## Articles published in 2014

### Manhattan Prep’s Black Friday GRE Special!

One of the biggest shopping days of the year has arrived–Happy Black Friday! In case you’re too full of turkey and stuffing to make your way out to the shops today, we’re serving up something extra special.

Today through December 15th, we’re offering $200 off all of our Complete GMATLSAT, and GRE courses*! This deal includes all Complete Courses– in-person as well as Live-Online. To receive this limited-time discount, register for a course that starts in December and enter the code Holiday200 at checkout.t! *Offer is valid for courses starting in the month of December only. Not valid for students currently registered for courses, or with any additional offers. Offer expires 12/15/2013 for GMAT courses Studying for the GRE take a free GRE practice exam, or try out one of our upcoming free Manhattan GRE trial classes, running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on FacebookLinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter! ### GRE, GMAT, and LSAT Instructor Auditions: Decision In A Day For the first time ever, Manhattan Prep is holding a one-day audition for new GMAT, GRE, and LSAT instructors! Come join us December 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM and transform your passion for teaching into a lucrative and fulfilling part-time or full-time career. Manhattan Prep offers instructors flexible hours and great pay ($100/hour for all teaching and tutoring). In addition to teaching classes, instructors can work on other projects such as curriculum development.

Our regular instructor audition process, which includes a series of phone, video, and in-person mock lessons, usually takes weeks, even months, to complete. However, we are offering a one-day event on December 14th for teachers interested in working with us. Candidates who attend will receive a decision that day.

The event will take place at our company headquarters at 138 West 25th St., 7th Floor, in Manhattan, New York City at 9:00 AM EST.  It is open to candidates who live in the tri-state area, who have teaching experience, and who are GMAT, LSAT, or GRE experts.

The day will include several rounds of lessons, as well as other activities. Each round will be pass/ fail. The day will begin at 9 AM and may last as late as 4:30 PM for those who make it to the final round. Candidates will need to prepare lessons for some rounds; we will send a more detailed instruction packet to those who sign up for the event.

To register, please email Rina at auditions@manhattanprep.com. Make sure to include in your full name, an attachment of your resume detailing your teaching experience, and an official GRE, GMAT, or LSAT score report. We look forward to meeting you on December 14th!

### Come Donate! Manhattan Prep Holiday Food, Toy, & Clothing Drive

In the spirit of the holiday season, 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 with a  goal of collecting a minimum of 50 new toys to be distributed to needy children in NYC. Finally, we are also collecting clothing to be donated to the  New York Cares Coat Drive. Our hope is to collect a minimum of 50 new or gently used coats, sweaters, and blankets.

All Donations may be made at 138 West 25th St, 7th Fl. New York, NY 10001. Donation bins and flyers have been placed on the 7th floor.

Please join our efforts to make this season brighter for our community and those in need.

### The GRE Review Game

So you’ve just taken a practice test. Chances are, you didn’t get a perfect 340. (If you did, stop studying and come work for us!). You probably didn’t even get a score that you like yet. That doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, though. In fact, you’ve barely started, because…

REVIEWING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROCESS!!

Most people take tests, then look at the score, then click on the explanations to the ones they got wrong. Their review process takes about 15 minutes, and just involves “oh, I did that wrong. Oh, that’s the right answer.” This kind of review process teaches you next to nothing about how to do better on the next one.

So here’s what you need to do. The test gave you a score from 130-170 on accuracy, but you need to give yourself your own score on your review process. Here’s how it works…

For every single question – not just the ones you got wrong! – you should be going back and re-solving. Take yourself through this checklist for quant problems:

1) Did I fully understand the concept and the rules behind it? +1
Give yourself a point if you could tell that a question was asking about DIVISIBILITY, or understood the RATE x TIME = DISTANCE relationship.

2) Did I understand what the question was asking for? +1
Did you rephrase DS questions to pinpoint what they were really asking for? Did you notice that it asked for “Amy’s age in 5 years,” and wrote down A + 5 instead of just A? Did you understand what it means when they ask for “x in terms of y and z”?

