Posted on
28
May 2020

## Gas Mileage GMAT Problem

The Gas Mileage problem is a classic example of the GMAT triggering one of our DSM’s: Our Default Solving Mechanisms for applied math. Yet there are three higher level solution paths that we can engage instead. So we are going to skip the math entirely on this one. In reading the question stimulus, there’s a signal that estimation is going to be a very strong and viable solution path and in fact for most folks estimation is the dominant solution path for this problem.

#### What to Take Note Of

Notice in the first sentence here that we are given the relationship between the efficiency for Car X and the efficiency for Car Y. When comparing 25 to 11.9, 11.9 is a little bit less than half. Whenever we have a relationship that is a little less or a little more than a factor, that’s a clear signal that the GMAT wants us to estimate.

Now, we have an inverse relationship here, between the efficiency of Cars X and Y and the amount of gas they use. So if Car Y is using a little half or rather if Car Y has a little less than half efficiency it’s going to use a little more than double the amount of gas. Managing the directionality of estimation is essential to make full use of this solution path.

#### Estimation Solution Path

Right off the bat, we have a sense that Car Y is going to use a little bit more than double the amount of gas. Now, all we need to do is figure out how much Car X will use. This is an exercise in mental math. Instead of dividing the 12,000 miles by 25 we want to build up from the 25 to 12,000.

Ask ourselves, in a scenario type of way, how many 25’s go into 100 – The answer is 4. 4 quarters to a \$1. Then we can scale it up just by throwing some zeros on. So, 40 25’s are 1,000. How do we get from 1,000 to 12,000? We multiply by 12. So 40 times 12, 480 25’s gives us our 12,000 miles. Car X uses 480 gallons.

Therefore, Car Y is going to use a little more than double this and we point to answer C because we just need to answer the amount Y uses in addition to X. SO there is a bit of verbal play there that we also have to recognize. That’s the estimation solution path.

#### Graphical Solution Path

We can see this via the graphic solution path by imaging a rectangle, where we have the efficiency of the engine on one side and the amount of gallons on the other. With Car X, 25 miles per gallon time 480 gallons is going to give us the area of 12,000 miles. That is we’ve driven the 12,000 miles in that rectangle. If we are cutting it in half on efficiency, or a little more than half, we end up with two strips and if we lay them side by side we see that we’re doubling of going a little more than double on the amount of gas that we use to maintain that 12,000 mile area.

#### Logical Solution Path

Finally, we can look at this from a logical solution path which overlaps a bit with the estimation. But the moment we know that Y uses a little more than double the amount of gas of X, we can also look at and not manage that directionality and just say it uses about double. The only answer choice among our answer choices that is close but not exactly, is C – 520. 480 is our exact number and the A answer is way too low. It’s not close enough to 480 to be viable. So here is an example where, while best practices have us managing the directionality, we don’t even need to do that.

#### Similar Problems

For similar problems like this take a look at the Wholesale Tool problem, The Glucose Solution Problem and for a really good treatment of the graphic solution path check out Don’s Repair Job. There should be links to all three right below and I hope that this helps you guys on your way to achieving success on the GMAT.

If you enjoyed this Gas Mileage Problem but would like to watch more videos about Meta strategy, try “How coffee affects your GMAT performance“.

Posted on
27
May 2020

## How To Select A GMAT Tutor

Hiring a GMAT tutor is something that hopefully, you only have to do once, but this video is for everybody, whether you are brand new to the GMAT or whether you have had one or two bad tutoring experiences. And this isn’t an uncommon thing, a lot of clients come to us after having lackluster success with other tutoring services or with other tutors. So, today I want to talk about what to look for in a tutor. While I’m hopeful that you’ll end up working with us, should you give us a call, I want to give you a framework for what to look for and why these things are important for your learning experience.

#### Tutors Who Claim They Know What You Need

A lot of these characteristics are rather counter-intuitive. So for example, when interviewing a tutor, when speaking with a tutor be very wary of a tutor who claims to know exactly what they are doing. Everyone learns a little differently and it takes a tutor years and years of experience, dozens if not hundreds of clients to really have a sense of what an individual needs.

