The post Big GMAT Skills: Shedding Your Biases appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Guess what? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free—we’re not kidding! **Check out our upcoming courses here**.*

In our first post, we discussed what I would call the behemoth of big GMAT skills: reading with specificity and objectivity. Today, we’re going to focus on the latter of the two to delve into another one of the most important big GMAT skills: stripping yourself of biases.

But first, let’s play a game. My email is rarnold@manhattanprep.com. I have written a number less than 50 on a piece of paper. For one month after this blog post hits cyberspace and becomes the viral sensation I know it will become, you can email me once a day your guess for what this number is. I will give correct guesses a hundred dollars. This isn’t a joke.

But it’s a trick (or is it?).

I feel reasonably confident that I won’t be paying up, despite the fact that you’ll have 30 guesses for this number less than 50. If you’re wondering how I feel so confident, it’s because you are not seeing through your bias.

When I say ‘number less than 50,’ are you thinking 1, 2, 3, 10, 24, 41, etc.? Hey, that’s true, those *are* numbers less than 50. But you are a numberist, and your implicit bias is showing. For instance, I never said positive number.

In the words of Scooby Doo, “Ruh roh.”

Now there are infinite negative numbers you have to choose from.

I also never said my number is an integer.

“Alright, you little smart a—”

I know. I’m sorry.

Now you have all kinds of numbers to guess from. Fractions, negative square roots, powers of negative pi… Point is, I feel *pretty* safe no one is going to guess my number.

People have an inherent positive-integer bias. But you don’t want to let it blind you to what could be possible on a GMAT Quant problem.

When an equation lets us solve for *x*, our expectation is that *x* is the answer… But what if the problem asked for 3*x*? Obviously, this is related to ‘reading specifically,’ but it’s hard to read specifically when you’re letting your own expectations blur the language in the problem.

This is an especially important skill on Reading Comprehension. When you start a passage, even a bias like, “Ugh, I hate this topic” can affect your understanding. If anything, you’re not reading carefully—you’re thinking about how much it sucks that you have to read about the electrophoresis of DNA extracted from snapping turtles. Other topics will be about certain sociological topics that we are bound to have emotional responses to. This will bring with it a proclivity to read things a certain way, even if that’s not *really* what the passage says.

For Reading Comp, there are good ways to practice this skill of objective reading. Find an editorial arguing for something you disagree with from a news source you don’t much love. In today’s nigh utopia of political harmony, I just don’t know *where* you’ll find such a thing, but search one out. Read the article and try to quell the emotional response you’ll definitely feel rising. Read the article for the words that are written and express the ideas as coldly and non-judgmentally as you can. I bet that, sometimes, what you first thought you read wasn’t what was actually written. Then, find your *favorite* news source and an article arguing for something you agree with, but do the same exercise. Practice specifying exactly what the author is arguing. Different pieces about the same topic can have slightly different conclusions, so make sure you’re pinpointing what is really said.

Note that none of this need change your mind. You don’t have to suddenly start agreeing with arguments you didn’t before. It’s purely an exercise to get better at reading coldly and objectively. That’s hard enough on the GMAT, when the passages are rather removed from our day-to-day life, and it’s even harder when we make it personal. But by actively practicing suppressing your biases, you’ll improve your skills of reading specifically.

In Sentence Correction, you’re going to have a bias for the answer that ‘sounds good.’ And sometimes it’s right! Sometimes. One reason I think the GMAT wants you to learn grammar rules that no one really cares about is just to make sure you can apply rules and processes in situations that *seem* a certain way, because often they will turn out another. But if you always go with the answers that seem good, you’ll miss opportunities.

(Here, opportunities = GMAT points).

Biases are why √(*x*^2 + *y*^2) is so often simplified to *x* + *y*. In all our years of mathematics, nobody ever told us this was allowed (…hopefully). But it’s such a strong impulse because, dang it, it looks so nice and easy, it *must* be true. It’s why when a triangle looks isosceles, we assume it is. It’s why when a question asks for the ratio of *x* and *y* we might think, incorrectly, that we need the value of *x* and the value of *y* (when really, knowing *x*/*y* is enough). In general, don’t assume something *is* the way it is because it *looks* a certain way. Use the processes to verify.

No doubt, sometimes your biases will be right—but they’ll be wrong enough to keep your score down, unless you learn to see through them.

