Can anyone point me in the direction of a study guide that can help with math short-cuts? I like mathematics and did well in my math pre-reqs, but I'm S L O W at working through problems. I took the PCAT in January and got a 79, I'm hoping to bring the score up by working on my timing. I know most people run out of time on the quantitative section, but I really ran out of time. I'm taking practice tests, and improving, but I could use some tips/short-cuts.

I would just practice alot for math. If you don't know how to do a question, skipping helps to save the more difficult questions for last. Eliminating stupid answers helps me on some questions, but I find that most of the questions on quantitative can be solved out without difficulty. Also, since i haven't taken calc in awhile, i have to work more problems like those. If you feel weak in a subject, use your time in preparing for those weaknesses. If time is a HUGE issue, get a cheap-o stopwatch, got mine from walmart for 5 bucks, and budget your time properly (i'd say not more than 2 minutes for a tough question at most---less than a minute for the easy ones). Hope this helps. Good luck.

The key to getting the shortcuts in math is feeling comfortable with the same shortcuts used during elementary and middle school. Fraction simplication, decimal movement, eliminating common denominators and multiples. If you can see a problem and recognize the opportunity, that'll save you a lot of grief from having to multiple 100000000 by 0.000004. Instead, just count the 0's, and shift the decimal points. Also, look at the answers, if you see a question asking for you to do a calculation and no matter what the answer must be a negative number, then eliminate all the positive number answers. It's much easier to pick from two answers than from four.

Also distributive and associative properties are your friends. As well as factoring. 24x35 =6x4x7x5=4x5x6x7=20x42=2x10x42=2x420=840 all without a calculator and took a lot longer to type than to think through. of course you could also go 24 x 35 = 20x35+ 4x35 =700+140=840 (technically this is how you do it on paper by shifting the 10s column one space to the left, but most people don't see it this way) Converting numbers ending with 5 to half of the answer multiplied by 10 works as well because multiplying by 10 is easy on the brain and so is dividing by two, but multiplying by 5 can be tricky (at least compared to the other two operations. in the same system 24x35 you'd get 30x24 + 1/2 (10x24) = 3x240 + 1/2(240) = 720+ 120 = 840 Fraction conversions always help. Then there's alway subtracting the difference of a number near then next multiple of 10. 88 x 103 = 90 x 103 - 2x103 = 9270 - 206 =9064 When adding combine numbers that add to 10 in series, it makes carrying the appropriate number easier and you don't have to worry about trailing digits so much. A transposed number in addition always results in a multiple of 9 (for those accountants out there ) Those are all the shortcuts I can think of for now. It's one reason why my PTCE took 50min out of 120, I only had to use the calculator a couple times, most of the numbers used were easy multiples for head math.

All of those asterisks are wiggin' me out! I'm gonna have to write it out on paper and look at it that way.... Love the "moderation" quote, BTW!!

I hope that works better for you, it's been awhile since I've been able to do math using x for multiplication instead of as a variable.

Hehehe - you didn't have to change it for my benefit (but it is easier on the eyes that way, IMO). I wish I knew why shortcuts like this scare me so much and why I feel the compulsive need to work everything out in a traditional, time-consuming manner. I love math (especially algebra) but it's a relationship that requires much foreplay - no quickies for me BTW, I'm forwarding your message to my mom (a retired math teacher) so she can swoon over you OK, thread hijack over - hopefully more folks will chime in with hints and suggestions. I enjoy reading what others have found useful b/c, like Circuspeanut, I really ran out of time on the math section.

In general, you want to avoid the high school/college approaches to solving and/or doing math problems. In those classes, the teachers always preached about "showing your work" to the last detail. There isn't enough time on the PCAT to do that. So, you need to be able to shorthand problems and not writing some stuff down. Of course, such a practice may lead to more errors without ample preparation, but you need to be able to detect patterns in math problems. If you ever have sample problems you feel take too long, post them up on this board and we'll try to show you the relevant information and shortcuts.

Also, don't be afraid to make intelligent guesses. Your math instincts should be good enough to direct you to possible answers.

Well, since the points are the same for hard questions and easier questions, try to knock out all the do-able questions first, circling the ones that you have skipped. Then go back and try to tackle the harder questions. You can always guess if you don't know. You are not penalized for the ones that you miss. If you can narrow down the answers that you KNOW aren't correct, you at least have a greater chance of picking the correct answer. (this strategy should work on every section, not just math). Good luck!

Intelligent guesses = ones not ruled out as obviously wrong based on simple estimating techniques, watching for intentional decimal shifting, etc. (some tests intentionally put answers in that are close to the real answer but shift the decimal, not sure if PCAT does, but in general something to watch for)

One other thing is factoring out common factors in division problems. looking for common factors is pretty simple 2 and 5 are obvious. For multiples of three add the digits in the number together. If it's a multiple of three, the sum of the digits is also a multiple of three. These are pretty old school rules, but useful if you want to reduce large numbers to mental math.

Does anyone have experience with certain books/websites that lay out all these shortcuts that would help with the PCAT Quantitative section? I'm trying to arrange my study materials for the sections and so far I'm a bit lost as to what to use to cover my bases for Quant. I do remember during a Princeton Review SAT prep course that the math prep book had nice shortcuts explained, but I neither have the book nor do I remember any of that whatsoever...sigh.

If there are certain problems you feel weak at, or know that they take you longer than normal to solve, just guess and go. I scored an 89 on the math section (Jun '06) having not taken Calc, and the only way I even came close to finishing was to simply guess on any problem I didnt immediately know how to solve. Don't think to yourself "oh I think I can figure this out if I try . . ." Bzzzzt. Doing that will cost you the time it will take you to complete 2 or 3 easy problems. You aren't penalized for guessing and AFAIK all questions are weighted the same.

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