## Tackle Options in GMAT DS Questions the Oak’s Academy Way

~ by our Quantitative Reasoning Faculty

Step 2 of the Approach to DS Questions: Tackle the Options the Oak’s Way

Step 1 of the approach dealt with carefully reading the question statement (see previous blog). Once that is done you have to deal with the options, which are standard in DS questions:

(A) Statement (1) alone is sufficient but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked

(B) Statement (2) alone is sufficient but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked

(C) Both statements (1) and (2) together are sufficient to answer the question asked, but neither statement alone is sufficient

(E) Statements (1) and (2) together are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data are needed.

To deal with them in the most systematic way possible just follow the sufficiency/insufficiency table below. It offers the best way of thinking through the options

## University Application Deadlines For Spring 2014 Semester

The application season is on, June is just round the corner …and university deadlines are coming up soon. So, here is our much awaited blog for university application deadlines for spring 2014 covering 107 universities with application deadlines from June to December for the Spring 2014 semester. At the end is a section on universities with rolling deadlines (click to find out what is meant by rolling deadlines).

Remember that American universities update deadlines on their websites at different times during the academic year so, we will update this blog to keep up with changes on their official websites.

Important Question: “Do you know which university you should apply to?”

A deadline is of use only if you know what university you should apply to. For those of you who are not too clear, here is how to decide:

1. Talk to seniors and decide which specialization you should apply for (examples: Networking, Data Bases etc. for Computer Engineers; Digital Signal Processing, VLSI etc. for Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers; MEMS, Robotics etc. for Mechanical Engineers)

2. To find out which universities or colleges offer the specialization you want, go to online.dilipoakacademy.com and look up your college or university in the University Information feature. All you have to do is select a university from the list of the top 220 provided (these have been selected by Mr. Dilip Oak) and you will get a list of departments and courses available. Click here to see. Registration is free and is open to all! (For more details on how to select a university see our Selecting the Right American University for Your MS in the US blog)

3. To plan your application process, check the general deadlines given in this blog. This will give you an idea of how much time you have and how to go about applying.

4. For the exact departmental deadline click the URL at the bottom of the University Information page for that university in online.dilipoakacademy.com. This will give you a more precise idea of how to plan your application process (see our Application Timeline for Spring 2014 blog – to be released in December – to see more specifically how you should go about applying)

Good luck and if your university is not in the list provided, keep looking for it. We will be updating this blog.

Related blogs:

Also see:

1. University of Maryland, Baltimore County –1 Jun
2. Texas Tech University –15 Jun
3. University of Tennessee, Knoxville –15 Jun

## A Few Great Tips on How to Tackle the GMAT DS Questions

by our Quantitative Reasoning Faculty

In last time’s blog we looked at why DS is so important in GMAT. In this one we’ll take a look at the 3 key things that you need to do in order to tackle this unfamiliar question type. There are:

1. Learn the Options

The first step in learning DS is to get absolutely familiar with the options. Fortunately, in DS, this is easy because the five options are always as follows:

(A) Statement (1) alone is sufficient but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked

(B) Statement (2) alone is sufficient but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked

(C) Both statements (1) and (2) together are sufficient to answer the question asked, but neither statement alone is sufficient

(E) Statements (1) and (2) together are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data are needed.

2. Remember the Aim

Remember, in DS our aim is NOT TO FIND THE FINAL ANSWER to the question but  just to verify whether the INFORMATION GIVEN IN THE TWO STATEMENTS IS SUFFICIENT TO REACH TO THE FINAL ANSWER!

So while solving the question if, at any intermediate step, you realize that you can reach the final answer then QUIT and mark the option accordingly.

3. Understand the Approach

Now let’s have a look at how you should approach DS questions.

Step 1: Carefully Read the Question Statement and Find the Crux of the Question

After closely examining the question statement and before you read the information given in statements (1) and (2), ‘identify the crux of the question’. What I mean by ‘the crux of the question’ is the piece of information that is the key to the solution. Sometimes you have to think a little bit before you get it. But once you have it, it will lead you straight to the answer. For example, have a look at this question statement:

If x and y are distinct positive integers then:

(1) x = 2 (y + 3)

(2) x2 = y2 + 4

Now, if you have lost touch with maths, just the sight of that forest of terms is enough to want to make you give up. But again, remember that we are not at all interested in solving this inequality. We just need find out whether the expression on the left hand side is positive or not (that’s what is implied by >0) – and this is a much simpler matter! Further, in this mass of algebraic symbols is a key that reveals itself when you examine about the expression and think about it a little.

In order to get this key, the first thing to do is to carefully observe the question statement. First and foremost, it says, that x and y are distinct positive integers. This is a very important piece of information – and you’ll understand why in a moment. Secondly, if you observe the numerator of the expression on the left, it consists of additions throughout. Given both these pieces of information, the numerator has to be positive in nature: it is the sum of distinct positive integers (which is why the information about x and y was important). By the same logic, even the second bracket in the denominator has to be positive. The only unknown factor, therefore, is the first bracket in the denominator, i.e., (x – y) and this is what holds the key to the entire problem.

