Manhattan Prep GRE Blog

Brand New: GRE Vocab in Brand Names

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gre-words-vocabularyI have a confession: I really don’t like learning vocab. I’m also not particularly good at learning it. So to score in the 99th percentile on the GRE, I really had to pull out all the stops.

Sometimes you’ll see a GRE word that you recognize, but won’t know what it means. If you recognize it as a brand name, but don’t know what it means, chances are it means something good: most brands don’t want to be named after something bad. (There are certainly exceptions: the website Gawker comes to mind.)

Here are 15 GRE words that are also brand names. Sometimes the brand name comes from the definition, and sometimes not. But maybe associating them with their brand will help you remember what they mean!

1.     Kindle. To kindle something means to spark it, or light it on fire. You probably already know the word “kindling”, but if not, think of the Kindle e-reader, designed to spark your imagination with all your reading at your fingertips.

2.     Hedonism. A hedonist is someone who seeks out pleasure. It’s often associated with the ideas of being overly focused on pleasure, particularly in relation to physical pleasure. A quick glance at the web page of Hedonism Resorts, an adults-only all-inclusive Carribbean resort with devil horns on its logo, might help you remember this word.

3.     Lampoon. National Lampoon mocks things. It makes fun of them. The magazine has spun off movies such as “Animal House” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Hopefully that will help you remember that to “lampoon” something means to make fun of something with sarcasm.

4.     Intrepid. Intrepid means fearless. It describes an adventurer. So it makes sense that Dodge would want to name a car after that characteristic, considering other Dodge models include the Avenger, Challenger, Charger, and Journey. (The name Dodge itself is a family name – otherwise it would be a pretty odd choice for a company so interested in naming things after bravery.)

5.     Amazon. Probably everyone knows Amazon as an online marketplace (and, of course, as a huge forest in South America). Jeff Bezos has said that he chose the name Amazon in part because he wanted his store to be “exotic and different” like the Amazon itself. The word Amazon refers to a strong, statuesque woman, as it was the mythological name of a group of women warriors. The forest is named Amazon because of the women who fought in battle there, but thinking of the website Amazon might help you think of something powerful and strong.

6.     Balderdash. Balderdash is a pretty well-known board game where players must make up definitions of words and try to trick other players into voting for their definition over the real one. It’s well-named, as “balderdash” means nonsense. That’s exactly what the game has everyone writing!

7.     Fiat. Another car makes the list. A fiat, by definition, is a decree. It’s often applied to an authorization of power. Fiat is a large Italian automobile manufacturer, and while the name wasn’t intended this way (it’s actually an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino), I use the brand name to help me remember that the word means a decree. Maybe your fancy Italian car is a decree of your power, and your ability to do what you want because you say so.

8.     Bazaar. Bazaar is a popular women’s fashion magazine, showcasing the best products from around the world. That may help you to remember that a bazaar is a large market with all kinds of eclectic and interesting offerings.

9.     Fidelity. Fidelity means faithfulness and loyalty. What better name would you want for a bank? Even better, Fidelty’s advertisements use the full name, “Fidelity Bank and Trust”. Getting the word trust in there really helps cement the link in your brain.

10.  Pedigree. Even if you’ve never purchased dog food, you probably know that Pedigree is a brand of dog food. It’s also a way of marking an animal as purebred through its ancestry records. Your pedigree is your lineage – in layman’s terms, a measure of how fancy you are. What a good name for a food product that’s marketed as a high-quality item for beloved pets.

11.  Prudential. Here’s another well-named “Bank and Trust”! Prudential, like prudent, means making good and careful decisions, particularly relating to money or business. Who wouldn’t want a bank that does that?

12.  Hallmark. Hallmark has worked very hard to remind us, with its gold crown stamp, that Hallmark is the type of card you send “when you care enough to send the very best.” A hallmark is technically a stamp on something showing its quality, but has evolved to mean any literal or figurative mark of quality. In other words, that gold crown stamp is the hallmark of an overpriced greeting card.

