Articles published in May 2012

GMAT Grammar in Real Life: No Hawking, No Loitering, No Keep Fit

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My friend Zev Lowe (ESADE MBA ’09) took this photo in Kumasi, Ghana.

Did the sign make you laugh? Why would many speakers of English find it amusing?

Probably because it violates the principle of grammatical parallelism, thus creating unintentional hilarity.

We learn about parallelism in class 3 of our 9-session GMAT class. In short, parallelism is (or should be) present in any construction that puts two or more things the same way.

CORRECT: The company balanced its budget, hired a new janitor, and laid off two executives who wouldn’t stop stealing staplers.

In this sentence, balanced, hired, and laid off are all past tense verbs, nicely arranged in a list with an “and” before the last item. (Note that the comma before the “and” is somewhat controversial in American English. The GMAT tends to use a comma before the last item in a list, but you are not tested on this issue.)

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Do You Have Any Crazy Stories About The Lengths You Went To In Order To Take The GMAT Before It Changes?

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Do you have a crazy story about what you had to do in order to take the GMAT before it changes this weekend? Did you have to fly to Puerto Rico to find an opening at a testing center (We know somebody who did this when the GRE changed!)? Did you delay your honeymoon in order to take the test?

Share your crazy, funny, extreme, or otherwise amusing story with us as a comment on this Facebook post. Most “liked” story by Friday afternoon will win a free copy of our Case Studies and Cocktails book. 2nd most “liked” story will win a free Manhattan GMAT t-shirt. And, as an added bonus, your story might appear in a major news publication (pending your approval, details to follow)!

Harvard Business School Essay Analysis, 2012-2013

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Our partners and friends over at mbaMission have posted their annual Harvard Business School Essay Analysis. Here is is what they had to say…

Harvard Business School (HBS) kicks off the MBA application season again, and this time it is doing so with a significant overhaul of its entire application. HBS has shrunk its written requirements from four mandatory essays of 400 to 600 words to two essays of 400 words each, but has added a new post-interview 400-word write-up (for the approximately 25% of applicants who are selected to interview), giving interviewees a mere 24 hours to submit their last word to the school.

Managing Director of MBA Admissions Dee Leopold has long held that essays play too prominent a role in the business school admissions process, but does giving candidates just two essays (analyzed later in this post) truly reduce the emphasis? We suspect that having only 800 words with which to make a lasting impression on the admissions committee, candidates will worry that they do not have enough space to successfully convey a full picture of themselves. We therefore expect that applicants will fret even more than usual over their essays, debating whether the two stories they have chosen to share will be sufficiently powerful and compelling, and giving their essays an incredible amount of attention. Meanwhile, to make up for this lack of space”and thus allay their fears that they have not shared enough information about themselves in their essays to persuade the admissions committee to admit them”they will likely stuff their resumes, interview sessions and recommendations with as much crucial information as they can squeeze in. In some ways, then, HBS is just forcing candidates to play a game of whack-a-mole”the school is trying to push information out of the essays, but the information will undoubtedly pop up elsewhere!  As long as the admissions process is competitive and requires that applicants submit qualitative data, candidates will seek to gain an edge any way they can.

Here is our analysis of HBS’s essay questions for this year”we hope it will give you that edge.

To read the complete analysis, please visit mbaMission’s blog.

The Next-Gen GMAT: Multi-Source Reasoning

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We haven’t tried one of these yet: multi-source reasoning. These questions will consist of 2 or 3 tabs of information with accompanying questions. MSRs tend to have 2 or 3 associated questions, though it’s possible to have just 1 or more than 3. The one we’re going to try has been released as a sample question on the mba.com website and contains just one accompanying question.

Try the problem

gmat multi source reasoningLet’s try out the question: here it is. Just in case that link changes, you can also click on this link to go to the next-gen GMAT website, and then, toward the bottom of the page, click on the Multi-Source Reasoning link. We’re going to try the very first problem (with the text beginning Yesterday was the deadline).

Note: when you are done, do NOT click the next button. Just leave it up on the screen and come back here.

Set your timer for 2.5 minutes and go! (Note: we have an average of 2 minutes and 30 seconds for each IR question in the section, but some question types are more complicated than others. I recommend trying this one for 2.5 minutes, but you can spend 3 to 3.5 if needed. Normally, we would have at least 2 questions and a total of at least 5 minutes to spend on an MSR prompt, but we’re answering only 1 question here.)

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GMAT Grammar in Real Life: Misplaced Modifiers

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As a GMAT instructor, I’m always in the right frame of mind to notice grammatical errors in the world around us.

(One might also say that, as a GMAT instructor, I’m also the sort of nerd who takes iPhone pictures of these grammatical errors.)

gmat grammarWhat’s wrong with this sign?

If you don’t see the problem, take a step back and imagine that you are a Martian with little knowledge of human culture. Might you misunderstand this sign?

