IEEE Smart Grid
IEEE CommSoc Publications
IEEE PELS Education
IEEE Spectrum Magazine
IEEE Comm Soc events, search “smart grid” and “power line”
Companies and Links
5-Star and 4-Star Sources
Lokaal in Leuven
Local Delaware, Ohio
S&P 500 Index, 5-star. The index is the news. It is a number set by market money. All the indexes are 5-star by default.
Hussman Funds Market Comment, 5-star. Market opinion, and stated as such. Consistent message.
Nate’s Stuff, 5-star baby!!
NathanRuffing.com Big News, only the absolute biggest stories of our lives
Check out my friends’ websites, they’re cool.
Sports Events 2020 – wow everything that isn’t happening.
Search Delaware Hayes Pacers
COVID-19 and Epidemiology in General
I consider this paper to be worth more than everything else written on COVID-19, combined. Literally.
Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, 5-star book, written in 2017. A must-read. It reads like it was written before the COVID-19 outbreak.
CIDRAP podcast, 5-star. Michael Osterholm does his job and reports the science.
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), 4-star source. Nearly 5-star. Highly relevant. Scientific. Critical when necessary.
Deaths data table from the CDC. 5-star data table. US government statistics are usually consistent and honest. COVID-19 cases are difficult to count and classify. Deaths are more straightforward. The last 7 years average annual flu deaths for the US is ~41,000. Reference. The reason the CDC doesn’t compare average past flu and pneumonia death data to COVID-19 is because they don’t have reliable weekly past flu and pneumonia data, only estimates.
EUROMOMO is the EU equivalent.
The Fall and Rise of China, 5-star lecture series. Covers the Opium Wars through 2010. Absolute must-listen to understand China.
The following “Chinese” are not the same. We must know the difference!
- The CCP
- China the country
- Chinese people in China
- Chinese people in America who will return to China
- Chinese-American immigrants
- Americans with Chinese heritage
- Americans who look Asian
Current news on China? I lack a good source! Anybody?? Shoot me an e-mail. I’m open to suggestions.
Keys to Black Wealth: here is a great black movement.
I will listen to black people on black people. Martin Luther King Jr. speeches are timeless. Malcolm X speeches are shocking but interesting and well-spoken.was controversial, and he was a “draft dodger” but he appears to me to have been bravely speaking his mind, not a coward. I like Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder, you may not. Suggestions?
Internet Free Speech and Privacy
Bovada sports gambling, 5-star, is popular in the US and offers odds on political races. Better than the polls. Money is on the line, so their goal is to report the odds as they actually are.
MoFreedomFoundation: 4-star. Rob is the most politically-biased 4-star source on this page. Rob is a one-man polemicist show with consistent message and historical background. Though biased, he makes no bones about it. He is there to state his opinion. I watched almost all his videos from 2016 through 2019 and they remain relevant. Disagree with him? Go ahead, start a video series then! That’s what he did!
Star Rating System
5-star: Near perfect source. Totally unbiased, well cited, self-regulating. I have never found misinformation. Gold standard of information. Often says, “we don’t know …” when they don’t know. Often very boring, require a long time to understand. Demonstrates conscious and consistent attempt to be objective. When there is opinion, clearly labeled as such. Science and statistics used responsibly. Usually reserved for individual stories rather than sources because one must always be wary.
4-star: Great source. No consistent bias, but some misinformation and bias rarely. If opinion, clearly stated as opinion and supported by cited 5 star sources. Consistent, independent, individual opinion makers often receive 4 stars even if biased if they identify as opinion and consistently reveal their sources.
3-star: Usually good information. Information selected with some consistent political bias. Often more entertaining than 4 or 5 star sources.
2-star: clear bias with thin attempt to conceal. Information usually true, but heavily selected to fit a narrative. Often appear to be attempting to create newsworthy thought rather than objectively reporting news or stating opinion. Sources often receive 2 stars rather than 1 star, ironically, because so many people follow these sources that they become news. Often quote science and statistics in a weak superficial manner to support their narrative.
1-star: comical and entertaining. If reality is ridiculous, as it sometimes can be, 1 star sources will be the first to report. 90% of the information reads like historical fiction. Conspiracy theories abound.
3-Star, 2-Star and 1-Star Sources with Explanation
These sources can be useful, but should combine to less than 10% of your information unless you just want entertainment, want a quick explanation of a current “thought” movement, are starting a search for a “4-star plus” source, or you are preparing for war for some reason.
NPR: 3-star. The most publicly-funded US news source. Their bias sometimes goes both ways, so difficult to pin them on one side. Government funded. Though unbiased, they just aren’t that good. Very connected to US universities. My personal peeve is that their necessity to interview the “downtrodden” turns into endless whining and complaining.
BBC News: 4-star or 3-star. Very connected to the British government, but I usually find their stories dispassionate and concise. They must support the British government but English culture is popular – I believe – because the English value truth and transparency.
Joe Rogan, 3-star, is a great source of sources. Joe Rogan often interviews great sources and you can go directly to his interviewees as your source.
US Mainstream Media: 2-star.
Search Thomas Jefferson quotes on newspapers and you will know exactly what I think about mainstream media. The most useful thing the mainstream media has done in my lifetime is help name this post.
Fox News, 2-star.
New York Times, 2-star.
Washington Post, 2-star.
Their stories are based in truth but they immediately spin them. They sprinkle in just enough truth and “science” to make you feel smart and informed. However, they pick only sources that drive their agenda and usually the most shocking and enraging sources possible. Watching just one side yields a very skewed world view. Watching both sides yields an extreme view that the two sides hate each other and one side is right or the answer is in the middle. None of these things are true. The “right answer” or “solution” appears neither in the battle between these “two sides” nor in the middle. No link here because of the crippling number of ads on their sites. As an American, their bias is pretty easy to pick out but as a foreigner you might just be confused by the chaos.