Any tutor that you speak with who says: “I know exactly what you need, here is the program that we are going to do” and isn’t asking you enough questions or isn’t spending enough time with you to understand what it is that makes you, you and what your specific background is, represents a red flag. A huge flying, waving red flag that tells you to run in the other direction. Successful tutoring, just like successful education and doing things more generally successfully, is full of uncertainties. You should be identifying a tutor that recognizes that.

#### Tutors Who Want to Use Their Method

Many tutors will tell you about their tried and true method or have a particular methodology that they want to follow. This is another one of those red flags. Every learner is a bit different but when you have a tutor that is very top down what they are doing is instead of focusing on you as a learner they are focusing on themselves and what works for them. Or, a little better but not great, what works for the general population, 50, 60, 70% of people. That is great if you are looking to get from a 500 to a 600, but when you are looking for top performers, when you are looking for a 700+ score, you need to leverage your own strengths and recognize your own weaknesses.

Anyone who says, “this is how I solve a problem so you should do as I do” or, “this is the best way” should make your ears prick up because this is someone who is not going to be flexible enough to work with the various balance of characteristics that you have and may throw at them as you hit resistance points in the mid to upper 600s.

#### Guaranteed Results

Finally, any tutor that promises guaranteed results is not being realistic. One of the best kept secrets in test preparation is that not everyone achieves their goal. While we have a great track record and we don’t really have anyone who fails to improve, not everyone gets to that 700 score. A lot of it is dependent upon the priority that you give the GMAT, your rapport with your instructor, the skills that you come in with, but also your openness to acquiring new skills. Many of the companies out there will advertise certain success rates and under close scrutiny most of those numbers actually don’t compute.

They don’t account for wash out rates, people who decide to start but don’t finish or people who have inconsistent prep because they are focused on the next promotion or planning a wedding. And these are obstacles that can be worked around but at the same time, the idea that everyone who walks in the door succeeds is one that should raise red flags for you. So any sort of assurance is indicative of someone who is trying to sell you something, rather than someone who is genuinely concerned with giving you a realistic lay of the land and speaking about your possibilities and their success rate in a meaningful and realistic way.

#### Do Your Research

I hope this is useful as you continue to navigate the uncertain world of test preparation. There are a lot of great practitioners out there but there are also a lot of duds and often price point and guarantees don’t tell you who is who. So do your research, have a lot of deep conversations, ask good questions and ultimately go with your gut. Go with what’s comfortable for you and who you feel most comfortable with because ultimately that will lead to the best experience and the greatest amount of openness of your part to master new techniques. So I hope this helps you guys find the tutor that’s right for you.

Wishing you all the best in your GMAT preparation.

If you enjoyed “How To Select A GMAT Tutor”, watch

Posted on
22
May 2020

## Percentage GMAT Problem

Mike is here with your Apex GMAT problem of the day. Today we are going to look at a percentage problem and we are going to break it down based upon a few characteristics. This is a very typical GMAT percentage problem.

#### Approximately

So, first things first, the thing that you should hone in on immediately in this problem is this term “approximately”. Whenever you see the term you know that they’re not going to give you a precise answer, and so you are not on a hook for the precise answer. It should scream estimation to you!

#### Questions Tricks

If you take a look at the problem itself you see that they offer you two numbers that you will be comparing. But one of the interesting features is that they give you the more complicated, more ugly number, less round number, first and the other number, the 28,000, second. And this is designed to focus you towards the more exacting approach. When in fact, your optimal solution path is recognizing that the 28,000 is your base and instead of computing the differential, super math style, of you know 36,700 minus 28,000 and then putting it over the 28,000, the original number.

