April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
bark_muffalo
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:56 pm

April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby bark_muffalo » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:00 pm

Took the subject test this morning, feeling okay-ish. I thought the test was overall about as difficult as the practice exams, but that the first half was a bit easier than the first half of the two most recent published exams, and the second half a bit harder.

For others who took it, what are your thoughts on the exam/how you managed?

petrokov
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:32 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby petrokov » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:27 pm

I felt it was a bit harder overall. I managed to blaze through most of the questions in about half the time, but there were about ten that I skipped initially so I could focus more time on them at the end. I figured out about five of them, and five of them I more or less guessed. Two of the combinatorics ones gave me problems, which surprised me, since that's my area. (I realized what my mistake was for on one of them while I was typing this.) There was one from analysis that I had absolutely no idea about. I'm sure there was some trick that I needed to apply, but I couldn't figure out what that was for the life of me. Other than that, most of the questions used the same tricks that came up in the practice tests. In this week leading up to the test, I took a practice test every day, and I think I must have done all of my practice tests a total of at least three times each. It may sound excessive, but it's very helpful for having the tricks come to you naturally and for answering questions quickly.

bark_muffalo
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:56 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby bark_muffalo » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:34 pm

No, I agree with you. I retook the two most recently released practice exams and there were a couple of questions I managed to solve quickly (one of them was a combinatorics question) because the exact same tricks from the practice exam made them easy. However, there are always a couple of questions I miss because of some silly calculation error (I already realize I made such a mistake on at least one easy problem), so it's tough to estimate how well it went overall...now comes the agonizing wait for the results!

Integreat
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Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby Integreat » Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:30 pm

It was definitely harder in my opinion. I had been scoring in the 90th percentiles on all the practices, but I feel like I'll be lucky to get above 70th percentile here!
I'm not good with algebra and combinatorics, so those questions threw me off. I answered maybe 40 very confidently the first time around, then went back in the last hour or so and answered as many as I could, guessed on the remaining ones when time ran out. Made a couple careless mistakes along the way (sin(pi/3)=sqrt(3)/2, not 1/2...)

wujinya1
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Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby wujinya1 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:17 pm

There are some tricky question involving counting the number of zeros/local extremes for some specific functions in the test I took (I assume they are all different). Had to guess on these. Only one complex analysis question I encountered (and no stoke's theorem, green's theorem or divergence theorem for some reason unknown :) )

In general it's easier than I expected (I used to thought that there are going to be more tricky complex analysis/algebra/graph theory). But that doesn't mean I did well. There are around 10 questions that I don't know how to do (but able to eliminate some obviously false answers), had to make guesses. I probably also messed up some other questions.... Hope I was lucky, but most likely I am going to take the test again. :roll: :roll: :roll:
Would hate myself if this test is easier than average and I blew it up.... :cry:

bark_muffalo
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:56 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby bark_muffalo » Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:50 pm

It sounds like we had the same version, and yeah, I also hope the test was not a below average version in terms of difficulty! I keep replaying questions in my head and waffling between cautious optimism and dread. I will likely have to retake it, but I hope that I didn't do embarrassingly badly.

J123
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:27 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby J123 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:43 pm

petrokov wrote:I felt it was a bit harder overall. I managed to blaze through most of the questions in about half the time, but there were about ten that I skipped initially so I could focus more time on them at the end. I figured out about five of them, and five of them I more or less guessed. Two of the combinatorics ones gave me problems, which surprised me, since that's my area. (I realized what my mistake was for on one of them while I was typing this.) There was one from analysis that I had absolutely no idea about. I'm sure there was some trick that I needed to apply, but I couldn't figure out what that was for the life of me. Other than that, most of the questions used the same tricks that came up in the practice tests. In this week leading up to the test, I took a practice test every day, and I think I must have done all of my practice tests a total of at least three times each. It may sound excessive, but it's very helpful for having the tricks come to you naturally and for answering questions quickly.


Hi,

Could you briefly list the tricks that you think had to be used to solve the questions? It'd be great if you could provide a (comprehensive) list of the ticks on various types of questions.

I suck at remembering tricks to solve problems, and I'll be giving the test in Sept/Oct. Your advice will benefit me greatly.

J123
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:27 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby J123 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:45 pm

wujinya1 wrote:There are some tricky question involving counting the number of zeros/local extremes for some specific functions in the test I took (I assume they are all different). Had to guess on these. Only one complex analysis question I encountered (and no stoke's theorem, green's theorem or divergence theorem for some reason unknown :) )

In general it's easier than I expected (I used to thought that there are going to be more tricky complex analysis/algebra/graph theory). But that doesn't mean I did well. There are around 10 questions that I don't know how to do (but able to eliminate some obviously false answers), had to make guesses. I probably also messed up some other questions.... Hope I was lucky, but most likely I am going to take the test again. :roll: :roll: :roll:
Would hate myself if this test is easier than average and I blew it up.... :cry:


Hi,

Could you briefly list the tricks that you think had to be used to solve the questions? It'd be great if you could provide a (comprehensive) list of the ticks on various types of questions.

I suck at remembering tricks to solve problems, and I'll be giving the test in Sept/Oct. Your advice will benefit me greatly.

DDswife
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:29 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby DDswife » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:02 pm

A useful trick is to remember that a tough integral, from -a to a, is 0 if the function is odd

J123
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Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:27 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby J123 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:33 pm

DDswife wrote:A useful trick is to remember that a tough integral, from -a to a, is 0 if the function is odd


Anything else? It'd be great if we could get a list going. There's very little info about such tips/tricks.

