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Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes

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Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2009, 19:44
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I've got a general question, for Emily or anyone who wants to chime in. I less than a month before i take the real test. I have taken 5 MGMAT CATS and 1 GMAT prep test. Here are my scores in order

MGMAT 1: 660 Q45 V35
MGMAT 2: 680 Q46 V36
GMAT Prep1: 730 Q45 V44
MGMAT 3: 680 Q47 V36
MGMAT 4: 740 Q47 V44
MGMAT 5: 680 Q44 V38

After reviewing wrong answers after the first few tests, I quickly determined that i needed to read the questions more carefully as a good chunk of my mistakes were stupid errors (not reading the question carefully, feeling rushed.) However, even after CAT 5, I'm still making the same stupid errors costing me crucial points. Two weeks ago i took MGMAT 4. I didnt take the test in one sitting as my computer had an issue so i took verbal in morning and then Q about an hour or two later. I did much better than other MGMAT's. So its clear to me that I can do well, i just need some pointers on how to pace myself for the marathon. Anybody have tips? I have been practicing quite a bit, but the 680 i scored on today's MGMAT CAT 5 has me a bit worried. For some reason i felt GMATPrep was much easier the MGMAT, so I will be taking the second GMATPrep next week. Hopefully i can match GMAT Prep1 results.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2009, 20:28
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Welcome to GMAT Club Hookem!

I did a bunch of things to get rid of this "habit". However, all of them require time and may or not work for everyone.

1. As i read the question the first time, I would watch out for "traps" that I have fallen for in the past, such as asking for difference of speed rather than the actual speed of the car in a math question. I would also read a bit slower
2. I would re-read the question at the end just in case and make sure I answered what was asked. This helped a lot in math and a bit in verbal. By the end of the verbal section, I would be so dead, that I had to write on my scratch paper whether I was solving for W (weaken) or S (strengthen). I found 2 errors in my answers thanks to this technique. Both of them were in Quant.
3. More of a math trick, but I would check my answer at the end. I would make sure it made logical sense. For example, if you were asked for an average number of students in a class, and the largest class had 25, I wanted to make sure my answer was not 30 or smth out of range
4. I used a grid for verbal and would scratch off the answer choices I eliminated for one reason or another - this helped a little too.

These are my make-shift strategies. Would be interested to hear from others what techniques they used for careless mistakes.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2009, 20:52
I think that this is my biggest problem. Without the pressure of a test I sometimes catch myself making as many as 3 simple arithmetic mistakes in one problem. Just last practice CAT that I took the question asked about the probability of choosing at least one ball (actually it wasn't a ball but that doesn't change the problem, and I forgot what it was), that is numbered more than 24 out of 3 bags each containing 28 balls. My strategy of the problem was correct. Take the probabilities that all of the bags DO NOT contain a ball numbered more than 24, multiply them and subtract them from 1. However, for some strange reason I had 25 for the number of balls that weren't numbered more than 24. So 1-24, was somehow 25 balls in my mind. So I ended up getting this: 1-(25/28*25/28*25/28). 25/28 can't get simplified. I ended up doing 25 cubed and 28 cubed. (Would've canceled out with a 24/28). I got some ridiculous number. I spent 5 minutes on it. I guessed. I actually guessed correctly. However, I took 5 minutes on a question that should have taken a minute-minute and a half maybe. Also there's no guarantee that a wild guess would give the correct answer. So it's possible that I waste a boatload of time AND get it wrong. Oh and I ended up short on time and had to guess a bunch of problems at the end. At least one of which I could've easily gotten right.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 15 Sep 2009, 12:44
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Hi hookem324,

I do all of the things bb mentioned, plus some others:

For PS, skim the answers first, as they will often give you some clues. For example, if you see sqrt(2) or sqrt(3) in the answers to a geometry problem, that's a clue that triangle formulas (such as Pythag Thm) may come into play. Many PS problems have paired answers, such as 32% and 68% that add to 100%. Such pairs are traps for people who get the math right but answer the wrong question (e.g. calculating the % of boys in a class when the question asks the % of girls). You can take a max/min approach when you see pairs, doing the sanity check bb suggested in his #3.

