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690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake

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690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 10:38
I'm an EMBA candidate, so this has been a long slow program of study. I've done a lot of prep tests, and there were a lot of ways I could have gotten this score and I wouldn't have been too surprised, but the way it actually played out caught me by surprise.

Quant is my challenge, I'm not fast enough on some of the problems and I'm so crippled by Excel at my age, that I haven't really done a lot of thoughtful quant problem solving in many years. That said, I went through all of the MGMAT books end to end. I think I have knowledge of the skills being tested, it's usually just a function of speed and identification.

I've done GMAT Club m01-m07 along the way, these are usually good challenges. On average my results put me around the 70th percentile (and I'm of the belief that this is more skilled sample than the general GMAT-taking population). Really m05 was a particularly bad showing, otherwise, I've been pleased with my improvement.

My quant challenge is usually time management. If I can manage pace, I usually perform better overall. If I run short and have to race through the last 5 or 6 questions with about a minute each, it shows. No big surprises here. But basically, I felt if I could manage time, I'd be fine, probably 42-44--say an EV of 43.

On verbal, I'm usually in decent shape, I was expecting about a 44-45 or better. This should be about 700+ with some balance, that's good enough for my purposes.

I've done all the MGMAT CATs and both GMATPreps. My MGMAT CAT results were pretty good predictors of my actual overall score, but even there, my Q score was higher except for one fiasco at the beginning--I was really just trying to see where I stood as I went through the study guides. I was working with the assumption that the MGMAT CATs were more difficult than the actual tests.

I also assumed that the GMATPrep CATs were among the best predictors. After the MGMAT CATs, the GMATPrep 2 the weekend before the test felt like child's play and it the score confirmed this (Q47, V47).

Alas, this brings me to the actual results. During the test itself, it felt more challenging than the GMATPrep tests, but not nearly as challenging as MGMAT or GMAT Club for Q. V felt a bit harder but not much. I managed time fairly effectively. I was a 2-3 minutes behind on Q, but not in the weeds--a bad run for me is I'm 5+ minutes off pace which means I'm edu-guessing on the last 5 or so.

When the score came up 690, I was a bit surprised. When I looked at the split, even more so. The Q score was my worst on any diagnostic except the first MGMAT where I didn't even have the basic math knowledge tuned up and ran out of time before finishing.

So this is all a bit unsettling--particularly because I got housed and didn't truly realize it. Bummer.

Anyway, I think I need to retake, just on principle. And I'm pretty sure 55th percentile on quant won't help my admissions cause at the top EMBA progs. More than anything, this isn't the result I worked for or felt like I was tracking towards.

It does make me wonder if the conventional wisdom about what tests are good predictors is just wrong or if I just had a bad sitting.

Okay enough venting, time to go do something constructive.

Code:
CAT Prep                Q   %   V   %     TOT   %
GMATPrep 1    14-May   44        44        720   
MGMAT 1       7-Sep    36   48   38   85   620   76  Q - ran out of time
MGMAT 2       13-Oct   38   38   4     0   410   15  Q - ran out of time, skipped verbal just to get result
MGMAT 3       19-Oct   46   79   37   83   680   90
MGMAT 4       28-Nov   41   64   41   93   680   90
MGMAT 5       30-Nov   47   81   39   89   700   93
MGMAT 6       6-Dec    42   66   45   99   710   94
GMATPrep 2    7-Dec    47        47        750   
                     
GMAT                     
GMAT 1       13-Dec    39   55   45   98   690   88
GMAT 2       3-Mar    48   84   47   97   750   98  -- Edited, adding retake :)

Last edited by scorcho on 03 Mar 2009, 11:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 19:54
hey man I know how you are feeling, I had bombed my Q as well..and I usually score 50-51 on math...so its all about Mental status..just be relaxed when you do math..stress kills math..
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 21:28
Quant score is vital if you are applying to top EMBA programs. Personally, I believe admissions committee values quant score more than verbal.

It's great that you are constantly testing yourself through CAT exams. However, now that you've completed all the problems in MGMAT books, you should buy the GMAT Official Quant Guide and do all the practice problems in that book. Then retest yourself through a CAT exam, and you will see the difference.

Make sure you read the explanation for the right answers as well as for the wrong answers.
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2008, 22:07
You have done extremely well on the Verbal Section. Could you mention some suggestions on how one can improve his/her Verbal scores.

In 2 attempts this year, I scored a 35, 37 on my Verbal. My Q was 48 . This despite good practice test scores.

What could be going wrong. Your suggestion on improving the Verbal will be highly appreciated.

Especially the SC section. How do you negotiate CR's with two extremely similar answers
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2008, 03:59
Good suggestions, thanks. So a retake seems fated. I will do more of the OG questions this time. I felt the GMAT Club questions were pretty challenging, but I'll need the additional depth of questions this time through, plus I can do shorter sets of questions on those days where a full 37 + review is too much time. I definitely do read the right and wrong explanations, because there are enough times where I get it right but I missed an angle or picked the right answer despite a small error.

