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Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT

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Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 04:12
Hey there,

I am going to take the GMAT in fall this year, but I have tried solving various GMAT questions from time to time to get a feeling for it. When I took a full GMAT test once, I could merely score 300, which obviously is quite embarrassing given that my aim is to score +700. I even didn't understand why I scored so low. I am in the top 2% of my class at university, have completed investment banking internships with major banks and wouldn't call myself stupid. Despite that, I couldn't grasp the GMAT quant question at all. When I did some reading in GMAT prep materials on concepts like 'Greatest Common Divisor', my understanding didn't expand either.

However, yesterday I watched a documentary on algorithms on Netflix and watched 5min of the beginning, which dealt with Euclid's algorithm in determining the GCD/GCF. The documentary did well in presenting the concept visually and I think this really made me click on the concept.

Today, I tried some GMAT questions on GCD/GCF and I could easily solve even marked hard questions within a matter of seconds by just relying on the visual concept from the show and without any formulas whatsoever. Looking at the solution suggested by high ranking members, I sometimes felt they were too complicated and didn't even understand their way of solving for the question though.

I simply don't understand why I have such a hardship studying with the official GMAT prep and their explanations when watching an explanation of a concept for a couple of minutes suddenly enlightens me much more.

I would appreciate if somebody could give me some tips for studying for GMAT!
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Re: Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 08:28
Hi ecobiz.

GMAT quant questions are designed to be answered in various ways, from using formal algebra to picking numbers or testing the answer choices. Overall, what these questions are designed to test, in addition to a test-taker's facility with math, are vision, execution skills, and skill in using resources to arrive at solutions.

Accordingly, different test-takers with different styles will arrive at the answers to quant questions in different ways. Some test-takers, such as people who have been focused on developing their math skills for much of their lives, prefer to use algebra, formulas, or other relatively math heavy approaches in answering the questions. Others prefer to use simple hacks that get them to the answers without much math.

Some GMAT preparation materials focus on the former type of approach. Others focus on the latter. While, clearly, you could learn to use any type of approach, your quickest path to attaining your GMAT score goal is to use the type of approach that is most comfortable for you, as long as that approach is consistently effective.

That said, it could be that the materials you have been using do not explain the approaches in a way that makes them clear for someone who does not already have a certain level of understanding of the concepts. So, you might be better off using different materials.

In any case, preparing for the GMAT is usually a fairly significant endeavor, and what you are experiencing is just another part of the process of finding your way to GMAT success. So, my suggestion is that you assume that you can hit your score goal and continue to look for approaches to doing so that work for you.

For some ideas on how to increase your GMAT quant score, you could read the following post. How To Increase Your GMAT Quant Score
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Re: Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 08:44
ecobiz wrote:
Hey there,

I am going to take the GMAT in fall this year, but I have tried solving various GMAT questions from time to time to get a feeling for it. When I took a full GMAT test once, I could merely score 300, which obviously is quite embarrassing given that my aim is to score +700. I even didn't understand why I scored so low. I am in the top 2% of my class at university, have completed investment banking internships with major banks and wouldn't call myself stupid. Despite that, I couldn't grasp the GMAT quant question at all. When I did some reading in GMAT prep materials on concepts like 'Greatest Common Divisor', my understanding didn't expand either.

However, yesterday I watched a documentary on algorithms on Netflix and watched 5min of the beginning, which dealt with Euclid's algorithm in determining the GCD/GCF. The documentary did well in presenting the concept visually and I think this really made me click on the concept.

Today, I tried some GMAT questions on GCD/GCF and I could easily solve even marked hard questions within a matter of seconds by just relying on the visual concept from the show and without any formulas whatsoever. Looking at the solution suggested by high ranking members, I sometimes felt they were too complicated and didn't even understand their way of solving for the question though.

I simply don't understand why I have such a hardship studying with the official GMAT prep and their explanations when watching an explanation of a concept for a couple of minutes suddenly enlightens me much more.

I would appreciate if somebody could give me some tips for studying for GMAT!


The trick to mastering GMAT concepts is to follow an organized study plan and supplement it with regular practice. Reviewing and analyzing is imperative and thus I believe it is better for a person to practice x questions twice than to solve 2x questions once.

I tried TTP's free trial (5 days) and absolutely loved it! It is well designed with an abundance of practice material. The only problem for me was that it was way over my budget, so I chose not to get the full course. There are many other great online courses too but I felt that TTP was the right quant course for me. Of course, opinions will differ, so I would suggest you check them all out before finalizing on one.

Best wishes!:)
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Re: Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 09:37
Hi ecobiz,

What study materials did you use in your prep?
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Re: Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 10:52
What study materials did you use in your prep?[/quote]

I have the entire Manhattan Prep kit and the GMAC books.

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Re: Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2019, 14:52
Hi ecobiz,

Most GMAT questions are designed so that they can be solved in more than one way. In simple terms, the prompts are designed around specific patterns. From what you describe, you've come to recognize a particular pattern about GCD/GCF and you can use that knowledge to answer those questions relatively quickly - and that's fantastic. All things being equal, you'll come to find the the 'math' approach to most Quant questions actually takes the longest amount of time and the most work - and that's because the Quant section of the GMAT is NOT a 'math test' (it's a 'critical thinking test' that requires lots of little calculations as you work through it). As you continue to study, you should look to develop multiple skills, so that you can ultimately choose which way you want to approach the questions. Beyond that, having those skills should help you to become an efficient Test-Taker overall and maximize your score on the GMAT.

Before I can offer any additional advice for your studies, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
2) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs/mocks (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)? How long ago did you take that initial CAT?

Goals:
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: Other ways of understanding key math concepts for GMAT   [#permalink] 17 Feb 2019, 14:52
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