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Held back by stupid mistakes, rather than understanding

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Hey fellas,

I was wondering if anyone had some practical study advice on not making stupid mistakes. It seems as though whenever I write out equations, I always forget one or two key things (like crossing a - to make a + for example). Even though I do the math right, it ends up being with the wrong numbers.

What can I do to correct this? I've worked pretty hard on drills and everything and this is frankly getting pretty annoying.

Thanks

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by Brent@GMATPrepNow » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:34 pm
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: https://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2012/09/ ... n-the-gmat

Cheers,
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by Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:40 pm
Hi joetheblower,

When silly mistakes happen, there can be any number of causes. Some of the likely ones are:

1) You're moving too fast. 75 minutes is enough time to properly deal with each of the Quant and Verbal sections, BUT it's not really not enough time to double-check all of your work and redo lots of questions if you made silly mistakes. Try slowing down a little, and be more diligent.
2) You are writing too small. The Test Day pad is big, so try writing a little bigger.
3) You don't label your work (or you think you'll remember factoids "later on" so you don't need to write them down. Re-read #1.
4) The "first steps" to solving a question are arguably the most important (if you screw those steps up, then all the work that follows will be wasted), so put a little extra time into taking those initial notes correctly.

How have you been scoring on your practice CATs?
When are you planning to take the Official GMAT?

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Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com
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by ceilidh.erickson » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:03 am
To add to what my fellow experts have said, I've often noticed that it's my brightest students who can't seem to shake off these silly mistakes. That's usually because they understand the deeper concepts, and want to fly quickly through the "easy" stuff to get to the harder stuff. Here are a few ways to avoid that:

- Tell yourself that there's no such thing as "the easy stuff." Treat each step in the process as important.

- Try to use common sense to reason your way through the problem before you ever pick up the pen. Your guy will often tell you if the answer should be big or small, even or odd, etc. Then use math to confirm your gut feeling. If you end up with an answer that's way off, you know that it's likely that you made a mistake.

- Every time you make one of these silly mistakes when you're practicing, make yourself write out the correct version 3 times. This might just seem punitive, but it will help you to notice where you make these mistakes, and train yourself to avoid them next time.

- Keep track of the kinds of mistakes you make! Most of us have a few particular blind spots that we fall into again and again, so you have to know where yours are. For more, see: https://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/2013/ ... -studying/

(And remember, we're not all "fellas" here!)

Good luck!
Ceilidh Erickson
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Harvard Graduate School of Education

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by dabral » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:24 am
Here is a post I wrote on reducing careless mistakes on the GMAT:
https://www.gmatquantum.com/blog/how-to- ... -gmat.html

Cheers,
Dabral
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