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WBM1988: GMAT TEST STRATEGY

Posted on: May 24, 2020

WBM POSTS ARE MY LOST WORKS FOUND IN THE WAY BACK MACHINE

1988: A GMAT TEST TAKING STRATEGY

GMAT Test Strategy Outline
by Jamal Munshi, Fall 1988

Ignore the numbers. They refer to questions in a sample exam.

DISCRETE QUANTITATIVE

1.0 LAYOUT OF THIS SECTION

1.1 2-3 sections, 2 live 1.2 20 questions/30 minutes/progressive,8,7,5 1.3 math problem requiring solution/pick an answer from 5 1.4 arithmetic/algebra/plane geometry/logic diagrams 1.5 no calculus/trigonometry/statistics/economics/finance

2.0 CLARIFICATION OF INSTRUCTIONS

2.1 choose the BEST answer/question interpretation 2.2 figures drawn accurately EXCEPT where indicated 2.3 figures lie on a plane unless indicated differently

3.0 OVERALL STRATEGY

3.1 do not read instructions on the clock 3.2 Read the question FIRST, then the story

3.3 Careful reading 3.3.1 define the precise relationship being sought 3.3.2 careful attn to underlined,bold,italicized words 3.3.3 watch out for thought reversers (NOT,EXCEPT) 3.3.4 exploit inherent weaknesses in mc format 3.3.5 watch out for units

3.4 Exploit the problem structure 3.4.1 to interpret the problem 3.4.2 to avoid calculation 3.4.3 to avoid algebra 3.4.4 to approximate and eliminate

3.5 Overall problem solving strategy 3.5.1 set up to cancel 3.5.2 quadratic equations will factor 3.5.4 look at answers first to determine precision sought 3.5.5 look at answers to determine form sought 3.5.6 working backwards thru problem statement 3.5.7 substituting answer choices

3.6 Test is designed so bulldozer approach will fail 3.6.1 Find the underlying simplifying structure 3.6.2 If overwhelmed by numbers 3.6.2.1 look for cancellations 3.6.2.2 look for approximations 3.6.3 The clock is the enemy/beat the clock

4.0 PROBLEM TYPES AND SPECIFIC STRATEGY

4.1 Arithmetic manipulations 4.1.1 the calculator question [11,12,18] 4.1.2 set up to cancel/unit cancellations [24,35] 4.1.3 factoring/polynomials [39] 4.1.4 cumulative operations/bookkeeping [22,23,25,26 4.1.5 approximation problems [13,14] 4.1.6 percentages [21]

4.2 Peculiar problem types that recur 4.2.1 2×2 contingency tables [29,30,31] 4.2.2 mixture concentration problems [8,32,54] 4.2.3 three part ratios [33,34] 4.2.4 percent change [36,37] 4.2.5 Venn diagram questions [57,58] 4.2.6 Determine f(x) from tabular data [p94,#8] 4.2.7 formations and possibilities [16,40,55,56] 4.2.8 discontinuous processes [50]

4.3 Algebra problem types 4.3.1 properties of numbers [5,15,38 4.3.2 manipulations [41 4.3.3 setting up [42,43,44,45,46] 4.3.4 phony operations [47]

4.4 Word problems 4.4.1 weighted averages [48] 4.4.2 rate problems [49] 4.4.3 interest problems [6,52] 4.4.4 profit and loss problems [9,10,53] 4.4.5 watch out for units [20] 4.4.6 working backwards [28] 4.4.7 combined rates [51]

4.5 Geometry Problems 4.5.1 Right triangle ratios [59,65] 4.5.2 Circles/cylinders/spheres [60,61] 4.5.3 Inscribed figures [62] 4.5.4 Parallel lines/ parallelograms [63] 4.5.5 Angles [64]

5.0 TIMING DRILLS

5.1 Work one section thru at a time 5.2 Set alarm clock for 30 minutes 5.3 List equations and principles on missed questions 5.4 Write down and bring unresolved questions to class. 5.5 Timing drills make the difference. the key.

6.0 An alternate mixture problem algorithm using an example.

If we mix 3 gallons of 12% Chardonnay with 1 gallon of 24% sake, what will be the mixture concentration?