#### What If?

Instead we want to play a “What If” and say okay, 28,000 is my base so what if I took 10% of it? That’s going to be 2,800. What if I took 20% of it? 5,600. What if I took 30% of it? And there’s your number right there. So, what we can see if it’s not immediately apparent from a scale perspective is that this big ugly number here is 30% higher. Even if we had that from the scale perspective. Even if we’ve recognized it’s about a one-third higher.

Notice there are two answer choices that are tightly clustered around that 30 percent. There is the 30% that’s our correct answer. Because the real number is somewhere around 31 percent and change. But there’s also that 28%, and so we need to get to some exacting level.  And we do this by playing that “What If?” and saying: Okay, we can fit three blocks of 2,800 in and that gets us just below the target number that they give us in the problem.

This is a great problem to problem form. And you can play around with your mental map as well on it. Also, there’s a signal. It’s more of a subtle one and a little less reliable in the answer choices. On the one hand, you have the cluster of 28 and 30. And so, you can reasonably suggest that because these two numbers are close together and because we’re looking at estimation as a solution path.

The GMAT is testing our differentiation and our estimation skills. And that hones us into, or narrows us down to a B vs. C situation. Other clusters that are here, that are less meaningful is the difference between A and C which is a factor of ten. But given that, and given our B vs. C once again, we are pointed towards a C answer. Now we have two different clusters that share C in common.

The GMAT does this a lot more often than you might think. And while it’s not always 100% reliable, it can be a very valuable tool. Especially when you’re short on time or need to make a decision on a problem where you don’t have a lot of uncertainty.

So, thanks for watching guys! Check out the links for other GMAT Quant & Verbal problems below and I’ll see you guys again soon.

If you enjoyed this Percentage GMAT Problem, try out others: Combinatorics Problem

Posted on
19
May 2020

## GMAT Scoring – Demystified

One of the most common questions asked by those who are new to the GMAT is how exactly does the computer adaptive test or CAT work? The long and short of it is that if you get a problem correct, they give you a harder one, if you get a problem incorrect, they give you an easier one. By doing this the GMAT is able to bounce up and down and calibrate to your skill level.

#### Should You Spend more time on the first 10 questions?

A few things come out of this including questions about how to spend your time. Whether certain questions are weighted more than others, whether your timing, that is the amount of time you spend on a problem factors into the score.

To start, there’s a common misconception that you should spend more time on the first 10 questions because they tend to adjust your level for the computer adaptive test at a greater rate. While that’s true in the sense that the computer adapted model on the GMAT does influence it more at the outset, whether you should spend more time is actually a more complex question because generally the GMAT is going to give you problems that are about average and build up or down from that average.

#### Planning To Score An Elite GMAT Score

If you’re planning on performing at a top level, at an elite level, if your goal is 700 or even 600, you need to assume that those early problems that are average level problems you’re going to do well and in a timely manner anyway.

That is spending extra time to ensure you get them correct is a grandiose version of spending extra time to make sure that you’re getting two plus two correct. You wouldn’t check that because you’re confident enough in your skills and if you’re in the GMAT and you’re getting ready to shoot for a 700 you should already be confident enough in your skills not to have to spend extra time on average level problems. To take these problems on a problem-by-problem basis rather than with blanket statements.

#### Does The Test keep Track of Other Information?

A common question is whether or not the test keeps track of the type of problems you do. This can refer to:

• subject matter
• problem solving versus data sufficiency
• reading comprehension versus critical reasoning versus sentence correction

However, we can still go about it with the core rule: if you get it right you’re going to see something more challenging, get it wrong, less challenging. We tend to believe that they don’t keep a great track of that but really rely upon the bouncing up and down to calibrate you to your average performance level. You don’t want to sweat any single problem or worry about any single problem type in regards to the Computer Adaptive Test.

Certainly,  sometimes you’ll know that certain types of problems require more or less attention from you or that you make common errors on those problems. However, that’s not a CAT thing, that’s just a general GMAT thing.

