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420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump

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Joined: 10 Feb 2013
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420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2013, 08:30
Hi Guys

I just joined the GMAT Club last night after feeling defeated after another practice test I scored in the 500s. Let me provide some background of my studies so far.

Background: I'm a licensed CPA and did dual majors in Accounting and Finance. I had a 3.3 GPA undergrad at DePaul University in Chicago. My work experience consists of 3 years public accounting at a big 4 firm, 2 years m&a at a big 4 firm, and one year investment management.

GMAT Studies:
- In 2012 I very passively studied. I learned of a program for minority students (I'm African-American) and in order to gain entry into the program I needed a 500. At the time the deadline to enroll was 60 days. I crammed for 30 days (no review course just random OG's) and got a 420. I was so devastated especially after submitted scores to top schools like Harvard. What a joke.

I strategically took the exam in 30 days to allow for additional time to retake if necessary. After getting a 420 and having 30 days until I had to submit a score of 500 I hired a tutor. I just needed a tutor to help me get over 500 and once I got into the program my plan was to then sign up for a review course and do it the proper way. Well it turned out God had a plan for me because I only scored a 490 the second time. I did not practice verbal at all only quant. I knew I was struggling at the time because I always blanked not knowing how to approach problems. Needless to say I didn't get into the program and I felt hopeless.

In October 2012 until now I signed up for the in class Kaplan review course. I feel like I finally have structure and feel more confident. However, the problem now is that im scoring consistently only between 550 - 580. My exam is Feb 23 and I'm now wondering if it's even worth sitting for. I really put in the time this 3rd time, have been studying really hard, prepared an error sheet, studied all the wrong answers, made flashcards, and stuck to a schedule. I feel like I have reached a wall.

After reviewing the past practice tests I can say that my quant is decent (at least to me) but my verbal is suffering. Im just not recognizing patterns on sentence correction, RC has always been difficult for me (even as a child my parents had me tutored) and critical thinking is just okay.

I desperately want to be at Booth or Kellogg. I have intense family pressures to get in (first generation immigrant from Ghana) any immigrant child can understand what I'm going through. Not to mention my employer supports me fully and desperately wants me at either because everyone in my group has went there. I feel that even a 660 GMAT would probably get me in with my background.

What do I do? I'm stressing now and hired another tutor to helpl me with SC because Im not doing any better. I've spent so much time and money and am feeling drained. Im 29 and proposing soon to my girlfriend and really do need to move on past the GMAT and start the application process etc. Please help.
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Re: 420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2013, 23:12
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Hi,

First of all, keep up the good work. You have already improved a whole bunch and can do more. A few questions:

1. What are the score breakdowns (Q/V) on your most recent practice tests? Which practice tests have you been using?

2. What was the score breakdown (Q/V) on your most recent GMAT?

3. What materials have you been using to practice?

One thing that you may not want to hear: you probably need more time

In general, verbal improvement does not come as easily as quant improvement and it probably isn't worth taking the exam until you are scoring around your target on practice exams. Let me know the answers to the questions above and I will try to provide more insight.

HG.

PS: One thing that you should start doing right away (if you're not doing so already) is read a quality newspaper/magazine article everyday. I recommend the economist. Read for total comprehension (re-read sentences until you understand everything and look up words that you do not know). Also be thinking about the main idea of the article and how the author supports that main idea. Be actively separating facts and opinions and be thinking about what assumptions are being made. The point is to increase your reading speed and comprehension by acclimating you to the type of topics, sentence sentence structures, and argument structures that you will see on the GMAT.
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GMAT Sample Questions to assess your GMAT Quant.

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IMPROVE YOUR READING COMPREHENSION with the ECONOMIST READING COMPREHENSION CHALLENGE:

Here is the first set along with some strategies for approaching this work: http://gmatclub.com/forum/the-economist-reading-comprehension-challenge-151479.html

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Re: 420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump [#permalink] New post 12 Feb 2013, 13:14
HG,

Thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate your comments. I was very pleased to receive an objective opinion on my studies so far.

1) I don't think Kaplan breaks down the Q/V in the same format as the official GMAT does. I can tell you though that I'm generally scoring in the top 40th percentile (or 60 below) and Top 80th percentile (or 23% below). So as you can see my quant has been carrying my performance. All of my practice tests this year were with Kaplan.

2) See #1. However, my most recent official GMAT was a year ago where I scored 490 and it was about 40/26

3) Ive been using all Kaplan now.

P.S> - I read the WSJ but maybe ill read it more critically. Yeah I've come to terms that it doesn't make sense for me to sit for the exam feb 23 so I will likely be rescheduling for sometime in May. What is the quickest way to develop verbal skills? Should I hire a tutor? Redo a Kaplan class? Just keep working problems? I feel like I'm not learning anymore doing a self studies.

