Hi there,

What have you been doing to study so far? Aside from the trouble forgetting math concepts, do you feel you have been making some progress? If so, you should probably take a practice test to get a sense of how you're doing. 720 is a very lofty goal--most people never reach it!--so if you want to hit that score you're going to need to do some very intensive study. Sachin9 is right that you want to be scoring in that range consistently before you take the real test.

To make concepts stick better, you need to find ways to make the stategies more memorable. Start by taking a deeper look at a few topics that need work. Go back through your completed problems and review them thoroughly. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

*What type of problem is this, and how can I tell?

*How did I approach the problem? Did it work well? Why/why not?

*How else might I have approached the problem? (Try out several ways.)

*Is there a quick shortcut on this problem? Could I estimate or narrow down answers in a hurry? Is there a more reliable method?

*What is the optimal way to approach this problem, and how can I tell?

*What kinds of tricks/traps appeared in the problem?

*What does the problem test that I am good at?

*What does the problem test that is challenging for me, and what do I need to do to handle problems like this more effectively?

*(For verbal) Why is *each* answer choice right or wrong?

Once you've had a chance to review some of these problems, try compiling a short set of notes on the topic at hand. This might include key rules or strategies, tips to remember, traps to watch out for, and a few representative problems & solutions.

Now that you are a semi-expert on this topic, try doing some new problems in this area. How did you do? Review again and adjust as needed. Did you spot some of the traps you identified? Did you take too long or make careless errors? If so, could you have benefited from using one of the other techniques you identified in your study?

You can also make rules and strategies more memorable by making sure you understand them on your own terms. For instance, I can memorize that the area of a trapezoid is (b1+b2)/2 * h, or I can recognize that first part as the average of the bases. Once I realize that I'm really just doing base*height, and using an average to produce the base measurement, it's much easier to remember. The same goes for something like the sum of consecutive integers: (first+last)/2 * (last-first +1). It can be easy to mix this up if I don't know the reason for each part. The formula is really just (average)(# of terms), the same as for any other set of numbers. The first part--(first+last)/2--makes sense because in a set of consecutive integers, the average is halfway between the end numbers. The second part--(last-first +1)--makes sense because the number of terms is all of the numbers from the first to the last. Subtracting the first takes out all of the numbers below it, but it also takes out the number itself. We add 1 back in to make up for that problem. You may or may not have needed this explanation, but the point is that I will never forget these formulas not just because I teach them, but because they make sense to me. If the reasoning behind a rule or strategy does not make sense to you, you have two problems. First, the concept is hard to remember. (This isn't like cramming for a course final--you need to remember this stuff long-term!) Second, without an understanding of the underlying concept, you won't be able to apply the concept flexibly. For instance, what if I'm asked for the sum of consecutive multiples of 7? How do I adjust my formula?

Anyway, you need to make sure you are mastering these concepts a few at a time, and then continue to keep your skills up with mixed practice, including regular CAT exams. While you're still in heavy study mode, you probably want to limit your CAT exams, using them as check-ins and then reviewing very thoroughly. If you are using Manhattan CATs, you can also generate CAT reports to identify focus areas for further studies. As your test date approaches, you may want to ramp up your test schedule to one exam/week. Always take full exams, with precise timing, 8-minute breaks, and all sections, including essay and IR.

Also, make sure your timing is impeccable. If you are running out of time on the exam, address that first, and don't take another practice test until you are consistently able to work through a set of practice problems with good timing--for instance, 8 quant problems in 16 minutes. This may require you to drop the occasional problem that isn't working out--this is an important part of a successful test strategy. Know when to let go!

I hope this helps. If you provide some more specifics, I may be able to give more detailed guidance.

_________________

Dmitry Farber | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | New York

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