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# but is it really necessary? in the past couple of days the

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Senior Manager
Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 387
but is it really necessary? in the past couple of days the  [#permalink]

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29 Dec 2006, 15:42
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but is it really necessary?

in the past couple of days the forum was flooded by discussions solving equations with absolute value.

while i can appreciate and admire all those who try to master the technique in solving such equations and practicing it - i want to express my personal opinion that it will do you no good in the gmat exam.

some basic concepts of abs must be known, of course... but solving ||x+3|-|2x+5|| < |10-3x| ?

there will be no such question in gmat.... not even close to it.
true, if you always go for the "algebraic" solution to question you might end up solving such equations.... but if you got a similar equation in real gmat question - believe me... there is a simpler way to solve it.

my suggestion is: learn the basics. no need to practice general solving technique.
in my view the basics are:
|x| is always non-negative.
if x<0 then |x| = -x
if x>=0 then |x| = x

|x-y| represents the distance between points x and y on the number line
(it always helps to visualize things)

if an absolute value appears in an equation or inequality - try to get rid of it. do this by divide the full range of solutions to cases. solve each case independently. however - if this seem to be difficult, think of another way to solve the question i.e. try to visualize it on a number line, reformulating the question or use other reasoning.

i must confess that despite my math degree i am always confused when i see questions with absolute values. i always go to the basics, saying to my self something like this: "ok, suppose the whole thing inside the absolute value is positive, what can i make of that? .......... and now, if it is negative, does it change the picture? ....."

my suggestion is practice the basics. don't waste your time perfecting your "absolute value" technique.
SVP
Joined: 01 May 2006
Posts: 1777

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29 Dec 2006, 15:51
I think you are not far from the truth, in your case.

For some people like u, the basic rules are sufficient to feel self confident and to master the beast.

For others, they need to feel as they master the hardest parts to a certain degree. It creates a feeling of self confidence. In front of a "simple" absolute inequation/equation on the real thing, those people will have no more fear. They will have a voice inside them saying "Yeah... I have done such hardest things on absolute that I achieved successfully, I can do it"

It's following the need of everyone.... GMAT is at least 50% of self confidence, nerves resistance....
Senior Manager
Joined: 24 Oct 2006
Posts: 334

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29 Dec 2006, 16:32
Quote:
there will be no such question in gmat.... not even close to it.

I used to wonder, when I see those kind of tough questions in the forum, if gmat tests the knowledge on absolute values that deeply.

Gosh! It consumes ton of time. I think that even if we get such a Q, going on to the next Q would not hurt more than sitting with it for few min.
VP
Joined: 28 Mar 2006
Posts: 1301

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29 Dec 2006, 17:31
hobbit thanks for putting a lid on this series....Yep it looked like we are going over board
Senior Manager
Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 387

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29 Dec 2006, 17:35
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For some people like u, the basic rules are sufficient to feel self confident and to master the beast.

first, i don't consider myself too special and i truely believe that anything i did in gmat anyone can do.
and i also agree completely that gmat is 50% self confidence (i'd say even more).

i'm not suggesting that doing difficult non related questions is a wrong way to succeed in gmat, i just question the approach.

if it is, as you suggested, a way to boost delf confidence - i think that there are possibly other ways to do that. abs value equations are not, in my view, more difficult than gmat, they are just different. mastering them doesn't necessarily give you, mathematically speaking, much more skills to cope with gmat questions involving abs value.

our minds, unfortunately, are somewhat limited. so when studying so hard to gmat, mastering so many techniques in a short time - we usually get overloaded we information. this is why i try to avoid using techniques that are not necessary. it is true that everybody can learn to solve equations with abs value. they can learn many other techniques and quant skills, but we can't learn and master all of it in 2-3 months time. we must choose. and we must concentrate on what gives us the highest ROI - skills that by mastering them we gain the most gmat points. i think that equations with abs value are not high in their ROI.

and now for the self confidence.

