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How to use the OG properly and score 720+

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How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2013, 12:54
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Courses and practice tests will only get you so far. What took me from 670 to 730 was by doing every single problem in the OG, in a very specific and methodical way.

I am sure you have heard that the OG is gold. If not, you heard it here. OG problems are a scarce resource: only 907. That's it. These are one of the few official sets of problems from the GMAC. Compare that it the near infinite number of problems from various unofficial sources for free or for fee that, while useful, will only take you so far. Treat the OG like the "bible" it is and watch your score soar to 720+.

Here is how:

FIRST: Get generally familiar with the test, problem types, commons questions, and a general understanding of the test material. Maybe even take a paid course like Master GMAT, or any number of other courses. There are other articles on this topic, check those out.

SECOND: Strengthen your weaknesses. Identify, then delve in to the topic specific books from Manhattan GMAT and/or Veritas. THEN do the real work...

When you are ready to use your scarce resource, go for it. The OG:

Think of the entire OG as a series of 40 mini-tests. Once or twice per day you will do one of these mini-tests. Do a cross section of problems; for each test do exactly 6 PS, 5 DS, 4 CR, 4 SC, and one RC passage. This should take approx 50 min, given 2 min for each Quant and 1:45 for each verbal problem. While you do these problems, you will time yourself with a stopwatch, and hit the lap button when you complete each problem. I used my iPhone and it worked really well. This piece is very important.

THEN, when you finish your test, check your answers and write your time next to each problem.

Then go through EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM, right or wrong. Make mental notes:

For questions you got right:
Did I actually get it right or was I lucky?
Could I have done this faster?
Could I have done this in a more reliable way?
If the question was worded differently, would I still have gotten it right?

For questions you got wrong:
Was it a stupid mistake? If so, how can I do the problem in a more reliable way? How can I make my notation better to avoid stupid mistakes? Use a chart? Formula? (For Quant)
Was it a conceptual mistake? Is this subject a weakness? Do I need to study supplemental material?
Could I have done this faster?
Could I have done this in a more reliable way?
If the question was worded differently, would I still have gotten it wrong?

Yes for every single problem!

THEN think through the timing:

Correct and under 2 min: These are your strengths, keep working to maintain or incrementally improve.
Correct and 2-3 min: These are trouble spots, you were right but too slow. Consider this a minor weakness. How can you get the answer faster?
Correct and over 3 min: Notable weakness. Don't forget that these are junior high style problems; almost anyone can get them right in 4 min. Re-look the foundation of the material, get a more in depth conceptual understanding of the subject matter.

Wrong and under 2 min: Probably a stupid mistake, take your time and read it through. Use your notation to avoid quick mistakes.
Wrong and 2-3 min: These are notable weaknesses, you were wrong and slow. Figure out why you got it wrong and why you were too slow: these are different questions with different answers and different solutions.
Wrong and over 3 min: Significant weakness. Go back to the drawing board and restudy the foundation of the material, get a more in depth conceptual understanding of the subject matter. Consider making a note of the Problem sub-type and skipping it altogether on the test (eg, immediately guess and move on) if you don't want to delve in to it.

All said and done every "mini-test" will take 50 min to solve, then and hour or longer to review. This is the level of discipline that most of us need to score 720+. Best of luck. Do this, with this level of detail and method. You will score a 720 or better.

The key, as you have heard before, is the review. Others have come up with similar techniques, this is my spin on it. The review of your work is exponentially more important than doing the problems. Doing 50 problems with great review is easily more valuable than doing 500 problems with no review. Try it and succeed.

Last edited by Cush123 on 11 Jun 2013, 15:23, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2013, 13:18
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Hi Cush123, I think you're spot on with your comment that reviewing problems is the key to improving. I particularly enjoyed your line about "There is more value in reviewing 50 than doing 500 without review." This is completely true, and yet I keep having to tell students that doing hundreds of hours of problems doesn't serve them well. There is a finite number of problems you want to review, and if you understand those, you're ready for what the exam throws your way. After that the biggest difference will be mental agility on math to use different techniques (algebra, concept, number picking, etc) and ability to differentiate between subtle (but important) differences in verbal. This is where the exam becomes an art as much as a science.

The one thing I'll mention is that the strategy you outlined worked very well for you, it might not work as well for everyone else. Use it as guideline and adjust to what works best for you and you'll undoubtedly see improvement in your scores. The review is probably the most important part after learning the material. If you neglect this aspect of your prep, you're denying yourself a significant chance to improve your strategy and, ultimately, your score.

Hope this helps!
-Ron
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2013, 09:17
VeritasPrepRon wrote:
Hi Cush123, I think you're spot on with your comment that reviewing problems is the key to improving. I particularly enjoyed your line about "There is more value in reviewing 50 than doing 500 without review." This is completely true, and yet I keep having to tell students that doing hundreds of hours of problems doesn't serve them well. There is a finite number of problems you want to review, and if you understand those, you're ready for what the exam throws your way. After that the biggest difference will be mental agility on math to use different techniques (algebra, concept, number picking, etc) and ability to differentiate between subtle (but important) differences in verbal. This is where the exam becomes an art as much as a science.

