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Strategies for preventing careless mistakes ...

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Hi Ron,
This is great advice. Particularly, your paradigm of 'not being able to score 800 w/o writing everything down is extremely powerful'

However,
1) I have seen that I really have to write down everything if I have to almost completely eliminate silly errors. I even have to write down simple arithmetic steps as thats where I make most of the mistakes e.g. adding 12+5 to 19 instead of 17... like really nasty random silly errors. That doesnt mean that I am immune to other forms of silly mistakes such as not flipping inequality while multiplying by a negative number or not distributing the negative sign through a parenthesis in a hurry etc. So writing everything down doesnt come without compromising speed at least to me.
2) I am not looking to score 800 really. I scored 750(48Q+46V) in my previous attempt w/o writing much during the exam. I didn't even put pen to paper during the verbal section. I am looking for a modest improvement of 20 points+ 2points improvement on quant section. So my target is 770 with at least 50 on quantitative section.

Ok you might ask - 'why be so adamant about not writing?' It's a personal tale of my struggles with writing throughout my academic career. I suspect I have a mild or limited case 'dysgraphia', which is probably limited to the physical act of writing and organizing thoughts on a topic. Also, the slipper scratch papers and special marker provided during the exam really don't help my condition.

Would you still advise me to write everything down even if I am just looking for an improvement of 2 points on quant section esp when its going to be such a huge task to be able to write everything ? Or there is no exception- I should do whatever it takes to work around my writing troubles if I ever hope to achieve Q50?

lunarpower wrote:
oh yeah, and one other thing.

almost no one believes me when i first tell them this, but then about 90% of the skeptics come back wide-eyed with astonished declarations of "you were right!":

performing routine processes mentally, rather than on paper, will SLOW YOU DOWN.

the more steps you write down, the FASTER you will execute the process.


this holds for pretty much everything - factoring, AD/BCE, eliminating answers, charting RTD problems, defining variables, etc. about the only exception that comes to mind is VERY simple arithmetic; there's no need to write down, say, addition and subtraction of one- and two-digit numbers. BUT YOU SHOULD WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING ELSE.

the other thing of which you should be aware is that the mental processes will work, most of the time. this is more than a bit ironic: the reason that the vast majority of students don't want to write steps down is that NOT writing them down usually works.
let's say that mental processes get you correct answers 85%, or even 90%, of the time.
what you've got to realize, though, is this: writing down the steps will ensure correct answers 99+% of the time. if you're just working practice problems, that's not that big of a difference - but i wouldn't want to bet gmat points on an 85% or 90% sure thing.

write down everything.

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Everyone has his style.

Some people say to write everything down.

Personally I can only just barely understand writing anything down when doing the verbal section, and when I took the test I wrote nothing down during verbal. Most of the people who work with me end up writing very little during verbal.

On quant, I do about 80%, maybe more, in my head, and I have used about one page of the pad supplied when I have sat for the test.

My scores: Q49 V50 780, Q51 V51 800

I have to admit I am kind of a GMAT freak and did about 2500 practice questions during my preparation. So all that factored in. Still, the short answer is that one doesn't "have to" write down much of anything.

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If silly mistakes are hurting your score, then it's important that you identify and categorize these mistakes. Some examples might include:
- sloppy writing causes a 7 to mysteriously turn into a 1
- you forget that a question is an EXCEPT question.
- you fail to notice crucial information such as x is an integer or w < 0.
- you calculate Pat’s current age when the question asked for the Pat’s age 5 years from now.
- and so on

Once you have identified the types of mistakes that YOU typically make, you will be able to spot situations/questions in which you're prone to making errors.

I write about this and other strategies in the following article: http://www.gmatprepnow.com/articles/avoiding-silly-misteaks-gmat

Cheers,
Brent

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mensanumber wrote:
Would you still advise me to write everything down even if I am just looking for an improvement of 2 points on quant section
you have a 750. congratulations. in this case, i have exactly one piece of advice: don't take the test again.
why would you re-take with a 750?