*Want some more GMAT tips from Reed? Attend the first session of one of his **upcoming GMAT courses **absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.*

**Reed Arnold is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York, NY.** He has a B.A. in economics, philosophy, and mathematics and an M.S. in commerce, both from the University of Virginia. He enjoys writing, acting, Chipotle burritos, and teaching the GMAT. Check out Reed’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

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]]>The post MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have a Recommendation from My Supervisor appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series,**mbaMission **debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.*

MBA admissions committees often say they understand if an applicant does not have a recommendation from a supervisor, but do they really mean it? Even if they say it is okay, if everyone else has a supervisor writing a recommendation, not having one would put you at a disadvantage, right? Wrong.

We estimate that one of every five applicants has an issue with one of their current supervisors that prevents them from asking for a recommendation. Common issues include the following:

- The applicant has had only a brief tenure with his/her current firm.
- Disclosing one’s plans to attend business school could compromise potential promotions, bonuses, or salary increases.
- The supervisor is “too busy” to help and either refuses the request or tells the applicant to write the recommendation him/herself, which the applicant is unprepared to do.
- The supervisor does not believe in the MBA degree and would not be supportive of the applicant’s path.
- The supervisor is a poor manager and refuses to assist junior staff.
- The candidate is an entrepreneur or works in a family business and thus lacks a credibly objective supervisor.

We have explained before that admissions offices have no reason to disadvantage candidates who cannot ask their supervisors to be recommenders over those who have secured recommendations from supervisors. What incentive would they have to “disqualify” approximately 20% of applicants for reasons beyond their control?

Therefore, if you cannot ask your supervisor for his/her assistance, do not worry about your situation, but seek to remedy it. Start by considering your alternatives—a past employer, mentor, supplier, client, legal counsel, representative from an industry association, or anyone else who knows your work particularly well. Then, once you have made your alternate selection, briefly explain the nature of your situation and your relationship with this recommender in your optional essay. As long as you explain your choice, the admissions committee will understand your situation.

*mbaMission** is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time and comprehensively trained staff of consultants**, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. **Click here to sign up today.*

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]]>The post More Fast Math for the GMAT (Part 6) appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Guess what? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free—we’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.*

A while back, we started a series on Fast Math for the GMAT—and we’ve got more for you today!

On these two new problems, we’re going to employ some broader principles than the ones we saw in the earlier installments of this series. I won’t say any more yet—try the two problems from the free problem set that comes with GMATPrep® and then we’ll talk.

Set your timer for 4 minutes and go!

“

“(A) ^{3}_{10}

“(B) ^{7}_{10}

“(C) ^{6}_{7}

“(D) ^{10}_{7}

“(E) ^{10}_{3}”

“The Earth travels around the Sun at a speed of approximately 18.5 miles per second. This approximate speed is how many miles per hour?

“(A) 1,080

“(B) 1,160

“(C) 64,800

“(D) 66,600

“(E) 3,996,000”

We’ll talk about the first one in this installment and the second one in the next installment.

Glance: Wow, that fraction is ugly! Glance down at the answers, too. Notice anything?

Answers (A) through (C) are less than 1 and answers (D) and (E) are greater than 1. Is there a way to tell whether it’s greater or less than 1? Also, Answers (A) and (E) are “mirror images” and so are (B) and (D). That makes sense, because chances are the most common trap answer will be someone solving correctly but just reversing the fraction by accident. Answer (C) doesn’t have a mirror… so if I have to guess, I’m not going to guess that. (And, in fact, if I solve and get (C), I might actually check my work.)

Hmm. I’m going to go back and reflect on my first thought about greater/less than 1. The top of the “main” fraction is the number 1. The bottom of the main fraction is 1 + something. That “something” is positive, so the overall fraction is 1 over something a little bigger than 1.

Is that going to be greater than 1 or less than 1?

1 over (>1) is less than 1. Eliminate answers (D) and (E).

From here, you can just straight up solve. If you’re confident that (C) isn’t going to be right, though, you can also estimate. Why? Because answer (A) is 3/10 and answer (B) is 7/10. Those are pretty far apart—like 30% and 70%.

Look at that thing again. 2 + 1/3 is about 2 (or close enough!). So the bottom part of the fraction is about 1 + 1/2 = 3/2.

And then 1 over 3/2 just means “take the reciprocal,” which is 2/3.

Which answer is the right one? Answer (B), 7/10. Answer (A) is too far away. Done!

You might be thinking, sure, I see how that works, but the actual math isn’t all that hard…so why not just do it?

