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770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach

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770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2014, 08:22
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Hi all,

I just took the GMAT yesterday, and scored a 770 (Q50, V47, IR8, AWA6.0) (see attached). Over the past two months, I've lurked this forum a considerable amount, and much of the material posted on here contributed to my test prep strategy. This debrief is my way of giving back.

CATs
Kaplan CAT 1 - 670 (Q42, V44)
MGMAT CAT 1 - 640 (Q34, V43)
MGMAT CAT 2 - 680 (Q44, V38)
MGMAT CAT 3 - 730 (Q45, V45)
GMATPrep 1 - 760 (Q49, V46)
GMATPrep 2 - 740 (Q47, V44) - Epiphany moment. More on this later.
Kaplan CAT 2 (Pearson Vue Real Day Test Experience) - 730 (Q50, V45) - Highly worth it. Dropped a few hundred for JUST the Test Day experience, and never used any other Kaplan material.
GMATPrep 3 (Exam Pack) - 760 (Q49, V44)
GMATPrep 4 (Exam Pack) - 760 (Q49, V46)

Exam Pack CATs were taken on Monday and Wednesday respectively of the week before the test.

Materials Used
All 5 MGMAT Quant strategy guides, Sentence Correction Guide, and Critical Reasoning Guide
- Highly recommend all of them, especially Number Properties and Sentence Correction. Critical Reasoning was a bit iffy, but it did teach me to write down EVERYTHING. While this did slow me down considerably (I used to finish Verbal with about 10-15 minutes to spare previously, and on test day I ended up with only 15 seconds remaining), I feel it is imperative if you want to capture everything in the prompt. My poor brain just can't hold that much info about telomerase, an enzyme produced only by dividing cells.

OG 13, OG Verbal Review (2nd ed), OG Quant Review (2nd ed), GMAT Prep Question Pack 1
- This is the meat and potatoes. Work on the referenced problems as you're going through the MGMAT Strategy Guides. During the final two weeks, practice ONLY using these problems. Drop other test prep material at this point, it will do you no good.

Test Taking Strategy and Tips for the Poets!

I've noticed that many of the 760+ scores on this forum are from the Quants (people who are naturally good at math). For me, a Q51 was never in the cards. On my very first MGMAT CAT, I received a Q34 and finished only 26 problems! The following tactics and strategies are for the Poets - people who are scoring between 650-720 on mocks and are being seriously carried by their Verbal (V39-44+). You can hit a 760+ too, but it will require a fundamentally different approach than the one many advocate here on the forums.

1) Forget timing, you will not finish every problem in Quant. In fact, YOU SHOULD ACTIVELY LOOK TO BURN THE LAST 7 QUESTIONS.

Timing was always an issue for me on Quant. Even after going through all of MGMAT's Quant strategy guides, I never finished the Quant section in their CATs. I was extremely surprised when I took my first GMATPrep Exam after a month of continuous study, and ended up getting a Q49. This was despite getting 14 questions wrong, and guessing on the last 5 because I only had a minute remaining!

I read on forums about how timing was important, and how you should never spend more than 2 minutes on any Quant question. If you can't solve it within 2 minutes, just drop the question and move on. So on my second GMATPrep, I followed that advice. On the third question, I wound up at a dead end because of a wrong calculation and, sticking to my guns, I just guessed at that point and moved on although I could have solved it had I spent an extra two minutes. I did this for several problems throughout the exam, and managed to finish the whole section just under the wire, with 53 seconds remaining. I only missed 7 problems, but my Q score DROPPED from 49 to 47!

This was an epiphany for me. I had found a post on this forum talking about GMAT's Scoring Algorithm. That post was a godsend - I saw how you could score a Q49/50 even if you got all 7 questions wrong at the end. I realized that my problem with Quant was not so much lack of conceptual understanding (the MGMAT strategy guides will give you all the tools you need to solve any problem), but the amount of time allotted to the section. 75 minutes was just not enough for someone like me to carefully read the prompts and perform the necessary calculations. If I rushed, I made careless mistakes (most often in complex Fraction - Decimal - Percent problems, which would necessitate a lengthy do-over of all my calculations).

