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# would you still read the explanation?

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11 Mar 2013, 15:46
I am wondering how most of you guys study. If you answered a questions right, do you just move to the next one or would you still read the explanation of how the bookmakers solved it to see how it compares to the way you solved it

Last edited by bb on 13 Mar 2013, 12:18, edited 1 time in total.
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11 Mar 2013, 19:09
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Its always a good idea to review the official explanation even if you get your answer correct regardless its Quant or Verbal. Most of the quant problems can be solved in more than 1 methods. By reviewing OEs you may come across more efficient methods than the one you used. For Verbal questions also check why wrong answers are wrong. Verify whether you eliminated the wrong choices with the same reasoning.
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12 Mar 2013, 09:50
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You should read explanations on your correct practice problems... but, honestly, that takes a lot of time, and for me it didn't seem worth it. Generally the only time I reviewed a problem that I got correct was when I knew I struggled with the problem (got a little lucky with my answer choice or took a long time to get the correct answer).

Ideally, you should review every problem you do, and PraPon gave some great reasons why, but if you find that you don't have the time for it, don't stress too much.
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12 Mar 2013, 15:33
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Expert's post
I completely agree with both PraPon and bdepp: in a perfect world with unlimited study time, you definitely should squeeze every bit of knowledge you possibly can from every official question. In practice, that's probably impossible, and if you have a limited amount of time available (who doesn't?), try not to obsess too much over individual questions. At some point, you're better off challenging yourself with new questions than spending 20 minutes investigating a single problem.

One friendly word of caution about OG explanations: they aren't always very good, and they don't always offer the most efficient way to do each question. There are several ways to do most quant questions, and the OG usually publishes methods that are more algebraic and relatively easy to explain in print. Those explanations are absolutely worth a look, but take them with a grain of salt.

Have fun studying!
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13 Mar 2013, 12:22
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Expert's post
I have added the poll to the question as I think it is an interesting one.

P.S. I have found that many questions in some of the study books (the Kaplan Math Workbook in this case had very elegant solutions but they were missed in the explanations. They required more knowledge and experience, so i felt the questions were often quite smart but explanation lacked.... so I did not read any for the questions I got right). At the same time, some books such as Kaplan GMAT 800 are built heavily on explanations and most of the tips/learning is from explanations....
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14 Mar 2013, 05:23
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I think the posts above are fairly accurate. In a perfect world you would like to read the explanations and derive something from a question (concept/trick/trap etc.), for every question you attempt.

You may skip them, if you are very confident in your approach (this generally happens with quant questions - because there is little grey area)
I forced myself to read explanations for verbal for each SC/RC question, irrespective of whether I got it right or wrong. Not so much for CR. For SC, I often found new things - there were more than 1/2 reasons because of which the author eliminated an incorrect sentence. I was a bit weak in RC, so thought it would be better to understand the shortest way to attack a problem. CR was pretty quant like for me - either I got it or I did not. If I struggled even a little, I moved back to the explanation.
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14 Mar 2013, 07:51
1
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Expert's post
score780 wrote:
I am wondering how most of you guys study. If you answered a questions right, do you just move to the next one or would you still read the explanation of how the bookmakers solved it to see how it compares to the way you solved it

I went with "often" on this one. I know it's tempting to skip over but there can be some terrific nuggets taken out of solutions that you didn't think of. I've often taught questions where I solve the question 3 different ways. If you managed to solve it one way, you might not be very interested about finding another way to do it, but what if that other way was simpler or made more sense to you? I tend to avoid algebra on a lot of questions because it's slower and error-prone, but some students use it on almost every math question. Both approaches are fine, it only depends on which approach you're most comfortable using.

I often compare this to routes to work. You know how to get to work, but if there's an accident or a closure, you probably have a back up route or two. You can take the highway, the bridge, the tunnel or the sidestreets (or even the "Fast and Furious" approach of ignoring all traffic signs!) If you solved a question in 2.5 minutes and the official solution will get you there in 1 minute, you've just found a better route to work. The GMAT also rewards mental flexibility, so the more tricks you have in your arsenal, the better you'll do!

Hope this helps!
-Ron
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16 Mar 2013, 08:58
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Expert's post
score780 wrote:
Thanks Ron for the detailed answer. You're absolutely right but what you're saying fits s'more with those who have plenty of time to study for the GMAT. I still have 15 days to go so I prefer to spend them on answering more questions than on reading explanations of questions I got right.