Here’s why: When I’m studying I’m not just looking for ways to get *this* problem right. I’m also looking for ways to approach *harder* problems of the same type. I might get one that looks like this but has way harder math…and, on that other one, I might not notice that I can just estimate because I’m so intimidated by the scary/annoying math.

In short: I can learn a lot on “easier” problems by brainstorming alternative approaches and not just resting on textbook math because the math’s not “that” hard on this problem.

By the way, here is the math.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t solve it this way—I’m saying that there are other things to learn from this problem than just how to do this math.

(1) You can estimate a lot more than you might think on the GMAT. If the question stem asks for an approximate answer—of course, estimate. But, on PS, also glance at those answers before you begin to solve. Certain characteristics can indicate a good opportunity to estimate.

(2) What kinds of characteristics? The most common one is simply answers that are spread out. You can also add to that answers that fall on either side of some “dividing line”—for example, some are greater than 0 and some are less than 0. Some are more than 1/2 and some are less than 1/2 (that one is especially good for probability questions!). And so on.

**Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.**

**Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.** Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

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]]>The post When is an Absolute Value Not an Absolute Value? appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! **Check out our upcoming courses here**.*

… when it’s a distance on a number line!

Okay, that doesn’t quite work as a joke. But it *does* work as a GMAT Quant strategy. Intimidated by absolute value GMAT problems? Read on to learn a quick and painless strategy.

Absolute values always come out as positive numbers. For instance, the absolute value of -7 is 7:

|-7| = 7

*Distances *are also always positive, both in the real world and on the GMAT. There’s no such thing as a negative distance. That means we can use distances—something we already understand intuitively—to think about absolute value.

The town of **Greatport** is at mile marker 5 on the highway, and the town of **Fairmont** is at mile marker 35.

If you want to travel from Greatport to Fairmont, you calculate the distance like this:

35 – 5 = 30

But if you want to travel from Fairmont back to Greatport, you don’t do this:

5 – 35 = -30

You know intuitively that the distance is still 30 miles, not negative 30, regardless of which direction you’re traveling. What you’re really doing, mathematically, is taking an absolute value.

|5 – 35| = |-30| = 30

|35 – 5| = |30| = 30

The distance between two towns is the *absolute value of the difference between their mile markers.*

Let’s add a third town: **Veltria**. But I’m not actually going to tell you where Veltria is. All I’m going to tell you is that it’s 5 miles away from Fairmont.

Here’s the equation that shows that:

|v – 35| = 5

By the way, this would be equally correct:

|35 – v| = 5

What this equation *means* is that the distance between Veltria and the 35-mile marker is 5 miles. Your intuition should tell you that Veltria can only be in two different locations: the 30-mile marker or the 40-mile marker. And in fact, those are the two values that fit the equation:

|30 – 35| = |-5| = 5

|40 – 35| = |5| = 5

So, when you see an equation like |10 – x| = 7, you can read it like this:

“The distance between 10 and x is 7.”

Without actually doing algebra, you can figure out that x can only equal 3 or 17.

Let’s bring a fourth town into the mix. It’s called **Halfwayville**, and here’s an equation that tells you where it’s located:

|h – 35| = |5 – h|

If you see this in an algebra problem on the GMAT, don’t start simplifying it with math. Instead, read it as if it’s telling you about the real world.

|h – 35| = “The distance between Halfwayville and the 35-mile marker”

|5 – h| = “The distance between Halfwayville and the 5-mile marker”

The equals sign between them means that those two distances are the same. In other words,

“Halfwayville is equally far from the 5-mile marker and the 35-mile marker.”

There’s only one place Halfwayville could be located: halfway between those two markers! That places it at the 20-mile marker.

What if they start bringing inequalities into the mix? Let’s locate the town of Easton on the highway. Here’s what you know:

|e – 35| > 7

The left side of the inequality is the distance between Easton and the 35-mile marker. So, read this inequality like this:

“The distance between Easton and the 35-mile marker is more than 7 miles.”

In other words,

“Easton is more than 7 miles from the 35-mile marker.”

Where could Easton be? Anywhere, as long as it’s at least 7 miles from Fairmont.

Let’s locate a new town: **Middleburg**. This time, all you know about it is this inequality, which has two absolute values:

|5 – m| > |35 – m|

Read it in plain English:

“The distance between Middleburg and the 5-mile marker is greater than the distance between Middleburg and the 35-mile marker.”

Or:

“Middleburg is closer to the 35-mile marker than to the 5-mile marker.”

