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Nailed it, Missed it, Guessed it, Timed it, Screwed it

Posted on March 09, 2011
GMAT prep

What did you do – Nail it, Miss it, Guess it, Time it, or Screw it?

If you were to ask me the top reason why students are not able to improve on their scores it is this – INABILITY TO INTERNALIZE THE QUESTIONS (caps intended!). One of the key ways to internalize any problems is to ask yourself these questions:
• What the question was testing you on that you did NOT know?
• What went through your mind in those 60-90 seconds to pick this option?
• What did you think was right in the wrong answer choice which made you pick it?
• What did you think was wrong in the right answer choice which made you not pick it?
Questions are the best way to learn how to solve questions on the GMAT. Not by hits and misses but by analyzing them thoroughly. However one important point in analyzing is “knowing” how to analyze. Following is a simple way in which you can analyze questions:
For each set of questions you are solving, take a clean sheet of paper (or an Excel if you are like me) and write down the following columns:

Question Number Your Answer Original Answer (OA) Legend

Irrespective of whether you got a question right or wrong the following are the 5 ways in which you ended up solving (or not solving) them:

N -> Nailed it

These are questions which you can solve at the middle of the night. Length is 4, Breadth is 5, what is the area of the rectangle. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING you will learn from these kind of questions. Infact if the source of your practice has more Ns then it is time to change the source – no point practicing such stuff.

M-> Missed it

These are questions on which you made a silly mistake. Like not reading the question properly or inadvertently clicking on the wrong answer choice. Well, I have this theory that the only person who can make such silly mistakes and still get a 700 is someone who should have got a 750 in the first place!

G -> Guessed it

These are not questions on which you did inky-pinky-ponky. These are questions on which you were confused. Go back and evaluate using the 4 questions mentioned above – which of the following could have been the reason for your “guess”. You can use it even for questions where you ultimately got the right answer but did not know for sure why you eliminated the closest choice.

T -> Timed it (wrong)

Some food for thought – I would rather spend 30 seconds and get a question wrong, than spend 5 minutes to get a question right. The reason is you have around 2 minutes per question. If you end up solving 1 question in 5 minutes effectively you have 30 seconds for 2 questions some place. So to get 1 question right – you are assuring you will get 2 questions wrong. Whereas in the first case you just got 1 question wrong to begin with. Get the drift?

S -> Screwed it

These are my favourite kind of mistakes. The ones on which you realize you had NO clue what hit you. The ones which are beyond your league. The ones, which the cricketer commentator would say, a “good ball to get out on”. Learn from these questions.
Try to see what concept or theory you did not know which prevented you from answering this question. More importantly ask yourself after the analysis if you would be able to get a similar question right the next time. If the answer is yes, you can confidently move on.
So hope this gives you some food for thought on how to analyze your questions better. The last thing you should be doing in blindly speed-read your way through the OG. Remember that the GMAC spends around $250 per question. So you are looking at around $100,000 worth of questions. Better to respect that and analyze why the hell are they paying the GMAT test setters so much!
Hope these techniques make a positive difference to your GMAT prep! If you’d like to share what works for you and what doesn’t, please leave a comment in the comment section below.
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