The entire expression will be positive if and only if (x – y) > 0, in short, if x > y. On the other hand, if x < y, the whole expression will be negative. So, the whole gigantic problem is reduced to an extremely simple question: is x > y? Once we have arrived at this conclusion, cracking the rest of the problem is really easy: any information about the relative magnitudes of x and y will be sufficient to arrive at the answer! Thus, in this case, the crux of the question (the key to the solution) is realizing that all we need to find out in order to answer this question is whether statements (1) and (2) allow us to decide whether x is bigger than y or vice versa.

Once you have reached this stage you are can confidently take on the options of this seemingly insoluble problem. The discussion above takes care of Step 1 of the approach i.e. carefully reading the question statement and finding the crux of the question. In the next post we’ll look at Step 2 of the approach: tackling the options in DS questions – and we’ll be giving you tips that will reduce the complexities to a few simple steps! Watch for the tips in our third DS blog post next week.

## Should I Apply for the Spring Semester (January)?

Many students are interested in joining American universities in January, that is, in the spring semester. But, there is a common misunderstanding that many universities do not accept students in the spring semester and that funding opportunities are also fewer. This, however, is not true. Almost 95% of American universities admit students for the spring semester.

Opportunities for financial assistance in spring are also as good as in fall. Of course, in some universities, a few courses are offered only in the fall semester, so students who join in spring cannot take them. However, with regard to financial aid, most universities offer Research and Teaching Assistantships, tuition waivers etc. only to students who have completed one semester, with a very good GPA (Grade Point Average). Hence, whether you join in the fall or spring semester does not really make a difference.

Also look for our post on the spring semester: ‘What is the Best Time to Apply for the Spring Semester?’

## What is the Best Time to Apply for the Spring Semester?

The best time to apply for the spring semester is around June or July of the previous year, which is fast approaching. Of course, many universities accept applications in August and even in September, but if you want admission to a good university, it is better to apply before July of the previous year. Submitting your application early will also help you to get your I-20 early and thus you will be able to apply for a visa by October or November, or at least in early December.

We strongly recommend that you write the GRE and TOEFL before the 15th July so that it will be possible for you to submit all your online applications and courier the necessary documents before 25th July.

Therefore start preparing for GRE and TOEFL now and book your test date at the earliest. Simultaneously, start preparing documents like your Statement of Purpose (SOP), transcripts, and recommendation letters. Check the websites of different universities and list the names of universities where your specialization is available.

There are good opportunities in spring. Make sure that you don’t miss them! If you are not too sure of whether you should apply for the spring semester or not read our post titled “Should I Apply for the Spring Semester (January)?

Also, look out for our post: “Applying for Spring (Jan) 2014 – A Step-By-Step Explanation”

## Quantitative Comparison Questions: Doubtful D!

~ by our Maths Faculty

Now, here’s a tip about the weird GRE question type called Quantitative Comparison or simply QC. As we know, in QC questions there are two columns, ‘A’ and ‘B’, containing some quantities. Our job is to evaluate the quantities and compare their magnitudes. In QC questions, the options are always as follows:

(A) Quantity under Column A is GREATER THAN quantity under Column B

(B) Quantity under Column A is LESS THAN quantity under Column B

(C) Quantity under Column A is EQUAL TO quantity under Column B

(D) RELATIONSHIP CANNOT BE ESTABLISHED using the given information.

Now look at this example:

x2 – 2x – 24 = 0

y2 – 3y + 2 = 0

Column A Column B

x y

The question asks us to compare ‘x’ and ‘y’. In order to get the answer, we need to solve both the quadratic equations. When we do this, we get the following values: x (4, -6) and y (2, 1)

Thus, if we pick 4 as the value of ‘x’, it is greater than both values of ‘y’. Hence, option (B) and option (C) can be rejected outright.

Now, we are left with only two options, (A) and (D). But if we pick -6 as the value of ‘x’, it is less than both the values of ‘y’ so, we have to eliminate option (A) and thus, we have option (D) as the final answer!

Why was this example given? To show you that is that the only time we need to be extra cautious when solving QC questions is when we think that the answer is probably option D!

Now, try this one:

X < (1/X)

Column A Column B

X X2

## Important Alert: the F-1 Visa Process has Changed

The new visa process announced by the US Consulate in September 2012 is completely new. Everything has changed right from payment of the visa fees to scheduling a date at the consulate. The following steps are involved.

1. filling in the DS 160 form
2. paying the visa fees
3. scheduling appointments for:
1. submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
2. the Visa Interview

1. Online Filling of the DS 160 Form

The first step is to fill the DS 160 form online. Filling the form generates a CONFIRMATION NUMBER. You will require this number to print the ‘Receipt of Payment’ (which, in this case, is printed out before you make any payment!) since it contains the CGI reference number that is required if you are going to pay the visa fees in cash.

