In the first part of this series, we talked about how to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and in which categories of “low hanging fruit” to concentrate your studies.
We left off talking about timing; let’s talk about how to make better decisions as you take the test. Read more
We’re up to the very last question in the series on the Meteor Stream passage from the free set of practice questions that comes with the GMATPrep® software.
If you haven’t already, go read the first article (linked in the first paragraph); I’m not going to reproduce the full passage here
because it’s so long. When you’re done, keep that passage open in another window and come back here. (Note: you can try the other questions first if you like, or you can come straight back here. Your choice.)
Ready for the question? Give yourself about 1.5 minutes to answer. Read more
I’ve got another installment for you in the series on the meteor streams passage from the free set of practice questions that comes with the GMATPrep® software.
This post contains the 4th of 5 questions that come with the passage. If you haven’t already, go read the first article (linked in the first paragraph); I’m not going to reproduce the full passage here because it’s so long. When you’re done, keep that passage open in another window and come back here. (Note: you can try the other questions first if you like, or you can come straight back here. Your choice.)
Ready for the question? Give yourself about 1.5 minutes to answer. Read more
A couple of years ago, I wrote a small series on the Meteor Stream passage from the free set of practice questions that comes with the GMATPrep® software. A student recently mentioned how useful he found the discussion regarding how to handle all the technical language in a science passage, and I realized that there’s more we can do with this passage! Read more
I’ve just finished trying all of the new verbal OG problems. (If you haven’t yet read my earlier installments, start here.) This installment includes my summary of All Things Verbal as well as lists of the new problems by book and question type.
Also, we’re hard at work writing new solutions to add to our GMAT Navigator program, so if you have access to Navigator, you can start to check for new solutions there in—best guess—July.
What’s new in Verbal?
Now that I’ve seen everything, I’ve been able to spot some trends across all of the added and dropped questions. For example, across both The Official Guide for GMAT® Review (aka the big book) and The Official Guide for GMAT® Verbal Review (aka verbal-only or the verbal supplement), 6 science passages were added (out of 11 new passages total), while only 3 were dropped. In addition, 3 social science passages were added (compared to 5 dropped) and 2 business passages were added (compared to 2 dropped).
So, in the books at least, there’s a slight shift towards science. It’s unclear whether this signals an actual change in emphasis on the test, though; these may just be the best retired passages that they wanted to use.
For Critical Reasoning, the same total number of questions were added and dropped. The differential (added minus dropped) for Strengthen questions was +8. Further, 6 of the 22 total new Strengthen questions are fill in the blank (FitB) format, and no new FiTB’s were introduced that were not Strengthen questions.
The differential for Weaken questions was -8 and for Inference questions, it was -4. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the drop in Weaken. I’ve been hearing from students that they’ve been seeing a lot of Strengthen / Weaken on the real test and not many (CR) Inference questions. The Strengthen jump and the small Inference drop seems to go along with that, but not the larger Weaken drop. (This is why I’m always skeptical about drawing broader conclusions based on changes in the books.)
As I mentioned in my first report on Sentence Correction (part 2 of this series), it is difficult to compare categories here because one SC can (and usually does) cross multiple topics. The trends I reported before still hold after my review of the Verbal supplement: meaning and sentence structure are increasingly important, and parallelism and comparisons are just as important as they’ve always been.
Ready for the problem lists?
We’re going to kill two birds with one stone in this week’s article.
Inference questions pop up on both Critical Reasoning (CR) and Reading Comprehension (RC), so you definitely want to master these. Good news: the kind of thinking the test-writers want is the same for both question types. Learn how to do Inference questions on one type and you’ll know what you need to do for the other!
That’s actually only one bird. Here’s the second: both CR and RC can give you science-based text, and that science-y text can get pretty confusing. How can you avoid getting sucked into the technical detail, yet still be able to answer the question asked? Read on.
Try this GMATPrep® CR problem out (it’s from the free practice tests) and then we’ll talk about it. Give yourself about 2 minutes (though it’s okay to stretch to 2.5 minutes on a CR as long as you are making progress.)
“Increases in the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the human bloodstream lower bloodstream cholesterol levels by increasing the body’s capacity to rid itself of excess cholesterol. Levels of HDL in the bloodstream of some individuals are significantly increased by a program of regular exercise and weight reduction.
“Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the statements above?
“(A) Individuals who are underweight do not run any risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
“(B) Individuals who do not exercise regularly have a high risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream late in life.
“(C) Exercise and weight reduction are the most effective methods of lowering bloodstream cholesterol levels in humans.
“(D) A program of regular exercise and weight reduction lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of some individuals.
“(E) Only regular exercise is necessary to decrease cholesterol levels in the bloodstream of individuals of average weight.”
Got an answer? (If not, pick one anyway. Pretend it’s the real test and just make a guess.) Before we dive into the solution, let’s talk a little bit about what Inference questions are asking us to do.
Inference questions are sometimes also called Draw a Conclusion questions. I don’t like that title, though, because it can be misleading. Think about a typical CR argument: they usually include a conclusion that is…well…not a solid conclusion. There are holes in the argument, and then they ask you to Strengthen it or Weaken it or something like that.
We’ve done a lot of RC over the years, but a passage contains so much text that I rarely do a full passage with all of its questions.