Hi score780, I'm just a little unclear on one thing... You mean you don't have time to study the GMAT?!? Darn!

I totally get the notion of focusing on what you got wrong over what you got right. In fact, it's what I would do as well! It's just helpful to be aware that you may have gotten the right answer for the wrong reasons, made a lucky guess, or taken 3 minutes on a problem that can take 1 minute with a different strategy. I wholeheartedly agree that questions you got right (without guessing) in 2 minutes or less don't really need to be reviewed. There might be more value in learning a new technique to solve algebra questions quickly than trying to memorize the formula for the area of an equilateral triangle in case it might come up on the test $$(A = (s^2 \sqrt{3}) / 4$$ for those who are curious)

If I may draw on my own experience, however, it's not realistic to want to answer every single question accurately. There will be some topics at which you're great, and others you don't like as much. The goal is to maximize your overall score, so if you're able to get 100% of algebra problems right versus 90%, that's worth taking the time to do. I wasn't great at geometry when I took the exam 6 years ago (I'm much better now that I've been teaching it for years) but I'd get all the arithmetic and number properties right. So I probably missed a couple of the geometry problems, but I still got a fantastic score because I aced most of the other math subjects. Plus going from 90% to 100% in something you love will likely be easier and more engaging than going from 20% to 30% in something you hate.

As always, there is no one correct strategy for everyone. Whatever works for you is what you should do, but I found success on the GMAT came with perfecting my natural talents more than trying to be good at everything. Obviously working on your weaknesses is something natural (and something that every job interviewer you ever have will tell you to do), but working on your strengths can have the same overall effect on your score with less of a struggle. Again, if you have time... do both!

Hope this helps!
-Ron
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25 Mar 2013, 07:44
1
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score780 wrote:
I am wondering how most of you guys study. If you answered a questions right, do you just move to the next one or would you still read the explanation of how the bookmakers solved it to see how it compares to the way you solved it

You should spend twice as long reviewing a problem as you spend doing it, whether or not you got it correct. (I’m serious on that one.)
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12 Mar 2013, 10:02
Ok. I guess I will follow a balance of both
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16 Mar 2013, 04:47
I ended up doing somehow what bb spoke about. In the books where the explanations are meant to teach you something new, like Kaplan, I would read them. While in the OG where the explanation is about the math for solving the problem, I would skip them, unless of course my answer was wrong.
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16 Mar 2013, 04:52
VeritasPrepRon wrote:
score780 wrote:
I am wondering how most of you guys study. If you answered a questions right, do you just move to the next one or would you still read the explanation of how the bookmakers solved it to see how it compares to the way you solved it

I went with "often" on this one. I know it's tempting to skip over but there can be some terrific nuggets taken out of solutions that you didn't think of. I've often taught questions where I solve the question 3 different ways. If you managed to solve it one way, you might not be very interested about finding another way to do it, but what if that other way was simpler or made more sense to you? I tend to avoid algebra on a lot of questions because it's slower and error-prone, but some students use it on almost every math question. Both approaches are fine, it only depends on which approach you're most comfortable using.

I often compare this to routes to work. You know how to get to work, but if there's an accident or a closure, you probably have a back up route or two. You can take the highway, the bridge, the tunnel or the sidestreets (or even the "Fast and Furious" approach of ignoring all traffic signs!) If you solved a question in 2.5 minutes and the official solution will get you there in 1 minute, you've just found a better route to work. The GMAT also rewards mental flexibility, so the more tricks you have in your arsenal, the better you'll do!

Hope this helps!
-Ron

Thanks Ron for the detailed answer. You're absolutely right but what you're saying fits s'more with those who have plenty of time to study for the GMAT. I still have 15 days to go so I prefer to spend them on answering more questions than on reading explanations of questions I got right.
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25 Mar 2013, 10:44
HumptyDumpty wrote:
score780 wrote:
I am wondering how most of you guys study. If you answered a questions right, do you just move to the next one or would you still read the explanation of how the bookmakers solved it to see how it compares to the way you solved it

You should spend twice as long reviewing a problem as you spend doing it, whether or not you got it correct. (I’m serious on that one.)

Excellent article, thank you
Re: would you still read the explanation?   [#permalink] 25 Mar 2013, 10:44
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# would you still read the explanation?

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