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Posts Tagged ‘GMAT

Business-like approach to GMAT math

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Nathan Burke is a Math Content Developer at Knewton, specializing in GMAT prep.

The GMAT quantitative section is different from most math tests. You don’t usually see Data Sufficiency questions outside the GMAT, for one thing. They’re tricky, and mastering them requires a high level of familiarity. The good news is that the answer choices are the same for every question, and precise calculations are often unnecessary.

Then there are the word problems. All that text takes a long time to read. With 37 questions to do within a scant 75-minute period, you have an average of about two minutes to answer each question. It can be nerve-racking to spend almost half of this precious time just parsing out questions that are essentially prose versions of a company’s balance sheet.

photo by stuartpilbrow

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Written by Knewton

November 4, 2009 at 11:58 PM

Non-Native English Speakers and the GMAT

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Ethan Hein is an editor and social media guru at Knewton.

As a non-native speaker of English, you may find the verbal section of the GMAT especially daunting. You’re not alone. English is a particularly difficult language to learn as an adult. It’s a blend of several different older languages that still coexist uneasily in the grammar and vocabulary. The roots of English in German rub uneasily against its roots in Latin in ways that resist intuition. A lot of “wrong” usage by non-native speakers is more logical than correct usage. Knowing some of the back story can hopefully make you feel less frustrated as you try to absorb it all.

England wasn’t even the first home of English. In ancient times the people there spoke indigenous languages that are the precursors to Irish and Welsh. When Germanic tribes invaded, they pushed the indigenous British tongues to the corners of what are now the British Isles. Old English was a blend of German and Scandinavian languages. A few Latin words also entered via the Germanic tribes’ long interaction with the Roman Empire.

When the Norman French invaded and conquered England in the 11th century, they brought their Latin-based language with them. While common people continued to speak their German-based language, the ruling class used the Latin-based vocabulary and grammar of French. Eventually the two blended to form a single language, but divisions remain. German-based English words have a “lower,” more casual connotation, while French-based words sound more formal. Compare the Germanic “sweat” to the Latinate “perspiration,” or Germanic “friendly” with the Latinate “cordial.”

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Written by Knewton

November 2, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Train Your Body for the GMAT

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When you’re preparing for the GMAT, you naturally want to take practice tests and study diligently. But peak performance doesn’t just depend on your knowledge and skills. It depends on your entire state of being: your digestive system, your muscles, your emotions. If all of your bodily systems are taken care of, you’ll be ready for peak functioning on test day.

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Written by Knewton

October 13, 2009 at 2:39 PM

The GMAT or the GRE?

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joseinclass225pxJose Ferreira is the Founder and CEO of Knewton.

You may have heard that some business schools* have started accepting GRE scores in place of GMAT scores. And you may be thinking: “Awesome! I hear the GRE is easier. I’m taking that!”

After all—there’s no Data Sufficiency on the GRE. Sounds great, right?

The problem is: There’s no Data Sufficiency on the GRE.

The GMAT has been designed and perfected for business school students. GMAT questions mirror the tasks you will perform every day in business school. Reading Comprehension—because you’ll be reading 50 -100 pages in case studies every day. And Data Sufficiency—because you’ll be skimming each case’s exhibits and financials to determine which numbers are key to cracking the case and which are irrelevant. What about Critical Reasoning? Well, every day in class you will comment on other students’ arguments. And they will comment on yours, sometimes in pretty snarky ways. So you need some facility in arguments, if only to protect yourself from that loudmouth ex-banker in the Skydeck.

In fact, the GMAT is a great test. By that I don’t mean that it will bring peace to the world, or spiritual enlightenment, or that a good time will be had by all. I mean it’s extremely well-constructed, with very high scoring consistency. In short, the GMAT does an excellent job of testing the skills you need to excel in business school.

In contrast, the GRE General Test is, well, general. It is designed to provide a sense of the fitness of a student for graduate-level work, whether one is interested in pursuing a PhD in English or a Masters in Psych. But the aptitudes needed to succeed in one discipline are very different from those of other disciplines, and no single test can measure them all well. Success in business, and success in business school, requires very specific skills that the GRE measures poorly, and the GMAT measures very well.

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Written by Knewton

October 7, 2009 at 6:11 PM

It’s Wordy, It’s Awkward, It’s… Correct!