In terms of V, definitely get the MGMAT SC guide and I also found their CR guide helpful. I don't do their written skeleton approach, I find it takes too much time relative to the value it adds for me. But it is good to try this for a bit and see what aspects might work for you--I end up just isolating in on the conclusion in CR questions as an extra check. One thing that definitely helped me was learning to pick the right degree of answer for CR questions--previously I had been investing too many secondary assumptions on my own part. "This answer could make sense because if you did this and then that, sure..." The GMAT answers don't call for a lot of additional speculation, the answer is right there you just have to look harder. I find now, I'm usually not picking between 1-2 answers on CR, the right answer either stands out a bit on first review and I'm validating it, or there's no obvious answer on the harder ones and I'm ruling out the wrong ones until one emerges as a sort of hidden winner. There are degrees of this, obviously. Many times when there are some competing options, invalidating the choices that have extreme words or boundaries--the answers that go too far--tends to get me to one final choice that I might have been looking at the wrong way initially. A lot of times the right CR answer is one that is from left field but when you work it back through, lo, behold, you can see it's designed to hide in plain sight.

On SC, isolating on differentiators early saves a lot of time and lets you really study 1-2 right answers. You can usually get down to 2-3 with one key, obvious grammar flaw. After that you then need to go through the next layer of validation and find the remaining differentiator. I think subject-verb-agreement--and the MGMAT SC guide lays this out very succinctly--is a great bedrock skill to have. Along with SVA, parallelism and idioms are the other skills I think are the best at making the initial cutdowns. But parallelism is complex and idioms are challenging to learn, especially if you have a non-native ear. SVA can be mechanical and seems to impact almost every SC question.

On RC, no secrets there. Just read carefully, quickly. The two things I have learned along the way--the general questions usually have straightforward and simplistic answers. Nothing fancy, usually its the straightforward answer to what the author intends or what the main point is. For the detail questions, it's usually a fairly small technical detail, usually restated or played back differently. It's also usually pretty local. So if the question talks about X, then very often you can go find the 1-2 sentences about X and the answer is right there, self-contained as it were. But the answer might be coming from a different angle or restating what the paragraph says in an a way that's designed to be harder to see. So isolating in on the specific area gives you a chance to backtest each of the likely candidates. I'm usually surprised at how myopic these detail questions turn out to be.
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2008, 06:55
scorcho wrote:
Good suggestions, thanks. So a retake seems fated. I will do more of the OG questions this time. I felt the GMAT Club questions were pretty challenging, but I'll need the additional depth of questions this time through, plus I can do shorter sets of questions on those days where a full 37 + review is too much time. I definitely do read the right and wrong explanations, because there are enough times where I get it right but I missed an angle or picked the right answer despite a small error.



Good luck! It's great to see how dedicated you are to scoring high on GMAT. Hope to see you in B-School Applications section of this forum soon after you ace your next GMAT!
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 03 Mar 2009, 11:37
So today was the retake. I hadn't had enough time to study, work has been unrelenting (for good reasons). I took yesterday to have a good set of 3 days to power down on some Q and dust off the V. Since taking the test in late December, I forgot a decent bit of content.

In the past month, I had some study cycles. I spent about 25% of my time doing 37 question OG sets. These tend to feel so much easier than the MGMAT CATs and G-day #1, it's hard to have faith that they're really helping. The other thing I spent time on was I Jeff Sackmann's GMAT Math Bible. [1] It's not as detailed as the MGMAT SG's, but it was new content to me and it felt like decent practice. After all is said and done, I'm not sure what the right content really is to prepare, but I did consume a lot of it from a lot of sources. I didn't do any more Challenges here this time around.

I also learned that the state of the CAT simulator space sucks. MGMAT's seem the best but they were far off my original results. One thing Jeff's e-book did do for me was give his guidance on what's likely to be tested and what's less likely. It's hard to put a finger on, but the style of the book seemed to help keep what I needed to know in perspective (i.e., Jeff seems to keep a lot of the real esoterica in perspective where the others dig deeper into it in the name of full coverage).

I did one MGMAT CAT, just the Q.: 47. I did two Kaplan CATs: 590 and 640. (Btw, these things aren't well done--the RC passages go out of there way to be hard to read, almost laughably so. The whole thing doesn't feel like the real test to me, it feels like something like the GMAT. Manhattan's and GMATPrep are much better, imo.).

I did GMATPrep 1 again, none of the questions seemed familiar: 740. Oh crap. I got 750 on my second GMATPrep last time. Then I threw up a 690 with Q39 (and V45).

Anyway, long story short: at the test today, Q felt very hard. I misanswered one question and caught it has I hit the Next button. [ME: slaps forehead.]I outright guessed on one where I didn't see the quick angle and the math looked 5 minutes long. I was a bit pressured for time with the last 2 to 3, not my best pacing. The V felt about normal, I've been finishing with 10-15 minutes remaining on most of these. I had to force myself to slow down check, re-check, quadruple check, etc. Overall, GMAT #2 felt fairly challenging compared to GMAT #1.

In the end, today I got a score more in line with all the CATs and my original expectations:

750 Q48 V47

Never would have guessed my Q would surpass my V. Maybe I never got enough Q altitude the first time, maybe I made a lot more careless errors. Who knows. Where's my Mission Accomplished banner when I need it? :)

Anyway, hopefully someone whose first attempt doesn't meet their expectations will read this and find a little bit of hope.

[1] Jeff Sackmann's GMAT Math Bible - http://www.gmatmathbible.com
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake [#permalink] New post 03 Mar 2009, 23:42
Awesome story! Your hard work really paid off! Congrats!
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Re: 690 (Q39 V45) - Surprised, likely retake   [#permalink] 03 Mar 2009, 23:42
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