One of the GMAC's primary goals with the GMAT is the provide a solid means of stratifying students for graduate schools. As seen in the TestPrep summits (2009: gmatclub-attends-gmac-test-prep-summit-85573.html
, 2011: gmatclub-attends-2011-gmac-test-prep-summit-nyc-120877.html
), the GMAC indicated it has very rigorous goals to keeping the test valid and useful for the graduate admission committees. As such, one of GMAC's goals is maintain normal distribution for test scores as much as possible, as this is a pretty good fit of reality. What this means for you the test taker: the test is designed to stratify test takers, and by all means, it does a very good job at this. What we, as test takers, must do is figure out WHY we're in a certain strata and come up with a plan to get out. Enter the Error Log
What is an error log:
An error log
is a continuous method of analyzing practice problems (regardless of the source, practice tests or problem sets) to identify the WHY aspect of answering problems incorrectly. There is no single right or wrong format for the error log
. Some people like using detailed spreadsheets (see examples here: gmat-error-log-86232.html
), while others, such as myself, simply used a paper, a pen and a legend for marking and tracking certain answers. Here's an example of what I would mark:
Marking before checking answers:
- If I had no idea and guessed on a problem
- If I was able to narrow it down but wasn't sure what remaining answer to select
- If I spent too much time on a problem
Marking after checking answers:
- Follow up marking on the above (dumb luck for complete guessing, narrow down and selected correct answer)
Also, when doing practice problems, I would do them in blocks and keep track of time. This way I kept track of my average time for each problem type/section, ensuring I would always be on track to finish the test in the allotted time.
Why is an error log important:
It's very easy to simply read a solution and say "oh I get it", but are unable to apply the concept on differently worded problems. This is where the error log
is key. It helps you identify the WHY aspect of either gravitating to incorrect answers or not knowing how to approach a question. Given the restrictive time of the test, success can be achieved only through sufficient knowledge of the content AND a practical approach to timing. For approaches and strategies on timing see here: timing-strategies-on-the-gmat-80176.html
This goes back to the GMAC's desire to stratify test takers to provide some form of standard differentiation for admission committees. While some applicants might have a problem with standardized tests as a concept, this provides a flat way of comparing applicants. It's used to determine if a candidate is "on the table" for consideration, a differentiating factor among candidates who look the same and finally as a factor for awarding money to applicants.
Another reason an error log
is pivotal to GMAT success: there is a limited quantity of real quality questions (namely: GMAC content). The Prep companies (Veritas
, MGMAT. Kaplan
, Princeton, Manhattan Review
, etc.) spend a lot of money making content, and much of it is very high quality. That being said, the GMAC content is still best. By keeping an error log
and completing the needed analysis, you will take full advantage of each and every question. There is also a factor of diminishing returns in re-reading content and re-doing problems, as you will remember parts and this will give you inflated results.
An error log is not simply right/wrong:
Many people report confusion after taking a practice test, stating I missed the same number on verbal and math and score much better by percentile in one section over another. Here on GMATClub, we remind folks over and over: strike rate alone is meaningless. You must consider strike rate AND problem difficulty to paint a more accurate picture on your results. A test taker can miss 50% of the problems on the test and score a 700+ while another test taker can miss 50% of the problems and score a 550.
If your error log
is only tracking right/wrong and no analysis is done to identify the WHY aspect, you will not benefit. Time and time again, folks report reading books, doing practice problems and then seeing no progress on practice tests or improvement between real test sittings. Again: the GMAT is designed to stratify test takers and does quite well at that. Your job is to figure out why you're in a certain strata and your error log
is the key to getting to the next strata.
Some error logs available on GMATClub:
An error log
is part of the GMAT Toolkit:gmat-toolkit-iphone-ipod-ipad-application-82830.htmlError log
made by members:gmat-error-log-86232.html
Built in timer for answering questions in the GC forum:time-yourself-with-a-new-gmat-club-timer-v-96251.html
Track using your workbook:ucp.php?i=workbook
Previous (now retired) error log
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