Friday, September 14, 2012

GRE Tips and Tricks!: Quantitative: Quantitative Comparisons

Let's start with the basics of the Quantitative Section: you have thirty five minutes to answer twenty questions. There are four types of questions: Quantitative Comparison, Multiple Choice with one correct answer, Multiple Choice with more than one correct answer, and Numeric Entry. I will be walking you through each question type. Math isn't your forte? That's fine, we'll help you get prepared enough that when the time comes you'll be doing problems like its old hat. I would also like to mention that should you have any questions to feel free to post your question in the comments below and either Serena or I will get to it as soon as we can.

Ready? Take a deep breath, its go time. 

Quantitative Comparisons 

Quantitative comparisons are exactly what they sound like: comparisons using numbers. You are given two mathematical expressions in two columns, A and B. Your job is to compare them and you may be given additional information to help you with this. There are FOUR answer choices and they NEVER CHANGE therefore if will save you a bit of time memorizing them now so don't have to keep rereading them on test day.

The four answer choices are as follows:
A. quantity in Column A is greater
B. quantity in Column B is greater
C. the two quantities are equal
D. the relationship cannot be determined from the info given.

Not only do these answers not change but answer D can give you a hint to your answer. If both columns only have numbers (so no variables) that means that their relationship will not change in which case D will NEVER be correct. If you can show that there is more than one CORRECT relationship between the two columns then D will always be correct. Got it so far? So only numbers, can't be D. More than one answer, can only be D. 

So how do we go about answering these types of questions? I've put together a few tips that will help you answer the question quickly.

Tip 1: Estimate where you can
Often you can do not need to calculate an exact value. Estimate your values and solve from there, it will save you time and often eliminate most or all of the wrong answers. 

Tip 2: Make Column A like Column B
Yes I do realize that's a vague title. What I mean is that if column A is in fractions and B in decimals convert them both to fractions. This will make your math much easier. Same goes for percents and parentheses.

Tip 3: Treat the two columns as an inequality
Treat the two columns as two sides of an inequality and apply math to them to simplify them. For example if Column A says 3x+4 and Column B says 4x+4 subtract 4 from both sides to simplify. This can also help you get rid of fractions/decimals. NOTE: Remember we are treating this as an inequality so do not multiply or divide by a negative number unless you are SURE beyond doubt that both columns are positive. 

Tip 4: Pick Numbers
Easiest trick in the book. Can't figure it out? Pick random numbers (be careful that if given additional information the number you pick qualify) and plug them into the question to solve. Here's the catch, you have to do it AT LEAST TWICE. This is key. Say you plugged in only positive whole numbers the first time but when you use a negative your answer becomes false, you would have missed it if you hadn't checked again. So always for your second Set choose a negative, or an extremely large or small number, or a fraction, etc. The variables can be positive, negative, zero, or fractions.  I'm not saying pick the hardest numbers you can think of; on the contrary I'd suggest you pick easy numbers. Just make sure to be diverse with your choices.

Tip 5: Redo all diagrams if necessary
Unlike the SAT, diagrams on the GRE are NOT DRAWN TO SCALE. What may look like a ninety degree angle may not be one. If the diagram given confuses you in the least then just redraw the diagram to exaggerate the differences so that you have no chance of mistaking angles/sides/etc from one another. 

That's all for today but stay tuned for my next post!


N. Riazi

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Being a Girl Comes in Handy

My current internship has me doing all sorts of little projects.  As shown below, you can tell what I do for my job (from the bottom): mechanical engineering, heat transfer, metals, more heat transfer, Microsoft Access, combustion, corrosion, more combustion...As shown, it wouldn't be complete without a graphing calculator!

Anyway, I've been working on creating a database for my internship. Microsoft Access is a program that you can love and hate simultaneously. Since no one in my office knows how to program VBA for Microsoft Access, I was allowed to pick out a book of choice (the large red one above). This book is about 1000 pages long, and I skimmed most of it one day, making notations similar to below.

Several weeks have passed, and I don't know how many comments I've received from my tab assortment. The other engineers will walk by my office, and say, "Holy Moley! I'm impressed! I've never seen so many tabs before!" Now, at first I was confused, because I've seen other instances of this. So I asked my friend, "Why does everything think it is so strange that I have so many tabs?" 

He replied, "I think it's because we're guys...." I'm the only female engineer in the office, and I thought this turn of events was hilarious.  I spoke with one of the secretaries (female) about it, and she laughed, "Well, if we find it once, we're going to make sure we find it again!"

I guess being an organized-female comes in handy sometimes...:-D


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GRE Tips and Tricks!: Intro

So while most students have been enjoying their summers frolicking in the river and going tubing, I have been wiling away my time in coffee shops attempting to tune out the screams of young children somehow not heard by their ignorant parents. What can I say, summer wouldn't be summer without some ups and downs. I am currently sitting in my favorite coffee shop back home listening to some reggae and drinking a soy hot chocolate and reveling in the fact that while the afore mentioned students are in school, I still have more than two weeks left to enjoy myself.

So what have I been doing in these coffee shops besides drinking fancy drinks and flirting with cute baristas you ask? I have been studying up for the GRE. Standardized testing you see, is one of my strong points. It is not so much a test of knowledge so much as a test of strategy. So what's the best way to study for the GRE? Learn those strategies and practice them until they become second nature.

What I will be doing over the next few weeks is sharing with you the knowledge I've gained over the dozens of GRE books I've looked over narrowed down to the KEY strategies, shortcuts, and tips that will benefit you the most. This does not mean that you should merely skim my notes and assume you're good to go. A good many people tried that in high school and it is no excuse to skirt work (plus it didn't work out so well for them. I have the handwriting of a 6th grade boy). Take those practice tests and put those strategies to use until you begin to do them without having to reference my posts.

Good luck future grad-students and I'll see you in the my post.


N. Riazi