Where could Middleburg be? It can’t be off to the left side of Greatport; if it was over there, it would be closer to Greatport. We want it to be closer to Fairmont. It *could* be between Greatport and Fairmont, as long as it’s closer to Fairmont. It could also be over to the right side of Fairmont. Here are all of the possibilities:

That inequality, |5 – m| > |35 – m|, is really just saying that Middleburg is to the right of the halfway point between Greatport and Fairmont.

What if they give you even less info? Let’s suppose that we’re now in a foreign country, where we don’t know where anything is at all. You see this equation:

|x – y| + |y – z| = |x – z|

Read it out piece by piece. We have three towns: Xandria, Yelby, and Zorb.

On the left side of the equation, we have this:

“The distance from Xandria to Yelby, plus the distance from Yelby to Zorb”

On the right side, we have this:

“The distance from Xandria to Zorb”

In other words, if you drive straight from Xandria to Yelby, then drive from Yelby to Zorb, you’ll cover the exact same distance as you would if you drove directly from Xandria to Zorb.

What does that mean?

Suppose that Xandria, Yelby, and Zorb were laid out like this. If you traveled from X to Y, then from Y to Z, you’d be going out of your way:

There’s actually only **one** situation where going through Yelby doesn’t add any distance to your trip. That’s the situation where Yelby is right on the line between Xandria and Zorb.

In that case, the distances are equal. If you go from X to Y, then from Y to Z, you’ve covered the same distance as going straight from X to Z.

In other words, this equation:

|x – y| + |y – z| = |x – z|

Means this:

“Y is located on the line that goes from X to Z.”

On a number line—which is where we do most absolute value problems—that just means that Y is in between X and Z, rather than being off to one side.

Absolute value problems are more intuitive than you might think, even when they’re combined with inequalities! The next time you see an absolute value of a **difference**, pause before you start applying algebra rules. Can you think about the problem in terms of distances, instead? If so, you may find that the solution is faster and simpler than you expected!

*Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. **Check out our upcoming courses here**.*

**Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington.** *Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. **Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GMAT prep offerings here.*

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]]>The post Mission Admission: How to Handle the Round 2 MBA Application Rush appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Mission Admission is a series of MBA admissions tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, **mbaMission**.*

When the round 2 MBA application rush begins, many candidates who are just beginning to contemplate their MBA applications will call us and ask, “How many schools can I apply to at this stage?” or “Am I too late to start my round 2 MBA application now?” Unfortunately, no clear-cut answers to these questions exist.

First and foremost, your focus should be on quality over speed. As a candidate, you are far better off completing applications to three schools with 100% effort than applying to five schools and putting forth just 60% effort. MBA admissions offices notice sloppy mistakes and will conclude that you did not pay full attention to your application and therefore may not really care about their program.

One thing some candidates may not realize is that they do not need to commit to a specific number of schools up front. We typically suggest that candidates master one application and then apply what they have learned to the next. Submitting applications to five schools simultaneously can generally be problematic, but if you make significant progress on one school’s application and then begin work on the next, you can be confident that you will complete each one with a degree of excellence.

The ideal number of target schools varies from candidate to candidate and depends on each individual’s professional and personal schedule, written communication skills, risk profile, ambitions, and other similar factors. So approach your applications methodically, recognize what is realistic, and then work aggressively—but not haphazardly—toward your end goals.

As you prepare your round 2 MBA application, try to keep a clear head and a focused mind. Every once in a while, a concerned business school candidate calls us and says something along the lines of, “Star491 wrote that Wharton won’t read past the 500-word limit, but IndianaHoops09 wrote that 10% over the limit is fine. Meanwhile, WannabeTuckie says…*”* Reading this may amuse some of you, but the truth is that many MBA applicants have difficulty not visiting the various message boards, and some have even more difficulty not believing everything they read there. At the risk of stating the obvious, most message boards are completely unregulated, and you should be skeptical when reading the opinions expressed by anonymous posters. For every individual who claims to *know* something authoritatively, you can always find another individual who claims to *know* that the opposite is true. Round and round we go…

Thus, our message is to ignore anonymous message board posts. Although this is valuable advice now, as you complete your applications (ideally with your sanity intact), it will become even more valuable as the admissions season progresses and many posters begin to make unsubstantiated claims about admissions statistics (offers given, GMAT scores of accepted candidates, etc.). If you tune out such noise now and put your energy instead into creating your best possible round 2 MBA application(s), you will be far better off.

