Monday, February 9, 2015

The Best Of The Blog 2009-11

This blog was a place where I used to come and talk about my GMAT worries, share the best resources I found and notes on questions and concepts I struggled with. Here are the best posts -

  1. Important Links - all the useful links I've ever found. This was last updated in 2011, and therefore needs some serious updating!
  2. A piece of advice which essentially tells me that you shouldn't even touch Official Guide (OG) questions till you've completed your learning stage of studying for the GMAT. Which basically means - get a syllabus and place and learn it first, practice from some other sources (find practice questions, get used to "pacing" and using a timer under test-like conditions), and finally - when you're ready - open OG questions. Especially don't touch Verbal before you're done studying MGMAT's Sentence Correction book (which we already own).
  3. Best flashcard advice ever, if I may say so myself. If you haven't already, download some useful flashcards first, use them, and then make your own customised ones.

The Basics. And What's New?

1) One of the first things you should do is go through this helpful overview of the GMAT exam in an infographic! (In case you can't view the image clearly, see it here).

2) And then read the GMAT Handbook, downloadable from this page.

3) Try your hand at some sample questions to understand what each section is about:
  • AWA: Here's a sample AWA question along with the answer
  • IR samples here.
  • Quant:
a) Problem Solving

Solve the problem and indicate the best of the answer choices given. 
If u > t, r > q, s > t, and t > r, which of the following must be true? 
I. u > s
II. s > q
III. u > r
  • (A) I only 
  • (B) II only
  • (C) III only
  • (D) I and II
  • (E) II and III 
Find the answer here.

b) Data Sufficiency

This data sufficiency problem consists of a question and two statements, labeled (1) and (2), in which certain data are given. You have to decide whether the data given in the statements are sufficient for answering the question. Using the data given in the statements, plus your knowledge of mathematics and everyday facts (such as the number of days in July or the meaning of the word counterclockwise), you must indicate whether:
  • 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 to answer the question asked.
  • 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.
If a real estate agent received a commission of 6 percent of the selling price of a certain house, what was the selling price of the house? 
(1) The selling price minus the real estate agent's commission was $84,600.
(2) The selling price was 250 percent of the original purchase price of $36,000. 
  • (A) Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient. 
  • (B) Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient. 
  • (C) BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient. 
  • (D) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient. 
  • (E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.
Find the answer here.
  • Verbal
a) Reading Comprehension

The questions in this group are based on the content of a passage. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage. 
Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system. In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wise than Native Americans. In essence, textbooks stereotype and depreciate the numerous Native American cultures while reinforcing the attitude that the European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures. Although textbooks evaluate Native American architecture, political systems, and homemaking, I contend that they do it from an ethnocentric, European perspective without recognizing that other perspectives are possible. 
One argument against my contention asserts that, by nature, textbooks are culturally biased and that I am simply underestimating children's ability to see through these biases. Some researchers even claim that by the time students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally. Yet substantial evidence exists to the contrary. Two researchers, for example, have conducted studies that suggest that children's attitudes about particular cultures are strongly influenced by the textbooks used in schools. Given this, an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans is certainly warranted.
Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?
  • (A) specific ways to evaluate the biases of United States history textbooks 
  • (B) the centrality of the teacher's role in United States history courses
  • (C) nontraditional methods of teaching United States history
  • (D) the contributions of European immigrants to the development of the United States
  • (E) ways in which parents influence children's political attitudes 
Find the answer here.

b) Critical Reasoning

DirectionsFor this question, select the best of the answer choices given.
QuestionThe cost of producing radios in Country Q is ten percent less than the cost of producing radios in Country Y. Even after transportation fees and tariff charges are added, it is still cheaper for a company to import radios from Country Q to Country Y than to produce radios in Country Y.
The statements above, if true, best support which of the following assertions?
  • (A) Labor costs in Country Q are ten percent below those in Country Y.
  • (B) Importing radios from Country Q to Country Y will eliminate ten percent of the manufacturing jobs in Country Y.
  • (C) The tariff on a radio imported from Country Q to Country Y is less than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Y.
  • (D) The fee for transporting a radio from Country Q to Country Y is more than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Q.
  • (E) It takes ten percent less time to manufacture a radio in Country Q than it does in Country Y.
Find the answer here.

c) Sentence Correction

DirectionsThis question presents a sentence, part of which or all of which is underlined. Beneath the sentence you will find five ways of phrasing the underlined part. The first of these repeats the original; the other four are different. If you think the original is best, choose the first answer; otherwise choose one of the others.
This question tests correctness and effectiveness of expression. In choosing your answer, follow the requirements of standard written English; that is, pay attention to grammar, choice of words, and sentence construction. Choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence; this answer should be clear and exact, without awkwardness, ambiguity, redundancy, or grammatical error.
QuestionWhile larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.
(A) cost associated with
(B) costs associated with
(C) costs arising from
(D) cost of
(E) costs of
Find the answer here.
3) The GMAT has changed a bit since I last gave it.
a) AWA
  • There's only 1 essay to write now, and you get 30 minutes for it.
  • Download a sample of AWA question topics from here.
  • And if you're not sure how well you will do on AWA and really really want to get official feedback, you can buy the GMAT Write tool for $30 and get exactly that.