13.  Finesse. Do you have finesse? I don’t, in life, but I do under my sink. Finesse is a brand of shampoo and other hair products designed to be delicate on hair and create beautiful results. To have finesse means to have a delicate, subtle, or refined manner in doing something.

14.  Nirvana. Some of you didn’t go to high school in the 1990s, but for those of us who did, the word “Nirvana” is more synonymous with Kurt Cobain than Buddhism. Cobain reportedly picked the name because he wanted something “kind of beautiful or nice or pretty”. Nirvana is a transcendent state free of suffering, free of worldly worries and is often used on the GRE as a synonym for peace. When Nirvana frontman Cobain committed suicide in 1994 after a long battle with depression, the name took on an eerie meaning for many fans.

15.  Essence. Our second magazine on the list, “Essence” is a magazine for African-American women. The essence of something is the indispensable quality that determines its character: the abstract or special quality that makes something what it is. It makes sense that a women’s magazine which set out to empower, inform, and entertain might want to remind its readers of the intrinsic, unique quality that makes them who they are.

What other brand names help you to remember GRE definitions? Share them in the comments — and be sure to like us on Facebook for more GRE fun!

What to do about Test Anxiety

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test-anxietyI want to preface this article by saying that I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or expert in test anxiety. I’m simply a tutor who has helped students prepare for standardized tests for the past 15 years.

Studying math is important. Studying verbal is important. Studying the test itself is important. But what about when you’ve done all that, and you can’t overcome the anxiety that holds you back from achieving your dream score? What about that panic that makes your brain fuzzy? What about the flustered feeling that stops you from showing what you know?

Everyone feels some pressure during the test, but test anxiety may be having a negative impact on your score if any of the following are consistently true for you:

  • Your real exam scores are significantly lower than your practice test scores.
  • When the timer is set, you feel unable to answer a question that is easy for you once the timer is off.
  • You find yourself unable to move forward through a real or practice test and resort to panicked guessing.
  • Many of your practice tests remain uncompleted because you are overwhelmed by pressure during the test and find that you need a break.

Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways. But the good news is that there are many strategies you can use to mitigate test anxiety and improve both your comfort level and your store. Here are a few strategies you can try.

1.     Work small to big. Many times students do their homework one question at a time, and then take a practice test. That’s like going from finding your golf grip to competing in a tournament. No wonder it makes you anxious!

Instead, think about increasing the amount of timed questions in small intervals. Start by timing one question at a time, then two, then four, and slowly increase the amount until the test doesn’t feel so daunting.

2.     Focus on calmness, not scores. We know that the GRE score is important, but math and verbal aren’t the only areas you need to study. So is staying calm, keeping your mental focus, and honing the ability to work quickly and effectively in mental “crisis” mode instead of hurried and frazzled in “panic” mode.

How can you practice such a thing? Try practicing a full test (or a smaller problem set) with your only goals as staying calm and staying on time. Those are both things that need active practicing, and it can help to experience the exam while calm, when the focus is off the score. You might even find that your score holds its own… or goes up!

3.     Mix topics slowly. If all your studying has been one topic at a time, it can be overwhelming to take a real exam. Not only are many topics mixed, but also it can be the first time you’ve had to actively identify what is being tested in the question.

You can help remove anxiety caused in this way, and also increase your score significantly, by mixing topics slowly. When you study one topic, force yourself to identity how you can tell what topic is being tested just by looking at the question. Once you’ve done that with two topics, try mixing them together. Then add one more topic at a time.

4.     Make a plan, take a break. This seems simple and straightforward, but it really can help. I know that every second is precious on the GRE, and many of us feel time pressure during the exam. Sometimes, that time pressure can put us in panic mode, where we feel like any second we aren’t “doing something” is a second wasted, so we rush into working without a plan.

Generally, making a plan is worthwhile. Taking a moment to figure out why type of question you’re doing and how to attack it will generally be faster than jumping right into solving, which may send you down the wrong path and not allow you to pick up key signals.

In addition, you may find that a short break, just 10 or 20 seconds where you close your eyes and take a deep breath, helps you to refocus and ends up saving you time.