Of course, if you do have any questions, you can always ask *us* on the message boards over at **Manhattan Prep**, **Beat the GMAT**, or **GMAT Club**. Or sign up for a *free* **one-on-one consultation**!

*mbaMission** is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time and comprehensively trained staff of consultants**, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. **Click here to sign up today.*

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]]>The post GMAT Approach: Win Every Question appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! **Check out our upcoming courses here**.*

**You can win every question on the GMAT. That seems a little surprising at first, I know. If you’ve been studying the GMAT for any length of time, you’ve probably already heard several times about the importance of guessing and the perils of perfectionism. **

But notice that I didn’t say you could get every question **right**. I said you could **win **every question. And that difference is key.

You can’t win unless you know what game you’re playing and how it’s scored. While the GMAT scoring algorithm is complex, the basic idea is simple: the GMAT is not really a math test and not really a grammar test, but is fundamentally a test of decision-making. That means that to win a particular question, you don’t have to get it right, but you do have to make the right decision on it.

If the game is decision-making, you have to think in those terms as you study and review. The key question is “do I know what to do in every situation on the GMAT?” Again, that doesn’t mean you need to know **how** to do every problem or be able to get it right. But you need to know that when you see DS, you follow these steps, and when you see PS, you follow these other steps and have these different options for solving. I know that when I see a problem that makes no sense, the right decision is to take a guess. I know that when I’m behind on time, the right decision is to skip a problem. And so on.

Realizing how the game is scored and what the proper plays are makes a big impact on how you study and win every question. When you review a tough exponents problem that you didn’t understand, you do want to try to understand how to do that problem. But you **also** want to think about what you should do the next time you see a problem you don’t understand. You may or may not see that particular kind of exponents question on the exam, but I guarantee that you will see a problem that you don’t understand how to do and you need to practice how you deal with that. Did you recognize that you didn’t know what to do and get out of that problem quickly? Did you think you knew what to do but were able to let go when you realized it wasn’t working out? That’s the key to winning every question!

You may be wondering how this actually works out if many of your “wins” actually result in getting problems wrong through properly taking guesses and getting out early. The fact is you get one reward from the time you have left to tackle problems that you are able to do, saving you from rushing through and making careless mistakes. You get the second reward from being in a better mental state because you feel good about how you’re performing and this better mental state makes you better able to recall content and better able to work quickly and precisely. Putting these together means you actually get more challenging questions right and make fewer careless mistakes, resulting in you maximizing your score on test day. Knowing the game, the plays, and how to practice really does pay off!

*Want some more amazing GMAT tips from James? Attend the first session of one of his **upcoming GMAT courses** absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.*

**James Brock is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Virginia Beach, VA.** He holds a B.A. in mathematics and a Master of Divinity from Covenant Seminary. James has taught and tutored everything from calculus to chess, and his 780 GMAT score allows him to share his love of teaching and standardized tests with MPrep students. You can check out James’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

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]]>The post Know the GMAT Code: Work Backwards on Problem Solving Problems (Part 2) appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Guess what? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free—we’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.*

Last time, I asked whether you know how—and when—to Work Backwards on Problem Solving problems. If you haven’t already worked through part 1 of this series, go do that and then come back here. I’ll wait.

Here’s the second GMATPrep® problem from that set:

“If *x*² = 2*y*³ and 2*y* = 4, what is the value of *x*² + *y* ?

“(A) –14

“(B) –2

“(C) 3

“(D) 6

“(E) 18”

Let’s discuss!

At first glance, this one does look like it might be a Working Backwards Problem Solving problem: the answers are pretty nice integers.

But! What’s the issue? Why *wouldn’t* we actually want to work backwards on this one?

Look at the question stem:

The strategy works really well when the question asks you for one discrete variable—not when it asks you for a combo (combination of variables), as in this problem.

Why? Try it out. Let’s say that *x*² + *y* = 6 (answer D). What are the values for *x* and *y* individually? Or even *x*² and *y* individually?

There are a lot of possibilities. I don’t want to try a lot of possibilities. I’m lazy; I want to get this Problem Solving problem done as easily as possible! So working backwards isn’t a good approach on this one.

What should I do instead? One of the equations is super easy: 2*y* = 4. Now I know that *y* = 2, and the problem is a whole lot easier to approach.

Plug *y* = 2 into the other equation and…wait.

Reflect a little more. What else do you need to know in order to answer the question?