b) IR
  • There's a whole new question area - Integrated Reasoning (IR) - where you have to answer 12 questions in 30 minutes.
  • And if you want more practice, this is an online IR Prep Tool by that you can buy for $20 here.
c) The Quant and Verbal section remain the same - 75 minutes each, with 37 math questions and 41 english ones (phew! finally something I can relate to!)

d) You can now Preview your score before you accept or cancel it! You have 2 minutes at the end of the exam where they show you your unofficial score (except AWA) and you have 120 seconds to decide if you will press accept (and report it to 5 b-schools) or cancel it.

e) There's a new thing called Enhance Score Report which allows you to get more details about your official GMAT exam. This is only useful if you have to re-take the GMAT.

5) We'll have to figure out which books to buy, because obviously everything I own is from 2010. Need to research this! And see if buying a bundle turns out to be cheaper. And compare prices on Amazon & Flipkart.

6) Once you have the books with you, the first thing to do is take a practice test. It's still called GMATPrep, and here's the link to download the test for free. Take the first test to get your base line score (and plan your focus areas to study accordingly), and for future reference - DO NOT TAKE THE SECOND TEST RIGHT NOW. Take it after a couple of weeks, once you start taking full-length practice tests. You'll get a good estimate of how you will do on the actual GMAT using this second test (since it has real questions from previous GMATs). Treat this second test like a precious baby. Don't use it too soon! [There's a new product: GMATPrep Exam Pack 1, which contains 2 additional full-length exams as well as Enhanced Score Reports on the 2 exams from GMATPrep. Priced at $50, you may want to buy it only if you really need it.]

7) Research apps to download. This is a whole new world! Here's a starting point.

BONUS! Here's an interactive timeline by the people at to help you prepare for the GMAT. And another introduction to the GMAT by the folks at BTG (Beat The GMAT!).

Hello, GMAT's 2015 avtaar!


It's been a long, long time. Hasn't it?

Life's taken a quite a twist since I last wrote here. A quick update for the curious - I never applied to B-school, because I changed my career path. And I'm happy as can be :) A lot of people have wondered why I wasted a good score, but you know - that's how life is sometimes. I gave the GMAT initially to see if I can even make it, if it was even possible for me to apply to my dream schools. Turns out, I can! But I don't want to.

So why am I back on this blog then? Well, my husband (yes, I got married!) told me this morning he wants to give the GMAT. And of course, I'm going to help him out.

I love projects, and helping him out with giving the GMAT is a project I am way more excited about than I should be! I logged onto today, and realised - wow, a lot has changed. I glanced at and realised everything is different! What I knew back in 2011 might be of little help to the husband, and I have a lot of new things to learn. There's a new tutor in town - the Economist! And Magoosh seems to be doing SO well it's got a whole section on Beat The GMAT! GMATClub is still around, and there's an app with official questions. Everything has a Facebook page of it's own and there's a new player in town by the name of GMAT Prep Now! SO much to learn!

The husband said he wants to give it by July this year. We've not decided when he will apply for his MBA and where, but for now we just know this - he wants to give his GMAT and I'm going to give him all the help he needs (and more?)

Super excited to be back on the GMAT scene, and I'm going to try very hard to not spend all day looking up everything there is to know about GMAT TODAY itself :) Will stick around here to share anything helpful I come across, because, you know, notes.

I'll be seeing you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Harvard vs London Business School

So it's official. I will be applying to business school in Round 2 this year. I want to start my own business, and Harvard and London Business School both seem to have a pretty good curriculum and support in place for budding entrepreneurs. Any idea which one's better?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BoB Nominee!

Yes, I realise I have realised this very, very late! But I wasn't really around the last few months, so I'm elated NOW!
I was a Best of Blogging Nominee :)
And my blog won under the Best GMAT Preparation Advice category! Wow, this feels really good! Although, since I didn't campaign for getting any votes, I really do want to know how many votes came in. Because if I've won with a grand total of 3 votes, I'd feel silly placing any importance on the win. So, how happy should I be?

Also, I want the java script for the "BoB Nominee" or "BoB (something!)" box! Anybody?

Monday, May 23, 2011

An MBA education costs HOW much?! *fainting with a thud on the ground*

What I've learnt today after a full day's research:

1. Cost Matters (pun intended) -
MBA from top US B-school: atleast INR 70 lakh
MBA from European B-school: INR 50 - 57 lakh
MBA from ISB Hyderabad (12th ranked in the world?): INR 20 lakh
Damn, if I got into ISB Hyderabad, I'd feel super guilty about opting for a US B-school. That's a 50 lakh difference! Half a freaking CRORE of a difference!!!