US Presidential Election 2020
Compelling Trump victory factors
- Strong economy / jobs … (?)
- Weak Democrat candidates
- Trump is social media leader.
- COVID-19 emphasizes social media.
- Trump picking up minority votes?
- Bernie splitting Democrat vote, complicating things.
- Media is so negative, Democrats happy to passively allow Trump to remain in hot seat. Not excited about getting slammed with Biden in charge.
Compelling Democrat victory factors
- Anybody but Hillary could have beaten Trump in 2016. Hillary was only candidate bad enough Trump could beat
- Anti-Trump base is energetic and will vote
- Trump support base is complacent.
- Trump barely won in 2016, lost popular vote.
- COVID-19 killing “Trump’s” economy. Bad for incumbent.
- Media is so negative, Trump supporters will be happy to see Democrat return to hot seat. Tired of constant berating.
30 Mar: US Government 15 day plan expires. Go back to work, America?
~3 Apr: UK starts mass testing for active and past COVID-19
~9 Apr: Osterholm says major testing shortages because of reagent chemicals required. Confidence crisis.
~9 Apr: check from US government for ~$1200 / adult.
12 Apr: Trump target for re-opening (Easter Sunday).
16 Apr: JP Hussman says grace period up for health system preparedness.
8 May: lawyers say Franklin County courts re-open?
~July – August: Osterholm says peak in the summer six months after emergence. No seasonality.
- 25 March 2020: with S&P 500 down only 27% – S&P ~=2,500 – I don’t think the market has priced in the effect of ongoing trade issues with world’s #2 economy. China already had probable forced child labor, oppressive propaganda-pushing government, taking over Hong Kong, “re-education” camps for Uighur Muslims, now wet markets + CCP delay and cover-up have caused a pandemic. CCP has arrived on the world’s doorstep. No matter your politics, governments will sanction and this will affect global economy.
- Feb 2020: predict Trump wins reelection in 2020 due to being incumbent, strong economy, social media use, and weak Democrat candidates.
Twitter, link goes to your Twitter home. Twitter is news by default depending on who you follow. If enough people think it’s news, they’re right. Get it off your chest. Participate. … Update: I don’t know, even good sources turn to trash on Twitter.
DrudgeReport, 1-star, collection of the newest and most alarming stories by link from around the web. Unvetted. Everything that anybody is saying. Entertaining.
World Economic Forum: Pro-globalization. I’m not familiar enough to rate.
List of definitely un-reliable sources without links: New York Post, Intellihub, Breitbart, …
Coronavirus 2020 back-story and reading
The World Health Organization is is influenced by Chinese Communist Party propaganda, reports their numbers as fact, holds China as a model (based on false numbers), and is advertising a concert in the middle of a pandemic. Stop the funding. Embarrassing. Even Michael Osterholm at CIDRAP called them out for failing.
The Wuhan Virology Lab, even if just a coincidence, is part of the coronavirus story, see below
Wuhan lab director considered the possibility in this interview.
Update on the lab story, probably not! Click here.
1977 Russian flu very likely accidental release from Soviet lab, see Chapter 10 of this book, Deadliest Enemy
1977 Russian flu, see Wikipedia article
2020 according to this article we are taking the lab director’s word that the virus doesn’t match anything her lab studied. Case closed? Really? To me this is an irresponsible misunderstanding of the situation and of China. We know lab releases have happened before. We know China lies and covers up when necessary.
Update Oct 2020: I believed an accidental lab leak was a possibility, too large a coincidence to ignore. The lab director herself considered the possibility. Her “investigation” was complete bullshit. See the links. It could have come from the lab. It would not have been the first virus outbreak from a lab. However, after weeks of digging, I stumbled upon a much better explanation for which, after several months now, I have yet to hear a serious challenge.
The lab remains a source of mystery still because we know the CCP lies and creates “reality.” The CCP knew the lab was going to be a PR nightmare and so probably delayed informing the world about the virus even more than they otherwise would have. The existence of the lab certainly influenced the CCP reaction.
My score: Writing 4.5, 81%ile, Verbal 164, 94%ile. Quantitative 161, 76%ile.
GRE Basics, Official Source
The GRE is made, administered, and scored by Educational Testing Services, ETS. ETS is the largest private nonprofit educational testing organization in the world and it is based in New Jersey with a Princeton address. GRE stands for Graduate Record Examinations.
Exam Structure and Prep Material
ETS provides a lot of prep material, click here. In my one week of preparation, I did not venture beyond their site and the free material they provide.
Is the GRE adaptive? That question is answered here on the ETS site.
When will I get my score?
Check the website for current information, but they showed me an “unofficial” quant / verbal score at the test center. I had to remember it if I wanted to know what it was. They said 10-15 days, I received my score with the writing score included on the 9th day after the test.
GRE Strategy by Section
- Mark questions throughout each section. Better to mark too many, as in 5-7 of 20 rather than not mark any at all. Being able to return is a big advantage. If you finish with extra time, you want to be able to utilize the extra time productively by returning to marked questions.
- First 5 minutes: pick 3 examples and categorize them first thing.
- Ensure that you can support your argument before you start making it.
- 25 min remaining: start writing.
- 10-5 minutes remaining, you should be starting the closing paragraph.
- Time expiring: finish the closing paragraph and return to edit until time is up.
- 30 minutes is enough time to write, but not time to make huge changes once you have started writing. Picking examples first is critical. It is easier to adjust your argument to your examples than it is to think of examples once you have decided on your argument.
