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Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs

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Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2017, 03:10
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Hi guys,


First off, this is my second attempt, and I am aiming for a Q 47.
in my first real attempt, I got a Q 44, and in my mocks so far I have scored a Q 44 and Q 46 - both as per the original test taking order. (which I plan to reverse on D-Day)

With my current level of preparation, I am able to solve 55% to 75% (as per GMAT club) difficulty questions across topics but end up taking almost 3 to 3.5 minutes or so. I am in a bit of a dilemma on a good quant timing strategy. While I know the first 10 questions are important, the time taken to solve some of the questions increases exponentially after the first 4 to 5 sums and majorly affects my timing for the rest of the exam, and I end up rushing through the last 8 to 10 qs. Not only this, I don't always get all the questions correct after the first 5

Does anybody have any advice on the best way forward?

A - should I keep at it and try to solve all 10 in around 30 minutes time?
B - dedicate more time to the first 5 to 6 - around 3 mins each, and attempt the rest in the stipulated 2 minutes
C - strictly stick to 2 mins per questions, even for the first 10 qs
D - Any other suggestions from someone who is also aiming at a similar score
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2017, 03:40
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ameyaprabhu wrote:
Hi guys,


First off, this is my second attempt, and I am aiming for a Q 47.
in my first real attempt, I got a Q 44, and in my mocks so far I have scored a Q 44 and Q 46 - both as per the original test taking order. (which I plan to reverse on D-Day)

With my current level of preparation, I am able to solve 55% to 75% (as per GMAT club) difficulty questions across topics but end up taking almost 3 to 3.5 minutes or so. I am in a bit of a dilemma on a good quant timing strategy. While I know the first 10 questions are important, the time taken to solve some of the questions increases exponentially after the first 4 to 5 sums and majorly affects my timing for the rest of the exam, and I end up rushing through the last 8 to 10 qs. Not only this, I don't always get all the questions correct after the first 5

Does anybody have any advice on the best way forward?

A - should I keep at it and try to solve all 10 in around 30 minutes time?
B - dedicate more time to the first 5 to 6 - around 3 mins each, and attempt the rest in the stipulated 2 minutes
C - strictly stick to 2 mins per questions, even for the first 10 qs
D - Any other suggestions from someone who is also aiming at a similar score


Check the links below:

Strategies and Tactics To Increase Your Score




Strategies and Tactics To Speedd-Up



Hope it helps.
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2017, 05:09
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There's long been some bad advice floating around GMAT prep circles about the importance of spending time on the first ten questions. What matters is not where a question appears in the test - what matters is how hard or easy the question is. You don't want mistakes on easier questions, because those hurt you a lot. Mistakes on hard questions don't hurt you much - in fact, if you're aiming for a Q47, you're not supposed to get your Q50-level questions right (if you could do that, you'd be a Q50 level test taker!). In fact, if you are encountering questions that are so hard you need to guess at them, you should take that as a good sign, not a bad sign - it usually means you've done well on all the easy and medium questions, and the test thinks you're a very high level test taker.

The only reason the early questions can be more important is that the earliest questions are more likely to be easy than later ones, if you're an above-average test taker. But the test can actually start at quite a hard level sometimes, and if you do well on the first couple of questions, you can get to hard questions quickly. When deciding whether to invest time in a question, you should not be basing that decision on where you are in the test. You should base that decision on whether investing further time will lead you to a good answer. So no matter where you are in the test, about a minute into each question you should be asking "if I spend more time on this, will I get an answer?". If so, spend the time, even if it's going to take three or three and a half minutes. But if you don't see a path to a solution, nor a useful fallback strategy (e.g. estimation to rule out bad answers), take a guess and move on -- if you can't solve the problem, it's almost certainly a hard problem, and you're not hurting yourself much by guessing. You'd be hurting yourself more by consuming a further 2+ minutes, since that will obligate you to guess at a random question somewhere else, a question you could probably answer.

So this is what I'd suggest: take a realistic diagnostic test (only GMATPrep is realistic) where you use a new pacing strategy. Forget about "the first ten questions" and instead invest time where time will be useful, and save time where spending time will not obviously be useful. Be sure to be disciplined about making those decisions - it's easy to get stubborn about questions, since most GMAT questions look solvable at first glance. If you do that on a realistic diagnostic test, your score will tell you if this pacing strategy is better or worse than the strategy you've been using until now.

Good luck!
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2017, 05:27
IanStewart wrote:
There's long been some bad advice floating around GMAT prep circles about the importance of spending time on the first ten questions. What matters is not where a question appears in the test - what matters is how hard or easy the question is. You don't want mistakes on easier questions, because those hurt you a lot. Mistakes on hard questions don't hurt you much - in fact, if you're aiming for a Q47, you're not supposed to get your Q50-level questions right (if you could do that, you'd be a Q50 level test taker!). In fact,......

Good luck!