The one thing I'll mention is that the strategy you outlined worked very well for you, it might not work as well for everyone else. Use it as guideline and adjust to what works best for you and you'll undoubtedly see improvement in your scores. The review is probably the most important part after learning the material. If you neglect this aspect of your prep, you're denying yourself a significant chance to improve your strategy and, ultimately, your score.

Hope this helps!
-Ron



Thanks Ron! I probably could have saved my self some headache if I had gotten more expert advice!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2013, 10:02
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Haha! Yeah maybe, but you probably wouldn't have learned as much. There is a lot of value in trying and failing, it helps you learn how to succeed the next time. The easier path is not necessarily the best one, and I think this struggle you had to overcome will help you down the line!

Thanks!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 19 Jun 2013, 07:58
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Great regimen. Thanks
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2013, 06:09
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Also please note the GMAT Club's spreadsheet for the OG 13 here: gmat-club-guide-to-the-gmat-official-guide-11-12-13th-ed-85956.html
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 20 Jun 2013, 14:26
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I would add to that the following. Don't create your mini-tests in the same order they are listed on OG. For example don't take PS 1,2,3,4,5,6 , DS 1,2,3,4,5, CR 1,2... Etc. Instead use theGMAT Club's spreadsheet for the OG (all questions are arranged in order of difficulty) that bb mentioned on the previous post and try not to pick only easy or only hard questions for your mini-test
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 21 Jun 2013, 00:58
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Superb post Cush, thanks!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2013, 16:11
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Hi Crush123,

Your explanation of how to use the OG has helped me do a great error log that I customized to fit the questioned you mentioned that one should ask themselves.

I'm finding it a bit difficult to use the same questions when applying it to verbal though- do you have a set of questions that would be specifically applicable to CR or SC while reviewing OG problems?

Thank you so much!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 30 Jul 2013, 08:31
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And i think the iphone gmat toolkit ogtracker is one of the best resource for tackling og, it takes you to the endless discussions between members on each problem. This gives you amazing perspective on different problems.

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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 01 Aug 2013, 07:21
adt29 wrote:
Hi Crush123,

Your explanation of how to use the OG has helped me do a great error log that I customized to fit the questioned you mentioned that one should ask themselves.

I'm finding it a bit difficult to use the same questions when applying it to verbal though- do you have a set of questions that would be specifically applicable to CR or SC while reviewing OG problems?

Thank you so much!


So your question is "How do we change or update the questions to ask when reviewing verbal vs. quant?" OK, fair enough.

My intent was to keep all of the questions generic enough so that they remain applicable to all question types. Overall, this should prove to be the case. As for additional questions to ask when reviewing verbal questions perhaps these may help:

How effective was my approach to reading, understanding, and answering the question? e.g. Did I stick to my game plan? (like read the question stem first in CR, read/summarize/skim the RC passage properly, skim the answer choices in SC to determine tested concepts). Or did you waffle about in your thoughts or reading and waste time while adding to mental confusion?

Make sure you think through your thought process and be honest with yourself. You must be mindful of your thought patterns during the mini-tests. Choose a strategy that works for you for each problem type and stick with it. Then evaluate your self on how well and how consistent you were. I found this was extremely important during verbal.

Hope this helps!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 02 Aug 2013, 13:54
Nice post.
I'm just starting my preparation to GMAT and my 3 months plan starts as you recommend: build/remember notions with MGMAT books.
After that I didn't have a plan on how to start doing exercises but your "1hour drill - 1 to 2 hours review" seems ok to me.

Thanks!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2014, 05:32
Hey there!

Thanks for your insights Cush123. I recently did all the Quant MGMAT books because I was sure Quant would be my weakness (first GMAT Prep was pretty balanced with regard to wrong questions in Quant/Verbal).

I think your approach would also be a good choice for me. However, I wonder how to structure the 40 mini sets you talked about. How did you choose which problems to do in a single set since they are arrangend in (relative) rising difficulty?

Did you pick them randomly?

Thanks for your support!
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2014, 13:12
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I wanted to chime in because one of our GMAT experts recently wrote a blog series about this very subject -- how to use the Official Guide to your advantage. I hope you find it helpful!

http://gmat.economist.com/blog/test-tak ... ips-part-i

http://gmat.economist.com/blog/test-tak ... ps-part-ii
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2014, 14:46
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The OG is a very good resource, especially for those who are trying to climb up to 700 from, let's say, 400-500. Above 700? I don't think so. The OG has only ~20-40 problems of the 700+ level and it's not enough for solid preparation... just my opinion.
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+ [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2014, 15:17
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walker wrote:
The OG is a very good resource, especially for those who are trying to climb up to 700 from, let's say, 400-500. Above 700? I don't think so. The OG has only ~20-40 problems of the 700+ level and it's not enough for solid preparation... just my opinion.



Fully agree - see this post with ranking of every question in the OG: og-13-contains-only-5-hard-questions-161788.html
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Re: How to use the OG properly and score 720+   [#permalink] 17 Jan 2014, 15:17
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