3) Did you solve it correctly? up to +5
Give yourself up to 5 points if you solved correctly the first time and got the right answer. Subtract a point or two if you took longer than you should have, or made a mistake before ultimately correcting it. Only give yourself +1 for a random lucky guess and +2 for an educated guess.

4) … or if you didn’t solve correctly, did you make a good decision to skip? +2
You’re not aiming to get every single question right on the GRE. Some may be too hard to solve in the time given! So you should pat yourself on the back whenever you recognize that a question is too hard to solve, and you make the decision not to attempt it. Lock in an educated guess and save that extra time for a problem that is doable for you.

### GRE Geometry: The Impossible Task

In one of my recent classes, I told the students “You’ll never know how to answer a geometry question.”  The reaction was fairly predictable: “Why would you say that?!?  That’s so discouraging!!”

Of course, I certainly was NOT trying to discourage them.  I used that statement to illustrate that geometry questions are often a type of quantitative question that can feel immensely frustrating!  You know what shape you have, you know what quantity the question wants, but you have no idea how to solve for that quantity.

This is what I meant when I said you’ll never know how to answer these questions. That “leap” to the correct answer is impossible.  You can’t get to the answer in one step, but that’s all right: you’re not supposed to!

(An important aside: if you’ve read my post regarding calculation v. principle on the GRE, you should be aware that I am discussing the calculation heavy geometry questions in this post.)

The efficient, effective approach to a calculation-based geometry question is NOT to try and jump to the final answer, but instead to simply move to the next “piece”.  For example, let’s say a geometry question gives me an isosceles triangle with two angles equaling x.  I don’t know what x is, and I don’t know how to use it to find the answer to the question.  But I DO know that the third angle is 180-2x.

That’s the game.  Find the next little piece.  And the piece after that.  And the piece after that.  Let’s see an example.

The correct response to this problem is “Bu-whah???  I know nothing about the large circle!”

But you do know the area of the smaller circle.  What piece will that give you?  Ok, you say, area gives me the radius.  A = pi*r^2, so pi = pi*r^2, so r^2 = 1, so r = 1.  Done, and let’s put that in the diagram.

### What Does the GRE Test? Calculation versus Principle

Some of you may have already read an excellent post discussing how you should study for the GRE, differentiating the application of skill as opposed to the application of knowledge.  (Hint: you need both, but many people struggle to progress past pure knowledge!)  If you have not read that post, you can find it here.

Today (or whenever you may be reading this) I would like to “riff” on that concept inside the quantitative section.  Many, many students that I work with want to treat the GRE quantitative section as a math test: there’s an equation I should use, and a number I should solve for.

And sometimes, yes, that’s exactly what the test wants you to do.  But there are other questions.  Questions that don’t feel quite so … “math-y”.  If you’ve taken a practice test, you probably know what I’m talking about, even if you can’t put your finger on an exact definition.  You saw some questions that didn’t have an equation, or questions that had an equation but no definitive “x = 243” final answer. If you had a gut reaction of “This doesn’t feel like math?!?” to these questions, congratulations! You are well on your way to a more nuanced understanding of what the GRE quantitative section wants from you!

This is what I mean in the title “Calculation versus Principle”.  Some GRE quant questions are best approached through the application of various math principles; running calculations on these questions is often too time-consuming.

(As an aside, when I use the term “calculation” I am not referring to questions you would plug into a calculator.  Any questions that require mathematic manipulations to find a definitive numerical result are calculation questions.)

If I were teaching a class, this is about the point where I would get tired of talking.  I’m tired of talking, let’s see an example!

Ah, yes, a lovely quant comparison question.  What follows is a transcription of a hypothetical test-taker’s calculation approach.  Feel free to skim the next two paragraphs; the purpose here is NOT for you to know the calculation approach, but instead to compare this approach to a principle-based approach.

***Begin hypothetical calculation test-taker.***

“I need to compare the area of a triangle to the area of a square.  Well that’s easy!  Area = ½ b*h  , and Area = side*side.  Ok, what’s the …. Uh-oh.  What am I supposed to do with this?  They haven’t given me numbers.  No wait, when they don’t give me numbers, I’m allowed to choose numbers that fit the problem.  Ok, a triangle and a square have the same perimeter.  Let’s make the perimeter 12, so I can easily make a 3-sided and 4-sided figure.  Ok, square with sides = 3, area is 3*3 = 9.  All right, quantity B is 9.  Let’s get quantity A.”

