How to avoid "stupid" mistakes on the GMAT

trinko's picture
Rank: Monkey | 62

I've always been good at math, and never had trouble understanding the material I learned in my courses. But I have a very bad habit of making stupid mistakes when I do math in my head, usually simple arithmetic. This wasn't as much a problem in the days of "partial credit," but it's killing me while I prepare for the GMAT. When I check my answers on my gmat practice tests, I'm surprised to see something's wrong and realize where I messed up right away. Except for a few things I need to study, this is really all that's standing between me and a perfect quant score, but it's costing me big. I might get four of five questions wrong in a section because of careless mistakes that I don't catch, even when I try to be very careful. Did anyone else have this problem? How do I fix it?

Comments (5)

Sep 18, 2013

slow down, and stop doing it all in your head.

only do one step of work per line.

Sep 18, 2013

Right, so - this is actually a problem I've always had, too, and I managed to get around it when I took the GMAT. Just make sure that you really take the time to work your way through the problems. The timing on the GMAT's quant section is pretty relaxed, so if you're good at math you'll probably have plenty of time left over. No need to worry too much about it. Just relax, and take it easy.

Sep 18, 2013

Dude, I have exactly the same issue as you, but with both math and verbal. For me I think it manifests as overconfidence - I expect that I can do the arithmetic quickly, whether on paper or pencil... or if it's the verbal section (my strong suit), I run through some of the problems and miss out on key parts that are very important. Frustrating as hell, but I'm trying to really take my time.

At the same time, I think another reason I make careless mistakes is because I'm afraid of timing issues. How do you guys time yourselves? I usually try to spend 2 minutes per question on quant, and I'm checking the clock at least once each question (which I think wastes at least 5-10 seconds). For English I usually check after every RC section, and each SC and CR question. There's got to be a better method though, right?

Sep 18, 2013

Honestly, I got my timing down by just trying to do the full length practice tests as fast as possible.

I used the Manhattan Books/6 Tests, and the Gmat Tests. Took a practice test every day the week before i took the actual test. If I wasn't close to a solution after 1 attempt then I just guessed and moved on. This ensured that I had enough time for tougher questions that I can actually solve.

The only solution to missing key parts of the question is more practice. Power through a practice test and then review every questions. I'd usually go through and do the problems again untimed.

Sep 18, 2013
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