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610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please.

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610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please. [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2013, 20:51
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I've never really been big on posting on these forums even though I've found reading them incredibly helpful. Nevertheless, my confidence is shot and I honestly don't know what to do. I had been preparing for the GMAT for a good 3-4 months now, putting in hundreds of hours. I had stopped drinking and going out. I was very dedicated to really immersing myself in GMAT. I had gone through every MGMAT book, took the course, and so on. I had reached a point where I felt confident, I would go through problems and problems and get them right; I honestly felt ready. my scores seemed to be trending in the right direction too:

MGMAT CAT 1: 610 (Q40/V34)
MGMAT CAT 2: 590 (Q38/V34)
MGMAT CAT 3: 630 (Q41/V35)
MGMAT CAT 4: 580 (Q40/V30) - at which point I freaked out a bit
GMAC CAT 1: 620 (Q44/V31)
MGMAT CAT 5: 650 (Q44/V35)
GMAC CAT 2: 700 (Q47/V39)

Then it came to test day. I felt like I was in the right mental state before the test. Slept as well as I could, ate breakfast. Of course I was very nervous and to be honest was taking the test to try and meet a deadline. The test itself was a little bit of a blur. Almost like a lot of the stuff being tested was very different from what I saw in the CATs, maybe I studied harder problems specifically and just didn't get into that range at all? In the end, I scored a 610 (Q43/V31) and felt crushed. I still do. How did I spend 3-4 months studying and score the same as I did on my first CAT?? All that work can't just disappear can it?

Does anyone have any guidance on what went wrong? What should I do? Where did I go wrong?

On a separate note, will schools be OK with me saying I am planning on re-taking the test? Should I just wait instead?

Please help!

Jose
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Re: 610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please. [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2013, 05:54
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Hey Jose,

i have never been a big contributor to those forums either. Today was my 2nd exam day and because i know how you are feeling at the moment i think you might be interested in my story :)
I cant tell you exactly what to do or what you did wrong, but i think i can encourage you a bit and i can tell you for sure that your 3-4 months of practice have definitely not just disappeared.

I actually experienced pretty much the same thing as you did.
I also studied for about 3 months 2-3 hours daily & 6-7 hours weekends. On my very first GMAC CAT (on the beginning of my study time) i scored a 540 (Q:40; V:25).
After 3 months of work and sacrifice i scored another 540 on the real GMAT. I literally could not trust my eyes when i saw my score (also because i thought i performed quite well and used to score around Q:45 V:35 on preptests). I was - really - incredibly disappointed and discouraged and was thinking about not trying it again.
I actually also had the feeling that i neglected the easy problems and focused on the hard ones only (especially in quant). But i think this is bullsh**. How did you reach the hard questions in the preptests then? I think the GMAC CATs are really good score indicators and i really think that it depends heavily on your daily condition, nervousness and just luck. Imagine you would have to take the exam tomorrow again - i dont think this would happen twice consecutively! You mastered the concepts but it was just not your day.

I took about 6 weeks off from studying (also because i went to a study abroad and thus just havent had time to study).
Then i decided to give it another try:
Since i am currently studying abroad for a semester and the courses i take are not too challenging, i had plenty of time to study and decided to do 6-9 hours per day, starting at 8am every day for 4 weeks.
Once i finished all the MGMAT books (again) i made it a habit to do about 30-40 quant questions, 20 SCs and 20 CRs under timed conditions per day and subsequently reasoning every question thoroughly out. Another point that i think is important is that you should devote the good hours of a day to study instead of studying in the night (as i usually did for my first attempt).
Especially, for me, SCs turned out to be a huge present. I think SC is really good to study and after about 60-80 SCs i saw huge improvements and i was always under 1 minute per SC (even though, as you might have noticed already, i am no native english speaker ;) ). Not mastering SC in a way that you could solve SC questions in sleep is - in my opinion - a waste of points.

So, today was my big day and i scored a 700 (Q:43; V:42). As you see i kind of bombed quant (i used to score around 48 on the preptests) but i compensated it with verbal and i really dont want to complain about my score ;)

Just give it another try! You should try to get to a point on which you can clearly say "i am definitely better prepared than i was for my first try". How else could you go confident into your second exam?