5.     Study for question recognition. This suggestion applies whether you have test anxiety or not, because it’s the clearest and most direct way to improve your score (after learning the underlying basics). When you get a question wrong, you don’t just want to learn what the right answer is. At least as importantly, and I would argue more importantly, you want to answer the question, “What did I need to recognize or know to get this question right?”

Asking this question forces you to learn from each question in a way that can be applied to future questions. It pushes you to recognize patterns and to learn how to notice what’s being tested in a question, which can help you make a plan, use what you’ve studied, and avoid common traps.

6.     Meet with a test anxiety specialist. Yes, there is such a thing as a test anxiety specialist. And while most students won’t need one, if you find that your mastery of the material can’t shine because you are paralyzed in the face of the real exam, working with a specialist may help you get through the roadblock that’s holding you back.

Studying for and taking a big exam such as the GRE is an inherently stressful process. But when that stress gets in the way of your success, try taking active steps make it more manageable. After all, you want to show off all the stuff you’ve learned as best you can!

Potent Quotables: Ten Famous Quotes Full of GRE Vocab

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gre-word-quotesI’m always on the search for fun and new ways to learn vocab. Well, “fun” might not be the right word, but learning vocabulary is easier when it is tied to things you already know and integrated into your daily life. If you can tie vocabulary to movie clips, song lyrics, other words you already know, or anything else that’s already stored in your memory, you can often remember the definition forever in a quick and easy way.

Here are ten famous quotes, either that you may already know or that you may find easy to remember, that can help you remember GRE vocabulary words.

  1. Alacrity. Ambrose Bierce famously said, “He who thinks with difficulty believes with alacrity.” It’s an astute observation, concisely put, and makes quite a beautiful and poetic insult. It also helps you understand that alacrity means “brisk and cheerful readiness.” Try recalling this quote to describe someone it fits, whether to yourself or to someone else. It might just stick.
  2. Prosaic. You probably know the phrase “poetry and prose”; where something poetic is beautiful and flowery, something prosaic is practical and direct. When Stendhal said, “It is better to have a prosaic husband and to take a romantic lover,” he was setting up a great vocabulary learning sentence that not only shows that “prosaic” and “romantic” are opposites, but helps us understand the nuanced meaning of each word.
  3. Loquacious. “Loquacious” is in the GRE’s rather large toolkit of words that mean “talkative. Here’s a quote for reflection: Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote, “Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb.” Another great vocabulary learning sentence, as it clearly sets “loquacious” as the opposite of “dumb”.
  4. Veracity. Veracity means truth. “Truth in spirit, not truth to the letter, is the true veracity,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a great quote to have on hand when you get in trouble for not-quite-following the rules. It’s also a good one for remembering the definition of “veracity”.
  5. Paucity. Because paucity isn’t a word we often use, it’s often hard to envision it in a sentence. Consider Norman Miller’s quote, “The horror of the twentieth century was the size of each new event and the paucity of its reverberation.” It’s a thoughtful point, and it helps us remember the structure “paucity of     (usually some good quality in noun form)  ”.
  6. Maintain. Sure, we encounter the word “maintain” pretty much every day. But as the GRE is wont to do, it often tests the second definition of maintain, which is to assert. Think of Dostoyevsky’s words, “What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” That statement was his assertion, and whether you maintain that it’s true, it might help you remember the definition of “maintain”.
  7. Contrition. Here’s a word that’s mostly used today in religious contexts, for it means a feeling of remorsefulness and penitence. Its adjectival form is “contrite”, which is tricky because it sounds like it might mean “not trite”. I find it easier to remember the noun form of contrition. Here’s a helpful quote: “To err is human; but contrition felt for the crime distinguishes the virtuous from the wicked”, said Vittorio Alfieri. This quote helps convey the seriousness and meaning of contrition.
  8. Extant. “Extant” is a GRE favorite that I think I can confidently say I’ve never heard a person actually use when speaking, except in GRE class. Extant means existent, which is the word most of us would use in its place. Thoreau famously said, “There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold.” I find that the phrase “present and extant” sticks with me to help me recall this definition without much work.
  9. Egregious. I’m going to let Kurt Vonnegut explain this one, as he did in Deadeye Dick. “Egregious. Most people think that word means terrible or unheard of or unforgivable. It has a much more interesting story than that to tell. It means ‘outside the herd.’ Imagine that – thousands of people, outside the herd.” He’s right on both fronts. While the word “egregious” technically means “outside the herd”, it has taken on a bad connotation – standing out for doing something wrong.
  10. Capricious. The definition of this word has been with me since my mother explained that Capricorns are born in January, named for the god of Janus, who has two faces. (Maybe we just figured out why I’m a GRE teacher.) Capricious means fickle or two-faced, of two minds at once. If your mom wasn’t quite so vocabulary inclined, consider this quote from Benjamin Disraeli: “A consistent man believes in destiny; a capricious man in chance.”

