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GMAT Prep

This post is part of a series on preparing to get an MBA. To see all the posts, click here.

The GMAT

The GMAT is a great exam. In today’s post, I’ll briefly review the two main sections: the quantitative section (commonly called “the math section”) and the verbal section (commonly called “English”). There are a lot of great resources out there for studying, so I’m not going to talk a lot about specifics. Instead, I’ll tell you what your general strategy should be.

First things first…

The first you’ll want to do for the GMAT is go to mba.com. Take one of the free practice tests. Here’s a link to the specific page. Do this first to experience the test and understand what your starting point is. This will help you choose schools. Also, you’ll see where your weak points are and what you need to work on the most.

The Quantitative Section (Math)

The GMAT’s math section was made by geniuses. It does an excellent job of testing your quantitative skills. Here’s how it works. There are about 100 simple math concepts you need to learn. These are not hard. You probably learned them all before you were 16 years old. They include addition, fractions, basic algebra, and geometry. You might not remember everything, though. So your first step is to learn the concepts. Here’s a good site.

That’s not the smart part. The smart part is that now you need to apply these math concepts in creative ways. You’ll need to take practice tests and study a lot.

The Verbal Section (English)

The GMAT’s English section has three sections. Here’s the basic strategy for each.

Reading: Read the first and last sentence of each paragraph and skim the middle of each paragraph. Do this to get a general idea. Then, identify the question type. If the question type is easy for you, look carefully for the answer. If it’s a hard question type, decide if the question is also hard. If it is, just guess and move on.

Analyze an Argument: The key here is to identify the conclusion and the reasons for that conclusion. The questions are going to be about missing reasons or missing conclusions, so if you understand the argument, then you can decide what’s missing.

Analyze a Sentence: For these questions, you need to learn agreement between nouns and verbs. (When a verb should have an “s” and when it shouldn’t.) This idea will help you eliminate many choices. The next step is to understand the basic ways parts of speech (like adverbs and adjectives) work. After that, you need to study which prepositions go with with words.

Studying English Online–For Free

EDIT: Here’s another great post on how to study for free!

do it yourself

You can learn English yourself. What do you want to do?

Problem: “I want to get better at everything!”

Answer: Read, read, read.

The best thing you can do is read. Reading improves your writing. Reading improves your listening, your speaking, your grammar, and your vocabulary. Everything gets better. Seriously. You can read anything you want, but LearnEnglish.BritishCouncil.Org has great stuff for students. Newspapers and books are hard, but really great.

british council

Listening

Problem: “I can’t understand people when they talk!”

Answer: Do you know about TED.com? Oh. My. God. This site is amazing for you.

TED.com is an amazingly wonderful fantastic website for getting better at listening. Here’s what to do.

1. Find a video you like.

2. Watch it.

3. Watch it with English subtitles.

4. Read the English transcript.

5. Watch it again.

6. Watch it with subtitles IN YOUR LANGUAGE.

7. Read the transcript IN YOUR LANGUAGE.

8. Watch it once a week until it’s easy.

Other great sites: YouTube.comLearnEnglish.BritishCouncil.Org

video sites

Speaking

Problem: “Even though I studied hard, no one understands me when I talk. It’s terrible.”

Answer: Don’t feel sad! Rachel will show you how to speak and EnglishCentral lets you practice online.

First, visit Rachel’s English. She makes these really friendly and easy to understand videos. They’ll show you how to speak better. For practice, go to EnglishCentral.com. The problem with friends and teachers is they understand you better than strangers. At EnglishCentral, you listen to a video. Then you record yourself trying to say it the same. If you do well, you get points! If you do bad? Try again.

speaking

Grammar

Problem: “I neeeeeed more grammar. I wish someone could explain it all to me.”

Answer: Never fear. Here’s a great site and a great book to help you.

Online: Perfect-English-Grammar.com (Seonaid has great explanations and online exercises.)

Offline: Betty Azar grammar books (They’re the best. The red one is easy, black is intermediate, blue is advanced.)

Writing

Problem: “My emails and papers and presentations and just everything is terrible. I’m embarrassed.”

Answer: You’ve been studying wrong. Here’s the right way.

Stop studying vocabulary and grammar. Start reading more and memorizing good sentences.

Every day read something and write down 3-5 good sentences. Memorize them and use them when you write. Copy, copy, copy.

