Nail the Basics

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Does math make you cringe? I usually don’t mind math. I know, it’s weird. But really, I can do math. The highest score on my ACTs was in the math category. I took AP Calculus in high school and did well. In college I got a 4.0 in calc my freshman year at a school where 80% of the student fail at least one math class…I can do math. But, leave it to the GMAT to give me run for my money at math. I am realizing I’m going to need to spend a little extra time studying Quan. So far, here are a few tips I’ve discovered throughout my studying.

1. Know the basics

It sounds really simple, but it’s true. Relearn the basic math equations you learned in high school. Refresh yourself in geometry. When hearing rumors about the GMAT and it’s difficulty level, I thought I’d be dealing with Calc 3 type of material. Instead most of the questions are based upon general equations, but the questions have a spin on them. You’re never going to be able to answer the question if you don’t know the basics. Invest the time in memorizing common equations and geometry figures.

2. Identify the question

This seems like another no brainer, but it’s important. Some of the questions don’t ask for an answer. Seriously. Instead some of the questions ask “if you knew this piece of information, or this piece, both or neither-could you answer the question.” So instead of answering the original question, look for what they are asking for. You might not have to solve for x. Often you won’t be able to, or you won’t have enough time to.

3. Watch your timing

Time management is one of the most difficult things on this test. Generally you have just under 2 minutes to answer each question. The questions aren’t timed individually, but if you want to stay on track a general rule is to use 2 minutes per question. This is especially difficult for the Quan section. Often the problems are complicated or require calculations. Use your time wisely. What I often tell myself is I know I can answer this correctly, but I need a little more time. Usually the opposite is true. Most students get the questions wrong that they take a long time to answer. If you are getting behind in the test you might have to consider strategically guessing on a few problems to catch up.

4. Replicate test conditions

Most of the time study as if you are taking a real test. Don’t get me wrong, you need time to absorb and learn the material During that time you will need extra time to understand strategies. However, if you are taking a practice test, or working on a set of problems act as if you are taking a real test. Time yourself and don’t take breaks. DO NOT use a calculator. Mental math capabilities is a big part of this test. I would actually recommend specifically working on your mental math skills using timed sessions that evaluate timing and accuracy. Manhattan GMAT has a great tool for this. http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2012/05/09/everyday-ways-to-improve-your-mental-math-skills/

Well, that’s all for today. Let me know if you have any questions about these tips. And if you have any best practices for studying, send them my way!

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