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How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
20 Nov 2012, 23:37

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Expert's post

How to Improve GMAT Quant from 30-35 to 40-44

Background:

Most bschools look for a good quant background and good quant score as many subjects/topics are quant oriented and you will need these skills to succeed and understand your classes (Finance, Accounting, Econ, Marketing, and Strategy all involve a decent degree of quant understanding). A good Quant score is above Q45.... which still is "only" 68th percentile.

Assumptions for the Thread:

This thread is for those who have finished studying with guidebooks/course and are still at the 30-35 level. If you are just starting out with the GMAT, see this thread instead: GMAT Study Plan For your reference, Q30 is 25th percentile and Q40 is 52nd percentile.

If you are scoring in the Q30-35 range, that means you have an understanding of general question structure, question types, and some degree of knowledge of subjects tested. You have also found some GMAT traps but most likely have an issue in a variety of areas that depress your score.

Finally, if you are able to move yourself from the 30’s to the 40’s, that’s not just some numbers or a higher GMAT score – it will be an important learning experience which will teach you how to address difficult roadblocks and will continue to help you in all areas of life. See the big picture!

Most Common reasons that result in getting stuck in the Q30 range:

(It is impossible to list all reasons and mistakes and most likely not all will apply to you (hopefully) – we are all different).

Not having the right books/tools. Using obscure or incomplete materials; using OG as the study guide (OG is both obscure and incomplete )

Not understanding the concepts fully. There is a difference between understanding the words and meaning behind them.

Freezing/panicking under pressure

Not paying attention to the question text

Not timing yourself during exercises

Stretching out your prep into 6+ months

Taking tests without having first completed a review

Cutting corners in your prep (not finishing chapters of study books)

Not reviewing your mistakes

Never having been comfortable with math/quant since high school. You hated math then and you still do.

Neglecting Arithmetic. Did you know that 50% of quant questions on the GMAT are those on Arithmetic?

Make sure your books covered all the topics (see list for the recommended books). MGMAT’s math series of 5 books are good but you probably have used them already. In that case you can use the Kaplan Math Workbook (and use the select questions I highlighted)

Do not leave a chapter/section until you hit a 90% of success rate (80% can be acceptable depending on your goal). After you cover a chapter, do the exercise and make sure it is timed. If it is below 90% hit rate, review mistakes, find out your weak areas, study, and do another exercise. For a list of highly targeted questions, please see this listing/directory:

Do a check once a week of the old topics. E.g. a week after you covered Arithmetic, check to make sure you are still at 90%. If not, go back (that’s why stretching your prep for a long time is not recommended)

Most likely you lack some important elements – you have missed them in one of the books for whatever reason. You need to now find them if you are determined to improve. This means searching out the principles behind your mistakes. Think of it this way – if someone told you could make $100,000K by learning some simple principles and applying them to a stock market, would you do it? Most likely. Well, it is the same here, except if you can get into a great MBA program, you stand to collect a much higher paycheck.

If you have a limited amount of time (all of us do), assess your chances and put a realistic plan together. Your first priority should be Arithmetic. Second – Algebra. Third – Word Problems. Fourth – Geometry. Do not get into Probability, combinations, statistics, or coordinate geometry. Those are fancy subjects but you stand a very little chance of encountering them right now. You can get a glimpse of what GMAT is testing by looking at the analysis of topics in the OG 13 (thanks to Magoosh).

Learn to recognize GMAT’s patterns. Almost all quant questions are based on patterns (some are more common than others). There are many of them but at the end of the day, it is just patterns. Most of the time, we can recognize the pattern, and solve the question much faster since we know how the logic works and what info we’ll need. It saves a lot of time. If your mind has trouble catching these (mine happens to be good at it but it varies for people), start writing out questions in a notebook and creating a list of patterns for the questions that you can’t solve until you see a solution and then you slap yourself on the head. Memorize them if writing them in a notebook did not help, and create a checklist of 5, 15, 25 items to run through on the test. (I did something similar for SC in case I don’t catch the error right away).

Everyone freezes sooner or later and the clock gets to everyone. You want to see what I mean, take one test without timing yourself (some tests allow you to take as much time as you want). You may be surprised to find out that you will finish it in less than 75 mins with better results. Yes, timing, and clock is a part of the test experience and why GMAT is hard. Learn how to unfreeze yourself. Whether that’s spending a few seconds at the beginning of each question (before you read it) to look at your hands, the ceiling, or whatever it is, figure it out. If nothing works for you, learn how to cut your losses to the minimum. If after freezing you can only solve 30% of questions, and those that you solve you get 80% within the first 30 seconds, then your strategy may be to guess if you can’t solve within 30 seconds.