Draw a diagram like this and place on it the actual data from the problem representing the unknowns with their symbols:

d1 d2 3,12%————|————1,24% cm,vm

d1 = the distance between component 1 and the mixture in terms of composition. i.e., the difference in concentration between component 1 and the mixture. d2 = the distance between component 2 and the mixture.

The method algorithm is: v1/v2 = d2/d1 v1/vm = d2/(d1+d2)

that is, the volumes are inversely related to the composition differences.

Here, the concentration difference between the two components (d1+d2) is 12%. This is to be split up in the ratio of v1/v2 or 3/1. The answer is 9:3. i.e., d2 is 9, and d1 is 3, so cm must be 12+3 or 15%. ETS problems always work out into nice whole numbers like this.

This method is much faster and cleaner than the one propose in the book. The other possible question we could ask about this problem:

6.1 How much v2 would we need to obtain a mixture of 15%? d1=15-12 or 3. d2=24-15 or 9. so v2/v1 = d1/d2 = 3/9 = 1/3 we need 1/3 of 3 gallons or 1 gallon.

6.2 In what ratio must 1 and 2 be mixed to obtain a15% mixture? d1=15-12 or 3. d2=24-15 or 9. so v2/v1 = d1/d2 = 3/9 = 1/3

6.3 If we are to mix 3 gallons of 1 with 1 gallon of a component to obtain a 15% mixture, what does c2 have to be? d1=15-12 or 3. v2/v1 = 1/3 so d1/d2 has to be 1/3 d1 is 3. so d2 has to be 9. c2 = 15+9 = 24%

CRITICAL REASONING

1.0 TYPE OF QUESTIONS (most,least,except)

1.1 Attack the arg “Which would most weaken the arg” 2,27,29,30,35,36,47 “Which would undermine” 21 “What is the best response to the arg” 11,22,24,32 “Which of the following args would be weakened by the above” 1.1.1 Methods of weakening args counter example weak assumption logical fallacy (see fallacies) alternate causation “Which of the following have attacked an assumption” 19,20 “The arg could be criticized on which ground” 46

1.2 Support the arg “Which of the following would most strengthen the arg?” 25 “Which of the following would be strengthened by the arg” “The arg is valid only if ” 33

1.3 Identify arg type “The author makes his point primarily by..” 1,34 “Which most closely parallels the arg” 43 “Which is logically consistent” “Which is logically inconsistent” 7 “Which arg is logically similar to the one above” 4,12,31 “Which best describes the reasoning of the arg” 27,45 “The arg can be characterized as ” 48

1.4 Making deductions “Which of the following can be deduced from the arg” 49 “Which of the following conclusions can be drawn” “If the arg is true which of the following cannot be true” 8 “If the arg is true which of the following must also be true” 50 “The main purpose of the arg is to ..” 10,15 “What is the point that the author is trying to make ” 14 “The statement above can be deduced from which of these” 6 “Which of the following would logically complete..” 13,16,18 “Which of the following would logically contradict 17 “Which would be most reliable” 37

1.5 Implicit and explicit assumptions “The arg makes which of the following assumptions” 9 “The arg makes the presupposition that” “The arg makes the unsupported assumption that” 23, “The arg depends on the assumption that” 26,

1.6 Fallacies [38-45 “The arg above suffers from which weakness” 1.6.1 circular reasoning (petitio principii) 44,43,41 1.6.2 ad hominem 1.6.3 false authority 37 1.6.4 shifts burden of proof (ignorantium) 40 1.6.5 weak/unsupported assumption 1.6.6 confuses correlation with causation 1.6.7 non sequitur 42c 1.6.8 loaded question (stop beating wife) 44d 1.6.9 ambiguity in def of terms 45,46,p238#15,47 1.6.a hasty generalization 26 1.6.b false/alternate cause 28,29,30 1.6.c error of composition/division 31 1.6.d false dilemma 32,33 1.6.e false analogy 38,34,35 1.6.f appeal to emotion 38 1.6.0 appeal to popular opinion 39

