A common mistake that most students who struggle to score a 700+ on GMAT make is that they forget to include a vital ingredient in their study plan, i.e. the Error Log. While a majority does not know how to make an error log, there are some students who are not even aware of its importance in preparing successfully for the GMAT. On the other hand, there are some students who manage to create an error log, but are not sure how to use it effectively! Irrespective of which category you belong to, it is important to remember that error logs are an integral part of your GMAT prep regime and must be incorporated by anyone who is aiming to score well on the test!
What is an Error Log?
An error log is a document or a spreadsheet that helps in continuously analyzing your practice questions with the aim to identify why you get certain questions wrong and the areas that you need to focus on more. A key problem with students who score low on their practice tests is that they struggle to diagnose their weak areas! Knowing your problem areas can help you to modify your study plan in a way that you devote more time on your weaknesses and error logs help with exactly that!
There is no fixed design or method to create an error log. The key is to have a detailed layout that marks every aspect of your performance in a practice test such as the time taken to solve a question, the mistake you made, the areas of struggle such as difficulty comprehending the question, and the topic/section you struggle with most. Error logs can either be built in the form an Excel sheet or you can simply use a pen and paper to create one!
Why is an Error Log Important?
The GMAT comes with a restriction on time, which means to achieve success in the test, you need to have sufficient knowledge along with the ability to correctly apply this knowledge, to accurately solve the questions within the provided time frame. But, to gain this accuracy, it is imperative for students to know WHY they made a certain mistake. Which is why an error log is important. Let’s see what an error log does to make your GMAT prep effective-
a. Helps understand trends in your performance
When you create an error log and use it religiously to track your performance in every question that you attempt, you will gradually begin to observe a trend in your performance. You will have a better view at the topics/questions that you find to be the most difficult, the questions that take the highest amount of time for you to solve, and the skills that you need to work the most. For example -in Sentence Correction, you may be having difficulty in understanding the intended meaning of the sentence, so you need to work on your comprehension skill. Error log makes it easier to diagnose these gaps in your learning.
b. You understand where you stand in Prep
Now that you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can check your performance module and section-wise to understand where you currently stand in preparation. Suppose in sentence correction, you are getting 60% of the questions correct and you are aiming for 80% accuracy, you know that you need to work to get 20% more accuracy.
c. Helps tailor your study plan
So, you already know your strengths, weaknesses, and where you currently stand in prep. Now, you can alter your study plan accordingly. You can break your study plan into smaller segments session-wise, or create a mix-n-match strategy where you cover a combination of easy and difficult concepts on a particular day, or you can learn concepts in smaller chunks to make it less challenging but interesting at the same time.
How to Create an Error Log?
The key to having a good error log is to make it as detailed as possible! Typically, a good error log should have the following columns – Topic, Module, Question, Correct/Incorrect, Time Taken, Concept Tested, and Takeaway. You can add more columns as per your need, but ideally this much of information would suffice. Here’s what the different columns should mean –
QUESTION – In this column, you can write a simple description of where to find the question in case you want to solve it again in future. Instead of using an ambiguous title such as no.10 or #78, you can write something like OG16 136.
TOPIC – Under the topic column, you can describe the topic that the question belongs to. For example, the question can be one of modifiers, pronouns, assumptions, prime numbers, etc.
MODULE – Module can be described as SC, CR, RC, NP, Geometry, etc.
CORRECT/INCORRECT – This column is key because you are trying to identify which questions you answer incorrectly the most. Based on your performance, simply write correct/incorrect against every question in this column.
TIME TAKEN – Another metric that plays a key role in helping you improve is the time you take to solve a particular question. In GMAT, you only get 2 minutes per question, so time plays a huge role.
CONCEPTS TESTED – Instead of writing a vague description of the concepts tested, you can try to be as descriptive as possible. Write a summary of what was asked in the question to make it easier to identify where exactly you went wrong.
TAKEAWAY – This column is optional but important. Write down what you did wrong and what you learnt from the mistake. For instance, ‘I used ‘because of’ instead of ‘due to’ with the noun’.
How will the error log pay you off?
Now that you have created a detailed spreadsheet of your own, it is time to start using it! Error log every question that you solve, whether correctly or incorrectly, and try to review it every 15 days. Error logs help students stay conscious of the mistakes they repeat consistently and improves their skill of concept recognition. This, in turn, helps to reduce errors and subsequently improve scores!
While there are several benefits of error logging regularly, there are certain drawbacks of creating an error log on an Excel spreadsheet or on paper. If you do not properly maintain it, you may not be able to identify the core reason why you made a certain mistake and will end up focussing on the wrong area. For instance, you error logged that you got a modifier question wrong, but upon revisiting the question you realized that you did the modifier split correctly but you got the question wrong due to a pronoun issue. This means, your initial diagnosis was incorrect.
How to Review Your Errors On-The-Go?
Are you already thinking how you can create a detailed error log for yourself? Since it is a time-consuming process to identify the right layout and you may not be diagnosing the issues correctly, we recommend the GMATWhiz platform to you. Here’s why –
- Automatically Generates Insights – The GMATWhiz tool leverages technology and takes care of everything for you. It collects around 20 data points around every question that you solve and identifies the reason why you got it wrong. So, if you got a modifier question due to a pronoun issue, the tool would accurately diagnose your performance and automatically mark pronoun.
- Automatically Identifies Gaps – Based on the data collected, these intelligent platforms ultimately suggest improvement modules, saving you the trouble of creating an error log and identifying your mistakes all by yourself.
- Gives a Clear Picture – You end up with a clear picture of where you stand, the areas you have mastered, and the areas you need to work on. And the best part is that you can dive into your performance analysis anytime and anywhere. Explore the GMATWhiz platform here!