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640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?!

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Manager
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Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 214
Location: Bulgaria
GMAT 1: 640 Q44 V34
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640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2012, 11:51
Dear GMATClub members,

I am reaching out for your opinion onto how to improve my GMAT score in the next 2 months, in which I would be able to put in a substantial amount of time in order to get this 740+ score. Just a couple of days ago I scored 640 (Q44, V34) and in the following I will describe my current situation so that you can develop an idea of where I am.

For further information about my study strategy and GMAT debrief, please refer to:
1. My 740+ study diary
2. My GMAT 640 Debrief thread

Background
Currently 26, about a year ago I decided to sit for the GMAT in order to boost my performance on consulting analytical tests, as some of the question types are pretty much similar. My wish for a future MBA (in 2-3 years time) made me target a 740+ score, something which would allow me to apply in Top Business schools. I have a MSc degree in Financial management.

Preparation materials
In November 2011 I ordered the following materials.
1. Manhattan GMAT Math Foundations
2. Manhattan GMAT Verbal Foundations
3. Manhattan GMAT 8 Strategy Guides (except for CR)
4. Powerscore Critical reasoning Bible
5. Manhattan GMAT Advanced Quant
6. OG12, VG2, QG2
7. MGMAT AWA and IR Guide
8. OG13

Preparation strategy applied
Although I ordered the materials in November 2011, my preparation started in February 2012, when I completed both Foundation books and then scored on GMATPrep 1 - 610 (Q41, V34).

Because most of my mistakes where on SC, I then started with MGMAT SC guide. I developed a good understanding of the types of sentence structures and thought that the respectable 71% hit rate on all OG12 and VG2 SC problems was a good sign. Then I started with MGMAT Number properties aiming to tackle my Quant problems and to finish all MGMAT Quant books one after the other. Unfortunately, in early April I had to pause my preparation, as I first had to work on some very intensive projects at work and then was invited for an interview for a summer internship at one of the top management consulting companies. Of course, this all took time and efforts, and as I then went for the internship it was October. Once I was back home I re-started everything and completed all Quant MGMAT Guides. By the time, I booked December 11th as my test date (test dates were quickly filling up) and continued with Powerscore CR Bible and MGMAT RC.

With all books, I read and directly solved all chapter problems (MGMAT) as well as all chapter-related OG problems. In the case of CR I read the entire book and did all CR problems at once. This resulted in the following overall hit rates for all question types (rates for all questions from OG12, VG2 and QG2 taken from my GMAT Toolkit App)
- SC - 71,4%
- CR - 83,0%
- RC - 83,0%
- DS - 71,0%
- PS - 79,9%

After doing all this, I was left with just 7-10 days to the GMAT date, in which I was completely overwhelmed what to do and did 5 CAT's, 1 GMATClub Quant Test (dissapointing 16 answers correct Q28) and did some random 700+ SC questions from the forum. Following the results:
- GMATPrep 1 - 680 (Q47, V36)
- MGMAT 1 - 650 (Q42, V37) - 2 days after GMATPrep
- MGMAT 2 - 590 (Q39, V32) - 1 day after MGMAT 1
- GMATPrep 2 - 610 (Q44, V31)
- GMATPrep 3 - 730 (Q48, V41) - with some repetitions of course

Unfortunately, I could not re-read any of the books, after I noticed some weak areas. I just read my notes once during the last week of preparation, but have the feeling that I have to go deeper in order to fully grasp some concepts which are needed.

My feeling about weak areas
Quant - I would generally say that I have strong math skills and that I am quite fast in mental math. But I would for sure say that Inequalitites, Absolute values, Probability, Combinations&Permutations are topics that frustrate me. It's not that I don't know the concepts behind this type of problems, but somehow seem to get a black-out when I see such a question every now and then. In addition, though I do understand how to do a RTD/RTW table, I quite often have problems building the equation and finding out which two part to have equal in a particular case.
All those problems get even worse when included in a DS question, as those sometimes expect even more thinking and work.
Verbal - In Verbal I think I have problems just with SC. In SC there are particular topics (the ones I hoped to clarify here on the forums with the 700+ problems), which I just can't remember having red anything about in MGMAT SC -> for example Verb-ing vs. THAT vs. WHICH; when a face such a SC sentence I never know which one is right - towards the end I could finally include the "Meaning" component here, but still need theoretical and practical work on this side here. Regarding CR and RC I think I generally grasped all concepts. Especially in RC I always take notes, am good timewise, but sometimes do silly mistakes, because I choose an answer out of scope. With CR I found Powerscore CR Bible VERY, VERY useful, but somehow can never apply their full approach, but normally just localize the argument and try to find the answer which weakens/strengthens it. I sometimes here as well have some problem with scopes, as I choose some answers which may be generally true, but are not relevant in a particular case.