- Throughout the essay, glance at the prompt and ensure you are sticking to the specific subject and answering exactly what they ask. You should spend the whole time adding relevant support to your stance.
- Practice-write essays while studying. Even though they aren’t scored it’s worth getting an idea of how long 30 minutes feels like when writing. To review, read the examples of 6 and maybe 5.5 scores along with the grader’s explanations. I found them informative.
- On the vocabulary questions, the correct choices will be supported by the sentence around it. The sentence fill-in questions are good ones to return to because it is easy to err on just one of the three words and get the whole question wrong.
- Reading comprehension that describes confusing locations or categories of items, make a map or diagram.
- Reading comprehension that presents two sides of an argument, jot quick marker words of each side in a diagram to keep opposing sides separate and like sides together. Possibly jot a quick flow of the argument.
- They give you a calculator on the GRE. Remember to use it! Complex response checking becomes much quicker!
GRE Time Strategy
The GRE being adaptive per section, your time strategy depends on which category you fall into: 1. below average, 2. average, 3. above average. If you are below average, the earlier sections, 2 and 3, will be more difficult. If you are above average, the later sections, 4 and 5, will be more difficult. On the more difficult sections, you should expect to skip (or guess quickly) some questions to return later if you have time. On the easy sections, you can proceed deliberately and be very careful to check your work because you will likely have extra time.
GRE Contrasted with GMAT (My Perception)
Because of indecision, I took the GRE followed by the GMAT 11 days later. I am therefore somewhat qualified to compare and contrast. They are both standardized tests, mostly multiple-choice, with writing sections. Now to contrast:
- The GRE is not as time-intense. For this reason, I have listed a few more detailed note-taking strategies that take some more time. Unlike the GMAT, on the GRE there may be time to utilize more detailed notes.
- GRE verbal is more focused on vocabulary, while GMAT heavier on grammar. On the GRE, honestly, they use many words I don’t know and I miss questions because of it. On the GMAT, some of the sentences to analyze are lengthy brain-twisters with just minute differences among the answers. They are difficult, but on the GMAT I rarely see words I don’t know.
- The GRE verbal correct answers seem more straightforward. They are not necessarily easier but there are a lot fewer instances of selecting the “best” answer with multiple possibilities like on the GMAT.
- The GRE math is more straightforward. I dare say “easier.”
- They give you a basic calculator on the GRE, not on the GMAT.
GRE Study Diary 2020. Test Day = Monday, 3 February 2020
27 Jan, 7 days to test: registered for the test. Looked up location. Started notes right here on this post you’re looking at. Read a description and viewed samples of each question type.
28 Jan, 6 days to test: took un-timed practice test throughout the day. The essays seem pretty straightforward – stay on subject!
Score : Verbal 163, 93%ile. Quantitative 166, 89%ile.
Score data from ETS. Notice that 4% of testers ace the quantitative. Highest %ile is 96.
29 Jan, 5 days to test: None, applied to master’s programs.
30 Jan, 4 days to test: None, applied to master’s programs.
31 Jan, 3 days to test: took second practice test. Of note, I forgot that a calculator is provided so that certainly impacted my math score by wasting time. I ran out of time with 2 questions remaining. At this point, I suppose the lesson learned is use the calculator, do your best, and I’m as ready as I’m gonna be. Of course, I consider my essays perfect but the computer has no opinion on that.
Score: Verbal 160, 86%ile. Quantitative 161, 76%ile.
1 Feb, 2 days to test: None.
2 Feb, 1 day to test: Re-took just the math portion of test 1, this time with time and with the calculator that I forgot to use the first time. This time I got all 40 questions correct for a 170 (calculator helped but also helped to already have seen the questions).
3 Feb, Test Day
Ate a huge breakfast and I’m glad I did. There were 6 sections:
- Verbal 1
- Quantitative 1
- Verbal 2
- Quantitative 2
- Verbal 3
Score: Writing 4.5, 81%ile, Verbal 164, 94%ile. Quantitative 161, 76%ile.
4.5 / 6 on writing – what?!?! My essays were better than that! That’s what I always said in English class anyway.
Overall, good enough I think. Pay attention to time on the second section of each test!! I think my strategy was good, especially focusing on food. You gotta get brain food during a test that long. The only strategy “mistake” I made I would say was starting the second math section a bit slow – or a bit too deliberately. I ran out of time and that is not good.
The second sections of each portion clearly indicated that I did well on the first – they were very difficult. On verbal 2 there were many vocabulary words I did not know and on which I was forced to guess. On math 2, I left 2 or 3 questions unfinished. Verbal 3 was considerably easier again and I finished it with 7 minutes remaining. It was enough time to review all of my answers and I did, I believe, correct one error I made so I was glad I returned to check.
Test Day List
- ETS, What to Bring Test Day
- Gatorade or juice.
- Eat and coffee at 1 of many restaurants just east of test center.
- Test center: Rua George Eastman Suite 98, Sao Paulo, BR 05690000
- Close to estação Morumbi
- ~1 hour from Bela Vista by Metro, 40 minutes by Uber.
- Leave apartment at ~6:30 to arrive near test center ~7:45 in time for breakfast and coffee, test starts at 9.
- Write down the codes of the schools you want to send the score to! If they do not allow you to reference it, you at least may be able to remember better.
Overall Strategies and Notes
- Write out ‘A’ for each question with space for B, C, D, E, to use process of elimination explicitly. The small time commitment per question is worth the big time savings on difficult questions when you really need the visual aid to process of elimination.
- Using a time strategy is important to keep on track. A simple time strategy is under the heading for each section below. Must be simple otherwise you are wasting time and energy calculating time.
