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610 to 700 in a month?

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610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2013, 09:48
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Hi!
I scored 610 (V: 35 Q: 44) in my first GMAT attempt. I have now scheduled another slot a month away.

My key areas of improvement are:

a) Quant Speed: Severely ran out of time in the last 10 questions. Must have guessed about 8.
b) Verbal Accuracy: I am surprised by my low Verbal score. This needs to go up by at least 5 points.
C) Sentence Correction: I am terrible at SC accuracy. This is aggravated by the fact that I am fluently bi-lingual in English almost as a native tongue, but never actually studied ANY grammar. Need to start from scratch. RC is my strongest point. CR could improve, though the accuracy is about 80%.
D) Probability, Rates & work and Statistics: These are my bane. I can probably attempt basic Stats questions except standard deviation, but probability/rates & work just escape me.

I am waiting for my official score, so not mentioning IR here. I had a terrible time at it during practice tests, but the questions in actual exam were fairly easy. Wondering how much I will score there.

My query is whether its reasonable to expect about 80 - 90 points jump in a month's time? I have planned the following strategy:

a) Revise all basic Quant concepts in the first week
b) Do entire OG at least 2 times
c) Dedicated error log (I did not do this the last time)
d) Kaplan 800 difficult questions set
e) Dedicated time for verbal, especially grammar.

Have there been any success stories here, who have managed to do the same? Any tips/encouragement/realistic assessment would be deeply appreciated.

Thanks!

Last edited by sns on 30 Mar 2013, 19:15, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2013, 13:10
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Hi sns,

Improving 90 points in a month is very difficult, but not impossible. It depends a great deal upon why you got the score you got. Your timing trouble is actually really good news, because it's certainly possible to improve your timing in a month, and that right there can add quite a bit to your score. The key to fixing timing is recognizing that you're going to miss a lot of questions (about 40%) even at the 700 level. If you can't do a problem in about 2 minutes, let it go as soon as you recognize that.

A few thoughts on the elements of your study plan:

b) You can't do this productively in 1 month. I meet students every week who have done something like this, and it doesn't work. You'd be better off doing half of the OG and studying it very carefully than plowing through all that material in such a short span. Take time to understand what makes each problem tick. You can easily get 20-30 minutes' worth of study out of one problem if you're reviewing correctly.

d) Difficult problems are great, but the trick to getting a 700 is doing really well on the low- to mid-level problems. Spend the bulk of your time improving your speed, accuracy, and confidence across the curriculum, and then supplement with a reasonable number of tough problems. You really only need to survive the 700-800 level material, not conquer it. The biggest thing is learning which problems not to do.

e) Most students haven't spent much time learning English grammar, but it's important to learn some of the rules that govern SC. I humbly recommend our book for this (Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction Strategy Guide).

Good luck!

_________________


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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2013, 10:11
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Hi sns,

a) Timing each problem is a great first step. You definitely want to get a feel for 2 minutes. The next step is doing problems in timed sets--for instance, 5 problems in 10 minutes. This forces you to budget your time. If you're going to have a colossal timing failure (5 minutes on one problem), you want it to happen now, not on the test. This is also a great way to practice letting the hardest problems go in advance.

b) Long response below . . .

c) It is very useful to recognize problems by specific type, because there is often a specific strategy that fits a specific type. If I lump all rate/work problems together, for instance, I won't be able to respond very quickly to the specifics of the problem. It's much better if I recognize that an average speed problem requires a different approach from a combined work problem. You mentioned stats: that includes simple averages, weighted averages, finding the median, etc. Again, knowing what the challenge is makes it much easier to respond. It's like being a doctor who recognizes a certain set of symptoms and says "Ah, I've seen this before." That doctor is much better equipped to respond than one who simply says "This patient has stomach trouble."

Okay, now for b). There are many things you want to do in your review process that could end up pushing the time per problem to 30 minutes or more. Here's a rough outline:

1. Start by doing a timed set of problems. Answer all problems no matter what. If you guess and move on because a problem looks too hard, note that so you can determine later if the problem was as hard as it looked (and why).

2. DO NOT check the answers. Go back through these problems (now or in your next study session) UNTIMED. Here are a few things to look at:
*What type of problem is this, and how can I tell?
*Are there particular problems or strategies associated with this problem type that I should keep in mind? (For instance, on a problem involving percentages, I always want to ask myself “percent of what?”)
*Do I feel confident about my work on this problem? Why or why not?
*How else might I have approached the problem?
*(Once you’ve examined different approaches): What is the optimal approach to this problem (for me), and how can I tell? Are there cues in the problem that make one approach clearly preferable to another? (For instance, if I see variables in the answer choices, I might want to pick numbers. However, if the relationship between the variables is not very clear, picking numbers might be difficult or impossible to do.)
*Were there tricks or traps in this problem? How did/could I notice and avoid them?
*Did I correctly interpret what the question was asking for? Did I successfully provide that answer at the end? (In other words, if the question asked for x+1 and I gave x, or the question asked me to infer and I tried to strengthen, I need to notice that problem and make plans to avoid it in the future.)
*(For verbal): Why is each answer choice right or wrong? If you were down to two tempting choices, what is the difference between them? If you didn’t like any of the choices, what made the one you chose better (or the least bad)? In RC (or CR conclusion), can you find support for your choice? In SC, can you cite a rule or identify a meaning issue that this choice violates or resolves? In CR assumption-based, does this choice address an assumption or “gap” in the argument?

