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How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes

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How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2014, 16:17
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I have always been surprised how many people let their mistakes just slide, go away, and disappear, only to make them again. If you have allowed your mistakes to not bother you, this post is for you!

Introduction:

There are 2 primary ways we learn and prepare for the GMAT: 1)by studying theory and 2)by taking tests/quizzes. What we learn in those two approaches actually differs. Often when we read a book or watch a lesson, we observe and soak in - we see the big picture. Think of someone explaining you how to drive a stick shift - they tell you how to release the clutch and give gas to the car. Then the quiz part is when you actually sit down to drive the car and realize you don't know how to shift gears, you don't know which gar comes first, how quickly to release the clutch and all other questions you forgot to ask during the "big picture" overview. Thus to soak in the most from each lesson, you need to combine the passive learning with the active testing/quizzing... just one or the other does not work.


How to Analyze Your Mistakes:

  1. Always time yourself. If you are not timing yourself, don't bother reading further.
  2. Save every question you miss/get wrong/guess - my suggestion would be to print every one of them out and build a binder you can grab at any time. You can also look into using an online solution of sorts or an error log and expand it.
  3. For every test/quiz question that you miss or guess, you should ask yourself the following questions:

    • Why did I make this mistake?
      Write a reason for making a mistake - figure out exactly what it is! For example:
      • Is it not knowing something?
      • Forgetting a formula?
      • Confusing concepts?
      • Not reading the question carefully?
      • Not following a strategy?
      • Not recognizing a correct choice A in SC?
      • Making a silly mistake?
      • Rushing?

    • What did it teach me? What did I learn from it?
      Each error is a learning opportunity - use it. Don't just say - it was a silly mistake or I made a calculation error but turn it into something more meaningful. Here are a few examples:
      • You learned that you tend to make calculation mistakes when you do math in your mind or you tend to miss some important words in PS or CR questions
      • You forgot not know the Triangle area formula
      • You learned a shortcut for arithmetic
      • You understand inference and assumptions now and see the difference
      • You hate RC

    • What do I need to do so that I never make it again?
      The next step is to turn it into an action item. Here are some examples:
      • How do you ensure that you never make that silly calculation mistake? Well - you always do all math by hand.
      • Still does not help? You double-check your math when doing word problems or you backsolve to make sure.
      • Are you skipping important words in CR? You should make a rule to always check for keywords in questions on your CR.
      • Are you not sure why C or D answer choice in CR? Don't leave the question until you know - most likely that question is discussed in the forum - find it and figure it out. If you can't tell a difference in a CR or RC question answers - that's a sign of a much bigger problem that you need to address ASAP


Other Suggestions For Mistake Review:

  • Periodically go back to the questions you got wrong, esp the hard mean ones that you did not know how to even approach and make sure you can solve them and know the path to solve them and the key to the solution.
  • Most likely you know there is a dark little secret about your mistakes, for example, you always miss DS questons or struggle with geometry - that's where you need to camp out and dig until your hand bleed.
  • Don't get overwhelmed. You may have a lot of ground to cover; try to stick in one area as much as possible before moving on


:!: Next Steps:

After you have done analysis of your recent CAT or Quiz mistakes, it is a good idea to test if you have really learned what you think you have learned. In a day or two, go out and find similar questions and practice them! It is quite easy - find the question that cause you pain in the forum. Then, click "Find Similar Topics" link and you will have a collection of questions to work with. Be careful practicing GMAT Prep questions if you are still taking GMAT Prep as that may inflate your scores. Here is a screenshot how to do this:
Attachment:
2014-02-05_1611.png
2014-02-05_1611.png [ 152.59 KiB | Viewed 8142 times ]


What do people usually do wrong:

1. Some will do questions only and skip theory/tips/lessons. It is definitely possible to learn how to drive a car without anyone telling you which pedal does what, but it sure is not a very pleasant one. Why not let someone give you a tour and overview first? Not only it is faster, it will also save you from missing a lot of questions since learning solely from questions/quizzes is only good enough when you encounter similar/same questions. When you meet a new question, you will be stuck.
2. Taking too many questions - taking thousands of questions and becoming a machine at pattern recognition (waste of time frankly - i believe that doing 1000 or questions total including quizzes and tests is sufficient). More is not always better. Do you really need to solve 400 of the same arithmetic or geometry questions? probably not, it would probably be much more useful if you were able to solve 40 word problems questions.
3. Not doing the mistake analysis on the questions and that's what the focus of this post is on. Many will classify their mistakes in a pretty error log and stop right there. That's not enough!


What mistakes are you making?

Report what mistakes you make and what worked for you in the past! OR let me know if something is not working and where I can help you - post your specific issues here and I will be happy to provide my recommendations
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Re: How to Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2014, 22:50
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Nice post bb...Thanks a lot!
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Re: How to Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2014, 09:49
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I totally agree with you. It is crucial to avoid or not to repeat mistakes to exploit one’s full potential. This is easier said than done but the above mentioned techniques will help to manage mistakes optimally.

If you can spend the majority of your study time just focusing on your weaknesses and don’t waste valuable time on your personal strengths, chances are much better to succeed!

