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Improvement Strategies/Suggestions

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Improvement Strategies/Suggestions [#permalink]

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31 Jan 2013, 10:13
Hey guys I need your help. I've taken a couple of MGMAT CAT exams and I can't seem to break through the 600 mark. After taking each exam, I would work through all the questions without looking at the answer explanations and complete each question with a high degree of accuracy. This is a frustrating process. I've completed all of the MG guides and I'm about 65% done with OG 12. Any advice on how to proceed? Thanks
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31 Jan 2013, 21:00
Hi FLProcess, I'd say you probably want to review the answers after you finish each question so that you know whether you did it correctly or not. The danger with not reviewing the answers is that you're prone to making the same mistake over and over if you don't have the theory down. If nothing else, it's a change of pace from what you are doing that could help you break through a couple of sticking points.

You can also adapt this to your needs as you wish, for example doing sets of 3-5 questions and then checking answers. As always, reading why the correct answer and why the incorrect answer is incorrect is more helpful than just checking A-D-B-B-E and calling it a day. Even on the ones you got right, unless it was a slam dunk, it's helpful to review the other choices to identify why they can't be correct.

Hope this helps!
-Ron
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01 Feb 2013, 08:12
Hi Ron, thanks for the response and sorry for the misunderstanding. What I meant to say is that when I rework each of the questions (without looking at the explanations or the answers) during my exam review, I would correctly answer most, if not all, of the exam questions (quant>verbal). Afterwards I would check all of the answers and explanations to make sure I know the most efficient way to solve the questions. I find myself saying during my review process "I knew that" or "how did I miss that simple question." I know that I have 700 level knowledge but I cannot execute it on the exam because of careless mistakes which keeps me bound to 5-600 level questions.
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Re: Improvement Strategies/Suggestions [#permalink]

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01 Feb 2013, 09:32
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This is going to sound a little bit weird, but I'd argue that unless you're not quite human, you'll always make tons of mistakes on GMAT questions. The key is making sure that you catch them before you click "next."

On quant, try switching up the rhythm of your practice to see if you can get rid of the careless errors. Before you start scribbling numbers, read the question twice. Pay special attention to any silly modifiers: if you miss the "x is an integer" or "x is two digits" or some other small nugget of information, you'll probably miss the question.

As you're finishing up your work on the question, take a few seconds to recheck any simple algebra and arithmetic that you did--just make sure that you didn't flub a negative or something silly like that. And then re-read the question twice more before you click "next", and ask yourself this question: "how are they trying to screw me?" If you've done enough practice, you've probably fallen into plenty of traps... and if you take a few seconds to think about it, you'll often be able to identify the trap--even if you just fell into it.

I know that this sounds like you're adding tons of time to each question, but none of this really takes very long. Yes, I'm asking you to read each question four times, but that rarely takes long on real GMAT quant questions (which are generally shorter than MGMAT questions, on average).

And you can't afford NOT to recheck your work. Because of the way the adaptive algorithm works, you get disproportionately punished for missing easy questions, and your #1 goal is to make sure that you don't miss easy stuff. You've probably seen this in your MGMAT tests already, but it doesn't take very many "easy" errors to send your score plummeting, especially if those errors appear early in the section.

On verbal, are you using process of elimination on every single question? If you fall in love with a "right" answer, you'll make plenty of mistakes; if you religiously identify four wrong answers, you'll make far fewer careless errors. I couldn't tell from your post if the careless errors were mostly on quant, or on both sections.

One last thing: when you review your practice tests and homework sets, continue to beat yourself up over the careless errors. You can miss all the hard questions you want on the GMAT (within reason), and still get a great score. You just can't miss the easy ones. So stay focused on your rhythm and accuracy, and you'll probably improve substantially on your CATs.

Good luck!
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Re: Improvement Strategies/Suggestions [#permalink]

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01 Feb 2013, 13:18
GMATNinja wrote:
On quant, try switching up the rhythm of your practice to see if you can get rid of the careless errors. Before you start scribbling numbers, read the question twice. Pay special attention to any silly modifiers: if you miss the "x is an integer" or "x is two digits" or some other small nugget of information, you'll probably miss the question.

As you're finishing up your work on the question, take a few seconds to recheck any simple algebra and arithmetic that you did--just make sure that you didn't flub a negative or something silly like that. And then re-read the question twice more before you click "next", and ask yourself this question: "how are they trying to screw me?" If you've done enough practice, you've probably fallen into plenty of traps... and if you take a few seconds to think about it, you'll often be able to identify the trap--even if you just fell into it.

Awesome! I will implement this strategy while working on OG questions under timed conditions and during future practice CATs. I think this will help. Thanks for caring!
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04 Feb 2013, 10:21
FLProcess wrote:
I find myself saying during my review process "I knew that" or "how did I miss that simple question." I know that I have 700 level knowledge but I cannot execute it on the exam because of careless mistakes which keeps me bound to 5-600 level questions.

Hi FLProcess, okay now I understand what you meant in your initial post. I would tell you that this experience is mimicked by students all over the world studying for the GMAT. There will be some questions for which you don't know how to solve, but by and large most of your errors will likely come from common trap answer choices and incorrectly understanding the question. Essentially providing the right answer to the wrong question.

I agree with the advice GMATNinja mentioned above, and there is no better way to avoid falling into GMAT traps than having fallen into them beforehand during prep. You'll know what to look for and what trap choices are tempting you. When in doubt, I've found that paraphrasing the question often helps avoiding the trap answers because it allows you to completely grasp what the question is asking. When the question says "By what percent does this increase", if you paraphrase it to "How much bigger is it now than it was before" it gives you an extra step to realize that doubling is increasing by 100%, not 200%, even though working through the math yields an answer of 200%. Even if you want to press 200%, rereading the question before submitting might save you some unnecessary agonizing during your review.

If you can avoid the obvious traps that repeat regularly, your score will certainly go up. And then hopefully you can hit that 700 level consistently.
Thanks!
-Ron
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Last edited by VeritasPrepRon on 04 Feb 2013, 11:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Improvement Strategies/Suggestions [#permalink]

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04 Feb 2013, 10:36
Hey thanks Ron! I agree. I can see how paraphrasing can also help with analyzing the question before trying to answer the question.
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14 Feb 2013, 18:40
My Goodness! I was not only able to "crack" the 600 quant level but was also able to battle at the 700 level for most (24 out of 37) of the quant section of the exam. I have a new respect for the exam. Now I just need to work on my verbal skills. Thanks guys!
Re: Improvement Strategies/Suggestions   [#permalink] 14 Feb 2013, 18:40
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