Data Sufficiency and My Brain: Four tips to get you started!

Its official, my brain hates data sufficiency! I am having some difficulty with this section because my brain keeps trying to solve the problem even though I know that I don’t have to. For some reason I also keep trying to relate the statements rather than think of them as separate independent statements. Why GMAT, why?

Ok, time to breathe…Clearly I needed a different approach; so who did I turn to? You guessed it, Google (don’t you love Google?) I went looking for Data Sufficiency tips and tricks and started to see a pattern:

  1. Memorize the answer choices-this is by far the most recommended tip and I can see that it makes sense. The choices are always the same, so knowing them cold means I can save time trying to figure out which one I am going to pick. I sort of knew the answer choices, I had not memorized them because I figured they were there on the page anyways but now I am thinking I should give this a shot.
  2. Eliminate answer choices-Ok, this is a no brainer, but again completely overlooked by mua. If either statement is insufficient you can easily eliminate 2-3 answer choices thereby increasing your chances of picking the right one.
  3. Forget about x people-Remember back in school when your teacher kept going on and on about solving for x and x this and that? Well, GMAT does not care what x is, at least not in this section. All you have to do is figure out whether you could figure out what x is from either or both statements.
  4. Look at statements separately-This is hard, I’m not gonna lie. This is probably what is causing me to stumble in this section. It took some practice and some getting used to but I am able to look at statement one and resist the urge to solve and just determine whether the statement alone can help answer the question. If it is not sufficient and I have to look at statement two I find it very hard to forget what I read on statement one

I will go back and give data sufficiency another try. I think that memorizing the answer choices and being able to eliminate some answer choices from statement one alone will help me out with point 4.

I would love to learn some of the tips you have used as well.



Flashcards-My Technique

I love flashcards. I have multi colored flashcards, sticky flashcards, rolodex style flashcards, lined flashcards, blank flashcards…ok, I think you get the picture. Flashcards are a great study aid and I think that everybody that has ever studied for the GMAT has at one time or another incorporated the use of flashcards be it print or digital.

I would love nothing more than to be able to set aside large chunks of time to study for the GMAT during the week, but I just don’t see my boss being ok with me sitting at my desk just hitting the books. Enter flashcards!

What I have done is:

First: created my own set of flashcards color coded and categorized by subject. (I know I am a big nerd, but whatever works right? 🙂 )

Second: I used my rolodex style flashcards and set them on my desk. Every now and then I will look at one and try to come up with the correct answer. If I get it right I flip it down, if I get it wrong it stays up for later.

Third: I gave my assistant a set and told her to throw a question at me randomly whenever she comes in to ask for something. This has been especially helpful in developing speed. Its great because I never know when she is going to actually quiz me or when its going to be just a work related issue-either way I have to have an answer.

Last but not least: I have a set that I carry in my purse. Perfect for when I am just waiting around somewhere.

I do stick to one subject a week so as to not get confused or try to cover too many things at once. I hope this helps. I know sitting around just looking at flashcards for a lengthy period of time can get somewhat tedious…this is just my way of mixing it up a bit.

Let me know how you like to use your flashcards or if you would like to see a digital copy of the flashcards I have been using.

Allies in your Mistakes

I have been MIA…I know but between work, family and studying I have barely had time for anything else.  That and its hard for me to tear myself away from books once I become immersed in them. Its funny, I thought math was going to be hard…I remember not being so great at math in school, but it seems like the skills are there…rusty but present.

I took a practice test and got average scores! Average! Not bad, not good; except of course if you are applying to b-school, in which case average is just not going to cut it. In getting familiarized with the test I have come to the realization that this is no ordinary test. The test-makers were sneaky little weasels that created cleverly appealing incorrect answers.

While I enjoyed seeing some right answers I was happier at all the questions that I got wrong. Now, before you start giving me raised eyebrow looks, hear me out. Those mistakes rather than being a negative became allies of mine. After spending time with them, learning why I got them wrong, learning why the appealing wrong answer was indeed wrong I began to see a pattern and certain logic to them.