I wish you all the best with your second (and last) attempt ;)
You can definitely do that!
Tom

EDIT:
what i forgot, IMHO:
do not overweigh the MGMAT scores. I always scored lower in the MGMAT exams than in the GMAC CATs.
The math section is really good and in my opinion harder than the real GMAT (thus a good preparation).
Also the SCs are ok. But the RCs tend to be longer than the real ones and, to be honest, i think the CRs are really bad.
Still, i think the MGMAT CATs are the best complement when it comes to CATs.
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Re: 610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please. [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2013, 09:23
Thank you vogelleblanc! It's encouraging to hear your story of success. Do you have any strategic suggestions on studying for someone who works long hours like myself? The earlier hours of the day are simply not available!

I'm very impressed with you verbal score, especially for someone who is not a native english speaker. I'm bilingual and I seem to continually have trouble with verbal, especially when I keep reverting to "what sounds right" on SC (which I know is a huge NO NO). Any suggestions on the verbal front specifically?
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Re: 610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please. [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2013, 17:41
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...i might be wrong, but i think reverting to "what sounds right" is not too bad. you just have to use a good mixture of "what sounds right" and a rule-based approach. at least is this what i did for SC. i am a german native speaker and i think that german and english are quite close relatives (SC really reminded me about this), so this might not work for every nonnative speaker.
in general i recommend that you work exclusively with GMAC questions and check the explanations on the MGMAT forum. the instructors there are geniuses!
and - as i said - i always did about 20 timed SCs and 20 timed CRs per study session. afterwards i tried to thoroughly reason out whats wrong and right about every answer choice (even for the questions i got right) and then i checked the explanation on the MGMAT forum.
the reason why you should try to find out by yourself whats right and wrong is that this is a good way to become sensitized to recognize the error patterns.
and to RC: for me this was the hardest part of the verbal part. i did not study too much for it actively, instead i read some good american fiction books. this helped me a lot to improve my reading speed and my ability to understand the text on the first time i read it (in the beginning i often had to read a sentence 2-4 times to understand it a 100%). in general i read the passage once, made some notes and tried to understand the text a 100% and then i answered the questions from my memory. this "read it once and refer back to the passage for every question"-technique as it is recommended by some RC books (e.g. MGMAT) did not work for me at all.
i am indeed really happy with my verbal score. maybe also for other nonnatives who struggle with verbal: in my very first verbal preptest i had a 25 and in the second a 23! improving by 15-20 points is not impossible or reserved for native speakers.
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Re: 610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please. [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2014, 20:29
vogelleblanc wrote:
...i might be wrong, but i think reverting to "what sounds right" is not too bad. you just have to use a good mixture of "what sounds right" and a rule-based approach. at least is this what i did for SC. i am a german native speaker and i think that german and english are quite close relatives (SC really reminded me about this), so this might not work for every nonnative speaker.
in general i recommend that you work exclusively with GMAC questions and check the explanations on the MGMAT forum. the instructors there are geniuses!
and - as i said - i always did about 20 timed SCs and 20 timed CRs per study session. afterwards i tried to thoroughly reason out whats wrong and right about every answer choice (even for the questions i got right) and then i checked the explanation on the MGMAT forum.
the reason why you should try to find out by yourself whats right and wrong is that this is a good way to become sensitized to recognize the error patterns.
and to RC: for me this was the hardest part of the verbal part. i did not study too much for it actively, instead i read some good american fiction books. this helped me a lot to improve my reading speed and my ability to understand the text on the first time i read it (in the beginning i often had to read a sentence 2-4 times to understand it a 100%). in general i read the passage once, made some notes and tried to understand the text a 100% and then i answered the questions from my memory. this "read it once and refer back to the passage for every question"-technique as it is recommended by some RC books (e.g. MGMAT) did not work for me at all.
i am indeed really happy with my verbal score. maybe also for other nonnatives who struggle with verbal: in my very first verbal preptest i had a 25 and in the second a 23! improving by 15-20 points is not impossible or reserved for native speakers.



You are such an inspiration! You should post a longer debrief for other people like me to take heart from :) Congratulations for taming the GMAT!
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-MBAJunkie

Re: 610... WHAT HAPPENED?? Need guidance, please.   [#permalink] 21 Jan 2014, 20:29
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