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desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t.

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Senior Manager
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desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t. [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2011, 04:55
Hi everyone,

I'm completely stumped on a good strategy to take for studying. I only have 3 weeks to study for my exam (I

can extend this to 6 at the maximum).

Currently I'm sitting on practice CAT scores of around 620 - Q38-42 and V38-42.

I have around 3 hours each week day of study time and 8 hours each day on weekends to spare.

I really need a 700+ score to offset an average GPA at university and get into a top school.

I've used the MGMAT books for studying and have completed around 1/2 of the OG quant PS questions, 1/4 of the

DS questions all of the OG SC and CR questions and none of the OG RC questions, as well as some MGMAT CAt

exams, 1 GMATPrep exam and a few GMATCLUB exams (which are absolutely brutal).
My BIGGEST problem now is that I'm not sure how to most effectively make use of my study time.

I know the main areas I'm weak in which I know will pull up my quant score if I can master them. Question is,

how do I master these topic areas in such a brief amount of time?

I have the MGMAT Advanced Quant book - should I start using that to focus on my weak areas (particularly DS)?

I really need to know the best ways to focus my studies to improve my quant score.

* DS (particularly absolute value & inequalities questions)
* probability & combinations
* overlapping sets
* ratios/work/rates/distance problems.

When I make a focused attempt to master one of these areas, I just can't seem to do it. This involves reading

up on the area, watching a few Ron Purewal videos, doing some practice questions and analysing them using

GMATClub and MGMAT forums as well as the MGMAT OG Archer and making flash cards of little snippets of

information if I don't understand things and know I need to learn it. The trouble with this is that it is

very time-consuming to analyse each practice question and I dont have much time left before my exam.

My strategy each day now is this:

1 hour -->

2 RC questions
2 SC questions
2 CR questions

2 hours-->
Quant focus


I am aking a few silly errors and reading errors where I miss a key word or key point in the quant question.

I'm working on addressing those issues.

I'm keeping an error log which tracks the following for each question I attempt:
1. The question source
2. Question difficulty
3. Topic & subtopic
4. Result (correct/incorrect)
5. Time
6. Question mastery - 0 = not mastered, 1 = mastered. Mastered means I'm absolutely sure I can do that

question again and nail it.
7. Alternative approach list
8. Alternative approach confidence.
9. Notes on each question
10. Last attempted date

I'm finding myself bogged down in nailing all the alternative approaches to each question... Should I bother

with this or just focus on the methods I know I can do well?

I really need a focused & good strategy going forward so that I can maintain motivation and not get

frustrated and burn out. I'm feeling that's starting to happen already.

I've been studying for this exam for 18 months now due to various reasons (not knowing how to study for it

and then getting frustrated and therefore losing motivation etc.), and I am at my wit's end with it. But I'm

not going to give up.
Previously I'd completed all the quant questions but I didn't analyse them well and therefore didn't learn

much from doing them.

I've only recently realised that I should have been focusing on mastering each practice problem as a way to

improve.

Does anyone have any advice?! Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t. [#permalink] New post 29 Sep 2011, 03:04
Expert's post
Make sure you are very comfortable with DS and ratios/work/rates/distance problems. If you master the basics of mods and inequalities (and not worry about intricate applications), you should still be good for 720. You definitely need to define your strategy for DS since more than 50% questions will be DS. Again, ratios/work/rates/distance could account for quite a few questions so you need to work on these too. Overlapping sets is a small topic in GMAT. There are some formulas that you can learn up and be done with this topic in a day (since you are short on time). Perm Com on the other hand is time consuming and tricky. Just know the basics e.g. the basic counting principle and don't delve too much into it. Even if you guess on one question of Perm Com, it wouldn't matter at the end of it all.

Another thing, chuck the error log now (why do you make entries for questions you answer correctly?)
Record only new concepts/methods/takeaways etc that you come across to revise 2 days before the exam. In the last one week, anyway don't learn anything new. Just revise whatever you have already done.
As for alternative approaches, go through them since they give you new ideas and make things fall into place but don't try to 'remember' them. When you start on a question, straight away jump to the approach you are most comfortable with. Why would you read alternative approaches then? Because you never know which little snippet will come in handy in the actual exam. Our minds tend to recall stuff when we most need them to. So don't close your eyes to the good exposure but don't waste your time trying to learn things up. Only try to understand them and then move on.
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Re: desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t. [#permalink] New post 29 Sep 2011, 08:16
thanks a lot Karishma, you certainly are very helpful - not just with this post but with all the ones I've seen you answer on this forum!

do you think the best approach is to 'deep dive' into those areas you've suggested (read up on the appropriate book chapters for a topic go through the questions I consistently get wrong for each topic, thoroughly analyse them, make some flash cards of points i don't know, and move on to another topic), do all the OG questions for those areas, and revise all the OG questions I've messed up in the past?

