gre-reading-comprehensionWhy do you hate GRE Reading Comprehension so much? You’re reading and comprehending right now, aren’t you? You read thousands of words every day: status updates, tweets, news articles, emails, reports, books, magazines. In fact, much of the time you LOVE to read, losing yourself for hours in a Harry Potter book or a Stephen King novel. So what’s so bad about reading comp?

I know. I know. “Reading Comp is boring,” you say. Dense. Impenetrable. The subject matter is unfamiliar. The questions are tough. The answers are indistinguishable–either all of them match, or none of them match.

Also, the passages are usually poorly edited excerpts from longer pieces, and therefore lack context, titles, summaries, explanations, and transitions. Often the passages are written for a specific audience (archaeologists, literary theorists, science buffs) and therefore use unfamiliar jargon. You’re thrown in the deep end of the pool, expected to process dense material quickly on a stressful day. No wonder your eyes glaze over and you find yourself reading the same sentences over and over again, getting nothing.

Therefore you do it all wrong. You read and reread, trying to memorize very detail in the passage. You waste tons of time trying to understand the densest, most detailed parts of the passage, losing the thread of the argument. You reread again. In a rush now, you read the question too quickly and spend too much time poring over the answers, searching for evidence of each answer in the passage. When you do that, you find evidence for every answer back in the passage, confusing you even more. You waste time reading again. Finally, you pick something that kind-of matches something in the passage and hope you’re right. You get it right sometimes, but for no rational reason that you can explain.

The cure? You have to develop a systematic but flexible approach that allows you to answer the questions accurately. Then, you need to practice that approach until you’re comfortable and confident.

Here’s the secret. If you spend a lot of time practicing Reading Comp, you will improve your score. That’s it. Just practice. Do questions. Check your answers. Pat yourself on the back when you’re right. Find out why you were wrong when you were wrong. Do more passages. Do old passages again. Repeat.

Again. Be systematic, but be flexible.

How to be systematic:

Every time you do a question, follow these 4 steps. Every time. Never skip a step. These steps should be so ingrained they’re second nature.

1) Read the question.

Understand what the question is really asking. Put the question into your own words. Decide if it’s specific or general.
Identify key words from the question to go hunt for back in the passage.

2) Go back to the passage. Read what you need.

For general questions, you’ll have to quickly read the whole thing, focusing on main points, opinions, and structural clues, while ignoring the specific details.

For detail questions, you have to go back and find the specific information that answers the question. Use key words from the question to guide your hunt. Read a few lines above and a few lines below that key word.

Continue Reading…

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All Manhattan Prep instructors earn $100/hour for teaching and tutoring – up to four times the industry standard. These are part-time positions with flexible hours, allowing you to pursue other career interest. Many of our instructors maintain full-time positions, engage in entrepreneurial endeavors, or pursue advanced degrees concurrently while teaching for Manhattan Prep. (To learn more about our exceptional instructors, read their bios or view this short video).

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About Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep is a premier test-preparation company serving students and young professionals studying for the GMAT (business school), LSAT (law school), GRE (master’s and PhD programs), and SAT (undergraduate programs). We are the leading provider of GMAT prep in the world.

Manhattan Prep conducts in-person classes and private instruction across the United States, Canada, and England. Our online courses are available worldwide, and our acclaimed Strategy Guides are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. In addition, Manhattan Prep serves an impressive roster of corporate clients, including many Fortune 500 companies. For more information, visit www.manhattanprep.com.

gre-reading-comprehensionImagine 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 has found reasons to like all of them and she has overlooked any reasons not to like them. Tina, however, was looking for reasons not to date these guys, so she notices these dealbreaker flaws. She has managed to whittle the list down to one person whose personality matched hers.

Of course in real life, dating is subjective, and what might be a dealbreaker for one person might be fine for someone else! On GRE Reading Comprehension, 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 GRE, 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 choosing 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!

Take a moment to read the following passage*:

Continue Reading…

free-greDo you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan Prep’s GRE live online Complete Courses (an $899 value).

These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their MBA to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan GRE’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline is fast approaching: June 27, 2014! 

Learn more about the SVS program and apply to be one of our Social Venture Scholars here.

