A Mindset For GMAT Math

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Many people don't understand that GMAT math success is related to creativity. As I've said before, you need to know the formulas, but that's just the beginning.

Kalid, who writes a blog called BetterExplained, has a great recent post called "How to Develop a Mindset for Math." He discusses, better than I've been able to, on some ways to approach mathematics.

Here's one highlight:

Textbooks rarely focus on understanding; it's mostly solving problems with "plug and chug" formulas. It saddens me that beautiful ideas get such a rote treatment.

In the Total GMAT Math, I've tried to go beyond the "plug and chug" formulas as much as possible within the constraints of GMAT Math. For instance, it's well and good to know the ratio of the sides of a 30:60:90 triangle, but it's much more valuable to understand how that relates to figures such as equilateral triangles. GMAT Math doesn't go the additional step of relating such things to the natural world (for example), but getting beyond a list of formulas will aid your understanding tremendously.

Later in the post, Kalid gets to some concrete advice. I'll point you to his post to read the whole thing, but I want to quote my favorite of his tips:

Realize you can learn. We expect kids to learn algebra, trigonometry and calculus that would astound the ancient Greeks. And we should: we're capable of learning so much, if explained correctly. Don't give up until it makes sense or that mathematical gap will haunt you. Mental toughness is critical - we often give up too easily.

It's worth the extra effort. Even if you don't value abstract math knowledge for its own sake (though you probably should), closing those gaps will improve your GMAT score.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Math

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Quant section. It's "far and away the best study material available," including over 300 realistic practice questions and more than 500 exercises!
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