2. Payment of Visa Fees

You can now pay the visa fees by:

1. Electronic Fund Transfer
2. Mobile Phone
3. Cash payment at any Axis bank branch (there are over 1800 branches across the country)

If you make a cash payment of the fees (recommended), be sure to take along the ‘Receipt of Payment’ that you printed out earlier. The bank will need to see the ‘CGI Reference Number’ on it when you go to pay the visa fees. If you fail to produce the ‘Receipt of Payment’ the bank will not accept your visa fees.

3. Scheduling the Appointments

You can schedule appointments only after the receipt is ‘activated.’ Usually, this takes an hour. Once the receipt has been activated, you will have to schedule two appointments:

1. Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) – this appointment is for you to submit fingerprints of all ten fingers, photographs (digital and physical) and required documents. This appointment has to be scheduled at least one day prior to the visa interview date.
2. Visa Interview – this is the actual visa interview appointment.

Note:

1. You cannot appear for both appointments on the same date; and appointments for consecutive dates may not always be available. There have been instances where there is one whole week between the OFC appointment and the appointment for the interview. If that happens to you, you will have to make two trips to the consulate.
2. After the visa has been granted the passport is couriered to the home address (this facility is available for select cities only) or can be collected from the VFS center nearest to the home city.

What are the pros and cons of this new process?

PROS:

1. More ways of paying the visa fees
2. Over 1800 Axis bank branches across the country for payment of visa fees in cash
3. no additional documents other than the ‘Receipt of Payment’ to be carried to the bank
4. Elimination of spelling mistakes in the applicant’s name due to manual input at the bank.
5. No need to go to the VFS center prior to the visa interview.
6. Time required for activation of visa fee receipt reduced from 2 working days to an hour enabling quicker scheduling of the visa interview.

CONS:

1. DS 160 (which is a very long form) has to be completely filled before you can print the ‘Payment of Receipt’ and without the ‘Payment of Receipt’ the visa fees will not be accepted by the bank.
2. Two appointments (OFC and visa interview) have to be scheduled on two separate dates, which may not be consecutive. Hence you may have to travel twice to the city where the consulate is located.
3. You may have to collect your passport from the VFS centre.

If you have any queries related to:

• filling the DS-160 form
• payment of visa fees or
• scheduling/changing visa appointments

• Email: support-india@ustraveldocs.com
• Telephone: 91-120-6602222 or +91-22-67209400
• Skype: user name: ustraveldocs-india
• Online Chat: www.ustraveldocs.com

TIMINGS:

• Monday-Friday: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
• Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Other Application Documents:

Also ‘Must-See’

## The Importance of Data Sufficiency Questions in GMAT

~ by our Maths Faculty

My opening GMAT blog post will focus on Data Sufficiency, an important and unique Quantitative Reasoning question type in GMAT. Later on we’ll take up some sample questions to illustrate how to tackle this strange and interesting question type but first we will look at a fundamental point: why is DS important? Well, look at Figure 1 below

Figure 1

What this pie chart tells us is that, out of 37 questions in the GMAT Quantitative Reasoning section, you can expect around 22 to 23 will be of the Problem Solving (PS) type and 14 to 15 of the Data Sufficiency (DS) type.

Now, maybe you’re thinking that what this highlights is the importance of Problem Solving questions. But that is only the most obvious thing that the data says. The other important thing that it tells you is that if you want a good score in GMAT, you cannot afford to neglect Data Sufficiency. On the contrary, DS questions play a crucial role in converting mediocre GMAT scores into first-rate ones, so, if you ignore DS questions, that great GMAT score you are looking for may never be yours. Here’s why.

When you are through with your initial preparation and have given 3-4 mock GMAT tests, like most other students, you will probably find your scores stagnating. There are various reasons for this, but, in Quant, if you find that your raw score is fluctuating between 43 and 46 out of 60, the reason will usually be low accuracy in DS.

The most important reason why many students don’t achieve high accuracy in DS is that they don’t think the way that DS demands. We never solve such questions either in school or in college so, we don’t really understand them and so, we end up ignoring or trying to avoid DS questions. But that, is a big mistake! Remember the stats: you can’t think of getting a good score in GMAT without mastering DS questions. So, how do you deal with the difficulties that this question type throws up? Watch for our next post and find out.

## Did You Know these Facts about GRE Math?

~ By our Quantitative Reasoning Faculty

April is almost over and the countdown to the exam has already begun. You want a good overall score and if you’re an engineer, you are most probably thinking that getting 165 on Quant shouldn’t be too much of a problem (the typical engineer approaches maths questions with a raw “Just bring ‘em on” kind of arrogance and usually gets most questions right). But here’s the problem: sometimes even those with a strong background in maths may not cross the 160 mark – and when that happens, dreams of a score in the 325+ range come crashing down. To prevent that unhappy outcome, here are some basic insights about the way the math works on GRE.

One fundamental reason why some students don’t get the scores they should, is that they simply don’t understand the way the exam ‘TALKS’ maths. What this means is that the GRE test has its own way of defining mathematical terms. If you don’t understand the definitions used in the GRE exam, then time and time again you are going to end up making errors on questions you should have got right – and you are likely to end up feeling frustrated and demoralized. So, let’s have a look at a few basic differences between Indian maths and American math.