• NEW! FREE Beat The GMAT Quizzes
    NEW! FREE Beat The GMAT Quizzes
    NEW! FREE Beat The GMAT Quizzes
    Hundreds of Questions Highly Detailed Reporting Expert Explanations TAKE A FREE GMAT QUIZ
  • 7 CATs FREE!
    If you earn 100 Forum Points

    Engage in the Beat The GMAT forums to earn
    100 points for $49 worth of Veritas practice GMATs FREE

    Veritas Prep
    VERITAS PRACTICE GMAT EXAMS
    Earn 10 Points Per Post
    Earn 10 Points Per Thanks
    Earn 10 Points Per Upvote
    REDEEM NOW

GMAT QUANT - Math Test Anxiety

This topic has 5 expert replies and 1 member reply

GMAT QUANT - Math Test Anxiety

Post
So I'm looking for some tips and advice on improving my Quant score, which is, at the moment, a level above abysmal. I'm averaging a 620 GMAT (35 Q, 40 V) and I know a lot of the rust is wearing off my unused math skills (because seriously, who needs to do long division without a calculator in their job... not in mine).

My first test, I made a lot of silly mistakes... not reading the whole question and seeing the "Except", forgetting or taking too long to remember my multiplication tables and exponent rules, etc. I improved as I got used to the questions etc. Now I consistently get the easy and medium questions right, but am often flummoxed by how to approach problems labeled as Hard.

Here's the thing. I'm reading through every question I get wrong, and doing them repeatedly. I'm doing timed practice sets. My times are getting faster. For example, I just did 30DS questions in the OG guide and got 27/30 correct AND did it in 60 min - so 2 min per question. Now the issue is that, when I sit down for a CAT, I panic. Sweaty palms, darting eyes, inability to focus. And all the sudden, a question that I can get in a timed practice set looks impossible.

I clearly have a mental block here when I sit down for the Quant section. Has anyone ever experienced this and has any tips on getting past it? My target score is a 700, and with my strong performances in verbal (and they are getting stronger with practice) I know that I can get there if I get my Quant up, but it's easier said than done to get past the mental block.

Is it just practice practice practice? I've been studying for 3 weeks and have another 6 to go before my test and I'm really hoping to see improvement in the CATs soon or I'll push my test date.

Thanks for your help guys - and I know that this type of thing may be foreign to some of you, but I got pretty schooled by a math class once (I had to rotate conic sections in 3D without calculus... that melts your brain) and I have never really recovered.

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag

GMAT/MBA Expert

MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined
11 Nov 2011
Posted:
2278 messages
Followed by:
265 members
Upvotes:
660
GMAT Score:
770
Post
Practice definitely will help, and really you haven't been working on this for that long. The anxiety comes from uncertainty on the material.

One thing I will say is that you probably want to steer clear of long division too - there are easier ways to do the math. Feel free to look at the quant guide on my site; it talks a lot about this.

_________________
GMAT Answers provides a world class adaptive learning platform.
-- Push button course navigation to simplify planning
-- Daily assignments to fit your exam timeline
-- Organized review that is tailored based on your abiility
-- 1,000s of unique GMAT questions
-- 100s of handwritten 'digital flip books' for OG questions
-- 100% Free Trial and less than $20 per month after.
-- Free GMAT Quantitative Review

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag

GMAT/MBA Expert

Post
Hi KLilly,

There are a few details in your post that need to be addressed. Considering that you've been studying for just 3 weeks, your 620 average is a pretty good "baseline" (the average for the Official GMAT hovers around 550).

1) Since there's so much material to cover, you won't necessarily make gigantic strides in the first 3 weeks of studying.
2) Studying out of a book is not the same as working on a computer. The "mechanics" are different, so you might be better served by getting more computer-based practice in (an online Self Study Course would probably help). The reps/practice will help you to improve in all areas and should alleviate some of the anxiety that you might be feeling.
3) You might be doing too much "math" and not enough strategy/tactics when dealing with the Quant section. This sometimes happens to Test Takers who focus on book-work. "Your way" of doing things might be what's causing your problem.
4) The Quant section of the GMAT is NOT a "math test." As it stands, most of the "math" that you do have to do in the Quant section is math that you did when you were 14 or 15 years old (basic algebra, arithmetic, geometry, etc).

You have plenty of time to improve, so don't get too discouraged just yet. Focus on fixing the silly/little mistakes and you'll start to pick up those missing Quant points.