While in the first couple CAT's I ha significant time problems towards the end (as well as the real GMAT) I had good time management I think, but I can't really say that I try to follow a specific pattern during the exam, just because I am never able to solve a SC problem within 45-60 seconds. And just try to balance timewise, but probably cut sometimes on the wrong end.

Available resources (not used until know)
- 4 MGMAT CAT's
- 13 GMAT Club Quant Tests and 6 GMAT Club Verbal Tests
- MGMAT Advanced Quant
- OG13 (though many of the questions overlap with OG12)
- Thursday's with Ron

Possible additional resources
- Various Online Courses (my location does not offer good real life tutoring)
- Sackmann's Total GMAT Math
- Aristotle SC
- GMAT Club's Grammar and Math Books
- GMAC Question Pack 1

How I see my strategy from now on
As you probably feel, I am quite mixed up, but wnat to quickly continue in order to make use of my current motivation and my spare time during the holidays. I could give myself another 30-50 days and sit for the GMAT as well in the end of January or beginning of February, but would want to give my best this time as well!

My idea is the apply a twofold strategy - first start with a revision of theoretical concepts, as I seem to still have some gaps - especiall in SC (I've read MGMAT SC about 1 year ago). Here I could make use of Thursday's with Ron videos, as I could not find time to watch any of them. For most of the other areas of Quant and Verbal it seem s to me that I just do not apply the concepts, although I know them (notice this when reading the answer explanations). So here I would rather practice a bit more with questions and see if this gets better. Once this rather conceptual part is over, I would again do CAT's, but first focus especially on GMATClub ones. OK, 'nough said!

Sorry, for the very long post!
I am really trying to figure out what's the best way to continue my GMAT studies and will be grateful if you GMATClub members and GMAT Experts could share your opinion briefly. Every opinion on the overall strategy, sequence of steps, etc. is well appreciated! Kudos are guaranteed

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Thank you very much for reading this post till the end! Kudos?


Last edited by bgpower on 18 Dec 2012, 01:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 04:59
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Hii BGPOWER.
First of all, get over the feeling that you scored a not as expected score. It can happen with anyone. So, if you had your break after the test, then rather than thinking over the previous attempt start thinking about your mistakes.
You have great potential which is quite evitable by your practice tests results. So think about the mistakes that you commit. And to your question whether to go for other materials, I won't suggest to go with other materials unless they are questions. If you are planning to go for courses then trust me, it will immensely create a huge mixup.
I don't have anything to say about RC because even I am also struggling with this section. Had this been not the case, I would have taken the GMAT by now.
Anyways, for SC treat MGMAT SC as the bible. STUDY and ANALYSE it atleast 3-4 times. After STUDYING the MGMAT SC, you can implement those skills on official questions. Also I shall suggest that while you are in preparation mode, DO NOT TIME YOURSELF. Try to find as many mistakes as possible. If unable to do so, then post the question on the CLUB. If you are able to find all the possible ways to nail a question then trust me, SC will be like a child's play after this. But remember all the errors means all the errors, including grammatical and logical.
For CR, practice as many questions as possible. Use CR techniques in your daily thinking; assumptions, strengthen, weaken and evaluate the argument can very easily be used.
For quant, if you scored <45 then some concepts are lacking. So you need to workout with those but if you scored >45 then try to find out where do you lack. Whether its DS or PS, whether its timing issue or something else.
Lastly I shall suggest that if you don't want to enroll in an MBA program this year then why be in a hurry. Take your time and destroy it.
Hope that helps.
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 05:36
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Responding to a PM.

Okay, first things first: you have a long way to go before that 740 score. The sooner you realize this, the better it is - This only means a lot of hard work, much more practice, and a better accuracy as well. Also, I don't feel you are super solid/naturally gifted in either quant or verbal. So that means more hard work - in both the areas.

It will be slightly easier for you to improve the quant score substantially because you are at a lower end of the percentile spectrum. That is your low hanging fruit for me.

Start with PS and concepts. mgmat guides + gmatclub math book should be a good combo to build up concepts. (number systems, algebra, geometry, co-ordinate - in that order) dont fret over P&C and probability for now. Just learn the basic concepts and come back to them when you are at Q47/48. Be good with overlapping sets and mean/median/SD - relatively easier to master.

Use tags to filter questions on the concepts you are lacking. Inequality and absolute values questions are the harder ones and more often than not appear in DS questions. Practice a lot of these questions - that is the only way to succeed. You will find common pitfalls (ZIP1 - Zero Integer Positive 1) and flaws in your strategy.
Know when to plug in numbers (and what numbers to plug: -10 ;-1;-0.5;0;+0.5;1;10 -- these should do) and know when to leave questions --> important factor to move to Q47/48 from Q41.
Never move ahead without understanding the concept and how you would tackle the problem if a similar one comes up next time.