*x*². Not *x*! So don’t solve for *x*; instead, solve for *x*². Don’t do more work than you have to do.

*x*² = 2*y*³

*x*² = 2(2)³

*x*² = 2(8)

*x*² = 16

Finally, find the value of *x*² + *y*.

*x*² + *y*

16 + 2 = 18

The correct answer is (E).

What did you learn on this Problem Solving problem? Think about your own takeaways before reading mine below.

One more question: Where do you think the wrong answers came from? They’re not random—they were chosen because they represent some kind of specific mistake that people are likely to make. If you can spot how the wrong answer was created, you are arming yourself against making those kinds of mistakes yourself.

In this case, let’s say that you did solve all the way for *x*. And then maybe you forget that they wanted *x*² + *y*—so you solve just for *x* + *y*. That’s 6, or trap answer (D).

And if you do solve for *x*, then you’d actually get *x* = 4 and –4. And –4 + 2 = –2, aka trap answer (B).

Trap answer (A) appears to come from adding –16 and 2, so that would be a couple of mistakes (because when you square –4, you should get a positive value, not a negative one).

I haven’t figured out where trap answer (C), 3, comes from. If you’ve got any ideas, share them in the comments.

The big takeaway for me on these wrong answers: Multiple of them revolve around solving all the way for *x* rather than solving for *x*². In other words, besides saving time, I’m also saving myself from making careless mistakes when I pause and make sure that I’m solving only for exactly what I need on this GMAT problem, not for what a math teacher would make me do.

(1) If the question asks for a combo (combination of variables), then working backwards probably won’t be a good strategy. Look for another angle.

(2) When a question does ask for a combo, think about how to solve directly for the entire combo or, at the least, for “chunks” of the combo. Don’t just auto-solve for all of the individual variables, the way you were taught in school.

(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:

**Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously.**

**Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California.** Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

The post Know the GMAT Code: Work Backwards on Problem Solving Problems (Part 2) appeared first on GMAT.

]]>The post How to Turn GMAT Word Problems into Equations appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! **Check out our upcoming courses here**.*

**GMAT word problems, like the ones from the Official Guide to the GMAT, usually come with explanations. A lot of those explanations start by turning the word problem into equations. Starting with the equations can make an explanation easy to understand: if the equations match up to what the problem says, then the explanation makes sense. **

Unfortunately, it can also make an explanation look like a magic trick. When you had to *do* the problem, how on earth were you supposed to think of the right equation? What makes an equation the right one, anyways?

In simplest terms, an equation is just two pieces of math with an equals sign in between them.

5*x + *10*y *= 500

In GMAT word problems, those two pieces of math have to match up with something in the real world. In fact, they both have to match up with the *same* real-world thing. The two sides of the equation have to talk about the exact same thing in two different ways.

For example, suppose that a school play makes a total revenue of $500. You can express the revenue using the number 500.

Another way to express the revenue is to split it up by ticket types. For instance, if the only types of tickets sold were children’s tickets and adult tickets, then this is also a good way to express the revenue:

*revenue from children’s tickets *+ *revenue from adult tickets*

We now have two ways of describing the exact same thing, so we can create a good equation:

*revenue from children’s tickets *+* revenue from adult tickets *= 500

Depending on what information the problem gives you, this probably isn’t a very useful equation. Most GMAT equations are more complex. For instance, the problem might tell you that *x* children’s tickets were sold, and that each one cost $5. *y* adult tickets were also sold at $10 each. That gives you another way of writing out the total revenue:

5*x* + 10*y*

Because 5*x* + 10*y* describes the same thing (total revenue) as the number 500, this is a good equation:

5*x* + 10*y* = 500

This might seem basic. And it is! But it’s often the most basic things that are the toughest to really understand. When you write an easy equation, it might just seem obvious, and you can’t really explain why you wrote what you wrote. That makes it hard to handle much tougher equations that do require a lot of thought and explanation.

Let’s create an equation from some more complicated text.

Jordan planned to fold exactly 10 paper roses per day between now and his mother’s birthday in order to complete her birthday gift. Instead, he only folded an average of 7 roses per day until the very last day, when he had to fold 43 roses in one day to finish the gift. How many roses did Jordan fold in total?

In order to create an equation, we’ll have to find two different ways of talking about the same value. In this case, the number of roses that Jordan folded would be a good value to work with: it’s right there in the question.