If you need a place to practice your writing, you can comment on newspaper articles, blog posts, or start a blog of your own.

Good Websites: LearnEnglish.BritishCouncil.Org (comment on easier stuff) CNN.com (comment on articles). GoodReads.com (comment on books). TED.com (comment on videos). LinkedIn.com (comment on business stuff).

Business English

Problem: “But what about BUSINESS ENGLISH???”

Answer: Business English and any other specialized English is harder. We have a solution.

First things first. Sign up for the daily Business English lessons from Stuart Mill English.

Next, you need to find a website about your industry. Start reading articles and commenting on them. Also, search YouTube for videos about your industry.

Here’s an example site and video for Supply Chain Management.

http://www.scmr.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRb4yOKrzs0

Dictionary and Social Media

“OK! I got it! Anything else?”

Get on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And use this Dictionary.

Social media is great. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have English communities you can join. Do it.

And if you need a dictionary, use this one. Stop translating stuff into your language.

Good luck! You CAN do it!

How to listen to this talk: Graham Hill “Why I’m a weekday vegetarian”

How to listen to this talk: Graham Hill “Why I’m a weekday vegetarian”

(1) Answer “Before Watching/Listening” questions below.

(2) Listen to it twice.
If you didn’t understand everything, listen two more times with subtitles. (Click “English” in the box below the video.)
If you didn’t understand everything, visit the website and read the transcript. (Click on the box below the video that says “show transcript”. You’ll have to visit the TED site to do this.)
For any difficult parts, click on the words in the transcript. Then, you can listen to him say those parts again.
Now, if you’re really having trouble, you can listen with subtitles in your language.
After you’ve listened with subtitles in your language, listen again in English.

(3) Answer the “Comprehension Questions” below.

(4) Answer the “Discussion Questions” below.

Before watching/listening:

Discuss these questions with a partner or write short answers to them on your own.

What’s a vegetarian?
How often do you eat meat?
What do you usually do on weekdays?
What do you usually do on weekends?

Watch the Video

Comprehension Questions
What’s a “green” guy?
What does it mean to grow up with “hippie” parents?
What website did he start?
What reasons does he give for being a vegetarian?
How much does eating a hamburger a day increase your risk of dying by?
What does hypocritically mean?
How do meat emissions compare to transportation emissions?
How much more water does beef production use than vegetables?
How much more meat do Americans eat now compared to the 50s?
How was he “stalling”?
What was the “binary solution”?
Why didn’t he want to become a vegetarian?
What are taste buds?
What does it mean to commit to do something?
What’s “weekday veg”?
What are the major “culprits” in terms of environmental damage?
What is red meat?
What is processed meat?
What does it mean to swap something?
What does he suggest swapping out the bad meats with?
What’s “sustainably harvested fish”?
What does he mean when he says it’s OK to break it here and there?
What’s a carbon footprint?

Discussion Questions
Do you like this idea? Why/Why not?
What’s a vegan?
What’s a factory farm? What do you think the conditions are like?
What else might you give up on weekdays?
What’s something you might start doing on weekdays?
How have eating habits changed over the past decades?

Answers to Comprehension Questions
What’s a “green” guy? (A “green guy” is an environmentalist, someone who loves nature.)
What does it mean to grow up with “hippie” parents? (His parents were hippies. Hippies are from the late 60s, they like rock music, have long hair, etc.)
What website did he start? (The site is called treehugger.)
What reasons does he give for being a vegetarian? (He discusses three reasons: it’s healthier, it’s not cruel to animals, and it’s better for the environment)
How much does eating a hamburger a day increase your risk of dying by? (It increases the risk by 1/3.)
What does hypocritically mean? (It means to act differently than you think others should act.)
How do meat emissions compare to transportation emissions? (Meat emissions are greater.)
How much more water does beef production use than vegetables? (100 times more.)
How much more meat do Americans eat now compared to the 50s? (They eat twice as much.)
How was he “stalling”? (He was delaying becoming a vegetarian. to stall = to delay, to wait for something to happen before acting.)
What was the “binary solution”? (He felt he must choose between two things: meat eater or vegetarian.)
Why didn’t he want to become a vegetarian? (He likes the taste of meat)
What are taste buds? (They are the things on your tongue that let you taste food.)
What does it mean to commit to do something? (To make a promise to yourself or others that you’ll do it.)
What’s “weekday veg”? (It’s someone who is a vegetarian Monday thru Friday, but sometimes eats meat on the weekend.)
What are the major “culprits” in terms of environmental damage? (A culprit is the guilty person/thing, the one that did something wrong. Red and processed meats cause the most damage.)
What is red meat? (It’s darker meat, red when uncooked.)
What is processed meat? (Meats that aren’t simply cut from the animal–for example, bacon, hot dogs, etc.)
What does it mean to swap something (It means to exchange it or replace it.)
What does he suggest swapping out the bad meats with? (He suggests eating sustainably harvested fish instead of red/processed meats.)
What’s “sustainably harvested fish”? (Fish that are caught without reducing the total number of fish.)
What does he mean when he says it’s OK to break it here and there? (It’s OK to stop doing it sometimes.)
What’s a carbon footprint? (The amount of carbon that is used because of you.)

