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How I went from Q27 to Q50

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Intern
Joined: 26 Dec 2017
Posts: 31
Schools: LBS MiM '20 (II)
GMAT 1: 700 Q50 V34
How I went from Q27 to Q50  [#permalink]

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16 Jul 2018, 21:19
8
1
5
Hello everyone,

I know there are many GMAT debriefs here on the forums, but the reason I want to share my experience is that I always had more or less easy time with verbal (even though I performed badly on my last GMAT) but Quant has been a nightmare.

Before my GMAT journey, I took my first practice test I scored Q27 (16th percentile). That was a pretty scared start! After that practice test I took a class with one of the big prep companies and I practiced quant 5 to 6 hours a day, 7 days a week for a couple months but my quant scores oscillated around Q45. So I thought my prep company was bad (it is actually great) and I took classes with another prep company that specializes in Quant and my GMAT scores still fluctuated around Q45. All I have learned was to do more math and reinforce my belief that GMAT quant is all about math.

I have been practicing Quant for many hours on a daily basis for approximately 8 months and I scored a Q47 on GMAT. After hitting that score I just thought I am not a Quant guy and I gave up on quant, I thought that Q47 would be the maximum I could get.

I have been reaching out for help but all the people who helped me (Q51 scorers) taught me how to do math, math, and math again. One person though, Ryan Starr (a wonderful Manhattan Prep instructor), asked me why I kept doing hard math I wasn’t able to do properly. Although I didn’t the question, I started to think about it and less than two weeks after that day I took a real GMAT and scored Q50!

So what changed? In two words: my mindset. I always looked at GMAT as a hard math test, but it has not to be a math test. I strongly believe that GMAT can be cracked easily with strong math skills, but not everyone is comfortable playing around with numbers. I acknowledged the fact that I was not a mathematician, nor a person good at math and I stopped forcing myself to do hard calculations. I realized GMAT can be beaten with reasoning and logic.

I summarized the three takeaways that got me from Q45 to Q50 in two weeks :

1- I stopped buying into crazy math explanations, GMAT does not require you to be a calculator

This took me a bit of time but it was the most important step in the whole process. As soon as I was about to approach a quant question only with math, I stopped and I asked myself “Is there any other, more creative way to solve this problem”. This step is so annoying, I hated it, but with some practice, it becomes more and more natural and you come better at it. I would say that it is pretty much the same as pre-thinking your answers in CR, it is a habit to build.

Keep in mind that for almost all the GMAT quant problems there are several ways to solve, and there is always an easier and a harder way to solve a problem.

Also, if you are to solve a quant question from the OG and you need explanations, do never go to the answers at the back of the book. This is just insane math. Go on the GMAT Club forums and look for the answer, you will almost always find an easier explanation.

In my opinion, the best way to make fewer calculation mistakes is simply by doing fewer calculations.

Take a look at this question :

A certain stock exchange designates each stock with a one-, two-, or three-letter code, where each letter is selected from the 26 letters of the alphabet. If the letters may be repeated and if the same letters used in a different order constitute a different code, how many different stocks is it possible to uniquely designate with these codes?
A- 2,951
B- 8,125
C- 15,600
D- 16,302
E- 18,278

You could solve it the math way by doing :
(26*26*26)+(26*26)+26 = 18,278

But let’s be honest, without calculator this question is not funny and will take time.
Instead, you can think of another way to approach the question, a more creative way. How about approximating, or even better how about using unit digits?

Here using the unit digit you know that :
26^3, 26^2 and 26 all end up in a 6. Since you add three 6s, it's the same as 3*6 =18, thus the unit digit is 8. Answer choice E.

This question can be solved in 30 seconds, if you go with long math you will probably get it right as well but it is more likely to take you 3 minutes and you could make a mistake.

2- I started using the answer choices

Who doesn’t like to have clues to solve a problem? Quant questions give you clues that are very often in the answer choices. Everything has some kind of intelligent design, every question is written in a specific way to give you clues. Nothing is left on purpose in this test.

Let’s have a look at this question :

Company X had a ratio of 4 full-time employees for every 3 part-time employees until 2 part-time employees quit. If that brought the current ratio down to 3:2, how many employees does the company now have?
A. 30
B. 40
C. 50
D. 60
E. 70

You can solve this in two ways, either you do some calculation (which is not too difficult), or if you are like me you avoid calculations as much as you can.

1st way : you set an equation
4x/(3x-2) = 3/2
8x = 3(3x - 2)
8x = 9x - 6
6 = x
Thus, the company now has 4(6) + 3(6) - 2 = 40 total employees.

2nd way : A lot easier

You are told that before two employees leave the ratio of employees is 4:3. This means that the total number of employees before is a multiple of 7.