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Hi Marty,

Thanks for your reply. Sorry for not replying sooner. I wasnt watching this topic. I am not very familiar with the way beatthegmat forum works. I thought I will get auto notification on my email for the replies and was wondering why havent I received any replies Smile Anyways now I know.

That's quite reassuring. I must confess Im quite like you in terms of how I approach the GMAT. Didnt write anything down at all during the verbal section on the gmat and wrote only minimal possible during the quant section.

Moreover, I am a kinda gmat freak too. Only a week ago I was thinking I am as addicted to this exam as one could be to a computer game.

I also read your gmatgeniuses BTS interview and I must say I am also making many similar epiphanies. For instance, I also realized a couple of weeks ago that the moment one starts drawing a figure for three overlapping set questions one has already lost a battle towards Q51. These questions must be dealt with formulae and those formula should come to you as quickly as reflex actions based on your solid understanding of the concepts. But these formulae should become so obvious to you that you dont need to overload your working memory to retrieve and apply them.

Thanks for you reply again.


Marty Murray wrote:
Everyone has his style.

Some people say to write everything down.

Personally I can only just barely understand writing anything down when doing the verbal section, and when I took the test I wrote nothing down during verbal. Most of the people who work with me end up writing very little during verbal.

On quant, I do about 80%, maybe more, in my head, and I have used about one page of the pad supplied when I have sat for the test.

My scores: Q49 V50 780, Q51 V51 800

I have to admit I am kind of a GMAT freak and did about 2500 practice questions during my preparation. So all that factored in. Still, the short answer is that one doesn't "have to" write down much of anything.

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Thanks for you reply Brent. Those some great tips. However, like you mention in it yourself those don't come with out the disadvantage of slowing you down. But I guess with practice I should be able reduce the amount scratch work as well as improve my speed with it. Thank gain

Brent@GMATPrepNow wrote:
If silly mistakes are hurting your score, then it's important that you identify and categorize these mistakes. Some examples might include:
- sloppy writing causes a 7 to mysteriously turn into a 1
- you forget that a question is an EXCEPT question.
- you fail to notice crucial information such as x is an integer or w < 0.
- you calculate Pat’s current age when the question asked for the Pat’s age 5 years from now.
- and so on

Once you have identified the types of mistakes that YOU typically make, you will be able to spot situations/questions in which you're prone to making errors.

I write about this and other strategies in the following article: http://www.gmatprepnow.com/articles/avoiding-silly-misteaks-gmat

Cheers,
Brent

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mensanumber wrote:
I also realized a couple of weeks ago that the moment one starts drawing a figure for three overlapping set questions one has already lost a battle towards Q51. These questions must be dealt with formulae and those formula should come to you as quickly as reflex actions
i know of no such 'formulae' (and would be constitutionally incapable of remembering them anyway). so... not really.

the most important part is marty's first line: you should play to your strengths.
but you should not forget that this entire exam-start to finish-was designed specifically to ensure that the required level of knowledge is as small as possible.

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Hi Ron,

Thanks for your reply. I wish that was an option. I agree 750 is a good score to get into most on the elite mba programs. I made into an ivy league MBA myself. But now I am looking at PhD Finance programs and without Q51 you quite honestly dont have a chance at these programs. For instance, avg gmat score of Wharton's PhD program a couple of years ago was 762. Yale Phd says they like to see scores of high nineties on both sections. Thats just a sneaky way of saying 750+. Yale again is not even in top 10 PhD finance programs. Its a similar story at all other elite PhD programs.

Thanks

lunarpower wrote:
mensanumber wrote:
Would you still advise me to write everything down even if I am just looking for an improvement of 2 points on quant section
you have a 750. congratulations. in this case, i have exactly one piece of advice: don't take the test again.
why would you re-take with a 750?



Last edited by mensanumber on Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:23 pm; edited 2 times in total

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i see. my apologies, i assumed you were an mba applicant.

