3+ Month Studying, No Improvement - Advice Needed : General GMAT Questions and Strategies
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# 3+ Month Studying, No Improvement - Advice Needed

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Intern
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
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23 Sep 2012, 20:38
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Hi. I need some advice. Below I explain my situation. In short, I cant see any progress on my GMAT prep.
I am aiming for a 730-750 score. I have the resources and the time, well, actually, I had the time. Deadlines are creeping up fast.

I have been studying for more than 3 months. Took the GMAT on 8/16/12 with 90 points away from target, and yet to show signs of improvement.
I'll really appreciate it if anyone could give some advice on how to proceed.

TESTS

7/29 MCAT#1 630 (Q42/V35) <-- preped using OG11, MG Guides, PowerscoreCR
8/14 GPrep 610 (Q42/V33)
8/16 GMAT 640 (Q42/V35) <-- official
8/18 MCAT#2 660 (Q45/V35) <-- with no prep after the official test
9/09 MCAT#3 560 (Q37/V30) <-- preped by redoing the MG Guides (advanced sections included) and OG11. Had not slept for 2 days
9/13 MCAT#4 630 (Q42/V34) <-- preped using mostly GClub guides.
9/23 MCAT#5 600 (Q43/V31) <-- preped using mostly GClub tests and redid OG (medium and hard questions only). In good physical condition, after a week of a lot studying, really disappointed

The latest MCAT assessment shows 50%-60% accuracy on any given area, no particular strength. And this tends to be the trend for the other CATs as well. I was really hoping for a significant improvement on Quant and SC as it was the focus of my prep for the last MCAT. Timing of the CATs is okay I think.. I always end up guessing the last 2 due to time.

I need Q at 51 and V at 41 to be within the range of the target score.

CONDITIONS
I'm currently not working, so I am treating this prep as a full-time job. I tend to study around 9-11 hours a day. I do get 8-9 hours of sleep and go to the gym everyday for aerobic and strength training (both recommended to improve brain function). This has become a routine for the past 2 months, after the dismal score on the official test. I've also stopped drinking any alcoholic beverage as some posts report that it damages scores or study, or something like that.

STUDY MATERIALS

OG11: Have gone threw all the questions three times now. With error logs and MG's Archer. Accuracy is 90% average, mistakes tend to be careless and random. I have gone threw the answers at least once for every problem, several times for SC explanations (my weak area).

Manhattan Guides: The 8 set. Have gone threw them twice, practice questions as well. Once before the official test and again after it.

PowerscoreCR: Have gone threw it once, before the official test. Have not touched it since.

GClub Grammar and Quant Guides: Went threw them in preparation for MCAT#5. Quant has a lot of useless repeating of the same equations rearranged in different ways, really annoying.

GClub Tests: Started these a week ago, in preparation for MCAT#5. Mostly quizzes in sets of 20. Finished the 500, most of the 600, and 100 of the 700 level. I made sure to understand all the problems, and redid them until accuracy went up.

SC/CR Notes: Various SC and CR notes from members through http://gmatclub.com/forum/new-to-the-verbal-forum-quick-links-list-44301.html

UNTOUCHED MATERIALS
OG Q2/V2: Have them, untouched. 600 questions.
MG Advanced Quant: It recommends a consistent 70th percentile before using it.
MG Quant Challange Set: Have not touched it. Came with the book.
GClub Tests (700-level): It recommends Q45+ before using them. Indeed, when I tried the 700-level q's, I only got 11 out of 37 correct.
GPrep Question Pack #1: Plan to purchase them if need be.
Sackman Extreme Challenge: Have them, untouched. Apparently on-par with GClub Test, so not touching them until I hit Q45.
Sackman Challange: Don't have them, but can get them if you advice me to... a bit pricey though.

CURRENT SCHEDULE (in order)
- Finish the GClub Tests, both the remaining 600 and 700-level.
- Finish OG Q2 and V2.
- MCAT#6.
- MG Advanced Quant book, MG Quant Challenge, and Sackman's Extreme Challenge.
- OG13 and IR, MG Essay & IR book, ChineseBurned's essay guide, and GPrep Question Pack #1.
- GPrep#1 (repeat).
- MCAT #1 through #6 (repeats), 1 a day.
- GPrep#2
- Official GMAT (hopefully within 3-4 weeks)

This is all really demoralizing. I used to be good at tests, study a little bit here and there and an A will magically pop up. I aced all my college math courses. I used to be good at math. What happened here? Ok, no more ranting.

