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# 6 Stages of Question Mastery

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Manager
Joined: 07 Sep 2007
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6 Stages of Question Mastery [#permalink]

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14 Nov 2007, 02:15
1
KUDOS
I believe there are a couple stages that people go through, and that these stages are primarily based on %correct for a type of question (sc/rc/cr/ps/ds) and not difficulty of questions or anything else.

When I say type, I mean either SC, RC, CR, PS, DS.

When I say sub-type, I mean, for example, verb-agreement in SC, or weaken the argument in CR, or purpose of the passage in RC.

6 Stages of Question Mastery
(These stages are independent with type of question.)

Stage 1: 0%-40% correct
You do not understand the fundamentals. Your strategy is not correct for this type of question. You are doing not doing much better than guessing at the answer and doing problems is not going to help you.

What to do: You need to just read GMAT guides on this type of question and change your approach before you even think about touching any questions.

Stage 2: 40%-70% correct
You are consistently missing the point of the question. The question is asking for something very specific and clear, but you are often misunderstanding it and looking in the wrong direction. Perhaps in CR you're consistently thinking outside of scope or inferring too much information from the passage. Perhaps in SC you're looking for parallel structures when there is no need for them. Perhaps in Quant you need to find the prime factorization but you're trying some brute force approach.

What to do: You still need to focus on reading GMAT guides and but do a few questions every now and then to see how well you're doing. When doing questions at this phase, you need to spend a lot of time per question (5-10 minutes) knowing exactly why each of the 5 answers is right or wrong.

Stage 3: 70%-80% correct
You've got a good understanding of some of the fundamentals, but you are not applying a complete strategy. Perhaps in SC you're consistently spotting verb agreement errors but missing improper modifiers. Or in RC you consistently confusing a supporting point with the main point. In Quant, maybe you don't understand some subjects very well (perm/comb, prime factorization, divisibility, powers, etc.).

What to do: Here is where we can start focusing on our flaws, figure out which sub-type of the type of question you're getting wrong and read GMAT guides on that sub-type. When doing questions, you should still be spending 3-5 minutes on each question, now easily eliminating 1-3 of the answers and, for the rest, being able to explain exactly why each of the answers is right or wrong. If you get a question wrong, go back and do a thorough 5-answer analysis.

Stage 4: 80%-90% correct
Now we're starting to show consistency, we understand most of the fundamentals. Our strategy is near complete, but we have not been applying it perfectly. Most of our incorrect answers can be attributable to carelessness and result in "oh duh!" moments. NOW AND ONLY NOW are you ready to start doing sets of questions.

What to do: If you're consistently missing certain sub-types, go re-read some GMAT guides on it. But your study should involve mostly questions. You should still be spending 2-3 minutes on each one, easily eliminating all but 2 of the answers. For the 2, you must be able to explain exactly why one answer is right and one answer is wrong. If you get a question wrong, go back and do a thorough 5-answer analysis.

Stage 5: 90%-95% correct
We understand almost all of the fundamentals and are able to apply them with a consistent strategy. We are able to eliminate down to the correct 2 answers almost all of the time, and if we spend enough time on any question, we know we can get it right 100% of the time. Some sub-types are giving us more trouble than others.

What to do: Practice questions to fine-tune your strategy; iron out flaws in those sub-types you're getting wrong. Spend 1-2 minutes on each question. If you get a question wrong, go back and do a thorough 5-answer analysis.

Stage 6: 95%-100% correct
We understand all of the fundamentals and are able to apply them with a consistent strategy. All of the questions we get wrong are just do to really stupid mistakes that we are in complete control over.

What to do: Work on mental stamina and timing by doing a test's worth of questions each day. Aim for a question per minute. Ease up on studying, we just want to maintain and fine tune our spectacular skills.

-J

Last edited by JingChan on 17 Nov 2007, 22:27, edited 1 time in total.
Manager
Joined: 10 Aug 2007
Posts: 63
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Kudos [?]: 3 [0], given: 0

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14 Nov 2007, 06:21
JingChan thank you for your useful advice and congratulations for your excellent GMAT score. People like you are an inspiration for my trying to master the GMAT.

