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can I really improve my GMAT score if I work my butt off?

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can I really improve my GMAT score if I work my butt off? [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 12:17
I have taken a couple of sample exams and I barely managed to score around 600. I did not find the questions particularly hard per se, but hard in the sense that you have to answer them in the allotted amount of time (about 2 minutes a pop). Since this exam is obviously designed to measure innate abilities, like the ability to perform a set of thinking tasks in a given amount of time, and since I am obviously no genius, do I have a realistic chance of hitting 700 if I work my butt off? By working my butt off, I mean taking at least 2 sample tests every weekend for about 6 months.

I ask this because companies like Kaplan, and Princeton Review, and possibly even this website, will tell you that your score will improve just to lure you into buying their products and paying for their services. They'll also post "stickys" describing isolated success stories, while ignoring the vast majority failure stories. But don't get me wrong, they might be right, my score might improve, but for all I know that means my score will increase by 2 to 3%, simply because I'll be more familiar with the format of the exam and the type of questions I will be asked. So instead of scoring a 600 I would score a 615, (like that makes a difference).

Bottom line being, is my expectation unrealistically high? Are there real cases of normal people who started off scoring in the 600 range, and then progressively 'conditioned' their brain to perform at the 700 level?
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 13:23
Hi Billy, first of all, welcome to gmatclub. You will find many stories on this board in the above "sticky" portion. As opposed to other test providers which sell you their material, this is a forum which does not require you to buy any material.

In the initial weeks, you should focus on getting the fundamentals right and participate actively in the verbal and math forums. By that I mean that you should not only answer questions with "it is A" or "between C and D, I pick D" kind of answers. Instead, justify your answers and explain them in your own words; it is the only way to cross the 700 barriers for the average people like most of us here. I am a living example of someone who scored in the low 600's in my first attempt and ended up with 700+ after relentlessly pounding on my weaknesses and leaving no stone unturned. You can perhaps see how active I was with my number of posts... In fact, you will see many advice in given in the stickies in this forum and many of those were that of members going from as low as the 500's to 700+

Given that you have 6 months ahead of you, you do not need to take as much as 2 practice tests a week. 2 months prior to the exam, you can then think of taking 2 tests per week to gauge your ability and synthesize everything. Good luck.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 14:00
Hey, Billy!

You almost said a bad thing about GMAT Club - that's not very cool, but I guess I understand how you can be worried with all the prep companies out there.

I really believe, that you can win 50 points easy (not 2-3%) just by familiarizing yourself with the test content and getting some core principles right. If you wanna do really well, stick around in this forum, post nice explanations, read the posts, figure them out and you'll do just fine. If you follow the tips that previous test takers have left in the stickies here, improvement will come.

I've been an active reader in this forum for several months now and I can only say good things about the content and the participants.

Good luck
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 14:20
All the stickys reminded me of the magic knife that cuts through tin cans and frozen food, and the prepaid members of the audience who claim that the knife really works.

They also reminded me of the horse tout who runs around at a horse track, telling everybody who will listen, that such-and-such horse will win, but if that horse wins, that person needs to get back to him, and share a portion of their winnings. "Don't tell anybody else, and I'll be standing right here." What does this person have to lose?

Say one person in 50 hits on the horse, and wins big, and all the others, so what? That's your test takers. They tout a certain study method. One person in a thousand scores an unusually big improvement, and that's suddenly the testimonial you use to attract others. It is the same process as the horse tout; all the other ones don't matter.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 14:38
Billy, you asked for advice and we kindly try to offer you what we, I, really believe in. However, if you view all kind of advice with some disbelief, then why ask in the first place? I clearly mentioned that this website obliges you to buy nothing in return of what it has to offer you. However, it does demand you to make quality contribution in an active way to make the community evolve. All I want to say is that what you are looking for is possible and that I answered your original question in quite a succinct way but the rest is up to you.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 14:47
If you want to focus on all the horses that don't win, well that's your choice. Well, for me (and I am sure for a majority of other members here), that's the way to disaster. If you don't believe in the worth of this site, that too is your choice. Nobody is compelling you. Why on the first place you came here with the question - 'can I really improve my GMAT score if I work my butt off?'. Did you expect any of us to say 'No' or give you a 'special magic formula' to make you score 800? If that is the case, the answer is a simple 'No'.
The stickys are just the best of the hundreds of thousands of posts. It doesn't mean that all posts other than the stickys are worthless - did you go beyond the stickys?. As far as I know, this is a non-profit club or I would say 'members-take-all-profit' club. Take me, I didn't pay anything here, but GMATCLUB gave me more than I could dream of. In saying so, if you think i am a part of the 'prepaid audience' here, then I don't care.
To succeed, one needs to be an optimist. I don't see that from your post above. Nobody can be of any assistance if such is the case.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 15:05
It is up to me? I agree with you on that part, but since I am not a genius, I find it difficult to believe that I can obtain the dramatic improvement I am looking for if I "just work hard enough". That's like saying that if I try hard enough, I'll be as good of a basketball player as Michael Jordan is.