If you are making many silly mistakes due to lack of attention, stop rushing and stop panicking. If you focus only on the clock and not quality, you should reverse your strategy. Focus on completing as many questions right (not more than 3 mins per question please) and then see what you can do to improve your timing. That’s more effective.

Finally, if you hate math. There is not much I can help you with. You can try tricks, guessing, screwing around – it only goes so much and so far. The key to acing the Quant section is solid foundations. This is math and there is no way around it.

Re: How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
22 Nov 2012, 02:08

1

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Hi BB, Thanks for your post. It gives me some idea how to solve my problem. To be frank, I used to be excellent in Math (from high school to undergraduate of Physics). However I can't understand why I score seriously low in some GMAT preview test (36th percentile in quantitative of GMATPREP). Maybe I got some problem with GMAT's traps as you mentioned.

Re: How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
22 Nov 2012, 04:14

3

This post received KUDOS

akhandamandala wrote:

Hi BB, Thanks for your post. It gives me some idea how to solve my problem. To be frank, I used to be excellent in Math (from high school to undergraduate of Physics). However I can't understand why I score seriously low in some GMAT preview test (36th percentile in quantitative of GMATPREP). Maybe I got some problem with GMAT's traps as you mentioned.

GMAT math problems are not classical math problems. GMAT rigorously tests your fundamental knowledge of mathematics. I am not implying here that the reason you do not score well on the quant section is because of your low fundamental understanding...it is just that you need to change your approach. I am assuming you do not have prep books for the test because when you started with GMAT you knew you were confident you can do really well in math. However, prep books are in my opinion essential for most people to do well, regardless of their mathematics background. Finally, just because someone scores really well in quant on GMAT does not mean that the person knows mathematics exceptionally well. GMAT is just a test that is not related to a person's prior knowledge so that test takers are fairly ranked.

Re: How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
24 Jan 2013, 06:19

Hi, this is a great post.

Can anybody provide some examples of those question patterns?

Is it meant regarding how to solve a question? Picking Numbers, Backsolving etc. Or which math area the question is applicable to? Number Properties, Divisiblity and Primes?

Re: How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
12 Mar 2013, 14:23

1

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for steps 2 and 3 written by bb:

# Do not leave a chapter/section until you hit a 90% of success rate (80% can be acceptable depending on your goal). After you cover a chapter, do the exercise and make sure it is timed. If it is below 90% hit rate, review mistakes, find out your weak areas, study, and do another exercise. For a list of highly targeted questions, please see this listing/directory: # Do a check once a week of the old topics. E.g. a week after you covered Arithmetic, check to make sure you are still at 90%. If not, go back (that’s why stretching your prep for a long time is not recommended)

how do you suggest going back and reviewing mistakes if you fall below 90%. i feel that the trap for me is that i would just remember the same problem and the answer, instead of learning the concept and applying it to all cases.

Re: How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
22 Mar 2013, 08:49

Thanks a lot! I have been constantly scoring 40 in Quantitative section and making elementary mistakes in 5/6 questions every time i take the test. Hope this will help me a lot. I get overstressed while taking test under timed condition. Dont find any way to get out it!

Re: How to Improve Your Quant From Q30 to Q40+ [#permalink]
22 Mar 2013, 10:54

1

This post received KUDOS

Expert's post

dhlee922 wrote:

for steps 2 and 3 written by bb:

# Do not leave a chapter/section until you hit a 90% of success rate (80% can be acceptable depending on your goal). After you cover a chapter, do the exercise and make sure it is timed. If it is below 90% hit rate, review mistakes, find out your weak areas, study, and do another exercise. For a list of highly targeted questions, please see this listing/directory: # Do a check once a week of the old topics. E.g. a week after you covered Arithmetic, check to make sure you are still at 90%. If not, go back (that’s why stretching your prep for a long time is not recommended)

how do you suggest going back and reviewing mistakes if you fall below 90%. i feel that the trap for me is that i would just remember the same problem and the answer, instead of learning the concept and applying it to all cases.

Hi Dhlee922, what I find helpful is to go back on old problems and change the numbers a little. Not just a straight forward multiply everything by 2 strategy, rather using some basic analysis to see how the problem would be different if the numbers were larger, which numbers are problems, what divisibility rules come into play, etc.

You can also experiment with different ways to solve a question. To take a simple example, if you're trying to solve something like 45x + 90y = -45 and 10x + 3y = 21, try solving it by substitution, by elimination, by back solving using answer choices, etc. The more you understand how each question is trying to trap you, the better your chances of getting the questions right on test day.