How to listen to this talk: Marco Tempest: The electric rise and fall of Nikola Tesla

How to listen to this talk: Marco Tempest: The electric rise and fall of Nikola Tesla

Before watching/listening:

Discuss these questions with a partner or write short answers to them on your own.
How has electricity changed our lives? (What was life like before? What’s it like now? What’s the future of the technology?)
How about radio?
Wireless telegraphy?
Remote control?
X-rays?
Hydro-electric dams?

Watch and listen to this video

Listen to it twice.

If you didn’t understand everything, listen two more times with subtitles. (Click “English” in the box below the video.)
If you didn’t understand everything, visit the website and read the transcript. (Click on the box below the video that says “show transcript”. You’ll have to visit the TED site to do this.)
For any difficult parts, click on the words in the transcript. Then, you can listen to him say those parts again.
Now, if you’re really having trouble, you can listen with subtitles in your language. After you’ve listened with subtitles in your language, listen again in English.

Comprehension Questions
Who is this about?
What talents did he have?
What future did he imagine?
What mistake did he make?
Why did he do what he did?
What was his question at the end?

Discussion Questions
Who are other great thinkers? What did they do?
In your country, who are some great thinkers of the past and today?
Are great thinkers always respected while they live?
If you could have a conversation with a great thinker from the past, who would you choose and why?
What will technology be like in the future? How will it change our lives?

Answers to Comprehension Questions
Who is this about? It’s about Nikola Tesla

What talents did he have? He could do math problems easily. More importantly, he could see how a machine would work in his mind before he built it. Therefore, he could design and test an invention in his mind before building it in his workshop.

What future did he imagine? “A world where there would be no humiliation of the poor by the violence of the rich, where products of intellect, science and art will serve society for the betterment and beautification of life.”

It means he wanted a world where technology helps everyone—so that the rich don’t humiliate the poor.

What mistake did he make? He explained that his world telegraphy center (similar to today’s cellular networks and internet) could contact aliens. This scared people.

What was his question? He asked “what will man do when the forests disappear, and the coal deposits are exhausted?”

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Yes, it’s summertime and many students and teachers are on vacation. August is the time to relax. No stress. No problems. But you and your students don’t want your English to disappear. Here are six relaxing ways to study English in the summer.

Watch TV TV is a great way to learn English. Find a show you like in English and watch all the episodes. Normally, you should turn off the subtitles, but this is a relaxing way to learn, so keep the subtitles on and watch all the episodes of your favorite show.

Watch Movies And movies too. Good movies, bad movies, any movies. Use the extra time you have in the summer to watch all the movies you want to watch during the school year.

Go to a bar (or a coffee shop) Making friends who speak English is always the best way to learn and practice. It’s hard, but go to the bar (or coffee shop) in your area where the foreigners hang out. You don’t even need to say hello, you can just relax and listen. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and meet a new friend.

Make some food But do it in English. Search the internet for recipes of a food you want to try. Get the ingredients and make yourself a great summer meal.

Read an easy book OK. So reading a book isn’t very relaxing if it’s hard, but it doesn’t need to be hard. Go to the bookstore and choose a really easy English book. Children’s books can be fun and interesting. Young adult novels are cool too. Don’t worry about challenging yourself. Just pick a fun one.

Sing a song Do you like to sing? Sing at home. Sing at karaoke. Sing while you walk. All in English, of course.

And above all, have a great summer!

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