Timing strategy is important but realize that you are currently doing lower level questions (in essentially the same time). So, improve your timing as you go higher on the question level.

OG questions are very important. Close to your date, you should aim of getting an 85-90% accuracy on these. Always do 15-20 questions together (depending on the difficulty level)



Verbal:

Official material is must. Go through OGs and supplements. Each explanation - whether you got the question right or wrong.

SC: MGMAT SC, Aristotle grail: go through these thoroughly.
CR: powerscore bible is good. practice and observe the trend. When you have done enough questions you will definitely develop an intuition.
RC: practice as many passages as possible from a good source.


Document and review your mistakes. Unless you do this, you won't improve.

gmatclub forums are a good source for "specific topic revision" and it is good to book a date in advance but don't force yourself unless you feel ready. postpone it if you feel you need more time. You have enough weeks to prepare before the next cycle begins.

good luck!
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Joined: 03 Aug 2011
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GMAT 1: 640 Q44 V34
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 09:28
Guys, thanks very much for your input! That answers many of the questions I have in mind!

I don't know the exact reason so far (could be anxiety), but my test scores have been fluctuating all around. While I certainly lack some concepts, I really hope to be able to improve at least slightly out of higher confidence. But I agree with jumsumtak that this is not going to be easy. I further agree that I am not a natural talent in neither of the sections, or to put it differently, I am strong in maths, but not in mathematical reasoning, but rather in number crunching. I will try and see how the next few weeks develop and will then decide when to sit for the GMAT again.

I will then for sure stick to Manhattan GMAT and Powerscore for my further preparation. The only things which I see as potential suplements would be GMATClub's Grammar and Math books as well as the GMAC Question Pack 1, which would provide me with additional official questions (I have already completed OG12, QG2 and VG2) and have just OG13 which is has some significant overlaps.

A. Start with Quant and aim scoring Q48 or above constantly
1. Re-read some chapters of the MGMAT Quant Guides in order to clarify on several concepts and read GMAT Club Math Book for the first time
PS & DS: Agree with jumsumtak, I really don't know when to plug numbers; when to guess and move on; I definitely lack those strategies
2. Apply all concepts on GMAC Question Pack 1, writting down every question, which I am not sure about, guessed or got wrong (creating flash cards)
3. Work on MGMAT Advanced Math
4. Apply all concepts on GMATClub Quant tests, writting down every question, which I am not sure about, guessed or got wrong (creating flash cards)
Additional options - Jeff Sackmann's Total GMAT Math & Question set if I constantly fail to achieve my score

B. Move to Verbal and aim scoring V41 or above constantly
1. Re-read MGMAT SC and Powerscore CR Bible
SC - Try to fill gaps as verb-ing - that - which; subjunctive etc.
CR - Try to improve approach on CR questions - focus not only on conclusion and scope, but also on the premises
RC - I don't plan rereading MGMAT RC, as I already apply their note taking approach and, honestly, don't think the book would provide me with much value if I reread it
2. Apply all concepts on GMATClub Verbal tests, 700+ GMAT questions in the forum and watch Thursday's with Ron
Additional options - E-Gmat online course

Q48 and V41 should be doable as they are the highest scores I have achieved in CAT's (though with repeting questions).

Overall
1. jumsumtak, Should I do any practice questions while in stage 1 of Quant and Verbal? Should I use OG13 and QP1 here or rather keep them for later drilling?
2. Marcab,jumsumtak, Should I do any CAT's before I have finished Quant and Verbal? By CAT I mean full length tests, and not GMATClub Quant and Verbal, which will be used earlier.
Quant
3. Marcab,jumsumtak, How can I prepare better for DS as DS is weaker than PS? Should I somehow counteract or will the improved conceptual base automatically influence DS as well?
4. Marcab,jumsumtak, Let me be honest, I am a little tired for revising the entire MGMAT guides, not that I have low motivation, but somehow I feel that last time I reviewed everything very carefully and some of the strategies (f.e. ZIP1; How to pick smart numbers -10 ;-1;-0.5;0;+0.5;1;10; etc.) were not very well explained? So do you think it's better to revise the entire 5 MGMAT Quant guides or rather combine MGMAT Quant with GMATClub Math book with the hope that those concepts are explained in the latter?
Verbal
5. jumsumtak, Do you think Aristotle SC is really important or is it OK to entirely focus on MGMAT SC?
6. Could GMATClub Grammar provide me with some additional value here or should I eliminate it for the time being?
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GMAT 1: 680 Q43 V40
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 14:33
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Hey. Let me provide some feedback on the quant studying. To be frank, I've never had an issue with verbal throughout my studying so I never really put in effort to improve. I am extremely lucky in that it comes naturally for me. Hence I probably studied 10 hours in TOTAL for verbal, and it was all SC (did all the SC problems in the OG Verbal workbook / studied the MGMAT guide a bit). So I can't really help on that front.

