How to ace the GMAT in 28 days: Day 14 (analysing day 13)

OK, my scraped 690 includes five questions I really should have got WRONG (i.e. I wasn’t at all sure about) in the Verbal section, so more ‘wrong’ ones analysed today than I really need to. To get off this plateau I need a different approach, so today I’m writing a list of all the different sections with notes on how to approach each type of question (sort of like writing my own ‘Dummies’ book) which I’ll blog later.

Okay, let’s see if I can break my 690 deadlock. Six lucky guesses were all that stood between me and a slide backwards to 660; I’ve included the lucky guesses (all in sentence correction) here. Corrected raw scores of 35Q / 48V give me 83, scored at 690 on this practice test’s scale.

Quant

A couple of problem solving questions first.

A breakfast that consists of 1 ounce of corn puffs and 8 ounces of fruit X provides 257 calories. When 8 ounces of fruit Y is substituted for the 8 ounces of fruit X , the total number of calories is reduced to 185. If fruit X provides 1.8 times as many calories as fruit Y, how many calories does 8 ounces of fruit Y alone provide?

(A) 11.25
(B) 72
(C) 90
(D) 95
(E) 129.6

I chose E, unsure. Hmmm, this ought to be solvable, even in two minutes. Let corn puffs be c. 1c + 8X = 257, and 1c + 8Y = 185. Also, X = 1.8Y. That’s plenty of info. So 8X = = 1.8(8Y) = 8Y + 72.

Obviously Y is more than 72, so answers A and B are out. 8X = 14.4Y = 257-c. 72 is 0.8 of 8Y, which means 8Y is 90. The answer is C.

If the sum of the first n positive integers is S, what is the sum of the first n positive even integers, in terms of S ?

(A) S/2
(B) S
(C) 2S
(D) 2S + 2
(E) 4S

A was my choice. Ha ha. What a mistake to make: thinking n was the range of numbers rather than the number of numbers. Obviously the first 10 even integers (2, 4, 6, 8…) sum to more than the first 10 integers (0,1,2,3…) Careless, careless, but even the answer here is harder than it looks unless you substitute for a few values, using up precious minutes. It’s C.

On to data sufficiency:

A if statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked;
B if statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked;
C if BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient;
D if EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked;
E if statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed.

Are all of the numbers in a certain list of 15 numbers equal?

(1) The sum of all the numbers in the list is 60.
(2) The sum of any 3 numbers in the list is 12.

Another careless error; I chose C. But the sum of all the numbers means nothing; I was thinking too much about its reliance on statement 2. The answer is B, since if you pick any three, they must all be 4; even one value different to 4 screws it up. B is correct: Statement 2 alone is sufficient.

The table above shows the morning schedule for train X. If Juan took train X on Monday morning, did he arrive at station T on schedule?

(1) Juan arrived at station T on Monday morning 1 hour and 2 minutes after he left station S.
(2) Juan arrived at his office at 8:30 (EST) on Monday morning, which was 20 minutes after he
arrived at station T.

The same old error. I chose E, since Juan’s arrival time doesn’t mean he arrived ON time; the train may have left station S late. But statement 2 is sufficient, since we can work out he arrived at 8:10, exactly on time.

So: in Quant, only one question really foxed me (the fruit one); if I’d just been concentrating the other two are easy. Got to focus.

Verbal

I got many of these right, but I’m putting them here because I was unsure. And if you’re unsure of anything on the real GMAT, assume you’ll get it wrong.

Very popular from 1900 until the 1920’s, the renewed interest in ceiling fans began when the energy crisis in 1974 forced homeowners to look for alternative methods of heating and cooling.

(A) Very popular from 1900 until the 1920’s, the renewed interest in ceiling fans began
(B) The renewed interest in ceiling fans, which were very popular from 1900 until the 1920’s began
(C) After they were very popular from 1900 until the 1920’s, the renewed interest in ceiling fans was beginning
(D) Ceiling fans were very popular from 1900 until the 1920’s, with renewed interest beginning in them
(E) From 1900 until the 1920’s ceiling fans were very popular, and now the renewed interest in them has begun

I chose A. C, D, and E sound clumsy, with dodgy word order and fuzzy grammar; the only other choice is B, the correct answer. The reason for A being wrong? It’s the object: ‘1900 until the 1920s’ in A refers to ‘renewed interest’, when it should refer to ceiling fans.

Many writers of modern English have acquired careless habits that damage the clarity of their prose, but these habits can be broken if they are willing to take the necessary trouble.

