### Friday Links: Recommendation Letters, Note-Taking, and More!

Need a break from writing your grad school applications? Take a moment to catch up on some recent stories circulating around the grad school community.

Should You Ask a Teaching Assistant for a Recommendation Letter? (About.com Graduate School)

Trying to decide who to ask to write your grad school recommendation letters? Here’s why it’s probably not the best idea to turn to your undergraduate TAs.

Grad School Application Checklist: 10 Months Out (US News Education)

It’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to get your graduate school applications together. Here is US New Education’s third installment of advice for completing your applications in a timely manner.

What I know now: Grad School (Jeremy Yoder) (The Molecular Ecologist)

Planning to attend grad school for science? Check out what one postdoctoral associate wishes he’d known to do (and what he’s glad he did) in graduate school.

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### Using Smart Numbers to Avoid Algebra on the GRE

Many word problems seem to require us to write formulas in order to solve. Certain problems, though, qualify for a neat technique: Smart Numbers. We can actually pick our own real numbers and use them to solve!

Set your timer for 2 minutes for this Fill-In problem and GO! (© ManhattanPrep)

* Lisa spends 3/8 of her monthly paycheck on rent and 5/12 on food. Her roommate, Carrie, who earns twice as much as Lisa, spends ¼ of her monthly paycheck on rent and ½ on food. If the two women decide to donate the remainder of their money to charity each month, what fraction of their combined monthly income will they donate? (Assume all income in question is after taxes.)

(No answer choices given; this is a fill-in-the-blank)

We’ve got two women, Lisa and Carrie, and they each spend a certain proportion of income on rent and on food. Annoyingly, the fractions don’t have the same denominators; even more annoyingly, the two women don’t make the same amount of money. All of that will make an algebraic solution challenging.

Here’s what an algebraic solution would look like. Let’s call Lisa’s income *x*. She spends (3/8)*x* on rent and (5/12)*x* on food. Add these together:

(3*x*/8) + (5*x*/12) = (9*x*/24) + (10*x*/24) = 19*x*/24

Subtract from 100%, or *x*:

24*x*/24 “ 19*x*/24 = 5*x*/24

Lisa donates 5/24 of *x*, her income, to charity. What about Carrie?

Carrie’s income is equal to 2*x* (because she makes twice as much as Lisa). How much does she spend on rent and food?

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### The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – November 26, 2012

If

a#b=a^{2}“ab, which of the following expressions cannot be negative?

### The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – November 19, 2012

S

npoints are equally spaced on a circle, wherenis an even number greater than 3. If 3 of thenpoints are to be chosen at random, what is the probability that a triangle having the 3 points chosen as vertices will be a right triangle?

### Friday Links: Application Checklist, Interviews, International Students, and More!

Getting you’re grad school applications together? Check out some of this week’s top articles to keep up the motivation.

To Interview or Not to Interview (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Graduate school admissions committees will soon be making the decision whether to interview the applicants. As The Chronicle of Higher Education points out, the decision will depend greatly on the type of department to which the candidate has applied. Check out this article to find out which disciplines are more likely to invite candidates to interview.

Grad School Application Checklist: 12 Months Out (U.S. News Education)

Planning to enroll in grad school in the fall of 2014? Find out what you should be doing now to ensure that your applications are submitted on time.

Advice for Grad Students: Own It. (American Scientific)

Whether you’re already enrolled in grad school or thinking about applying, this piece from a current student pursuing her doctorate degree is a must-read.

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### Translating a Tough Rate Word Problem

Recently, we discussed various strategies for translating word problems into math. Let’s put that knowledge to the test on a challenging problem from a category that everybody hates: Rates.

Set your timer for 2 minutes and GO! (© ManhattanPrep)

* A bullet train leaves Kyoto for Tokyo traveling 240 miles per hour at 12 noon. Ten minutes later, a train leaves Tokyo for Kyoto traveling 160 miles per hour. If Tokyo and Kyoto are 300 miles apart, at what time will the trains pass each other?

(A) 12:40pm

(B) 12:49pm

(C) 12:55pm

(D) 1:00pm

(E) 1:05pm

One of the strategies we discussed in the translation article was make the situation real. Put yourself into the situation and imagine you’re the one doing whatever the problem is describing. That will help you to set things up cleanly and correctly.

So what’s going on in this particular situation? First, you’re the conductor on the Kyoto train. At noon, you pull out of the station (instantly and magically traveling 240 miles per hour from the very start!). The track is 300 miles long; after one hour, where are you?

After one hour, it’s 1pm and you’ve gone 240 miles, so you’re just 300 “ 240 = 60 miles from Tokyo.

Okay, now switch jobs. You’re the Tokyo train conductor and you leave Tokyo at 12:10pm. After one hour, where are you? You’re going 160 miles an hour, so after 1 hour, it’s 1:10pm and you’re 300 “ 160 = 140 miles from Tokyo.

By 1:10p, have the two trains passed each other? Definitely, because train K (for Kyoto) is even further towards Tokyo at that point. Now, make a guess: do you think that the trains had already passed each other by 1p? Think about it before you read the next paragraph.

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### The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – November 12, 2012

A perfect square is an integer whose square root is an integer.

Quantity A

The average (arithmetic mean) of the first 100 positive perfect squares.

Quantity B

The median of the first 100 positive perfect squares.

### Friday Links: Sharing Your Work Online, Overcoming Writer’s Block, Combating Stress and More!

After a difficult week on the east coast, we hope that those affected by Hurricane Sandy are making a fast recovery and that life is returning to as close to normal as possible. To help everyone ease back into the usual routine, we’ve complied our weekly list of grad-school related links:

What You Need to Know About a Graduate Program Before You Apply (About.com Graduate School)

Before you begin your graduate school applications, stop by About.com for a detailed list of things you should know about each program that you are applying to.

Receiving Inspiration (Grad Share)

Dora Farkas, a former PhD student and founder of PhDNet.org, shares how she gathers inspiration to overcome writer’s block.

Thriving in a Pressure Cooker: Building Strong Support Networks (Grad Hacker)

Between deadlines, research projects, extracurricular activities, family commitments, and part time jobs, Graduate school can be extremely stressful. This week Grad Hacker shares some ways for grad students to combat stress and regenerate energy and interest in their work.

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### The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – November 5, 2012

Set A consists of 350 consecutive multiples of 2. Set B consists of 200 consecutive multiples of 3. The median of Set A is 199.5 greater than the median of Set B.

Quantity A

The 30th percentile of Set A

Quantity B

The 70th percentile of Set B