“What triangle should I make?  Right triangles are easy, could I make a right triangle?  Hey, a 3-4-5 right triangle has a perimeter of 12!  Ok, so it’s ½ b*h, and that’s ½ (3)(4) so the triangle has an area of 6 – that’s definitely less than 9.  But the problem didn’t tell me it was a right triangle; am I allowed to assume that?  No, I should probably try another triangle.  Well, I could make an equilateral triangle – 4-4-4.  What would the area of this triangle equal?  The base is 4, but what’s the height?  Ok, I’ll have to draw the height.  Ah, I have a 30-60-90 triangle inside here, and the 60 side is going to be .  This will have an area of ½ (4)(3.7) – that will be 2*3.7, which is 7.4.  Still less than 9.  Ok, the answer is B.”

***End hypothetical calculation test-taker.***

Well, this person is correct.  The answer is B, quantity B is always larger.  But wow, that was a lot of work, and in all honesty, I tried to make this hypothetical test-taker an extremely accomplished GRE quant test-taker.  The immediate jump to number testing, the recognition that we need to actively try to find the maximum area triangle to correctly compare that to the square area, the immediate recognition of easy right triangles and the immediate ability to calculate the area of the equilateral triangle, the quick estimation of … these are all possible, but to do them all in the same problem, and do them correctly?  I would prefer an easier way.

So let’s see what happens when we apply a general principle to this problem.

***Begin hypothetical principle approach test-taker***

I’m comparing the area of a square to the area of a triangle.  The perimeters have to be the same.  Ok, I know that all else being equal, if I want to maximize the area of a shape, I want it to be symmetrical.  A square has more area than a rectangle with the same perimeter.  What’s the most symmetrical shape?  A circle.  So the closer my shape gets to a circle – the more sides I put in it – the more I’m maximizing my area.  Ok, the square has more sides, and therefore the larger area.  B.

***End hypothetical principle approach test-taker***

Hopefully you agree that the principle-based approach is far simpler, just as accurate, and requires much less time.

So now comes the fun part – how do we learn the principles, and how do we know when to apply them?

Learning the Principles

There is no easy answer to this, but I can provide some guidelines.  Look through your GRE study sources.  If they look anything like mine (which are, of course the Manhattan Strategy Guides), there are certain concepts that are in boldface.  Compare the following options, all of which at least partly appear in bold in my strategy guides:

1) “Sides correspond to their opposite angles…. The longest side is opposite the largest angle, and the smallest side is opposite the smallest angle.”

2) “The internal angles of a triangle must add up to 180 degrees.”

3) “Rate x Time = Distance”

4) “For some grouping problems, you may want to think about the most or least evenly distributed arrangements of the items.”

Items 1 and 4 are what I would call principle statements.  They give relationships or strategies, but don’t readily lend themselves to equations.  Items 2 and 3 are calculation statements.  They either state clearly defined numerical quantities (and therefore easily lend themselves to equation creation, a la “a+b+c = 180”) or literally state an equation.

Look through your study materials.  The more the content seems to address relationships or ideas that don’t correspond to exact numbers or exact equations, the more you should consider applying these ideas as large principles.

There is one particular area that I feel deserves special mention: number properties.   GRE questions that revolve around positive vs. negative, even vs. odd, prime vs. composite numbers are more often than not principle based.  There are broad principles that define specific relationships across these types of numbers.  Similarly, the GRE often asks questions that either revolve around or take advantage of what I call “trick” numbers: -1, 0, and 1; and proper fractions, either positive or negative.  These numbers have special properties; learning these properties, as opposed to needing to do exact calculations, can save you much heartache on the test.

Applying the Principles

When should we apply the principles?  This question relies on you closely reviewing your work.  Whenever a question asks for a relationship between items without providing solid numbers, perhaps you could apply a broad principle.  Whenever a question seems to rely less on solving for a specific quantity, and more on identifying what kind of quantity will result – “which of the following must be odd” – perhaps you could apply a general principle.  And finally, if a question permits trick numbers, there may be a principle you could apply.

