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Question(s) on break habits

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Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 09:23
Hi fellow GMATers!
I have a question which may seem personal, but I think there might universal agreement on the answer to a certain extent.

Basically, how much studying is too much studying?

If it matters on the score you want to reach and the timeframe given, let's say, trying to get from 570 to 700 in two months, and Quant's the chief obstacle (Q30, V40).

I'm asking this because, even though I've grown a little fond of practicing Math on a daily basis, I feel like perhaps too much hammering on a topic gets to be counterproductive and stress-inducing. Of course you have to work hard, but when do you know when perhaps you ought to take a chill-pill and breathe?

How does 4hrs a day sound, with Sunday off?

I've read on here various schedules, and ways of going about it, most of which sound pretty efficient, but how often and how long should breaks should be, generally speaking?

Of course, any and all responses are kindly appreciated to what it seems now I have more than one question on. Or if this question's been well addressed already somewhere, please point me in the right direction.

Thanks guys, and best of luck in all you do!

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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 10:31
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Hi Lufray,

To start, it's important to remember that 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. To score at a much higher level in the Quant section, you need to become more of a 'strategist' and less of a 'mathematician.' On many Quant questions, the "technical math approach" requires more work (and takes longer) than a more strategic option - and since GMAT questions are often designed so that they can be solved in more than one way, you have to be careful about making that task more difficult than it needs to be.

For many GMATers, the optimal study 'block' is 1-2 hours at a time. Of course, you can study more than that in a day, but you should plan your breaks to occur so that you can give yourself time to rest a bit. For example, you might do 1.5 hours of Quant, then take a 20-30 minute break and then do 2 hours of Verbal. You might also find it more effective to study earlier in the day (when you are 'fresh') as opposed to later on in the day (when you might be a bit tired). Taking a day 'off' from your studies each week is also a good idea.

Before I can offer you any additional advice, 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) What study materials have you used so far?
3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
4) What is your goal score?
5) When are you planning to take the GMAT?
6) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
7) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 12:07
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Hey Lufray,

On a daily basis, I'd argue breaks should come when you're noticing yourself making the same mistakes over and over again. If you're noticing that happening, take some time to review your mistakes and then take a walk, take a nap, or go exercise. Then come back to those mistakes after your short break. You might not have any new insights, but coming back to them with fresh eyes can help it 'stick'.

In terms of your specific question - about taking a day off - a lot of business research has been done on the importance of taking vacations and taking weekends off. Giving your brain the mental break can help you be more productive on the days that you are studying and can help prevent burnout. (That said, make sure that you are sticking to your schedule as well as you can on the other days.)

One other thing to keep in mind as you're thinking about how and when you're spending your time is to never mistake activity for achievement. If you aren't taking the time really examine your mistakes and make changes to how you approach problems, then the amount of time you're spending may just ingrain bad habits rather than help you improve. As you're going forward, it may help to focus less on the amount of time you're studying and more on what your inputs are getting you. What's your goal for doing math problems each day? Are you looking to improve timing? Are you looking to work on recognizing how to approach each problem? A particular bit of content that's giving you trouble? Set a goal each day for the aspect of your GMAT Quant performance that you want to improve and make your practice meaningful.
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New post 27 Aug 2018, 17:21
Hi,
First, thanks to the both of you for replying in the way that you guys did. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

So, since some extra advice would only do me good, and you're kindly willing to give it, I'll let you know: I've been studying for about 2 months and a half, net. I actually took the GMAT this last Saturday, the 25th of August, and ended up with a 570 (Q31, V37). These results were clearly not what I had in mind, especially since a little more than a week before on a GMAT Prep mock test, I had gotten a 630 (Q35, V41). I knew I hadn't mastered probability and combinatorics, but I didn't think that I'd end up where I did. I suppose my nerves got to me on test day. Oh well, I said, I'll retake it, no worries; the thing is, though, I have to go back to the drawing board to revise and revamp my studying habits. Hence, in order to pinpoint my errors, a great deal of self-reflection, looking up at the ceiling fan, and this post.

