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GRE Quant - Common Mistakes

Now that we have discussed the syllabus and topic-wise breakup of the GRE® Quants, let’s turn to some of the most common mistakes that GRE® aspirants fall prey to, and how you can avoid them.

It’s not merely enough to have a complete mastery over concepts and formulae: in an intense, timed exam like the GRE® where you have very limited time to answer a bunch of questions, it’s important to be quick and accurate. Otherwise, you run the risk of jeopardising your score because of a few silly mistakes, or just because of not having enough time to attempt all the questions.

So, what are some common mistakes that students tend to make while attempting the GRE® quants, and how can you avoid them?
Let’s take a look, shall we?

Calculation mistakes:

Imagine this: you are getting ready to take the GRE®, after preparing for months. You are confident, because you know you are thoroughly proficient in all the quants formulae you might possibly need to get that perfect 170. You read the first question, and get excited, because it’s a cakewalk for you. But wait! Look carefully! You were just about to calculate a number that wasn’t even asked of you, because you almost didn’t read the question properly, or completely. Sounds familiar? The inability to read a question properly is one of the gravest mistakes you can make. What do we mean by this?
Suppose a question asks you to compute the value of 2x. Instead of doing that, you think you are asked for the value of x, and mark the wrong answer.
The easiest way to conquer this mistake is to read the entire question carefully to figure out what exactly is asked of you. Don’t rush into answering the question before you’ve fully read and understood it.

Conceptual mistakes:

These are the mistakes that arise because your grasp over the concepts is modest at best, or because you didn’t give yourself enough time to practice. As a result, you end up wasting too much time wondering which formulae to apply, or applying the wrong formulae altogether. The only way to properly remedy this is to practice continuously, and gain a thorough mastery over the various concepts.

Right, so we’ve learned what the common mistakes that you could make on your Quants are. Let’s now take a look at some of the techniques you can employ to overcome these.

  • Befriend time: When taking your GRE® practice tests, time yourself strictly and see how you fare. On every consequent test, you should be taking lesser and lesser time. Remember, you have eighty questions to answer, and the only way you can dream of a 170 on your Quants are by monitoring the time you take to solve questions. This way, on the D-day, you can speed through the easy and medium difficulty questions, leaving you with sufficient time to work on the more difficult ones.

    If you have a tough time working on such a strict time schedule, or if you find yourself running short of time, make an intelligent guess, mark your answer and then highlight it so you can come back to it later if time permits.

  • Beware of booby traps: The GRE® is notorious for its deceptively simple questions, where in fact an easy-looking question actually disguises one where a little more thought is needed. This is to check how alert you are while writing the exam, and can be easily remedied through careful reading. For example, take a look at this question:
If x2 + 6x = –9, how many values of x are possible?

A. None
B. one
C. two
D. three
E.infinitely many

How much time did you take to solve it?
The answer is option B: one.
x2 + 6x + 9 = 0
(x+3)2 = 0
Therefore, x = -3

The two roots are equal and identical, but there is only one “value” of x, i.e -3.
These are precisely the kinds of questions you can expect on the GRE®, and if you don’t pay full attention, you run the risk of miscalculating.

We hope you found this article helpful, and wish you warmly on your journey to graduate school, and even before that, a high GRE® score.

To continue reading about the GRE® Quants and to take a look at some GRE® practice questions, click here.

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