I have bought the MGMAT advanced quant book so I'll go through all the DS questions on that, then go through the OG DS questions once I'm comfortable with the strategies for DS. or is that a bad idea? should I just go through troublesome DS questions again, analyse the wrong answers, re-write them out and retry, and once I've done enough of them then the methodology should just 'sink in'?

I've been using the error log for writing down everything in a very analytical way.. I had an epiphany last night and realised last night that the error log is not for this - it seems that it is purely for maintaining a 'personal database' of tricky questions. I can't believe I never picked up on this before... I thought it was a log to go through time and time again until every single question in it was absolutely mastered, even the ones I got correct but wasn't comfortable with the alternative strategy.

How can I know I'm learning from doing questions - should I go through say 10 questions in a session, retry the ones I get wrong and if I still get them wrong, then analyse the answer choice, re-write out the question and leave it for a future review session?

I guess I'm just stuck on how to study effectively. I'm very motivated again as I realised my score wasn't imporving because I was using a very flawed study strategy - it feels like I have hope again :)
Senior Manager
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Joined: 11 May 2010
Posts: 289
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Technology
GMAT Date: 10-22-2011
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WE: Information Technology (Internet and New Media)
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Kudos [?]: 29 [0], given: 12

Re: desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t. [#permalink] New post 29 Sep 2011, 08:19
I guess I just need an effective plan to go mental with in the next 6 weeks ... any help would be great!
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Re: desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t. [#permalink] New post 30 Sep 2011, 09:15
Expert's post
n2739178 wrote:

do you think the best approach is to 'deep dive' into those areas you've suggested (read up on the appropriate book chapters for a topic go through the questions I consistently get wrong for each topic, thoroughly analyse them, make some flash cards of points i don't know, and move on to another topic), do all the OG questions for those areas, and revise all the OG questions I've messed up in the past?


Do whatever you think is necessary for you to be comfortable in these areas. Ratios, work, time speed distance are important topics (as are number properties, algebra and geometry). Don't try to be very good in all the topics since you don't have that much time. So don't worry much about P&C and take a short cut in sets.

n2739178 wrote:
I have bought the MGMAT advanced quant book so I'll go through all the DS questions on that, then go through the OG DS questions once I'm comfortable with the strategies for DS. or is that a bad idea? should I just go through troublesome DS questions again, analyse the wrong answers, re-write them out and retry, and once I've done enough of them then the methodology should just 'sink in'?


That depends on what worries you. Are you fine with the Math concepts used and would generally do a good job in PS but not in DS? or would you have trouble with those questions in either format? If you dread the DS format, you need to understand the 'sufficiency condition' properly. That is all there is that you have to be careful of in DS. (Normally, I suggest people to get the Veritas DS book since it has drills devoted to helping you understand the DS format but since you don't have much time, make use of whatever DS material you have). Learn to analyze the questions one step at a time. They do sometimes involve analyzing two different questions with the same data so keep patience.

n2739178 wrote:
How can I know I'm learning from doing questions - should I go through say 10 questions in a session, retry the ones I get wrong and if I still get them wrong, then analyse the answer choice, re-write out the question and leave it for a future review session?


You don't have to focus on learning the question - only on what you learn from it. If you are unable to arrive at the answer, find out why. Find out the gap in your understanding because of which you got stuck. Make sure you understand the concept used. If you are not sure, check it out from some standard text. Then try some other questions based on the same concept and see if you can solve them. You can later come back to the question and see if you get it. Focus on the takeaways.

n2739178 wrote:
I guess I'm just stuck on how to study effectively. I'm very motivated again as I realised my score wasn't imporving because I was using a very flawed study strategy - it feels like I have hope again :)

Wish you luck!
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My Blog

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Senior Manager
Senior Manager
avatar
Joined: 11 May 2010
Posts: 289
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Technology
GMAT Date: 10-22-2011
GPA: 3
WE: Information Technology (Internet and New Media)
Followers: 4

Kudos [?]: 29 [0], given: 12

Re: desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t. [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2011, 04:01
Thanks Karishma!
Re: desperate for a good strategy. only 3-6 weeks lef.t.   [#permalink] 01 Oct 2011, 04:01
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