1.7 Analyzing verbal exchanges “A has misinterpreted Bs remark to mean” 3

2.0 Syllogisms

2.1 Valid forms (alternate wording)

all A is B all A is not-B all not-A is B x is A x is A x is not-A x is B x is not-B x is B

all A is B all A is not-B all not-A is not-B x is not-B x is B x is not-A x is not-A x is not-A x is not-B

Either A or B or both all not-A is not-B not-A x is B therefore B x is A

Either A or B but not both (exclusive or) not-A->B, A->not-B, B->not-A, not-B->A

if A then B if and only if A then B A->B, not-B->not-A A->B, B->A, not-A->not-B, not-B->not-A

2.2 Invalid forms

all A is B all A is B all A is not-B x is B x is not-A x is not-A x is A x is not-B x is B

all A is not-B all not-A is not-B all not-A is not-B x is not-B x is not-B x is A x is A x is not-A x is B

all A is B A or B (or both) x is C A->not-B x is (A,B,D)

3.0 OVERALL STRATEGY

3.1 Read the question first —- THEN the story 3.2 Importance of careful reading/dissection 3.3 Some means at least one 3.4 Eliminate (x out) inconsistent/implausible answer choices 3.5 Pay attention to tenor of arg 13 strongly for, strongly against, dispassionate humorous(15), sarcastic (10) 3.6 Watch for qualifiers 17 3.7 The Roman Numeral strategy. Eliminate all AC containing -RN 3.8 Dont go beyond the scope of the arg as presented 3.9 Do not ascribe value judgement to author unless clearly does 18 3.a Watch for suppressed premise 19,20 3.b In verbal exchange put words AC in speakers mouth 3 3.c Watch for unrelated additional variables 23 3.d Define the perspective and bias of author p245 #11, 11 3.e Evaluate authors qualifications 3.f Assign variables and write out syllogisms 4,5,6 3.g When parallelling weak args, dont try to fix them

READING COMPREHENSION

1.0 Extreme time pressure section. Key is good time management.

1.1 Three 500 word essays each with 7-9 questions for a total of 25 questions. 1.2 Timing per essay: Total of 10 minutes per essay.

1.2.1 Scan questions for buzzwords: 0.5 minutes Read the essay: 3 minutes Answer questions: 6 minutes 1.2.2 If less than 5 minutes left after 2 essays, dont attempt the third. Use this time to go over first 2 essays.

2.0 Attack strategy

2.1 First pick which essay to do last (may not get to)

2.1.1 Number of questions varies from 7 to 9 so pick the one with the least questions for last. –or– 2.1.2 Boredom is a big factor in this section. Read the first sentence of each essay and save the most boring for last.

2.2 Before reading the passage scan questions for buzzwords, i.e., words and phrases that suggest a specific subject matter, and circle them with your pencil. Do this quickly. Do not read answer choices. Dont make a great effort to remember these.

2.3 Read the passage. Do not rush but dont dawdle or re-read sentences and paragraphs. Push on.

2.3.1 Remember that these essays are very boring. Boredom is your enemy. It will cause your mind to wander. Be alert to this and push on thru the passage. 2.3.2 As you read, circle buzzwords you recognize and otherwise, underline, take notes and mark up the passage with your pencil. This serves two functions: it keeps you awake and it builds a road map so that you can find things easier when doing look-ups to answer questions. 2.3.3 While reading the passage look for title and tone. What is the passage about? What is the tenor of the passage? What is the attitude of the author toward the subject?

2.4 Answer the questions.

2.4.1 Read questions carefully underlining key words as necessary. 2.4.2 X-out the implausible answer choices. (Usually 1 or 2 answer choices completely out of line) 2.4.3 With the remaining answer choices play elimination . Compare A to B. Eliminate one and compare winner to C. etc. Throwing our wrong answers works better than trying to find the right answer. Elimination tournament approach minimizes re-reading of answer choices. DO NOT re-read answer choices. No time. 2.4.4 Abandon the question if no clues after 1 minute. If two or more answer choices crossed out, guess but you must go on to the next question.

3.0 Passage and question types

3.1 Passage types. All poor quality D papers. Out of context. Condensed. Boring, dry and difficult reading (on purpose). Not expected to be familiar with subject matter. If you are, you must be very careful to take passage literally.

