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Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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22 Jul 2009, 09:26

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Edit: Please post the strategies that worked for you here. I will be aggregating them to make a master thread.

I'll continue to post the strategies I know.

Certain questions regarding problem approach keep coming up again and again. I was wondering if anyone else sees value in a master thread for problem approach (or maybe each having it's own stick in the question type forums).

Disclaimer: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE NOTE: Strategies are NOT a replacement for understanding the fundamentals of the material (grammar, idioms, geometry, algebra, etc.). Strategies should ONLY supplement the material, thereby boosting your chances when guessing and helping you select the correct option on more difficult questions.

Here is the "proven" strategy for DS (as long as one solution is "easier" than the other)

Quote:

Approach for DS problems: First: Reduce the problem as much as possible.

i.e. If the question is asking "if X and Y are both integers, is x-y-5 > x+y+3?"

You might look at the problem and say "ok, I have two variables so I either need to equations or two variables." The problem is you can reduce the inequality as follows:

Subtract X from both sides -------> (-x)+x-y-5>(-x)+x+y+3 = y-5>y+3 Add Y to both sides -------> (+y)-y-5 > (+y)+y+3 = -5>2y+3 Add 5 to both sides -------> (+5)-5 > (+5)+2y+3 = 0 > 2y+8

You know have "if X and Y are both integers, is 0 > 2y+8?"

X is irrelevant now. All you need to know is y and you can solve for the inequality.

Reducing the equation lets you know "what do I really need to solve this"

Next, select the "easier" of the two options and set up your solution option as follows:

If you option 1 is the easier of the two options: AD BCE

If you option 2 is the easier of the two options: BD ACE

Solve the easier option. If you can conclude yes or no (remember, sufficiency = can you come to a conclusive answer, the answer can be yes or no) on the easier option, cross out the other three options. i.e. AD [strike]BCE[/strike]

or

BD [strike]ACE[/strike]

Or, if the easier option is not viable, cross out the top two: i.e. [strike]AD[/strike] BCE

or

[strike]BD[/strike] ACE

Then solve between the remaining options.

The reason this works is as follows:

If you can conclude that one option is 100% viable, then three options go right out the door (only the other is sufficient, only together are sufficient, together are NOT sufficient). If you conclude the easier option is 100% NOT viable, then the top pair of options go right out the door (only this one is sufficient, each alone are sufficient). This creates a systematic way of eliminating options in DS problems, and increasing your chances of getting more difficult problems correct (when you can't come to a conclusion overall but can eliminate certain options). It also helps streamline processing to reduce the time spent on DS problems.

Also, ALWAYS reduce the question as much as possible

Another one with a "proven" strategy is SC

Quote:

The split/resplit strategy can be used on many of the SC problems.

The strategy works as follows: Identify the verbs in the sentence (both in the the not underlined and the underlined portion) Identify the nouns and pronouns in the sentence (both parts again)

Ensure the number agrees between the verb and the noun (i.e. He agrees/They agree/The company has ten employees/I have five employees).

Ensure the pronoun agrees with the noun (i.e. The company/its, The school children/they, Did everyone bring his/her).

I know there are other strategies that consistently work (i.e. marking CR with what the solution does to the question (strengthen or weaken).

If we go with that, I can edit this post and we can use this first subject as the master.
_________________

Great! I think it would be valuable to collect strategies and shortcuts for each of the question types. Some of these have probably been written and just need to organize them into a single thread.
_________________

Re: Potential sticky? Approach for specific problem types? [#permalink]

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22 Jul 2009, 12:51

wonderful idea ... may be one day we can publish it as a book for rival MGMAT :D .. just kidding .. but super duper idea. It will really help everyone on the forum

Re: The post your strategies here thread [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2009, 05:59

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Critical Reasoning (CR) Strategy:

Quote:

Critical Reasoning (CR) Strategy:

The more difficult CR questions tend to have more vague answers. That being said, you can still usually knock off two or three of the answer choices. This is the process that has worked for me:

DO NOT read the information first. Skip down and read the question (i.e. Which of these if true would seriously weaken the argument of X).

Now read the stem. Make note if any parts are bold.

Re-read the question after reading the information.