i think that the best way (i used this method, and taught it and used variations on it in my classes) to boost your self confidence in gmat is to do this:
- define a large but manageable set of gmat questions, that span approximately the range of skills required to succeed. the OG guide is good for that.
- solve those question (always in a timed manner). and review your answers
- solve again those questions, and see your progress....
- solve again.... and see your progress....
repeat until you can solve, in time, without miskates all the questions in the predefined set.

when i say "solve again" i don't mean just marking the answer (which you eventually remember by heart). i mean really solve it... explaining every answer. if it is a data sufficiency - either prove it or provide a counter example. if it is a PS write the solution all the way.... and do it in time. never guess.... always provide a convincing explanation is if you are about to teach it. and always in time. if it is a verbal part question also provide explanations: for RC - go to the passage and show the exact line you rely on. for CR provide an explanation. same as SC.

when you succeed in this you will have a true experience of solving a complete gmat test, in time, answering all (or most of) the questions right. you'll know the feeling of answering a question right and knowing it is the correct answer. you will cherish this feeling and can take it into the real exam.... and you do it by using only those skills that are really required for gmat - not by mastering "extra skills" that might overload your mind.

i must tell you now my own experience....

i didn't have much time to study for the gmat. luckily, i didn't have to study at all to the quant. so i practiced verbal questions. all in all, i solved in a week of study more than 500 questions and doing 5 full CATs. my quant scores were constantly 51 (no surprise here), and my verbal scores went slowly up from 33 to about 40 (sorry... i don't remember exactly). i finished my preparation program at noon, a day before the test. my last gmatprep from the morning was 720-740 (don't remember exactly), which was the highest i got during the prep week.

i went for a relaxing walk in the park, read and answered some work emails i ignored most of the week....
in the evening i became curious if gmatprep can really give you 800... i had some free time i decided to take the same test i took in the morning again. i skipped the AWA part. solved the verbal, happy that i know most of the questions and don't have to read carefully, and knowing some of the answers from the morning sessions....i went on to the math... no problems here (finished it in 40 minutes). i saw my score ...... well it was a 780 (dissapointment.... i wanted to see 800).

looking backward, this last score was an exact predictor of what really happened to me in the test....

so.... my method of boosting confidence ..... do it again and again until you succeed....

thinking of it - it is exactly like a professional pianist (or any classical musician)... in order to play well a certain piece, you practice it over and over again until you know to play it. so is the gmat - to succeed in it you should solve questions again and again (not necessarily different questions...) until you get it right.

well... that's my long two pence.

hope it'll help...
SVP
Joined: 01 May 2006
Posts: 1777

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30 Dec 2006, 02:34
Interesting post....

People have now perhaps a deeper view on abs and they know as well 2 things : there is a way to solve it and they will not face it at a so deep degree.

If they want to know more for personal reasons and needs, they could do.

If they want to limit themsevles feeling confident, they could do it as well.

Similarity to one another has its limit. I believe people will have their own way and if it's to pass through "harder" abs.... why not
Intern
Joined: 26 Aug 2006
Posts: 49

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03 Jan 2007, 21:13
Hobbit: Thanks for your interesting and inspiring post. What's your advice for someone who wants to take his quant score from 44 to 50+.Your maths score and your most of the posts on this forum were very impressive.
Thanks,

Bhaarat
Manager
Joined: 16 Jun 2010
Posts: 152

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04 Oct 2010, 16:30
hobbit wrote:
when i say "solve again" i don't mean just marking the answer (which you eventually remember by heart). i mean really solve it... explaining every answer. if it is a data sufficiency - either prove it or provide a counter example. if it is a PS write the solution all the way.... and do it in time. never guess.... always provide a convincing explanation is if you are about to teach it. and always in time. if it is a verbal part question also provide explanations: for RC - go to the passage and show the exact line you rely on. for CR provide an explanation. same as SC.

Great advice ... very simple and meaningful to understand .... but very difficult to follow
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Re: but is it really necessary? in the past couple of days the  [#permalink]

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17 Nov 2017, 21:29
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