Back to my study plan. This is EXACTLY what I did. I hope there is something in here you can use.
1) Started my official studying on Sept 3 2012.
2) Began with MGMAT CAT#1 ...did pretty bad, got a low 600 or something. Verbal was good, quant was horrible. I knew right away that quant should be my focus.
3) For the next few weeks went through all of the MGMAT quant guides, in order. Did all of the end of chapter problems and the suggest OG guide problems. Made a list of all of the ones I got wrong.
4) Every two weeks I would do another MGMAT CAT. My scores were ALL over the place. I'd get a 680 on one and then a 630 on another. This happened ALL the time with MGMAT CATs, hence my sincere distaste for them. To be honest, I rate their study materials "B+" and their CATs in the "D-" range.
5) In the middle of studying, my wife gave birth so that put everything on hold for 2-3 weeks.
6) Once I finished the MGMAT guides, I went through the entire OG book as well as the Quant workbook. I did EVERY PS and DS question OG had. Since I had already done most of these questions while going through the MGMAT books (given they give you exercises at the end of each chapter), I made sure to mark down all of my right/wrong answers, as well as ones where I guessed or took way over 2/3 minutes to solve. I kept this log to track which ones I kept getting wrong.
7) I did a GMATPrep test. Strict timing conditions, including the AWA and IR. Got a 700. Was pretty happy with it but wanted more improvement.
8) I purchased the GMAT Online Focus Diagnostics as well as the GMATPrep 2.0 software pack. Went through each and every question religiously, making sure to go over questions I was getting wrong.
9) I went through ALL of the OG questions I got wrong again (this is where the error log was super helpful). I kept going through it until I would get every question right.
10) I did my second GMATPrep test, again under strict timing conditions. Got a 720. A bit better and my score was very evenly balanced, so I was happy.
11) Nov 5, 2012, did my real GMAT. Two months of prep got me a 680 (very low quant). I was very very disappointed given all of the above (purely quant focused).
12) The next day, I scheduled it again for mid December. Did some research to find mid-level difficulty questions to do (500-600 level) and stumbled upon Jeff Sackmann's stuff. I got both his Total GMAT Math theory book, and his 1,800 question set.
13) Over the next month, I went through TGM cover to cover and reviewed every single concept (did not skip any of his theory or practice problems).
14) I then went through all of the Challenge level questions in his 1,800 question set. I did about 1,000 questions in total. I kept an error log of every question I had even the slightest difficulty with. After going through it once, I went through it again but specifically doing only the ones in the error log.
15) Dec 15, 2012, did the GMAT for the second time and got a 720 with a huge improvement in my quant.

To be honest, the MGMAT guides were good to give me a solid initial understanding of all of the topics, but like you, I was still confused by some of the Prob/Comb/Perm type questions. I even had difficulty with the RTW and RTD problems. After getting that basic grasp of the concepts, Sackmann's theory book solidified EVERYTHING for me. I had become a pro at doing specifically those types of problems (wish I had gotten more Comb/Perm questions on the real GMAT actually, as I only got one...I would have probably scored higher).

Hope this helps. I didn't proof read the above but hopefully no major typos or mistakes. Good luck.
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 15:43
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Hi. Sorry to hear about the 640 - does not sound like the score you were aiming for.
If I can poke around, I am seeing that your second GMAT Prep was pretty close - GMATPrep 2 - 610 (Q44, V31)
The V score had gone up a bit but Q was the same 44.

I think you definitely need to improve quant. That won't alone let you get up there but it will be easier taking into consideration that you are not a native speaker.
Have you done much reading of English fiction? I think that's what has trained my ear to catch mistakes/errors on about 3/4th of the SC questions. The rest were more or less brute force or the "A" was correct. I would say that's the best way to train your ear without driving yourself crazy (you can't rely on rules; it has to be faster than that). GMAT Fiction post if you have not done it yet.


As to the quant, start here: how-to-improve-your-quant-from-q44-to-q50-141670.html
At this point it is finding a lot of small things and squishing them while maintaining a hold on other aspects and elements of your preparation (you need to keep refreshing as you proceed so you don't lose your gains).

Finally, have you seen the MGMAT roadmap book?
I will send you a PM about it.

