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580- Re-take strategy. How do you keep stuff FRESH?

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580- Re-take strategy. How do you keep stuff FRESH?

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Hello to the awesome GMAT Community:

I took my GMAT last week, got a 580(Q44, V 25). Actually - I was not surprised at all, I kept myself very grounded before I went for the test, and I knew it that I had to re-take the test one more time.

Background on my Preparation:
- I am one of those engineers who thought Verbal comes to me, but Quant does not (quite a surprise eh?) so I concentrated very heavily on Quant. I was very aggressive in my Quant Prep. I went to MGMAT guides(took the in-person 9 weeks class as well), solved each and every OG problem, made flash cards, watched Guru-Ron's videos. I was scoring 44-46 in my Quant practice tests, and I got a Q44. I did not think I will get a Q48 as I still think I need some "enlightenment" to quality for the "Advanced Quant Student" category. No big surprises here in Quant.

- On the verbal, like I stated above, I somehow thought my Verbal skills are good. I am a news fanatic, I love reading WSJ, and on all my practice tests I was scoring 32-36. I honestly thought that if I get a V36, and Q48, I am near my 700 goal this time(a pit stop), and next time I will study Verbal along with a Quant refresh and that will get me to the finish line. Off-course, GMAT didn't like my thinking and it heavily punished me on my Verbal.

Now, where do I go from here?

I do not need motivation to study for the next attempt, I already got plenty Smile What I really want to understand(strategically) is how to keep the stuff fresh in your brain just before the GMAT? Even though I accept that I didn't study Verbal that much, I did go through MGMAT CR, PowerScore CR Bible(lightly), and MGMAT SC(Chapter1-6) and took a brief dive on to e-gmat's SC. I made flash cards on some of the grammar rules. When I was testing my self in the last 3 weeks, I was scoring 34-36 on Verbal, so I kept telling myself, I just need to keep my verbal score as is(may be raise it a little) and make sure Quant does not drop. Didn't I say earlier that I already expected a re-take? On the hind sight, this outlook was helpful in relieving pressure, but it did not help me on my overall score. Back to how you keep "stuff fresh" in your brain. The issue here is that I knew most of all Verbal strategies from my reading, and practicing, these strategies were not in my "active brain" and rather they were somewhere in the "secondary brain" compartment. What happened with me in the last 3 weeks is no surprise. I kept revising Quant, thinking I will retain my Verbal abilities, but the most of all the verbal strategies got moved over to the "secondary" state and when I took the test I basically felt that none of the strategies came to me. I approached each question with energy and passion, timing was not an issue, but lack of application defi. killed me.

How would my next test be any different? Even though I study all the Verbal strategies, bla bla bla(do everything I am supposed to), in the exam week when there is soo much going on in student's head, how do they retain EVERYTHING and keep it fresh?

Some advice here on "retaining concepts" would go a long way for a lot of us out here.

Also, any "loop holes" in my out look from above will go a long way as well.

Thanks!!!

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I don't know where you picked the active brain/secondary brain concept from. There is only 1 brain which works while you take the test.

Now the point here is: are your techniques helping you on the real test? A lot of times we learn approaches that sound cool but are worthless because it is impractical to use them on the day of the test. If I were you, I would revisit my approach to each question type. Are these approaches I can use in less than 2 minutes that I have on the test? If not then just junk it!

Also take more tests to keep your mental stamina high. It is not so much about solving questions - it is about solving them under pressure and time constraints. Also make elimination (of the wrong answer) your friend - selection (of the right answer) will not get you any further.

Arun

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i received a private message regarding this thread.

for the CR and RC sections in particular, there shouldn't be anything to keep "fresh" -- because there is NO basis of memorized/learned knowledge in those two sections in the first place. apart from an extremely general understanding of how the question types work, those two sections of the test are based entirely on reasoning abilities that you already have as a result of your normal real-world experience.

what i mean by "extremely general understanding" is that there are a few ground-level things that you have to understand about the question types. for instance, on RC inference/detail questions, it's important to understand that you must basically be able to prove the correct answer from the facts given in the passage -- i.e., that you shouldn't pick an answer choice that seems "vaguely suggested" but isn't explicitly substantiated by the actual evidence.
this type of general understanding isn't something that you can really "forget" once you have it, so "keeping it fresh" is a non-issue. if someone is unclear on these ground-level general concepts, that means he or she never really understood them in the first place. (this is a very, very common problem on this forum: people are way, way too concerned with learning "rules" and minutiae, to the point where they never actually understand the general nature of the problems and/or of the test itself.)