(A) but these habits can be broken
(B) but these habits are breakable
(C) but they can break these habits
(D) which can be broken
(E) except that can be broken

I got this right, but wanted to record why. It’s C, because of the ‘they’: we need the article to refer back to the ‘writers of modern English’, which is the subject of the sentence. A good approach to these questions is work out what the subject of the sentence is and base your answer on that.

While the base salary for the top five officers of the company did not change from 1990 to 1991, cuts were made in nonsalary compensation, as in allowances for overseas assignments and club memberships.

(A) cuts were made in nonsalary compensation, as in
(B) cuts were made in such nonsalary compensation as
(C) cuts were made in such nonsalary compensation as those in
(D) cuts in nonsaIary compensation were made in areas like
(E) there were cuts made in nonsalary compensation, in areas like

I chose B. I got this right, but it was hard. D and E can be thrown out straightaway: ‘areas like’ is fuzzy, suggesting that the cuts were perhaps not in allowances or memberships, just in areas like them. A is wrong for a subtle error: ‘cuts… as in…’ separates the sense of it all, implying that nonsalary compensation, allowances, and memberships are three different and equivalent things, when they’re not (the first applies to the second and third; it’s not another thing in the same class.) C is just ungrammatical. The answer is B.

It is an oversimplified view of cattle raising to say that all one has to do with cattle is leave them alone while they feed themselves, corral them and to drive them to market when the time is ripe.

(A) all one has to do with cattle is leave them alone while they feed themselves, corral them, and to
(B) all one has to do with cattle is to leave them alone to feed themselves, to corral them, and
(C) all one has to do with cattle is leave them alone while they feed themselves and then corral them and
(D) the only thing that has to be done with cattle is leave them alone while they feed themselves, corral them, and
(E) the only thing that has to be done with cattle is to leave them alone while they feed themselves, to corral them, and

I chose B. But we don’t need the ‘to’ in ‘to leave them’ because we’ve already introduced the verb with ‘to do with’ earlier, which also eliminates A and E. D is wrong because it says ‘the only thing’ and then gives several things. While C sounds wrong at first because it’s changing the sense of the sentence, turning the actions into a sequence rather than disparate events, the elimination of the others means it must be C.

Although dozens of New York’s small museums are either devoted to local history of various ethnic groups, there are many one-of-a-kind museums from Manhattan to the Bronx that are open for exploration on summer weekends.

(A) Although dozens of New York’s small museums are either devoted to local history or various ethnic groups, there are
(B) Although dozens of New York’s small museums are devoted to local history or various ethnic groups,
(C) Dozens of New York’s small museums are devoted to local history or various ethnic groups, but there are
(D) Dozens of New York’s small museums are devoted to local history or various ethnic groups, and there are also
(E) Devoted to local history or various ethnic groups, dozens of New York’s small museums and also

A was my slip, but it’s missing a ‘to’ in between the words of ‘or various’, as is C. B and E don’t make sense grammatically. It must be D, which also corrects the unwarranted conflict in the sentence: dozens of history and ethnic museums don’t preclude the existence of one-of-a-kind museums.

Oberlin College in Ohio was a renegade institution at its 1833 founding for deciding to accept both men and women as students.

(A) at its 1833 founding for deciding to accept
(B) for the decision at its 1833 founding to accept
(C) when it was founded in 1833 for its decision to accept
(D) in deciding at its founding in 1833 to accept
(E) by deciding at its founding in 1833 on the acceptance of

C. Ah, the sense of time. A and C suggest it was already renegade before it was founded, which is nonsense. E ‘by’ doesn’t work grammatically. B and D both work, but D pins down when the decision was made, which makes the sentence clearer. The answer is D.

After the Colonial period’s 50 percent mortality rate, life expectancy improved for children, but as late as the nineteenth century about one child in three died before reaching the age of six.

(A) After the Colonial period’s 50 percent mortality rate, life expectancy improved for children, but
(B) Even though children’s life expectancy, which improved over the Colonial period’s 50 percent mortality rate,
(C) Although life expectancy for children improved after the Colonial period, during which the mortality rate was 50 percent,
(D) While there was an improvement in life expectancy for children after the 50 percent mortality rate of the Colonial period, still
(E) Despite children’s life expectancy improvement from the Colonial period’s 50 percent mortality rate.

I chose A. But the key here is there’s a difference between ‘mortality’ and ‘life expectancy’ which the correct answer should make clear. Only the correct answer – C – draws it clearly.

Just as a writer trying to understand shtetl life might read Shalom Aleichem or Isaac Bashevis Singer, in the same way writers trying to understand Black life in the American South might well listen to records by the Mississippi Delta bluesman Charlie Patton.