As you review your work, ask yourself the following question:  “Is there a way I could have answered this question without doing any actual math?”  If the answer is yes, you have found a principle question.

Good luck, and happy studying!!

### 3 Tips to Stay Engaged on Long Passages

We all know the feeling. You come to the end of a sentence, or a paragraph, or a page—and suddenly realize you have no idea what just happened.

From a psychological perspective, this is a fascinating phenomenon. Somehow, while a part of us thought we were reading happily along, another part was off somewhere else—ruminating on some joke we recently heard, fretting about an upcoming assignment, or planning dinner.

But whatever it is in the mind that allows us to basically be just wrong about the contents of our own thoughts (to believe we’re learning about mating practices of chimpanzees but really be hankering for spaghetti carbonara), one thing that’s certain is we can’t have this happen while we’re tackling a long reading passage in the Verbal section of the GRE on Test Day. Spacing out may be fine to varying degrees in the course of everyday life, but it can’t happen during the GRE.

Fortunately, there are some tricks and strategies you can learn now to help prevent this type of thing from happening, and to improve your overall comprehension of reading passages. The main goal, remember, is not to know the entire passage by heart—but rather to have a solid grasp of two basic things: first, the purpose and structure of the passage; second, where to find certain details in the passage should you encounter a question about them. Here are three tips to help you accomplish this:

Tip 1: Put yourself in the author’s shoes. GRE passages are often culled from, or imitations of, genuine texts from scientific, literary, or historical publications. What that means is that someone spent time and energy crafting the argument you see before you. Someone had a real-live thought, opinion, or belief that he or she wanted other people to know, and sat down in front of a keyboard and carefully deliberated about how best to convey this idea to a non-expert reader. By imagining this person’s motivations, you can often end up with a much more vivid picture of the content and purpose of the passage. What is the principal idea the author is trying to get across? If you were the author, how would you express these ideas? Visualizing a real person typing real ideas onto a real computer screen is a great way of plucking abstract notions from the ether and dragging them down to earth.

Tip 2: Engage emotionally. If someone asked you comprehension questions about what happened in the gripping last season of Breaking Bad, you would have no problem picking out the right answer. Why? Because human beings remember better things they actually care about. When something matters to us, our brain is more active, forming neural pathways that you can draw from in subsequent memory tasks. The more you can bring yourself to care about the content of the passage, the stronger your activation signal will be, and the clearer your mental picture. Many people find science passages particularly daunting, and immediately zone out at the sight of words like “electrochemical” and “tectonic.” If you imagine, though, some epic drama taking place between, say, the earth’s molten core and the hardened outer crust above it, you may find that previously yawn-worthy topics take on a certain pizzazz.

Tip 3. Know what NOT to read. The trickiest part of the GRE is timing. Many people feel like they’d have no trouble getting all the answers if they only had enough time. Unfortunately, given these temporal limitations, our job is rather to read as efficiently and effectively as possible—so get good at knowing what not to read. When you see a list of complicated terms, make a note of where it is, but just say No to laboring over each of its tiny details. See an in-depth description of some tangential topic? Just say No—and make a note of where it is. Come across a lengthy aside that seems unrelated the main idea? Again: say No. You don’t have time to get bogged down in these details. Sure—if a question comes up about them, you’ll know where to look. But for now, you’re reading Big Picture.

Overall, then, the key to your success is going to be about striking the perfect balance. Engage deeply the text, but don’t get too sucked in. The more you can cultivate these strategies as you practice, the better off you’re going to be when facing those initially unnerving—but ultimately conquerable—passages on Test Day.

Manhattan GRE

Studying for the GRE take a free GRE practice exam, or try out one of our upcoming free Manhattan GRE trial classes, running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on FacebookLinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

### Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars Program Deadline: September 26

Do you work for a non-profit? How about promote positive social change? Manhattan Prep is honored to offer special full tuition scholarships for up to 16 individuals per year (4 per quarter) who will be selected as part of Manhattan Prep’s Social Venture Scholars program. SVS program provides selected scholars with free admission into one of Manhattan Prep’s GRE live online Complete Courses (an \$899 value).