Best Regards,
BB
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 20:19
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Hi buddy,
I feel sad for you. I feel that you have done enough hard work so just keep the momentum going.
For quant, i would suggest you to go with the advise of bb, which is mentioned above. for extra practice, you may like to include the jeff's challenge sets.
to improve verbal, i am inclined towards e-gmat course. it's meant for non-natives. so you may like to sign up, check out their free classes and go ahead if you like. I have heard great guns about them.
good luck man!
:)
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 17 Dec 2012, 20:59
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bgpower wrote:
Dear GMATClub members,

I am reaching out for your opinion onto how to improve my GMAT score in the next 2 months, in which I would be able to put in a substantial amount of time in order to get this 740+ score. Just a couple of days ago I scored 640 (Q44, V34) and in the following I will describe my current situation so that you can develop an idea of where I am.

For further information about my study strategy and GMAT debrief, please refer to:
1. My 740+ study diary
2. My [url]GMAT 640 Debrief[/url] thread

Background
Currently 26, about a year ago I decided to sit for the GMAT in order to boost my performance on consulting analytical tests, as some of the question types are pretty much similar. My wish for a future MBA (in 2-3 years time) made me target a 740+ score, something which would allow me to apply in Top Business schools. I have a MSc degree in Financial management.

Preparation materials
In November 2011 I ordered the following materials.
1. Manhattan GMAT Math Foundations
2. Manhattan GMAT Verbal Foundations
3. Manhattan GMAT 8 Strategy Guides (except for CR)
4. Powerscore Critical reasoning Bible
5. Manhattan GMAT Advanced Quant
6. OG12, VG2, QG2
7. MGMAT AWA and IR Guide
8. OG13

Preparation strategy applied
Although I ordered the materials in November 2011, my preparation started in February 2012, when I completed both Foundation books and then scored on GMATPrep 1 - 610 (Q41, V34).

Because most of my mistakes where on SC, I then started with MGMAT SC guide. I developed a good understanding of the types of sentence structures and thought that the respectable 71% hit rate on all OG12 and VG2 SC problems was a good sign. Then I started with MGMAT Number properties aiming to tackle my Quant problems and to finish all MGMAT Quant books one after the other. Unfortunately, in early April I had to pause my preparation, as I first had to work on some very intensive projects at work and then was invited for an interview for a summer internship at one of the top management consulting companies. Of course, this all took time and efforts, and as I then went for the internship it was October. Once I was back home I re-started everything and completed all Quant MGMAT Guides. By the time, I booked December 11th as my test date (test dates were quickly filling up) and continued with Powerscore CR Bible and MGMAT RC.

With all books, I read and directly solved all chapter problems (MGMAT) as well as all chapter-related OG problems. In the case of CR I read the entire book and did all CR problems at once. This resulted in the following overall hit rates for all question types (rates for all questions from OG12, VG2 and QG2 taken from my GMAT Toolkit App)
- SC - 71,4%
- CR - 83,0%
- RC - 83,0%
- DS - 71,0%
- PS - 79,9%

After doing all this, I was left with just 7-10 days to the GMAT date, in which I was completely overwhelmed what to do and did 5 CAT's, 1 GMATClub Quant Test (dissapointing 16 answers correct Q28) and did some random 700+ SC questions from the forum. Following the results:
- GMATPrep 1 - 680 (Q47, V36)
- MGMAT 1 - 650 (Q42, V37) - 2 days after GMATPrep
- MGMAT 2 - 590 (Q39, V32) - 1 day after MGMAT 1
- GMATPrep 2 - 610 (Q44, V31)
- GMATPrep 3 - 730 (Q48, V41) - with some repetitions of course

Unfortunately, I could not re-read any of the books, after I noticed some weak areas. I just read my notes once during the last week of preparation, but have the feeling that I have to go deeper in order to fully grasp some concepts which are needed.

My feeling about weak areas
Quant - I would generally say that I have strong math skills and that I am quite fast in mental math. But I would for sure say that Inequalitites, Absolute values, Probability, Combinations&Permutations are topics that frustrate me. It's not that I don't know the concepts behind this type of problems, but somehow seem to get a black-out when I see such a question every now and then. In addition, though I do understand how to do a RTD/RTW table, I quite often have problems building the equation and finding out which two part to have equal in a particular case.
All those problems get even worse when included in a DS question, as those sometimes expect even more thinking and work.
Verbal - In Verbal I think I have problems just with SC. In SC there are particular topics (the ones I hoped to clarify here on the forums with the 700+ problems), which I just can't remember having red anything about in MGMAT SC -> for example Verb-ing vs. THAT vs. WHICH; when a face such a SC sentence I never know which one is right - towards the end I could finally include the "Meaning" component here, but still need theoretical and practical work on this side here. Regarding CR and RC I think I generally grasped all concepts. Especially in RC I always take notes, am good timewise, but sometimes do silly mistakes, because I choose an answer out of scope. With CR I found Powerscore CR Bible VERY, VERY useful, but somehow can never apply their full approach, but normally just localize the argument and try to find the answer which weakens/strengthens it. I sometimes here as well have some problem with scopes, as I choose some answers which may be generally true, but are not relevant in a particular case.