All you are left to do is to add 2 (which corresponds to the number of employees that left) to each answer choice. The answer choice that is a multiple of 7 must be the right answer

Thus :
A. 30+2 = 32 Not a multiple of 7
B. 40+2 = 42 A Multiple of 7
C. 50+2 = 52 Not a multiple of 7
D. 60+2 = 62 Not a multiple of 7
E. 70+2 = 72 Not a multiple of 7

Either way is fine, but I am more comfortable with the second one, it is free of calculation mistakes, the only thing you have to do is add 2.

3- I was reading very very carefully and was on the watch out for traps

This is probably what helped me to escape from that Q40-45 range to Q50. Keep in mind that every GMAT question has trap answers. The horrible thing about these trap answers is that even though you may get all the calculation right, you can mistakenly end up picking the wrong answer choice.

In my opinion trap answers are really easy to avoid if, and only if, you read every prompt carefully. I am conscious that there is the time pressure on the GMAT exam and that rushing through a prompt might be really tempting to save a few seconds. But would you rather save 2 minutes throughout the whole exam and get a bunch of questions wrong or do you prefer to guess one or two questions but get all the rest right? I guess the latter option is more attractive.

Have a look at this question :

For all positive integers m, [m]=3m when m is odd and [m]=(1/2)*m when m is even. What is [9]*[6] equivalent to?
A. [81]
B. [54]
C. [37]
D. [27]
E. [18]

You get 27*3 = 81
If you are very careful and you think of traps, you will see that the question writer wants you to believe that [81] is 81, but that’s the trap!

81 is [27], so the right answer is D and A is the trap.

This question is also a very good question to show you that if you don’t read carefully you will fall for the trap :

A shop purchased a pair of sunglasses for \$120 and was selling it at a price that equaled the purchase price of the sunglasses plus a markup that was 25 percent of the selling price. After some time a shop owner decided to decrease the selling price by 20 percent. What was the shop's gross profit on this sale?
\$0
\$2
\$4
\$6
\$8

Although the calculation is pretty standard, if you don’t see the trap you are sure to get this question wrong.
The question is discussed here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/a-shop-purch ... 39958.html

I hope my post has been helpful and it will help some of you to improve fast!
Founder
Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 16975
Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.5
Re: How I went from Q27 to Q50  [#permalink]

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18 Jul 2018, 19:36
Congratulations on your great score and thank you for sharing your story and your tips!
Are you moving on to applications? Are you applying in the US or outside of the US?

P.S. Thank you for verifying your score!
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Joined: 09 Jun 2014
Posts: 215
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Concentration: General Management, Operations
Schools: Tuck '19
Re: How I went from Q27 to Q50  [#permalink]

Show Tags

18 Jul 2018, 19:50
olito wrote:
Hello everyone,

I know there are many GMAT debriefs here on the forums, but the reason I want to share my experience is that I always had more or less easy time with verbal (even though I performed badly on my last GMAT) but Quant has been a nightmare.

Before my GMAT journey, I took my first practice test I scored Q27 (16th percentile). That was a pretty scared start! After that practice test I took a class with one of the big prep companies and I practiced quant 5 to 6 hours a day, 7 days a week for a couple months but my quant scores oscillated around Q45. So I thought my prep company was bad (it is actually great) and I took classes with another prep company that specializes in Quant and my GMAT scores still fluctuated around Q45. All I have learned was to do more math and reinforce my belief that GMAT quant is all about math.

I have been practicing Quant for many hours on a daily basis for approximately 8 months and I scored a Q47 on GMAT. After hitting that score I just thought I am not a Quant guy and I gave up on quant, I thought that Q47 would be the maximum I could get.

I have been reaching out for help but all the people who helped me (Q51 scorers) taught me how to do math, math, and math again. One person though, Ryan Starr (a wonderful Manhattan Prep instructor), asked me why I kept doing hard math I wasn’t able to do properly. Although I didn’t the question, I started to think about it and less than two weeks after that day I took a real GMAT and scored Q50!

So what changed? In two words: my mindset. I always looked at GMAT as a hard math test, but it has not to be a math test. I strongly believe that GMAT can be cracked easily with strong math skills, but not everyone is comfortable playing around with numbers. I acknowledged the fact that I was not a mathematician, nor a person good at math and I stopped forcing myself to do hard calculations. I realized GMAT can be beaten with reasoning and logic.

I summarized the three takeaways that got me from Q45 to Q50 in two weeks :

1- I stopped buying into crazy math explanations, GMAT does not require you to be a calculator

This took me a bit of time but it was the most important step in the whole process. As soon as I was about to approach a quant question only with math, I stopped and I asked myself “Is there any other, more creative way to solve this problem”. This step is so annoying, I hated it, but with some practice, it becomes more and more natural and you come better at it. I would say that it is pretty much the same as pre-thinking your answers in CR, it is a habit to build.

Keep in mind that for almost all the GMAT quant problems there are several ways to solve, and there is always an easier and a harder way to solve a problem.

Also, if you are to solve a quant question from the OG and you need explanations, do never go to the answers at the back of the book. This is just insane math. Go on the GMAT Club forums and look for the answer, you will almost always find an easier explanation.

