Articles published in September 2011

Update from Larry Rudner on Idioms, etc.


Larry Rudner, GMAC R and D VPSince the GMAT Prep summit, we have been covering what the changes that were described there mean based on what Larry Rudner, GMAC vice president of research and development and chief psychometrician, has told us. Now he has written an official response, which we have re-posted below.  Hopefully this will further clarify what those differences consist of and how you can study for the GMAT successfully. You can find the original posting here.

Idioms, Sentence Correction, and the GMAT Exam

Recently there has been some discussion and questioning about the role and place of idioms and sentence correction as they apply to the skills tested in the GMAT exam.  Much of what has been written has been well reasoned but some of what has been written is only partially accurate or reflects some misconceptions. With this posting I hope to put these two important pieces of the GMAT exam in their proper place within the context of what the exam measures and how.

Read more

List of Official Guide Problems that Deal With Meaning


In this table, we discuss a number of Sentence Correction problems from the OG12. Certain answer choices have “meaning” issues; we list the answer choice letters and provide a brief discussion of the issues involved. Note that this list is not comprehensive and is still in fairly raw form; there are additional problems and answer choices that could also contain meaning issues, and it’s possible that reasonable people will disagree with some of the things on this list (though we tried to include only the ones that we thought were most straightforward). Read more

Meaning Issues in Sentence Correction


Grammatically Conscious LoLcatRecently, we heard from GMAC that it has been testing meaning more often in sentence correction than it used to (this increase started years ago). In the last couple of days, I’ve gone through the first 100 problems in the Official Guide 12th Edition (OG12) so that we can discuss some of these issues.

I’ve categorized these meaning issues into three broad categories; in this article, I’m going to call out some particular examples and discuss what’s going on with each. You can then use these examples to help you continue to study different problems. We’ve also put together a list of specific problems and answer choices that deal with these meaning issues. You can find that list here. Finally, pay attention to the explanation wording “ if it mentions that something changes the meaning or is ambiguous then you know a meaning issue is going on in that problem!

Before we dive in, I have to say that I was surprised while researching this “ turns out that there are even more meaning-based questions than I would have thought (which is why I’ve only gotten through the first 100 OG questions rather than all of them by deadline time). In the OG, a lot of the answer choices that test meaning also have other grammatical issues, so we can often get away with ignoring the meaning and focusing on the grammar.

My guess is that GMAC has been working hard to make us deal with the meaning more by not giving us a grammar out on so many answer choices (on the real test). If you’ve been ignoring the meaning aspect when you see that there’s a more pure grammar reason for getting rid of an answer stop doing that. When studying, pay attention to every possible reason for an elimination. Seek out these meaning issues and study them. Read more

Update on Idioms on the GMAT


This is an update on Stacey’s previous articles, posted earlier this week.

Two very important things:

(1) Larry just got back into the office and was able to check on some of these idiom issues (he was traveling earlier this week). He was able to clarify that American-centric idioms and expressions are the ones that they have dropped / been dropping. Idioms that are not American-centric are still in. That’s all he’s told me so far – he said “more to come” in his email. I’ll let you know when I have more.

This, of course, begs the question: which ones are American-centric and which ones aren’t? Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive list of the idioms which do get tested (and there are thousands of idioms in the language), so we can’t just point and say “study this, don’t study that.” My guess is that the ones that we see in OG12 have probably already been mostly stripped of American-centric idioms, because they published that after they decided to start getting rid of the American-centric stuff.

So the lesson there is to study what you see in official questions (which, interestingly, was what we already said before because there are, as we’ve noted, so many idioms in the language).  Also – if you have learned non-American English (British English, for example) and see something where you think “really? I thought that was ” – then ignore that one.

(2) I want to reiterate something else: these aren’t major changes, though they are news and we do want to take action. In particular, meaning has always been there – it’s just that there are proportionally more questions now. If you have been studying meaning, then you should be okay whether you have to answer 3 or 5 or 8 questions that hinge on meaning. (Note – I’m making those numbers up – we don’t know how many questions will test meaning.) And meaning has been on GMATPrep CATs and other CATs as well, so you have been seeing meaning issues when you take CATs.

If you have been neglecting meaning… then you have some work to do. But that would’ve been the case even if they hadn’t said they’ve got more questions that revolve around meaning now. 🙂

And re: the idioms, see above.

Update on the GMAT Changes: From Larry Rudner


This article is an update from Stacey Koprince’s Monday article.

I received a reply from Larry (Dr. Rudner – whom I quote in the article). He’s traveling right now, so can’t check specific details of problems and what is or isn’t included idiom-wise, but he did have this to say (quotes from him):

“I had no idea that students were studying idioms in preparation for the GMAT and that this is a big deal.”

