Articles published in October 2013

Reorient your View on Math Problems, Part 2


gmat viewIn the first part of this article, we talked about how GMAT quant problems are often written to imply a certain approach or solution path that is not actually the best way to do the problem. We want to reorient our view in order to pick an easier, more efficient setup or solution (if at all possible).

We finished off with a homework assignment; here’s the problem I gave you (from the free problems that come with the GMATPrep software):

* ” If stacey diagram 1, then stacey diagram 2 =

“(A) –1/2

“(B) –1/3

“(C) 1/3

“(D) 1/2

“(E) 5/2   ”

The answers are fractions but they aren’t horrible fractions. They give me a value for x / y. The question is kind of annoying though, because the form doesn’t match x / y.

Or does it? Is there any way for me to rearrange that thing to make it look more like x / y?

Yes! Check it out:

stacey diagram 3

Now, how did I know to do that? I’ve actually seen another problem with the same shortcut: split the numerator into two fractions. The first time I saw that other problem, though, the way I figured it out was that whole “Well, this is annoying, why did they give it to me that way!” And so I started looking at it differently and asking myself some questions:

“They gave me a value for x / y. But the question doesn’t give me x / y. Is there any way I can make x / y? There is an x on top and a y on the bottom; what if I put those two together?

“Oh, yeah, I see! It’s totally legal to split the numerator and get two separate fractions, so that would give me x / y for one of the fractions. Does that make my life any easier, though?

“The other fraction just turns into 1! That’s fantastic! I know what I’m doing now.”

Et voilà ! I know that stacey diagram 1 , so stacey diagram 4. Plug that in and get 1 – 1.5 = -0.5.

Note that it’s easier to add and subtract in decimal (or percent) form, so if fractions can be converted easily (as 3/2 can), then consider doing the subtraction in decimal form. You already know that it will be easy to convert back into the final answer because look at the answer options—they’re all easy fractions to convert.

The correct answer is (A).

Quick! Glance at the answer choices for the above problem. If you did no work at all and had 1 second to make a guess, which answer would you NOT pick? Read more

GMAT Challenge Problem Showdown: October 28, 2013


challenge problem
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:


A computer company prices its models using the formula P = (1.25s)a, where is the price per unit, is a constant, and s is the speed rating, from 1 to 20, of the product. The company also grants a discount of 10% on orders of 100 to 249 units and a discount of 25% on orders of 250 or more units. Lotte orders 300 computers, all with the same speed rating. How many computers could she have purchased for the same price if she had chosen models with a speed rating 2 higher than the ones she chose?

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Free GMAT Events This Week: October 28 – November 3


Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

10/28/13– San Francisco, CA – Free Trial Class-  6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/28/13- Santa Monica, CA- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/29/13– Austin, TX- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/29/13–  Online –Free Trial Class– 9:00PM- 12:00AM

11/2/13– Washington, DC-Free Trial Class– 10:30AM- 1:30PM

11/2/13– Chicago, IL- Free Trial Class– 2:00PM- 5:00PM

11/2/13– New York, NY – Free Trial Class-  10:00AM- 1:00PM

11/2/13– Online- Free Trial Class – 1:00PM-4:00PM

11/3/13– Online – Free Trial Class-  5:30PM- 8:30PM (EDT)

11/3/13– New York, NY- Free Trial Class– 5:30PM- 8:30PM

11/3/13– West Hollywood, CA – Free Trial Class-  2:00PM- 5:00PM

11/3/13– Online – Live Online GMAT Preview-  5:00PM- 6:30PM (EDT)

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.

Turn Up the Volume & Get Ready to Study with Manhattan Prep


Music can do a lot for us, but the word is still out on whether it can enhance our ability to stay focused and sharpen our memories during long study sessions. On the one hand, we have a report from the University of Toronto suggesting that fast and loud background music can hinder our performance on reading comprehension. On the other, there’s the recentMusic to help you study GMAT research from the digital music service, Spotify, and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Emma Gray, which proclaims that pop hits from artists like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus can actually enhance our cognitive abilities.