These competitive scholarships are offered to individuals who (1) currently work full-time in an organization that promotes positive social change, (2) plan to use their MBA to work in a public, not-for-profit, or other venture with a social-change oriented mission, and (3) demonstrate clear financial need. The Social Venture Scholars will all enroll in a special online preparation course taught by two of Manhattan GRE’s expert instructors within one year of winning the scholarship.

The deadline is fast approaching: September 26, 2014!

Studying for the GRE? Take a free GRE practice exam, or try out one of our upcoming free Manhattan GRE trial classes, running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on FacebookLinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

### 3 Misconceptions about the GRE

You’ve been prepping for the GRE for a while (or maybe you’ve just started), and you’re trying to gather as much information as possible. But because no one knows exactly what will be on the GRE until you sit down to take it, there’s a lot of misinformation out there!

Some of this misinformation is left over from the old GRE (pre-2011), which was very different in structure and somewhat different in content from the current form. Not everything that was true about the old GRE is true about the new one. Some misinformation, though, is just the product of assumptions made from very little data.

So let’s dispel some of those myths here…

1. You have to memorize a ton of big, fancy vocabulary.

False! The old GRE tested a lot more of these million-dollar words – words like pusillanimous, flagitious, or escutcheon. For this reason, lots of lists of “GRE words” on the internet still contain mostly these ultra-fancy words that no one actually uses. (The old GRE also had a question type called “antonyms” in which you had to pick the opposite of a word without any sentence context whatsoever! The new GRE only uses vocab in context.)

On the current GRE, almost all of the vocabulary you’ll see on Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence (TC and SE) will be words that you probably already know. These are the medium-difficulty words that you’d be likely to read in the New York Times or The Economist – words like impartiality, debilitating, or superfluous* .

These TC and SE questions are in part testing your vocabulary knowledge, but far more importantly, they’re testing your ability to parse the logic of a sentence. You’ll see many sentences with simple vocabulary, but with complex structures, including transitions, contrasts, or flips. Your ability to follow the logic of clues like “however,” “rather than,” “would not have been,” etc, and make inferences from them will affect your verbal score more than the impressiveness of your vocabulary will.

So to do well on TC and SE, you don’t need to memorize the dictionary! You probably already know more than three quarters of the words you’ll encounter (although you’ll want a moderate dose of studying for those words that you don’t already know). You should spend a good amount of time understanding and analyzing those complex sentence structures, in addition to just memorizing words.

2. You don’t really need the calculator.

This is another misconception leftover from the old GRE, which didn’t let you use a calculator. Many of the practice questions that you’ll find in online searches or in prep guides are leftovers from the old test, because the topics (algebra, geometry, word problems) have not changed from the old test to the new. These older questions are all doable without a calculator, which leads some students to believe that they’ll never need it.

You’ll certainly see questions on the new GRE that are doable without a calculator (and many that are easier to do without a calculator). However, a lot of students are surprised at how many questions on the test require good calculator use. You’re likely to see at least a handful of questions that ask you to multiply or divide “messy” numbers – something like 62 x 83. Sure, you could do that by hand, but when the clock is ticking it’s much more effective to use the calculator.

You’ll still see many problems on which common sense, concept knowledge, and/or mental math are more effective than the calculator. And if you find that you’re using the calculator on more than half of problems, you’re relying on it too much! But you should take the time to practice with the onscreen calculator to make sure that you’re comfortable with using it effectively.

3. Just learning the rules is enough.

Not true! Knowing the rules and concepts is of course necessary to do well, but you also need good time management and stamina to do well.

Taking a 4 hour test is a very grueling experience, and if you’re not used to being under that much mental pressure for that long, you’ll get exhausted! That can take a big toll on your score for the last few sections. Make sure you take several timed practice tests before the real event, and do them under the same time constraints as the real test (no extra breaks, no pauses). Train yourself like you would train for a marathon!

And of course, make sure to get a good night’s sleep – not just the night before the test, but for at least 3 nights before the test – and eat a good meal an hour or two before the test.