Unlike Disraeli, I don’t believe that a consistent man believes in destiny, necessarily; at least not when it comes to the GRE. The consistent among us, men and women alike, know that careful study can always improve your GRE score! For these, and other GRE words, download our free GRE flashcards.

 

 

 

The Devil is in the Definition: How to learn math definitions for the GRE

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I know that for people who’ve been away from math for a while, the GRE requires a lot of refreshment on topics and skills. Even for those of us who’ve been around math all along, there may be topics we haven’t seen since high school on the exam.

gre-blog-postMost of getting good at GRE math is practicing your skills, learning to recognize clues and patterns on the exam, and knowing what material is being tested and how it is tested. One key step is knowing the definition of math words, because those definitions often come with important restrictions.

For example, when a question starts by specifying that x is an integer, that restriction will probably be a key to the problem. There is an infinite amount of numbers that are not integers, including fractions and radicals. It’s also important to remember that integers don’t have to be positive – there are negative integers, and zero is in integer as well.

My suggestion is that you clarify the definitions, but not simply memorize them. Let’s say that I realize knowing the definition of “integer” is important, so I decide to make a flashcard that says “integer” on one side and “a member of the set of whole numbers” on the other.

Great. That’s true, and if the test were going to ask me to define the word “integer”, that would be a great thing to know. But remember: for the most part, the quant section of the GRE is a skill test, not a knowledge test. It tests your ability to notice patterns and details, perform math tasks, plan an efficient road to a solution, and reason with numbers. So the definition of “integer” that I want to know is something that will help me.

I am not the biggest fan of flashcards for the quant portion of the GRE, but if I were going to make one for “integer”, I’d want to make sure the back of the card included:

• My own definition in my own words,
• Key trouble issues to watch out for, and
• How the concept tends to show up on the exam.

As I did additional problems, I might add information to the back of the card, so that eventually it would look something like this:

• not decimals or fractions
• Includes zero and negatives!
• When they say “non-negative integer”, think “positive OR zero”
• When they say “number,” think about fractions
• When the exponent is a positive integer, the value usually gets bigger. UNLESS that positive integer is one – value stays the same.

The key is that your definition should include all the things that tripped you up, written in your own language, and written in a way that tells you what to do, not what not to do. (Notice my card doesn’t say anything like, “don’t test only positive numbers”, because generally it’s much harder for us to remember directions given in the negative.) It’s less of a definition and more of a collection of key points that help you clarify how this topic is applied on the exam. In this way, you become a better issue-spotter and avoid common mistakes.

Thinking of definitions in this way can help you to realize their importance while also learning them in a way that’s directly applicable to the exam. The next paragraph is a big, long list of terms for which you might find a definition card useful. All these terms are covered in ETS’s math review for the GRE. You certainly don’t need to make definition cards for each of these words, but if you think it would help you, go for it!