Sorry for the long post. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. How should I proceed? Should I stick to my schedule and see what happens? Any other prep materials I should focus or not focus on?
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23 Sep 2012, 23:19
Hi,

Study material and plan looks god. You can just addup few things to your list.
For SC and RC i will strongly recommend you Thursday's with Ron. (link in my signature)
For CR i will recommend you to stick to powerscore. I have written a post on how to start gmat preperations (link in my signature) You can go through it to plan how to do things chapter by chapter and then move to problems and stuff.

For Quant and even for Verbal practice why don't you try grockit.com? They have a timer for each questions and questions are more or less close to gmat and OG.

Since, you ahve taken a break from office then there is nothing better you cna ask for for the gmat preprations. Just keep up the good work and you will be there sooner or later!

Good Luck!
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26 Sep 2012, 07:50
Keep trying man !!! I suggest you have an error log .it will help decrease your false. Anyway work hard then go pro... Good luck
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26 Sep 2012, 12:26
Are you timing yourself on all exercises?

I am amazed you have not noticed any improvement... how long did yous pend to go through the MGMAT guides?
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Intern
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
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Location: United States
GMAT 1: 640 Q42 V35
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26 Sep 2012, 12:32
nktdotgupta wrote:
Hi,

Study material and plan looks god. You can just addup few things to your list.
For SC and RC i will strongly recommend you Thursday's with Ron. (link in my signature)
For CR i will recommend you to stick to powerscore. I have written a post on how to start gmat preperations (link in my signature) You can go through it to plan how to do things chapter by chapter and then move to problems and stuff.

For Quant and even for Verbal practice why don't you try grockit.com? They have a timer for each questions and questions are more or less close to gmat and OG.

Since, you ahve taken a break from office then there is nothing better you cna ask for for the gmat preprations. Just keep up the good work and you will be there sooner or later!

Good Luck!

Ron's videos: Yes, I have them listed as a resource but don't have the time to go through them. Plus, the slow connection is not friendly to videos.. each one of the videos seems to be around 100MB. I downloaded PDF from a member that took screenshots of each problem discussed in these videos and made a summary of the explanations (I think its titled "AV's SC Strategies" or something). I'll go through it once there is time.

Grockit: I just took up the free trial. I'm glad that it says I'm in the 92% percentile in Q at Q50! Finally someone believes in my! However, the questions seem to be rephrased versions of the ones in the OGs (literally), reason why I think I got such a high score. They claim to have 2000 questions in the q bank, but what is the quality of them? Seems to be easier than the ones in GClub, even the 32pts ones. In fact, I have seen several of your replies to other posts and many time you'll suggest trying out this site, it makes me wonder whether you are just a happy customer or somehow tied to their bottom line? Any how, the site looks promising as far as I can tell. I think I'll sign up for Verbal, they say practice is one the few ways to improve on it and I'm running out of verbal questions.

Thank you for your reply, very useful. I'm starting to wonder, however, whether I'm only studying hard and not studying smart enough. Is there a thread the collects the "smart way" of studying?
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26 Sep 2012, 12:39
bb wrote:
Are you timing yourself on all exercises?

I am amazed you have not noticed any improvement... how long did yous pend to go through the MGMAT guides?

EDIT: Yes, all questions are saved in the error log with times. I go through the wrong questions and then go through the questions that I took too long to answer to see if there is a shorter way. About half of the tough questions take me more than 2min. About 70% of hard SC questions take more than 1:30min.

Probably a month the first time around. The second time, after the first official test, took me around 2 weeks. I redid everything the second time as I had the time. I've been skimming some chapters in the guides again, and the stuff now seems "basic" to me somehow.