3.1.1 Literature and the arts: interpretation of some event or a piece of work. 3.1.2 Science: description of recent scientific findings. 3.1.3 History: revisionist thesis 3.1.4 Economics and politics: evaluate various ways of solving a problem.

3.2 Question we already know

3.2.1 Thesis: What the passage is about “The author is primarily concerned with..”, “The best title for this passage would be..”, “The main idea of this passage is..” Pg 112 Q 1,2, Pg 116, Q 1-3 3.2.2 Tenor: The tone of the passage. “What is the tone of the passage?”, “The authors attitude toward the subject can best be described as..” Pg 113 Q 15, Pg 118 Q 19-20, 3.2.3 Context: What came before or after this passage. “It is most likely that immediately preceding/following this passage the author discussed…” Pg. 113, Q 14, Pg 118 Q 18, 3.2.4 Logical Structure: Type of argument being made. Why certain statements are made (its function in the arg) “The author mentions xxxx to…”, “The author develops his passage primarily by..” Pg 113, Q. 11,12, Pg 117 Q 14-16

3.3 Questions that vary with the passage

3.3.1 Explicit : What is clearly stated in the passage. “The author states that…”, “According to the passage..”, “According to the author..”, Pg112, Q. 3-7, Pg 116, Q 4-9 These are the most important questions because there are more of these than any other type and they usually require a lookup. Dont hesitate to refer to the passage.

3.3.2 Implicit: Like explicit but not stated as such in the passage but can be clearly inferred. “Which conclusion can be inferred from the passage?” Pg 113, Q. 8-10, Pg 117, Q 10-13, 17, 3.3.3 The algebra question: Whenever some direct or inverse proportionality is stated in the passage, ETS likes to test your understanding of the exact relationship by restating it in several different ways. Pg 113 Q. 13

4.0 Why wrong answer choices are wrong

4.1 Too broad in scope, too narrow in scope (thesis, context) 4.2 Wrong relationship between variables (algebra) 4.3 Too strong, too weak (tone, attitude) 4.4 Extraneous, not consistent with the passage, or , consistent with the passage but not responsive to the questions. These latter types may trip you up. 4.5 Partially consistent, but partially inconsistent or extraneous.

5.0 Specific attack strategies

5.1 More than one seemingly correct answer choice: contrast and eliminate. (explicit, implicit, context) 5.2 Test initial words and eliminate answer choices on this basis first. (thesis, tone, logic) 5.3 Place a + , 0, or a – next to each tone question answer choice, then eliminate answer choices that are not consistent with your appraisal of the tone as plus or minus. 5.4 Careful of thought reversers (not, least, except) and all words in bold face or italics.

SENTENCE CORRECTION

1.0 Layout of this section

1.1 25 questions/ 30 minutes/ approx 70 seconds per question./ tests elementary grammar with very limited scope as explained below/ review of grammar not needed. 1.2 Each question consists of a sentence (the stem) a portion of which is underlined. The underlined portion may or may not have grammatical errors. 1.3 There are 5 answer choices proposed as a replacement for the underlined portion. The BEST replacement is the correct answer. The correct answer may not be the only grammatically correct answer choice.

2.0 Points of strategy

2.1 DO NOT read answer choice A. Answer choice A is a repetition of the underlined portion of the stem and means that the sentence is best stated as written. A good way to avoid reading A is to start with E. 2.2 Watch out for more than one error in the stem. Some answer choices will fix one error but not the other. Its a trap. 2.3 If suspected error condition occurs in all choices, its not an error. One of the 5 choices, a-e, IS the right answer. Given!! 2.4 As you read answer choices, use X to eliminate, and check mark to keep for now. 2.5 Dont forget that A is a possible answer, i.e., there is nothing wrong with the sentence. Dont be afraid of As. 2.6 Eliminate obvious bad answer choices and then compare and eliminate to distill out the answer or guess if no clue. 2.7 Conciseness always wins in ETS-land. If two answers look right, pick the shorter one. 2.8 In vague pronoun reference, put the noun back in. 2.9 In parallel verb clauses where a verb is omitted (understood) substitute the verb back in to test. (eg Pg 5 Q17, “should keep” and “has not” –> test with “has not keep” (no good) “does not keep” (good) so it must be “does not” instead of “has not”