Therefore, I made a conscious decision. I would go into the Quant section fully expecting to click "B" on the last 7 questions. No matter what, I would take my time with the first 14 questions, even if they took upwards of 5 minutes (seriously!), with the knowledge that hey, I have an extra 14 minutes since I ACTIVELY plan to only answer 30. Of course, if I could spend more time on the last questions, that would be great, but I was fully prepared to burn the 7 at the end for all my tests from then on.

The result? On both my last two GMATPrep exams, I scored a Q49. I only got 7 questions wrong both times, 5 of them coming in the last batch of 7 that I decided to burn. With the extra time, I felt much more comfortable writing everything down, taking an extra minute or two to truly understand the problems, and checking my answers after I was finished, especially for Data Sufficiency. This did wonders for my confidence. I realized I could solve any problem the GMAT threw at me, provided that I TOOK MY TIME and really understood the problem.

On test day, I actually wandered down several dead ends, and spent 4-5 minutes on some early questions because I couldn't quite grasp what the prompt was asking initially (some truly hideous and complicated Algebra and FDP word problems). But I never lost focus, and constantly told myself even as the timer ticked away, "hey, it's okay, I got 14 extra minutes, I can burn some daylight figuring these problems out." I headed into the last 7 questions with only 6 minutes and some change remaining, but I was never nervous. I KNEW right when I finished that I had done well, and I can only thank whoever made that GMAT Scoring Algorithm post for showing me the light.

Bottom line: EXPECT NOT TO FINISH. FOCUS ON THE FIRST 14 QUESTIONS, EVEN IF THEY TAKE EXTRA TIME.

2) Recognition is key.

I am a psychology major. I know that attention is a scarce resource, i.e., IT RUNS OUT. You only have so much cognitive capacity, and if you are forced to use up your attention on unfamiliar problems, you WILL start making careless errors even if you have the capability to solve them. You are only human. That is why I recommend, in the last month of your prep, use NOTHING but official problems and CATs!

More than just becoming familiar with concepts, you need to become familiar with how the test makers THINK when they write questions. This is not something you can consciously learn; it only comes from hours of practice with their material. While I love this forum, I did not find the GMATClub Tests to be very useful (sorry!). While they nominally test the same kinds of concepts, they do not help me hack into the test writers' brains and figure out what the hell they are going on about when they say Sally has 7 different colored beads. Every standardized test has its nuances of style that betray what the test maker wants you to solve for. If you have to spend attention on trying to figure out what the question is asking because the writing style is unfamiliar, you WILL have just increased your chances of getting the question wrong, even if you are 100% confident in your approach to solving it.

For this reason, I highly recommend only using official materials as you get closer to the end, ESPECIALLY for Verbal. In all my test prep, I never found a Verbal section that truly matches the quality of the GMAT material. The GMAT writers do an excellent job of making sure there is ONLY one right answer for every Verbal question. Once you know what you're looking for, it's almost as if the right answer has a spotlight on it. I never got that feeling with the Verbal sections of other CATs.

Math is a similar story. It's funny, but, as you do OG and GMATprep problems over and over, you begin to see patterns in the setup of prompts and how information is presented. Different tests have different styles, but B-schools don't take your score on the MGMAT, so beyond a certain point, once you have truly grasped the foundations and principles behind the math, the only way to improve is to familiarize yourself with "genres" of problems (Algebra Word Problem, Number Properties Data Sufficiency, Geometry in a Coordinate Plane, Testing Remainders, Finding Multiples in a Sequence, etc.) and how the test makers will present them to you. I read on a MGMAT column somewhere that the difference between a 710 test taker and a 760 test taker is that the 710 test taker only recognizes 40% of the problems, while the 760 test taker recognizes 80% of the problems. This is absolutely, 100% true. Both the 710 and 760 have the same foundational knowledge, the 760 just intuitively understands what the problem is asking for, and does not have to pay precious, precious attention in trying to discern the author's intent. Accept no substitutes, practice with real questions!

3) Respect Integrated Reasoning.