“Music has a positive effect on the mind, and listening to the right type of music can actually improve studying and learning,” says Dr. Gray. She even suggests that students who listen to music while studying can perform better than those who do not.

We also cannot leave out the so-called “Mozart Effect,” which alleges that listening to classical music provides short-term enhancement of mental tasks, like memorization. We’ve heard students swear by this tactic, while others say that silence is golden.
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Reorient your View on Math Problems, Part 1


gmat investmentThe Quant section of the GMAT is not a math test. Really, it isn’t! It just looks like one on the surface. In reality, they’re testing us on how we think.

As such, they write many math problems in a way that hides what’s really going on or even implies a solution method that is not the best solution method. Assume nothing and do not accept that what they give you is your best starting point!

In short, learn to reorient your view on math problems. When I look at a new problem, one of my first thoughts is, “What did they give me and how could it be made easier?” In particular, I look for things that I find annoying, as in, “Ugh, why did they give it to me in that form?” or “Ugh, I really don’t want to do that calculation.” My next question is how I can get rid of or get around that annoying part.

What do I mean? Here’s an example from the free set of questions that comes with the GMATPrep software. Try it!

* ” If ½ of the money in a certain trust fund was invested in stocks, ¼ in bonds, 1/5 in a mutual fund, and the remaining $10,000 in a government certificate, what was the total amount of the trust fund?

“(A) $100,000

“(B) $150,000

“(C) $200,000

“(D) $500,000

“(E) $2,000,000”

What did you get?

Here’s my thought process:

(1) Glance (before I start reading). It’s a PS word problem. The answers are round / whole numbers, and they’re mostly spread pretty far apart. I might be able to estimate to get the answer and I should at least be able to tell whether it’s closer to (A) or (E).

(2) Read and Jot. As I read, I jot down numbers (and label them!):

S = 1/2

B = 1/4

F = 1/5

C = 10,000

(3) Reflect and Organize. Let’s see. The four things should add up to the total amount. Three of those are fractions. Oh, I see—if I had four fractions, they should all add up to 1. So if I take those three and add them, and then subtract that from 1, that’ll give me the fractional amount for the C. Since I know the real value for C, I can then figure out the total.

But, ugh, adding fractions is annoying! You need common denominators. I’m capable of doing this, of course, but I really don’t want to! Isn’t there an easier way?

In this case, yes! Adding decimals or percents is really easy. Adding fractions is annoying. Plus, check it out, the fractions given are all common ones that we (should) have memorized. So change those fractions to percents (or decimals)!

(4) Work. Let’s do it!

S = 1/2  = 50%

B = 1/4 = 25%

F = 1/5 = 20%

C = 10,000

Wow, this is a lot easier. I know that 50 + 25 + 25 would equal 100, but I’ve only got 50 + 25 + 20, so the total is 5 short of 100. The final value, C, then must be 5% of the total.

So let’s see… if C = 10,000 = 5%, then 10% would be twice as much, or 20,000. And I just need to add a zero to get to 100%, or 200,000. Done! Read more

mbaMission: Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) Essay Analysis, 2013–2014


We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper).

To us at mbaMission, one of the most notable things about the essay questions Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business is posing this application season is that the program has changed its approach to length guidelines by shifting from “double-spaced page” requirements to specific word counts. Candidates who have surveyed the school’s past questions may notice that Tepper has reframed several of its queries. The short- and long-term goals prompts are separated both from one another and from the “why Tepper” query, and the previous question about an obstacle or ethical dilemma has been replaced by one with a more internal focus, asking candidates to share an instance that fundamentally influenced who they are today. And rather than requesting that applicants pinpoint something surprising about themselves or that makes them proud, the school wants a more general exploration of what the candidate might contribute to the Tepper community in the long and short term alike. We feel these broader prompts may allow you to provide a more rounded and personal picture of yourself to the admissions committee, so let us examine each one a little more closely…CMU

Short Answer 1 (Maximum 250 words):  What is your professional goal immediately following graduation from the Tepper School?