The problem is related to the modifier “that endangers workers.” (We cover Modifiers extensively in session 6 of our nine-week course.)

What noun is “that endangers workers” supposed to be modifying? Unsafe conditions. What noun is it actually modifying? Work site.

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Getting Ready for Integrated Reasoning

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Last week, we talked about what to do if you’re rushing to finish the test before it changes. As promised, this week, we’re going to talk about how to add integrated reasoning to your list of tasks if you’re planning to take the Next Generation GMAT.

First of all, the quant and verbal sections are not changing at all, nor is the one essay (analysis of an argument). You can still prepare for these sections in the same way that everyone has been preparing for years.

What does Integrated Reasoning test?

GMAC (the organization that makes the GMAT) says that the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section tests our ability to apply, evaluate, infer, recognize, and strategize. But how are they actually going to do this? They have developed four new question types that test us on a combination of quant and verbal skills together. If you’re worried about IR because quant is your weakness and you like verbal much more, it won’t be as bad as you think: a decent percentage of your IR questions will be based on verbal skills such as inferring information, articulating strengths or weaknesses, and so on. If, on the other hand, that sounds scary to you because quant is your big strength, the same applies: a decent percentage of the IR questions will be based on calculating averages, probabilities and percentages, reading graphs and interpreting the data, and so on.

In other words, whether quant or verbal is your strength, you’ll be able to carry over some of your skills into IR. And that’s good because, at first, you’re going to look at these new question types and feel a little bit of panic: they’re so long! They’re so weird-looking! They’re so different from what we’re used to! That’s true, but you can still learn how they work and how to handle them. I promise. : )

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Challenge Problem Showdown – May 21st, 2012

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We invite you to test your GMAT knowledge for a chance to win! Each week, we will post a new Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for a free Manhattan GMAT Prep item. Tell your friends to get out their scrap paper and start solving!

Here is this week’s problem:

For positive integers n, the integer part of the nth term of sequence A equals n, while the infinite decimal part of the nth term is constructed in order out of the consecutive positive multiples of n, beginning with 2n. For instance, A1 = 1.2345678…, while A2 = 2.4681012… The sum of the first seven terms of sequence A is between

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Five Strategies for Conquering 700 Level Quant Questions

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Let me start off by saying that hard work and mastering each question topic is the best way to conquer the GMAT. There is no Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right B, A, Start cheat code that can replace months of intense studying. That said, getting a 700+ score on the GMAT sometimes means having a few tricks up your sleeves. Here’s a few strategies that I’ve found to be helpful with gaining a few extra points at the very top of the GMAT curve:

1) Know your PEMDAS and your SADMEP

gmat quant stategy In other words, you have to know your parenthesis, exponents/roots, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, backwards and forwards. For as many students as I have worked with, I have yet to come across a student who can barely work through a multiplication table, yet still manages to consistently finish the quant portion of the GMAT. Even though you only need to answer 37 quantitative questions, this will entail hundreds of math calculations- calculations that far too many of us have left to the machines (I for one welcome our new calculator overlords). If the average straightforward calculation takes five seconds and a student sees two hundred of these calculations over an average test, that’s sixteen minutes and forty seconds of just doing simple arithmetic. And if it takes you twice as long to do each of those calculations, that’s going to take, umm, well, it’s…. it’s going to take a lot longer.

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Everyday Ways To Improve Your Mental Math Skills

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Everyday Ways to Improve Your Mental Math Skills by Andrea PawliczekDid 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.


In a world where we are often carrying at least one device, if not multiple devices, that can complete calculations, there is little need to do calculations manually. For this reason, the lack of a calculator on the GMAT quantitative section is a significant point of concern “ or perhaps even fear “ to many test takers, even some with strong quantitative skills. That brings me to some good and some bad news for prospective GMAT takers. Read more

Manhattan GMAT Instructor Jane Cassie and Loop Abroad

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I love teaching, but I also love to travel. In 2009, I took a year off to travel around the world. And the thought that kept returning was, What would have been different in my life if I’d done this ten years ago? So Loop Abroad was born.

Loop is a high school travel program that brings students to Southeast Asia. Amidst traveling and volunteering, we connect students to with NGOs and other inspirational leaders who are passionate about what they do.

Loop Abroad elephant

Two organizations we love are the Elephant Nature Foundation (ENF) and the Save Children in Asia Foundation (SCAO). The ENF is working to rescue and rehabilitate Asian elephants who have been abused in the logging and trekking industries. The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand is now home to almost 40 of these gentle giants. This year, the ENF has been granted a portion of a record-breaking one-million-acre wildlife preserve in Cambodia upon which elephants will be able to interact as if in the wild. This is a huge and exciting step toward replenishing the Asian elephant population. And because elephants require so much continuous land to thrive, replenishing their habitat means saving the habitats of thousands of other species and, in the process, preserving an entire ecosystem.

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