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When to give up on a question and move on?

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When to give up on a question and move on? [#permalink]

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So I have a pretty good GMAT strategy I took from a GMATPrepNow video. Essentially it has you check your time every 5 questions and if you're off your target by more than 2 minutes, burn one of the next 5 questions. Pretty straightforward and I've been using it to good results.

What I can't figure out is when to decide to give up on a question. If a question is giving me a lot of trouble and I can't figure out how to do it, when do I move on? I don't want to spend the whole 75 minutes on one question obviously. What about if I don't know how to do it but it seems like it's on the tip of my tongue? What if I know how to do it but it involves a lengthy calculation (and I can't think of a shorter way to do it)?

I'm really just trying to figure out this one last piece of the timing puzzle I don't have figured out yet (and which has been hurting my scores).

Edit: Sorry for the double posting, I don't know how to delete the other one.

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When to give up on a question and move on? [#permalink]

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If the question is "how long should I spend on a question if I'm 100% sure I will get the right answer", the answer is "quite a long time". It's actually worth spending at least 3.5 minutes on a question if you absolutely know you'll get the question right. I can explain why that's true - the algorithm is designed so that you answer questions at your level correctly 60% of the time. So, say after spending 1.5 minutes on a question, you can see you'll get the answer in 3.5 minutes total. You're then getting 1 right answer. Then if you guess randomly at the next question, you'll get that right 20% of the time, for a total of 1.2 right answers on those two questions, with about 4 minutes invested. But if after 1.5 minutes on a question, you're down to (and this would be the best case) 50-50, and you decide to guess and move on, then you are only getting 0.5 right answers on that question, and then with a full 2 minutes for the next question you still can only expect to get 0.6 right answers, for a total of 1.1 right answers. So that doesn't work out as well as the first case.

Of course the scoring isn't strictly based on the number of questions you answer correctly, but when you account for how the algorithm adapts, it's even better to get the question in front of you right - that usually means the next question will be harder, and the harder the question, the less harmful it will be to your score if you get the question wrong (or if you guess at it).

But in practice, it's rarely true that you can be completely sure you'll get to a right answer if you invest more time. Most of the time, in GMAT math, if you can't see a path to the answer in the first minute or so, you're missing something, and it's hard to guess how long it will be before you 'see it' - it could take all day. So if you don't have a clear path to a solution after a minute of thought, you almost always should commit to moving on quickly. Evaluate any fallback strategies you might use (picking numbers, backsolving, estimation) and those might at least help you guess well, but save your time for other questions where investing time will clearly be valuable. It is true that most questions will appear manageable on the GMAT if you're well-prepared, but don't be misled - a lot of questions are much trickier than they look. If you think, on a geometry question, "I must be able to solve this, it's just a triangle" but you aren't getting anywhere after a minute, it's probably a much harder question than it seems. Those aren't questions you should be persisting with, or you'll find you don't have time to answer questions you could easily solve later in the test.

Making good decisions about where to invest time is a skill you develop with practice, so use realistic practice tests (GMATPrep tests) to practice pacing strategy, and to develop the discipline to move on from questions where you're not getting an answer. You can then confirm from your score that your pacing strategy is improving your results.
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Re: When to give up on a question and move on? [#permalink]

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New post 12 Aug 2017, 15:36
This was really good advice, thank you. In regard to what you mentioned about moving on quickly from questions I can't see a clear path from after a minute, how am I supposed to know when a minute has passed by? As it is now I am only checking my time after every 5 questions. Should I glance at the time at the start of each question? Or is it just something I get a feel for after a while? I think I sometimes get in the habit of being so focused on the question that I don't realize how much time has gone by.