The more specifics I analyzed the more I began to notice the difficult elements of the question before they tripped me up. This just goes to show how important the mistake tracker really is. If you analyze and categorize your past mistakes they may just help you avoid them in the future. I promise if you do this you will start to see less of them as you progress.

Calm before the Prep

Its been a couple of uneventful days. I’ve been gathering material in order to prepare for the GMAT and I have also joined an international study group-how cool is that? Amazing what the internet enables you to do. So the way it works is we will each tackle our study materials and then come together on skype or google chat once a week and just bounce questions off one another. This is great because we can take advantage of each other strengths to strengthen our weaknesses.

Full prep mode for me will start next week. For now I am just reading basic information on the test, its structure, the questions types…mainly getting familiarized.

On a side note my son saw me while I was reading up on some math questions and kindly informed me that if I did not understand I should go to pre-k because Ms. Ingles (his teacher) is a very good math teacher :). Oh if only it were that simple. 

Books, Books and More Books

I love books. My brother used to tease me because I liked to smell my books, but I didn’t care. As a matter a fact I still do. I just love how new books smell and how they feel when you flip through the pages….old books can smell even better 😛 Give me a good old fashion book over a kindle book any day! Ok I’m digressing…back to topic. I have picked my GMAT books:

  • Official Guide-A Must!
  • Official Quant and Verbal Review Workbook
  • Manhattan GMAT Book Series for Verbal and Quant

I am undecided on the Kaplan Math Workbook. I’ve heard its really not worth it. I’m just wondering if I should get it anyway-for practice at least or brushing up on math? For the official guide I’ve ordered the 2015 one but I might get one of the older ones as well.

I should have all my materials here by the end of February and then the studying will really begin! If anybody out there has any additional recommendations for study materials let me know. I plan on making good use of the GMAT Prep tests and GMAT diagnostic tests. GMATclub also has some tests available that I will be using but if you know of others I am all ears.

Stalking and a Plan

After spending the better half of today stalking two websites (gmat club and beat the gmat) I was finally able to develop a study plan for myself! It is still a work in progress and I will probably be tweaking it as I go, but I’m confident that it will help me reach my goal and it will work for me.

I started out the day by trying to find a ready made, foolproof, high score guarantee type of a study plan. I found some great resources in the above mentioned sites but they did not feel quite right. So after some more thinking I decided to build my own; after all, I know better than anyone what areas I need the most help in and what my schedule is like.

I have a tentative test date for July 9th. This gives me about 4 months preparation. My plan is a 3 month plan, BUT at the end of Month 1 I have to seriously consider if I am strong enough in quant to move forward (in case I did not mention it before the quant section is my biggest weak point). This way if I feel I am not ready then I can give myself a few extra days without cutting into my verbal preparation.

My months go as follows:

Month 1

Month 1

Month 2

Month 2

Month 3

Month 3

As you can see I have not listed the books I will be using and that is because I am still trying to figure out which ones to use. I have an idea but have not landed on something definite yet. Looks like I have a bit more stalking to do :). You will also notice I am taking the last two weeks of February almost as pre prep, if that makes sense, and that is because I live in Central America, Honduras to be exact, and the books are not easily available. I am probably going to have to order them online and wait for them to arrive. There is some great material online as well and I will be using those as well but I should have my materials list ready by tomorrow. Once all my books are here, or even in the meantime, I plan on getting familiarized with the test, its structure, the different types of questions, etc.

I will keep updating my schedule as it takes form and keep sharing as well. As far as time is concerned I am setting aside 2 hours Mon-Fri and 8 hours Saturday. Again, these times are not set in stone…it is a minimum, if I feel I have a little extra time I will throw it in the mix. I just have to find the right balance between work, kid, husband to get it all done. Sunday will be my rest day.

So far its kind of exciting…which is good.