2. What exactly is Investment Banking?
Found this beautiful description on GMAT Club:
Investment bankers serve a variety of functions, depending on their specific position. They advise clients on financial organization; underwrite, sell, and trade stocks and bonds; and manage assets, among other responsibilities.

If you are working in corporate finance, you will serve as a financial consultant for corporations. Often banks will assign bankers to work in a certain industry (health care, communications, finance, etc.); you’ll be responsible for helping firms execute financial strategies, analyzing their financial needs, determining valuations for new offerings, and underwriting equity and debt offerings, among other responsibilities. Mergers and acquisitions is related to corporate finance and sometimes serves as its own department; if you’re an M&A banker, you’ll give advice to companies that are merging with or being acquired by other companies. M&A requires a detail-oriented, strategic mind to ensure you’re able to work out all the specifics of the merger or acquisition deal.
If you are working in sales and trading, you will buy and sell securities and commodities; traders must keep track of the markets constantly while communicating with buyers and sellers.
Research analysts become experts in their given industry. They use their expertise and do continued research to predict the movement of stocks, usually either in fixed-income or equity. Traders rely on their educated advice. Research analysts do many different types of research on a company’s financials as well as economics trends in general.

3. Can you take mini-MBA-lessons and get a sneak peak into what you'll learn during your MBA?
Yes you can! At this Financial Times MBA Gym.

That's all for today. Hopefully I make use of tomorrow's holiday equally well. Happy studying and researching!

PS. I am open to any suggestions on how to raise a substantial amount of MBA financing funds over the course of the next 2 years. Anyone?

Update: There are full-scholarships up for grabs, according to this BusinessWeek article. Although it was written in 2008, I guess it must still be somewhat relevant. Also, not sure how many of these are given to non-US citizens. Still, there is hope :-). When else will the Secret come into use right?

Kick-starting Career (read:MBA) Planning

Look who's back!
So the last 4 odd months have been spent on a 5 day Mauritius/Dubai holiday, getting back to a super-light workload followed by a 6 week back-breaking workload. I honestly have not spent too much time thinking about my MBA plans. Till my father kindly kicked my a** back into gear yesterday.
We discussed how I will probably want to continue down the consultancy path - I enjoy working in this kind of a role, the wide scope it offers in terms of experience across sectors, and obviously I seem to be doing well for myself here (see how I have so quickly forgotten [read: stopped giving a rat's a**] about parallelism rules).
But, there are still a LOT of other things to consider. Let me break it down -
1. Career options - consultancy, finance (investment banking/private equity), media/publishing (management side of it), entrepreneurship (restaurant industry), non-for-profit (or NGO, as we call it in India). Yes yes, it does seem to be all over the place. But, I could potentially do something in any of these.
2. Qualification - The one thing that ties together all of the above is an MBA. That degree will (I hope & assume) give me the skill-sets and foundation required to get onto any of these career paths.
3. Secret ambition - to become a renowned writer :) but I'm keeping that aside for the time being. I need the security of bank balance amount containing many, many, many 0's to be able to consider this seriously.

Anyway, keeping aside #3, you can see how I need to seriously start chalking out my career plans now. I'm not quite sure yet how I'm going to go about figuring my life out. I need some serious help. Action points anyone?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Got a 730 (96%)
Q48 (82%)
V42 (95%).

Yey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Off to holidayyy now.

Update: Got 6.0 in AWA. Yey! But why is 6.0 only a 91%?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

700 (+100) :p

Got a 700 on GMATPrep #2 on Saturday afteroon. Q47 V38. Will try not spending over 2 minutes on any question which is leaving me feel blurry in my head... :) whatever that means!
All that's left to do now is revise my SC notes - mainly the 2 chapters I didn't get to revise before the test. Might flip through the condensed Math notes I made. That's about it.

Ready to hit it, and smash it :) on Tuesday morning. Can't wait!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Who vs. Whom

Both of them should be "whom".

This is the man to whom I wanted to speak...

Marvin wondered to whom he should give the message...

We use "whom" when we're referring to the object of the sentence.

We use "who" when we're referring to the subject.

There's a very simple test you can use to figure out which version to use:

Turn the statement into a question and answer it with a pronoun.

For example:

This is the man to whom I wanted to speak.
To whom did I want to speak? I wanted to speak to HIM.

I really hate the guy who stole my girlfriend.
Who stole my girlfriend? HE did.

If you answer the question with him/her/them, then "whom" is the right choice.

If you answer the question with he/she/they, then "who" is the right choice.

As explained by Kaplan instructor Stuart on BTG.