Thank you so much. I shall try this strategy on my next test :)
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jul 2017, 05:28
IanStewart wrote:
There's long been some bad advice floating around GMAT prep circles about the importance of spending time on the first ten questions. What matters is not where a question appears in the test - what matters is how hard or easy the question is. You don't want mistakes on easier questions, because those hurt you a lot. Mistakes on hard questions don't hurt you much - in fact, if you're aiming for a Q47, you're not supposed to get your Q50-level questions right (if you could do that, you'd be a Q50 level test taker!). In fact, if you are encountering questions that are so hard you need to guess at them, you should take that as a good sign, not a bad sign - it usually means you've done well on all the easy and medium questions, and the test thinks you're a very high level test taker.

The only reason the early questions can be more important is that the earliest questions are more likely to be easy than later ones, if you're an above-average test taker. But the test can actually start at quite a hard level sometimes, and if you do well on the first couple of questions, you can get to hard questions quickly. When deciding whether to invest time in a question, you should not be basing that decision on where you are in the test. You should base that decision on whether investing further time will lead you to a good answer. So no matter where you are in the test, about a minute into each question you should be asking "if I spend more time on this, will I get an answer?". If so, spend the time, even if it's going to take three or three and a half minutes. But if you don't see a path to a solution, nor a useful fallback strategy (e.g. estimation to rule out bad answers), take a guess and move on -- if you can't solve the problem, it's almost certainly a hard problem, and you're not hurting yourself much by guessing. You'd be hurting yourself more by consuming a further 2+ minutes, since that will obligate you to guess at a random question somewhere else, a question you could probably answer.

So this is what I'd suggest: take a realistic diagnostic test (only GMATPrep is realistic) where you use a new pacing strategy. Forget about "the first ten questions" and instead invest time where time will be useful, and save time where spending time will not obviously be useful. Be sure to be disciplined about making those decisions - it's easy to get stubborn about questions, since most GMAT questions look solvable at first glance. If you do that on a realistic diagnostic test, your score will tell you if this pacing strategy is better or worse than the strategy you've been using until now.

Good luck!



Thank you very much.I very much agree with your analysis.
I think that many online test prep companies have floated this myth of doing very well on the first ten questions.
May be it were true long time ago when algorithms and analytics were still catching up with human ingenuity.
I think that we must not base our preparations on guessing how the algorithm works .This strategy is futile as it leads to wastage of precious time in first few questions.

Thanks again.
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2017, 23:45
IanStewart wrote:
There's long been some bad advice floating around GMAT prep circles about the importance of spending time on the first ten questions. What matters is not where a question appears in the test - what matters is how hard or easy the question is. You don't want mistakes on easier questions, because those hurt you a lot. Mistakes on hard questions don't hurt you much - in fact, if you're aiming for a Q47, you're not supposed to get your Q50-level questions right (if you could do that, you'd be a Q50 level test taker!). In fact, if you are encountering questions that are so hard you need to guess......

Good luck!


IanStewart, Thanks for the tip. I just gave my GMAT Prep mock yesterday and investing more time on questions I was confident of answering correctly, rather than on the 1st and last 10 questions, really helped my overall score. In quant I got 14 incorrect answers, which included 8 questions from the 1st and last 10 set (questions 1, 4, 5, 6, 30, 25, 36, 37). In spite of this I managed a Q47.

Just hope that this isn't an anomaly :p
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jul 2017, 00:02
I needed some advice on one more thing.

My exam date is the 31st of this month.
So far I have given 3 mock CATs, all 3 GMAT Prep software mocks.

Exam 1, a month ago, - Q 44, V 32, total 630
Exam 2, 2 weeks ago, - Q 45, V 35, total 660
Exam 3, yesterday, - - Q 47, V 39, total 700

Now that I have 3 weeks left, how many more mocks do you think I should take?
I have 1 exam from the official pack left. Though I am ok with taking mocks from other sources, like MGMAT, Veritas, or Kaplan, as per my past experience, I am usually left demotivated with these scores as they tend to be at least 30-40 points lower than my G-Prep scores.
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Re: Need help with quant timing strategy to attempt first 10 qs  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jul 2017, 07:16
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Excellent advice from IanStewart. I have been saying the same thing for years but this myth is not dying.

The key in GMAT is to let go questions that are far above one's ability and at the same time making sure that you get all of the questions at or below your ability correct. Of course, doing this in practice is difficult. We all get tempted to wrestle with the difficult questions at the detriment of our pacing. That is why it is important to let go the hard questions, especially on topics that you are not very comfortable with. And this where practice is important, if one practices with enough official GMAT questions it is easy to get a sense of what is easy and what is difficult.

Also, the first 10 questions are used to get an initial estimate of a test taker's ability, and the software subsequently has to confirm that the initial estimate was correct. If one somehow does well on the first ten questions by spending extra time(a common situation), then they will have to continue to perform at that level otherwise the estimate of one's score would be adjusted accordingly(a very common situation). It is best to maintain an even pacing, and be ready to let go a hard question if your overall timing is significantly off from the average.

ameyaprabhu
You have two other options, neither of them are ideal, but that is what I recommend my students. You could use the three diagnostic tests in GMATFocus from mba.com or create mock tests from the GMATPrep Question Pack 1. I detail how to do that in this post I made earlier: https://gmatclub.com/forum/which-cat-ot ... l#p1364405

Neither one of these are equivalent to an official full length GMAT test, but at this stage you have only one of them left so this is the best course in my opinion.

Cheers,
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