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several people has asked me if it is possible to improve [#permalink]

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04 Jan 2007, 08:41

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several people has asked me if it is possible to improve your quant score form 44-46 range to 50+, how this can be done and how much time is needed..... so i gave it some thought....

obviously - everyone is different.... each has different weaknesses and stregths so there is no generic answer to all - but still, i think that there can be some rough guidelines for doing this leap.... here are my thoughts about it.

if you are constantly performing at the 44-46 quant range (previous gmats, trustable prep material) i guess you: - mastered most of the required skilled - understand the structure and requirements of gmat math questions

your problems are likely to be in the following areas: - "silly mistakes" i.e. things that in the pressure of the gmat you do wrong although you know and understand them - get yourself into unnecessary complications in solving some of the questions. - timing issues... there are some things that just take you too much time to get right. - mistakes that are a result of a subtlety of concepts that you werent sure about (which made you both spend time, eventually guessing or answering without confidence, sometime getting it wrong)

the most common prep mistake (in my view...) that people do: - concentrating on advanced concepts and hard questions. the ROI of this kind of prep is small (it would be higher if you were to advance for 48-49 to 51).

what you should do (again.... my own opinion): - perfect your basic techniques. for example: solving regular linear, one variable equations should be performed with no mistakes at all, and should take you no more than 20-30 seconds; doing simple arithmetic - again... no mistakes are allowed, do it fast and with confidence... etc... - boost your confidence. my suggestion - do questions again and again, until you can do, in time, without guessing and providing full answers, until you can do a full test (37 questions of various difficulty) with no more then 2-3 mistakes. - try to look for the simplest way of solving things. don't "buy" comlex explanations. for 95% of gmat questions there are simple explanations. also, don't sufficient yourself with just one way to solve questions. for many questions there are more than one good way to solve. familiarizing yourself with all of them will help you find the simplest way to do it. - look for specialized material that concentrates (correctly) on subtleties of concepts, especially the concepts you feel are difficult for you. this is the most difficult part, as it is hard to come across specialized question sets. in fact, i thought of compiling such sets, but unfortunately i don't have much time for that. on the other hand - you can use this forum wisely. if you ask about a subtlety of a concept in this forum i'd probably answer giving 2-3 gmat like questions that uncover it. - try GMAT Club tests - these are hard math problems designed to make you work hard for every question

again these are general guidelines.... as you can see the ROI (or effectiveness) of a prep method depends on where you are and what you want to achieve. concentrating on advanced concepts is good for 48->51 the above is better for 44->50 for 36-40 -> 45 you should probably spend more time reviewing concepts that are not clear to you (there are certainly some if you score less than 40). for under 35 you should probably continue review basic skills before moving forward....

Are Venn Diagrams, Comb/Perms, Standard Deviation and Sequences generally advanced concepts? Aren't there some "simpler" Comb/Perms probs that wouldn't classify as advanced?

An additional trick that I often use is that after I solve a problem I would try to verify it with a different method, or just see if it makes intuitive sense. When you practise it will help if you could try to come up with more than one solutions.
_________________

Keep on asking, and it will be given you;
keep on seeking, and you will find;
keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.

Are Venn Diagrams, Comb/Perms, Standard Deviation and Sequences generally advanced concepts? Aren't there some "simpler" Comb/Perms probs that wouldn't classify as advanced?

Thanks for taking the time to write this.

Venn diagrams raises a need to differentiate tools and tested concepts.... as a tested concept it is certainly advanced one... i'd bet that very few, if any, gmat question really requires the notion of venn diagrams. However (!!!), venn diagram is a strong visualization tool that can help you solving some questions. those question will most probably have another possible approach that wouldn't require it, but some people might find using those diagrams simple.... thus, for those who find those diagrams simple to use - it is not an advanced concept/tool.

Comb/Perm concepts can be tested in many different levels and areas. the basics of Comb/Perm is a must, but only the basics.... the problem with this area is that people (with the encouragement of prep books), tend to overuse formulas and patterns than simple, common sense and cautious counting following the basic principles. also - in order to "practice" their comb/perm skills, people tend to try solving too difficult questions that aren't likely to appear in gmat. not only this makes them feel bad, reducing their confidence, but also shift their focus from required skills for gmat to the required skills of 1st year college course in discrete mathematics.... while this is definitely an interesting course, i fear not many of you would take it willingly and enjoy it like i did.

standard deviation is definitely an advanced concept, rarely asked in gmat. i'd think it is sufficient to know what it is conceptually. no formulas for me (i don't remember them either - and could solve all questions about them here in the forum and on gmat without it).

for me, a non native english speaker, improving on quantitative was a lot easier and a better ROI than improving on verbal...and it really paid off for me on the final day..

i would recommend focussing on accuracy in the beginning. Do the last 50 OG questions, 10 at a time after thoroughly understanding the concepts. Spend as much time as possible to ensure you get all right. for me, it took almost 2 and a half hours to complete. Once you find, you are getting 9 out of 10 right every time, you can move to practicing on a timed test, and try finishing 37 questions in 60 minutes. ( Keep accuracy at the top of your head, if you have to guess, try to eliminate at least 3 wrong answers.), but move on. This balance between speed and accuracy is the key to a higher quant score.