I know this section doesn't count, but it can be surprisingly difficult depending on the questions you draw. Some of the questions are literally 800 level Quant and Verbal questions in disguise. I actually dedicated a week to IR because I respected it - some really tough optimization problems crop up from time to time and you HAVE to pay attention to small details when looking at those tables and graphs. While it shouldn't take up the bulk of your time, you shouldn't completely ignore it as you may be hit by a doozy on test day and get knocked off balance. I was lucky because most of my IR Questions were basically Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension (dialogues and passages), with one table thrown in. The Multi-Source Reasoning, if you draw a Quant variant, can be brutal on time, so plan accordingly.


That's all I have for now. If you have any questions, I'm more than happy to help (as long as they're not questions about math!). Thanks for everything guys, this forum was really helpful when I was drawing up my test prep strategy
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2014, 19:06
Congrats on such a great score and thanks for sharing your quant strategy.

Please share the strategy for CR used by you.
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2014, 16:30
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Hi all,

I've received a couple questions about my approach to verbal, so I've decided to outline my thought process and approach to several SC and CR problems. Unfortunately, I can't really help with RC... I never got a question wrong on RC in all my GMATprep mocks and I only relied on intuition, so there's nothing I can really suggest that would be terribly useful. My only tip is to never go outside the passage or make any "leaps" when you answer inference questions. Above all, do NOT "word salad" RC passages or try to pick answer choices based on them containing similar verbiage to the passage - these choices are almost always wrong.

Quick background on verbal - I averaged between 2-4 errors in all my GMATprep exams, usually with 1-2 CR errors and 1-2 SC errors. On actual test day, I noticed that the ceiling of difficulty for verbal can go higher than the GMATprep tests. I presume that this is the reason why your verbal score can be higher than your score on CATs.

I will break this up into two posts: one for Critical Reasoning, and the second for Sentence Correction.

CRITICAL REASONING

First, write down all premises and IDENTIFY THE CONCLUSION. For the GMAT writers, "conclusion" = "position" = "author's argument." This is especially important to know for boldface passages.

Second, make SURE you write down all dates, percentages, ranges, and whether or not the word "PROFIT" showed up (quick and dirty tip: if the word profit shows up in the conclusion, you can almost be sure the answer choice will have something to do with costs).

The prompt is gospel. For the purposes of the GMAT, you must assume every word you read in the prompt is 100% verified fact. Do NOT make ANY inferences that would contradict any premise in the prompt.

Begin with Process of Elimination. I would highly recommend writing down A, B, C, D, E on your pad for each CR question and crossing out answers you eliminate. Do not revisit these answers unless you end up crossing out everything - this will happen, especially for tougher CR questions. If you end up crossing out every answer choice, you missed writing down an important detail in the prompt. Re-read and look for what it was (sometimes it can be the tiniest detail). Your first pass through should be to eliminate ANYTHING that contradicts the statements in the prompt - these choices are always wrong.

Sample CR passage

To evaluate a plan to save money on office-space expenditures by having its employees work at home, XYZ Company asked volunteers from its staff to try the arrangement for six months. During this period, the productivity of these employees was as high as or higher than before.

Which of the following, if true, would argue most strongly against deciding, on the basis of the trial results, to implement the company's plan?

A) The employees who agreed to participate in the test of the plan were among the company's most self-motivated and independent workers
B) The savings that would accrue from reduced office-space expenditures alone would be sufficient to justify the arrangement for the company, apart from any productivity increases
C) Other companies that have achieved successful results from work-at-home plans have workforces that are substantially larger than that of XYZ
D) The volunteers who worked at home were able to communicate with other employees as necessary for performing the work
E) Minor changes in the way office work is organized at XYZ would yield increases in employee productivity similar to those achieved in the trial

STUDENT888'S APPROACH

1) IDENTIFY THE CONCLUSION

Reword the prompt so that it has premises leading to a clear conclusion. I would write down the following:
XYZ Company asked volunteers to work from home for 6 months -> Productivity of those employees were high -> THEREFORE, Company plans to save money on office expenditures by having employees work from home (CONCLUSION!)

2) IDENTIFY THE QUESTION

"Which of the following, if true, would argue most strongly against deciding, on the basis of the trial results, to implement the company's plan?"