While in the first couple CAT's I ha significant time problems towards the end (as well as the real GMAT) I had good time management I think, but I can't really say that I try to follow a specific pattern during the exam, just because I am never able to solve a SC problem within 45-60 seconds. And just try to balance timewise, but probably cut sometimes on the wrong end.

Available resources (not used until know)
- 4 MGMAT CAT's
- 13 GMAT Club Quant Tests and 6 GMAT Club Verbal Tests
- MGMAT Advanced Quant
- OG13 (though many of the questions overlap with OG12)
- Thursday's with Ron

Possible additional resources
- Various Online Courses (my location does not offer good real life tutoring)
- Sackmann's Total GMAT Math
- Aristotle SC
- GMAT Club's Grammar and Math Books
- GMAC Question Pack 1

How I see my strategy from now on
As you probably feel, I am quite mixed up, but wnat to quickly continue in order to make use of my current motivation and my spare time during the holidays. I could give myself another 30-50 days and sit for the GMAT as well in the end of January or beginning of February, but would want to give my best this time as well!

My idea is the apply a twofold strategy - first start with a revision of theoretical concepts, as I seem to still have some gaps - especiall in SC (I've read MGMAT SC about 1 year ago). Here I could make use of Thursday's with Ron videos, as I could not find time to watch any of them. For most of the other areas of Quant and Verbal it seem s to me that I just do not apply the concepts, although I know them (notice this when reading the answer explanations). So here I would rather practice a bit more with questions and see if this gets better. Once this rather conceptual part is over, I would again do CAT's, but first focus especially on GMATClub ones. OK, 'nough said!

Sorry, for the very long post!
I am really trying to figure out what's the best way to continue my GMAT studies and will be grateful if you GMATClub members and GMAT Experts could share your opinion briefly. Every opinion on the overall strategy, sequence of steps, etc. is well appreciated! Kudos are guaranteed


Instead of focusing on 'the material you should use', I think you should focus on 'the areas that need work'. You have taken enough tests to know the areas in which you make the maximum mistakes. Once you identify them, look for the most useful resources for those particular areas. e.g.
Advanced Inequalities/Mods - I have discussed these topics in quite a few of my posts on my blog. There are many posts on the forum discussing these concepts as well. You can go through this topic from a non-GMAT Math book too for additional confidence and comfort.
P&C and Probability - In my opinion, the Veritas P&C book covers these topics very well. It discusses almost all GMAT relevant P&C and Probability concepts

In SC, when you make mistakes, where do you get lost? What kind of errors are you unable to recognize? Are you focusing enough on retaining the logic of the sentence? SC isn't about obscure grammar rules; it's also about logic and reasoning just like the rest of the GMAT.

Also, you should take no more than 1 full length test in a week. It will take you many hours to go through every question of the test after it is done. It takes a lot of effort.

Ensure that you practice a few question from each question type everyday e.g. 5 CR questions, 2 RC passages, 5 SC questions, 5-10 PS questions, 5-10 DS questions etc. There will be plenty to learn if you keep an open mind.
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 18 Dec 2012, 04:52
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This makes this community so amazing! Thank you very much for your input! It will help me immensely!If I try to reflect my current performance and preparation it has, I have made two mistakes:

1. I planned wrong and didn't give myself the chance to really learn from my mistakes and practice the concepts I have learned - I just read the guides, took notes, solved the OG problems 1 and then moved to 5 CAT's
2. I could not apply to the full extent the approaches which the guides mention, which means I did not fully understand them

Therefore, it seems that I should first try to fully utilize the materials I have currently at home and revise all guides again. I will do this before thinking about buying new prep material as Total GMAT Math, an E-Gmat online course etc. I don't want to give out such an amount of money if I already have something, which could help me. The only thing I will order now is the GMAC Question Pack 1.

The question here is if I should revise the entire Quant and Verbal prep material I have or if I should rather start with analyzing wrong/guessed OG problems I completed prior to my first attempt an try to understand my weaknesses, based on their examples? I could define my weaknesses through (1) Running a MGMAT assessment report of both 590 and 610 MGMAT CAT's, or (2) Starting with a revision of all my OG12/VG2 and QG2 wrong or guessed answers. Which approach would be better for tackling these weaknesses in your eyes?