I'm trying to do as many questions I can in day, see if that helps with the score. It should.
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27 Sep 2012, 01:02
am just a happy customer. Am its customer from more than1yr now.
Yes some or probably more of the questions are rephrased, but the timer gives you a good apportunity to time your practice.
I used it for both quant and verbal adn definetly helped me a lot!
Good Luck!
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Statistics || Reflection of a line || Remainder Problems || Inequalities

Intern
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27 Sep 2012, 17:16
I just finished MCAT#6, scored a 630 (Q39|V37), still not much of a progress. Q got lower, but V went up. The irony is that I've been focusing on Q, not on V. I probably did and reviewed around 300 quant questions since the last CAT 4 days ago. As for V, probably did 100 SC questions and very few of the rest. Question source were GClub (600 level only, 20 of 700) and Grockit.

Below is my performance on MCAT#6, by percentile and time spent on each question for both Q and V. The drop in Q is consistent, same as MCAT#5. V is stable it seems, better than previous CATs though it could be just luck.

Should I take the GPrep CAT? I seem to be going no where with this.
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Director
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28 Sep 2012, 03:29
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how much time did you spend practicing before you wrote this CAT?
I will suggest you to practice more of Quant for like a week or so and then give the GMATPREP CAT. As there is no point giivng the gmatprep CAT when you know that you are not doing good in other CATs. You will eventually end up wasting one exam and also your precious time.
Also, did you get a chance to create a error log? As its good to have a targetted practice (practice on your weaker areas) then practicing in general.
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28 Sep 2012, 12:19
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Apparently you are stuck,so you need to change your strategy. Giving tests after tests without tackling the underlining issue head on will yield partial results. I am similar to you in that have major weakness though it's verbal the approach is the same. GMAT is a test of fundamentals tested rigorously. For people with a weakness the only way out is marathon practice. If you can afford try to get GMAT Hacks entire set and practice as much as you can.
Else try some other source that gives you 1000 quant problems of moderate difficulty and run solve them all in 2,3 weeks. Then give a test you are bound to improve.
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29 Sep 2012, 12:30
AbhiJ wrote:
Apparently you are stuck,so you need to change your strategy. Giving tests after tests without tackling the underlining issue head on will yield partial results. I am similar to you in that have major weakness though it's verbal the approach is the same. GMAT is a test of fundamentals tested rigorously. For people with a weakness the only way out is marathon practice. If you can afford try to get GMAT Hacks entire set and practice as much as you can.
Else try some other source that gives you 1000 quant problems of moderate difficulty and run solve them all in 2,3 weeks. Then give a test you are bound to improve.

Thank you for the advice. I'll do that. 1000 moderate difficulty questions it is. I'll report back once that is done.
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10 Oct 2012, 00:31
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AbhiJ wrote:
Apparently you are stuck,so you need to change your strategy. Giving tests after tests without tackling the underlining issue head on will yield partial results. I am similar to you in that have major weakness though it's verbal the approach is the same. GMAT is a test of fundamentals tested rigorously. For people with a weakness the only way out is marathon practice. If you can afford try to get GMAT Hacks entire set and practice as much as you can.
Else try some other source that gives you 1000 quant problems of moderate difficulty and run solve them all in 2,3 weeks. Then give a test you are bound to improve.

You know, you deserve a couple more Kudoses.

I finished around 600 of JS's Challenge set, with the exception of the Extreme set, and redid GPrep #1. I scored a 700 (Q49/V35). I had not reviewed the questions of GPrep on the first try so I don't know the answers, the last time was two months ago so memory is vague, and I did not see (or recall) any repeated questions so I feel the score should be approximate.

The JS set was extremely helpful.. several questions in GPrep were almost identical to the JS questions. Although, when solving the JS set it felt more like a waste of time as I was getting 80% correct and most questions felt very easy. Nonetheless, very grateful of the materials.

I can finally move on to verbal and advanced quant. Progress at last.
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10 Oct 2012, 04:17
Its good to see that the suggestion helped you. When things appear very complicated, more often than not the solution is something pretty obvious.
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10 Oct 2012, 05:41
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Expert's post
Hey!
Just to add to what abhiJ said!
From your MGMAT score, I think building a stronger quant foundation is what you need!
btw, are you actually reviewing every problem that you are doing?
often solving a bunch of problems leads to a bubble of strength!
I would rather ask you to go through Bunuel's signature. When you want to build foundations, your aim should be at quality. Once you are fairly good, quantity should be your goal for practice!
Keep us posted!
Cheers!
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10 Oct 2012, 21:00
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Re-do the wrong question and read the explanations carefully.Take a 25 question customized test daily for each section(V&Q) it will take around 95-100 mins BUT go through the explanations of the wrong answers you picked.It is not important that how many questions you did correctly but to know why it was correct or not-correct for that matter.