Are Venn Diagrams, Comb/Perms, Standard Deviation and Sequences generally advanced concepts? Aren't there some "simpler" Comb/Perms probs that wouldn't classify as advanced?

Thanks for taking the time to write this.

I would be very cautious to classify concept x is more complex than concept y. In GMAT world, all the tested concepts carry equal weight. The difference comes from the twists and tricks that are intrensic to each question. I disgree with hobbit who said that Standard Deviation is considered advanced concept. Those who did lot of pracitce would realize that SD is tested in both easy and tough questions.

I concur with hobbit that you may not need Venn Diagram to answer the questions. Also you don't need to know how to calculate std dev but you'll need to know the concept. The concepts of mean, median, range and std dev are often tested together. Just remember that knowing one or a few of these measures may not tell you anything about the others. For example, same mean and a higher range may or may not indicate a bigger std dev.
_________________

Keep on asking, and it will be given you;
keep on seeking, and you will find;
keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.

Could someone provide specific questions to give us an idea what the questions in the Quant 45+ bin look like and a list of strategies we need to learn to solve these correctly and quickly? Thanks for the thread, it's very illuminating.

Could someone provide specific questions to give us an idea what the questions in the Quant 45+ bin look like and a list of strategies we need to learn to solve these correctly and quickly? Thanks for the thread, it's very illuminating.

there is no such thing as 45+ bin question (it is just a simplification used by prep books).

a difficult question is not limited to a certain subject, even the simplest and most straight forward issues can be a source of a difficult question.
for example the answer choices may make the question difficult or easy.
consider this:
which of the following solves the equation x^4-3x^3+2x^2-5x-3=0

a) 1.5
b) 2
c) 2.5
d) 3
e) 3.5

or

a) -6
b) -3
c) 0
d) 3
e) 6

i'm sure you'd prefer solving the question for answer set no. 2 since you can easily rule out 3 options with no calculations.

how is the problem on the bottom solved without calculation?

hobbit wrote:

focused07 wrote:

Could someone provide specific questions to give us an idea what the questions in the Quant 45+ bin look like and a list of strategies we need to learn to solve these correctly and quickly? Thanks for the thread, it's very illuminating.

there is no such thing as 45+ bin question (it is just a simplification used by prep books).

a difficult question is not limited to a certain subject, even the simplest and most straight forward issues can be a source of a difficult question. for example the answer choices may make the question difficult or easy. consider this: which of the following solves the equation x^4-3x^3+2x^2-5x-3=0

a) 1.5 b) 2 c) 2.5 d) 3 e) 3.5

or

a) -6 b) -3 c) 0 d) 3 e) 6

i'm sure you'd prefer solving the question for answer set no. 2 since you can easily rule out 3 options with no calculations.

I'm not sure we can say one of the roots is 3 if we have x(f(x))=3. The only option I would be able to eliminate would be x=0, since 0 times anything would not be 3. However to sort throught the rest 4 options, I'd still have to break the expression down to x^3(x-3)+2x(x-3)-(x-3)=0.
_________________

Keep on asking, and it will be given you;
keep on seeking, and you will find;
keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.

how is the problem on the bottom solved without calculation?

x^4-3x^3+2x^2-5x-3=0 x(x^3-3x^2+2x-5)=3

one of the roots is 3, we don't care about others

in fact, the above two representations do the trick!!!
with the first one, you can quickly rule out 0,-3 and -6
0 is simple...
-3, and -6 are ruled out because they are negative... and as a result -every term in the equation, except -3 at the end is positive, and rather large... so their sum can not be 0

the second representation is also helpful... if x*y=3 and both x and y are integers.... it must be that one of them is 3 and the other is 1.
therefore, x=6 cannot be the answer. and x=3 is the last option - which is the answer.

note that this is all true if the possible answers are integers... with the first set of choices - you cannot simply rule out 2.5 as a possible answer - therefore choice set 1 makes the question more difficult than choice set 2.

in set 1 there is a split: 3-2
3 answers include .5
2 answers are integers

it is obvious that .5 in the power 4 will led us to the 4th digit after decimal point while all other member of equation (x^3, x^2, 5x) - WONT. So answers with .5 - are not solutions for equation

Generally the answer to this types of questions that you need to replace values are the choices D or E. Its because they want you to spend time trying all the posibilities.

jamielz wrote:

how is the problem on the bottom solved without calculation?

hobbit wrote:

focused07 wrote:

Could someone provide specific questions to give us an idea what the questions in the Quant 45+ bin look like and a list of strategies we need to learn to solve these correctly and quickly? Thanks for the thread, it's very illuminating.

there is no such thing as 45+ bin question (it is just a simplification used by prep books).

a difficult question is not limited to a certain subject, even the simplest and most straight forward issues can be a source of a difficult question. for example the answer choices may make the question difficult or easy. consider this: which of the following solves the equation x^4-3x^3+2x^2-5x-3=0

a) 1.5 b) 2 c) 2.5 d) 3 e) 3.5

or

a) -6 b) -3 c) 0 d) 3 e) 6

i'm sure you'd prefer solving the question for answer set no. 2 since you can easily rule out 3 options with no calculations.

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