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750 Q46, V48, AWA 6.0 [#permalink]
21 Dec 2011, 07:46
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I have read the board for a long time, but only just bothered to register.
I took the test for the first and only time back in the summer. I am not sure how useful my experience may be for others here, but I definitely appreciated the accounts when I was preparing.
I don't think my study method will become the craze any time soon. I managed to schedule my GMAT right before the busiest three month stretch in my company's history. I expect that I studied a sum total of three or four hours until the week before the test. The last week I buckled down and took one or two full tests each day, which was helpful in getting my timing in good shape.
I won't comment on the math since most people on this board will blow my score away. Count me as very impressed at everyone who operate fast enough without a calculator. I don't think any of the math concepts are that difficult, but I struggled throughout my practice tests and the exam itself with answering them all on time.
On the verbal section, I found the reasoning questions to be very straightforward. I am not sure how you would improve your score on those if they are difficult to begin with since it's hard to prep for logic. That said, I noticed with both those questions and with the critical reading that you should be very cautious of absolutes (words like "only", "never", "always", "all", etc).
On the grammar, the vast majority of the questions are related to sentence structure, so I would make sure you can identify fragments, run-ons and comma splices before going into the test. Especially if you see a comma some of the answer choices and a semi-colon in others, you should be checking whether the clauses are independent/dependent.
The test makers also seem to love putting in sentences that have incorrect grammar, but that would be considered perfectly acceptable in colloquial English. Two mistakes that I saw repeatedly on my exam were screws ups using the conditional tense ("if I was" instead of "If I were") and pronoun number errors (e.g. "If a driver is in a car accident, they should call the insurance company"). My guess is that these are used so much because they are less likely to be caught by native speakers who are simply relying on their ear to pick out errors.
Good luck everyone. I hope you hit your target scores.
Sorry for the late reply. I am afraid I can't really recommend material for the verbal. I am in a very odd situation where I started a company that helps Chinese students prepare for the SAT so, in a sense, my job has been prepping for the verbal section. That said, I did not really spend any extra time studying for it.
If it is helpful, I can try to explain the mental approach I took to this section that was helpful to me and a few others I have talked to. I think what is critical is understanding that the verbal test is not a test of intelligence or knowledge but of how careful a thinker you are. If anyone has read "Thinking Fast and Slow", they explain it in terms of the two competing brain systems (System 1 and System 2)
If you don't know it, the best way to demonstrate the difference is in looking at the following problems
7 cubed =
With the first one, you think of 4 even if you try not to. It is a reactive instinct. In fact, if you tried not to think of the answer you would be unable to. It's like how if I wrote "don't think about elephants", you will think about elephants. This is system 1. It is reactive.
The second question will require you to use system 2 unless you have memorized these problems beforehand or are a crazy math genius. You can get the answer easily, but it requires a moment of reasoning that is entirely optional. You can choose to answer or not answer.
The reason this is relevant is that in our daily lives we are prone to using system 1 whenever we can. It takes energy and effort to use system 2, and is actually unpleasant on a physiological level for most people. Especially for students in a place like China, the rote learning system is designed to help students memorize oceans of information that they can cram into system 1 and access as a memory. However, that leaves many unable or subconsciously unwilling to reason through the problem.
Anyway, I am sure this seems very broad and general. It is. It is also hard to recognize this switch until you make it... and then it all sort of comes together. The problem that I see is that so many test prep materials try to give people shortcuts which at best can only prepare you for a slight majority of questions. The key for me is not to be in a mindset where I am recalling how a specific question conforms to some general rule I have memorized. It is to consciously and deliberately articulate why the right answer is right and the other answers are wrong.
Once you make that mental jump, it's just about doing enough practice tests that you have your timing down. Obviously, I was not perfect on my test, but I would have done much worse on the verbal section without changing that aspect of my understanding.
I hope that is useful and not too "what is the sound of one hand clapping"