Going On

May 22, 2006
These last few days I’ve been very interested working on my Practical Algebra book, I already finished two chapters, which is really good, (taking into account that the book has only 12 chapters) but is not as good as I wanted... The problem is that this weekend was a family weekend and I also spend tons of time searching for a cool gift for my mom’s birthday, but so far, I’ve been unlucky. =(

The good thing is that things at the office are getting better and I have more time to study. This would be the last horrible week that I will have in a long while, and this next weekend is a holiday, so we’ll see how much I can work on.
posted by Catalina at 5/22/2006, | 3 comments


May 17, 2006

After some research about AWA, I decided that I will not create a template for the essays, why? Because I know myself, and if I forget one word of the template or if it doesn’t fit the subject in question, I would totally freak out.

Instead what I did is that I took notes about all the AWA recommendations that I found and I wrote a document compiling all that information (from test magic, mba.com, toefl, etc)

I am publishing here those notes, because I think that some people might find it useful.


The AWA section of the GMAT is divided in two parts: Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument

What does the GMAT test on the AWA section?

· Organization, development and expression of ideas.
· Providing of relevant supporting reasons and examples.
· Control of standard written English.


Analysis of an Issue: They present you an issue (subject) and you have to take one side and then explain your view on the subject. There is not good answer. It is important to consider both sides.

In conclusion, they give you a theme and you write your opinion about it. You get a position. It’s an open essay.

Analysis of an Argument: They give you an argument (it can be an article, an essay, somebody’s opinion, etc) and you have to analyze the reasoning behind this argument and write a critique of that argument. YOU ARE NOT BEING ASKED TO PRESENT YOUR OWN VIEWS ON THE SUBJECT.

In conclusion, you have to say if somebody’s argument is well and enough supported and explain your opinion.


Every essay has 3 parts:

Introduction: The introduction restates the question using different vocabulary and / or sentence structure. The introduction also includes your THESIS STATEMENT. The most important sentence on the essay.

In the introduction, you include all the ideas that will become the body of the essay. For example, if they ask you for your opinion about something in the introduction you talk about A, B and C reasons that explain your opinion, and then on the body of the essay you write a paragraph about each of those reasons ( one paragraph about A, another about B, and another about C). Remember that on the introduction you just mention those reasons, you DON´T explain them.

Body: The body is the “Heart” of the essay. It will include your main ideas and examples to support those ideas. Each new idea should be a new paragraph. The standard is 3 or 4 paragraphs.

On the body of the essay you develop the ideas mentioned on the introduction that support your point.

How to write good body paragraphs?

Each paragraph on the essay introduces a new idea. It should include a thesis statement followed by supporting examples. Use lots of examples.

Between paragraphs, use transition words like: On the other hand, though, in contrast, likewise, however, for example, in addition, first, finally.

Each paragraph should end with a concluding sentence which briefly summarizes the ideas in the paragraph.

Conclusion: The conclusion will be your final paragraph. It will summarize all the main ideas in your essay and it may also include your opinion. YOU DON´T INTRODUCE NEW IDEAS IN THE CONCLUSION.

Some of the elements of a good concluding paragraph:

It should include a summary of your main points.

It may also include the author’s opinion.

It should not introduce new ideas.

A good concluding paragraph often leaves an impression on the reader.

It might make the reader think deeply about the topic.

The conclusion ties the introduction and body together, and provides some sort of link putting it all together.


Read and understand the essay question: 2 minutes.

Organize the ideas on paper by writing a short outline of the introduction, body and conclusion: 7 minutes.

Write the essay: 14 minutes.

Reread your essay and make any changes in spelling, verb tense, word choice or sentence structure: 7 minutes.


For both kind of questions, it’s very important to include examples very well explained and developed. Those examples need good basis.

For both kind of question, it’s necessary to support your opinions.

Don’t get too ambitious; just make 3 or 4 paragraphs or points.

Indent: That means leaving 5 blank spaces at the beginning of each new paragraph.

Punctuation it’s very important: Hit space AFTER almost every punctuation mark (commas, colons and periods) but on the other hand, do not hit the space bar BEFORE almost every punctuation mark.

Capitalize the first letter of every sentence, the pronoun “I” and other proper nouns.

Make a good use of time: you only have 30 minutes.

Make sure the reader knows exactly what point you are trying to make.

Make somebody read at least one essay of every kind so they can give you your opinion.

For Analysis of an Argument questions, DON´T make the examples too personal, and DON´T write in the first person “I”; do it in more general terms.

For Analysis of an Issue questions, DON´T take one side completely, so acknowledge the strengths of the opposing argument too. But remember just to mention it very briefly.

Hit enter twice at the end of every paragraph. Doing this will create a space between your paragraph and will make the essay much easier to read.

posted by Catalina at 5/17/2006, | 2 comments

Arithmetics Off

May 15, 2006
O.K. Finally I can say that I finished the arithmetic’s chapter of my GMAT preparation. At the end it took me kind of a long time because I changed the way I was making the exercises, first of all I added Kaplan to the set of exercises and second I repeated the wrong exercises several times until I could solve them. If after three times I was unable to solve it, then I checked the explanation. Kaplan exercises are kind of easy, but Barron’s are hard, so they gave me a good time fun.

Yesterday night I started Algebra, and I am working with a book called, Practical Algebra a self teaching guide. I am very happy with this book, because they divide every lesson in little “frames” so you can find like 1 or 2 frames per page, after they explain a certain concept they make you practice instantly, so if you don’t get that particular concept you will have to repeat it one more time.

I found this method better for me, even if I was very tired, I got enough energy to answer all those little exercises right except two, and I really like the pace of their method. I am just starting but I see a good future in this book... plus I like algebra better than arithmetic, so I think that I am going to be o.k.
posted by Catalina at 5/15/2006, | 1 comments

Useful information: Universities Spreadsheet.

May 03, 2006
Well, Lost again, not going to say the same thing, because of course if I haven’t written in a week is because I was too busy.

This past week I didn’t dedicate myself too much to GMAT. What I did is that I took my spreadsheet with all the universities that I would like to apply to (16 in total) and wrote to all of them asking for brochures and applications forms. It’s very important to do that, because it takes a long time to receive all of those documents.

I know that anybody who reads this post will ask if I am crazy to have such a big amount of universities on my sight, but I believe that it is very important to have different chances under my sleeve.

I don’t know if anybody has heard about my universities spreadsheet, I think that everybody applying to a master should do it. What I did is that I entered in the Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (IHE-SJTU) site (http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/ranking.htm). Right there they have a link with the 500 more important universities in the world, I downloaded into an excel file, and then I organized them by country, and I filtered the list by the countries that I would like to live or study in.

After that I entered into all those universities and saw their programs one by one looking for Masters in Finance (for those who didn’t knew I am not pursuing an MBA) and then I made my spreadsheet, with the country, name of the university, name of the program, whether if I like it or not (I divided this field in three categories: Yes, No and Maybe) also I entered the price of the program and my observations.

This spreadsheet took a long time to be build but it’s been the corner stone of my preparation, because I know that I no longer need to worry about the universities just about the GMAT and applications. I hope this advice can help anybody.

Well, this week I also started to work on the Kaplan GMAT and GRE Math workbook, and I also started to work on the Manhattan GMAT SC.
posted by Catalina at 5/03/2006, | 1 comments