GRE Snacks 19 – Keep it simple on the GRE

Tyler York
gre snacks podcast

The GRE is hard enough as it is. Many students, especially those who are really strong at math, will try to solve the math instead of just getting the answer. But that’s not the way to ace the GRE. You should be doing arithmetic, not algebra, and more. Learn how to keep it simple in this episode.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to maximize your score on the GRE exam, check out Achievable’s GRE course.

GRE Snacks 19 – Keep it simple on the GRE

Welcome to GRE snacks. Snackin full episodes about the GRE exam and graduate school admission, Tyler,

And I'm a Ryan founder of Stellar GRE and author of achievable. GRE course you can check out our course at achievable. Me. And the code podcast will get you 10% off at checkout. Let's get started. Alright so today we're talking about keeping it simple. I would you go as far as to say it's the kiss method, keep it simple stupid, tree school, you know? I don't think I'm ever going to forget that but

Totally. I mean, it really was good, advice that I miss you over my, my fifth grade homeroom teacher gave me. We do want to keep things as idiot-proof as possible. And the reason for that is the test is hard enough as it is. A lot of students. I've worked with in the past, especially if they have some

What's say?

historical success with masks official way or the, the clever way because I can write

Like for example Tyler I once had this dude many years ago he went on to get a PhD in mathematics from MIT. This guy knew so much more about math than I did sometimes after our lessons together I would ask teach me something new about that. He was a very intelligent guy and yet he was coming to me for GRE test, prep 68 on the quantitative section, but week after week, she would be getting 19 out of 20, write 19 and 20, right? And I beginning 20 out of 20, right? That I was trying to teach him is that he was still committed to doing things the official way, like a clever mastering the Calculus class and I was teaching him to plug in numbers.

Use cute little heuristics and to solve questions without doing a lot of. Now in that ran counter to who he was kind of up a math, I'm at Pro as it were great.

Now, we mentioned this in a previous episode, but like 99% is higher than 98%, right? So what does that mean? I know as a former math. Professor that generally, I can answer a question algebraically, 98% of the time, I can answer it correctly, but I know that if I were to saw that question, arithmetic Lee, I could get it right 99% of the time and I wish without understanding it doesn't make sense for me to prioritize. The 98% success rate over the 99% success rate, right?

The fact of the matter is, is I have yet to meet a student who is more accurate and efficient over the long-term with algebra than arithmetic. Because we just been doing arithmetic are longer than we've been doing out for in arithmetic, is far simpler.

It is it's much easier to make a mistake in the abstract than it is to make a mistake. In that concrete. Concrete error will be staring you in the face. You can still miss it, if you're not careful, but at least it's there in black and white. Whereas the abstract conceptualization can be difficult or difficult to spawn.

But if that's that's kind of the Rudy here is, we want to choose the approach. That doesn't just work. There are many roads up the same out. There are many solutions to any given a math question shoes. The solution that is the most generalizable i e. It works for the most kinds of questions so we don't have to wake up a Julian. New things to answer a bajillion, you questions, we want to want to really limit our prep

So, I need to be generalizable.

It needs to be low energy.

Like there has to be not a lot of cognitive resources expended on a given solution, we don't want to reinvent the wheel, we have to answer 100 problems in a row over four straight hours. So, if we're coming up with some clever original, creative solution for every single question that we encounter, we're going to run a steam. Well before the test is over and never that create all kinds of fatigue effects and stunts. Decrease, first one, we've, we've identified, you've identified in your research like 50 quantitative problem types. And 50 is a lot of, it's like if you member I sent the fax is one thing but memorizing 50 like ways to solve problems is pretty hard.

It is, but it's easier than not having that framework. As far as I know. I meant I meant I meant it more like to say that. It's like that's why you're generalizing the framework to try and cover. Say 10 of them with one framework Etc.

That's true. So we use diagnostic diagnosis, more flexibly to say that these be certain types of questions, all fall under this rubric and so that we only can have 50 categories, which sounds like a lot until you consider. There's only 40 grated questions in the entire exam. So if you're being asked 40 questions to prepare for 50 types of questions, it is actually a pretty good return on your investment of time and energy. I think. Yeah, for sure. So we want something is generalizable and we want something that is kind of mechanical low-energy. Non-creative a standardized test demands a standardized response to the more that we can kind of do. What worked on the 10 problems that were similar to this and do the same thing on the 11:00. It's not going to be that different. We generally just need to plug in the new numbers and do what's work 10 times in the past.