I would like to ask you a couple of questions and I would really appreciate your opinion.

1) I am not a native english speaker. I do not live in the States, UK, Australia or any native-english speaker country. Do you think that people like me can do a good score in verbal, (>40, why not approximate 45?)

2) My major difficulties in GMAT have to do mostly with the verbal part. (I'm not a maths expert but I have much better understanding to it since I have an engineering background. I do silly mistakes however and I definetely need to prepare for this part as well). I try to focus especially in CR at the moment, which is my major weakness. I try to undestand the questions and analyse them in my head. Then, I can score somewhere close to 50%. Not good of course but I started with 10% in this area...But, it takes me a hell of time to do that. I am thinking that it is not the point how fast I do a question, but to grasp the thing, and therefore, I take my time. Do you agree with that?

And last but not least, do you think I should do the same in RC? Take my time I mean till I find a strategy?

JingChan I would really appreciate your advice. It's not the high score you obtained, but your overall approach and preparation for this exam that makes your advice valuable. At least for me.
Manager
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14 Nov 2007, 14:04
Given what I know about you, it sounds like you definitely have the potential to score 95%+ in Verbal. Being a non-English speaker, you have to work at it a little harder, but that should be expected. When it boils down to it, each type of question tests certain skills:
SC - grammar rules
CR - reading ability and logical reasoning

And none of these skills require you to be a native English speaker to master.

You didn't mention SC so I'll assume you're doing well in that area. What's left are just reading questions. Before you start scoring 80%+ you need to be fully grasping the point of the question. Take your time and understand each question. You first need to be answering the questions correctly before you think about speeding yourself up.

Once you do start answering questions consistently, then start timing yourself. Slowly speed yourself up until you're able to finish each question in about 1-2 minutes.

Hope this helps,
J
Manager
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Posts: 63
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14 Nov 2007, 23:47
It has been very helpful. Thank you very much

By the way, I wish you all the best for the rest of the application process.
Manager
Joined: 11 May 2007
Posts: 106
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 38 [0], given: 0

Re: 6 Stages of Question Mastery [#permalink]

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15 Nov 2007, 11:50
JingChan wrote:
I believe there are a couple stages that people go through, and that these stages are primarily based on %correct for a type of question (sc/rc/cr/ps/ds) and not difficulty of questions or anything else.

When I say type, I mean either SC, RC, CR, PS, DS.

When I say sub-type, I mean, for example, verb-agreement in SC, or weaken the argument in CR, or purpose of the passage in RC.

6 Stages of Question Mastery
(These stages are independent with type of question.)

Stage 1: 0%-40% correct
You do not understand the fundamentals. Your strategy is not correct for this type of question. You are doing not doing much better than guessing at the answer and doing problems is not going to help you.

What to do: You need to just read GMAT guides on this type of question and change your approach before you even think about touching any questions.

Stage 2: 40%-70% correct
You are consistently missing the point of the question. The question is asking for something very specific and clear, but you are often misunderstanding it and looking in the wrong direction. Perhaps in CR you're consistently thinking outside of score or inferring too much information from the passage. Perhaps in SC you're looking for parallel structures when there is no need for them. Perhaps in Quant you need to find the prime factorization but you're trying some brute force approach.

What to do: You still need to focus on reading GMAT guides and but do a few questions every now and then to see how well you're doing. When doing questions at this phase, you need to spend a lot of time per question (5-10 minutes) knowing exactly why each of the 5 answers is right or wrong.

Stage 3: 70%-80% correct
You've got a good understanding of some of the fundamentals, but you are not applying a complete strategy. Perhaps in SC you're consistently spotting verb agreement errors but missing improper modifiers. Or in RC you consistently confusing a supporting point with the main point. In Quant, maybe you don't understand some subjects very well (perm/comb, prime factorization, divisibility, powers, etc.).

What to do: Here is where we can start focusing on our flaws, figure out which sub-type of the type of question you're getting wrong and read GMAT guides on that sub-type. When doing questions, you should still be spending 3-5 minutes on each question, now easily eliminating 1-3 of the answers and, for the rest, being able to explain exactly why each of the answers is right or wrong. If you get a question wrong, go back and do a thorough 5-answer analysis.