#### You are penalized for spending too much time on a problem but not in the way you think.

The other big question we hear a lot is whether or not the amount of time you take on a problem factors into the score. The answer here is subtle, it’s yes and no. No in the sense that the GMAT scoring algorithm does not track the amount of time that you spend on a problem. But, yes in the sense that the more time you spend on problems the less time you have for other problems. In particular, if you’re scoring above average, you’re on this ascendant curve so that the difficult problems at the end require more time than the less challenging problems at the beginning.

Therefore, if the GMAT kept track of your time and penalized you for spending longer on problems they would actually be penalizing you twice and this gets us into our timing decisions and the trade-off between time and score.

#### Time and Score Trade-off

When you’re armed with confidence and knowledge about how something works you don’t have to worry about how it works or how what you’re doing affects how it works and you can focus on the task at hand.

The more that you can offload the burden of worrying about the scoring and the mechanisms by which the GMAT measures you, the more success you will find. As always, I hope this helps and keep prepping!

If you enjoyed GMAT Scoring Demystified, w

Posted on
14
May 2020

## The Effects of Coffee on GMAT Performance

Let’s talk about caffeine and the effect of coffee on GMAT performance. Caffeine is a neuro-stimulant. Drinking coffee or tea while you prep and particularly being appropriately caffeinated when your test is a decided advantage. Caffeine is a nootropic, which means it helps you be smarter. It also helps your cognitive abilities become enhanced due to increased blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain.

#### Find Your Right Amount

It’s important to understand how much caffeine helps, not just to wake you up in the morning. More than that, it’s about how much caffeine is needed to get you to that a really nice steady state of alert focus-ness (where you’re making up words like alert focus-ness) where you kind of feel on top of the world and you have that gentle energy.

You want to understand exactly how much caffeine your body can take because there’s nothing worse than being over caffeinated, jittery and anxiety ridden on the exam. But if you calibrate it properly caffeine is an important part of your GMAT diet.

If you enjoyed the Effects of coffee on GMAT Prep, watch: Why a 4.0 does not equal GMAT success.

Posted on
30
Apr 2020

## Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success

You’ve always been a high achiever, always excelled at school, at extracurriculars and in your profession. 4.0, valedictorian, top of your department and yet the GMAT put you on your ass. This is surprisingly much more common than you might think. The big secret is that no one talks about getting help.

#### Everyone Is Asking for Help

For many professionals, this is the first time in their academic or a professional career where they’ve needed to ask for help or engage a tutor. If you are at one of this top consulting finance banking firms you don’t want to ask around say: “Oh I need help with this.” That shows weakness. One of the big secrets is if you’re in a noteworthy profession everyone is asking for help, but no one is talking about it.

The GMAT is designed like many other psychometric exams. Unlike the SAT where everyone and their brother and sister are taking it, the GMAT is taken by a self-selected cohort. That tends to be strong achievers coming from the best schools, the best professional firms in banking and finance.

#### What the GMAT is Testing?

The GMAT needs a way to differentiate among a lot of very smart, very high achieving individuals. The way it does this is by testing your creative and your critical thinking skills. They want to see how flexible you are with the base knowledge that was instilled in you in elementary, middle, and high school. They are not testing whether or not you can multiply fractions or parse a sentence, but rather how well you can manipulate things on the fly.

To some extent, you can prepare and be familiar with the most common types of problems. Ultimately, as an adaptive exam the GMAT will put you in a place where you’re uncomfortable. Where you’re not sure what’s going on with the problem. And it is this navigation that people who have done well at school tend to not do as well with. Let’s explore why.

#### Why 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success?

School (for better or worse) is a reactive environment. You’re given information and expected to spit it back or manipulate it a little bit and spit it back. But there are guardrails up there – kind of like bowling with those balloon tubes. It’s very hard to get too off-center because there’s always a teacher or element of feedback or grade, that redirects you towards what you are supposed to be doing. Consequently, you are rewarded for following directions and are also robbed of the experience of failing heavily or not doing what’s asked. As such, you don’t get the experience of solving problems when you are significantly lost. And this is what the GMAT is testing.

