a good job — Magoosh GMAT (yes, I know, conflict of interest), Manhattan GMAT (practice tests are even harder than the GMAT), and Veritas (does an okay job) — and there are the rest, from the benignly bad to the downright abominable, which will actually hurt your score.

This may be the first time you are hearing about Magoosh, and while we definitely can’t promise you a perfect score, we can promise you the best online video prep. You will nail the fundamentals (even if you weren’t a philosopher poet) and will have hundreds of practice questions to help you scale the Mt. Everest that is the GMAT.

More of a visual learner? Flip through our Slideshare to review the tips you learned above.

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February of 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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]]>The post Number Sense for the GMAT appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>1) Rank those three in order from smallest to biggest.

(A) I, II, III

(B) I, III, II

(C) II, I, III

(D) II, III, I

(E) III, I, II

2) Let P = 36000. Let Q equal the sum of all the factors of 36000, not including 36000 itself. Let R be the sum of all the prime numbers less than 36000. Rank the numbers P, Q, and R in numerical order from smallest to biggest.

(A) P, Q, R

(B) P, R, Q

(C) Q, P, R

(D) R, P, Q

(E) R, Q, P

3) Rank those three in order from smallest to biggest.

(A) I, II, III

(B) I, III, II

(C) II, I, III

(D) II, III, I

(E) III, II, I

Solutions for these number sense problems will come at the end of this blog article.

Many GMAT Quantitative Problems, like the foregoing pair, test **number sense**. What is number sense? Number sense is a good intuition for what happens to different kinds of numbers (positive, negative, fractions, etc.) when you perform various arithmetic operations on them.

Number sense is what allows some folks to “see” shortcuts such as estimation or visual solutions. For example, in any of the problems above, there’s absolutely no need to do any detailed calculations: in fact, folks with number sense can probably do all the math they need to do in their heads.

- Making the numerator of a fraction bigger makes the whole fraction bigger.
- Making the denominator of a fraction bigger makes the whole fraction smaller.
- (big positive) + (small negative) = something positive
- (small positive) + (big negative) = something negative
- Multiplying by a positive decimal less than one makes something smaller.
- Dividing by a positive decimal less than one makes something bigger.

Of course, it would be near impossible to make anything like a complete list. The left-brain reductionist dreams of something like an exhaustive list one could study, but number sense is all about right-brain pattern matching. If you’re not familiar with the distinction of left/right hemisphere, see this GMAT post which touches on similar issues.

If you don’t have it, how do you get it? That’s not an easy question. There’s no magical shortcut to number sense, but here are some concrete suggestions.

1. Do only mental math. You shouldn’t be using a calculator to practice for the GMAT anyway. Try to do simpler math problems without even writing anything down. Furthermore, look for opportunities every day, in every situation, to do some simple math or simple estimation (e.g. there are about 20 cartons of milk on the grocery store’s shelf—about how much would it cost to buy all twenty?)

2. Look for patterns with numbers. Add & subtract & multiply & divide all kinds of numbers—positive integers, negative integers, positive fractions, negative fractions, and look for patterns. Number sense is all about pattern with numbers!!

3. This is a BIG one—in any GMAT practice problem that seemed (to you) to demand incredibly long calculations, but which had a very elegant solution of which you would have never dreamt—that problem & its solution are pure gold. In a journal, write down what insights were used to simplify the problem dramatically. Force yourself to articulate this, and return to this solution and to your notes on it often. Over time, you should develop an array of problems like this, and if you study those solutions, you probably will start to see patterns.

4. Similar to #3: search the two forums,GMAT Club and Beat the GMAT, for similarly difficult questions, and look for elegant solutions. That’s a great place to ask the experts (including yours truly) for more detailed explanations of their choices in the solution.

5. Here’s a variant on a game you can play, alone or with others who also want practice. Pick four single digit numbers at random—some repeats are allowed. You could roll a die four times, and use the results. Now, once you have those four numbers, your job is to use all four of them, each of them only once, and any arithmetic, to generate each number from 1 to 20. By “any arithmetic,” I mean any combination of: (a) add, subtract, multiply, divide; (b) exponents; and (c) parentheses & fractions

For example, if the four numbers I picked were {1, 2, 3, 4}, I could get 2 from

For any one number, you only need to come up with it in one way (although you can consider it a bonus to come up with multiple ways for a single number!) Here, I show three ways just to demonstrate the possibilities. A few examples for some of the higher numbers:

Notice that I used a variant of the expression for 13 to create an expression for 14. Also, if I changed the plus sign in the expression for 13 to a minus sign, I would get an expression for 11. Also, notice that if 1 is one of the four numbers, then if you don’t need it, you can simply multiply by it; furthermore, notice in the expression for 13 and in the second expression for 2 above, the exponent of 1 is a useful place to stash other numbers you don’t need!

As you practice, you will start to develop a sense of how expressions for one number can be tweaked to give you another number. Overall, using similar combinations, you have to get every number from 1-20 with these four, or with whatever four you pick. Actually, the set {1, 2, 3, 4} is a very good warm-up set. When you want more of a challenge, use {2,3,3,5}.

