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  GMAT Exercise: Build Focus and Concentration to Perform Your Best

Posted by michael on Tue 07 Oct 08 at 7:53am

No matter how a student chooses to prepare for the GMAT, he or she will do hundreds of practice questions. After hours spent struggling with GMAT questions, students frequently lose focus and the questions all seem to look the same. As a result, long hours spent doing boring questions leave students demoralized. To help students who have hit a wall, I have described three GMAT games below that have helped students break up their study time and increase their scores. I suggest students do these exercises to warm up before taking a practice test or every two hours in the middle of a study marathon. The exercises below are for the quantitative questions.

Limit your time.

Since most students feel the pressure of time this is the most common exercise I recommend. I suggest students use the Official Guide and attempt 20 questions in 10 minutes. Most GMAT questions can be solved very quickly if a student learns to look for the big picture. Unfortunately, if a student is in a habit of setting up an equation and solving a problem, he or she will never see the big picture solution. So during this exercise ask yourself the following questions:
What answers are wrong?
Can I solve for units digits?
Are all the answers integers?
Will a picture help?
Can I estimate the solution?
After completing this exercise, don’t just check the answers and read the solutions. Try to figure out the answer the long way. If you got a question right, try to understand what your assumptions were and ensure that those assumptions are correct.

Write the Solution in Words.

For a slightly smaller group of students, solving the problem too quickly can be a problem, resulting in careless mistakes. Although it may seem a waste of time, spending thirty minutes a day writing a detailed solution to a problem will help a student focus on the details. During this exercise, it helps to focus on penmanship. I recommend students get a ‘super neat notebook’ and use their best writing to write detailed explanations for each question. I discovered this technique from an Oxford University graduate. Using this technique, she scored a 750. The book isn’t used for actually solving a problem; it is rather a book filled with the most difficult problems a student has mastered. Nearly every student of mine that has broken 700 kept a neat notebook.

Visualize the Solution.

It is best to practice this exercise from the beginning of your GMAT Preparation. Try to visualize each step of the solution in detail. This can sometimes be difficult, so I suggest students start with a simple exercise: prime factorization, attempting to prime factorize each integer on a list only without writing down steps. After a student gets good at that, I have him or her move on to multiplication, exponent problems, algebra, and, finally, word problems. After practice, a student should be able to list every step aloud. This is especially good for Data Sufficiency questions, since it helps students see how they would solve a problem without actually working out the answer. Although this exercise takes the most practice, it is the most worthwhile. Once a student can visualize all the steps to solving a problem, he or she will make fewer mistakes and go down fewer wrong paths while attempting to work out solutions.



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