September 30, 2006

Tip - using the Laminated write board in GMAT

If you don't know yet, you do not get scrap papers when you appear for GMAT. What you get instead is a laminated write board/note board (or whatever it's called). It's a 4-sheet book with glossy, plastic, yellow sheets and you get a dry eraser marker pen.

Many people have had problems with this (and you will find many more complaints here). Of the common complaints are (in no particular order of occurrence)

1. "It made my hand dirty"
2. "I ran out of sheets! I had to wait for the administrator to give me a new set and it wasted time"
3. "it's uncomfortable!"

For (1) and (3) there's really no cure. Getting worked up about a dirty hand or the evil markers is the last thing you should worry about when writing the exam.

For (2) one of the possible reasons could be is the way people use writing sheets. Typically, horizontal space is rarely filled when you work out your problems - so usage of real estate is very poor. You then run out of sheets quickly, here is an example of inefficient usage of writing space (a sheet from one of early GMAT practice sheets)

Notice the amount of space that's wasted. It's even worse in verbal because you would write a,b.c.d.e and the rest of space to the right would be unused. This causes sheets to get over quickly, you also write in a haphazard way around the page and then worry about getting new sheets.

Look at the 2 sheets below - 1 for quant and 1 for verbal, these are after I changed my practice style and divided the work area to two halves. It may look cramped to you (you can use more space, I prefer tightly controlled writing spaces) but see how much detail I got in there. Besides, the writing is controlled so your mind doesn't mix the working of a different problem with the current one. I used the exact same style in GMAT as well, and I was done within 3 sheets. Every moment saved is a possible 10 point earned.

My own personal experience was that I actually liked the sheets and the marker. So don't get all worked up about this, the only other important tip I can offer is

Test the marker before you start the test

Many times, the markers would have dried and you don't want to panic when you start quant. I tried the marker immediately on seating, and discovered that it wasn't working. So I got a new one before I might have lost my cool, which we all know, is critical in an exam like this.

Hope this helps!

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