FizzFizz wrote:Just wondering - for you guys who scored so well (IMHO, 70% or above), what did you do to prepare?
I think if you scored above 70% you were rather prepared for the exam months before it happened.
I strongly doubt one can have a significant rise in scores (e.g. 20% to 60%) merely from some months of study. The exam is way too tricky for that.
I think I agree with this. I spent about 2 months studying for the exam, but that was mostly spent reminding myself of how to do all the calculus questions, and improving my speed, since it had been 3.5 years since I took my last calculus course. I still did not answer all of the calculus questions (the later ones I mostly left blank). But, I'm pretty strong in the pure math topics like analysis and topology, and decent in algebra, and recently took courses in all of them. I did not review those topics at all, and I answered almost all (or maybe all?) of the questions on analysis and topology. I'm weaker in algebra, and left a few of those blank.
I do not think it is possible to really change your grade a huge amount just from cramming for the exam. You have to have learned this stuff throughout your degree, and just go back and revise a bit to make sure it's fresh. Maybe you can learn a new subject if you give yourself a lot of time to prep (6 months+?). The theoretical questions are things I don't think you could answer unless you really understand the material. It's not usually just a statement of a theorem you could memorize: you need to have examples and counterexamples at your fingertips, and that's something you get with practice, not in cramming.
The main thing I think you can do is strategize. Write the practice tests in timed conditions. Figure out what strategy works best for you, figure out what you have to do to get the score you want. I tried different strategies on different tests, specifically what to do in the last 30-45 minutes: should I review the questions I've answered, to fix stupid mistakes? Should I try to answer as many as possible? When should I skip a problem? Ultimately, what worked for me was to know roughly how many questions I had to answer to have a shot at my goal score (800). If I was certain I could do a problem but it might take me 5 minutes instead of 2, I still did it. If I wasn't sure I could do it, I left it for after the first pass through. I wrote down all my work. This slowed me down, but was hugely important to avoiding dumb mistakes, which sometimes cost me a lot on my practice tests. As I said above, my strategy on the actual test day was to spend the last 30 minutes answering about 8-10 more questions, because I knew I needed to answer at least around 50 to have a chance at 800 (and probably more). If I hadn't been aware of this I probably would have played it safe and not answered enough questions.
One major thing I changed after the practice tests: do not rush. People go on and on about how you have to work super fast. I did this at first, and made so many dumb mistakes that I could easily get 10+ questions wrong. It's better to get a correct answer a little slower, and answer fewer questions. Also, learn how to do all the problems on all the practice tests. Similar problems can show up again.