That is the reason why the help of GMAT experts is so important. If students want to have a GMAT score that belongs to the top 10 % worldwide (or even better) they will have to prepare optimally to achieve that goal. It is possible but requires a battle plan. I see it very often that smart students do not achieve their target score simply because they prepare in a wrong way. Then they become frustrated and give up their dreams….

If there is one advice I can give to students preparing for the GMAT it is to have a game plan. Even if you study without the help of an expert (which I would not recommend because you want to save a few bucks compared to what your entire education will costs finally!) you MUST analyze your mistakes and make sure to not repeat them.

Optimus Prep has a unique offer to help students with this. All potential clients can get a free and non-binding GMAT simulation. Please visit our website Optimus Prep.

This simulation is used as a diagnostic test and gives the student a real test experience. Our tutors analyze the mistakes and create an individual study plan for the respective student FOR FREE. This is very helpful for the student and gives him an objective measure of the current knowledge level.

Feel free to register and make use of our individual service!


OPTIMUS PREP

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Artem Morgunov I Founder of Optimus Prep I morgunov@optimus-prep.com

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Re: How to Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2014, 22:13
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This is so true. The hard part is accepting the fact that it's okay to make mistakes probably because it gets scary if we make a lot of mistakes, and it also hurts your ego. When I took my practice exams, I would search for the explanations on this forum for difficult questions before answering them, so that I get the questions right. This was a wrong move because I didn't learn the real way. I learned some strategies, yes, but only temporarily. I didn't know where I actually stand on my own (and in real test conditions) and where I needed to focus my energies on. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way (GMAT 520). Planning to retake now, and make use of a good error log. Saw Saruba's error log and might make use of that. This time I will make mistakes and accept them, and learn from them until I don't make any. :-D
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 28 Mar 2014, 01:14
This is an eye opener BB.
I use an error log but have not been analysing my errors as stated here.
Thanks for the pointer to similar questions and thanks for pointing that doing too many practice questions is a mistake.

+1 from me BB.
I am definately bookmarking this page!
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2014, 21:37
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Very important post here. I would add that when reviewing a Quant problem it is often helpful to rework the problem, while keeping in mind that on the challenging problems, seeing through to what makes the problem challenging is important. Are you asked to be creative in a specific way with basic knowledge? Is there a less common number property at play here that tests the breadth of your knowledge? etc.

When reviewing a Verbal problem, it is very helpful to analyze the incorrect choices deeply. On a Critical Reasoning problem, figure out why the choice you selected (or considered selecting) is incorrect. Use the stimulus to help you see why that choice does not do the task at hand. This will help you work the choices on similar problems more effectively.

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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 Apr 2014, 21:42
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For me, flashcards have worked wonders.

Whenever I get a question wrong, or even if I get a hard question right, I'll spend a long time analyzing the explanation. After however long it takes me to internalize any takeaways from the explanation, I make a flashcard. I find that re-writing the solution and takeaway on the back of the flashcard helps me reinforce what I just read. Plus it's nice to have these flashcards with key takeaways on my way to work via public transit :)
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2014, 21:40
I always attempt those question first which i have answer correctly. Those question which i have some doubt or confusing i read that question again and answer them according to my knowledge not books words.
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2014, 09:32
Very Good post. Would really help out a novice like me who is just starting out....
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2014, 21:57
I seem to make the following mistakes regularly. I don't know to get rid of them. Can someone help please.

SC
1. I see long sentences, get anxious and tend to freak out, resulting in spending a lot of time re-reading.


CR
1. After reviewing the incorrect answers I always realize that I hadn't read the question/passage properly. I know the straight forward solution is to read properly, but however much I try to do that, this error is still responsible for 2-3 mistakes per mock.
2. I'm totally unable to solve bold faces.
3. Can strengther/weakener question strengthen/weaken any thing else except the conclusion?


Quant:

1. get scared by equations
2. uncomfortable with testing numbers


Thanks,
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 15 May 2014, 04:01
Thanks for sharing this thread from this I can easily understand how to review and analyze the mistakes.
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 16 May 2014, 06:58
Expert's post
arslan101 wrote:
I seem to make the following mistakes regularly. I don't know to get rid of them. Can someone help please.

SC
1. I see long sentences, get anxious and tend to freak out, resulting in spending a lot of time re-reading.

I would recommend splitting sentence into parts and using a check-list to evaluate/find a mistake.
I would also recommend reading long sentences in fiction - Faulkner comes to mind.

Quote:
CR
1. After reviewing the incorrect answers I always realize that I hadn't read the question/passage properly. I know the straight forward solution is to read properly, but however much I try to do that, this error is still responsible for 2-3 mistakes per mock.
2. I'm totally unable to solve bold faces.
3. Can strengther/weakener question strengthen/weaken any thing else except the conclusion?

Study bold face and practice
I am not sure i get your question about strengthen/weaken - it is important to understand the assumptions. That's what this mostly is.

Quote:
Quant:

1. get scared by equations
2. uncomfortable with testing numbers


Thanks,
Ars


Study numbers :-D
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 28 May 2014, 10:56
I really need to work on SC
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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2014, 16:38
Nice and very helpful post. I can help a lot to overcome our mistakes as a novice.

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Re: How to Review and Analyze Your Mistakes   [#permalink] 29 Aug 2014, 16:38
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