"Spend quality time in re-doing/understanding the wrong question" its boring and nasty but it pays !!!

Even then, if you are not satisfied then go for any online course gmat-prep-course-reviews-discount-codes-78451.html?fl=menu , give your full energy (if you have taken a break form work;it's never too late) . Get the GMAT club tests ( http://gmatclub.com/tests/?fl=menu) and do your practice questions from there, the OE will teach you more than the prep guides and books.

Watch movies, and go out for fun, don't forget to get fresh air everyday !
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11 Oct 2012, 00:02
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Hi Leslie,

Here are a few suggestions worth exploring.

For Quant, it seems that you need to re-learn the fundamental concepts of your most troublesome math topics. Search through Ron's videos for those topics. They can make a huge difference for you.

For DS, the biggest and obvious advice that I can give is that "Try different numbers (negatives, fractions, zeros, etc. work best to reveal traps." Given a set of less than 20 members in a DS question, I suggest that you list ALL the members when solving the question. Eg. given the set of odd integers between 102 and 140 divisible by 7. Just list. In remainder questions, same deal, try numbers. Avoid setting up too many algebraic questions when solving DS questions when it comes to topics such as number properties. With time and practice, you save more time that way than relying on algebra.

Rely on an Error Log to reduce repeating the same mistakes.

For sentence correction, two big resources are:
1) Ron's videos (esp. those on parallelism, verb-ing, comparisons, and modifiers).
2) e-GMAT SC articles on the Verbal Advantage thread. They really simplify SC by working you through some wonderful and colorful articles replete with great illustrations. Highly recommended.

P.S. The more you know the fundamentals concepts of SC (pretty much Modifiers), everything looks easy and you can increase your hit rate to ~95% on actual GMAT SC questions, and those so-called meaning-based SC questions start looking like any other SC question.

Cheers,
Der alte Fritz.
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19 Nov 2012, 17:04
souvik101990 wrote:

I was taking 1 per week to gauge progress. Recently, as exam day approaches, about 1 every 3 days. I don't work, so it's studying GMAT 24/7, so I think it is appropriate.

souvik101990 wrote:
From your MGMAT score, I think building a stronger quant foundation is what you need!

I've aleady gone through Manhattan sets twice, GMATClub's Math book, OG twice, OG Quant 2Ed, Sackman's Challenge set and Extreme set, GMATClub Test (all of 500 and 600, about half of 700), 400 questions from Grockit. All timed and reviewed. All this just on the Quant.

souvik101990 wrote:
btw, are you actually reviewing every problem that you are doing?

Yes. I review all practice problems. I did not review the CAT that I take the first time around, though I do review it on the second run through. By not knowing the answer to the questions, I was hoping to get a more realistic CAT score the second time I take it.

souvik101990 wrote:
I would rather ask you to go through Bunuel's signature.

I have. Most of his threads are in the GMATClub's Quant book, and 400 of his questions are also in GMATClub Tests.

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19 Nov 2012, 17:14
thevenus wrote:
Re-do the wrong question and read the explanations carefully.

I do do that. (Is that correct? It sounds right, lol.)

thevenus wrote:
Take a 25 question customized test daily for each section(V&Q) it will take around 95-100 mins

I have been doing around 100, sometimes around 150, questions a day. I haven't been working, so I had the time.

thevenus wrote:
BUT go through the explanations of the wrong answers you picked.It is not important that how many questions you did correctly but to know why it was correct or not-correct for that matter. "Spend quality time in re-doing/understanding the wrong question" its boring and nasty but it pays !!!

I do. Sometimes even taking 15 mins reviewing each question.

thevenus wrote:

I have it. Done all of 500's and 600's, about half of 700's.

