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GMAT Fundas

There was a time when every engineering student’s dream was an MBA. Thanks to the IT boom, that’s not the case any more. But for those of you who still dream of a foreign MBA here’s the dope on the entrance test. Although it is is often referred to as the American version of apna CAT it’s not exactly of the same pattern. In fact Indians find the maths easier and the verbal part a lot tougher than CAT (the choices offered in this section are often mind-bogglingly subtle variations)

The Basics: The GMAT is composed of three sections

Section 1 – Analytical Writing Assessment
Consists of two 30-minute analysis essays. One is an analysis of an argument and the other is an analysis of an issue. Sample question: (Not from actual test): The following appeared in a Los Angeles newspaper. “The number of children below 18, involved in violent crimes has fallen drastically since the government announced tax relief for parents with children attending school. The same applies to literacy rate and unemployment, which have improved and gone down respectively. We should now expect a close to perfect society, not very far in the future” (Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyse the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument.) This is a typical example of such an AWA question. This is followed by another 30-minute analysis of an issue question.

Section 2 – Quantitative Ability
The curriculum for such questions is fairly simple but the questions can be very tricky and time is also rationed. For Indians, 10th std maths is more than enough. No calculus and higher arithmetic. Good na? Two types of multiple-choice questions are used here.

A: Problem Solving:
Tests basic arithmetic and geometry, typically includes calculations. Example : A barn 50 feet long and 30 feet wide needs to be fenced from all sides with a space of 10 feet between the fence and the barn from all four sides. What will be the perimeter of the fence surrounding the barn, in feet?
A) 80 feet
B) 90 feet
C) 180 feet
D) 240 feet
E) 370 feet
Sounds easy? Try solving it in 30- 40 seconds. Not a big deal when you practice and practice.

B: Data Sufficiency:
This checks if you understand whether a solution can be arrived at, based on the given data.
Example: Tom gives Jerry some peanuts, which are twice as many as what Hillary paid Ted. How many peanuts did Hillary pay Ted?
1. Tom gives Ted 11 peanuts.
2. Jerry gets 20 peanuts from Tom.

Choose from the following:
Statement (1)
ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked;

Statement (2)
ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked;
* BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient;
* EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked;
* Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed

There are plenty of tricks and short cuts to attack such questions and a lot of practice is needed to answer within the given time. Notice that here the answer is not important. The only question is “Can it be answered or not? If yes then based on what facts?”

Interesting stuff, but it’s a different way of testing and remember it’s a race against time too. GRE fellas, start compartmentalizing. GMAT strategies are different in many aspects.

Section 3: Verbal Ability
This has the following subsections
1. Sentence correction: A seemingly correct sentence is provided with a part or all of it underlined. Substitute choices for the underlined portion are provided. You have to choose the most correct one. This is probably the hardest part of the whole test. Most of us are so used to Hinglish that we have become oblivious, even negligent of grammar as it used to be. GMAT is very bookish and this section needs some knack, which can be acquired through strategies.
2. Reading Comprehension : This is like any other reading comprehension but with attention to detail and possibly long passages. The questions may be about passage inferences and may not be limited to facts inside the passage.
3. Critical Reasoning : Questions in this section test logical and analytical reasoning. A sentence or a small paragraph is provided. And a question is asked on it.

Which of the following would be the best sentence to start the next paragraph?
Which of the following would best finish the last sentence?
Which of the following facts, would best cast a doubt on the writer’s conclusion in the above passage?

So that’s what GMAT is all about. Four and a half hours of testing in front of a monitor. I am sure many of you are used to this situation, but what if there are brain-scratching questions in front of you instead of that Indonesian chic who’s impressed with your snaps? And every second is clocked. And no, you can’t take a wishful break if MTV Grind comes on TV.

GMAT Facts

A Maximum score is 800, which is calculated after the actual score is computed.
B The GMAT follows Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT). The better you do, the harder the questions will become till you make a mistake. But you get more credit for answering harder questions.
C Since the GMAT is taken on the computer, the scores of each section (except AWA) are almost immediately available.
D The Analytical Writing Assessment section is scored separately on scale of 1-6, with 6 being the best. You get this score only after 2-3 wks.
E Tried and tested methods in standard books can significantly improve your GMAT scores

Useful books recommended:
* Kaplan GMAT CAT: ISBN 0-68485-6662
* Cracking the GMAT CAT: ISBN 0-37575-4059

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