So, often high achievers in academic environments tend to struggle because their study skills tend to level off somewhere around mid-600s on the GMAT. Whereas those students who maybe weren’t as strong, went their own way or tended to be more creative, more artsy tend to react to the GMAT like a fish in water. All of a sudden, the things that didn’t allow them to succeed academically, now become tremendous assets.

#### What To Do About It

So, first things first, don’t worry. This is an opportunity to capture new skills and grow as an individual. At a deeper level what I would suggest you internalize is the idea that what you’ve been doing for success up until now no longer works. That is a scary prospect. Especially when the carrot has always been a few feet in front of your face and you’ve consistently caught the carrot.

So, this represents psychologically, emotionally, a major shift in how you need to deal with achievement. This is highly uncomfortable for a lot of people. It requires a lot of hard work. The opiates that you’ve been using in terms of solution paths that have always worked for you all of the sudden are like an addiction that you need to break.

#### Unlearn Old Habits

The hardest part of our job as GMAT instructors isn’t so much showing you the new things that you need to do or teaching you new ways of doing things. Rather, in helping you dehabituate, unlearn those things that have become so embedded that they are natural. The upside of this is that when someone does so they become much more flexible intellectually. And are that much more prepared to really excel and take to heart the things they learn in business school and professionally and beyond.

If you have always been an achiever and have been stopped in your tracks by the GMAT, don’t worry, give us a call. Let us learn a bit about you and speak to exactly what it is that you might be doing that’s working against you and also what you might adjust in order to excel rapidly. That is really the silver lining here. If you are really good at achieving or working within frameworks, once you adopt a new framework, the acceleration of GMAT success often happens rapidly. To the extent that we can call this a profile, this profile is one of our favorites to work with because we tend to get really, really strong results. Most of the time, over 700.

Wishing you guys the best of luck. Give us a call. Hope you’ve enjoyed this video and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

I you enjoyed: Why A 4.0 Does Not Equal GMAT Success, watch Will GMAT videos help improve my score?

Posted on
17
Apr 2020

## The Online GMAT Part 2: Updates & Testing Experience

Mike from Apex GMAT is here to give you part two on our update about the online GMAT exam that’s being rolled out in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

#### The Exam Overview

This exam is designed to be a standalone, separate exam that’s done in the test centers. While there are going to be many similarities there are also a few key differences that you should know about. If you haven’t done so already I’d encourage you to check out part one of our video. It has a lot of key details about the exam.

#### Test Scheduling

When it comes to scheduling the exam unfortunately it seems that you can’t take an appointment that you have for a live test center and convert it to an online appointment. I’m not entirely sure why this is but due to pricing differentials, scheduling differentials, your online exam has to be a separate enrollment. Your live exam can still be rescheduled for a time when a test center opens.

#### Take it 24/7

One of the benefits of the online exam is that you can schedule to take it 24/7. It’s going to operate around the globe so there’s no middle-of-the-night blackout time. You can do it at that time of the day that you feel most pumped for the GMAT. This is really great because many times were forced into a time slot either because availability or just because you might be a night owl and the testing center closes at 5:00pm. So this is a real advantage for people who feel on at all hours.

#### Setup & Proctoring

There are several key things that are going to take place in the setup and proctoring of the exam for security purposes that you should be aware of. First off, there’s going to be a live proctor watching you during the exam. They’ll be able to see you and listen to you during the entirety of the exam. If you have a problem, if you have questions you can both buzz them in a chat or raise your hand and they’ll come on camera live. If you’re having a connection issue or there’s some technical glitch the GMAC is pledged to be fair and not take off time from your exam. However, if you’re raising your hand for the proctor for something that wasn’t an issue, your time, your clock doesn’t stop. So in that sense it’s just like the live GMAT.

#### Technical Issues

If there’s a major technical issue retakes are available but that’s really going to be something that’s subject to the judgment of the GMAC. We would expect that their system works very well and that the need for a true retake is going to be very rare. Coinciding with this you’re only going to be able to take the online GMAT one time. You won’t get your score immediately but rather sometime within about seven days. It’s a score that can’t be canceled because the online GMAT is designed to only be taken once.