My study materials had been up to test day Magoosh, the Kaplan Math Workbook, the OG, the OG Quant Review, the OG Verbal Review, and the free GMAT Prep stuff online, without taking much, if at all, advantage of GMATClub.

I've come to conclude, after reading here on GMATClub several debriefs, reviews, tips, tales, and the like, that my chief fault was simply not mastering the fundamentals, and for that reason lacking strategies, so that, for instance, a DS question like "is X a positive integer?" would consistently take me too long. (I ended up guessing on the last four or five questions on the actual GMAT.) My troubles in Verbal pretty much begin and end with CR, with, admittedly, a lack of scanning in SC, by the way.

I've answered dozens and dozens of OG questions, but I haven't really improved as much as I could and should have. I suppose I did what LauraOrion said to keep in mind, I mistook a great deal of activity for a great deal of improvement. I did not study efficiently, or in other words, progressively.

That being said, my goals are three schools in the state of Texas: Rice, UT McCombs, Uni of Houston Bauer. A 700 score would satisfy my needs. I'd like to take the test at the end of October, but if I need to keep at it a little more, I'd take the GMAT in November.

I think I'll get the Manhattan books, and work my way up, starting with the fundamentals, and making sure I truly master them. What you've said, about the studying blocks, and taking a day off, has been duly noted. Indeed, I don't know why I didn't ask this sooner.

Again, thank you for your two cents; I look forward to reading all you have to say, and best wishes.
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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 18:56
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Hi Lufray,

Many Test Takers who use a 'book heavy' study approach end up getting 'stuck' at a particular score level; from what you describe, your studies appear to have been book heavy so far, so it's possible that this has happened to you as well. Even the best books are limited in what they can teach you; they also can't force you to approach questions in a certain way and their explanations are often one-sided. This is meant to say that you might need to invest in some new, non-book resources to hit your Score Goal.

1) In your prior post, you mentioned one CAT Score, but how have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
2) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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New post 28 Aug 2018, 16:50
Ok, the two of them are as follows,EMPOWERgmatRichC :

Manhattan Prep CAT: 620 (Q39, V35) - 8/12/18
GMAT Prep (mentioned above): 630 (Q35, V41) - 8 /19/18
Actual GMAT (mentioned above): 570 (Q31, V37) - 8/25/18

And as to your second question, about 16 hours each week.
I agree: I believe up to a certain point I did struggle to progress.
Again, thank you.
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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2018, 09:06
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Lufray wrote:
Hi,
First, thanks to the both of you for replying in the way that you guys did. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

So, since some extra advice would only do me good, and you're kindly willing to give it, I'll let you know: I've been studying for about 2 months and a half, net. I actually took the GMAT this last Saturday, the 25th of August, and ended up with a 570 (Q31, V37). These results were clearly not what I had in mind, especially since a little more than a week before on a GMAT Prep mock test, I had gotten a 630 (Q35, V41). I knew I hadn't mastered probability and combinatorics, but I didn't think that I'd end up where I did. I suppose my nerves got to me on test day. Oh well, I said, I'll retake it, no worries; the thing is, though, I have to go back to the drawing board to revise and revamp my studying habits. Hence, in order to pinpoint my errors, a great deal of self-reflection, looking up at the ceiling fan, and this post.

My study materials had been up to test day Magoosh, the Kaplan Math Workbook, the OG, the OG Quant Review, the OG Verbal Review, and the free GMAT Prep stuff online, without taking much, if at all, advantage of GMATClub.

I've come to conclude, after reading here on GMATClub several debriefs, reviews, tips, tales, and the like, that my chief fault was simply not mastering the fundamentals, and for that reason lacking strategies, so that, for instance, a DS question like "is X a positive integer?" would consistently take me too long. (I ended up guessing on the last four or five questions on the actual GMAT.) My troubles in Verbal pretty much begin and end with CR, with, admittedly, a lack of scanning in SC, by the way.