You might find it helpful to make definition cards for the following terms: integer, even, odd, positive, negative, divisible, factor, multiple, greatest common factor, least common multiple, remainder, prime number, prime factor, composite number, zero, one, rational number, reciprocal, square root, terminating decimal, real number, less than, greater than, absolute value, ratio, proportion, percent, percent increase, percent decrease, domain, compound interest, slope, y-intercept, reflection, symmetric, x-intercept, parallel, perpendicular, line of symmetry, parabola, vertex, circle, stretched, shrunk, shifted, line segment, congruent, midpoint, bisect, perpendicular bisector, opposite angles, verticle angles, right angle, acute, obtuse, polygon, triangle, quadrilateral, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, regular polygon, perimeter, area, equilateral triangle, right triangle, hypotenuse, legs, square, rectangle, parallelogram, trapezoid, chord, circumference, radius, diameter, arc, measure of an arc, length of an arc, sector, tangent, point of tangency, inscribed, circumscribed, rectangular solid, face, cube, volume, surface area, circular cylinder, lateral surface, axis, right circular cylinder, frequency, count, frequency distribution, relative frequency, relative frequency distribution, univariate, bivariate, central tendency, mean, median, mode, weighted mean, quartiles, percentiles, dispersion, range, outliers, interquartile range, standard deviation, sample standard deviation, population standard deviation, standardization, finite set, infinite set, nonempty set, empty set, subset, list, intersection, union, disjoint, mutually exclusive, universal set, factorial, probability, permutation, combination, and normal distribution.

GRE Vocab: Holiday Hangover

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Yes, the holidays have come and gone. Welcome to 2014! But having spent the last month listening to Christmas music non-stop, I have lots of these songs still stuck in my head. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, these songs are around this time of year and tend to plant themselves in our minds. So if they’re stuck in your head too, there’s a good chance to learn a little vocab!

Here are seven examples of GRE words in holiday songs. If you find others, share them in the comments!

(1) Terrific. Here’s one of those words that the GRE likes to use for its less-conventional meaning. We usually think of terrific as “great”, but it really means “awesome” in the literal sense: big and awe-inducing, often in a bad or scary way. Like the word “terror”. To be honest, I can only think of one popular culture use of “terrific” in this way, and that’s in “Home for the Holidays,” which tells us, “…from Atlantic to Pacific, gee the traffic is terrific!”

(2) Conspire. In “Winter Wonderland,” the singer says, “Later on, we’ll conspire as we dream by the fire.” So picture the couple in the song, chatting away and planning for the new year. To conspire is to make secret plans together, although those plans are to do something bad… maybe that song is a bit naughtier than the sing-song tone would have us believe.

(3) Incarnate. “Incarnate” means given a body or shape, and it’s usually easiest to remember by thinking of the more-frequently-used “incarnation”. But you could also think of the lyrics to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, which implore the listener to “hail the incarnate deity” when telling the story of the first Christmas.

(4) Cloven. The song “It Came upon a Midnight Clear” is full of great vocab, but one of the best words in “cloven”, which means “cut in two”. We mostly hear this word describing “cloven hooves” – or hooves that are split in the middle, such as those of a cow. The song speaks of angels coming to earth and says, “through the cloven skies they come”, describing the sky breaking in two.

(5) Traverse. “Traverse” means to move to travel across something. “We Three Kings” begins, “We three kinds of Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar.” And if you’ve always sung that as “travel afar”, you’re already all set on this one.

(6) Lament. To lament is to grieve or be sorrowful, often in a way that involves crying or wailing. In “Good Kind Wenceslas”, the king and his page are traveling “though the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.” That wailing of the winter wind is a great way to remember the word “lament”.

(7) Laud. We mostly hear “laud” used as a verb meaning “to praise or glorify,” but it is also a noun for the praise or glory that is given. It’s used in this way in “What Child is This,” which says, “Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the Babe, the son of Mary.”

There’s a point here far beyond these seven words: GRE vocab is everywhere. When you hear or read a word that you don’t know, look it up! You might find that you start noticing GRE vocab everywhere. And who knows – learning it might be, dare we say it, sort of fun.

Andrew Yang: “Smart People Should Build Things” Excerpt 2

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Below is an excerpt from Andrew Yang‘s new book, Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America, which comes out in February 2014. Andrew was named Managing Director of Manhattan GMAT in 2006, Chief Executive Officer in 2007, and President in 2010. He left Manhattan GMAT in 2010 to start Venture for America, where he now serves as Founder and CEO. 

smart peopleThe Prestige Pathways.  

