GMAT Practice Tip - The Streaks Method

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Introduction to the Streaks Method

Many people ask me what they can do to increase their accuracy and their scores. Often they have been achieving reasonably high accuracy in practice, but they still aren't reliably hitting their score goals when they take practice GMATs or the real thing.

What I often recommend is the streaks method, which I first recommended years ago to a student who then used it to quickly go from 610 to 710, and which was basically perfected by another person with whom I worked, Target Test Prep user Dan Cummins, who used it as a key final step in getting to his 700+ score goal and gaining admission to his dream school.

So, here's the deal.

The Issue

Let's say you are practicing Weaken questions and getting about 70 percent correct. That accuracy seems decent, but are you really confident in Weaken at that point?

Notice that, to get to 70 percent, you could have been confident in answering 40 percent of the questions and guessed 50:50 between the last two choices for the other 60 percent and gotten to 70 percent.

Also, it's possible to get 70 percent correct while getting only 2 or 3 in a row correct. Are you really under control in Weaken if you typically get only 2 or 3 in a row correct? Not necessarily.

So, you can see why someone who typically gets 70 percent of practice questions correct may not feel particularly confident while taking the GMAT.

The Solution

So, here's a cool alternative way to gauge your skill level and learn to do exactly what you need to in order to ace the GMAT. Go beyond shooting for accuracy levels to shooting for streaks of correct answers.

Here's how it works.

For any category of question you want to choose, and the important categories can vary for each test taker, keep working on that category until you get at least 15 questions correct in a row.
So, for Weaken, for instance, you would practice Weaken questions until you get 15 Weaken questions correct in a row.

You can see the difference between 15 correct in a row and 70 percent correct. 70 percent correct is decent, admittedly. At the same time, 15 correct in a row means you are under control.

Also, the GMAT rewards streaks of correct answers by presenting you with harder questions that are worth more. So, when you shoot for streaks of correct answers, you are not only developing your skills, you are training to do exactly what the GMAT rewards.

Now, here's the refinement that Dan Cummins came up with.

The Streaks Method Perfected

For every question type, shoot for a streak of 15 easy questions, a streak of 15 medium questions, and a streak of 10 hard questions. That method is brutal, but it works super well. By the time you achieve the streak of 10 hard questions, you may have answered over100 questions, and you'll be super confident with that question type.

The process typically goes something like this for a category.

Easy Weaken:

1 2 3 4 5 broken

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 broken

1 2 3 broken

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 broken

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Streak completed.

You can see that the method can be brutal. If you get to 14 and really want to use the method seriously, you have to start again at 0 and keep going until you get to the streak goal of 15. Then, after the easy questions, you have to do the same thing for medium questions and then for hard questions.

The method can be adapted.

Of course, you don't have to use the streaks method in that exact way. You could simply shoot for streaks of CR questions or streaks of DS questions, whatever you want to focus on.

Also, you can use different streak goals that fit your practice needs and score goal. u/dcummins06 scored 710. If you want to score in the 600s, you could use shorter streak goals. If you want to score in the upper 700s, you could use longer streak goals.

Untimed streaks practice works well.

A key thing to understand is that the point of shooting for streaks is to develop focus, stamina, and consistency. So, you don't have to time yourself when you are shooting for streaks. If you can get 15 correct in a row untimed, you have demonstrated that you understand the type of question you are practicing and that you know how to get that type of correct reliably.

If you want to do timed practice after you have achieved your streaks untimed, even better - could be fun - but you don't have to.

In Conclusion

So, that's the streaks method in all its glory. You can play it like a game and use it to become a master of the GMAT.

For more on how to work accurately and hit your streaks - Improving Your Accuracy on the GMAT
Marty Murray
Chief Curriculum and Content Architect
[email protected]

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