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Re: When to give up on a question and move on? [#permalink]

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New post 12 Aug 2017, 15:57
You definitely want to get a 'feel' for how much time is elapsing when you're practicing. You don't want to create pacing issues for yourself only because you're spending too much time checking the clock! If you've reviewed all the content, then do practice problems with a stopwatch, and confirm you can tell when you've spent a minute and two minutes on a problem. And that 'one minute' is just a guideline - it depends on the problem. You should give yourself a chance to absorb the information in the question, and then evaluate solution methods, and then decide if you'll get an answer. On long word problems, that might take longer than a minute, and on simple-looking problems (which are often harder than they look), that might take less.
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How long is too long on 700-800 level Q? [#permalink]

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New post 13 Sep 2017, 23:20
Working through the OG2017 via the MGMAT software. The "devilish" questions (700-800 level) are hard but I can usually manage to get about 70% of them correct. That being said I need to slow my pace significantly. On average between 3:00 and 4:00 minutes. Does anyone have suggestions for cutting off a question. What kind of timing do you guys use in your head so that you know when to cut your losses and eliminate some answers and just guess and move on?

I usually can solve the 300-500 level questions in under 1:00
I usually take sub 1:40 on the 600-700 level questions (sometimes I might take 2:00 - 2:15 if I need to test cases)

My highest quant score to date is Q48 and I am pushing for Q50. I am basically down to battling the timer and just trying to allocate enough time to the monster questions so I can secure a Q49-Q50

Thanks guys.

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How long is too long on 700-800 level Q? [#permalink]

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New post 13 Sep 2017, 23:37
ghostman6060 wrote:
Working through the OG2017 via the MGMAT software. The "devilish" questions (700-800 level) are hard but I can usually manage to get about 70% of them correct. That being said I need to slow my pace significantly. On average between 3:00 and 4:00 minutes. Does anyone have suggestions for cutting off a question. What kind of timing do you guys use in your head so that you know when to cut your losses and eliminate some answers and just guess and move on?

I usually can solve the 300-500 level questions in under 1:00
I usually take sub 1:40 on the 600-700 level questions (sometimes I might take 2:00 - 2:15 if I need to test cases)

My highest quant score to date is Q48 and I am pushing for Q50. I am basically down to battling the timer and just trying to allocate enough time to the monster questions so I can secure a Q49-Q50

Thanks guys.


Check IanStewart responses here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/when-to-give ... 46887.html
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Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


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Re: How long is too long on 700-800 level Q? [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2017, 00:49
ghostman6060 wrote:
Working through the OG2017 via the MGMAT software. The "devilish" questions (700-800 level) are hard but I can usually manage to get about 70% of them correct. That being said I need to slow my pace significantly. On average between 3:00 and 4:00 minutes. Does anyone have suggestions for cutting off a question. What kind of timing do you guys use in your head so that you know when to cut your losses and eliminate some answers and just guess and move on?

I usually can solve the 300-500 level questions in under 1:00
I usually take sub 1:40 on the 600-700 level questions (sometimes I might take 2:00 - 2:15 if I need to test cases)

My highest quant score to date is Q48 and I am pushing for Q50. I am basically down to battling the timer and just trying to allocate enough time to the monster questions so I can secure a Q49-Q50

Thanks guys.


Here is a great post from our blog on when to guess and move on:
https://www.veritasprep.com/blog/2010/1 ... for-field/
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Re: How long is too long on 700-800 level Q? [#permalink]

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New post 19 Sep 2017, 17:24
ghostman6060 wrote:
Working through the OG2017 via the MGMAT software. The "devilish" questions (700-800 level) are hard but I can usually manage to get about 70% of them correct. That being said I need to slow my pace significantly. On average between 3:00 and 4:00 minutes. Does anyone have suggestions for cutting off a question. What kind of timing do you guys use in your head so that you know when to cut your losses and eliminate some answers and just guess and move on?

I usually can solve the 300-500 level questions in under 1:00
I usually take sub 1:40 on the 600-700 level questions (sometimes I might take 2:00 - 2:15 if I need to test cases)

My highest quant score to date is Q48 and I am pushing for Q50. I am basically down to battling the timer and just trying to allocate enough time to the monster questions so I can secure a Q49-Q50

Thanks guys.


