GMAT Preparation: Understanding Fractions and Staying alert

Lately, we’ve been discussing reading comprehension and circles, and today’s post on GMAT preparation focuses on fractions.

I was recently reminded about how folks can be taking the test, thinking sections are going relatively smoothly (and even easily) and then be completely taken aback when they receive rather disappointing scores. Has this happened to you?

Beat the GMAT tells us in a recent post on fractions and GMAT preparation, “First of all, thinking that a test like the GMAT is easy is actually a warning sign: things probably are not going very well. If the test was going very well, then you’d be seeing some seriously hard – next to impossible – problems.”

While it’s not true that we can ever absolutely know exactly how we are doing on the GMAT (we can’t outthink the computer), we do know that if we are getting a lot of medium-to-hard questions right,  we will likely “get a mix of harder questions. If it seems you are getting one difficult question after another, that’s a good sign for your score.”

However, sometimes questions look easy when they are actually rather hard, and we can spend so much time just to get the wrong answer. What kind of GMAT preparation can we do for this situation?

Take a look at this question that, at first glance, seems pretty straightforward:

” Of the 3,600 employees of Company X, 1/3 are clerical. If the clerical staff were to be reduced by 1/3, what percent of the total number of the remaining employees would then be clerical?

“(A) 25%

“(B) 22.2%

“(C) 20%

“(D) 12.5%

“(E) 11.1%”

It is so easy to quickly get this answer wrong. (Did you come up with “E” first? If you did, you’re wrong.) It’s so easy to get distracted by an “I got this!” moment that lets us quickly go the wrong way.  (That’s what got me the first time.)

So how do we solve this fraction (or any fraction)? Take it step by step, and don’t let yourself try to blaze through it because you are so certain you’ve got it. They are counting on you to make that mistake.

GMAT preparation for your military MBA takes many different forms, and sometimes the best preparation for a certain situation is just teaching yourself to always be alert for those questions that seem oh so easy but are actually designed to trick us.



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