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You miss one little thing, and it's as if the math simply nails you for it. Notice: this hypothetical problem-solver was actually flawless on nine of the ten steps. In other words, she actually knows a lot of math. Yes, it will be important to clear up the concept on the step she missed, but it's very important for her, and for you, to take credit for knowing a good deal of math, even when the answer is “wrong.”That is hugely important in the learning process. Another reason math can seem hard is that it's like a language in that success on more challenging problems requires fluency. If you have ever learned a language beyond your native tongue, you probably recognize how effortless the new language can be when you are fluent, but how much of a gut-wrenching struggle it can be when you are uncertain of half the words or grammatical forms. Let's say, to solve a certain problem, you need to recall Concept A, Concept B, and Concept C ---if you have all three of those concepts at your fingertips, they problem is easy. If you recall Concept A and Concept C, but not Concept B, the problem may well be intractable. Probably if someone reminds you of Concept B, you will say, “Oh, yes, I know that.”Again, don't label yourself as “bad at math”because you were not fluent in all the concepts you needed; that's like concluding you are “bad at French”if you are not fluent after two weeks of learning it! It's just not fair! As with a language, fluency is a matter of consistent practice. The freaky math people can look at a concept once and never forget it. Most normal people have to be reminded several times before that concept moves from passive to active memory. Give yourself a break on the harsh judgments, and just do the consistent practice. Finally, math has this odd Jekyll and Hyde quality: When you don't see what to do in a problem, it appears
gmat.magoosh.com40 completely impossible; but when you see what to do, it often seems easy. When someone is rusty with math, he feels frustrated by one problem after another because they seem impossible, and then that is compounded when he sees the solution and it looks easy. Again, people incorrectly draw the conclusion, “Look, I'm stumped even by the easy ones. I must be bad at math.”I'd like to suggest an alternate interpretation. When you are stumped by a problem, remind yourself that probably there's just one concept, probably one you already know, that will unlock the problem and make it easy. As you practice consistently, and increase your fluency, it will be easier to remember those magical key concepts. Also, recognize that the bizarre “impossible”/”easy”split does not reflect anything about your abilities, but reflects something inherent to math itself. Don't take it personally ☺. Breakdown of Quant Concepts by Frequency The biggest secret to GMAT Quant success is a simple one: identify and study the correct Quant concepts. But what are the GMAT math topics? And which ones are the most important?