(A) in the same way writers trying to understand Black life in the American South might well listen to records
(B) in the same way writers who try and understand Black life in the American South might well listen to a record
(C) so a writer trying to understand Black life in the American South might well listen to records
(D) so do writers try and understand Black life in the American South and might well listen to a record
(E) then writers trying to understand Black life in the American South could well listen to records

I chose A. But ‘just as’ and ‘in the same way’ form a redundancy. So does B. D and E are also wrong, because they make the sentence unbalanced, referring to ‘a writer’ at first, then ‘writers’ later. C gets it right.

The pattern of whisker spots on the face of a male lion, like human fingerprints, are a lifelong means of identification, since they are both unique and unchanging.

(A) like human fingerprints, are a lifelong means of identification, since they are both unique and unchanging
(B) like human fingerprints, is a lifelong means of identification, since it is both unique and unchanging
(C) like human fingerprints, is a means of identification for life, being both unique and unchanging
(D) since they are both unique and unchanging, like human fingerprints, are a means of identification for life
(E) both unique and unchanging, are, like human fingerprints, a lifelong means of identification

I chose C. It can’t be A, D, or E, since the pluralised ‘the pattern… are’ is ungrammatical. It’s a toss-up between B and C. On balance, ‘lifelong’ in B suggests the lion itself uses it as a means of identification, which puts C in front.

Even though the state has spent ten years and seven million dollars planning a reservoir along the Ubi River, the project will have to be abandoned as a result of the river becoming so heavily polluted.

(A) will have to be abandoned as a result of the river becoming so heavily polluted
(B) is to be abandoned on account of the heavy pollution which the river received
(C) had to be abandoned because the river had received such heavy pollution
(D) has to be abandoned because of the river and its heavy pollution
(E) must be abandoned because the river has become so heavily polluted

I chose A. But the precision of ‘ten years’ and ‘seven million’ suggests the decision to stop work has been taken already, not at some indeterminate future date. B gets its tenses wrong, ‘received’ suggesting a single polluting event rather than a gradual build-up, and so does C, ‘has spent’ and ‘had to be’ not agreeing. D doesn’t work either, since it states that the river itself (and not the pollution) is to blame. It’s E.

Consumers in California seeking personal loans have fewer banks to turn to than do consumers elsewhere in the United States. This shortage of competition among banks explains why interest rates on personal loans in California are higher than in any other region of the United States.

Which of the following, if true, most substantially weakens the conclusion above?

(A) Because of the comparatively high wages they must pay to attract qualified workers, California banks charge depositors more than banks elsewhere do for many of me services they offer.
(B) Personal loans are riskier than other types of loans, such as home mortgage loans, that banks make.
(C) Since bank deposits in California are covered by the same type of insurance that guarantees bank deposits in other parts of the United States, they are no less secure than deposits elsewhere.
(D) The proportion of consumers who default on their personal loans is lower in California than in any other region of the United States.
(E) Interest rates paid by California banks to depositors are lower than those paid by banks in other parts of the United States because in California there is less competition to attract depositors.

I chose D. Lower defaults would weaken the theory, but only peripherally, since it’s the shortage of banks the author posits, not the quality of customers. B and C draw no difference between California and the rest of the USA, so can’t strengthen or weaken the argument. And E supports the argument. It’s A, and I got my sense wrong: the high wages referred to are earned by bank staff, not bank customers, and this is why they charge higher rates, throwing doubt on the argument it’s about bank scarcity.

Canadians now increasingly engage in “out shopping,” which is shopping across the national border, where prices are lower. Prices are lower outside of Canada in large part because the goods-and-services tax that pays for Canadian social services is not applied.

Which one of the following is best supported on the basis of the information above?

(A) If the upward trend in out-shopping continues at a significant level and the amounts paid by the government for Canadian social services are maintained, the Canadian goods-and-services tax will be assessed at a higher rate.
(B) If Canada imposes a substantial tariff on the goods bought across the border, a reciprocal tariff on cross-border shopping in the other direction will be imposed, thereby harming Canadian businesses.
(C) The amounts the Canadian government pays out to those who provide social services to Canadians are increasing.
(D) The same brands of goods are available to Canadian shoppers across the border as are available in Canada.
(E) Out-shopping purchases are subject to Canadian taxes when the purchaser crosses the border to bring them into Canada.

I chose D, because it makes sure the playing field is level, but that’s got nothing to do with supporting the argument. Tricky one. B and C are irrelevant, and E is plain wrong. It’s A, because the implication is that the GST is levied to pay for social services, and if the trend of outshopping is ‘increasing’ then the amount collected as GST will fall, necessitating a rise in GST rate.

So: big problems with harder questions: I need to get hold of some humdingers to raise my game any further. Starting tomorrow.

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