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gre-strategy-guidesThe Manhattan Prep team is pleased to announce the new edition of our popular set of eight GRE® Strategy Guides, available now. All are content-driven and written by real GRE® instructors. Used individually or as a set, these guides will help you develop all the knowledge, skills, and strategic thinking necessary for success on the GRE®!

This comprehensive set covers every topic tested on the GRE® revised General Test, with many practice problems and more pages per topic than all-in-one books. All eight of the books have been updated. Here are some of the details:

Word Problems: Newly expanded rate problem chapter, now detailing various rate scenarios that can appear on the test. Build your understanding of ratios, statistics, probability, and more. Learn to classify and most efficiently solve these challenging GRE® math questions.

Reading Comprehension & Essays: Revised strategy chapters for note-taking and Argument Structure passages. Practice with many Reading Comprehension passages and questions. Optimize your Essay performance with clear ground rules and recommendations.

Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence: Six newly updated drill sets with complete explanations, including definitions. Study over 1,000 vocabulary words, made memorable with usage examples.

In addition, you’ll get six free online practice exams with the purchase of any Strategy Guide, including answers, explanations, scores, and assessment tools.

We are eager for students to start using these new practice materials. We hope you are as excited about these books as we are.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our last open house on May 21st to learn about the rewarding teaching opportunities with Manhattan Prep. We’re gearing up again for another great event – and we would like to extend an invitation for you to join us for our next online open house on June 22nd. Here’s the scoop:

We are seeking expert teachers throughout the US who have proven their mastery of the GMAT, GRE or LSAT and who can engage students of all ability levels. Our instructors teach in classroom and one-on-one settings, both in-person and online. We provide extensive, paid training and a full suite of print and digital instructional materials. Moreover, we encourage the development and expression of unique teaching styles..

All Manhattan Prep instructors earn $100/hour for teaching and tutoring – up to four times the industry standard. These are part-time positions with flexible hours. Many of our instructors maintain full-time positions, engage in entrepreneurial endeavors, or pursue advanced degrees concurrently while teaching for Manhattan Prep. (To learn more about our exceptional instructors, read their bios or view this short video.

Learn about how to transform your passion for teaching into a lucrative and fulfilling part-time career by joining us for this Online Open House event!

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About Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep is a premier test-preparation company serving students and young professionals studying for the GMAT (business school), LSAT (law school), GRE (master’s and PhD programs), and SAT (undergraduate programs). We are the leading provider of GMAT prep in the world.

Manhattan Prep conducts in-person classes and private instruction across the United States, Canada, and England. Our online courses are available worldwide, and our acclaimed Strategy Guides are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. In addition, Manhattan Prep serves an impressive roster of corporate clients, including many Fortune 500 companies. For more information, visit www.manhattanprep.com.

gre-vocabularyOne of my favorite ways to learn vocabulary is to sort my vocabulary words into various categories. Somehow, searching my mind for ways to group them together really helps them to stick with me in a way that flashcards and sentences sometimes don’t.

The GRE has done a good job, if you can believe it, at reducing the number of antiquated, profession-based words on the exam. But because those words get used often and have a pronounced place in literature, they probably won’t leave vocabulary tests completely any time soon.

In this article, we’ll review ten words related to clothing. It’s important to remember that most of these words, if they show up on your test, won’t be used in sentences about clothing. They are more likely to be used in a comparison to something similar, as part of a simile or metaphor.

(1) Mantle. A mantle is a loose, sleeveless cloak or covering, generally worn by a woman. It’s something that covers the whole body like a blanket. Because of that, it’s second meaning is that a mantle is some broad or important role that is passed down from one person to another. “Mantle” is also a verb, which means to cover completely or envelop.

I generally picture an important cloth robe, such as the robe of a shaman or town elder, which covers the person entirely and will be passed down from family member to family member. That image bundles together all the definitions of “mantle” for me and helps me keep them clear in my mind.

(2) Poncho. A poncho is a blanket-like shawl worn over the shoulders, sometimes made of plastic in order to keep away rain. Its key quality is that it covers something up, which is the quality that’s likely to be referenced in a metaphor.