Make sure you’re pacing yourself well in each section. If time runs out, you lose points on the questions you didn’t get to. Don’t be afraid to skip the ones you don’t know, to get to the ones that you can solve.

There’s nothing I can tell you that will actually make the test fun to take, but knowing what you’re up against can certainly make the experience less intimidating!

Manhattan GRE

Studying for the GRE? Take a free GRE practice exam, or try out one of our upcoming free Manhattan GRE trial classes, running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on FacebookLinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

### Coping with Test Anxiety

Many students report feeling high anxiety while preparing for—and taking—the GRE. I can relate: I was so nervous on test day my dad had to drive me to the test center!

The thing to keep in mind when it comes to anxiety is that your body is actually doing you a favor. Anxiety is associated with a host of different bodily responses, all of which are amping you up to perform your best: the stress hormone cortisol becomes active in your system; your heart beats faster; you are engaged and alert and attentive. These might not always feel good, but they are helpful! Consider the alternative: how well would test prep go if you were taking a survey on Which “Game of Thrones” Character Are You? Unless you’re obsessed with becoming like Tyrion Lannister, you probably won’t experience a huge amount of anxiety while taking a survey such as this, and so you won’t be as engaged as attentive as you really can be. Anxiety is normal and, in the long run, will help you do your best.

There are, however, instances in which anxiety can lead to reductions in performance. Anxiety can interfere when you’re staring down a problem that, at first glance, appears unsolvable. It can stop you from opening your strategy guide to study after a long day of work. And it can undermine your performance on Test Day if it gets in the way of beneficial problem-solving habits.

So there are times when we might want to do what psychologists call “downregulating” our anxiety. There are several ways to accomplish this.

Before Test Day

– Practice good study habits. Anxiety can build up when we feel we are not doing our best to study and prepare for the test. Be diligent and consistent in the amount of time you spend studying each week. By maintaining this consistency, you can keep up your sense of control over your own outcome and not feel overwhelmed or inundated.

– Exercise. A healthy mind requires a healthy body. Studies have shown that even taking a seemingly insignificant ten-minute walk per day can have significant effects on reducing stress hormones in your body and adding the kinds of endorphins needed to stay positive and productive.

– Keep things in perspective. One principle cause of anxiety is the feeling that the GRE is everything. In fact, though, people have the tendency to overestimate the importance of seemingly big events. In other words, while it may feel like the GRE looms large right now, and that the future hangs in the balance, remember that there are an infinite number of ways and routes to accomplishing your objectives. Whatever the outcome of this test, you will find a way to navigate toward what you want to do. Studies show that you are more resilient than you give yourself credit for.

On Test Day

– Get excited! Because of the variety of neurochemicals zipping around in your bloodstream on this important day, your body is humming like a finely tuned racecar. A recent study has shown that a technique called reappraisal can help you harness this energy toward positive performance. The idea is simple: as you evaluate your feelings before and during the test experience, tell yourself repeatedly, “I’m excited!” What this does is help the brain interpret your physiological symptoms as instances of competence and control—which, given how ready you are for this test, is exactly what they are!

– Breathe. Eastern traditions like yoga and meditation give extremely helpful lessons for keeping a cool head as you face the test. One such lesson is a breathing technique called ujjayi breath, a strategy that calls for a slow, steady breath in and out through the nose, creating a slight constriction in the back of the throat which causes a small but perceptible oceanic sound in the throat and sinuses. Taking five or ten instances of slow, purposeful breath can do wonders for your stress levels.

– Remember what you practiced. Stress and anxiety can sometimes cause people to search in the moment for new, untested approaches to solving problems. Resist this urge. Recall the hours you spent practicing problems just like this and stick to the techniques and strategies you have learned in your preparation. You are ready for this test, and have all the tools and strategies you need! By having faith in your preparation and sticking with what you know, you will be able to resist feeling anxious and instead devote all your mental resources to doing your best.

Manhattan GRE

Studying for the GRE take a free GRE practice exam, or try out one of our upcoming free Manhattan GRE trial classes, running all the time near you, or online. And, be sure to find us on FacebookLinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!