- Even though the GMAT is an adaptive test, do not try to evaluate your progress based on the difficulty of the questions you see. Don’t freak out if you see an easy question. There are unscored experimental questions interwoven so you may be seeing an easy experimental question. Just answer them right! (Princeton Review)
Strategies by Question Type
The specific categories of verbal questions are straight from the Kaplan GMAT 800 study book.
Verbal Reasoning, 36 questions 65 minutes
Time plan: arrive at question 15, 25, 36 at the 40, 20, 1 minute remaining marks.
Critical Reasoning, 7 types ~12 questions
- Numbers and Stats
- Surveys and Studies
- Scope Shifts
- Alternative Explanations
- Explain / Paradox
- Odd Man Out
Critical reasoning questions appear on the LSAT as well. “LSAT recycle”
Reading Comprehension, 3 types ~12 questions
- Social Science
- Natural Science
Draw a quick horizontal line for each paragraph of a passage and jot a word or two describing the purpose of each paragraph. This helps organize the information and helps return for reference.
Common error: sometimes GMAT will ask for something that the passage “implied” or “can be inferred.” Sometimes I will ignore the correct answer because I believe I remember it being actually explicitly stated when actually it was only implied. If you think explicitly stated, it has good chance to be right answer, go back and check.
If you don’t understand an answer option at all, don’t pick it just because you can’t find the right answer and you assume you are stupid and don’t understand.
Sometimes correct answers will have a word that is not found in the passage and you have to make a small leap to the answer.
“React” means “take issue with” or “disagree.” Hence “reactionary” movement WRT revolutions et cetera.
Don’t get tired of searching because you can’t eliminate all wrong options. Find the right one!
Sentence Correction, 8 types ~12 questions
- “in contrast to” not “in contrast “with”
- “sum lower than” not “sum less than”
- Comparisons must be grammatically consistent.
- Must be direct comparisons, apples to apples.
Subject / Verb Agreement
- A pronoun cannot have multiple antecedents to possibly refer to.
Sentence Correction Priorities
- Must be grammatically correct.
- Clarity, especially clarity of what pronouns / adjectives / modifiers refer to.
- Active over passive
- Maintain meaning but sometimes the sentence must become more specific to be clear. More specific is not considered altered meaning and therefore okay.
Choice A is always the unchanged sentence. As soon as there is an error, eliminate A. Even if A is possible, the others are equal possibilities. Favor the better answer, not the unchanged answer.
You can select an answer with a generic noun in place of a pronoun if the sentence should have a noun. E.g. “Jessica” in place of “she.”
A semi-colon can only separate two phrases that can stand as independent and complete sentences. If semi-colon, then a period must work also.
Kaplan GMAT 800 page 161 question 27 says to change the wording because “are bringing” is “unnecessary,” and therefore change to just “bring.” It is grammatically correct but they alter why? Maybe to be more succinct? The top of page 176 says, ” an unnecessary alteration is always wrong.” These seem to contradict.
Be able to identify modifiers and participles.
If 3-4 of the options say almost the same thing, best to pick the most specific because it will likely be considered more clear. This sometimes appears to alter the meaning but more specific is not necessarily considered altered meaning.
Error: Pronoun – noun agreement. On question 65 I selected the pronoun “their” to refer to the country of Turkey. Incorrect.
Subjunctive: 1. Desire / wish, 2. “if” senetences, 3. “that …”
“fewer” and “number of” go with countable objects while “less than” and “amount of” go with non-quantifiable
Quantitative Reasoning (AKA Math), 31 questions 62 minutes
Time plan: arrive at question 12, 22, 31 at the 40, 20, 1 minute remaining marks.
Optimal time per question ~~ 1-3 minutes. Less than one minute, and you should check for a tricky question. More than 3 minutes and you should move on because you are likely doing it wrong. More than 4 minutes, emergency jettison! Cut your losses and move on.
These are not really shortcuts, but even though you could solve many of these types of problems by “figuring them out,” you get a higher score by maximizing your time by knowing the rules for these specific items. The following concepts are highly represented on the GMAT:
- Permutations and Combinations, familiarity with the formulas and concepts is critical.
- Double something squared is x4. Double something cubed is x8.
- Remember that square root has a positive and negative result.
- Any number squared is always positive.
- For inequalities, the only time the sign flips is when you multiply (or divide of course) by a negative number.
- Least common multiples, greatest common factors, and prime numbers.
- Division remainders, and remainder tricks.
- Sequences, arithmetic mean, median.
- In any evenly-spaced sequence, mean = median = first + last term / 2.
- Arithmetic mean = sum of sequence / number of terms. GMAT often refers to the sum of a sequence and requires you to recognize that it can be taken as a variable by itself ignoring its component sequence.
- Absolute values
Straight Math ~8 questions?
Word Problems ~8 questions?
- Pay attention to exactly what question is asking: part vs. part of whole, fraction remaining vs. time remaining at rate to finish, ratio vs. fraction.
- Make a table sometimes for multiple quantities of multiple categories within a group.
- Use very clear variables with lots of subscripts as required!
- Common error: not separating first period cost (or any fixed value) from ongoing cost (or any repeated value).
Data Sufficiency ~15 questions?
Integrated Reasoning, 12 questions 30 minutes
(not part of main score, added to test ~2013)
Time plan: arrive at question 4, 8, 12 at the 20, 10, 1 minute remaining marks. Of note also, finish 6 at 15 minutes remaining. The halfway point is hard to ignore as you look at the clock ticking.
Analytical Writing Assessment, 1 question 30 minutes
(not part of main score)
My score: Verbal 40, 90%ile. Quantitative 44, 49%ile. Total 690, 85%ile. Writing 6.0, 88%ile. IR 8, 92%ile.