So it’s really more of an emergency measure where people who need to take the GMAT to get an application out should be able to do so. But those same people shouldn’t be able to cancel their score because this is their their ultimate attempt. That being said, there’s nothing stopping you from taking additional GMATs once the live appointments become available. Do be careful here, because it can lock you into a score that you might not want.

#### Exam Check-In

The check-in procedure for the exam is somewhat involved. It’s done live with a proctor and it takes 10 to 15 minutes. What they’re going to have you do is take a selfie, upload a photo or a snapshot of your photo ID. Then they’re actually going to have you walk around the room. Show them the corners, show them that your desk is clear without any papers on it. Show them the door to the room to ensure that there’s no one in the room. For the duration of the exam, including the breaks, you won’t be permitted to leave the room.

#### Exam Section Order

The online GMAT has a predetermined order of sections. So unlike the testing center version of the GMAT you won’t be able to pick and choose which sections you do first, second and so on. So after the check-in you’ll be immediately directed to the quantitative section, then the verbal, a five-minute break and then the integrated reasoning and then you’re done.

#### Scratch Paper

With respect to the scratch paper that we normally get in an appointment GMAT which is that dry erase sort of stuff – on the online GMAT you won’t be permitted to write as we understand it. There will be an online calculator for the integrated reasoning section just like on the normal GMAT and then you’ll have a white board that should be some sort of adjustable screen window that you can scribble on and you should be able to move it around the screen for your convenience during the exam.

And this is something that we’re mildly concerned about and you know we have this saying here, “if you’re doing math you’re, doing something wrong.” That said having scratch paper and the comfort of physical pen and paper is something that a lot of people rely upon so keep this in mind as you get ready to take the online GMAT.

#### Extra Time On The Exam

Finally, for those of you who have an accommodation of extra time from the exam, the online GMAT isn’t available now but they expect that functionality to roll out in mid-may both for time and a half and double time and that also includes an extended break instead of five minutes going to ten minutes in between the verbal and the integrated reasoning.

Check Pearson Vue’s video about the testing experience.

Thanks so much for watching, email us with any questions. We’re here to help during this time and stay safe and healthy out there.

Posted on
16
Apr 2020

## Online GMAT Exam

Hi guys. Mike here from Apex GMAT, bringing you the latest on the online GMAT exam. The GMAC just announced that they’re rolling out the online GMAT.

#### When can you take the Exam?

The earliest appointments that are available are April 20th and appointments extend all the way to June 15th. You should be able to log on right now to secure your appointment. All the links you need are below this video for understanding all the rules and everything else that are going to be governing the online exam. But I’m here to bring you what we know. I’ll be here again tomorrow after we have our call with the GMAC to give you additional details and context.

#### Key Information About the Exam

Most computers and most high speed interconnect internet connections should be fine for taking the GMAT online. You will need either a PC or Mac and Windows 8.1 or 10 or Mac OS 10 point 13 or above. Windows 7 will not work and unfortunately for you hackers and private people of the world Linux and UNIX OS’s will not work.

There are some additional specifications that you need to be aware of. Number one is that you can’t connect over a VPN and a lot of firewalls might disrupt the connection. There will be a protocol for the GMAC to test your connection before you take the exam but if you’re connecting through a work computer you may run into some issues. Similarly, due to the security protocol you won’t be able to have a second monitor hooked up and you’re going to need a webcam that’s operating at least 10 frames per second as well as an internet connection that is at least 1 Mbps.

In addition to this there will probably be some additional protocols where you need to check in because they’re using online proctor’s to actively monitor your taking of the exam and this means unfortunately that a few countries because of data and privacy laws will not be able to take advantage of the online GMAT which include China, North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Cuba and Slovenia. So if you’re in one of those countries unfortunately you can’t take the online GMAT exam.