@TwoTimesTheCharm: Thanks for your reply! Your approach seems to be the one I will apply from now on. More or less, quickly revise theory and than focus on OG problems and solve them in timed conditions until having fully grasped everything. I'll first revise errors frequently. I was a bit cautious to do OG problems more than once, as I thought answers could be inflated, but you're right this is OK for studying the rules.
Do you think the GMAT Focus Online is a good investment? Does it provide you directly with your weak areas or is it similar to the MGMAT Assessment Reports which provide you with statistical data that you have to analyze?
Can you compare Sackmann's TGM to GMAT Club Quant tests and GMAT Club Math book? Are they interchangable? OK, GC materials are free for me so this is an advantage, but aren't they on the same level? Can you compare? Still all these materials are rather for polishing already strong Q47-Q48 results, right?

@bb: Thank you very much for stopping by! Well, to be perfectly honest - I bought 5 books from the GMAT Fiction list, but ended up reading just one of them. I somehow always preferred studying late in the night to reading fiction. I took it as hobby reading. I should finish "To kill a mockingbird" these days! I hope to substantially increase my Verbal score by reading more fiction and revising MGMAT SC and Powerscore CR. But I agree that it will be easier for me to first improve on Quant.
Do you think mixing MGMAT Quant and GC Math book is a good idea?
As I have already exhausted OG12 /QG2 and VG2 official problems once (assume I'll redo them again), what questions should I do during my revision? Again the old OG12 pack or OG13 and QP3? Latter could be more useful in the later stage, I guess
Do you think it is OK to do OG13 and Question Pack I problems when I do my MGMAT revision and move to GC Quant tests only after I have exhausted OG materials (OG13 and QP1)?

@rajeevrks27: Thanks, champ! Wish you good luck for the new retake! I'm sure this time everything will be more than perfect! BTW I like E-Gmat very much I the only thing, which stopps me from subscribing to a course is that I don't want to create a huge mix in my head between MGMAT and e-gmat. But if I don't have the feeling that the second/third reading of MGMAT SC leads to an improvement, I'll surely give them a try.

@VeritasPrepKarishma: This input is invaluable! Thank you very much, Karishma! As I mentioned above, I am a bit unsure if my perception of the weaknesses is 100% accurate. That's why I'm looking for a statistical way to check whether there are any other weak areas in Quant thatn inequalities, absolute values, P&C/Permutations and xy-planes. I will probably run my old CAT's again or have a look at OG12 problems and see if there are any other patterns.
Regarding SC - in approx. half of the cases I get lost in the rules. An example here is the mentioned example of verb-ing vs. THAT vs. Which - I just did not know when these are used and could not eliminate any of the answers. In the last days of my prep I read all articles from the GC Verbal Advantage and finally got the difference between them. Another problem, which I face in SC, deals with idioms and meaning. Though I finally understood what is meant under "keeping the same meaning" I sometime am not 100% sure if a particular idiom used in an answer A) Is at all correct and B) Conveys the right (same) meaning as answer choice A. I guess here bb's suggestion of reading fiction will again help a lot, because I can't really believe this can be solved through the learning of long lists of idioms by heart.
As you propose "practicing a few question from each question type everyday e.g. 5 CR questions, 2 RC passages, 5 SC questions, 5-10 PS questions, 5-10 DS questions", I wanted to ask if this should be the case right from the beginning (while doing the revision of all concepts) and what question source you would propose for that? Unfortunately, the number of official questions, which I haven't done is limited and I should therefore diversify?

Thank you all again! You rock!
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 18 Dec 2012, 20:25
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bgpower wrote:

@VeritasPrepKarishma: This input is invaluable! Thank you very much, Karishma! As I mentioned above, I am a bit unsure if my perception of the weaknesses is 100% accurate. That's why I'm looking for a statistical way to check whether there are any other weak areas in Quant thatn inequalities, absolute values, P&C/Permutations and xy-planes. I will probably run my old CAT's again or have a look at OG12 problems and see if there are any other patterns.
Regarding SC - in approx. half of the cases I get lost in the rules. An example here is the mentioned example of verb-ing vs. THAT vs. Which - I just did not know when these are used and could not eliminate any of the answers. In the last days of my prep I read all articles from the GC Verbal Advantage and finally got the difference between them. Another problem, which I face in SC, deals with idioms and meaning. Though I finally understood what is meant under "keeping the same meaning" I sometime am not 100% sure if a particular idiom used in an answer A) Is at all correct and B) Conveys the right (same) meaning as answer choice A. I guess here bb's suggestion of reading fiction will again help a lot, because I can't really believe this can be solved through the learning of long lists of idioms by heart.
As you propose "practicing a few question from each question type everyday e.g. 5 CR questions, 2 RC passages, 5 SC questions, 5-10 PS questions, 5-10 DS questions", I wanted to ask if this should be the case right from the beginning (while doing the revision of all concepts) and what question source you would propose for that? Unfortunately, the number of official questions, which I haven't done is limited and I should therefore diversify?



