Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, and the GMAT

The first 20 seconds of this video tell you everything you need to know to beat the GMAT and to beat anything in life really: Problem Solving.

How do you solve problems? You draw in information from your surroundings. Anything and everything available in your surroundings to understand problems you are faced with.

To follow a map, you must understand the landscape.

To fix a machine, you must know what is broken.

To beat Boris Becker’s serve, well, you have to look at his tongue.

Failure to solve problems is most often a consequence of not understanding the problem. And to understand the problem, you must observe the information available and infer as much as you can. If you begin to solve without trying to infer from the data available, you may get lost.

Try this approach on this data sufficiency problem. Infer as much as you can from whatever data is available. (Remember you have 2 min on average to solve such questions)

Is y > -1 ?

(1) |a – 2| < y + 1

(2) a < 1

Start by reminding yourself that an absolute value describes distance and thus will always be positive or 0.

So for statement (1) the worst case scenario is that |a – 2| = 0. Now let’s rearrange the inequality:

“something at least 0” – 1 < y

So, y must be greater than -1 and hence statement (1) is sufficient.

Statement (2) itself is insufficient and we do not need that information to make our inference about y.

In the case of Andre Agassi, he discovered a connection between Boris Becker’s serve and tongue to solve the serve return problem. Of course, that will not be helpful for the GMAT, but your takeaway should be to always start by understanding the problem by inferring as much as you can from your surroundings.

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