Didn’t crush it, but did alright!
GMAT Basics, Official Sources
- GMAC = Graduate Management Admissions Council. GMAC makes the GMAT and also advises business schools in utilizing the GMAT for their admissions process.
- Pearson VUE is the Minnesota-based company that physically administers the GMAT, operates the testing centers.
- GMAT = Graduate Management Admissions Test
- MBA.com: both the GMAC and Pearson sites link to MBA.com. MBA.com has many resources for test takers including registration and practice tests.
Don’t take my word for it. Now that you know who administers the test and where they post information, go straight to the official source, MBA.com. https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat/about-the-gmat-exam/gmat-exam-structure
MBA.com is Official
According to the Princeton Review course book, the GMAT makers have never allowed outside companies to use actual past questions for practice. This tells me that my first source for practice questions is whatever is available on MBA.com. MBA.com should be your first source! Fortunately they sell official practice exams and thousands of questions. Do their questions have good explanations? Don’t know yet. They also sell the “Official Guide” in electronic and print formats. MBA.com also happens to be the cheapest.
I would take only official practice exams from MBA.com. The GMAT is so detailed it would be hard to reproduce without the official version. Also, there are 6 of them available and being computer-adaptive they are not the same every time. The most practice exams you could realistically take would be one per day and one per week is more realistic.
Prep Material I Used
- MBA.com official practice tests
- MBA.com Official Guides
- Kaplan GMAT 800 9th Edition (2014)
- Manhattan Prep video of first class available for free.
- Princeton Review _____
Unofficial Prep Courses Reviewed
These courses are all unofficial. I did not review MBA.com because it needs no review. MBA.com is your official source. Only where it lacks should you seek further information.
Kaplan GMAT 800 was my favorite book. It is geared toward good test takers. They talk about “an 800 test taker” throughout the material and they give practice questions that are supposed to model the most difficult test questions. Their answer explanations are very good. I spent the first 3 weeks with this book. I read the answer explanations even if I got the example problem right because they give compressed ways of thinking and shortcuts that make you more efficient and make the material more familiar.
The Princeton Review spends a lot of time on very basic testing techniques. It even mentions “fairness” a few times. This to me is coddling test takers. Is there a right answer to each question? Do all test takers get the same test? Then the test is “fair,” move on.
According to Wikipedia, The Princeton Review is not associated with Princeton University.
One preparation technique I did not take advantage of is an in-person class. I heard this was effective for friends I talked to and I do believe this could be helpful together with self-study. It did not fit into my situation. I heard the Manhattan Prep is the best in-person class. Manhattan Prep is partnered with Kaplan according to Kaplan’s website. I watched the Manhattan Prep first class that they provide as a free video online. I can tell the class would have been waaay to slow for me. The first class has a good description of how the test is scored and especially how it relates to your time strategy.
EMPOWERgmat has a lot of online presence and I admit spent a lot of time looking at them because their reviews are good. I was close to buying the course then I read a Quora post that said they are heavy on marketing in the GMAT prep groups and reviews but light on actual GMAT prep. After I read this, their presence made sense. I do not know how they claim to have obtained 6 official practice exams when The Princeton Review says GMAC has never allowed this, but who cares? MBA.com officially offers 6 practice exams for cheaper. I imagine it is not a coincidence that MBA.com offers 6 exams and EMPOWERgmat claims to offer 6. I really do not know. I moved on.
There is a “Manhattan Review” that does GMAT test prep, not to be confused with Manhattan Prep. They are separate. I don’t know much about this Manhattan Review. It seems Manhattan Prep is the one you want.
I have heard people say, “I have to listen to music while I study,” or “I like to have the TV on while I study.” These translate to me to, “I prefer to listen to music and watch TV than to study.” Of course you prefer music and TV to studying, so do I. If you want to do well, study. Don’t listen to music or watch TV.
The GMAT as an Adaptive Test, Your Testing Rate, and Your Time Strategy
The GMAT is famous for being an “adaptive test.” There is a mountain of information out there about what this means, and it is mostly about how it complicates things and makes things more difficult. I would argue that although it is true that there are difficulties to an adaptive test, the main difference is with respect to time and rate. If you recognize this and use it to your advantage, you can implement an effective strategy and you can glean valuable information during the test with an awareness of your rate of answering.
Normal versus Adaptive
Normal tests test your ability to be correct on a fixed number of fixed questions, which means a fixed amount of test material. All tests have a time limit, but a normal test usually has a max time long enough to reasonably finish. If you are very good on a normal test, you can finish early and still know that you did your best. You can even get a perfect score. If your knowledge is complete and you do not make mistakes, you get a perfect score. Finishing early is common, but the speed is not scored. On an adaptive test, the test makers – GMAC in this case – can adjust the amount of time per question to adapt to each test taker by making the questions easier or more difficult based on your responses. Therefore, on an adaptive test like the GMAT, you process a variable amount of test material in what is designed to be a fixed amount of time – the max time. The test adjusts for you to finish with zero seconds remaining by adjusting the test material. Again, this contrasts with a normal test, where you process a fixed amount of material in less than a maximum time.
Information from Your Testing Rate
You can glean information from your testing rate. What I mean by this is, the GMAC test makers are good at their job. They know based on your responses how to give you a problem that takes you about 2 minutes to solve. Therefore, if you arrive at an answer in 10 seconds, be suspicious and check for a trick or something you missed. You are rarely correct in 10 seconds. If you think you see the answer in 10 seconds, invest another 10 seconds verifying yourself before answering and moving on. If you are reaching 3 or 4 minutes on a problem, you are likely doing it wrong and you should select among the answers you haven’t eliminated and move on. They say, “Nothing good happens after midnight!” Similarly, nothing good happens after 4 minutes on the GMAT. Move on. Time is scored just as much as being correct on the GMAT; use time wisely.
