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Minimizing "dumb" mistakes

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Joined: 21 Jul 2018
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Minimizing "dumb" mistakes [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2018, 19:25

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I've gotten to the point in my prep where I understand all the concepts in the quant section, and when I complete a set of questions, I *think* I've gotten everything right. However, I still make enough "dumb" mistakes---usually computation errors or misreading the question---to bring my quant score down. I believe it was these sorts of errors that explains why my performance on the actual GRE has been worse than my practice test performance (I've taken the real exam twice, with 160Q the first time and 165Q the second time; Magoosh had predicted between 167Q and 170Q).

How do others deal with these sorts of dumb mistakes?
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Re: Minimizing "dumb" mistakes [#permalink] New post 22 Jul 2018, 00:02
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Re: Minimizing "dumb" mistakes [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2018, 01:12
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I answered this question in another post too but this is how I did it:

1. Find a set of tricky math problems. I had a curated set of ~160 questions that represented all the traps one can see on GRE.
2. Do them. And when you do, be as careless as you can. At this point, you want to EXPOSE all the careless mistakes you can possibly make. A perfect GRE math score does not allow ANY careless mistakes.
3. Take a look back and figure out why you made those mistakes, figure out how to avoid them in the future, make a list of actions you can take and practice them with some new questions. You want to form good habits at this point.
4. Take a look at the list you created at Step 3 the morning before the test. You got this.

This is literally what I did for my GRE math. My whole prep process for that was just one day. I made every single possible mistake I could have (I got 30% of my practice questions wrong, partially intentionally), and never made them ever again. The real test felt like a breeze afterwards.

Yuan Liu, Creator of Gregory. Dartmouth Grad.

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Re: Minimizing "dumb" mistakes [#permalink] New post 21 Sep 2018, 05:56
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Hi takethetest,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. So, 165 is an awesome start. Regarding your careless errors, the real question you should ask is WHY you are making silly mistakes on the GRE. The reality is that there are a multitude of reasons why you may be making silly mistakes. Those reasons range from not reading carefully to messy writing to making mental math mistakes to feeling nervous. In fact, I wrote an article that discusses [url=( ... -accuracy/]those and more causes of careless errors and how to fix those issues[/url].

While it’s quite possible that your careless errors are due to some of the reasons I’ve already mentioned, it’s also entirely possible that your careless errors are due, in some part, to a relative lack of GRE quant knowledge. Yes, you have been scoring extremely well on practice exams; however, on the GRE you must answer difficult and convoluted math questions in a timed and pressure-filled environment, so if you don’t know GRE quant like the back of your hand, careless errors are likely, right? Take the following example:

14! is equal to which of the following?

(A) 87,178,291,200
(B) 88,180,293,207
(C) 89,181,294,209
(D) 90,000,000,003
(E) 91,114,114,114

Upon seeing this question, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Grabbing a calculator to add up the values in the expression? If you are able to quickly recognize that using the “5 x 2 pair rule” will allow you to attack the problem quickly and efficiently (see the solution below), the question becomes very basic, and you can avoid having to perform tedious calculations that are likely to result in a silly mistake.


Notice that there is at least one (5 × 2) pair contained in the product of these numbers. It follows that the units digit must be a zero. The only number with zero as the units digit is 87,178,291,200.

Answer: A

This is just one example, but hopefully you can see that by a) recognizing what the question is asking and b) properly attacking the question, your propensity to make a silly mistake greatly decreases.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

Founder and CEO
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Re: Minimizing "dumb" mistakes   [#permalink] 21 Sep 2018, 05:56
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