Let’s imagine a very large company. It is a leader in its industry and much admired by its peers. It invests a tremendous amount of money—literally billions of dollars a year—in identifying, screening, and training its many employees. Those employees who are considered to have high potential are sent to special training programs at substantial additional cost. Happily, these top training programs are considered to be among the best in the world. After these employees complete their training, the company encourages them to choose for themselves the division in which they’d like to work. Employee preferences are deemed to be the most efficient way of deciding who works where.

This seems like a good system, and it works well for a long time. However, perhaps predictably, many of its most highly rated employees eventually become drawn to the finance and legal divisions because these divisions have very effective recruitment arms, are more visible, pay better, and are thought of as providing a more intellectual level of work.  Over time, proportionally fewer of the top recruits go toward the management of the company or the company’s operations.  The company’s basic training division is considered a backwater, with low pay and low recognition. And only a relative handful of employees go toward research and development or the launching of any new products.

Take a second to think about the company described above. What do you think will happen to this company as time passes? And if you think that it’s not set on a path to success, what would you do to fix it? This company reflects, in essence, the economy of the United States of America.

If you are a smart college student and you want to become a lawyer and go to law school, what you must do has been well established. You must go to a good school, get good grades (already accomplished, for many), and take the LSAT (a four-hour skill test). There is no anxiety in divining the requirements, as they are clearly spelled out. Most undergrads, even those with little interest in law school, know what it takes to get in. The path location costs are low.

The same is true if you want to become a doctor. Becoming a doctor is hard, right? Sort of. It is arduous and time-consuming, but it is not hard if you have certain academic abilities. You must take a battery of college courses (organic chemistry being the most infamous and rigorous of them) and do well, study for the MCAT (an eight-hour exam), and spend a summer or even a year caddying for a researcher, doctor, or hospital. These are time-consuming hoop-jumping tasks, to be sure, but anyone with a very high level of academic aptitude can complete them.

If you attend an Ivy League university or similar national institution, legions of suit-wearing representatives from the big-name investment banks and consulting firms will show up at your campus and conduct first-round interviews to fill their ranks each year, even in a down period (as with the recent years following the financial crisis). They will spend millions of dollars enlisting interns and educating the market annually. Most freshmen have no idea what management consulting is, yet seniors can rattle off the distinctions of different firms with little difficulty. All undergraduates have friends in the classes above them who have gone through this process and gained analyst or associate positions at major investment banks and consulting firms.
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Manhattan Prep’s Oh What Fun! Celebration Wraps Up

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OWF-Logo-28Today wraps up our “Oh What Fun!” celebration! Manhattan Prep’s first-ever 12-day holiday celebration was a great success and we hope that everyone got the chance to enjoy all of our exclusive promos, contests, and free study materials.

If you’ve missed any of this year’s celebration, not to worry, we still have a few promotions going on. Our Black Friday Sale for $150 off all December GMAT classes ends December 15, 2013, with code “BLACKFRIDAY150.” There are still some spots open in our two December online classes, which you can sign up for here and here. Located in NYC? Come join us in-person for our classes beginning on Dec. 14th and Dec. 15th.

We’re also still offering a free download to our 1-year access GRE Challenge Problem Archive. Remember to enter the code “OWFGRECHALLENGE” at checkout.

To keep the giving going and the holiday spirit alive, we are very excited to share today’s final celebration! We will be collecting non-perishable food to be donated to New York’s City Harvest now through Dec. 20th. Our goal is to collect a minimum of 200 food items including but not limited to: canned goods, peanut butter, mac-n-cheese, cereal, soups, pastas, etc. We will also be collecting children’s toys to be donated to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Our goal is to collect a minimum of 50 new/unwrapped toysto be distributed to needy children in NYC. Finally, we are also collecting warm clothing to be donated to New York Cares Coat Drive. Our goal is to collect a minimum of 50 new or gently used coats, sweaters and blankets to be distributed to New Yorkers in need. Donations may be made at 138 West 25th St, 7th Fl. New York, NY 10001. Let’s make this season brighter for our community and those in need.