GmatNY86 describes the biggest issue that keeps people in the high 600's from reaching the mid-700's, in my opinion. We know that we could answer all the questions if we only spent a little longer. I'd recommend looking a bit deeper into why you were "feeling rushed" at certain points. Two ways to look at your timing:

(1) Run the Assessment Reports on your MGMAT exams, and look at the average times every which way: by question type, by type and difficulty, by content area, and by right/wrong for all of these categories. Make special note of any times that are either way too high or way too low. Decide objectively whether you are spending your time and effort on the right activities.

(2) Since average times can sometimes hide issues, look at the individual tests. Skim down the list of problems, noting whether the amount of time you spend varies as a function of what problem you are on. For example, if you spend 3 minutes each on a bunch of problems at the beginning, and have a string of :30 questions at the end, you'll know you need to manage your pace better throughout.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 17 Sep 2009, 04:01
hookem324 wrote:
...
MGMAT 3: 680 Q47 V36
MGMAT 4: 740 Q47 V44
MGMAT 5: 680 Q44 V38


As for me, you've got 740 on your MGMAT 4 just because you had a rest between math & verbal part. Your stamina will be improved by the quantity of completed full tests (AWA).

Last edited by DenisSh on 17 Sep 2009, 10:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 17 Sep 2009, 06:15
Honestly, across all the people I've talked to about the GMAT (both here and personally), time management seems to be the #1 thing that breaks people on the test.

A person will refuse to guess on a problem and spend too much time.
Or
A person will spend too much time per problem overall and run into a crunch at the end.

There is a reason the GMAT puts tight time constraints on the teat: It forces a HUGE split the scores. If people had more time, we would see scores skew up more. This is one of the many ways the normal distribution is maintained (w/mean score of 530 and 50 percentile ~550).

That's why the approach to the problem is key. One needs to be able to read a problem and have an approach to either solving it or how to break it down in 15-20 seconds.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 24 Sep 2009, 10:53
Thanks everyone for the tips. I've got a couple of weeks to make some adjustments. One simple thing I will be doing that i didnt see mentioned is taking the optional breaks. I didnt even consider it, but I'm sure it will help me regroup and refocus for next section.

Thanks again.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 25 Sep 2009, 05:52
hookem324 wrote:
Thanks everyone for the tips. I've got a couple of weeks to make some adjustments. One simple thing I will be doing that i didnt see mentioned is taking the optional breaks. I didnt even consider it, but I'm sure it will help me regroup and refocus for next section.

Thanks again.


I'd say optional breaks are THE most important things you shouldn't ignore. your efficiency drops dramatically after a couple of hours. So if u dont wanna screw up on Verbal Section, u'd better take those breaks.
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 25 Sep 2009, 05:57
Is there a thread on how to manage time for the verbal section in general?

The first time I did GMAT prep I finished quant with 2 mins but had 7 verbal questions with about 2 mins to go. Obviously my GMAT prep score sucked. Since then every CAT I've taken I've completely overcompensated and finished verbal early... which isn't necessarily good either.

Not sure if there's a thread on this, but because there is a difference in the time you would spend on an SC vs an RC are there guidelines on how to manage this?
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 25 Sep 2009, 06:55
yangsta8 wrote:
Is there a thread on how to manage time for the verbal section in general?

The first time I did GMAT prep I finished quant with 2 mins but had 7 verbal questions with about 2 mins to go. Obviously my GMAT prep score sucked. Since then every CAT I've taken I've completely overcompensated and finished verbal early... which isn't necessarily good either.

Not sure if there's a thread on this, but because there is a difference in the time you would spend on an SC vs an RC are there guidelines on how to manage this?


Yangsta8,

Please see the following thread:
timing-strategies-on-the-gmat-80176.html
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 25 Sep 2009, 14:32
thanks :)
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2010, 03:19
Does anyone have other tips on how to eliminate careless mistakes?
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 11 Apr 2011, 20:18
I'm surprised no one mentioned this. There's a wiki page by GMAT Club that has an entire page dedicated to common careless mistakes for each type of GMAT problem.

use the search tool: "GMAT_stupid_mistakes" or "stupid mistakes"
(I can't post links yet, sorry)

By the way, I was lucky to find the page while searching for "stupid mistakes" b/c I didn't when I initially searched "careless" or "silly".
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Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes [#permalink] New post 14 Apr 2011, 11:18
Wow, thanks for the suggesstion
Re: Tips on timing and eliminating careless mistakes   [#permalink] 14 Apr 2011, 11:18
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