I appreciate your suggestions, though I am doing most of what have been recommended.
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19 Nov 2012, 17:35
OldFritz wrote:
For Quant, it seems that you need to re-learn the fundamental concepts of your most troublesome math topics. Search through Ron's videos for those topics. They can make a huge difference for you.

Perhaps. But after studying for 4-5 months, the idea of having to go back to basics is not an appealing one. Geometry has always been a weakness, and I have gone back to the basics of it, and have done the hardest problems on it as well, yet, on the last MCAT I got ALL of the Geometry questions wrong. No kidding, it says 0% correct.

OldFritz wrote:
For DS, the biggest and obvious advice that I can give is that "Try different numbers (negatives, fractions, zeros, etc. work best to reveal traps." Given a set of less than 20 members in a DS question, I suggest that you list ALL the members when solving the question. Eg. given the set of odd integers between 102 and 140 divisible by 7. Just list. In remainder questions, same deal, try numbers. Avoid setting up too many algebraic questions when solving DS questions when it comes to topics such as number properties. With time and practice, you save more time that way than relying on algebra.

Yes, this is sound advice. As suggested in the Manhattan Advanced Quant book, I do rely on 2,1/2,0,-1/2,-2 to test cases. Works fabulously. Although I do not have much trouble with Number Properties. It used to be a weakness, but I have studied so much on it and have done so many problems that it is no longer a weakness. Algebra and Inequalities seems to be the weaknesses now.

OldFritz wrote:
Rely on an Error Log to reduce repeating the same mistakes.

I do. I have an error log for OG, OGQ 2Ed., Sackman's set, etc.

OldFritz wrote:
For sentence correction, two big resources are:

Thank you for the resources, I will definitely check out the resources you listed. Although I don't think SC is a problem anymore. I used to get 40-50% accuracy. Now is more around 75-80% accuracy. This is after having read several SC guides, notes and compilations from various members, and having done around 1500 SC questions. Although I have no idea how my 60% CR accuracy went down to 30% on the last CAT. I had reread the CR guide and made sure that I was using the processes and tactics (negation, prethinking, boldface's tactics, inference - stick to the argument, etc.)
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19 Nov 2012, 18:06

I've just taken another MCAT scoring a dismal 630 (Q45/V32).

Latest scores:
09/10 Gprep#1 700 (Q50/V35)
15/10 MCAT#1A 690 (Q45/V38)
26/10 MCAT#2A 640 (Q45/V33)
06/11 GPrep#1 710 (Q49/V38) <- inflated, reviewed then repeated.
19/11 MCAT#3A 630 (Q45/V32) <- latest

To this day, I have probably been studying for 4-5 months.
Between the first post of this thread and this last CAT, I have done the following:
- Completed the Sackman's Challenge set, timed, reviewed and redone. 70% accuracy on the 1st round, 75% the 2nd round on the incorrect ones.
- Completed around 950 questions from Grockit, medium to hard difficulties. Timed and reviewed.
- Completed OGQ2ed and OGV2ed. Timed and reviewed.
- Completed the Manhattan Advan. Quant book.
- Completed 6 CATs (4 MCAT, 1 GPrep, and 1 other CAT)
counting all everything... it is probably 3000 questions.

The only materials left are:
- GPrep Question Pack #1.
- Half of GClub Tests 700-level questions
- 4 MCATs
- GPrep Test 2

MY QUESTION
How should I proceed? The V32 is particularly worrying given that MCATs are supposed to have the V score somewhat inflated.
The MCAT reports that SC is at 80%, while CR is at 30%, with RC at 50%. Clearly I need to focus on CR, but it had never gotten so low... and I have been stuying and reviewing them too. The timing on the CAT was okay, guessing the last 3.

I suppose the Q45 is okay.. given that it is my maximum score on Q in MCATs. I have never gotten a Q46 on MCATs, though I have gotten a Q50 in GPrep#1. So I guess my Q45 in MCATs = Q49 or Q50 in GPrep?

Any help would be wonderful.
I was planning to take the GMAT this Thursday, but I might postpone it to next week because of this CAT. My target is 700+.
Re: 3+ Month Studying, No Improvement - Advice Needed   [#permalink] 19 Nov 2012, 18:06

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# 3+ Month Studying, No Improvement - Advice Needed

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