Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Component skills to master GMAT reading comprehension

GMAT reading comprehension tests you on many component skills.

There are a lot more analytical skills that go into high performance in the verbal. Here is a set of skills – of recognizing the fine differences between the list of terms.

Label passages into narrative, argumentative, expository, descriptive
Recognize- main points of the passage, factors, examples
Relate- between causes and effects, major and minor ideas
Critique- the author’s assertions
Translate- abstract and figurative expressions into more precise and literal language
Apply- information in the passage in hypothetical contexts
Draw- logical conclusions, inferences
Analyze- a text for weaknesses, strengths, validity
Compare and contrast different points of view
Recognize the organization of the passage
Integrate- new ideas into the passage
Defend/ rebut-the author’s position

For high score verbal, acquire a copy of RC topper module at.
Email your queries to

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

GMAT sentence correction error types

Re-write the following sentences correctly

Error type: Subject verb disagreement
1. When temperature increases, the ice caps melt and presumably, causes flood in summer.

Error type: Parallelism
2. The panel of contractual savings has suggested three major recommendations, namely, benchmarking of small savings against government securities, retain tax sops only on savings with maturities in excess of six years and transferring of the entire proceeds of small savings collections to states.

Error type: idiomatic construction
3. Some of’ the biographers of Leonardo have actually expressed regret that such a man, endowed by divine artistic genius would waste precious years of his life on such a lowly pursuit like engineering.

Error type: Misplaced modifier
4. Instituted by the law council, three years to a review of the legal profession was devoted by the task force.

Error type: Tense consistency

5. Debono’s recent research on cognitive processes had revealed that managers used intuition in distinct ways.

Error type: Countable, non countable noun use
6. During the economic recession, the wages of much unskilled workers were so less that many of them lived in abject poverty.

Error type: Pronoun and noun agreement
7. Almost a century ago biologists found that if it separated an animal embryo into two parts at an early stage, they would survive and develop as two normal embryos.

Error type: Illogical comparison
8. Unlike Singapore, the roads in Hong Kong are asphalted twice a year when the monsoon comes to an end.

Error type: Adjective adverb use
9. This perfect sound method to portray the text as it originally stood, is quite imaginative and with creativity than the new interpretation.

Error type: Faulty Diction
10. A policy outlook on the status of children in a country is essential but not quiet well enough condition to make a difference to the future of a generation.

There are 15 more error. In total there are 25 error types often tested in the GMAT. To know more information click

To download the entire error list and study notes click here.

Email me at for doubts and queries. A GMAT verbal faculty will answer them.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

How to improve your GMAT score by 100 points

Recently I trained a student for GMAT. Let me share my experiences with you

He visited me, a month back. He had written GMAT and had got a score of 500. He had prepared for a month earlier. This was his preparation

1. He devoured the official guide twice. He practiced 25 sentence correction questions, 50 math(problem solving and data sufficiency questions) and 5 RC passages daily.
2. He had 3 GB of downloaded GMAT material, from which he practiced random questions daily.
3. He took up the GMAC test software twice, a week before the exam.

These were the observations I could make out.

His knowledge of mathematical formula was strong. He could remember the formula for area of the equilateral triangle, formulae in trigonometry and other conceptual formulae. He could also remember intricate details like the height of the equilateral triangle, the formula to arrive at the in-centre of the circle…. However when he saw tough problems he couldn’t proceed beyond the first stage in the problem solving process(identifying what formula to use). He knew which formula to apply but he didn’t know how to apply the formula.

In verbal he had a fairly strong vocabulary. He knew some grammar concepts like subject verb agreement, errors due to misplaced modifier, pronoun errors, ambiguous use of ‘which’ and ‘it’ and few more error types.

In critical reasoning he went by his gut feeling to get his answers. He could eliminate 3 options, but two options were very close. He guessed the answer.

He briefly dilly dallied by reading the local newspaper.

Here is a typical case of GMAT student who presume he/she can prepare for GMAT in less than a month.

I suggested the following things and I closely monitored his training.

I selected (edited obviously) GMAT like passages from various sources in the net, the topics covered business, philosophy, anthropology, science….

