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Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45)

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Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2012, 17:13
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I finally took the GMAT for my first time after a lot of studying and taking the Manhattan GMAT course for my 2nd time (work got in the way of studying and I had to start all over again). Unfortunately I did not get the score I was aiming for (700+). I got a 620 with a 31 Quant (27th %) and a 45 (99th %) Verbal.

I'm obviously very happy with Verbal. I jumped from 80th percentile on my last 3 MGMAT CATs to 99th, so hopefully I can maintain my score when I retake the exam.

I'm hoping the quant score was a fluke and that I can improve it significantly next time I take the test. The past 3 CATs I've averaged 65th % and have done a lot of studying since then, so I was expecting to jump into the 70s or 80s. I've always been pretty good at math (Finance major, TA for Statistics I & II, heavy quant jobs, etc.) which is why my struggle with it is so perplexing. During the exam I felt lost on how to effectively tackle a number of problems as if I'd never seen a similar problem type before. I also noticed I had much worse time management than on the practice tests. I went way too quickly at the beginning and had a huge time reserve built up that I used to spend 5-8 minutes on a couple problems.

I've now done all the Official Guide problems multiple times (random timed sets and topic specific) and I've done pretty well on them in terms of time and accuracy. My main problem is with careless errors (answering wrong question, copying something wrong, arithmetic) and the fact that I'm VERY slow arithmetic. I've also redone the Manhattan GMAT In Action problems several times and re-read problem topic chapters a number of times. In terms of time, I've been studying non-stop for the past 3+ months, cramming all day on weekends, and putting in 30-60 minutes when possible during the week.

For the most part, I feel like I have a decent understanding of all but the most challenging problems. However, for some reason, I seem to freeze up, even on practice CATs, and my knowledge goes out the window as I come up with something on the fly to solve a problem.

Any suggestions on how to tackle this issue so I can improve my quant and get a 700+ level on the next exam? I'd like to take it again within a month or two. Now that I've done all the Official Guide problems, I have the official Quant Review book, Total GMAT Math, and GMAT Hacks Challenge sets that I haven't used yet. Which one(s) of these should I focus on to improve my score? My main problem areas are Number Properties, Primes & Divisibility, Exponents & Roots, and Fractions if one of these sources happen to be better for those areas.

Also, even if I get there, will a 27th percentile math on the 1st exam hurt my application?

Thanks!
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2012, 19:11
I had the same problem as you but my Q29 was even worse than yours. I used Total GMAT Math and Sackmann's problem sets for three weeks and got my quant score up to 44. I highly recommend the problem sets because the explanations are amazing.

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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 10:45
davidandcompany wrote:
Did you use any error logs for your previous practices?

Did you identify your weaknesses in quant?

How's your timing in quant?


Yes, I use an error log and utilize Manhattan GMAT's Official Guide tool to track my errors and timing. I've identified weaknesses in a number of areas like Number Properties and Variable in the Answer Choice problems. I've spent a lot of time on these areas, redoing Official Guide problems and re-reading strategy guides.

My timing is usually way too quick. I've only had one test where I was a little pressed for time. All the others, I'm able to finish with 10-30+ minutes to spare. Knowing this I'd say I'm probably not spending enough time on some of the easier problems to check my work and look for careless errors and that I may be giving up too quickly on harder problems where I feel I'm spending too much time.
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 18:30
tobud wrote:
I had the same problem as you but my Q29 was even worse than yours. I used Total GMAT Math and Sackmann's problem sets for three weeks and got my quant score up to 44. I highly recommend the problem sets because the explanations are amazing.

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Wow. That's awesome.

Sackmann and Total GMAT Math + 3 weeks of problems?

Or 3 weeks altogether?