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mensanumber wrote:
Moreover, I am a kinda gmat freak too. Only a week ago I was thinking I am as addicted to this exam as one could be to a computer game.
Sounds as if you are well on your way to your score goal then.

Quote:
I also realized a couple of weeks ago that the moment one starts drawing a figure for three overlapping set questions one has already lost a battle towards Q51. These questions must be dealt with formulae and those formula should come to you as quickly as reflex actions based on your solid understanding of the concepts. But these formulae should become so obvious to you that you dont need to overload your working memory to retrieve and apply them.
Here is a fairly comprehensive guide to handling three overlapping sets questions in various ways.

http://www.beatthegmat.com/pizza-hoagies-and-tacos-t285217.html

Here is another angle you can work from to get to 760+. I used meditation in combination with other things to drastically reduce my careless mistake rate.

http://www.beatthegmat.com/rocked-the-gmat-scored-800-q51-v51-via-meditation-t282365.html

Be sure you are good at this.

http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2011/07/20/quant-drill-prime-your-mind-for-factor-problems

You might consider this.

http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/careless-mistakes-on-gmat-math/

To do categorized quant work, go to the GMAT section here, http://bellcurves.com, and set up a practice account. Once you get to a hit rate somewhere between 80 and 90% in all the quant categories, you will be pretty much assured of scoring Q51.

Another thing that's key is one's attitude toward the test. I find that people score higher when they are totally determined to do so and handle each question ruthlessly. For one thing there is no good reason for someone who has prepared as much as you seem to have to miss any RC or CR questions.

Meanwhile, on another note, this whole discussion is based on the idea that you are uncomfortable writing things down. While I prefer to do everything in my head and can see why someone else would do the same, that thing you have going on should be solved. I may be able to sense in your tone the emotional basis of it. You can solve the problem via getting to the root of it via meditation and restructuring your consciousness, maybe particularly your conception of yourself.

I mean if you even have to ask the question "Can I score Q51 without writing everything down?" there is something you don't get. OF COURSE YOU CAN. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Be ruthless about that too, not in order to write things down, no need to change that, but for the sake of being healthier and better at everything.

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Thanks so much for a detailed reply again. I wish I had used this forum more before writing my last GMAT. Smile

Quote:
Here is a fairly comprehensive guide to handling three overlapping sets questions in various ways.

http://www.beatthegmat.com/pizza-hoagies-and-tacos-t285217.html
Exactly what I realized through my practice. There are mainly two formulae (variation of the same concept really) you need to know to ace these questions. One you already mentioned.
Total = A + B + C - (The Total Of Those Who Like Two) + (1 x Those Who Like All Three) + (Those Who Like None)
and second one is - Total=A+B+C-{Sum of Exactly 2 groups members} -2-Those Who Like three + Neither
As you mentioned there if you know what is going on here (such as what's getting double counted, triple counted etc.) they come fairly easily to you. This one is straight forward. A slightly difficult problems will give you percentages and numbers and will ask you to calculate a either a percentage or a number etc. These problems are tested with such consistency and predictability that there is no reason not to know the formulae. But off course you need to know where these formulae come from. I personally will never be able to remember a formula by rote memorization.


Quote:
Here is another angle you can work from to get to 760+. I used meditation in combination with other things to drastically reduce my careless mistake rate.

http://www.beatthegmat.com/rocked-the-gmat-scored-800-q51-v51-via-meditation-t282365.html
Yup- I created a self hypnosis script for the GMAT last time and do believe it played a role in 750 last time. I have extensively researched and experimented with other mindfulness techniques such as Vipassana too. So youre quite right there.

I think this is an important concept to know too. In fact there is a cool formula to quickly count the power of a prime in a factorial. Here - http://totalgadha.com/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=1485
I think this formula very efficiently tackles the overlap in counting. Again I cant for the life of me remember these formulae unless I know very clearly how they are derived and what is the underlying logic. As you rightly mentioned in your debrief 'The GMAT is not a math test testing knowledge of concepts. The GMAT tests skill in getting to answers' Oftentimes formulae will be quite handy to get to answer quickly. So IMHO, formulae are important unless you have a solid under/grad degree in math/other quant fields from Caltech/MIT/Stanford/Indian Institute of Techs or youre a math-autodidact-afficianado as these people have been exposed to numbers for so long that their faster reaction time as well as processing time on quant question will obviate the need for such formulae/flashcards.



