Tracking Problems

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Tracking Problems

by rrobbins407 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:45 pm
What is the best way to track what you need to work on in a time efficient manner? I've found it rather time consuming to record every problem that I attempt in an excel file. I've started keeping a paper list instead of an excel file. This lists has only the problems I have got incorrect and has the correct way to solve them. Unfortunately, with the paper list I lack the ability to quickly quantify what I need to work on. What do you guys think is the best way to track what you need to improve on?

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by [email protected] » Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:39 pm
Hi rrobbins407,

If you're going to keep a pencil-and-paper error log, then you're going to lose out on a LOT of the functionality that you'll get with an Excel Document (or equivalent). That having been said, adding a bit more detail to your log might help you to better assess the areas that you need to work on.

In the current version of your notes, do you keep track of WHY you get each question wrong? Are you making silly/little mistakes? Do you not know the proper formulas/rules? Could you have used a different approach altogether? You might be able to track these issues (and a few others) with 'check marks', but that's more a matter of your overall organization than anything else.

How are you scoring on your practice CATs?
When are you planning to take the GMAT?
What is your goal score?

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by rrobbins407 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:40 pm
Hi Rich,

Thanks for the response. I do not keep track of the reason I get the equation wrong. I am still pretty early in my gmat studies. I am currently working through the MGMAT series.

I don't know if I specify the reason but it becomes fairly obvious when I look at the problem. I do however always write down the type of problem.

I have only took one practice test on which I scored a 620. I haven't set a date to take the test yet but I believe it will be in September. My goal is to get a 720+. I plan to finish the mgmat series before knocking out more practice tests.

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing your thoughts

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by [email protected] » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:02 pm
Hi rrobbins407,

If you're not planning to take the Official GMAT until September, then you have plenty of time to continue studying. With a 620 as a 'baseline' score, you likely won't need all of the time that you've given yourself, but you can adjust your overall timeline based on how your studies proceed.

When reviewing your work, you might want to add the reason why you got the question wrong. This will help to reveal any underlying patterns in your work. Maybe you got a question wrong for a silly mistake, but WHAT was that mistake? Did you miss a specific piece of information? Take notes incorrectly (or not at all)? A silly math mistake? Maybe you got a question wrong because you haven't covered the material that you would need to know to answer the question? You might have gotten a question wrong because you were low on time. These are all issues that you can work on (and 'fix'), but ONLY if you know that the issue exists.

Given your study pace, when do you think you will take your next FULL-LENGTH CAT?

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by brianlange77 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:28 pm
Here's an oldie, but goodie, article from my dear friend Stacey that talks a great deal about the importance of error logs, how to keep them, how to actually do them when you don't want to, and how to leverage them to improve your process, approach and score.

https://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/error-log.cfm

Hope this helps!

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by rrobbins407 » Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:21 am
Thanks Brian!

Hi Rich,

Thanks for your response again! I'll likely use all my time as my goal is to get as high of a score as possible. I think after our exchange in messages I am leaning towards starting an excel error log.

I expect that I will take my next full length CAT in the next 3 weeks or so. I think I will begin taking 1-2 tests per week and spending the rest of my time analyzing them and strengthening my weak areas.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

-Ryan

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by manyaabroadtpr » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:04 am
rrobbins407 wrote:What is the best way to track what you need to work on in a time efficient manner? I've found it rather time consuming to record every problem that I attempt in an excel file. I've started keeping a paper list instead of an excel file. This lists has only the problems I have got incorrect and has the correct way to solve them. Unfortunately, with the paper list I lack the ability to quickly quantify what I need to work on. What do you guys think is the best way to track what you need to improve on?
Hi rrobinns407,

Take as many practice tests as possible. Spend as much time in analyzing your performance in the test. Typically if you spend 2 hours in a mock test, spend 4-5 hours in analyzing your performance and take a note on how to attempt each question better, faster and smarter. Make sure you apply them in your next practice test. This will be the best way to measure your improvement in the exam.

Let us know if you would have any questions for gmat preparation and we would be happy to guide. Wish you the best.

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by [email protected] » Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:02 am
Hi rrobinns407,

I have to agree with everyone here so far about the benefits of using Excel to track your errors. I think this will also give you some flexibility in organizing them by the types of questions you're getting wrong most often, which will allow you to hone in on the areas you need the most help with.

If you haven't done so already, here's a link to sign up for a free 7-day trial of The Economist's GMAT Tutor. What will be most helpful to you is its adaptive technology, which will automatically cater your study materials to the areas you need to work on most: https://bit.ly/1bPAHuW

Best of luck!
Rich

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by [email protected] » Thu Apr 02, 2015 4:03 pm
Hi Ryan,

Just to re-iterate: since you're not planning to take your GMAT until September, taking one FULL-LENGTH CAT every 1-2 weeks is the most sensible way to approach that part of your studies. Taking 1-2 CATs every week at any point in the short-term is not practical (and not a good use of your time).

A CAT is just a 'measuring device'; real improvement comes from learning and practicing tactics, doing quizzes, review, etc.

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by dabral » Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:28 am
@rrobbins407

Keeping track of errors using an excel file sounds like a good plan on paper, but in reality it is extremely time consuming. The choice really boils down to your style of studying. I personally don't like it and instead, I recommend internalizing your mistakes as you are learning the concepts and doing practice problems. There are just too many variations in GMAT problems that it becomes a nightmare to categorize them and to revisit and review them from time to time. Instead, I say keep doing fresh GMAT problems and lookout for the temptations that you had before and try to side step them. The GMAT questions do have a set pattern and the key is to stick to Official GMAT questions. Also, redoing GMAT problems is not that helpful because once you have seen the solution most GMAT problems become easy, meaning they lose the initial shock that all GMAT problems possess. Just my two cents.

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by brianlange77 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:10 pm
manyaabroadtpr wrote: Hi rrobinns407,

Take as many practice tests as possible. Spend as much time in analyzing your performance in the test. Typically if you spend 2 hours in a mock test, spend 4-5 hours in analyzing your performance and take a note on how to attempt each question better, faster and smarter. Make sure you apply them in your next practice test. This will be the best way to measure your improvement in the exam.

Let us know if you would have any questions for gmat preparation and we would be happy to guide. Wish you the best.
For what it's worth -- I'll offer a different POV. I think taking a bunch of practice tests is great -- to a point. At some point, you need to use the data that you collect/gather from the practice tests and then focus on those places that are giving you the most difficulty and develop a target plan in those areas. For example, if you are struggling with geometry, it might make more sense to focus on a lot of geometry problems, rather than just the 5-7 you might encounter on the exam.

Just my $0.02.

Best of luck!!

-Brian
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