In my opinion, the best way to make fewer calculation mistakes is simply by doing fewer calculations.

Take a look at this question :

A certain stock exchange designates each stock with a one-, two-, or three-letter code, where each letter is selected from the 26 letters of the alphabet. If the letters may be repeated and if the same letters used in a different order constitute a different code, how many different stocks is it possible to uniquely designate with these codes?
A- 2,951
B- 8,125
C- 15,600
D- 16,302
E- 18,278

You could solve it the math way by doing :
(26*26*26)+(26*26)+26 = 18,278

But let’s be honest, without calculator this question is not funny and will take time.
Instead, you can think of another way to approach the question, a more creative way. How about approximating, or even better how about using unit digits?

Here using the unit digit you know that :
26^3, 26^2 and 26 all end up in a 6. Since you add three 6s, it's the same as 3*6 =18, thus the unit digit is 8. Answer choice E.

This question can be solved in 30 seconds, if you go with long math you will probably get it right as well but it is more likely to take you 3 minutes and you could make a mistake.

2- I started using the answer choices

Who doesn’t like to have clues to solve a problem? Quant questions give you clues that are very often in the answer choices. Everything has some kind of intelligent design, every question is written in a specific way to give you clues. Nothing is left on purpose in this test.

Let’s have a look at this question :

Company X had a ratio of 4 full-time employees for every 3 part-time employees until 2 part-time employees quit. If that brought the current ratio down to 3:2, how many employees does the company now have?
A. 30
B. 40
C. 50
D. 60
E. 70

You can solve this in two ways, either you do some calculation (which is not too difficult), or if you are like me you avoid calculations as much as you can.

1st way : you set an equation
4x/(3x-2) = 3/2
8x = 3(3x - 2)
8x = 9x - 6
6 = x
Thus, the company now has 4(6) + 3(6) - 2 = 40 total employees.

2nd way : A lot easier

You are told that before two employees leave the ratio of employees is 4:3. This means that the total number of employees before is a multiple of 7.

All you are left to do is to add 2 (which corresponds to the number of employees that left) to each answer choice. The answer choice that is a multiple of 7 must be the right answer

Thus :
A. 30+2 = 32 Not a multiple of 7
B. 40+2 = 42 A Multiple of 7
C. 50+2 = 52 Not a multiple of 7
D. 60+2 = 62 Not a multiple of 7
E. 70+2 = 72 Not a multiple of 7

Either way is fine, but I am more comfortable with the second one, it is free of calculation mistakes, the only thing you have to do is add 2.

3- I was reading very very carefully and was on the watch out for traps

This is probably what helped me to escape from that Q40-45 range to Q50. Keep in mind that every GMAT question has trap answers. The horrible thing about these trap answers is that even though you may get all the calculation right, you can mistakenly end up picking the wrong answer choice.

In my opinion trap answers are really easy to avoid if, and only if, you read every prompt carefully. I am conscious that there is the time pressure on the GMAT exam and that rushing through a prompt might be really tempting to save a few seconds. But would you rather save 2 minutes throughout the whole exam and get a bunch of questions wrong or do you prefer to guess one or two questions but get all the rest right? I guess the latter option is more attractive.

Have a look at this question :

For all positive integers m, [m]=3m when m is odd and [m]=(1/2)*m when m is even. What is [9]*[6] equivalent to?
A. [81]
B. [54]
C. [37]
D. [27]
E. [18]

You get 27*3 = 81
If you are very careful and you think of traps, you will see that the question writer wants you to believe that [81] is 81, but that’s the trap!

81 is [27], so the right answer is D and A is the trap.

This question is also a very good question to show you that if you don’t read carefully you will fall for the trap :

A shop purchased a pair of sunglasses for \$120 and was selling it at a price that equaled the purchase price of the sunglasses plus a markup that was 25 percent of the selling price. After some time a shop owner decided to decrease the selling price by 20 percent. What was the shop's gross profit on this sale?
\$0
\$2
\$4
\$6
\$8

Although the calculation is pretty standard, if you don’t see the trap you are sure to get this question wrong.
The question is discussed here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/a-shop-purch ... 39958.html

I hope my post has been helpful and it will help some of you to improve fast!

This is one of the most beautiful posts that I have come across.

Congratulation on your score and thanks for sharing!!
Intern
Joined: 26 Dec 2017
Posts: 31
Schools: LBS MiM '20 (II)
GMAT 1: 700 Q50 V34
Re: How I went from Q27 to Q50  [#permalink]

Show Tags

18 Jul 2018, 20:30
bb wrote:
Congratulations on your great score and thank you for sharing your story and your tips!
Are you moving on to applications? Are you applying in the US or outside of the US?

P.S. Thank you for verifying your score!

Thank you BB !

Yes exactly, I am working on my applications these days. I am not applying for an MBA though, I will go for a MiM in Europe (I am applying to mainly French schools).
Re: How I went from Q27 to Q50 &nbs [#permalink] 18 Jul 2018, 20:30
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