Orpheus11235
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:00 am

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby Orpheus11235 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:58 pm

J123 wrote:
DDswife wrote:A useful trick is to remember that a tough integral, from -a to a, is 0 if the function is odd


Anything else? It'd be great if we could get a list going. There's very little info about such tips/tricks.


Maybe make a separate thread for "GRE tips and tricks?"

DDswife
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:29 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby DDswife » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:49 am

If the integral is like that: V(a^2-x^2, trat it as the srea of the top part of s circle.

There is a guy on Youtube, BlackOenRedPen. He has very good tricks in his videos.

I am a tutor and I will post more tricks as soon as I remember them. But I would like to see other people’s one. Maybe they will know things that I don’t.

We can post tricks here. People will read thic thread. Later we can move them to a new thread. That was a good idea.

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DMAshura
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Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby DMAshura » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:00 am

I posted a bunch of tips and tricks on my Twitter earlier this year: https://twitter.com/mathsubgre

I'm planning to start posting again sometime soon once things get a little bit less busy on my end.

(There are also a few brand new GRE questions on there; I was actually hoping that some people would try solving them before I put in the work of typing up more tips/questiosn and making them pretty. :P )

bark_muffalo
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:56 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby bark_muffalo » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:41 am

Just my opinion, but trying to list and remember a bunch of tricks is less helpful than doing a lot of questions that require those tricks, looking at hints to the ones you got wrong the first time around, seeing if you can then figure out the trick, and finally, looking at the solution if you remain stumped. Trying the latter approach will make remembering these tricks much easier, as they will become more a part of your mathematical intuition than mere tricks.

To that end, I strongly recommend checking out DMashura's website. He's got hints to every question from every published GRE, as well as links to nicely written up solutions from Ian Coley at UCLA. I used these resources a lot while studying for the exam, and in the (likely) event that I retake it, this will be the first place I turn to.

petrokov
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:32 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby petrokov » Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:05 pm

Here's a list of tricks off the top of my head.

1. Memorize commonly occurring integrals. Like ln x, sin^2 x, tan x, etc. It doesn't matter if you can do the substitution/integration by parts; it's much better just to know the answer so you can focus your time on more important things.

2. Practice doing Taylor series for square roots until you can do them in your sleep. A lot of weird limit/integral questions involve taking the important part of a square root expansion and ignoring the rest.

3. Recognize residue theorem questions and practice them until you can do them in your sleep. ETS doesn't actually want you to calculate that complex integral. Make weird examples and practice them. Remember how many times to take the derivate and where to put the factorial.

4. If there's a probability question with two variables, you can almost always draw a picture and calculate the probability based on area.

5. A surface integral probably just wants you to calculate surface area.

6. Know the definitions of closed, open, compact, etc. Know how to apply them in weird metric spaces. Compact does not mean closed and bounded.

7. A lot of general questions can be answered with specific examples. One of the few math gre guides online gives a good example of a question about modular addition where the best way to solve it is just to choose some numbers that fit the conditions given in the question and work with them.

8. Know how to do the fundamental theorem of calculus questions with a derivative of the form d/dx \int_0^x f(t,x) dt. Practice them until you can do them in your sleep.

9. Skip questions if you can't do them quickly. Try to get to #66 in less than two hours. Then use the time at the end to think about the hard questions more.

10. Most importantly, practice a lot. There are only a few good practice tests available online for free, so do each one three or four times, or however many times it takes for you to be able to get a perfect score reliably. Even do the old tests from before the time the test was rescaled, because there might be some questions that make you realize there's a point that you don't understand. Every time you take a test and get a question wrong, figure out exactly why you got it wrong, and do make up more types of that question and do them until you can do them in your sleep. Practice practice practice. Practice and memorize. Also, practice when you're tired or hungover, and if you freak out or get angry or depressed during the practice test, don't stop. Being able to calm down in the middle of a timed test is an important skill.

Overall, the math GRE is not a thinking test. It's more like speedrunning a game or trying to full combo a song in Guitar Hero. You should know more or less exactly what will be thrown at you, and the challenge lies in the fact that it's difficult to do everything quickly without making a mistake. The math GRE is not a test for you to ponder and calculate; it's a test for you to react. By training your reactions, you can get a very good score.

DDswife
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Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:29 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby DDswife » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:15 pm

Good advice. Thanks

Integreat
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Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby Integreat » Sat May 04, 2019 12:30 pm

Ended up getting a 780 (76th percentile). Which isn’t bad for my first time around!! But I’ll need to retake it in September to be competitive for the programs I’m looking into.

J123
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:27 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby J123 » Sat May 04, 2019 3:49 pm

Integreat wrote:Ended up getting a 780 (76th percentile). Which isn’t bad for my first time around!! But I’ll need to retake it in September to be competitive for the programs I’m looking into.


Hi,

Mind sharing your experience on the test? How did you find it? What areas did you think you needed to work on to improve your score. I'll be taking the test in Sept/Oct, and I will be aiming to hit the 80 or so percentile range.

cheese
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Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:14 am

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby cheese » Tue May 07, 2019 8:42 pm

Does anyone know how much of a percentile would be enough for the top programs? Got 80-90 percentile in April; not sure if I should do it again and aim for a 90+

petrokov
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:32 pm

Re: April 2019 subject test takers: how did you feel?

Postby petrokov » Tue May 07, 2019 11:15 pm

cheese wrote:Does anyone know how much of a percentile would be enough for the top programs? Got 80-90 percentile in April; not sure if I should do it again and aim for a 90+


I'm in the exact same boat, and I'd really like to know this as well. As a master's student at a decent institution, is it worth putting in the time to get 90+, or should I sink all my time into research and procuring good recommendation letters?




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