(3) Raiment. “Raiment” is just another word for “clothing”. It is most likely to be used literally, but could also be used to describe the covering or costume on something in a metaphorical way. This is a good word to memorize because it is a tough one to “figure out” during the test – not a lot of roots or other similar words to tie it to.

(4) Unravel. To unravel something means to unwind it so that it comes apart, like you would do with a spool of thread or a piece of cloth. While “unravel” is often used literally, it’s perhaps more often used more metaphorically to mean “come undone” in the sense of a plan or someone’s mental health “coming apart at the seams”, to use another clothing-derived expression.

Annoyingly, the word “ravel” means “to unravel something”. Yikes. It also means to tangle, knot, or complicate it. As a noun, a “ravel” is a tangle or cluster.

(5) Sartorial. “Sartorial” is an adjective meaning having to do with tailoring, clothes, style or fashion. If someone has a sartorial flair, for example, he or she has a flair for style and clothing. I am a big fan of the website The Sartorialist, where a respected fashion photographer photographers people with unique style and tailoring the world over. Checking it out might help you remember what this word means!

(6) Millinery. Specifically, “millinery” means “women’s hats”, or the business of making or selling women’s hats. Talk about something we don’t need a word for. Not the world’s most common GRE word, but if it shows up, it’s fairly hard to guess or figure out that specific meaning if you don’t already know it.

(7) Pleat. A pleat is a fold stitched into cloth, such as you would have in a pleated skirt. The word “pleat” can be used metaphorically to mean fold or crease in something other than cloth. For example, mountain ridges could pleat the landscape.

(8) Plait. A plait is a braid. While you commonly see braids on cloth made of ribbon, cord, or string, you can braid everything from hair to bread dough. When you realize that to braid means to wind, weave, or tie together, you can see how this word is often used metaphorically: you can plait together ideas, concepts, or words, among other things.

(9) Sheathe. A sheath is the protective cover that holds a weapon such as a knife or sword, and to sheathe something is to put it in such a protective covering. The verb “sheathe” is often used metaphorically to mean put something “sharp” or dangerous in a covering so that it can’t do any damage or have any effect. For example, you might want to sheathe your razor-sharp wit when you are in court, or sheathe your sharp tongue when talking to your child’s vice principal.

(10) Ragamuffin. Growing up, I spent lots of time with my grandmother, who is turning 90 in two weeks, so I definitely know the definition of “ragamuffin”, because I was called one all the time. A ragamuffin is someone, usually a child, dressed in ragged or messy clothes. Someone who’s unkempt (which is another GRE word). A guttersnipe, if you want another weird word.

Picture the orphans from “Annie” or the street kids from “Oliver Twist” and you’ll have a good idea what a ragamuffin is. Or, in my grandmother’s world, anyone with holes in their jeans or wearing (gasp!) a sweatshirt.

Can you think of any other GRE words that have to do with clothing? Share them in the comments!

Please join us for an exciting, online open house to learn about the rewarding teaching opportunities with Manhattan Prep.

We are seeking expert teachers throughout the US who have proven their mastery of the GMAT, GRE or LSAT and who can engage students of all ability levels. Our instructors teach in classroom and one-on-one settings, both in-person and online. We provide extensive, paid training and a full suite of print and digital instructional materials. Moreover, we encourage the development and expression of unique teaching styles..

All Manhattan Prep instructors earn $100/hour for teaching and tutoring – up to four times the industry standard.  These are part-time positions with flexible hours. Many of our instructors maintain full-time positions, engage in entrepreneurial endeavors, or pursue advanced degrees concurrently while teaching for Manhattan Prep.  (To learn more about our exceptional instructors, read their bios or view this short video.

Learn about how to transform your passion for teaching into a lucrative and fulfilling part-time career by joining us for this Online Open House event!