One way to talk about the total number of roses is by looking at Jordan’s original plan. If he planned to fold 10 roses per day, then one way to write the total number of roses is:

10(days)

Now, let’s find another way to describe the total number of roses. When Jordan actually started folding roses, he did one thing until the last day, and then did something different on the very last day. That gives us a good way to divide up the number of roses:

*roses folded before the last day *+ *roses folded on the last day*

On the last day, he folded 43 roses. Before the last day, he folded 7 roses per day, or a total of 7(days – 1) roses. So, here’s a second way to write about the total number of roses:

7(days – 1) + 43

Since we now have two ways of talking about the total number of roses, we can put an equals sign between them and create an equation.

10*d* = 7(*d* – 1) + 43

If you solve that equation, you’ll find the number of days Jordan spent on the project, which will let you calculate the number of roses. (It’s 120).

Let’s do one more. This time, you’ll need two equations.

Marisha recently completed a 300-mile road trip at an average speed of 50 mph. For the first part of the trip, she drove at a speed of 40 mph. For the second part of the trip, she drove at a speed of 70 mph. How many hours of the trip were spent driving at 70 mph?

We could start by finding two different ways to talk about the total distance, or two different ways to talk about the total time. (We can’t start with the speed, because you can’t just do arithmetic with speeds—going 40 mph and then 70 mph isn’t the same thing as going 110 mph!)

We already know one way to express the total distance: 300 miles.

Another way to express the distance would involve splitting the trip into two parts:

*distance of the first part + distance of the second part*

We don’t know exactly how long the two parts of the trip were, though, so we’ll need to find a way to describe them in terms of what we *do* know.

If Marisha drove at 40 mph for the first part of the trip, then the total distance she covered was as follows:

(40 mph)(hours for first part of trip)

And if she drove at 70 mph for the second part of the trip, the distance she covered was as follows:

(70 mph)(hours for second part of trip)

So another way of writing the total distance is like this:

(40 mph)(hours for first part of trip) + (70 mph)(hours for second part of trip)

We now have two different ways of writing the total distance, so we have an equation!

(40 mph)(hours for first part of trip) + (70 mph)(hours for second part of trip) = 300

However, we aren’t quite finished. We have *two* variables, so we’ll need a second equation. That’s where the total time comes in. One way to express the total time is by just giving the number of hours: 6 hours. The other way is by splitting it up into two parts:

hours for first part of trip + hours for second part of trip = 6

Now we have a system of equations! It looks like this:

40x + 70y = 300

x + y = 6

The first equation gives two ways of talking about the total distance of the trip. The second equation gives two ways of talking about the total time of the trip. By combining them, it’s possible to solve. (The answer to the question is 2 hours.)

Try reframing how you think about equations in GMAT word problems. The right equation is always right for a reason—because both sides of the equation talk about the same real-world quantity. You don’t have to come up with that equation instantly, either. It’s okay to build an equation up from smaller pieces, just like we did here.

*Want more guidance from our GMAT gurus? You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free! We’re not kidding. **Check out our upcoming courses here**.*

**Chelsey Cooley is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Seattle, Washington.** *Chelsey always followed her heart when it came to her education. Luckily, her heart led her straight to the perfect background for GMAT and GRE teaching: she has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and history, a master’s degree in linguistics, a 790 on the GMAT, and a perfect 170/170 on the GRE. **Check out Chelsey’s upcoming GRE prep offerings here.*

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]]>The post MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Open Waitlist is Not a Flood! appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*What have you been told about applying to business school? With the advent of chat rooms, blogs, and forums, armchair “experts” often unintentionally propagate MBA admissions myths, which can linger and undermine an applicant’s confidence. Some applicants are led to believe that schools want a specific “type” of candidate and expect certain GMAT scores and GPAs, for example. Others are led to believe that they need to know alumni from their target schools and/or get a letter of reference from the CEO of their firm in order to get in. In this series, **mbaMission** debunks these and other myths and strives to take the anxiety out of the admissions process.*

Have you heard the following admissions myth?

*When a school that has placed you on its open waitlist says that it wants no more information from you, this is some kind of “test,” and you should supply additional materials anyway.*

As we have discussed in the past, this is patently not true. Similarly, when programs tell their waitlisted candidates they are open to *important* additional communication, such applicants should *not *interpret this to mean *constant* communication. The difference is significant.