The point here is to get the most out of every problem. Often, we get a problem right and move on without learning from the experience. If we did the problem well, it’s useful to study why we were successful. If we just got lucky, we need to notice that and figure out how we might perform at this level more consistently. Checking the answers too early prevents a lot of these insights by focusing our attention only on our obvious errors, or on the most difficult problems. This is not a great way to build up a consistent, accurate problem solving method.

3. Check your answers and re-review as needed. Any big surprises? If so, what did you miss in the last stage? Did you misinterpret the question? Did you keep making the same arithmetic error? Is this a content area that you don’t understand well? Try to sort the problem out for yourself before checking the explanation.

4. Check the explanation. If you have access to our OG Archer, you may want to use those quant explanations in place of the sometimes-laborious explanations in the OG itself. Compare the explanation to what you’ve discovered. Are there any additional insights? Does it validate your approach or raise more questions? Maybe you like your approach better—that’s fine as long as it works!

5. Take some notes (ideally organized by topic/type.) What trends do you notice within individual topics, or across the test? What makes a problem easier or harder for you? What are some signs that a problem is too difficult? What are you doing when you make a careless error? (Doing too much in your head? Skipping steps? Misreading the prompt?)

6. If you’re studying topic-by-topic, use your notes to develop a plan of attack for each topic you’ve studied. What are my weaknesses? What approaches work best for which subtypes? When do I need to guess and move on? Is there any content for which I need to do further reading or basic skills practice?

Of course, you want to apply this process flexibly, not just go through the motions because some crazy teacher in San Diego said to do this. On some problems, this whole process might not take long at all. For instance, if you’re reviewing Problem Solving #5 from OG13, and you correctly identified which #s to add up, you probably got the right answer very quickly. In reviewing, you’d just ask “Is there a faster way I could have identified those numbers or added them up?” The answer might well be no. If you found this problem easy, the ENTIRE process, from doing the problem through reviewing and checking the explanation, might take less than 2 minutes. If you solved the problem inefficiently, or if you missed it because you got overconfident and rushed, you still might learn a thing or two in that 2 minutes. If you solved the problem correctly and systematically, you might think about how you could have that same experience on a more complicated problem.

In short, doing every problem in the OG is only helpful if you’re able to get something tangible from each of those problems. You’re not going to see any of them on the real test, but you are going to see problems that have a lot in common with them. If you just have a passing familiarity with each problem, that won’t serve you well. However, if you can say “Hey, this reminds me of a problem I solved this way,” you can use your past experience to respond quickly, effectively, and flexibly to the demands of the test.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions on any part of the process.

_________________


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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 10 Apr 2013, 04:03
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Hi Rakesh,

Thanks for the post. Appreciate it a lot. Will go through it. Certainly sounds like an inspirational success story.

And I promise to give you Kudos, if you in turn change 'cudo' to 'Kudos' in your signature and usage. :) Honestly, CUDO ME sounds kind of nasty, and I am generally considered to be a very nice person. :lol:

/sns
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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2013, 19:14
Hi Dmitri,

Many thanks for your response and suggestions. They gave me a lot to think about. I will certainly consider Manhattan SC material. I have following additional queries/explanations wrt to your response.

a) I realized that timing is my biggest issue, and have started doing each problem with a timer now. At the moment, I have no realistic idea of what 2 minutes feel like. Hopefully, the situation will improve in the coming 30 days. My past strategy of looking at time every 7 problems bombed spectacularly. Do you know of any other tricks/methods?

b) About cramming too much material in a short span, I know what you mean. I am already struggling to stay on course with the study plan during this long weekend, and can only imagine it blowing to pieces during tougher weekdays. :shock: I am curious about your statement that each problem review can take upto 20-30 minutes. What exactly are we supposed to review? When I revisit problems that were wrong in the first attempt, it normally doesn't take more than a quick perusal of the solution for me to 'get it'. What is it that I'm doing wrong?

c) In both Quant and Verbal, I have often read forum members here talking of preparation/revision/strategy on the basis of problem type. Is that really necessary? In my first preparation attempt (4 weeks as well), I just broadly covered the problems according to the curriculum - for e.g. in Stats - standard deviation, Mean median mode and graphical representation. Is not knowing/tagging each problem type majorly affecting my score?

Thank you for all your help! :)
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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 31 Mar 2013, 19:40
Expert's post
sns wrote:
Hi!
I scored 610 (V: 35 Q: 44) in my first GMAT attempt. I have now scheduled another slot a month away.