Please tell us how you studied!!
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2012, 16:09
I envy you guys. How the hell do you guys manage to get so high in Verbal?! I wish I could trade some of my quant scores with your verbal scores. :(

Is there something different you guys do that I dont?!
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2012, 16:17
I think the key to verbal is just lots of practice. Personally, I don't think I'm really all that strong at verbal. The 45 was a huge shock to me. After a lot of practice though, I think I have a good feel for what wrong answers look like. I know a lot of the various concepts being tested, but I often don't know the precise rules which make an answer choice wrong. I think this is especially true for Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. When I'm stuck between answers, I tend to choose correctly because I've got a good feel for the traps being set by the test writers.

Maybe somebody else has some better advice for you though than just do more problems.
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2012, 17:28
GMAT Math is a tricky animal. I had a similar outcome on my first exam. Super high verbal and very LOW quant. I just hit it hard with the Manhattan basic books, but what tipped my math up was the Manhattan Advanced Quant guide. None of the problems in the book were easy, but the repetition and getting accustomed to doing much of the math in my head helped me up my Q from a 34 on my first attempt to a 48 on my second attempt (in one month nonetheless).

It sounds like you have a solid quant foundation, so I think it's just a matter of getting more comfortable and quicker at solving the math problems (and being completely comfortable with the 600-700 level questions, and MOSTLY comfortable with the 700-800 level questions). If you can get your quant up anywhere even remotely near where your verbal is at (in terms of percentile), you'll be in the 750+ range.

GOOD LUCK!
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 08 Jun 2012, 21:56
mport1 wrote:
I think the key to verbal is just lots of practice. Personally, I don't think I'm really all that strong at verbal. The 45 was a huge shock to me. After a lot of practice though, I think I have a good feel for what wrong answers look like. I know a lot of the various concepts being tested, but I often don't know the precise rules which make an answer choice wrong. I think this is especially true for Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. When I'm stuck between answers, I tend to choose correctly because I've got a good feel for the traps being set by the test writers.

Maybe somebody else has some better advice for you though than just do more problems.


So very accurate. I have expressed on here many times that reading as much as you possibly can and then looking at as many possible sample questions/answers is the best way to prepare for Verbal. Eventually, answers just start to "look" incorrect (POE). Ultimately, this is your intuition guiding you, and that intuition was developed through practice. mport1 said that is especially true for CR and RC, while I think it is especially true for SC. Clearly, it is important for all the segments of Verbal.
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2012, 10:45
So, as I've continued my studying, I have reworked a ton of the Official Guide problems I've missed with the Manhattan GMAT explanations. I've also completed the Official Quantitative Review and gone over their (sometimes poor) explanations. I'm using the Manhattan "Archer" tool to track my timing and problem areas.

I began to do Total GMAT Math and GMAT Hacks Challenge sets, but I did not like many of his answer explanations or how the books were laid out in general.

What resources would you suggest I use from here until my retake (August 4th)? Would it be beneficial to keep reworking OG problems with the Manhattan explanations? I've done most of the ones I've had issues with 5+ times, so I feel like if I get the answer correct, it is just because I remember how to do that specific problem.

Should I give the GMAT Hacks materials another try, or are there different materials you would suggest for my situation?

At this point, as long as I can ensure I have the fundamentals down (skipping some of the 700-800 problems), I think I'll be able to get the 700+ I need. Unfortunately, I'm still struggling with a lot of my previous issues - careless mistakes, slow/wrong arithmetic, Number Properties, Primes & Divisibility, Exponents & Roots, and Fractions. Something is just not clicking with me since I continue to make the same types of mistakes.

Thanks!
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2012, 23:34
wow 45 in verbal! amazing :)
@chethanjs! rightly said.
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Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45) [#permalink] New post 15 Jul 2012, 14:40
I just took another practice test today and it is clear whatever I'm doing isn't working. I've seen virtually no improvement in my scores despite countless hours of studying. Here is my practice test history:

June 2011: 630 (Diagnostic exam before I even started studying. Finished each sections in 30-35 minutes.)
April 2012: 640
April 2012: 660
May 2012: 640
July 2012: 650

Besides changing the study materials I am using, is there anything else I should be trying to get over this plateau?
Re: Advice for Huge Math Disparity? 620 (Q-31, V-45)   [#permalink] 15 Jul 2012, 14:40
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