GMAT stupid mistakes

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GMAT Study Guide - a prep wikibook


index - edit - roadmap


{{#x:box|Currently in the middle of wikifying this thread.}}

Contents

General

  • Most common silly mistake is to spent too much time unnecessarily on some question and then making most of the other question wrong in the end. Fix some maximum limit for each question.
  • Always pay special attention to choices havings words such as "most".
  • Keep thinking about the questions that came before and not the one infront of you.
  • One of the most important things to be taken into consideration is concentration and its consistance. If you have 95% for 2 hrs and 85% concentration for the remaining time, there can be a drastic increase in the scores.

Math

  • Probably the most tricky section for making such a mistake. I don't feel particularly weak here, but when I am in a rush 2*3=8 somehow and area of the lawn that is a semicircle+square=circle+square. Stupid, I know, but time pressure makes me do this. My approach. READ THE QUESTION before you answer it. In total I would read it at least 3 times and check the calculation, especially on the first 10 questions.
  • As soon as you understand the question, start writing. Don't rely solely on the calculations done in the mind. Many times when you write down then you get the correct answer.
  • I mark the wrong answer choice inspite of getting the correct answer (B instead of A or something like that)...this happens when Iam in a hurry ..mostly for questions which are easy. Double checking the answers reduces this kind of errors.
  • One mistake I recently made is not paying attention to what is being asked. For example, given 3 job rates, finding the ratio of the time taken by A to that taken by (B+C) is actually inverse of the job rate. Of course one of the choices is the answer you came up with, which is of course wrong. One way to resolve is: Make a note of what is being asked.
  • Read the FULL question CAREFULLY!! For example , one very stupid mistake some of us may make when in time pressure:  30% of the participants are winners, the rest are losers. What is ratio of winners to the total losers. In a hurry we may take 3/10 instead of 3/7, just because we missed last word "loser".
  • x is 400% greater than y - means x is 500% of y. I fall for this a lot. For some reason, I'm fine when the percent greater is less than 100 ie- x is 13 percent greater than Y: x=1.13y no problem. There will most definitely be an answer choice that is the result of this miscalculation!
  • When two variables are denoted e.g. X and Y - (If its not mentioned that variables are different) - They can be the same!
  • Read questions carefully. Dont assume what they are asking for.
  • If x is defined as a number, not an integer, it can assume a range of values, +ive, -ive and fractions. Very easy to miss this and screw up on DS questions.
  • Understand the properties of '0'  and the numbers between -1 to 0 and 0 to 1 - very important.
  • 1 is not considered a prime number.

DS

  • If each statement gives a linear equation of two variables, then don't think that there are two equations. Those may be same equations and answer may be E. Like st1 gives 2x + 3y = 4 and st2 gives 6x + 9y = 12.
  • Another classic mistake in DS is REMEMBERING INFORMATION FROM PREVIOUS STATEMENT and concluding that the answer is B.
  • Memorize AD BCE. If statement 1 is sufficient, then cross out BCE. If statement 1 is unsufficient, cross out AD, then look at statement 2. If thats sufficient pick B, if thats insufficient, cross out B and pick C or E.
  • Due to time constraint i usually miss some posibilities like I just put 2-3 values to the condition given and then conclude the answer because of this I usually don't get the score in practice tests which I can.
  • Most of the time I made common mistake in analyzing the question and I miss important clue like, positive integer, consecutive integer, non negative integer, non zero integer. Nowadays I start looking at these clues as triggers to get answers.

PS

  • Ratio problem. There is a:b:c = 1:2:3 I have been asked to compute B but I compute a and give answer. Nowdays I calculate all a, b and c. Normally obivious wrong answer is answer choice 'A' for such type of question.

Verbal

  • If one of the answer choices at the beginning looks correct (though I am not 100% sure), I tend to underestimate other choices and just skim over other choices very quickly for the sake of going through them. It is dangereous especially when A looks correct. So my take: do not discriminate other choices, they may not like this.

CR

  • ALWAYS read the question first, identify the type and note the trap words "EXCEPT", "ALL THE FOLLOWING..." feel free to add more to this.
  • Don't think too much away from the argument.
  • Write S for strengthen, W for weaken, ? for neither or irrelevant or otherwise unsure. Then look at the question and cross out the ones that don't fit. More than once I picked a weaken when in fact it was asking what strengthened.
  • Glance at the question just before marking the answer choice to make sure it is the correct choice. I sometimes assume a weaken question as strengthen or vice versa.
  • Be wary of questions that use multiple negatives. Always translate to the simpler form before you work the problem. Also, not weaken doesn't necessarily mean strengthen and vice-versa. For example, "Each of the following statements if true, weakens the argument, except" - means which one of the following does not weaken the argument. The correct answer doesnt necessarily have to strengthen the argument - it can be totally irrelevant as long as it doesnt weaken it.

SC

  • I follow a list of things here checking
  1. SVA
  2. pronouns
  3. modifiers
  4. ||sm
  5. conditionals
  6. comparisons
  7. idioms

Not to scare everyone, but I don't go through the whole list all the time... I only follow it when I see nothing wrong with the sentence... Sometimes I would read the sentence and pronoun FLASHES at me right away, so I check if it has a clear reference... or if I see comparison problem, I look for choices that make it logical.

  • Don't get by just sound of the choices in SC.
  • If you have found the mistake in a SC and also found the choice then also read all other choices.
  • While going through the options I usually get confused among the choices in which original problem is rectified but a new error is inserted. This happens because I mainly concentrate on the error and oversee the rest of the sentence :(. The new inserted error can be because of change in the verb in terms of singular and plural (changing 'insert' into 'inserts').
  • I get carried away by one of the answer choices which feels right and overlook reading rest of the answer choices.
  • DO NOT START ELIMINATING ANSWERS BASED ON IDIOMS... even if you are 90% sure... try to find other problems first and look at the idioms as a last source of a mistake.
  • Just because you see a choice which sounds reasonably good, don't stop. Always read all the 5 answer choices and pick the best one.
  • Uses of "being", passive voice are not preferred

RC

  • AGAIN read the question first and NOTE the type of question, then follow what your strategy for answering such type.
  • I do not rely on my memory about inference or fact based question. I read that part of paragraph again.

AWA

  • One of my worst mistakes was not including the AWA section in practice CATs. "I'll just skim over the templates the night before test day, and should at least pull off a 4~5; schools don't really care about AWA scores anyway." Big mistake. AWA does count, not only in the eyes of those who will be reviewing your application (especially when it comes down to making a tough choice between two equally qualified candidates) but in the in the overall manner in which you manage your energy. That one hour of outlining, thinking, supporting/weakening, revising, editing, typing... DOES have an impact on how well you can maintain concentration throughout the next 2.5 hours. The crucial element here: ALWAYS include AWAs in your practice CATs.
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