What is your score goal?
Where do you want to apply to school? And when?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

_________________
Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag
Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
31 Jul 2013
Posted:
7 messages
Upvotes:
1
Post
that anxiety is deeply rooted and is probably more than just lack of familiarity with the test

I once had a client that was so nervous, she vomited during an official exam.

the way to combat this is multifold

1. as odd as it may sound, create a plan that will result in your career success WITHOUT an MBA - once you know that you can get where you wan tto go without the degree (though the degree would make it MUCH easier) it takes the sting out of it

2. come to grips with your past. More likely than not, you have some things in your history that have led to negative self talk and lack of confidence - address them head on (I realize this is way easier said than done)

3. catch the anxiety and self-talk as soon as it starts and reverse it

_________________
Want to 3x your study, time, and results on the GMAT?

Free report shows you how to get explosive growth on the GMAT.
Get it here:
https://bit.ly/GMATleverage

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag

GMAT/MBA Expert

Post
KLilly wrote:
My first test, I made a lot of silly mistakes... not reading the whole question and seeing the "Except", forgetting or taking too long to remember my multiplication tables and exponent rules, etc. I improved as I got used to the questions etc.
If silly mistakes are hurting your score, then it's important that you identify and categorize these mistakes so that, during tests, you can easily spot situations in which you're prone to making errors. I write about this and other strategies in the following article for BTG: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2012/09/25/avoiding-silly-mistakes-on-the-gmat


KLilly wrote:
Now the issue is that, when I sit down for a CAT, I panic. Sweaty palms, darting eyes, inability to focus. And all the sudden, a question that I can get in a timed practice set looks impossible.

I clearly have a mental block here when I sit down for the Quant section. Has anyone ever experienced this and has any tips on getting past it?
If you're interested, we have a free video on the topic on overcoming test anxiety: http://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/general-gmat-strategies?id=1252

As part of managing anxiety, it's crucial that you adopt the proper mindset/attitude on test day. To this end, you may be interested in reading the following BTG articles:
- http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2013/06/19/the-mindset-and-body-language-of-a-gmat-destroyer
- http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2011/04/14/junior-girls-volleyball-and-scoring-big-on-the-gmat

Cheers,
Brent

_________________
Brent Hanneson – Creator of GMATPrepNow.com
Use our video course along with Beat The GMAT's free 60-Day Study Guide

Sign up for our free Question of the Day emails
And check out all of our free resources

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag
GMAT Prep Now's comprehensive video course can be used in conjunction with Beat The GMAT’s FREE 60-Day Study Guide and reach your target score in 2 months!

GMAT/MBA Expert

Post
One of the benefits of posting on a forum is that you get the collective wisdom of colleagues and experts.

And I want to delve a little deeper into the anxiety you're experience. One of the most debilitating factors impacting a test-taker's performance is any iota of stress. While a smidgin of stress can be mistaken for excitement and may even help you focus (think of it as a ‘natural’ ritilin’). If you know anything about classic psychology experiments, you might know about B.F. Skinner’s experiment with Pigeons, called ‘Superstition and the Pigeon.’ And you might wonder what this has to do with retaking the GMAT, GRE or any high stakes test, but actually, it’s quite pertinent.

Briefly, Skinner discovered that accidental reinforcement of a response can lead to superstitious, or in our case, repetitive behavior. Skinner demonstrated the conditioning of such behavior using pigeons. He set a food dispenser to deliver food to these birds in an operant chamber at fixed time intervals. The pigeons associated whatever behavior they were engaging in at the time the food was dispensed with the delivery of the food. The likelihood of the pigeons behaviors steadily increased. Some of the birds actually developed a ‘routine’, like a dancing routine seeming to indicate that if they did this, food would appear. How's this for a visual: one pigeon believed that by turning around in the cage twice or three times counter-clockwise between being fed. In the end, at the completion of the study, three quarters of the birds had become “superstitious.”

Humans can exhibit similar behavior to our feathered friends, for example, when we avoid ‘cracks’ in the sidewalk, grates in a street, or walking under ladders. And superstition appears to have an effect on how we take tests, as well.

For the test taker, getting stressed or nervous prior to a test produces the same superstitious behavior - - need to wear your ‘testing shirt’, carry your ‘rabbit’s foot’ or go through some kind of "process" or "ritual" prior to taking a test is included in this. These, we recognize as superstitious behavior, but with anxiety, superstition, can be even more nefarious.

Think back to when you first took a test. If you felt a little nervous, but still did ok, even great, you run the risk of having or increasing your stress incrementally, each time you take the test, unless you disrupt the pattern through behavior modification. Meaning: your unconscious mind mistakes your doing well on a test as a result of that anxiety, and thinks you might want some more of that special sauce every time you take a test. For realz. Unless you break this habit - and indicate to your unconscious mind that you really want the great performance without the stress and anxiety, it will often increase and this can end up as full blown anxiety, even 'deer in head lights' syndrome in front of a computer screen.

There is a silver lining. While the worst thing to thwart performance is your unease and anxiety, the easiest, quickest thing to get rid of is anxiety. There are many many solutions and finding one right for you is quick and easy.

While many companies and tutors defer to 'breathing techniques", which in general is very effective, it often won't cut it. You need a stronger dosage, Alice!