Short Answer 2 (Maximum 250 words):  What are your long term career goals?

These two short answer questions cover the basic short- and long-term goals elements of a traditional personal statement. To help applicants write this style of essay for any school, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which we offer to candidates free of charge, via our online store. Please feel free to download your copy today.

Essay 1 (Maximum 500 words): What transferrable skills have you developed that are related to your professional goals outlined in Short Answer 1?  Additionally, identify the skills that you will need to develop or enhance. Specifically, how will the Tepper MBA help you develop these skills?

With this question, the school takes a slightly unique approach to the usual “why an MBA” and “why our school” questions that most programs pose in one format or another. In addition to asking candidates to outline which skills they believe they will need to succeed after graduation, Tepper wants applicants to specify which ones they already possess. Essentially, to get from Point A to Point B, you will need to obtain/master certain abilities, and the school is interested in learning how far along this trajectory you have already progressed. This will allow the admissions committee to better evaluate how qualified you are (and may eventually be) for your chosen path and how effective the school may be in helping you move forward. By explaining how and why you see Tepper as the right program to provide the training you need, you will demonstrate how well you understand your current level of preparedness and how familiar you are with what Tepper has to offer. As always, framing this information using a narrative approach will make your essay more interesting to read, and likely more memorable as well.

Note that the school is focused specifically on skills. In similar questions from other programs (i.e. “why our school?”), candidates are typically asked to discuss which of the schools’ resources are expected to be valuable, in which case you could note that a particular club could provide you with a lifelong network or a speaker series could give you access to experts in your chosen field. These are not options for this Tepper essay, however. Clubs and speaker series are still valid resources to discuss, but you will need to pinpoint how these offerings will improve or impart skillsrather than provide external assets like a peer network or access to experts. Identify which capabilities you feel you will absolutely need, as well as ones that may just be beneficial and ease your path, and then research the school thoroughly to uncover which resources align directly with what you seek. For example, a certain class could teach you to prepare intricate financial models that will help you better predict certain outcomes, while the school’s Public Speaking Club would allow to you practice and improve your oral presentation skills, and participating in one of Tepper’s exchange programs could help you improve your foreign language capabilities. If you have targeted Tepper because you feel it is the right program for you, you likely already have an idea of what it offers that appeals to you and fits your goals—this essay is where you get specific about what these aspects of the program are.
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mbaMission: Indian School of Business Essay Analysis, 2013–2014


We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Indian School of Business.

The Indian School of Business (ISB) appears to have somewhat narrowed the focus of its essay questions since last season. It again asks candidates to explain what differentiates them from others, but this year, it specifically requests two examples and characterizes what kinds of qualities it seeks, rather than leaving the query more open-ended. The ISB has also shifted its question about applicants’ post-MBA goals to focus less on the goals themselves and more on why its program is the right one to prepare candidates to achieve their ambitions. Applicants are no longer required to submit a video essay about what they believe “life” to be (we imagine a large number of candidates were relieved to see that prompt dropped), and a request for additional information that was mandatory last year is now optional. Overall, the ISB seems to want to get at the heart of who its applicants are—not just what they know and have accomplished—and to be able to evaluate “fit” with what it has to offer.ISB

Essay 1: Attitude, skills and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself from other applicants to the PGP. (300 words max)

This straightforward prompt is really rather self-explanatory. The ISB is basically asking what attitude, skill or knowledge (experience) you possess that makes you stand out. If you can readily claim some unquestionably unique qualities—a rare skill, an unusual upbringing, an uncommon perspective—deciding on your content will be easy. From there, just focus on presenting your differentiating factors in a narrative format (avoid direct declarations like “What makes me different is X and Y…”) and providing brief but sufficient context as to how you gained or developed these traits.

