Mental processing vs. using scratch pad : General GMAT Questions and Strategies
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# Mental processing vs. using scratch pad

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Manager
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27 Jan 2014, 09:06
I've read on numerous articles that processing questions mentally in your head is much faster than relying on the scratch pad, as most questions on the GMAT do not require much writing. However, for quant only, I have a habit of writing every step down in order not to mess things up.

I find it easier for the verbal section to process things mentally, though. Any tips on how to cut down on the use of scratch pad?

I feel like it could save a few seconds on the test.
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27 Jan 2014, 13:13
Depends on how much you can visualize. For quant, I find it easier to write, except in DS questions where you can visualize a lot (but make more mistakes). So, its kind of a trade off. Do some mock tests or time bound practice and see if you are able to solve all the questions within time. If yes, no need to change anything, otherwise try to visualize more in the DS questions, where you dont really need to solve the question in many cases.
For verbal, I never wrote anything down other than crossing off answer choices. Even though MGMAT suggested taking notes for RC and CR, I found that I ended up reading the passage again anyway. So, again, do some practice and see if you really need to write stuff down for verbal.
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27 Jan 2014, 22:22
Abdul29 wrote:
I've read on numerous articles that processing questions mentally in your head is much faster than relying on the scratch pad, as most questions on the GMAT do not require much writing. However, for quant only, I have a habit of writing every step down in order not to mess things up.

I find it easier for the verbal section to process things mentally, though. Any tips on how to cut down on the use of scratch pad?

I feel like it could save a few seconds on the test.

If you're aiming for a Q50-Q51 and above on quant you will anyways be facing tougher questions which more often than not will require you to use the scratch pad. I'd suggest what comes naturally to you. You wouldn't want to spend extra time solving things in your head and end up eventually getting questions wrong. It won't be a deciding factor in your performance so you could follow whatever comes easy and naturally to you.
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28 Jan 2014, 11:40
I think there is no way around a scratch paper in Quant. Especially not in PS!
In DS it is possible to use no scratch paper, but it depends on the question.

I don't use it in SC and CR either. But it might help in RC though I don"t use it there too.
In CR i summarize each paragraph in one sentence and safe it in my head - writing it down consumes too much time in my opinion.
And one can easily remember three sentences. I rescan the passage or paragraph when I am searching for specific information.
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30 Jan 2014, 05:45
I advise doing what's most comfortable for you. Like you, I write down a good bit for math but very little for verbalin order to avoid careless mistakes. I was able to score well and finish early on both sections.

How are you performing on the practice tests? Is timing an issue? There are other factors to investigate to improve timing (grasp of concepts, nerves, energy levels, etc.).
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30 Jan 2014, 08:55
hewhomustnotbenamed & soods26: Thanks for the feedback, guys. I've managed to get rid of the habit partially by writing calculations that actually matter instead of writing each and every single step.

christianbze: Agreed.

BM: My issue is a mixture of a bad habit (writing every single step down to avoid mistakes, sometimes I take more than a minute just writing stuff down) and a little bit of nervousness, which I'm currently working to get rid of by doing more CATs.
Re: Mental processing vs. using scratch pad   [#permalink] 30 Jan 2014, 08:55
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# Mental processing vs. using scratch pad

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