I've answered dozens and dozens of OG questions, but I haven't really improved as much as I could and should have. I suppose I did what LauraOrion said to keep in mind, I mistook a great deal of activity for a great deal of improvement. I did not study efficiently, or in other words, progressively.

That being said, my goals are three schools in the state of Texas: Rice, UT McCombs, Uni of Houston Bauer. A 700 score would satisfy my needs. I'd like to take the test at the end of October, but if I need to keep at it a little more, I'd take the GMAT in November.

I think I'll get the Manhattan books, and work my way up, starting with the fundamentals, and making sure I truly master them. What you've said, about the studying blocks, and taking a day off, has been duly noted. Indeed, I don't know why I didn't ask this sooner.

Again, thank you for your two cents; I look forward to reading all you have to say, and best wishes.


Hi, you can have trials of courses you are narrowed down to.
About verbal, you may please my similar reply here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/sentence-cor ... l#p2121322

Hope this helps.
Thanks
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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2018, 18:51
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Hi Lufray,

Raising a 570 to a 700+ will likely require at least another 2-3 months of consistent, guided study. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level.

Based on the two CAT Scores and Official Score that you listed, the 'swings' in your Quant and Verbal Scaled scores imply that you might be 'winging it' a bit when you take your Exams. Instead of using consistent Tactics/approaches, you might be 'seeing' each questions as its own item - instead of thinking in terms of how a question reminds you of similar questions that you already answered (and how you answered those questions). To get to the level at which you would consistently score 700+, you have to train to take advantage of how the Test is designed (and learn to spot the built-in patterns in GMAT questions so that you can pick up all of the missing points that you're after).

From your original post, you're clearly thinking about the bigger-picture aspects of how to make your studying more efficient - which is good. You might also think in terms of adopting a more formal Study Plan.

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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2018, 19:42
EMPOWERgmatRichC
That's pretty dead on: pretty much what I was beginning to see for myself, and anticipating to read.
All the above's been duly noted, as well as what the others have said.
My original questions have been beyond answered: I'll definitely reach out directly, if need be.
Thanks, and, again, best of wishes.
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Re: Question(s) on break habits  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Aug 2018, 16:38
Hi Lufray,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. First off, 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, is plenty of study time. Regarding breaks, the best thing you can do is trust your body. If you are 3 hours into a study session and starting to feel burned out, then take a break, right?

Regarding your study plan, since you scored a Q31/V37, you probably lack the GMAT quant and verbal foundational skills you need to improve your score. I’m happy to see that you are moving forward with a more linear and thorough study plan, and I’m happy to provide some advice on structuring that plan.

Let’s say you are learning about Number Properties. You should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant skills.

Each time you strengthen your understanding of a topic and your skill in answering questions of a particular type, you increase your odds of hitting your score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in two minutes or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

You can work on verbal in a similar manner. Let’s say you are reviewing Critical Reasoning. Be sure that you practice a large number of Critical Reasoning questions: Strengthen and Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, find the Conclusion, Must be True, etc. As you go through the questions, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get correct. If you missed a Weaken question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize what the question was asking? Did you skip over a key detail in an answer choice? Getting GMAT verbal questions right is a matter of what you know, what you see, and what you do. So, any time that you don't get one right, you can seek to identify what you would have had to know in order to get the right answer, what you had to see that you didn't see, and what you could have done differently to arrive at the correct answer.

So, work on accuracy and generally finding correct answers, work on specific weaker areas one by one to make them strong areas, and when you take a practice GMAT or the real thing, take all the time per question available to do your absolute best to get right answers consistently. The GMAT is essentially a game of seeing how many right answers you can get in the time allotted. Approach the test with that conception in mind, and focus intently on the question in front of you with one goal in mind: getting a CORRECT answer.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some new verbal and quant materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Question(s) on break habits &nbs [#permalink] 30 Aug 2018, 16:38
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