To attend this free event, please select from one of the following online events and follow the on-screen instructions:

Wednesday, 5/21 from 9 – 10pm ET
To teach the LSAT at Manhattan Prep:
To teach the GMAT at Manhattan Prep:
To teach the GRE at Manhattan Prep:
Sunday, 6/22 from 8 – 9pm ET
To teach the LSAT at Manhattan Prep:
To teach the GMAT at Manhattan Prep:
To teach the GRE at Manhattan Prep:

About Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep is a premier test-preparation company serving students and young professionals studying for the GMAT (business school), LSAT (law school), GRE (master’s and PhD programs), and SAT (undergraduate programs).  We are the leading provider of GMAT prep in the world.

Manhattan Prep conducts in-person classes and private instruction across the United States, Canada, and England.  Our online courses are available worldwide, and our acclaimed Strategy Guides are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  In addition, Manhattan Prep serves an impressive roster of corporate clients, including many Fortune 500 companies.  For more information, visit www.manhattanprep.com.

Back_to_SchoolHopefully there are a lot of GRE words you learned in school – particularly because lots of GRE words come from literature, science, mathematics, music and art, and foreign languages. You probably even studied many of them when and if you studied for the SAT and ACT.

But some GRE vocab words aren’t learned in the school curriculum, but in the language of school itself. Here are fifteen words whose content is related to school.

 

(1) Expel. Most of us know the word “expel” in terms of school – the greatest threat a school has to offer is to expel you, or kick you out.

That’s the context in which we’re used to hearing “expel”, but it could apply any time someone is deprived of his or her membership or even anytime something is removed, gotten rid of, or thrown out. You can expel a gum wrapper from your car window, or expel a drunkard from a bar, for example.

(2) Punctuate. You probably remember learning about punctuation, marks such as commas or periods that you put within text. So yes, to punctuate something means to add punctuation to it. But it also means to occur at intervals throughout a period of time, or to be peppered with.

For example, US history has been punctuated by the passing of Constitutional amendments. They happen sometimes, and when they do, they interrupt or change the course of history. Someone’s speech can be punctuated with curse words, or someone’s life can be punctuated by bad break-ups.

(3) Tardy. “Tardy” is a word I’ve never heard used outside of a school setting. My high school, and all other high schools I know of, didn’t mark you “late”: they marked you “tardy”. Tardy means delayed or late, but it’s not just students who can be tardy. You can send a tardy reply to an email, or a bus can make a tardy arrival at the bus stop.

(4) Valediction. Most of us know that the valedictorian is the student with the best GPA, but that’s sort of a coincidence. That student is not called the valedictorian because he or she has the best grades – he or she is called the valedictorian because he or she gives the valedictory, or valediction, at the graduation ceremony (and is chosen for that job because of his or her good grades).

So what’s a valediction? That “diction” root should tell you it has something to do with speech, and it does – it’s a saying of goodbye. The valediction speech at graduation is a spoken goodbye to high school. So if you wave to someone in valediction, for example, you’re waving goodbye.
Continue Reading…

gmat square root

Have you ever gotten a GRE question wrong because you thought you were supposed to take a square root and get two different numbers but the answer key said only the positive root counted? Alternatively, have you ever gotten one wrong because you took the square root and wrote down just the positive root but the answer key said that, this time, both the positive and the negative root counted? What’s going on here?

There are a couple of rules we need to keep straight in terms of how standardized tests (including the GRE) deal with square roots. The Official Guide does detail these rules, but enough students have found the explanation confusing – and have complained to us about it – that we decided to write an article to clear everything up.

Doesn’t the OG say that we’re only supposed to take the positive root?

Sometimes this is true – but not always. This is where the confusion arises. Here’s a quote from the OG 2nd edition, page 212:

“All positive numbers have two square roots, one positive and one negative.”

Hmm. Okay, so that makes it seem like we always should take two roots, not just the positive one. Later in the same paragraph, though, the book says:

“The symbol √n is used to denote the nonnegative square root of the nonnegative number n.”

Translation: when there’s a square root symbol given with an actual number underneath it – not a variable – then we should take only the positive root. This is confusing because, although they’re not talking about variables, they use the letter n in the example. In this instance, even though they use the letter n, they define n as a “nonnegative number” – that is, they have already removed the possibility that n could be negative, so n is not really a variable.

If I ask you for the value of √9, then the answer is 3, but not -3. That leads us to our first rule.

Rule #1: √9 = 3 only, not -3

If the problem gives you an actual number below that square root symbol, then take only the positive root.