And we want the most parsimonious Solutions. This is a great word is used often in physics. And also mathematics parsimony means that there's not a lot of extra stuff, the best solution is the most parsimonious solution, the one with the fewest steps, all things being equal. Why is that? Because we're human in the walk, the more steps we take, it's only a matter of time before we take a misstep. So if you have an alternative between a 5-step solution are tensed up solution while I'm twice as likely to make a careless error on the latter than the former. So this is interesting parsimony efficiency game that you can also play with quantitative questions on the GRE which is actually kind of fun. If you think you can earn it like how can I get to the solution with the fewest possible steps? That's good.

I'm in the best way to do that is to kind of have a system that, you know, works for the vast majority of this question type. And then to just execute it, whenever you see that type of question presented self, test. This is in contrast to see a question and thinking, well, you know, I learned from a Ryan and from a T-Mobile that you could do it this way, but, you know, I'm feeling pretty confident with the algebra that can do it that way. Then you kind of debating with yourself. The clock is ticking, whatever you choose, is probably no longer than most efficient solution, even if it would have been, if you chose it right off the path. So that's like we don't think when we take the GRE, we're going to talk about that in the next episode. If you made your decision about how to make a decision, you're doubling the decisions that you're making and retiring, right? Like it, it, it it would make it a lot easier to have a set path and just walked.

but every time and you know what you getting into

yeah, it's kind of like that a lot of my approach to GRE practice is similar to what's an Army boot camp where they kind of drill in these different Maneuvers over and over and over and over and over again because

you don't want to have to think. When the bullets are flying, if you're thinking, when the bullets are flying, you might be an honor. So, the idea here is, we're going to really a really hard so that when we drop you in the war zone, you're thinking about what you should do when you just rely on your training, it should have been drilled into your mind by Sarge. So many times that you just you're just acting out in training as opposed to thinking about what's the best highest on a higher level. With my best chance of success is less about knowing fax knowing information, that's useful, but it's more about a process. It's about developing have. It's a process of responding a certain question process of responding to set as a whole process for taking the entire for our tests. And this process needs to be rehearsed over and over again for to be successful.

When students should memorize equations or did you want to have problems? They kind of do themselves at the service because that's not actually environment in which they're going to be taking the test, right? We try to mimic that environment as much as possible. Obviously you talk about memorizing. Equations, being bad, what would you say is the distinction between memorizing, an equation versus memorizing problem. Solving process.

Well, you need to know some equations. Sure, it's going to be very difficult to solve problems without the requisite equation, but just knowing an equation doesn't help you to choose a b r, a b, c d, or a lot of the time, it's necessary. But insufficient getting the question, right? So if we just focus on learning, the facts of math, equations of math. That's good. But it's missing out on a very important indispensable component of success, which is going to take that equation and put it into an effective approach in the context of, you know, this particular

20 question problems in this entire for our test. So that's that's what I mean by that. And I think like obviously our courses achievable is very focused on this essentially point of view, right? Like he was the approach, this is what you're going to learn. You're going to learn the approach. I feel like you know let's say someone's using somebody else right? Or whatever. What like what would you recommend would you recommend that they kind of create their own approaches or processes on the side? Or

Or should I start using another test for exactly that we have the very best product available on the on the market and I'm willing to go dollars to donuts with anybody who says otherwise. So it's like it's very hard to serve two masters. So if you're, if you're following me a chewable guide and you're following another test prep company, it's unlikely that we're going to be recommending that you do the same thing. I seen the fact when you reach a choice point, you can either go left or right. You can't go both ways. And so, if you're, if you have two different overarching approaches our strategies, students can sometimes get lost in the middle, you know, it's, I think it's better to be Catholics and Protestants like,

This is your system of a rules and rites and rituals. I'm subscribing to this whole heartedly versus. I'm going to kind of pick and choose what I want to keep. Then I'm going to throw away the stuff that doesn't work for right. That makes sense because at the end of the day you're trying to keep it simple is the title of the episode, right? And it ends if you're trying to decide which things are picking and choosing, it's not simple.

You made it so much more complicated than it needs to be added an unnecessary and avoidable level of complexity to your process. So, yeah, find the teacher that you want to follow and then stick with it. It

Check your profit. It's kind of like that and then go all the way. It's like that's how it said you know if you're going to go go all the way.


When he says it, it sounds so much cooler than when I say. Okay, Siri and Tyler from achievable achievement, a Ryan departed to build a great GRE course, try for free at achievable. Me and use the code podcast to get 10% off at checkout.

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