Okay, I want to WEAKEN the conclusion. I would write "WKN" next to "THEREFORE, Company plans to save money on office expenditures by having employees work from home."

3) FIRST PASS

Once you've done Steps 1 and 2, you realize that this question is very straightforward. Time to eliminate answers. I will cut off answer choices with an ellipsis (...) to indicate when I stop reading an answer choice.

E) Minor changes in the way office work is organized at XYZ would yield increases in employee productivity... DON'T CARE, doesn't affect conclusion (Company saves money by having employees work from home, I don't care if it could save more money).
D) The volunteers who worked at home were able to communicate with other employees... DON'T CARE, doesn't affect conclusion (Company saves money by having employees work from home)
C) Other companies... DON'T CARE, doesn't affect conclusion (THIS Company saves money by having employees work from home, who cares about other companies)
B) The savings that would accrue from reduced office-space expenditures alone would be sufficient to justify the arrangement for the company... This STRENGTHENS the conclusion; we're supposed to weaken it.
A) The employees who agreed to participate in the test of the plan were among the company's most self-motivated and independent workers. SUFFICIENT. The conclusion that the Company saves money by having employees work from home is premised on the fact that the workers in the study were productive. If the workers in the study were non-representative (i.e., highly self-motivated and independent), then the study's results are not valid.

Correct answer is A. There is only one correct choice. When you clearly identify the conclusion, it is very similar to a Data Sufficiency question, you just need to find an answer choice that's sufficient for whatever the question is (Strengthen, Weaken, Inference, Evaluate Argument, etc.). Trust me when I say that even the HARDEST CR questions will only have AT MOST two answer choices that survive my initial pass through. You can generally eliminate ALL wrong answers on the first try, provided that you have CLEARLY identified the conclusion and what the question is asking.

Sample boldface CR

Editorial: An arrest made by a Midville police officer is provisional until the officer has taken the suspect to the police station and the watch commander has officially approved the arrest. Such approval is denied if the commander judges that the evidence on which the provisional arrest is based is insufficient. A government efficiency expert has observed that almost all provisional arrests meet the standards for adequacy of evidence that the watch commanders enforce. The expert has therefore recommended that, because the officers' time spent obtaining approval is largely wasted, the watch commander's approval no longer be required. This recommendation should be rejected as dangerous, however, since there is no assurance that the watch commanders' standards will continue to be observed once approval is no longer required.

In the editorial, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles:

A) The first is a claim, the accuracy of which is disputed by the editorial; the second is a conclusion drawn in order to support the main conclusion of the editorial
B) The first is an observation that the editorial disputes; the second is a conclusion that was drawn from that observation
C) The first is a finding that was used in support of a proposal that the editorial opposes; the second is a judgment that was based on that finding and in turn was used to support the proposal
D) The first is a finding introduced to support the main conclusion of the editorial; the second is that main conclusion
E) The first is a conclusion, the evidence for which the editorial evaluates; the second is part of the evidence cited in favor of that conclusion

STUDENT888'S APPROACH

Boldface passages are actually very straightforward. The first task is to translate the entire passage into a string of facts, judgments, and conclusions.

FACTS - Bare facts that cannot be disputed (within the realm of the prompt, do NOT bring in outside knowledge!)
JUDGMENTS/CLAIMS - Statements of opinion. Will have stronger language than just facts.
PROPOSALS/CONCLUSIONS - Sometimes only one, but usually two. One is generally a counter-conclusion or counter-proposal, a conclusion/proposal that goes against the conclusion/proposal of the author. The other is the author's conclusion. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THE AUTHOR'S CONCLUSION! Do that first! Conclusion can also be called "position" or "author's argument" by the prompt.

The second task is to divide up the facts, judgments/claims, and conclusions/proposals into camps. Camp A is the author's conclusion camp: facts and judgments/claims that support the author's conclusion. Camp B is the counter-conclusion camp: facts and judgments/claims that support the counter-conclusion.

Here, the author's conclusion is clearly the following -
"This recommendation should be rejected as dangerous, however, since there is no assurance that the watch commanders' standards will continue to be observed once approval is no longer required." So this would be Conclusion A.