One Small Set of Time / Rate Testing Data
When I started timing myself, but I was not yet using my time as information, look at the first 15 practice questions I answered:
- Wrong in 4:20
- Right in 3:55
- Wrong in 0:10
- Wrong in 1:00
- Right in 2:00
- Wrong in 1:00
- Right in 2:40
- Wrong in 4:20
- Right in 2:40
- Wrong in 1:00
- Right in 1:20
- Right in 2:30
- Right in 0:55
- Right in 2:25
- Right in 2:20
I got 9 / 15 correct. Notice, all 6 of the wrong answers were under 1:00 or over 4:00. 7 / 9 of the right answers were in the range of 1:20 – 2:40. There is clearly a “sweet spot.” Is there some confirmation bias because I “quit” after 4 minutes? Possibly, but it is still the right strategy. Even if I could have been correct in 6-10 minutes, it is a risky waste of time.
Good Test Takers “Crippled” on Adaptive Tests
Good test takers know when to skip a question to return to it later. Good test takers use information from one question to answer other questions on the test. This is not possible on the GMAT because you cannot skip questions and return. This “cripples” good test takers theoretically. However, I would argue that you can get an “extra” advantage by being at least passively aware of your rate of testing. On a “normal” test, maybe you can take the test in the right order, skipping around as necessary. On the GMAT, you should take the test at the correct rate, recognizing a tricky question that didn’t take long enough and educated guessing at the onset of diminishing returns on complex problems.
Good test takers like to believe that standardized tests are entirely indicative of intelligence, “smartness,” and future success. There is some truth to this or they would not administer the test. However, there are a few nuggets of information that are WAAAYYY over-represented on the GMAT when compared to their actual value in real life. Similarly, if you have played Scrabble, you know that two-letter words are WAAAYYY over-represented in Scrabble compared to their actual use in real life. Just like knowing two-letter words in Scrabble, you must know the reliable “shortcuts” for GMAT questions. See the printable strategy sheet for a list. Even if you are “smart enough” to figure it out, you need the shortcut. You must get the answer in time. You must get the answer efficiently. Correct in 2 minutes is better than correct in 6 minutes.
Test Day Preparation
On an adaptive test, you must test under your personal optimal test conditions on test day. You must eat properly, have enough sleep, and take the test the right time of day to get your maximum score. If you are under less-than-optimal conditions, you will get a less-than-optimal score for you. The adaptive test does not test your brain’s grasp of knowledge or information. The adaptive test tests your brain’s meaningful output for a specific two-hour period of a specific day. You must maximize your brain’s output for the two hours by preparing properly.
A Standard Note Taking Strategy
The GMAT is adaptive and fluid, but the types of questions are very standardized. You should have a specific strategy for dealing with each type of problem including exactly what you will write down and how. The test is very heavy on organized efficient information processing, so keeping information organized is critical. Often the answer is obvious, but hidden among extraneous information. If you have the information organized, you can reach the answer fast, which is just as important as being correct.
You must stick to your note taking strategy. You will be tempted to try to answer a question that looks easy without writing down your standard quick notes. By the time you realize you cannot answer in your head, you have wasted time, which means you already lowered your score. Start each question off right with good quick notes. Process the GMAT efficiently with standardized note taking.
Notes make every piece of information you process valuable. Say for example you can only narrow down to two possibilities. As you frustrate yourself over the remaining two possible answers – forgetting which two answers are possible! – and decide to guess because of time, if you have taken good notes, then you know for certain which two answers to guess from and raise your odds of answering correctly in the minimum possible time, efficiently. Get credit for all of your work with good notes.
The GMAT is a Brain Race
The GMAT tests the speed at which you process information. To this extent, it is a race. However! We all know that racing leads to mistakes. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Disciplined speed is key. Efficiency is the name of the game. Easy question ≠ easy and easy question ≠ fast. Easy question = time for the next question = time for you to score points on higher-difficulty questions later, but you have to get it correct first.
Practice with a Timer, Always
Time is such an important factor on the GMAT, you should always practice with a timer. On each practice question, you should know whether you were right or wrong and you should know how long it took you. Whether you were right or wrong, you should be looking for ways to be right faster. Time is score. You can only improve your rate and efficiency if you know what your time is.
Critically, practicing with a timer is more fun.
Use GMAT Testing Material to Take the GMAT!
The GMAT quantitative test has a bunch of rate questions on it. Use testing rate in your GMAT testing strategy! Who ever said this stuff doesn’t have real-life applications?!?!
Practical Time / Rate Strategy
You want to “think like a test maker,” but at the end of the day, you are a test taker so you want to implement a practical strategy. My printable strategy page is here. As you can see, time is just a small portion and is very simple, but it is important and you should always be passively aware of the time.
Conclusion and Summary of GMAT Time
This looks like a lot of strategy, energy, and preparation time for a small advantage. However, the point is to implement a practical strategy to ensure you have the appropriate time on the test to demonstrate all the other studying and preparation you have done. Your time strategy is a tiny portion of each problem on the test, but it affects every problem on the test. Implement a simple time strategy to ensure you
- pace yourself on the test as a whole and
- watch for outliers on each question by having a passive awareness of the time.
GMAT Study Diary 2020. Test Day = Friday, 14 February 2020
4 Jan, 41 days to test: general search, exam format, course reviews
5 Jan, 40 days to test: 3 hours of critical reasoning and Reading comprehension practice from GMAT 800.
6 Jan, 39 days to test: None.
7 Jan, 37 days to test: 3 hours sentence correction intro and practice.
8 Jan, 36 days to test: 1 hour math basics from Princeton Review book and 2 hours sentence correction in Kaplan GMAT 800.