Stage 4: 80%-90% correct
Now we're starting to show consistency, we understand most of the fundamentals. Our strategy is near complete, but we have not been applying it perfectly. Most of our incorrect answers can be attributable to carelessness and result in "oh duh!" moments. NOW AND ONLY NOW are you ready to start doing sets of questions.

What to do: If you're consistently missing certain sub-types, go re-read some GMAT guides on it. But your study should involve mostly questions. You should still be spending 2-3 minutes on each one, easily eliminating all but 2 of the answers. For the 2, you must be able to explain exactly why one answer is right and one answer is wrong. If you get a question wrong, go back and do a thorough 5-answer analysis.

Stage 5: 90%-95% correct
We understand almost all of the fundamentals and are able to apply them with a consistent strategy. We are able to eliminate down to the correct 2 answers almost all of the time, and if we spend enough time on any question, we know we can get it right 100% of the time. Some sub-types are giving us more trouble than others.

What to do: Practice questions to fine-tune your strategy; iron out flaws in those sub-types you're getting wrong. Spend 1-2 minutes on each question. If you get a question wrong, go back and do a thorough 5-answer analysis.

Stage 6: 95%-100% correct
We understand all of the fundamentals and are able to apply them with a consistent strategy. All of the questions we get wrong are just do to really stupid mistakes that we are in complete control over.

What to do: Work on mental stamina and timing by doing a test's worth of questions each day. Aim for a question per minute. Ease up on studying, we just want to maintain and fine tune our spectacular skills.

-J

Nice Post...what's GMAT Guides?
Manager
Joined: 07 Sep 2007
Posts: 116
Followers: 3

Kudos [?]: 17 [0], given: 0

Re: 6 Stages of Question Mastery [#permalink]

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15 Nov 2007, 17:15
yogachgolf wrote:
Nice Post...what's GMAT Guides?

I just mean any GMAT books. Like PR's Cracking the GMAT, MGMAT Guides, Kaplan 800, etc.

-J
Intern
Joined: 22 Sep 2007
Posts: 30
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 13 [0], given: 0

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17 Nov 2007, 21:01
This is a very good post. How do you successful execute the 5-answer thorough analysis. My problem is that whenever i see the answer of a question I initially failed, i get that 'ooh' effect that makes me think that i understand why the answer chosen is correct and mine is not.
Manager
Joined: 07 Sep 2007
Posts: 116
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Kudos [?]: 17 [0], given: 0

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17 Nov 2007, 22:26
kizito2001 wrote:
This is a very good post. How do you successful execute the 5-answer thorough analysis. My problem is that whenever i see the answer of a question I initially failed, i get that 'ooh' effect that makes me think that i understand why the answer chosen is correct and mine is not.

If you're at the stage where you can immediately understand, then you're doing well!

I would rewind my thinking to try to understand why I chose the wrong answer to begin with, because maybe you're consistently making the same error.

Especially for Verbal, it's very important to understand why each wrong answer is wrong.

-J
Manager
Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 60
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29 Nov 2007, 00:23
Jing,

Thanks for this awesome post as it has definitely inspired me. I have a questions regarding consistency in the prep material, what to use and what NOT to use.

My situation is that this is my second time taking the test (i took my test Nov 1 and didn't do well - 640: v35, m45). I have used and am still using various different types of material and score all over the board. For example, with Princeton Review, i score around high 600s - 700. With Kaplan, I score in the 630-660 range, ARCO is also in the 660s range. Surprisingly I scored 710s on both of the GMAT Prep tests, prior to the exam. But clearly, I was not ready. Now, I dont know which prep material to trust and when I am truely "ready" to the take it again.

So, what was your plan of attack in:
1. Nagivating through all this prep material, and choosing the right ones? Should I stick to 3-4 brands (MGMAT, KAPLAN, OG, PR)?
2. This is a silly quesiton, but still want to ask it...How do you know when you are "ready?" Is it when you are consistently scoring in the same range on various different prep materials?

A big thank you in advance!
29 Nov 2007, 00:23
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# 6 Stages of Question Mastery

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