If you view yourself as a more “typical” applicant, however, you may have difficulty deciding what to spotlight in this essay. Just remember that, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” You do not need to reveal that you have experienced something totally unique, but you do need to show that you truly understand and “own” your experiences. For example, if you are a consultant, you are like many other candidates out there—you cannot differentiate yourself by saying, “I am a consultant.” But if you think carefully about each consulting project you were staffed on, you will perhaps recall a unique client interaction, moment with your team, situation with your senior manager, dynamic with a trainee, etc. that reveals your attitude, skill or knowledge in an interesting manner.

Hypothetically, if you, as a consultant, found a way to implement a new training module, this is not earth-shatteringly different, but it gives you the granular experience upon which to build a discussion of initiative, commitment and developing others around you. You may not be the only individual who can lay claim to possessing these traits, but the details of your experience creating and implementing that module will ensure that you are able to differentiate yourself sufficiently.

The school asks for two examples, which means you could offer one from your personal life and one from your professional life to present a balanced view of yourself. However, we would encourage you to honestly evaluate what you believe are the two characteristics that truly distinguish you most, and if they are both personal in scope—or both professional—use them. The ISB wants to know what makes you you and who you will be as a student in its program, so being honest and enthusiastic in your essay will serve you best. Forcing the issue and choosing one quality to highlight from each realm just to be safe, rather than offering what genuinely is the most special about you, would unnecessarily weaken your submission.

Essay 2: How does the ISB PGP tie-in with your career goals? (300 words max)
Read more

GMAT INTERACT™ for Integrated Reasoning


gmat-integrated-reasoning-study-logoINTERACT FOR IR - Available on iPadWe have some exciting news for you today! We have launched GMAT INTERACT™ for Integrated Reasoning, a truly interactive, video-based digital learning platform that engages you in all facets of learning.

INTERACT is our dynamic digital learning platform, and it’s unlike anything you’ve used to study online. It’s designed to engage your whole brain, keeping the student-teacher connection at the core of every lesson. It’s been called “the best self study method out right now.” Our full GMAT INTERACT program will be launching in 2014, but we’re bringing you all five IR lessons now, for free, so you can kick off your studies.

INTERACT prepares you for the newest section of the GMAT, Integrated Reasoning, which is the most significant overhaul of the GMAT in its 60 year history. The feature component of INTERACT for IR is an expert, on-screen instructor who engages with you as if you were actually receiving private tutoring. The INTERACT program, unlike simple video tutorials, actually receives answers from you and responds to them.

INTERACT has been a two year process of technological innovation, in which Manhattan Prep designers, coders, instructors, and videographers meticulously worked together to create the most interactive student-teacher focused experience available online.

Happy studying: //

GMAT Challenge Problem Showdown: October 21, 2013


challenge problem
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:

A sheet of paper ABDE is a 12-by-18-inch rectangle, as shown in Figure 1. The sheet is then folded along the segment CF so that points A and D coincide after the paper is folded, as shown in Figure 2 (The shaded area represents a portion of the back side of the paper, not visible in Figure 1). What is the area, in square inches, of the shaded triangle shown?

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Free GMAT Events This Week: October 21 – October 27


Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

10/21/13– Philidelphia, PA – Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/22/13– New York, NY- Essay Writing Workshop presented by mbaMission– 7:00PM- 8:30PM

10/22/13– Boston, MA- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/22/13–  Chicago, IL –Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/23/13– Irvine, CA-Free Trial Class– 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/23/13– Online- Essay Writing Workshop presented by mbaMission– 8:00PM- 9:30PM (EDT)

10/24/13– Online- Free Trial Class– 8:00PM- 11:00PM (EDT)

10/24/13– New York, NY – Free Trial Class-  6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/25/13– San Francisco- Assessing Your MBA Profile presented by mbaMission – 6:00PM- 7:30PM

10/27/13– Santa Clara, CA – Free Trial Class-  5:30PM- 8:30PM

10/27/13– Online – Free Trial Class-  5:30AM- 8:30PM (EDT)

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.