- How much time you can 'safely' spend on a problem depends on a number of factors. Are you already ahead on time, or have you fallen behind? Is it a type of problem that you almost always get right, or is it a type of problem that you usually get wrong even when you spend more time? (If you don't know what those categories look like, I'd recommend doing a deep dive into one of your practice tests and figuring it out.)

- On test day, it's almost never a good idea to spend more than 3:00 on a Quant problem, unless you're already well ahead on time. (And you shouldn't be well ahead on time unless you've somehow gotten all of the problems right up until that point! It's better to stay right on time, or slightly ahead, throughout the test.)

- If a Quant problem takes you 4:00 to get right, then it's way above your current ability level. Your ability level will increase with practice, but you shouldn't focus on the very hardest/longest problems. Instead, think in terms of 'pushing your score up from below' - focus on the problems that are at your level or just a bit hard/slow, then move your way up to the harder questions gradually. That will make sure you're always focusing on questions that will give you the best possible payoff on test day.

- The number of questions you get right or wrong doesn't factor into your final score. See this for details: https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog ... mat-quant/
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Problem solving test taking strategy [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2017, 22:24
Hello everyone!

Through this post, I would like to ask all the test takers the following:

*When a question comes which one feels can be done but it would take significant time to solve it, what should one do? Should such a question be skipped? Because I have noticed that many times I miss out on quite easy questions towards the end due to lack of time!

Looking forward to your replies!

Best,
Arjun

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Re: When to give up on a question and move on? [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2017, 23:06
arjun51 wrote:
Hello everyone!

Through this post, I would like to ask all the test takers the following:

*When a question comes which one feels can be done but it would take significant time to solve it, what should one do? Should such a question be skipped? Because I have noticed that many times I miss out on quite easy questions towards the end due to lack of time!

Looking forward to your replies!

Best,
Arjun


Merging topics. Please check above discussion.

Hope it helps.
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New to the Math Forum?
Please read this: Ultimate GMAT Quantitative Megathread | All You Need for Quant | PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW: 12 Rules for Posting!!!

Resources:
GMAT Math Book | Triangles | Polygons | Coordinate Geometry | Factorials | Circles | Number Theory | Remainders; 8. Overlapping Sets | PDF of Math Book; 10. Remainders | GMAT Prep Software Analysis | SEVEN SAMURAI OF 2012 (BEST DISCUSSIONS) | Tricky questions from previous years.

Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


What are GMAT Club Tests?
Extra-hard Quant Tests with Brilliant Analytics

Kudos [?]: 128564 [0], given: 12180

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Re: When to give up on a question and move on? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Oct 2017, 13:32
arjun51 wrote:
Hello everyone!

Through this post, I would like to ask all the test takers the following:

*When a question comes which one feels can be done but it would take significant time to solve it, what should one do? Should such a question be skipped? Because I have noticed that many times I miss out on quite easy questions towards the end due to lack of time!

Looking forward to your replies!

Best,
Arjun


It depends on whether you're already ahead on time, or whether you're right on time or even behind. It also depends on whether the question is in a strong area for you, or a weak area.

In general, your instinct is correct: you should skip problems that feel like they're going to take a long time to solve, even if you could get them right. Many of us could get most of the Quant problems right if we had unlimited time to work on them. So, without the time pressure, it would be very difficult for the GMAT to tell the difference between test takers. That's why they've chosen to use such tight time limits: your score isn't really your pure ability level, but rather your 'two-minute ability level'. If you can't do a problem in approximately two minutes, that means it's 'above your level' at the moment, even if you understand it and could solve it with more time. If you try to work to your 'pure ability level', instead of your slightly lower 'two-minute ability level', you're setting yourself up to fail later in the section.

However, if you're already ahead on time, and the question is in a strong area for you, go ahead and spend up to 1:00 extra on it. No more than that, though. And don't listen to that voice in your head that says 'just 30 more seconds' - before you know it, 30 seconds turns into a minute, and you're running out of time again!
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Re: When to give up on a question and move on?   [#permalink] 08 Oct 2017, 13:32
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