The cost for the online GMAT is two hundred dollars (\$200) and you should also be able to use an existing registration to make a new appointment for the online GMAT.

#### Format of the Exam

Format wise it’s going to be almost exactly the same with the exception of the writing section. There won’t be one so for those of you who have stamina issues on the GMAT the good news is that the exam will be a half hour shorter. For those of you who have experienced GMAT anxiety which I talked about with several other videos one of the nicest things about the online exam is that you’ll be able to take it in the comfort of your own home or your own space. Doing so is going to offer some significant benefits but also a few liabilities because you’re much more prone to be distracted when you’re in your own space.

So one of the things I would certainly recommend is preparing to sit the exam like you were going to sit at a testing center that means sitting up straight. Ensuring that you have as much quiet as possible, earplugs should be available to you and you should have clothes on (you know, no pajama pants). Dress as if you were taking the exam, wear shoes because these things will put you in a good headspace to be attentive in taking the exam seriously.

#### Taking the Exam with a Disability

For those of you with disabilities the accommodations for disabilities are not yet installed in the online GMAT exam so they expect those to be available by mid May.

#### Scoring

In terms of getting your score right now they expect that the score should be available within a week of taking the exam. I don’t know if that means that they’re going to be recalibrating the exam for any bumps or dips they see in the different format or because the exam is shorter or if they’re going to offer something much more immediately like on the real GMAT but give it an extra level of supervision before they make it official. That’s something that we should have more information for you on tomorrow.

#### Additional Information and Help

All the pertinent information you guys need about the online exam are in the links below including the ability to register for the GMAT’s online webinar and Friday the 17th where you can have additional questions answered. Thanks so much for watching, stay safe and healthy and I wish you all the best in your online GMAT. Of course if you need us for anything you can email questions to us at this address [email protected]

Posted on
16
Apr 2020

## Combinatorics GMAT Problem: Movie Night

Today we’ve got a fairly straightforward GMAT combinatorics problem. If you’ve been self-prepping in a rigorous, let me review the rules sort of way, you’ll pick up that there’s orders, combinations here and you might be inclined to really dive in. What’s my combinations formula? What’s my permutation formula? How do I know which is which? Then plug in numbers.

While that will get you there understand that most GMAT combinatorics problems are more about being familiar with combinatorics than any really heavy duty math. That is because the number of people who are taking the GMAT are generally more familiar with Algebra or Geometry.

#### Combinatorics & The GMAT

Combinatorics, by virtue of being less known, is considered more valuable. It is scored more highly than problems of similar complexity in Algebra or Geometry. So you’re really being rewarded just for knowing basic combinatorics and in fact most permutation/combination problems fall into this basic category. The good news here is that you can use your reasoning to solve this problem without being burdened by the formal combinatorics formulas.

#### Solving The Problem

Let’s take a look at this problem. John’s having a movie night. We need to ask ourselves a series of pivot questions. How many different movies can John show first?

Well there’s 12 movies, he could show any of the 12. Leaving 11 movies to be shown second, any of 11. 10, 9. So the answer is 12x11x10x9 or 11,880. But even this math is a lot to do. Notice that by walking it through as a story, as a narrative, we don’t need to cancel out the 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. We don’t need to worry about division or anything else. We just know that there’s 4 movies and each time, each step we take, there’s one less movie available. Here we have this product 12 times 11 times 10 times 9, but we don’t really want to be forced to process this and so we can look for features that allow us to skip doing that heavy math.

#### Transforming The Numbers

We’ve got this really neat triangular shape in the answer choices where each answer has a different number of digits in it. 12, 11, 10, 9, we can look at and say on average each one’s about 10. The 9 and the 12 sort of compensate, but overall we’re going to have something that’s close to 10 times 10 times 10 times 10.

That is our answer should be somewhere around 10,000 or possibly a little more because we have an 11 and a 12 offset only by a 9. So what we’re looking for is something in that just above 10,000 range this prevents us from doing the math and very rapidly lets us look at those four movies, those numbers 12 11 10 9 and zero in on that 11 880 number.