other than that, the RC and CR sections are based on real-world thought processes that CAN'T be "memorized" or "kept fresh".
as an example, take a look at problem 109 in the 12th edition OG critical reasoning section. (i believe this is the same as problem 111 in the 13th edition, if you have that one instead.)
in that problem, you can't understand the correct answer unless you make a common-sense connection: namely, you have to understand that people who will probably get caught will be less likely to do bad things. in the correct answer choice, the fire department can figure out who is making the prank calls -- a fact that should make your common-sense brain say, "hey, that means people will be less likely to make the calls in the first place."
note that it's absolutely impossible to make this kind of connection through studying or memorization -- you must preserve your brain's normal, real-world thought processes.
this problem is far from unique in this regard; the need to use common sense / real-world lateral thinking is a nearly universal aspect of the RC and CR sections.

you may already understand this idea, but your question about "keeping things fresh" suggests that you don't. after all, the above kinds of realizations (the types of things that are based on real-world experience) are not the kind of thing you could ever possibly forget. e.g., you couldn't forget that people will be reluctant to do bad things if they're going to get caught.

--

in SC, there are *some* things you could "keep fresh" -- like idioms, particular modifiers, etc. -- but the good thing about GMAT SC is that the major ideas are NOT things that you can memorize (and, therefore, not things that you can forget!)

here's what i mean. the most important aspects of SC are the following:

* Meaning of the sentence: What is the intended message of the sentence? What meaning are the words actually trying to convey?
this part is pure common sense / real-world intuition -- not the kind of thing that you have to "keep fresh".
for instance, when you see "I read the book on the table", your intuition needs to tell you that "on the table" describes the book. when you see "I read the book on the subway", your intuition needs to tell you than "on the subway" describes the act of reading the book, not the book itself.
you can't "keep" this sort of thing "fresh"; it should just be something that naturally happens when you read a sentence.

* Parallelism: If you have two or more of the same kind of thing in a sentence, those things should be written as similarly as possible.
this is also not something you should have to "keep fresh"; it should be more like a basic instinct that you have whenever you're reading or hearing just about anything.
for instance, if you see (or hear) "I like swimming and to run", then you should have a very basic instinct that says, Wait a minute, that's not right -- you should realize without having to apply explicit rules that it should be either "swimming"/"running" or "to swim"/"(to) run", not one of each.
if you have to use explicit rules for this sort of thing, you aren't thinking about it in the right way.

* Modifiers:
ok, there are some modifiers for which you must memorize basic grammar rules. (for instance, "which" must modify nouns, not actions.)
on the other hand, most problems that test modifiers on the gmat are testing the meaning and/or placement of those modifiers -- i.e., is the modifier describing the right thing? is it placed as close as possible to that thing?
again, not the kind of thing you can memorize (or forget).

etc.

in general, SC has lots and lots of small components that you could memorize, but, at heart, it is NOT fundamentally a test of those things. instead, it's largely a test of more general, intuitive ideas such as the ones above.

--

there's good news and bad news here.

the bad news is largely restricted to people who are trying to study by memorization (and, by extension, to "keep" all that memorized stuff "fresh"). for those individuals, the bad news is that the gmat is ... well ... not that kind of test at all, and so that kind of preparation isn't going to work.

the good news is that the kind of stuff that IS tested on the gmat can't really be forgotten. in other words, if you have the correct mentality toward this test, you should be able to walk away from the verbal section for months, even years, and still be able to perform at pretty much the same level when you return. (maybe even better, if you've been wasting a lot of time trying to memorize stuff.)

the same isn't really true for the quant section -- if you walk away from, say, algebra for a few years, then you might legitimately forget how to factor expressions and so on -- but, on the verbal section, "forgetting" and "keeping things fresh" should be complete non-issues.

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Thanks for the insight on Verbal Ron. Do you have any guidance on keeping "stuff" fresh on Quant?

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mkmgmat wrote:
Thanks for the insight on Verbal Ron. Do you have any guidance on keeping "stuff" fresh on Quant?
The only stuff on quant is, essentially, your standard mathematics up through first-year high-school algebra and geometry. Beyond that point, it's really a matter of strategy -- especially making frequent use of non-"textbook" methods (e.g., backsolving, plugging in your own values for unknowns, estimating answers, and testing cases on DS).

Studying obscure/advanced mathematical principles may actually work against you on this exam, by distracting you from the smaller, more circumscribed set of principles that are actually tested.

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