On your testing center provided pad - list out the answer choices. Next, as you read the answer choices, list how the answer choice addresses the question at hand. Use some form of shorthand to get your notes down quick.

i.e. + - na - na A B C D E

If the above example corresponds to a question that is asking which choice strengthens, your answer is A. If it is asking which answer choice weakens, you will select between B and D.

Using this method will help you establish a streamlined method of approach.

Remember, on standardized tests, there isn't always a "right" answer. With these more subjective questions, your goal is to identify the "best" answer.

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2009, 11:10

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Reading Comprehension - Active Reading

Quote:

Reading Comprehension - Active Reading

One of the biggest complaints people have coming out of a conversation: the person didn't listen to me (i.e. the other person is not an active listener). The same rule applies for reading comprehension, you need to become an active reader to do well on the GMAT.

Rehashing what you just read to someone else is one way of improving your active reading skills. It can be done using any publication.

Example: After reading the newspaper, try to remember some of the headlines. Example: Two weeks after finishing a book, explain to someone else in 20 words or less what the book is about. Example: After reading a thesis or research paper, recall both the things you liked about the paper and the things you disliked about the paper.

The question writers on the GMAT ALWAYS have answers that play with your mind. An answer might be verbatim from the passagevand you might think the answer is too obvious. An answer might say all the correct things, but it throws in an "always" or "never" (it's rare that a CR or RC correct option uses extreme words).

Remember, your goal here is to find the "best" answer. It might not be the right answer you thought of, but it's still the best answer.

Something else that works for some people:

Taking notes while reading passages works for some people. The goal behind taking notes is to help you retain key points from the passage and know what information is where (avoid re-reading the entire passage).

The goal is to have one to three sentences per paragraph, with the number of sentences depending on how long each paragraph is and how much information is in each paragraph. The sentences should be high level points (don't write down specific details. i.e. how do you summarize the paragraph into one or two sentences.). This requires a bit of practice, but it also helps you become an active reader.

Another point is taking notes while reading helps some people retain information. By actually writing things down, you can force yourself to process process the information over a longer period of time.

I don't buy into the strategies of: Skimming, short reading, hunting for key words, etc.

What it boils down to is retaining key information after completing a passage. This will help you answer easier questions, while providing you enough detail to know where to find answer to more difficult question. Best of all, you avoid re-reading the entire passage.

When analyzing the answers, the same strategy used for CR can be used here:

Quote:

On your testing center provided pad - list out the answer choices. Next, as you read the answer choices, list how the answer choice addresses the question at hand. Use some form of shorthand to get your notes down quick.

i.e. + - na - na A B C D E

The short hand here might mean something else. + might support the author's main point, and - might counter it. Just as with CR questions, make sure the answer selection is actually answering the question at hand.

Time management is key throughout the entire exam. Other questions you may have more flexibility with (length of argument stem, short SC problem, etc.), but with reading comprehension, you still need to average 2 mins/problem including reading the passage.

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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27 Jul 2009, 10:43

Oh no .. please do not do that. We are finding it beneficial.. Im also including your tips in my daily routine and adding them to my notes. Please continue the super duper work

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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27 Jul 2009, 12:15

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Quant: General strategies

Quote:

Quant: General Strategies

Many people struggle on the quant section for various reasons. Some of the most notable are as follows:

-Lack of time management (problem the #1 reason people struggle on quant) -Lack of review/understanding of rules of Algebra (i.e. when you CAN NOT divide by a variable in a quadratic because you might eliminate 0 as an option). -Word translation -Lack of understanding of number properties (even/odd, cross multiple, positive/negative, etc.) -Lack of understand of overlapping sets (Venn diagram) or rate/work problems -Lack of conversion understanding (tens to tenth, 1x10e^, gram-> kilogram, etc.) - etc.

Hopefully this post will provide some simple rules to apply across all problems.

1. ALWAYS write everything down. Setting up quant problems is key for the following reasons: - Ensures you are on the right track to solve for the unknowns needed to solve the problem - Helps you eliminate obvious incorrect answers (if some are positive and some are negative, by setting up you should know if the answer is positive or negative). - Creates a systematic pattern for problem approach. Helps streamline problems.