Now translate every other sentence in the passage into just FACTS, JUDGMENTS/CLAIMS, and CONCLUSIONS, and clearly indicate which camp they fall into. Sometimes, facts may be neutral, in that case, I just note them as facts.

"An arrest made by a Midville police officer is provisional until the officer has taken the suspect to the police station and the watch commander has officially approved the arrest. Such approval is denied if the commander judges that the evidence on which the provisional arrest is based is insufficient. A government efficiency expert has observed that almost all provisional arrests meet the standards for adequacy of evidence that the watch commanders enforce. The expert has therefore recommended that, because the officers' time spent obtaining approval is largely wasted, the watch commander's approval no longer be required. This recommendation should be rejected as dangerous, however, since there is no assurance that the watch commanders' standards will continue to be observed once approval is no longer required."

TRANSLATION
"Fact. Fact. Fact B - B1 (Student888: B1 stands for the first boldface statement). Judgment B - B2, Proposal B. Conclusion A." (This is what I write on my pad).

After the translation, you just scan the answer choices that match your translation. There is only one: C.

"The first is a finding that was used in support of a proposal that the editorial opposes (Student 888: FACT B); the second is a judgment that was based on that finding and in turn was used to support the proposal (Student888: JUDGMENT B)."

Hope that helps! I will post my approach on SC shortly.
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 13 Mar 2014, 08:31
Congrats on getting a 770! I also got a 770 but for me quant was easy and I had to work on the verbal.

Are you going to apply this fall? Do you know what schools you will target?
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 13 Mar 2014, 16:21
Congrats on the score and thanks for taking the time to share with the rest of Gmatclub. Your approach seems really logical.

Quick question - You say that one should only do practice questions (such as CAT's) a month out from the exam. What sources did you get your questions from ?
I can only think of MGMAT as a resource for these ?

In other words, are there any other resources for the questions you are suggesting one should practice with ?

Thanks!
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2014, 06:01
ConsultingOrBust wrote:
Congrats on getting a 770! I also got a 770 but for me quant was easy and I had to work on the verbal.

Are you going to apply this fall? Do you know what schools you will target?


Hi COrB,

I actually plan to attend b-school in 2-3 years, so the earliest I may apply is next year.

As for schools, I'm looking at Wharton, Chicago, Kellogg, and Michigan. If you don't mind being in touch, I'd like to reach out through PM and pick your brain. Your blog is very helpful.

----

saami343 wrote:
Congrats on the score and thanks for taking the time to share with the rest of Gmatclub. Your approach seems really logical.

Quick question - You say that one should only do practice questions (such as CAT's) a month out from the exam. What sources did you get your questions from ?
I can only think of MGMAT as a resource for these ?

In other words, are there any other resources for the questions you are suggesting one should practice with ?

Thanks!


Hi saami,

In my last month, I only used GMATprep exams (1, 2, 3, and 4) and one Kaplan CAT at Pearson to get a feel for actual testing conditions (ignore the scores for Kaplan, their sub-section scoring is off). I took one CAT per week, except for the last week, when I took GMATprep 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.

During the week, I practiced using official OG problems and questions from the GMATprep software (I downloaded the Question Pack for additional practice). I did all the HARD and MEDIUM questions under Study conditions, and carefully reviewed any questions that I got wrong or that were unfamiliar. I also did content reviews of MGMAT Number Properties, Word Problems, and Sentence Correction towards the end (last 2 weeks) to refresh my memory.

----

For those of you waiting on my SC post, sorry! Work has been hectic but I promise I will post it later today.
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2014, 09:59
As a fellow poet this math strategy really tempts me but I think the big assumption is that you can solve everything given enough time. I'm studying to retake after a q45 and although I'm at about a q47 at the moment there are plenty of questions I can't get solved with 3-4 minutes instead of 2. Do you agree this won't work if you miss more than 2-5 during the first 30? If your at 51 level through 30 questions and get 2/5 right for the last 7 I believe you'll get a 49/50, what will happen if your only at a 47 through 30 and guess? Is the penalty ratio the same?

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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2014, 10:52
Congrats on a fantastic score. Your approach to quant is fascinating and gutsy!