*One of our Remote Test Prep Experts, Jeff Derrenberger, created an awesome web game based on this mental math game. Click on the banner to check it out!*

Here’s a practice number sense problem. If you didn’t get anywhere with the practice problem, you may want to study the solution below carefully.

4) http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/54

1) Notice that all three of these are close to fractions that equal 1/3. The fractions that equal 1/3 would be, respectively, 50/150, 110/330, and 300/900. First of all, only the second one has a higher numerator, so the second one is more than 1/3 and the other two are less than 1/3. Therefore, II is the greatest.

Now, from I and III, which is greater? Well, think about it this way. 50/150 = 300/900, because both of those equal 1/3. How much less than one third is each one of these? Well, 47/150 is 3/150 less than 50/150 = 1/3, and 299/900 is 1/900 less than 300/900 = 1/3. Well, clearly, 3/150 > 1/900 (the latter has a smaller numerator *and* a larger denominator!) Therefore, starting from 1/3, 47/150 goes down further than does 299/900. Therefore, 47/150, dropping down a larger distance, must be the minimum value. Therefore, the correct order is I, III, II.

Answer = **(B)**

2) We know that some of the factors of 36,000 are 18,000, 12,000, and 9,000. Right there, those three add up to 39,000 more than 36,000. Right there, we know that P < Q. We can eliminate **(C)** and **(E)**.

Now, R is a little trickier. We don’t need to have detailed knowledge here. We know there are several prime numbers less than 100. Obviously, the density of prime numbers gets slightly less as we get bigger. Let’s assume, extremely conservatively, that when we get up into the 20 and 30 thousands, there is at least one prime number every thousand: one between 20K and 21K, one between 21K and 22K, all the way up to 36K. The 6 primes in the thirty thousands are all greater than 30K, so let’s estimate their sum as (30K)*6 = 180K. The 10 primes in the twenty thousands are all greater than 20K, so let’s estimate their sum as (20K)*10 = 200K. Right away, that’s 380K on an extremely conservative estimate. There is no way that the sum of the factors of 36K, not including 36K itself, is going to be more than ten times 36K! Thus, R is much larger than Q, and the correct order is P < Q < R.

Answer = **(A)**

BTW, if your curious, according to Wolfram Alpha, the sum of the factors of 36000, not including 36000, is Q = 91,764, and the sum of all the prime number less than 36000 is R = 64,711,067.

3) Here, we have to “un-simplify” the square-roots to get a sense of their relative size.

From this, we see that II is less than I. From this alone, we can eliminate (A) & (B).

The trickier item on the list is III. Without a calculator, it would be nearly impossible compute an exact value for the fourth-root of 401. But consider this: the fourth root of a number is the number to the power of 1/4, and 1/4 = (1/2)*(1/2), so **the fourth root is the square root of a square root**. Now, of course, 401 is not itself a perfect square, but it is very close to a perfect square.

This demonstrates that III. is slightly larger than I. Therefore, the order from least to greatest is II, I, III.

Answer = **(C)**

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December, 2012, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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]]>The post GMAC’s Official IR Practice Questions appeared first on Magoosh GMAT Blog.

]]>The GMAT Integrated Reasoning question formats are highly dependent on technology, and unlike traditional Verbal and Quantitative questions, these would be too compromised in a print format. Therefore, from the beginning, GMAC never put official Integrated Reasoning questions in the GMAT Official Guide: the official questions always have been online. At first, a code in the back of the GMAT Official Guide would give you access to a separate site that just had the official Integrated Reasoning questions.

Starting with the OG 2016, GMAC put all the questions in the OG online, in case you wanted to study them in an online format rather than in print format. When GMAC made this move, logically they put the 50 official Integrated Reasoning questions on the same website with the other questions. The code in your copy of the OG will give you access to that website. The Quant & Verbal questions on that website are identical to those in the printed OG, but going to that website is *the only way* you can practice official Integrated Reasoning questions.

Each IR question is one of four formats:

(1) **Multi-Source Reasoning** (MSR)

(2) **Table Analysis** (TA)

(3) **Graphics Interpretation** (GI)

(4) **Two-Part Analysis** (2PA)

If these are unfamiliar to you, you can read about the basics in the Magoosh IR eBook. The official website and the actual GMAT itself appear to give questions of the four formats successively: that is, all the MSR, then all the TA, then all the GI, then all the 2PA. This is in sharp distinction to the Quant & Verbal sections, in which quant formats (PS & DS) or verbal formats (RC & CR & SC) are freely interspersed.