9 Jan, 35 days to test: 2 hours of sentence correction practice.
10 Jan, 34 days to test: first practice exam. Exam 1 purchased from MBA.com.
Score : Verbal 45, 99%ile. Quantitative 44, 52%ile. Total 710, 91%ile. IR 4, 40%ile
The Kaplan GMAT 800 book definitely improved my verbal score compared to what it would have been. I did not think it was possible for me to do better on verbal than on quantitative. This week will definitely be focused on the quantitative portion. Going to go through the quantitative section of Kaplan GMAT 800 this week.
11-12 Jan: None, weekend.
13 Jan, 31 days to test: reviewed the 10 math answers I missed from Friday with a fresh brain. I missed some silly ones but there are two I still do not understand.
14 Jan, 30 days to test: None, (increased font of book).
15 Jan, 29 days to test: 3 hours practice math problems, planned out test day and day prior to test.
16 Jan, 28 days to test: spent morning applying to a job. Watched Manhattan first class. It was mind-numbing-ly slow and I had to skip through it although it had some neat tips (see description under prep materials review).
17 Jan, 27 days to test: second practice exam. Exam 2 purchased from MBA.com.
Score : Verbal 42, 96%ile. Quantitative 43, 50%ile. Total 690, 86%ile. IR 7, 82%ile.
I scored lower on both sections but I feel better about it overall. Snack plan worked great, need a bigger breakfast. The verbal was more realistic for a normal day. I feel like I can repeat it and it is still a good score. I finished verbal with 7 minutes remaining, maybe should have slowed down. Verbal: keep re-reading verbal strategies to strengthen. The quantitative was lower by one point, but I knew it was a bad run. I wasted 10 minutes on problem #3 that should have been medium-difficulty. I did at least get it right. I had to educated-guess throughout the remainder of the test to catch up. Bad run, near the same score, so on track. Still need to improve quantitative. Quantitative: 1. Must improve on data sufficiency. 2. Must improve inequalities (>, <) I am uncomfortable with them for some reason, especially in combination with square roots (+/-) and absolute values. 3. Must stick to writing clear variables with subscripts! 4. Permutations / combinations with and without repeats.
Thinking back on the four days to study, I only really studied two of the days because Tuesday I reformatted my book, Thursday I spent the morning taking a test for a job application. Moving future practice tests to Saturday morning to get an extra study day and more quiet for test.
18 Jan, 26 days to test: some review of math.
19 Jan, 25 days to test: none, Sunday.
20 Jan, 24 days to test: geometry word problems from GMAT 800.
21 Jan, 23 days to test: 4 hours of math, fully reviewed all math problems missed on both practice tests with Aaron.
22 Jan, 22 days to test: full 5 hours+ of math, especially data sufficiency. Today began using “time per question” / “testing rate” as useful test taking strategy.
23 Jan, 21 days to test: 1 hour of quantitative practice, mostly data sufficiency, almost finished with GMAT 800 book. Printed strategy sheet to continuously review over the next 3 weeks.
24 Jan, 20 days to test: third practice test. I was very tired taking the test, 4 hours of sleep. Verbal dropped a little again, but it was a bad run with little or no practice. I can get back to where I started with a good run. The first run really was a great run that is verified. Math improved a lot and I finally felt comfortable. I am on the right track. More practice on specific points will improve math again for sure. The time strategy was critical and I executed it very well on this run. I quit on 3 or 4 of the math problems at just the moment of diminishing returns and finished all three sections comfortably with under a minute remaining. I felt like I used my time wisely. The next run should be over 710 or something went wrong. Integrated reasoning improved again just by being familiar with the question types. I have not practiced IR at all outside the tests.
Score : Verbal 41, 94%ile. Quantitative 47, 63%ile. Total 710, 91%ile. IR 8, 93%ile.
25 Jan – 9 Feb: took a detour and studied for the GRE. Took the GRE on 3 Feb then finished applications to engineering grad school.
10 Feb, 4 days to test: finished math portion of the GMAT 800 book. Completed the data sufficiency word problems.
11 Feb, 2 days to test: took practice test 4. The math is really tough to improve. Felt like it was a decent run on both.
Score : Verbal 42, 96%ile. Quantitative 44, 52%ile. Total 710, 91%ile. IR _, __%ile.
13 Feb, day before test: review notes and strategies in order to stick to the plan.
14 Feb, Test Day
My score: Verbal 40, 90%ile. Quantitative 44, 49%ile. Total 690, 85%ile. IR 8, 92%ile.
It felt like a bad verbal run and it was indeed my worst. To be honest, it felt like a good quant run but it was my worst! The integrated reasoning felt like a good run and it was tied for my best. IR is closely tied to paying attention I would say so I think that factored in. I’ll have a writing score, we’ll see in a few weeks!
What could I have done to improve my score? I would say an in-person math prep course would have been good. There are some tricks to the math that I could have picked up a lot of points on.
- Gatorade or juice.
- Eat and coffee at 1 of many restaurants just east of test center.
- Rua Pequetita, 5 – Vila Olímpia, São Paulo – SP, 04552-060
- Test center: Rua Helena, 260 – Vila Olímpia, São Paulo – SP, 04552-050, Brazil
- Close to estação Vila Olímpia
- ~1 hour from Bela Vista by Metro, 40 minutes by Uber.
- Leave apartment at 5:45 to arrive near test center ~6:45 in time for breakfast and coffee, test starts at 8.