Neat tips there. Will incorporate in my preparation


Quote:
Another thing that's key is one's attitude toward the test. I find that people score higher when they are totally determined to do so and handle each question ruthlessly. For one thing there is no good reason for someone who has prepared as much as you seem to have to miss any RC or CR questions.

Meanwhile, on another note, this whole discussion is based on the idea that you are uncomfortable writing things down. While I prefer to do everything in my head and can see why someone else would do the same, that thing you have going on should be solved. I may be able to sense in your tone the emotional basis of it. You can solve the problem via getting to the root of it via meditation and restructuring your consciousness, maybe particularly your conception of yourself.

I mean if you even have to ask the question "Can I score Q51 without writing everything down?" there is something you don't get. OF COURSE YOU CAN. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Be ruthless about that too, not in order to write things down, no need to change that, but for the sake of being healthier and better at everything.
A lot of profound advice there. I will definitely incorporate it in my self hypnosis script.

Thanks



Last edited by mensanumber on Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:28 pm; edited 1 time in total

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mensanumber wrote:
At what stage do you think I should include bellcurve questions? If time is a concern what material from the above would see replaced by bellcurve questions? YOu seem to have benefited from Veritas Prep material too. HOw would you compare - Bellcurve Vs Veritas? Any comments on the overall plan?
Your plan sounds pretty good, but seems particularly lacking in one way.

You describe what you will do when you find a question to be particularly challenging, that you will analyze the question and find ways that others answer that question and similar questions. What you don't say is that after that you will actually practice doing questions like that one until you have become good at the game of getting right answers to such questions.

Playing the GMAT game tends to be a key aspect of getting skilled in the GMAT game, and that's where the BellCurves question bank comes in. There are dozens to hundreds of questions in each category of the bank. So after you have developed understanding of how a particular type of question may best be answered, you can go the BellCurves question bank and do dozens of similar questions until you are in all ways skilled in handling them.

The quant questions in the Veritas Question Bank are more consistently high quality than are those in the BellCurves question bank. The Veritas questions are not categorized, however, and there are not as many of them. The BellCurves questions are good enough, and some of them are really good, and what you really need is to do the topic based work that you can do using them, so that you can develop things like hacking skills and the accuracy that you need in order to score V51.

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Great- will use Bellcurve questions to practice my improvement area questions. Could never thank you enough for all your advice.

Marty Murray wrote:
mensanumber wrote:
At what stage do you think I should include bellcurve questions? If time is a concern what material from the above would see replaced by bellcurve questions? YOu seem to have benefited from Veritas Prep material too. HOw would you compare - Bellcurve Vs Veritas? Any comments on the overall plan?
Your plan sounds pretty good, but seems particularly lacking in one way.

You describe what you will do when you find a question to be particularly challenging, that you will analyze the question and find ways that others answer that question and similar questions. What you don't say is that after that you will actually practice doing questions like that one until you have become good at the game of getting right answers to such questions.

Playing the GMAT game tends to be a key aspect of getting skilled in the GMAT game, and that's where the BellCurves question bank comes in. There are dozens to hundreds of questions in each category of the bank. So after you have developed understanding of how a particular type of question may best be answered, you can go the BellCurves question bank and do dozens of similar questions until you are in all ways skilled in handling them.

The quant questions in the Veritas Question Bank are more consistently high quality than are those in the BellCurves question bank. The Veritas questions are not categorized, however, and there are not as many of them. The BellCurves questions are good enough, and some of them are really good, and what you really need is to do the topic based work that you can do using them, so that you can develop things like hacking skills and the accuracy that you need in order to score V51.

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