We do know: eight of the 12 questions will count, and the other four will be experimental questions. We do know: whatever block of 8 questions counts, those 8 questions will have the same distributions of question for all test takers. We don’t know what that distribution is: let’s say, just for simplicity, that it’s 2 MSR questions, 2 TA questions, 2 GI questions, and 2 2PA questions. That mix will count for everyone. Now, the four experimental questions don’t count, so they could be any mix of problems: it could be one of each type, or two of one type and two of another, or all four of a single type. Suppose Fred happens to get an IR section on which all four of the experimental questions are 2PA. In the course of the 12 questions, Fred would see six 2PA questions: if he were counting, he would realize that the experimental questions would have to be 2PA, but think about it. He doesn’t start to realize something is unusually until he gets to his 4th or 5th or even 6th 2PA. At that point, he knows some of those 2PA questions had to be experimental, but he has no way of knowing which two count: the first two? the last two? the third and the fifth? Of course, of six questions, there are 6C2 = 15 different ways the two that count could be distributed among them, and all 15 of those scenarios are equally likely. The upshot is: even if you have an inkling that you are getting more of this question than that, you always have to treat the question in front of you as if it counts.

Also, let’s talk a little about this word “question”—we say the website has 50 practice “questions” and the IR section has 12 “questions,” but I would argue a more accurate term would be “screens.” The website has 50 screens, and the IR section of the GMAT has 12 screens. Each screen will be one of four formats—MSR, TA, GI, 2PA—and * almost every screen has more than one question on it*. Rather than talk about how many questions within each question, for clarity, for the remainder of this post, I will refer to each “screen” and how many questions on that screen. Here’s a little of what we can glean about the four screen formats from the 50 IR practice screens on the website.

Finally, remember that there is **no partial credit on the GMAT Integrated Reasoning**. If there are multiple tasks on a single IR screen, you must get every single task on the screen correct to earn credit for that screen.

This is the only of the four types in which the same content appears across multiple screens. For every other question format, all the relevant content appears on one screen, and none of that content appears on any other screen.

The information for a bank of MSR questions appears in separate “cards” on the left side of a split screen, and the questions appear on the right side, much like Reading Comprehension. The same set of cards is present for 3-5 MSR screens, again, much like a RC passage. At least one card is all text, and sometimes all the cards are all text. A card may also contain a graph, a chart, a table, or even a mathematical formula relating ideas discussed on other cards. As a general rule, most of the questions can only be answered by combining information from different cards.

Some MSR screens have a single five-choice multiple choice (MC) question: on the whole Integrated Reasoning section, this is the only screen type, the only question type, on which there is only one question on the screen.

The others, in fact, the majority of MSR screens, have what I call Multiple-Dichotomous Choice (MDC) question designs. A dichotomous choice question is one that has only two possible responses (yes/no, true/false, etc.) The GMAT Integrated Reasoning MDC design has three such questions in a table. Here’s an example of a frivolous MDC, just so you can see the design.

Each row is a dichotomous choice: we have to give one of only two choices as a response. Of course, the answers to this playful MDC are “helps” in the first two rows, and “doesn’t help” in the last row. This MDC question depended on general knowledge, whereas the MDC questions that appear in the MSR format will depend on the information on the cards. If the IR screen contains a set of MDC questions, you must get all three correct to get credit for that screen.

Here’s an Integrated Reasoning Multi-Source Reasoning practice question.

Each IR Table Analysis screen contains a verbal prompt and a sortable table, that is, a table you can put into ranked order by any column. Tables typically have 5-8 columns. The GMAT loves to have some columns that give data about ranking: for example, the table could have one column that lists the actual areas, in sq miles, of counties, and another that lists the rank of the area in terms of the world—the United States of America has an area of 3.8M sq miles and rank of 4^{th} in the world.

Every table appears just once, on one screen, with a set of MDC questions, always three individual questions, as above. Once you answer those three questions and hit submit, that particular table is gone forever.

Here’s an Integrated Reasoning Table Analysis practice question.

Each GI screen presents a verbal prompt and a graph. The questions on a GI screen are in the form of two drop-down menus in a fill-in-the-blank format. That is to say, underneath the graph will be one or two sentences, with a total of two blanks: the student “fills in” the blank with a choice from the drop-down menu: the drop-down menus have 3-5 choices.

The graphs can be of several different types, including bar charts (including clustered column and segmented column charts), scatterplots, and bubble charts. One more exotic type of chart is the numerical flowchart. Here’s a post with a single Integrated Reasoning Graphics Interpretation practice question, and here’s a set of IR GI practice questions.

This question format presents some kind of prompt, and then a table. The table has three columns. At the top of the first two columns are the “questions,” and the possible answers to the questions are listed in the third column. The same set of possible answer choices applies to both questions. Often, the two questions are connected, in the sense that one must answer one to figure out the answer to the other.

In some ways, 2PA is the most flexible of the four question formats. Individual 2PA screens can be purely verbal (similar to RC and CR questions) or mathematical.

This post gives a single Integrated Reasoning Two-Part Analysis practice question, and here’s a set of IR 2PA practice questions.

The GMAT Integrated Reasoning questions are hard. Magoosh has a GMAT IR ebook as well as a full bank of lessons and practice questions to prepare you. Together, we can do this!

See also: Is the GMAT Integrated Reasoning More Important Now?

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July of 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

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