My key areas of improvement are:

a) Quant Speed: Severely ran out of time in the last 10 questions. Must have guessed about 8.
b) Verbal Accuracy: I am surprised by my low Verbal score. This needs to go up by at least 5 points.
C) Sentence Correction: I am terrible at SC accuracy. This is aggravated by the fact that I am fluently bi-lingual in English almost as a native tongue, but never actually studied ANY grammar. Need to start from scratch. RC is my strongest point. CR could improve, though the accuracy is about 80%.
D) Probability, Rates & work and Statistics: These are my bane. I can probably attempt basic Stats questions except standard deviation, but probability/rates & work just escape me.

I am waiting for my official score, so not mentioning IR here. I had a terrible time at it during practice tests, but the questions in actual exam were fairly easy. Wondering how much I will score there.

My query is whether its reasonable to expect about 80 - 90 points jump in a month's time? I have planned the following strategy:

a) Revise all basic Quant concepts in the first week
b) Do entire OG at least 2 times
c) Dedicated error log (I did not do this the last time)
d) Kaplan 800 difficult questions set
e) Dedicated time for verbal, especially grammar.

Have there been any success stories here, who have managed to do the same? Any tips/encouragement/realistic assessment would be deeply appreciated.

Thanks!


Dmitry has given you some great advice. Let me add a couple of things:

You need to have a feel of how much time you take to solve each question and you should realize when you start pushing it. It takes approx 30 secs to read a Quant question and understand it properly. You recognize what is given and what you have to find. Usually, if you understand the problem well, it will take you up to a minute to solve it. Then there is a 30 sec buffer to confirm that what was asked was what you have found and to figure out the problem area in case you ended up making a mistake. Try to run some test sessions. 5 questions - 10 mins. Look at the clock as frequently as you want in the first few sessions to get a feel of time. Try to develop a steady rhythm so that you don't try to rush some questions and laze out on others.
Also, speed has a lot to do with the methods you use to solve the questions. Do you find yourself making equations with 2 variables often in GMAT questions? Usually, you don't need to make any equations - you can solve the questions logically. Even if you do, you can often make do with a single variable. Try to find out the various approaches you can use to solve different question types.

Also, try out these links of my posts on topics that bother you:

http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/?s=quar ... 120&y=-250
The top three posts discuss SD. Start from the third post.

http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/2011/03 ... -problems/
http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/2012/11 ... revisited/

http://www.veritasprep.com/blog/categor ... om/page/2/
The third last post is the first one on P&C. Go up from there.

For SC, you don't really need to work through the details of grammar.. basic concepts certainly, but that's about it. Thereafter, you again need to use your reasoning skills to figure out which option makes most sense. Also, reading extensively will give you an ear for what is right and what is not (though it takes time - definitely more than a month)

All in all, 610 to 700 in a month is an ambitious target. If you did not study much for your first attempt, chances are that you will improve considerably if you put in the required effort this time. If you actually did go through a lot of relevant material the first time around, it could take you some time to break the 700 barrier.

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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 31 Mar 2013, 20:50
Hi Karishma,

Many thanks for your advice and the links of these posts. I will make it a point to go through them.

Very useful advice on 2-variable problems. I do tend to do that a lot, but I don't think its something I can improve drastically so soon. Will simply have to get faster at it. I am actually quite fast at DS questions (average under 60 seconds). So an incremental increase in PS speed will go a long way.

I will try your suggestion to time myself in short bursts as well and let you know if that works.

A quick note on my previous preparation attempt. Last time I did not study for the verbal section AT ALL, and went for it exclusively 'by my ear'. It wasn't a suicide attempt nor am I too cocky for my own good. :) I simply did not have time because I needed to direct all energies in ramping up Quant section in which I was very weak (I had last studied Maths 15 years ago. :)) So, to answer your question, I did do some intensive (30-35 hours a week) basic maths prep for about 3 weeks, but that's about it.

I am hoping that consciously studying for the verbal section and then improving on the Quant timing would help me inch closer to my goal.

One additional query that I asked to Dmitri as well: Do you think not knowing all 'question types' is affecting my score? I just studied per topic and can't recognize each type when I attempt the problems. Should I invest energy in doing so this time around?

Thanks again! This place is a huge help and a positive inspiration. :)
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Re: 610 to 700 in a month? [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2013, 23:05
Hi Dmitri,

I need a tankard of coffee to fully process it all but thanks a lot! This will provide a lot of direction to my haphazard efforts. I am also slowly aligning myself to the view that I need more time to break the 700 barrier, and might end up postponing my exam by another 25 days. This will be my last attempt at GMAT and I might as well give it my best shot.

Will incorporate a lot of your advice on the review process and identifying problem types. If I make it, you have another success story to add to your mental scrap book. :) Actually, I have started incorporating problem type strategy in my verbal study efforts. The results aren't worth writing home about yet, but am hoping its just a painful process I have to go through before I start seeing results.

/sns

P.S. You don't sound like a crazy teacher at all. Students living near your geographic area are lucky to have access to your in-depth analysis and strategic finesse in person.
Re: 610 to 700 in a month?   [#permalink] 04 Apr 2013, 23:05
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