As is the case with any open waitlist situation, before you do *anything*, carefully read the waitlist letter you received from the admissions office. Frequently, this will include an FAQ sheet or a hyperlink to one. If the school permits candidates to submit additional information but offers no guidance with respect to quantity, this does not mean that you should start flooding the committee with novel information and materials. If you have another potential recommender who can send a letter that highlights a new aspect of your profile, you can consider having him/her send one in, but you should not start a lobbying campaign with countless alumni and colleagues writing on your behalf.

Similarly, you could send the school an update email monthly, every six weeks, or even every two months—the key is not frequency or volume but materiality. If you have something important to tell the admissions committee that can help shape its perspective on your candidacy (e.g., a new project, a promotion, a new grade, an improved GMAT score, a campus visit), then you should share it. If you do not have such meaningful information to share, then a contrived letter with no real content will not help you. Just because you know others are sending letters, do not feel compelled to send empty correspondences for fear that your fellow candidates might be showing more interest. They just might be identifying themselves negatively via their open waitlist approach.

Take a step back and imagine that you are on the admissions committee; you have one candidate who keeps you up to date with a few thoughtful correspondences and another who bombards you with empty updates, emails, and recommendations that do not offer anything substantive. Which candidate would you choose if a place opened up in your class? When you are on the open waitlist, your goal is to remain in the good graces of the admissions committee. Remember, the committee members already deem you a strong enough candidate to take a place in their class, so be patient and prudent, as challenging as that may be.

*mbaMission offers even more interview advice in our FREE**Interview Primers***,*** which are available for 17 top-ranked business schools.*

*mbaMission** is the leader in MBA admissions consulting with a full-time and comprehensively trained staff of consultants**, all with profound communications and MBA experience. mbaMission has helped thousands of candidates fulfill their dream of attending prominent MBA programs around the world. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 30-minute consultation with one of mbaMission’s senior consultants. **Click here to sign up today.*

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]]>The post Wharton Team-Based Discussion 2018: What to Expect and How to Prepare appeared first on GMAT.

]]>*Each week, we are featuring a series of MBA admissions tips from our exclusive admissions consulting partner, **mbaMission**.*

**The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania sends out Round 2 interview invitations on February 8, and once again, the school is using its Wharton team-based discussion format rather than a traditional admissions interview to evaluate its candidates. Understandably, Wharton applicants get anxious about this atypical interview, because the approach creates a very different dynamic from what one usually encounters in a one-on-one meeting—and with other applicants also in the room, one cannot help but feel less in control of the content and direction of the conversation. Yet despite the uncertainty, here are a few things that interviewees can expect:**

- You will need to arrive at the Wharton team-based discussion with an idea—a response to a challenge that will be presented in your interview invitation.
- Having the best idea is much less important than how you interact with others in the group and communicate your thoughts. So while you should prepare an idea ahead of time, that is only part of what you will be evaluated on.
- Your peers will have prepared their ideas as well. Chances are that ideas will be raised that you know little or nothing about. Do not worry! The admissions committee members are not measuring your topical expertise. Instead, they want to see how you add to the collective output of the team.
- After the Wharton team-based discussion, you will have a short one-on-one session with someone representing Wharton’s admissions team. More than likely, you will be asked to reflect on how the team-based discussion went for you; this will require self-awareness on your part.

To give candidates the opportunity to undergo a realistic test run before experiencing the actual event, we created our **Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation**. Via this simulation, applicants participate anonymously with three to five other MBA candidates in an online conversation, which is moderated by two of our experienced Senior Consultants familiar with Wharton’s format and approach. All participants then receive feedback on their performance, with special focus on their interpersonal skills and communication abilities. The simulation builds confidence by highlighting your role in a team, examining how you communicate your ideas to—and within—a group of (equally talented) peers, and discovering how you react when you are thrown “in the deep end” and have to swim. Our Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation allows you to test the experience so you are ready for the real thing!

The 2018 Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation Round 2 schedule is as follows:

**Group A: Monday, February 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET****Group B: Tuesday, February 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET****Group C: Wednesday, February 14 at 6:00 p.m. ET****Group D: Thursday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m. ET****Group E: Friday, February 16 at 3:00 p.m. ET****Group F: Saturday, February 17 at 11:00 a.m. ET****Group G: Sunday, February 18 at 11:00 a.m. ET****Group H: Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 p.m. ET****Group I: Monday, February 19 at 6:00 p.m. ET****Group J: Tuesday, February 20 at 6:00 p.m. ET****Group K: Tuesday, February 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET**

*To learn more or sign up for a session, visit our**Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation page**.*

*mbaMission**Click here to sign up today.*

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