3.0 Rules of grammar tested

3.1 Misplaced modifier. Pg3 Q1, Pg5 Q23, Pg6 Q24, Q25, Q29 3.2 Number agreement (singular-singular, plural-plural) 3.2.1 noun-pronoun Pg4 Q11-13, Pg6 Q25 3.2.2 subject-verb Pg4 Q7, Q8,Q9, 3.2.3 pronoun-pronoun 3.2.4 parallel verb clauses 3.3 Pronoun-pronoun person agreement (first person-first person, second person-second person, third person-third person, one- one) Pg4 Q14, 3.4 Parallel verb clauses 3.4.1 tense agreement Pg4 Q15-17 3.4.2 type agreement (infinitive-infinitive, gerund-gerund) Pg 5 Q20, 3.4.3 active-active/ passive-passive Pg6 Q26, 3.4.4 prefer active over passive 3.4.5 omitted verb must be the same or cant omit Pg5 Q18 3.5 faulty comparison (apples and oranges) Pg5 Q21, Q22, 3.6 Awkward construction 3.7 Conciseness over wordy Pg3 Q3, Pg6 Q30, 3.8 Change in meaning 3.8.1 Special case – the “algebra” question. Stem states a direct or inverse proportionality. Wrong answer choices are wrong because they confuse the relationship. Pg 3 Q4, 3.9 Specific word usage 3.9.1 Usage of “of”, “for”, and “to” Pg3 Q2, 3.9.2 Usage of “who”, “which”, “that” 3.9.3 “Why” cant start a noun clause 3.9.4 “being”, “in that” usually indicate wrong choice 3.9.5 “Respectively” Pg6 Q28, 3.9.6 “Among” three or more, “between” two only Pg6 Q26, 3.9.7 Adverbs must be near verbs they modify. Special case that ETS likes… “still”, “only” Pg4 Q7 3.10 Confusing subject with object of intervening clause Pg4 Q8, Q9 3.11 Vague pronoun reference Pg4 Q10, Pg5 Q19, 3.12 Redundancy (eg “reason is because”, “repeat over again”) Pg6 Q27, 3.13 Closer element controls in disjunctive subject, i.e., the verb takes the number and person of the closer noun or pronoun. Pg3 Q6, Pg5 Q9 3.14 Conjunctive is plural Pg3 Q5,

4.0 Logic Diagram

Read the stem. There are three possibilities: you found the error(s), or it looks right to you (choice A), or your are not sure.

4.1 Found error(s) 4.1.1 From EDCB, eliminate those that contain the error 4.1.2 If more than one remain, discard CM (changed meaning) 4.1.3 Still more than one?, pick most concise or guess 4.2 Looks right (looks like an A) 4.2.1 From EDCB discard CM 4.2.2 In remaining choices, look for errors and eliminate 4.2.3 If still one of the EDCB left, compare with A and pick the more concise. 4.3 Not sure (elimination tournament) 4.3.1 Compare B to A and eliminate one of them 4.3.2 Winner plays C 4.3.3 Winner of 4.3.2 plays D 4.3.4 Winner of 4.3.3 plays E

DATA SUFFICIENCY

1.0 Layout of the section

1.1 20 questions/ 30 minutes/ increasing order of difficulty 1.2 Do 8 in first 10 minutes/ 7 in next ten minutes/ 5 last 10 minutes. This is an approximate progression. 1.3 Math problems. Each question consists of information in the stem, followed by a question, and then two pieces of further information, fact 1 and fact 2. No answer choices marked abcde. The problem is to determine whether we have enough information to answer the question. 1.4 Diagrams shown are not necessarily to scale and will more often fool you than help you. 1.5 Drawings are topologically correct. i.e., point shown inside a circle is inside.