Lastly, be sure to check our Facebook page tomorrow, where we will officially announce this year’s “Oh What Fun!” winners of the free GMAT course and the $250 Amazon Gift Card.

A big thank you to everyone in our social community who participated in this year’s “Oh What Fun!” festivities! Enjoy the remainder of the holiday season and best of luck with your studies!

The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – December 9, 2013

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Math Beast
Each week, we post a new GRE Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for two free Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides.

If x and y are integers such that x < y and xy = 4, which of the following could be the value of 2x + 4y?

 

To see this week’s answer choices and to submit your pick, visit our Challenge Problem page.

Using GRE Practice Tests Strategically

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GRE-Be-StrategicThere’s something very alluring about practice tests. They feel productive. They seem like they’re giving you an upper hand on “the real thing”. And there’s always that secret hope that this time you’ll knock it out of the park and you can finally stop studying.

Don’t get me wrong; I love practice tests. I love them as a teacher, because they help me assess my students’ progress. And I love them as a student, because I know where I stand. But more and more, I find myself having to caution students about using practice tests effectively.

Often times, I see students using practice tests in ways that are completely unproductive. Since your time is precious and you ideally want to get the most improvement possible for whatever time you invest, I’d like to give you my two cents on using practice tests effectively.

Take a test before you start studying.

This is one practice test that’s completely efficient and insanely valuable, and yet it’s the one students are most likely to skip. Many students skip the practice test at the beginning of a course or before they start studying. Sometimes, they skip it because they are afraid of what the results will be. Other times, they know the result won’t be good enough for their school of choice, so it seems pointless. I also often hear students say that they don’t want to “waste” one of their practice tests until they have started studying.

I feel comfortable saying that, without exception, these are all bad reasons to skip the first practice test. You have to know where you’re starting so that you can know what’s working. Taking a practice test at the beginning of your studies will give you a baseline from which to measure your progress and an invaluable exposure to the exam to frame your studying. It wouldn’t be a waste even if you couldn’t ever take it again – but since you can, and since you’re likely to take it differently after weeks or months of studying, there’s absolutely no reason to skip the first practice exam. (If you’ve very recently taken a real exam, that’s a perfect substitute for an initial practice test.)

Take tests in a real way.

If you have to caveat your test score by saying anything that starts with, “I got XYZ score on my practice test, but…”, you’re not using your practice tests as efficiently as you could be. So let me lay it out as directly as I can.
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Andrew Yang: “Smart People Should Build Things” Excerpt 1

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Below is an excerpt from Andrew Yang‘s new book, Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America, which comes out in February 2014. Andrew was named Managing Director of Manhattan GMAT in 2006, Chief Executive Officer in 2007, and President in 2010. He left Manhattan GMAT in 2010 to start Venture for America, where he now serves as Founder and CEO. 

smart peopleSmart People Should Build Things. 

I believe there’s a basic solution to our country’s economic and social problems. We need to get our smart people building things (again). They’re not really doing it right now. They’d like to. But they’re being led down certain paths during and after college and told not to worry, they can figure it out later.

Take me, for instance. I wasn’t very enterprising when I graduated from Brown in 1996. I had a general desire to be smart, accomplished, and successful—whatever that meant. So I went to law school and became a corporate attorney in New York. I figured out I was in the wrong place after a number of months working at the law firm. I left in less than a year and cofounded a dot-com company, Stargiving, which helped raise money for celebrity-affiliated nonprofits. It was extraordinarily difficult. My company failed spectacularly, but I recovered. I went to work for a mobile software company, Crisp Wireless, and then a health care software company, MMF Systems, over the next five years, eventually becoming the CEO of a test-prep company, Manhattan GMAT, in 2006.

I spent five years running Manhattan GMAT, helping young people get into business school. I taught our corporate classes of investment banking analysts and consultants at Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Company, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Deloitte, as well as hundreds of individual students over the years. Some were exactly where they wanted to be. But there seemed to be just as many top-notch young people who wondered why they didn’t like their jobs more. They sought a higher sense of engagement with their work and their careers. Sometimes they would put words to what they were looking for; they’d say they wanted “something entrepreneurial” or “to be really excited about something.”
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