I exposed him to 25 different errors commonly asked in GMAT. I didn’t go back to high school grammar. I found that, the knowledge in high school grammar is too elementary to teach sophisticated error identification.

For critical reasoning, I took him through a course in logic. I taught him how to identify arguments, how to identify fallacies in the argument. I designed an algorithm(a step by step process )to arrive at an answer for critical reasoning questions. (Engineering knowledge was useful here:-)) There are 7 different types of CR questions. Hence 7 different algorithms.

For math I taught him how to critically analyze mathematical problem, how to determine the variables in a problem, how to define relationships in the variables, how to derive hidden relationships. How to diagram the problem.

Further I taught him faster means of solving equations, working backwards with the answer options and also how to effectively eliminate answers by using deductive reasoning.

I taught him for two weeks and then I gave him problems to practice on and told him to classify problems in the OG.

I told him to take 4 full tests. He was averaging around 620 in them.

He eventually got 650.
I wish he had met me earlier, he could have saved one GMAT attempt cost $250.

For further guidance mail me at Lets see who I interact with next. Ill post my experiences of mentoring him/her.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Analytical focus to GMAT

IIM CAT gets lots of space in discussion forums(thanks to the Prometric goof up), while its international cousin, GMAT, though revered for its reliability, is hardly discussed. Now that GMAT is used by a good number of B. Schools in India, IIMA( PGPX), ISB Hyderabad, IIMB( PGSEM), GLIM Chennai, to name a few, let’s give it its due and take a closer look at it.

GMAT tests verbal( sentence correction, critical reasoning and reading comprehension), math(problem solving and data sufficiency), and analytical writing skills.

The test assesses diverse competencies the prerequisites of which are strong fundamentals, the ability to think laterally and an analytical approach to sentence formation( grammar), critical reasoning, reading comprehension and quantitative problem solving.

Retake ,retake
GMAT is arguably the most repeated test. Twice, thrice. At times four attempts. Given that B.chools require 670+/800 thorough preparation is indispensable. The preparation cannot be confined to taking computer based tests or solving questions from the official guide. An overload of practice material in the internet has also mostly caused confusion among test takers- how much of it is adequate and if all relevant topics are covered.

Miracles do not happen
A reading comprehension section requires one to analyse and evaluate varied topics from economics, literature, philosophy, science, history. One who is planning to do GMAT should start early by extensive reading of such texts( The Hindu, Tuesday open page, Thursday Science and Technology and Sunday literary magazine are excellent sources. )this can be followed by reading comprehension(RC) tests of good quality. Always analyse the passages after the test. To score well in the Reading Comprehension a good diction is a must. For instance you must know the fine difference between explain, argue, propose, analyse, evaluate(words that summarise the primary purpose of the passage). And disinterested(not uninterested), biased, apprehensive - to cite a few terms depicting the author’s attitude toward the issue under discussion.
For the critical reasoning section there is a lot to learn about argument formation, argument types, argument evaluation and fallacies in arguments. One should know all the terminology that comprise the philosophy of argument( inductive generalization, argument by analogy, flaws in reasoning, post hoc fallacy to mention a few) from a whole spectrum of logic.
Sentence correction needs a lot of preparation. Requirements of standard written English, syntactical formats( eg. hardly…when, as much …as, so…that ), effective expressions( placing modifiers at the right place, avoiding unnecessary repetitions , ambiguity, choosing appropriate words).

The problem solving section of the GMAT is not as challenging as that of CAT. However, since most GMATers have a gap in academics, a thorough review of basics of math is a good start. This can be followed by strategy building- analyzing numerical problems, diagramming problems, substitution of suitable values, forming equations, forming hypothesis and testing , assessing the adequacy of data and the like.
The essays need attention- brainstorming on topics, learning the intricacies of argument analysis and adequate practice on timed organized writing.

In sum, to a reasonable degree, GMAT tests a candidate’s preparedness for the rigours of business education and business careers thereafter. Those competencies involve quantitative analysis, critical thinking, decision making, divergent thinking, Interpreting and evaluating complex data, and expressing ideas coherently and persuasively. These skills are reflected in the GMAT. Study well and crack it the first attempt itself.

For guidance email

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