2.0 Logic to determine answer choice a,b,c,d,or e.

2.1 Information in the stem is never sufficient. We need some or all of the information contained in facts 1 and 2. 2.2 If fact 1 works –> its an A If fact 2 works –> it;s a B If we gave it an A and a B –> give it a D instead

2.3 If neither facts work——–>>>>>>>> (enter CE-land) If facts 1 and 2 together work –> its a C And if they dont work –> Its an E

2.4 Elimination table

IF IT HAS TO BE IT CANT BE — ———— ———– 1 works AD BCE 2 works BD ACE 1 didnt work BCE AD 2 didnt work ACE BD 1 and 2 didnt work CE ABD 1 and 2 are the same DE ADC

2.5 Logic Diagram

Forget 1 <– yes no –> Forget 1 v v v v Does 2 work? yes –> D Does 2 work? yes –> B no –> A no –> CE

CE-land (not a fun place. Do not enter unless you have to)

Does 1 & 2 work together? –> yes C –> no E

3.0 Points of strategy

3.1 Eliminate answer choices according to table in 2.5 3.2 Be wary of entering CE-land. Go only if you have to. If either 1 or 2 has worked, do not go to ce-land. 3.3 Dont work out the problem. You dont have time. Just determine that you could do it if you had to. 3.4 In Ds do not try to match the answer you would get using fact 1 to the one you would get using fact 2. They need not be the same for it to be a D. 3.5 In equalities, must get a unique answer. 2 possibilities not good enough. eg, sqrt(9) could be 3 or -3. Dont know. 3.6 In inequalities, set up table of values to test for exception. Use positive integers, negative integers, and fractions. If answer to the question is always yes or always no then it works else it does not work (insufficient information). 3.7 Remember that if we can answer the question, it works. Even if the answer is no. eg, stem info: x is a positive integer question: is x > 9 ? fact 1: x=7 Here, fact 1 works, because it enables us to answer the question definitively. The answer is no. 3.8 In geometry problems, use the technique of distortion. Draw your own figure that conforms minimally to the specifications in the stem and in the fact being tested. Figures may be drawn to fool you. Pg 56 Q11,12 3.9 Complex and intimidating algebraic expressions usually simplify to extinction with cancellation of one of the variables. Factor as needed. Pg 57 Q21,22 3.10 Problem types: same as DQ: mixtures, averages, %change, distance, interest, profit, algebra, geometry. 3.11 Important to clearly identify and remember the question posed. 3.12 Ratios (or percentages) alone cannot yield value. However, any one value with associated % yields all values. Pg 57 Q17

OVERALL STRATEGY

1.0 Never read instructions on the clock. The exam is a race against the clock. Reading instructions which we already know is a waste of time. 2.0 Remember the Chinese saying “Hurry up slowly”. Economize on time but dont rush. A sense of haste would be suicidal. 3.0 Have at least 4 sharpened #2 pencils, a good resin eraser, a watch, and a sharpener on your desk. Dont sharpen pencils on the clock. But do sharpen them in between sessions. 4.0 When filling in the answer bubble, use an efficient 7 or 8 stroke fill. No need to do a work of art. Be sloppy. Dont use too much pressure because you may have to erase it. 4.1 Wear loose and comfortable clothing. 4.2 Dont cram the night before. Just relax. Listen to music and get a good nights sleep. If you drink coffee, do so on the morning of the test. 4.3 Prior to the test date, visit the test site. On the morning of the test arrive have an hour early. Remember to take your admission ticket. 4.4 Remember: no calculators, no beeping watches. 4.5 Pace yourself thru each section. If bogged down, abandon the question and move on. 4.6 Read questions carefully. Remember that a lot of the ETS answer choices are otherwise correct but not responsive to the question asked. Ask yourself “Whats the question?” (This is important in DQ, DS, RC, CR) 3.7 You lose 1/4th of a point for each wrong answer. So, dont guess unless you can eliminate some answer choices. 3.8 Remember: only one response per question. Multiple response is automatically wrong. Erase completely. (A light touch on the eraser is better. Avoids smudges) 3.9 Make sure that question numbers and answer sheet numbers match. 5.1 Do not circle answers and then go back and enter them into the bubble sheet. It is a terrible strategy. First if you run out of time it could be a real disaster. Second, you waste a couple of very precious minutes picking answers twice.

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