Note that there are no variables in that rule. Let’s insert one: √9 = x. What is x? In this case, x = 3, because whenever we take the square root of an actual number, we take only the positive root; the rule doesn’t change.

Okay, what if I change the problem to this: √x = 3. Now what is x? In this case, x = 9, but not -9. How do we know? Try plugging the actual number back into the problem. √9 does equal 3. What does √-9 equal? Nothing – we’re not allowed to have negative signs underneath square root signs, so √-9 doesn’t work.

Just as an aside, if the test did want us to take the negative root of some positive number under a square root sign, they’d give us this: -√9. First, we’d take the square root of 9 to get 3 and then that negative sign would still be hanging out there. Voilà! We have -3.

What else does the OG say?

Here’s the second source of confusion on this topic in the OG. On the same page of the book (212), right after the quotes that I gave up above, we have a table showing various rules and examples, and these rules seem to support the idea that we should always take the positive root and only the positive root. Note something very important though: the table is introduced with the text “where a > 0 and b > 0.” In other words, everything in the table is only true when we already know that the numbers are positive! In that case, of course we only want to take the positive values!

What if we don’t already know that the numbers in question are positive? That brings us to our second and third rules.

Rule #2: x2 = 9 means x = 3, x = -3

How are things different in this example? We no longer have a square root sign – here, we’re dealing with an exponent. If we square the number 3, we get 9. If we square the number -3, we also get 9. Therefore, both numbers are possible values for x, because both make the equation true.

Mathematically, we would say that x = 3 or x = -3. If you’re doing a Quantitative Comparison problem, think of it this way: either one is a possible value for x, so both have to be considered possible values when comparing Quantity A to Quantity B.

Rule #3: √(x)2 = 3 means x = 3, x = -3

Okay, we’re back to our square root sign, but we also have an exponent this time! Now what? Do we take only the positive root, because we have a square root sign? Or do we take both positive and negative roots, because we have an exponent?

First, solve for the value of x: square both sides of √(x)2 = 3 to get x2 = 9. Take the square root to get x = 3, x = -3 (as in our rule #2).

If you’re not sure that rule #2 (take both roots) should apply, try plugging the two numbers into the given equation, √x2 = 3, and see whether they make the equation true. If we plug 3 into the equation √x2 = 3, we get: √(3)2 = 3. Is this true? Yes: √(3)2 = √9 and that does indeed equal 3.

Now, try plugging -3 into the equation: √(-3)2= 3. We have a negative under the square root sign, but we also have parentheses with an exponent. Follow the order of operations: square the number first to get √9. No more negative number under the exponent! Finishing off the problem, we get √9 and once again that does equal 3, so -3 is also a possible value for x. The variable x could equal 3 or -3.

How am I going to remember all that?

Notice something: the first example has either a real number or a plain variable (no exponent) under the square root sign. In both circumstances, we solve only for the positive value of the root, not the negative one.

The second and third examples both include an exponent. Our second rule doesn’t include any square root symbol at all – if we have only exponents, no roots at all, then we can have both positive and negative roots. Our third rule does have a square root symbol, but it also has an exponent. In cases like this, we have to check the math just as we did in the above example. First, we solve for both solutions and then we plug both back into the original equation. Any answer that “works,” or gives us a “true” equation, is a valid possible solution.

Takeaways for Square Roots:

 

(1) If there is an actual number shown under a square root sign, then take only the positive root.

(2) If, on the other hand, there are variables and exponents involved, be careful. If you have only exponents and no square root sign, then take both roots. If you have both an exponent and a square root sign, you’ll have to do the math to see, but there’s still a good chance that both the positive and negative roots will be valid.

(3) If you’re not sure whether to include the negative root, try plugging it back into the original to see whether it produces a “true” answer (such as √(-3)2 = 3) or an “invalid” situation (such as √-9, which doesn’t equal any real number).

* The text excerpted above from The Official Guide to the GRE 2nd Edition is copyright ETS. The short excerpts are quoted under fair-use statutes for scholarly or journalistic work; use of these excerpts does not imply endorsement of this article by ETS.