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GRE 2014: The greatest blunder you're committing right now

Last updated on: December 16, 2013 20:46 IST

GRE 2014: The greatest blunder you're committing right now

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Courtesy TCYonline

One of the greatest mistakes aspirants make is rationing their time chapter-wise and not spending enough time on revising those concepts. These crucial tips will help you sequence your studies and make the most of the time available at hand.

Just close your eyes and think of the textbooks on science or mathematics you studied in school.

These books had the entire content split into chapters, with each chapter giving a full treatment to the chosen theme.

The concept was defined, basic definitions were listed. Then there were simple examples, followed by tougher examples.

When you looked at the end of the chapter exercise listing various problems on that theme, the initial problems were simpler with the tail problems pretty tough. Right?

This is the trap we all fall victim to when we prepare for competitive exams.

We take a chapter, say Speed-Time-Distance, go through its 37 problems in three to four hours, and feel satisfied that we are now ready. Actually we just tire ourselves.

See, the actual exam may feature its speed-time-distance problem in Question 23 of the test.

It might be easy/ medium or tough degree of difficulty. Accordingly, the time rationed for it maybe 30 seconds/ 45 seconds/ 60 seconds.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Does the exam allow a warm-up time? Since doing the questions in the chapter, allowed a gradual warm-up in cracking such questions; the mind thus got used to Speed-Time-Distance concepts and formulae while doing those 37 questions.
  • Do you get to know the degree of difficulty of a question immediately? In the chapter, you began with simpler problems, graduating to tougher ones towards end of these 37 questions. In the actual exam, you need to decide what is the toughness of the question, and on the basis of this judgement you decide what traps might be there or how much time ought to be allocated for it.

For example, THIS is what an actual test is like; and in order to do well, it is important that we prepare in a similar fashion.

When we have just handled a geometry question and out of the blue pops a Speed-Time-Distance question, we should be able to quickly recall the key concepts, figure out how to handle the question, and execute its solving, all in say 45 seconds.

Thus, while preparing, we need to give lots of time to attempting theme-wise jumbled problems.

Most students are very diligent and systematic in revising concepts theme by theme, one theme at a time.

This drains most of their initial two to three months of preparation time.

In fact, this is a silly way of preparing.

Imagine that you invested days seven and eight of your preparation to cracking problems on Profit-Loss, days nine and ten on the theme of Time-Work, and so on...

When you were doing problems on probability on days 27 and 28, the work done over initial part of the month is lost, it is nowhere on your mind. So if someone asked you a question on Time-Work at end of day 28, you may be totally blank.

Appreciate this juncture; this is the moment of truth.

The actual exam requires you to have an ability to crack any theme question, wherever it is positioned in the test.

So what is the way out? The way out is a Spiral way of preparation.

Make a group of 10 questions, two from each theme. Learn to do these well over three to four days. This is step A. Repeat this for two sets of fresh 10 problems each.

Now jump into 25 practice problems of theme 1 -- master these over two to three days.

Do not be content by just learning how to solve them, take your expertise to a level your time per question is below 60 seconds.

On the fourth day, begin doing practice problems on theme 2; give this theme three to four days.

Alongside, keep on doing problems of theme 1 too. See, you've to be a glacier, which carries ALL of its mass with it; you aren't a river that drops its debris as it flows.

On Day 8, begin handling practice problems of theme 3. Alongside, keep on working on test questions from themes 1 and 2.

Encourage your friends to pose random questions to you from themes 1, 2 and 3. Do NOT seek a warm-up time. And so on goes your sequence of preparation. 

After sequencing your study like this, you DO GET ready for an actual exam. Happy studying!