-AM
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Re: 420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump [#permalink] New post 13 Feb 2013, 06:32
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Hi,

You are very welcome. It is very hard to judge where you are based on Kaplan material. It is especially hard to judge verbal performance because I find that non-official verbal questions are neither a good indicator of performance nor good practice. The good news is that you have a ton of official material to practice on. So if you haven't purchased these already you should procure:

The Official Guide 13th edition
The Official Guide for verbal review 2nd edition
9 GMAT Paper Tests
Questions Pack One (which is an add on to the GMATPrep software)

All of these are available as "digital" versions and I suggest that you get digital copies so that you always work from a computer screen as you will during the real test.

A broad plan for working the materials:

1. Create a study schedule with a certain amount of questions that you will approach per day. Actually create a calendar (for my students I like to use google docs so the schedule is accessible from anywhere and can be shared). I would aim for about 25 verbal questions (starting with the easier ones at the beginning of the guides) per day + analyzing them after you solve the whole batch. While you solve do not dwell on any single question for too long. Approach the solving as you would on real test. After you are done with the set then analyze. Spend time figuring out why something was difficult and seek explanations not only from the book but from forums like this one. You can usually type in the first 5 or so words from any official question into google and you will find explanations here are at the MGMAT forum.

2. Create an error log. As you analyze your answers keep track of the ones that you got wrong and the ones that you found difficult. An easy way to do this is to take a screen shot of the question and keep all of those screen shots in a folder which you review every week. As you master the question/concept tested you can take the question out of the folder. The error log should be dynamic and should be revealing in terms of the types of questions that you are getting wrong. As you notice patterns seek out content/learning and extra practice in the weak area. As you learn new rules: WRITE THEM DOWN (create a document with the new things that you have learned and review this Doc on a regular basis)

3. Once you start getting your feet on solid ground you can start taking the 9 GMAT paper tests (only the verbal sections). You can do two of these per week as time permits (maybe just do these on the weekends) These are decent predictors of verbal score and excellent practice. You should take all of the succession and give yourself and extra 5 minutes on the clock (to give yourself a timing that is a bit closer to the real thing)

In the last month before your test you can start taking GMATPrep CATs. I would try to squeeze in 4-5 of them. After exhausting the tests I would use the GMATPrep Docs (these contain every question from the question banks of GMATprep and you can find them here are on GMATClub) and solve every verbal question that you did not see on your tests.

You can use the same plan for Quant except that I would purchase MGMAT and GMAT Club tests and would mix (only the Quant sections) them in throughout the entire study period. Do not worry about the scores, just learn from the explanations.

I would advise against more Kaplan classes. If you feel overwhelmed by the studying and need someone to help keep you organized and motivated then I would consider a tutor.

Let me know if you have any questions.

HG.

PS: I forgot to mention the timeline for this: 2 months if you have no job and your only job is GMAT. 3 months if you have a job but are still dedicated to an organized plan.
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"It is a curious property of research activity that after the problem has been solved the solution seems obvious. This is true not only for those who have not previously been acquainted with the problem, but also for those who have worked over it for years." -Dr. Edwin Land

GMAT Sample Questions to assess your GMAT Quant.

If you found my post useful KUDOS are much appreciated.

IMPROVE YOUR READING COMPREHENSION with the ECONOMIST READING COMPREHENSION CHALLENGE:

Here is the first set along with some strategies for approaching this work: http://gmatclub.com/forum/the-economist-reading-comprehension-challenge-151479.html

Intern
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Joined: 10 Feb 2013
Posts: 15
Concentration: Finance, Economics
GMAT 1: Q V0
GPA: 3.35
WE: Asset Management (Investment Banking)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 5 [0], given: 16

Re: 420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump [#permalink] New post 17 Feb 2013, 19:01
Thanks for the feedback. So after tons of research I've decided to do the following:

1) I bought the e-gmat package. Ive heard a lot of good things and if a non native speaker can ace verbal through it then I should be in a very good position to increase my score as well.

2) To boost quant I know I need to do better in geometry. I plan on using Khan Academy to brush up on topics.

With these supplemental teachings ill start taking OG cats and Kaplan cats.

I've also pushed back the exam from Feb 23 to May 18th. Hopefully this does it. Pray for me!

Thanks for everyone's feedback
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Re: 420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2013, 15:05
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Good luck - and if you are still struggling with reading, try out this video passage: http://www.gmatpill.com/practicequestio ... tions.html

For extra SC questions, you can go to: http://www.gmatpill.com/gmat-practice-t ... -questions
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Re: 420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump   [#permalink] 28 Feb 2013, 15:05
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420 - 490 - 570(PT) and feeling like cant get over 600 hump

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