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BersinWritten by Joanna Bersin, Knewton’s resident GMAT Sentence Correction expert.

Like a salesman trying to trick you into purchasing an expensive item by appealing to your emotions, the makers of the GMAT try to trick test-takers into both “buying” grammatically incorrect answer choices by making them concise, and eliminating answer choices that are grammatically correct by making them appear awkward and unwieldy.

How do we typically avoid splurging on unnecessary purchases? We train ourselves to shop wisely, basing our decisions on a range of criteria and not solely on what “seems” to be the most attractive option in the store. We focus on specific features, using logic to compare items. How can you choose the correct answer on test day? You don’t just listen to your ear; first make sure that each sentence you eliminate violates a concrete rule of English grammar. When choosing between the remaining, seemingly error-free, constructions, use the differences between the options to identify errors; all other things being equal, always pick the less wordy, less awkward, and more active answer choice.

But buyer, beware: The test-makers, like salesmen, want your ear to tell you what to do. Before going into “negotiations” with these tricksters, it’s best to learn some of their most common tricks. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Knewton

September 25, 2009 at 6:41 PM

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Sample of a GMAT Essay Scored a “5”

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Knewton is your source for the best advice on your GMAT essays. Go to Knewton.com for more sample AWAs.

Analysis of Issue Prompt: Of all the manifestations of power, restraint in the use of that power impresses people most.

Displays of great strength are misguided attempts to gain ground or leverage over another party. In school, children are taught to respect the “strong, silent type.” And for good reason: those able to hold back the use of power should be held in the highest regard. “Heroes” more than willing to throw themselves into harm’s way before all facts are known should not be held up on a pedestal. Instead we should honor those who walk quietly and hold a big stick.

Private citizens aren’t the only ones who benefit from this modest mindset. Governments should strive to restrain the use of their power, in both domestic and international affairs. Leaders must make sure that we exercise caution and humility before diving into something for which we are not ready—not just in war or war planning, but in everyday decisions. Just because a nation can exercise its power to gain leverage over another nation or an individual, doesn’t mean it should. The world already knows the United States of America is the most powerful nation on earth. We should let it be known that the lives of our soldiers are far more important than the displaying of our strength.

The Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s is one the most well known example of a Presidential restraint in the face of possible calamity. President Kennedy could have sent the message to the Soviets that America would not back down in any way.  He didn’t and instead chose a deal unpopular even among his own cabinet. The United States showed restraint by removing missiles from Turkey, and the Soviets followed our example and pulled back from Cuba. Almost undoubtedly, this restraint stopped World War III.

This is not to say that America always uses restraint. For example, the current financial crisis happened because people believed that “might is right.” Gain all you can, as quickly as you can, and step on anyone in your path—for years this was the American motto. Just because a company can destroy its competition doesn’t mean they should. We do not need corporations flaunting there power for everyone to see. We need safe, transparent markets. The wealthy and powerful should use only honest practices in the business world.

History has judged that restraint will always gain the most respect and admiration from one’s peers, and enemies. We are impressed by greatness, but, perhaps more importantly, we cherish and honor humility.
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Written by Knewton

September 23, 2009 at 1:03 PM

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Non-native speakers and the GMAT

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Jose Ferreira is the Founder and CEO of Knewton.

In response to my last post on BeatTheGMAT, a commenter asked whether native English speakers have an advantage on the GMAT, and whether the test gives more weight to the verbal sections. Business schools care about both your math and your verbal skills. Math is a universal language, the same everywhere in the world. The verbal sections, on the other hand, are, simply put, in English. Native speakers will naturally have an advantage. It makes it harder for non-native speakers, but that disadvantage can be overcome.

Business schools are eager to attract international students. But if you’re going to function in English-speaking business environments, it’s reasonable to expect you to be able to have a command over the language. You might need to devote extra time to study and practice. You’ll have an easier time with the writing sections if you spend some time reading well-edited, grammatically correct English. Publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Economist will all help you absorb the correct use of idiomatic expressions.

There are certain qualities that business school admissions officers look for in applicants, regardless of nationality. Business schools like students to be competitive, driven, goal-oriented, analytical and extroverted—the classic “type A” personality. Shape your application to market at several of these qualities (assuming you have them). Once you’re in business school, no one will care if you have a thick accent as long as you speak and act confidently.

Written by Knewton

September 21, 2009 at 1:23 PM

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