–>So it’s good that we told him! I think this is a to-be-expected disconnect between the publicly-released – and by definition older – materials that we all see, such as the OG, and the new materials – but super-secret and not released – that he works with now. We have to go by the older stuff, of course, but he and his team are working exclusively with the newer stuff and don’t necessarily realize what we don’t know. Read more

mbaMission’s Exclusive Interview with University of Pennsylvania – Wharton Director of Admissions Ankur Kumar


Ankur Kumar, Wharton Director of AdmissionsThis post appears in its entirety on the mbaMission blog.

Recently,  mbaMission was fortunate enough to speak with Ankur Kumar, the new director of admissions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Here are some highlights from our conversation, followed by the full transcript below.

  • During the upcoming admissions cycle, Wharton plans to pilot a group interview exercise, which could become a mandatory application component in the future.
  • Students often see class profiles as a set of preferences, but they only reveal the industries that students came from immediately prior to business school; industry experience is much deeper than it may appear.
  • Wharton is seeking quality experience, not a target age or number of years of work experience.

mbaMission: So my first question is, Wharton kind of caused a stir when it switched to behavioral interviews last year, and I was curious why the change was made and what Wharton was trying to learn that it maybe couldn’t learn from its previous process.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Idioms, Myths and More: News from the GMAC


by Stacey Koprince, Manhattan GMAT Instructor

GMAC LogoI just got back from the biennial GMAC Test Prep Summit. (Quick: what does biennial mean? Just in case you see the word in a question!) We discussed a number of very interesting things. Don’t worry “ I won’t totally geek out on you “ but some of what we discussed will be useful for you even if you don’t make your career in test prep. 🙂

In this article, we’re going to discuss information from the conference that is relevant to everyone taking the test right now (or soon). Most of the key bits were gleaned from the presentations of Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner, Chief Psychometrician of GMAC. All quotes and statistics throughout this article are courtesy of Larry. Keep an eye out for a future article in which we’ll dive a bit more deeply into the Next Generation GMAT, which will launch in June of 2012. (Oh “ and biennial means every 2 years.) Read more

What’s New on the GMAT: Changes in Sentence Correction and More


GMAC LogoYesterday was the 4th GMAC Test Prep Summit (GMAC is the organization that makes the GMAT) and we’ve got all sorts of interesting things to tell you. We’ll share a couple of highlights with you today; check back on Monday for a longer post.

Many students have been reporting that Sentence Correction on the real test has been feeling… different this year. We had some theories as to what was changing, and we were able to get confirmation yesterday from Dr. Larry Rudner, who is in charge of psychometrics for GMAC (or, in less fancy language, he’s the one who’s responsible for the overall development and construction of the test).

They’ve been writing more Sentence Corrections that emphasize issues surrounding meaning. There are more questions now in which two or more answers are grammatically correct, but only one maintains the meaning of the original question stem. There are already some examples of this in the existing, released materials (more about this on Monday), but these didn’t used to be as common. According to Larry, these are becoming more and more common – so those who are focusing primarily on grammar without paying much attention to meaning are going to find the real test a lot harder.

Larry also told us that they are moving towards completely phasing out idioms! They don’t want to penalize non-native speakers for things that don’t really interfere with comprehension and communication, so they are moving away from idioms entirely. When we asked how common idioms still are right now and when they would be gone completely, he said that “ideally” he hopes they’re all gone already, but there may still be some in the pool – it takes time to scrub the questions completely. So that’s big news – we really shouldn’t be worrying about idioms any longer!

We’re still poring through all of the material we heard and were given yesterday, so we’ll have more for you on Monday, but we wanted to get these tidbits out ASAP because they’ll definitely impact how we study going forward. Check back again on Monday for the rest of our news and analysis from the GMAC Summit.

For a more detailed article on this topic, check here.

The GMAC Explains Integrated Reasoning


Starting in June 2012, the GMAT will have a new section, called Integrated Reasoning. This section will take the place of one of the two essays at the beginning of the exam. As the date for this new section looms closer, the GMAC (the company that makes the exam) have slowly been releasing more information about it. One of the ways in which they have been doing so is via video, and we thought we would share their insight with you.

Here is a good overview of what the new section will include:

And here is a breakdown of the Graphics Interpretation Question Type — one of the four sections to be tested within the 12 Integrated Reasoning questions: Read more

“Layering” in Sentence Correction Questions


the Dog is FriendlyBy Chris Ryan

We all know that the GMAT is a computer adaptive test, and computer adaptive tests give us questions based on the difficulty level that we earn as we take the test. How do the test writers at ACT (the organization that writes the GMAT; it used to be ETS, but ETS lost the contract to ACT 4-5 years ago; GMAC manages the algorithm and owns the test) determine which questions are harder than others? Read more