One easy way to mask the stress is to use your imagination. Imagine that you're walking to the test center, and sitting through the test, in your imagination. Go through it in as many details as possible, but contrary to your feeling nervous, ‘revise’ your history to your feeling great and in control. Use whatever cues you automatically have when you ‘revisit’ some aspect of your past. For some people, this may mean you see it like a movie. For others, you might just go through an emotional-feeling like experience, and others might have a soundtrack. However it is you recall events, become the conductor and imagine the situation on your terms: the way YOU’D like the experience to go. Do this up until the end where you see the score in front of you! Don’t be shy here: project what score you are aiming for. All the research points to this kind of visualization being potent and useful. And there are more where those came from.

Here is support for this practice: you may have heard of the experiment done at University of Chicago with Basketball players. Judd Blaslotto, PhD split players into three groups and tested each group on how many free throws they could make. After this, he had the first group practice free throws every day for an hour. The second group just visualized themselves making free throws. The third group did nothing. After 30 days, he tested them again.
The first group improved by 24%.The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball, and predictably, the third group did not improve which was expected. Dr. Blaslotto, explained, “As your brain conceives of an act, it generates impulses that prompt neurons to perform the movement being imagined.” These neural pathways in the brain program your body’s emotional and physical reaction/actions as if you actually performed the visualized activity. Need more proof? Listen to most olympic athletes after they win the Silver or Gold: They'll talk about how they visualized their success and paired it with their skills training. Voila: they're champions!

If you’re finding that ‘Breathing’ exercises alone do not do the trick: dig deeper for some techniques to be a game changer when it comes to test anxiety. Happy to share more!

_________________
Bara Sapir, MA, CHt, CNLP
Founder/CEO & GMAT Badass City Test Prep/Test Prep New York/Test Prep San Francisco
Maximize your Score, Minimize your Stress!

SPEEDREADING: https://citytestprep.com/mindflow-workshops/
ANXIETY RELIEF: https://citytestprep.com/mindfulness-therapy/
BOOK: https://tinyurl.com/TPNYSC
TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McA4aqCNS-c

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag

GMAT/MBA Expert

Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
Joined
27 Mar 2015
Posted:
163 messages
Followed by:
13 members
Upvotes:
27
Post
Hi KLilly,

As Rich mentioned, most students give themselves 3 months to prepare for the GMAT. Is there any reason you've only given yourself 9 total weeks?

In any case, the GMAT is an event that you can train for with a combination of strategies and knowledge of concepts. Remember that while the test is challenging, you've learned most (if not all) the concepts in high school. Our GMAT tutor Isaac wrote about this in more depth, but it's also important to remember that you are smart enough to tackle the GMAT - from this point, it's just a matter of learning new strategies that you might not have a ton of practice with. You can check out more on this here: http://bit.ly/1IqryRY

Best of luck,
Rich

  • +1 Upvote Post
  • Quote
  • Flag
Free 7-Day Test Prep with Economist GMAT Tutor - Receive free access to the top-rated GMAT prep course including a 1-on-1 strategy session, 2 full-length tests, and 5 ask-a-tutor messages. Get started now.
  • Target Test Prep
    5-Day Free Trial
    5-day free, full-access trial TTP Quant

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    Target Test Prep
  • Economist Test Prep
    Free Trial & Practice Exam
    BEAT THE GMAT EXCLUSIVE

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    Economist Test Prep
  • PrepScholar GMAT
    5 Day FREE Trial
    Study Smarter, Not Harder

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    PrepScholar GMAT
  • Kaplan Test Prep
    Free Practice Test & Review
    How would you score if you took the GMAT

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    Kaplan Test Prep
  • Magoosh
    Magoosh
    Study with Magoosh GMAT prep

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    Magoosh
  • Varsity Tutors
    Award-winning private GMAT tutoring
    Register now and save up to $200

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    Varsity Tutors
  • e-gmat Exclusive Offer
    Get 300+ Practice Questions
    25 Video lessons and 6 Webinars for FREE

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    e-gmat Exclusive Offer
  • The Princeton Review
    FREE GMAT Exam
    Know how you'd score today for $0

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    The Princeton Review
  • Veritas Prep
    Free Veritas GMAT Class
    Experience Lesson 1 Live Free

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    Veritas Prep
  • EMPOWERgmat Slider
    1 Hour Free
    BEAT THE GMAT EXCLUSIVE

    Available with Beat the GMAT members only code

    MORE DETAILS
    EMPOWERgmat Slider

Top First Responders*

1 GMATGuruNY 57 first replies
2 Jay@ManhattanReview 51 first replies
3 Brent@GMATPrepNow 46 first replies
4 Ian Stewart 23 first replies
5 ceilidh.erickson 12 first replies
* Only counts replies to topics started in last 30 days
See More Top Beat The GMAT Members

Most Active Experts

1 image description Scott@TargetTestPrep

Target Test Prep

198 posts
2 image description fskilnik@GMATH

GMATH Teacher

150 posts
3 image description Max@Math Revolution

Math Revolution

90 posts
4 image description GMATGuruNY

The Princeton Review Teacher

84 posts
5 image description Brent@GMATPrepNow

GMAT Prep Now Teacher

78 posts
See More Top Beat The GMAT Experts