Why I Wrote This
It took time to write this. Was it worth it? Yes. Because:
- Organized my notes and solidified my strategy.
- I can send the link to help future test takers.
- The GMAT is testing strategy, not just math and English!
The Best Things in Life are Free
I spent a lot of time and energy preparing for the GMAT, but not a lot of money. Considering the amount of time I spent, I was willing to invest a lot of money to maximize the preparation value. However, I found that the best resources were also the cheapest. MBA.com’s material is by far the least expensive and it is also the most representative of the real thing as the official source. Kaplan’s courses cost a lot of money, but the Kaplan GMAT 800 book gave me weeks of the best preparation I could ask for. I scrutinized every strategy they outlined in detail, at my own pace, and in a book that doesn’t have the distractions of a computer.
Same introduction video on YouTube
This books is unlike anything else you will come across in the real estate industry. There are thousands of books written on rental properties, but none of them outlines anything further than property acquisition and first principle property management. This book is truly an operator’s manual. The author gives you an in depth view into what running a successful residential real estate operation looks like. He lays out all the plans and even details most of the mistakes he made so you do not have to. This book is ideal for anyone who is interested in owning and operating residential real estate.
The Landlord’s Operating Manual Lives on Here
I clicked the big final “publish” button on 27 January 2020. The press is set. However, The Landlord’s Operating Manual is a living document so as suggestions come in from readers I will post them right here – organized by chapter for easy reference!
A1. Guiding Principles for Selecting a Property
- Thanks to Mike Robinson of the Robinson Realtor Team (click here and call them for Central Ohio Real Estate!) for the first additive feedback. He agrees that water is critical when selecting a property but would like to have seen more about water inspection before purchasing a property. Look for grading away from the property. Look for a good sump pump and a back-up sump if possible that works in a power outage especially if the sump pump is critical to the basement being dry. Be sure your inspector gives you good details about water drainage and you pay attention to them. Categorize water issues into ones that are permanent (in a flood zone for example) and ones that could possibly be remedied (clogged downspouts for example). Can anybody suggest a link to a good detailed exterior water inspection list?
Origin of the Manual
Various Jobs and the Manual as Notes
The Manual Now
A2. Property Evaluation Spreadsheet
B1: The “Money Flow” Decision Chart
B5: By-Unit Spreadheet
C3: Paint Colors
C3: Paint Patch Straight-On
Same Paint Patch with Glare
C3: Painting Don’ts
C3: The Structural Coat of Mud
C3. One Structural Coat, One Finish Coat
C3: Noxious Scum
C4: Carpet and Floor
C4: Carpet not Flooring
C5: Tub Shifted After Floor Install
C6: Dead Bolts
C7: Boxwood Bushes!
D1: Gate versus Ball Valves
D4: Internet Equipment
D4: Internet Speed = Fast
D4: Network Diagram
E: Hang Towel Near Shower
E1: Better than Wax
E1: Toilet Flange Hardware
E1: Toilet Siphoning
E2: Pedestal Sink
E2: Flat Space
E2: Cabinet Sink Gross
E2: Bathroom Sink Strainer Drain
E3: Shower Faucet
E3: Shower Valve
E3: Shower Head Piping
E4: Schluter Edging
F1: Kitchen Sink
F3: Kitchen Shelving
F4: Tile Tired
F6: Stove Top
G1: Tile Kit
G1: Multi-Tool Etc.
G2: Hardware Inventory
2020 sports schedule that is mostly not happening!
13: BCS National Championship Game
1-2: Tennis Australian Open Finals, men’s final starts ~0030 EST Sunday morning (Sunday evening in Melbourne)
2: Super Bowl LIV, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens Florida
15: March Madness selection Sunday
6: March Madness Championship Game
9-12: Golf Masters
14-17: Golf PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco
6-7: Tennis French Open Finals, men’s final starts ~0900 EDT Sunday morning (Sunday afternoon in Paris)
18-21: Golf US Open, Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, NY
11-12: Tennis Wimbledon Finals, men’s final starts ~0900 EDT Sunday morning (Sunday afternoon in London)
27 June – 19 July: Tour de France
16-19: Golf British Open
24 July – 9 Aug: Summer Olympics, Tokyo
1-5 August: SCRABBLE NASPA North American SCRABBLE Championship, Radisson Hotel Downtown Baltimore
9-20 August: Chess Magnus Carlsen Tour Final. Organized by Magnus Carlsen, advertised by FIDE, online at Chess24
12-13: Tennis US Open Finals, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in New York
Late Oct: Baseball World Series
14: Total solar eclipse visible in Chile and Argentina
There are no total lunar eclipses in 2020.
2022: Winter Olympics in Beijing, 4 – 20 Feb 2022
2022: Soccer World Cup in Qatar, 21 Nov – 18 Dec 2022
2023: Women’s Soccer World Cup, location TBD.
2023: Rugby Union World Cup, France 8 Sep – 21 Oct.
7: BCS National Championship Game
20 at 2341 Eastern: Total lunar eclipse.
26-27: Tennis Australian Open Finals
3: Super Bowl
17: March Madness selection Sunday
8: March Madness Championship Game
11-14: Golf Masters
16-19: Golf PGA Championship
8-9: Tennis French Open Finals
13-16: Golf US Open
13-14: Tennis Wimbledon Finals
18-21: Golf British Open
7-8: Tennis US Open Finals
Late Oct: Baseball World Series
2: Rubgy World Cup final. Rugby Union style = 15 versus 15. Starts at 0500 EDT Saturday morning (1800 in Yokohama, Japan. Our last day of daylight savings time)
11 at 0736 Eastern: Mercury transit in front of the sun visible in Columbus.
2019: No Olympics, World Cup, …