#### Problem Form

Try it again with a similar number. Notice that you can’t do this with a hundred different movies selecting 17 of them. The math, the numbers would be too cumbersome.

The GMAT is really restricted here and you should restrict yourself to ones that are reasonable to keep processed in your head without doing heavy duty math. Similarly, notice how this one clusters around ten, it doesn’t have to cluster around ten, but when you’re rewriting this problem think about that clustering and think about how your knowledge of common powers or how other identities can help you rapidly get to an answer because the GMAT will present you with numbers that have a neat clean way to jump from your understanding directly to the answer without all that messy math in between.

This is Mike for Apex GMAT with your problem of the day.

If you enjoyed this combinatorics GMAT problem, try more GMAT practice problems:  Remainder Number Theory

Posted on
14
Apr 2020

## Should You Retake the GMAT? All That You Need to Consider

By: Mike Diamond, Director of Curriculum, Apex GMAT
Date: 14th April, 2020

There it is. A 690. Not what you wanted, but pretty damn good. Should you keep the score or cancel it? Do you take the exam again, after all the agony, or hope that it will be enough?

GMAT test takers face these questions each time they sit the exam, and there is no one size fits all answer. There are many factors to consider, from your personal situation, available time, career and MBA goals, and the draw of being done with the GMAT.

#### You Are Not Your GMAT Score

Let’s begin with a more general premise: YOU ARE NOT YOUR GMAT SCORE. As much as some might have you believe so, your GMAT score is not the be all end all of your life, self-worth or MBA candidacy. It’s important to keep this fact in mind, and what follows from it – while a strong GMAT score is necessary to demonstrate academic skill and preparedness for an MBA or other graduate program, a strong score is not enough, especially if you’re applying to a top ranked program.

Something that almost no one will tell you – nearly everyone struggles on the GMAT and spends months preparing. We often see clients from top consulting and banking firms who insist on not recommending us to others because they don’t want anyone they work with to know that they needed help!

#### How The Admissions Committees View Your Score

An admissions committee is looking at your entire profile – your resume, recommendations, accomplishments, and presentation in an interview setting. While they use the GMAT to determine how well they believe you’ll thrive in the academic parts of the MBA program, they’re really looking at the individual when making a decision.

#### What Does This Increase Really Mean To You?

Another factor to consider is how much an incremental increase in your GMAT score will be compared with spending the time elsewhere – adding another activity to your resume, spending more time on crafting your essays, or even feeling better by going out and seeing friends more regularly so you don’t absolutely freaking lose it!

These are real considerations, and being well rounded in fact, not just on paper, will provide a notable enhancement to your ability to market yourself effectively and accomplish your goals – career, romantic, and otherwise. Are you really prepared to give so much up for a number on a piece of paper?

#### Why Should You Retake The GMAT ?

On the other hand, perhaps you had an off day, or perhaps it is really important to you to crack that 700 because your brother/partner/boss got there and you want to be in that same rarefied air. There’s nothing wrong with that, and that drive can be a healthy one. Retaking the exam, especially after significant preparation, represents an extra \$250 GMAT retake fee and an afternoon. Additional retakes are “free” relative to the time and commitment you’ve spent to get to the first exam, so to the extent it’s not damaging to your mental health, relationships, and lifestyle, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t take the exam one or more additional times. Admissions committees can’t see that you’ve cancelled your scores, so don’t worry about looking try-hard. Besides, like everything in life, you’re doing it for you, right?

#### GMAT Retake Strategy

In the end, there is no right or wrong answer, just the answer that is right or wrong for you. Consult with your family, partner, friends and colleagues. If you’re working with a professional tutor, they should be able to provide you perspective as well, especially since they’ve seen this many times before, and maybe have gone through it personally. If you would like to talk about your GMAT prep or retaking the GMAT with an Apex instructor

If you enjoyed “Should You Retake the GMAT?”, watch why a 4.0 GPA does not always equal a high GMAT Score.