You have already taken GMAT once so this is not the beginning for you. If I were in your predicament, this is what I would do:

Step 1: Identify areas that need some serious work by analyzing patterns in the tests already taken.
Step 2: Make a schedule - 2 days for each weak area. Plus, a few practice questions from each topic. Try to work on each question from different angles using different approaches. Try to minimize the time needed to solve the questions.
Step 3: Go through each weak area - theory, practice questions and then questions from every source you can lay your hands on.
Step 4: Schedule one full length test every week/10 days. You will need to allot two full days to its analysis.

The best source for practice questions is obviously the Official Guides. But there are plenty of books with lots of practice questions which are based on the OG questions e.g. all our books discuss the relevant concepts and then have tons of practice questions. We also have online topic-wise assignments for our students. You can also get lots of questions from different sources on the GMAT forums.

Note: The point in SC is not that you need to 'retain the original meaning'. What is the original meaning? Who is to say that option A cannot be illogical? The point is that the sentence should make sense.
e.g.
The dolphin has been known to cover its snout with ocean sponges to better forage for food, ___________________

so that it creates its own farming equipment.
creating effective farming equipment.
in effect creating its own farming equipment.

You need to understand how to pick the right option. The dolphin doesn't actually create farming equipment. The sentence has to be metaphorical instead of literal. Hence, 'in effect ...' is the correct option.
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 21 Dec 2012, 23:00
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Replying to a pm.

I completely agree with the posters above. Instead of focusing on the quantity of materials, it is more important to realize the specific areas in which you need work. Primarily focus on OG problems. It is important to analyze any incorrect problem for (1) why you got it wrong and (2) the next time you encounter a similar problem, will you be able to solve the problem correctly (and apply the correct techniques).

As for my own personal experience, after I took the GMAT the first time and thoroughly covered the MGMAT quant guides, I never looked at them again when studying for the retake. I found after skimming through the books that understanding the concepts wasn't my problem, it was applying those concepts to problems. I think I really started seeing improvement once I started taking any problem I did (correct or incorrect) googling a few words from it, then reading various threads about how to approach it. I searched through as many explanations as I could find (including those by VeritasPrepKarishma, bb, Bunuel, Ron Purewal and Stacey Koprince from MGMAT). I figured the more perspectives, the better. From those, I could choose which explanation I liked the best and made the most sense to me. Why? It doesn't make sense to attempt to memorize some obscure way of solving a problem if you can't remember how to apply it on G-day. IMO, practice problems are designed to teach you how to think about and approach GMAT problems. You need to find which approach works best for you for the different types of problems.

Just my $0.02 to add to the much more qualified experts' opinions above.
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?! [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2013, 01:31
HImba88 wrote:
As for my own personal experience, after I took the GMAT the first time and thoroughly covered the MGMAT quant guides, I never looked at them again when studying for the retake. I found after skimming through the books that understanding the concepts wasn't my problem, it was applying those concepts to problems. I think I really started seeing improvement once I started taking any problem I did (correct or incorrect) googling a few words from it, then reading various threads about how to approach it. I searched through as many explanations as I could find (including those by VeritasPrepKarishma, bb, Bunuel, Ron Purewal and Stacey Koprince from MGMAT). I figured the more perspectives, the better. From those, I could choose which explanation I liked the best and made the most sense to me. Why? It doesn't make sense to attempt to memorize some obscure way of solving a problem if you can't remember how to apply it on G-day. IMO, practice problems are designed to teach you how to think about and approach GMAT problems. You need to find which approach works best for you for the different types of problems.


That's exactly the problem I had! Especially for Quant - I do have up to 5 concepts (Absolute Values, Inequalities and Plots) which I am unsure about. BUT nearly all other mistakes I have had are with problems, in which I didn't know how to decomposite the problem and what concepts to apply. For Verbal things are a bit different - I still have to learn a lot of conceptual frameworks (especially regarding SC) and strategies (regarding CR and RC).

I'm currently trying to recap my first preparation while reading the MGMAT Roadmap and will keep you posted. Though the strongest option for my future retake is to work on my old notes and MGMAT guides, I still concider the e-gmat and gmat pill courses as options for a more efficient preparation. Nevertheless, I first have to clarify on the single weak areas I have.

All the best!
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Re: 640 - So what and how to improve to a mid 700 score?!   [#permalink] 07 Jan 2013, 01:31
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