"Coming Soon: Select Section Order."
When you first see those words, they probably don't really speak to you. They may even seem like an imposition (Order this product! Select this service!).
But... read those words again.
This is a BIG deal. A game-changer.
Starting July 11, you'll be able to put the IR and Essay sections at the end of the GMAT exam, and attack the Quant and Verbal sections right out of the gate. And you can do those in either order, too.
Just to recap: From July 11 onward, you'll be able to take your GMAT exam in any of the following orders:
• Essay—IR—Quant—Verbal (the "traditional" order)
OK! Which order should I choose?
Good question. The answer is ... It depends.
Depends on what, exactly?
It's worth considering a couple of relevant facts.
First, you're probably better at meticulous, detail-oriented attention tasks when you're still relatively "fresh". Common sense, right?
...BUT, "fresh" means vastly different things to different people. After two hours, for instance, one person might be experiencing the beginnings of mental fatigue, while another might just be starting to feel fully "warmed-up" and ready to get into a groove. (The latter example is pretty extreme, but, such people do exist—and would be among the few who should actually opt to keep the current section order.)
Where are YOU on this spectrum? Only you—and people who know you very, very well—can really say for sure.
Second—and more surprisingly, for many—you're probably better at "non-linear" thinking when you're tired.
Most famously, this category includes the kinds of thinking commonly stereotyped as "creativity". But it also includes "lateral thinking" more generally—including the ability to detect the possible relevance of "outside" ideas to a given topic, one of the core skills tested in GMAT Critical Reasoning.
Too many words?
When you're LESS tired, you'll probably be better at...
...Noticing key details, restrictions, specifications, and qualifiers
...Organizing information into frameworks, diagrams, and charts
...Remembering and executing rules and fixed processes
...Recalling from memory
When you're MORE tired, you'll probably be better at...
...Crafting opinions and arguments from diverse points of view—especially those that differ from your own typical perspective
...Recognizing how, and when, certain "outside" ideas are relevant to a given topic
...Switching to problem-solving methods that you're usually LESS comfortable with, at which you're LESS proficient, or that you simply like less
Consider the above—in addition to the time of day when you'll be taking the test (and your usual energy patterns at that time)—in combination with your own strengths and weaknesses to pick the order that's optimal for you.
• SOPHIA struggles with defining goals accurately in CR and RC. She often chooses answer choices that are irrelevant, because she didn't notice that the question is restricted to some narrow scope of topics.
By contrast, Sophia has little trouble with routine mathematical processes. She currently manages an on-demand order fulfillment business, so, she is accustomed to considering all conceivable angles on an urgent problem, including unusual ones if necessary.
In which order should SOPHIA schedule the GMAT exam sections?
[Don't scroll down before you answer the question yourself!]
[No, really, don't!]
SOPHIA would be best advised to schedule the Verbal section first, before the Quant section.
Remember, Sophia doesn't have issues with the lateral thinking required by the verbal section. Instead, her problem lies with the more clear-cut, almost "quant-like" aspects of verbal—things like restrictions in problem statements, or the given scope of some issue. When Sophia is still "fresh", she'll have more of the right kind of brainpower to help her tackle these issues.
By contrast, we're told that Sophia doesn't have as much trouble with the rigorous aspects of the Quant section, so, she would benefit less by starting with Quant than by starting with Verbal.
Thus, SOPHIA should choose the order VERBAL—QUANT—IR—ESSAY.
• YOU struggle with ______. You often make mistakes when it comes to _____, because _____.
By contrast, YOU have little or no trouble with ______.
In which order should YOU schedule the GMAT exam sections?
There's your assignment. It's due on July 11 or later.