You noted that on your last two GMATPret CATS you only missed 2 of the first 30 problems and then 5 of the last 7. I know it's tough to estimate, but for the official test, do you have any sense for the number of problems you missed of the first ~30 (ie, the ones on which you did not guess). Obviously your approach only works if you miss just a couple of questions, at most, on the first 30.

Thanks!
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2014, 13:19
Awesome score and an awesome debrief! :thumbup:
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2014, 14:55
UPDATE - Got my official Score Report this morning! AWA 6.0 :)

goinggolfing wrote:
As a fellow poet this math strategy really tempts me but I think the big assumption is that you can solve everything given enough time. I'm studying to retake after a q45 and although I'm at about a q47 at the moment there are plenty of questions I can't get solved with 3-4 minutes instead of 2. Do you agree this won't work if you miss more than 2-5 during the first 30? If your at 51 level through 30 questions and get 2/5 right for the last 7 I believe you'll get a 49/50, what will happen if your only at a 47 through 30 and guess? Is the penalty ratio the same?



Unfortunately, my post count is not high enough to post links, but I highly recommend you search for the following thread -

"GMAT Prep Software Analysis and What If Scenarios"

The original poster is Bunuel. He does a great job of covering every conceivable scenario and my strategy for Quant was just a logical extension of his findings. I am not saying my strategy is for everyone, of course - I had a very clear understanding of my own abilities and limitations. I would only recommend this approach to somebody who can consistently answer at least 9 of the first 10 questions on the GMATPrep CATs correctly.

Longzon wrote:
Congrats on a fantastic score. Your approach to quant is fascinating and gutsy!

You noted that on your last two GMATPret CATS you only missed 2 of the first 30 problems and then 5 of the last 7. I know it's tough to estimate, but for the official test, do you have any sense for the number of problems you missed of the first ~30 (ie, the ones on which you did not guess). Obviously your approach only works if you miss just a couple of questions, at most, on the first 30.

Thanks!


Sort of. I never tried to guess how many I got wrong during the test, but I definitely picked up a "feel" for question difficulty.

Now, let me be clear. Understanding that you have a difficult question by GMAT standards in front of you is NOT the same as feeling the question is difficult for YOU, personally. The GMATPrep Software definitely helps in that regard. You can see for yourself what kind of questions the GMAT writers classify as "HARD" versus "MEDIUM" versus "EASY". For me, subjectively, there were some "HARD" questions I felt PERSONALLY were ridiculously easy, while some "MEDIUM" questions gave me fits. But this goes back to recognition. After a while, you begin to pick up on how the test writers present what THEY THINK are 800 level questions.

A lot of that is intuitive, but if I had to classify 800 level Quant questions, I would say that they involve a lot more traps, require you to "connect the dots" more, and have seriously convoluted wording. 700 level questions tend to involve more simple or "brute" calculation and only seem to test one subject at a time (absolute value, percentages, straightforward rates/work, etc.). For example, a 700 level Overlapping Sets Data Sufficiency question will just give you values and ask whether they are sufficient. A 800 level Overlapping Sets Data Sufficiency question will force you to calculate the values yourself, and use algebraic substitution to determine sufficiency. It may also require a 3x3 matrix instead of the usual 2x2.

When I scored a 47Q on my GMATPrep 2, I definitely knew it. The questions were written in such a way that they were very straightforward, which clued me in that I hadn't done well (I later found out I got Question #3 wrong and that made a big difference). By contrast, on actual test day, by the time I hit question 34, I was still getting funky Geometry problems that required a lot of intuitive leaps. That, to me, was a dead giveaway.

Hope that helps!
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2014, 16:01
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Sentence Correction OR Process of Elimination: The Game

Here's the thing about Sentence Correction - you don't care what makes an answer right, you care what makes an answer wrong. Therefore, it is a game of memorization.

I am convinced that most people can be taught about Subject-Verb agreement, Modifiers, and Parallelism. Based on my personal experience, knowing the basic rules of these three topics will allow you to answer 100% of 500-600 level questions, 50% of 600-700 level questions, and maybe 10-20% of 800 level questions. The rest of the time, you will need to memorize and be able to recall specific idiomatic rules to narrow down answer choices. When you are confronted with a SC problem, your main task is to identify as many errors as possible in the answer choices. Splits are nice if they happen, but sometimes you just don't have that luxury.