2. The knowns are NOT always clearly stated in the problem. When you write the information down, you can extrapolate the remaining knowns (i.e. complementary/supplementary angles, measurements of embedded angles, lengths of sides, etc.)

3. DON'T PANIC. If you become flustered with a problem - WATCH YOUR TIME. Do NOT let a single problem take up five minutes.

4. Spot check your work as needed. When doing practice problems, check your time and check your approach. This will tell you how often you will need to spot check your work.

5. SLOW DOWN when setting up problems. It's VERY easy to miss a negative sign, or misread a problem and then become very frustrated as none of the options match your answer. Setting up the problem is key to ensure you approach the problem in an appropriate and timely manner.

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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30 Jul 2009, 09:14

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Quant: Geometry

Quote:

Quant: Geometry

Unless you are well versed in proofs and algebra, geometry requires a decent amount of memorization + application of memorized rules. There is no way around this.

That being said, there are things you can focus on which can help target what you need to memorize and can extrapolate out to other problems.

General things to memorize: -General concepts of circles (area, circumference, embedded angles, etc) -General concepts of triangles (area, rules for leg length, etc.) -Rules for special triangles(isosceles and equilateral) <-- KEY TO MEMORIZE. Also make sure you understand the rules for triangles embedded in circles -General concepts for all polygons ( (# sides-2)*180= measure of inner angles, rules of sides, angles, relation to triangles, etc.) -How to calculate surface area for 3 dimensional figures -How to calculate volume for 3 dimensional figures - Supplementary/Complementary angles -(others)?

Some problems will only give you variables and the answers will only have variables. You can work through with the variables to come to an answer, the problem is the GMAT writers usually simplify the problem as much as possible and sometimes certain steps are not so "obvious". The only real workaround for this is to plug in numbers. You can ONLY plug in numbers that do NOT violate the rules for the figure in question (i.e. triangle rule: the sum of two legs of a triangle MUST be longer than the third leg). If you use numbers that do not adhere to the rules, you WILL be VERY frustrated with the problems.

The key here is practice the concepts, and then do review problems to apply the concepts. You may have to go back to tactics used in school to help you retain the information (flash cards, notes read throughout the day, etc.). Some of the problems on the real test will mix figures/rules and you will need to be able to figure out what is what.

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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05 Aug 2009, 05:43

Quant: Word translations

Quote:

Quant: Word translations

If you're not an engineer by trade (or some other things that practice word translations), this might be a struggle for you. If you took advanced math or advanced applied science (physics/chemistry) during university days, these will be much easier.

The key for word translation problems is writing everything down and then plugging in the right values/symbols for the words in question.

Example found using Google:

Quote:

In used car lot, there are three times as many red cars as green cars. If tomorrow 12 green cars are sold and 3 red cars are added,then there will be 6 times as many red cars as green cars. How many green cars are currently in the lot?

Note: There are three times as many red cars as green cars. This means there are MORE red cars, thus the multiplier should be next to the lower value (green cars).

Identify your variables (this doesn't need to be written down, but make sure variables are kept straight).

r = red cars g = green cars

First sentence translated: r = 3g Second sentence translated: 6(g-12) = r+3

Two different equations, two variables. Substitute in and solve.

6(g-12) = r + 3 Substitute 3g for r 6g - 72 = 3g + 3 Isolate the variable 6g - 72 (+72 - 3g) = 3g + 3 (-3g + 72) = 3g = 75 g = 25

Granted this is an easy problem, but the approach is the same every time:

Write down your known and work to solve the problem.

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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09 Aug 2009, 10:43

For word translation problems you need lots of practice. They kill your time. You need to know how to solve them there and then otherwise they will suck you in and before you know it 5 mins have passed.

Re: Post your strategies or provide feedback (plz) [#permalink]

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10 Aug 2009, 05:27

Aztec wrote:

For word translation problems you need lots of practice. They kill your time. You need to know how to solve them there and then otherwise they will suck you in and before you know it 5 mins have passed.

My thoughts anyway.

I completely agree.

As stated in the first post, these strategies are in no way a replacement for understanding the content or cutting short on practice.
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