We’re going to remedy that, starting today! First, we’ll talk about the passage below (from the free problem set that comes with GMATPrep®). Then, we’ll tackle the series of questions that comes with it.
Give yourself approximately 2.5 to 3 minutes to read the below and make yourself a light Passage Map.
* ” The modern multinational corporation is described as having originated when the owner-managers of nineteenth-century British firms carrying on international trade were replaced by teams of salaried managers organized into hierarchies. Increases in the volume of transactions in such firms are commonly believed to have necessitated this structural change. Nineteenth-century inventions like the steamship and the telegraph, by facilitating coordination of managerial activities, are described as key factors. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century chartered trading companies, despite the international scope of their activities, are usually considered irrelevant to this discussion: the volume of their transactions is assumed to have been too low and the communications and transport of their day too primitive to make comparisons with modern multinationals interesting.
“In reality, however, early trading companies successfully purchased and outfitted ships, built and operated offices and warehouses, manufactured trade goods for use abroad, maintained trading posts and production facilities overseas, procured goods for import, and sold those goods both at home and in other countries. The large volume of transactions associated with these activities seems to have necessitated hierarchical management structures well before the advent of modern communications and transportation. For example, in the Hudson’s Bay Company, each far-flung trading outpost was managed by a salaried agent, who carried out the trade with the Native Americans, managed day-to-day operations, and oversaw the post’s workers and servants. One chief agent, answerable to the Court of Directors in London through the correspondence committee, was appointed with control over all of the agents on the bay.
“The early trading companies did differ strikingly from modern multinationals in many respects. They depended heavily on the national governments of their home countries and thus characteristically acted abroad to promote national interests. Their top managers were typically owners with a substantial minority share, whereas senior managers’ holdings in modern multinationals are usually insignificant. They operated in a preindustrial world, grafting a system of capitalist international trade onto a premodern system of artisan and peasant production. Despite these differences, however, early trading companies organized effectively in remarkably modern ways and merit further study as analogues of more modern structures.”
What did you get out of the passage? My thoughts (by paragraph) are on the left and my notes are on the right:
They manage to pick such interesting topics for RC, don’t they? It’s always the kind of thing you’d choose to read at home in your free time!
Wait. No, that’s not quite right. But the topics are relevant to business school… well, occasionally. Hmm.
So, let me get this straight. They’re going to give me somewhat obscure, very dense topics with very complicated ideas and sentence structures. I’m going to have about 3 minutes to read such a passage, and then I have to start answering questions about the material. That’s completely artificial; it would never happen in the real world!
Actually, yes it will. You’re going to do case studies in business school. You often won’t be given enough time to read through every last detail carefully; instead, you’ll have to figure out what’s important and concentrate on those pieces, while putting together a framework for the main ideas and the big changes in direction or opinion.
At work, you’re often going to have to make decisions based upon incomplete information. At times, you’ll have a ton of information—and not enough time to review it all before you have to take action. These situations are far from rare in the real world.
So when you find yourself a bit unmotivated because you know you’ve got to study boring RC today, remind yourself that RC will actually help you develop much-needed skills for business school and beyond!
The Master List
I’ve put together what I’m calling the Master Resource List for this question type. A couple of disclaimers. First, this list includes only free resources, no paid ones. There are a lot of good resources out there that cost some money—they’re just not on this list!
Second, this list is limited to my own articles. I’m not trying to claim that only my articles are good enough to make such a list—far from it. I’m most familiar with my own articles, so that’s what I’m using. And, okay, I will admit that I think the Manhattan GMAT RC process is the best one out there. But I’m biased. : )
How To Read
Before you dive into individual question types, it’s critical to know some overall processes for Reading Comp, starting with how to read! You already know how to read in general, of course. I’m talking about How To Read RC.
Imagine two friends, Gina and Tina, who are going to a speed-dating event. Gina really, really wants a boyfriend. Tina is just going because Gina dragged her there, and she’s only willing to date someone who is perfect for her.
At the event, Gina finds herself liking every guy that she meets: Guy #1 is smart and successful, so it makes sense that he’s proud of his accomplishments. Guy #2 is really funny and clever. The waiter just didn’t understand his jokes. Tina, on the other hand, has a very different impression of these guys: Guy 1 has been bragging about himself the whole time, and seems arrogant. Guy 2 thinks he’s funny, but he’s actually being cruel and making fun of people.
At the end of the event, Gina can’t decide which of the guys she likes best, because she’s found reasons to like all of them and she’s overlooked any reasons not to like them. Tina, however, was looking for reasons not to date these guys, so she noticed the dealbreaker flaws. She manages to whittle the list down to one guy whose personality matched hers.
Of course, dating is subjective, and what might be a dealbreaker for one person might be fine for someone else. On the GMAT, though, there are definitive right and wrong answers, and we have to learn how to spot the wrong ones.
Look for Dealbreakers
When it comes to Reading Comprehension on the GMAT, you want to act like Tina, not Gina! You will often be presented with questions whose answer choices all seem to have appealing qualities. If you’re looking for what makes an answer right, you may overlook certain critical flaws, and talk yourself into a wrong answer. If you’re looking for what makes an answer wrong, though, you’re a lot more likely to notice those deal-breaking flaws!