EXAMPLE -

Proponents of artificial intelligence say they will be able to make computers that can understand English and other human languages, recognize objects, and reason as an expert does-computers that will be used to diagnose equipment breakdowns, deciding whether to authorize a loan, or other purposes such as these.

A) as an expert does - computers that will be used to diagnose equipment breakdowns, deciding whether to authorize a loan, or other purposes such as these
B) as an expert does, which may be used for purposes such as diagnosing equipment breakdowns or deciding whether to authorize a loan
C) like an expert - computers that will be used for such purposes as diagnosing equipment breakdowns or deciding whether to authorize a loan
D) like an expert, the use of which would be for purposes like the diagnosis of equipment breakdowns or the decision whether or not a loan should be authorized
E) like an expert, to be used to diagnose equipment breakdowns, deciding whether to authorize a loan or not, or the like

STUDENT888 APPROACH

My first screen is parallelism. I do NOT go looking for the right answer, I go looking for wrong answers. Two jump out at me.

A) as an expert does - computers that will be used to diagnose equipment breakdowns, deciding whether to authorize a loan, or other purposes such as these

NOT PARALLEL - Incorrect. Also "these" cannot be used as a stand-alone pronoun.

E) like an expert, to be used to diagnose equipment breakdowns, deciding whether to authorize a loan or not, or the like

NOT PARALLEL - Incorrect.

Okay, I eliminated two wrong answers. Here is where knowing the rules comes into play.

B) as an expert does, which may be used for purposes such as diagnosing equipment breakdowns or deciding whether to authorize a loan

"Which" can only modify the noun immediately preceding it. Therefore, this answer is incorrect, as the modifier in this sentence is about the computers, not the expert.

That leaves us with two answer choices.

C) like an expert - computers that will be used for such purposes as diagnosing equipment breakdowns or deciding whether to authorize a loan
D) like an expert, the use of which would be for purposes like the diagnosis of equipment breakdowns or the decision whether or not a loan should be authorized

Whenever a sentence is changed, I always check to make sure it retains the original meaning. "Like an expert" is okay because "like" is used here as a comparison. However, the second "like" in answer choice D is being used to introduce an example. "Like" can never be used to introduce an example, therefore D is incorrect.

The correct answer is C.


Really, beyond a basic level, it will come down to how many of the rules you can remember. I think Sentence Correction is the area that has the biggest tendency to fluctuate because your performance depends in large part on whether the SC problems you encounter on test day contain the errors you have memorized.

Here are a couple off the top of my head -

"This, These" - cannot be stand-alone pronouns
"Whether" is better than "If" for two options
"Like" cannot be used to introduce examples
"Many, More, Fewer" for countable objects
Units of measurement are not countable objects ("less than 20 dollars" NOT "fewer than 20 dollars").
Use "THAT" for essential modifiers (no comma); use "WHICH" for non-essential modifiers (comma)
Modifiers must be parallel to the subject ("Unlike the Brontes and Brownings, the adulation..." is incorrect because "adulation" is not an author)
"To a height of" is NOT the same as "As high as"
"Both-And"
"Either-Or, Neither-Nor"
Only "AND" can create a collective noun (Beth AND Sue ARE tall; Beth as well as Sue IS tall)
The phrase "having for" is almost always wrong
The phrase "to have the ability to/for" is almost always wrong

And so on ad infinitum.

I've gotten questions asking me about how to get better at SC. My only advice is to understand that SC problems are entirely Process of Elimination - ALWAYS look for errors, NOT correct answers. In my opinion, if you've already gotten the basics down, then there is literally nothing more you can do except memorize the rules of GMAT grammar (Manhattan SC is a great source) and get lucky.
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2014, 03:27
great score & debrief! Congratulations.
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2014, 03:14
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Great score! Congratulations
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Re: 770 Debrief - A Poet's Approach   [#permalink] 16 Mar 2014, 03:14
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