Let me illustrate. I majored in mathematics from a Top 40 school in the US (ie: certainly not ivy league), and I find the DS questions 'tricky'. Not much I can do there really, since all the math concepts in the exam are just daily routine. What does that say about my intelligence (or rather, lack of )?

"But she claims her score increased from 590 to 730". I believe her (I really don't, but let's assume I do). The only problem I find here is that, the implied message that the average Joe managed to perform at the genius level after months of hard work and dedication, is quite simply, misleading. How do you know that person was not a 700 level scorer all the way a long who, due to lack of concentration or some other distraction, had been unable to obtain the score she truly deserved in the first place?
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 15:21
Billy, I understand that those stickies might be bewildering at first but they are nonetheless real stories from past members who worked in a painstaking way to get the score which they wanted. There are indeed some "outliers" which will study a few hours and will end up with 740(I know one of those on this website) but the majority like you and I will study very hard to get to where we want. The example you gave about becoming Michael Jordan is also not what we are claiming this website can make you become. We just want to condition you in the best possible way so that you can score to the best of your ability.

Of course, what I am saying here might only be conjectures to you but you really have to understsand the effort I and many people put in to get that score. It is not something which happened overnight; rather, it is something that happened over time, over months of excruciating work.

Lastly, what do you expect us to tell you? That you are not 700+ material and hence you will never be able to make it to that level? Never because that is not true. I scored 620 the first time and then 650 the second time, within the 30 points range that GMAC says test takers would get after retakes, and I really doubted myself at that point. However, after almost a year of intense studying here, I finally wrote my exam again and got 700+. All I can say is that it is possible. Should you perceive my advice as a selective bias, then it will be hard for you to achieve what you want for the foundation of success lies on belief. For all I can say, those stickies really inspired me to achieve what I wanted.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 16:33
Paul wrote:
...Lastly, what do you expect us to tell you? That you are not 700+ material and hence you will never be able to make it to that level? Never because that is not true. I scored 620 the first time and then 650 the second time, within the 30 points range that GMAC says test takers would get after retakes, and I really doubted myself at that point. However, after almost a year of intense studying here, I finally wrote my exam again and got 700+. All I can say is that it is possible. Should you perceive my advice as a selective bias, then it will be hard for you to achieve what you want for the foundation of success lies on belief. For all I can say, those stickies really inspired me to achieve what I wanted.


How did you condition yourself to perform at the level that you wanted to perform? I am not asking how you learned the fundamentals of probability, number theory, and grammar structure, since anyone can do that. What I am asking is, how did you learn to think fast? I did not know that could be learnt. I thought that was innate.

If I knew for sure that studying hard was going to get me a 700, then hell, I'll work my ass off for an entire year if I have to. But what if I work my ass off and end up scoring a mediocre 620-650? Should I just sit and cry, and contemplate all the time I spent denying my lack of intelligence?
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 16:42
Billyboy,
Conditioning here does not refer to thinking fast.
Conditioning involves improving the ability to recognize problem types and deciding how to approach them. The calculations are the easy part. What is time consuming on the GMAT (esp. Quant) is figuring out what a problem is asking for and how to go about solving it. This can only be improved by extensive practice. Since ETS only tests a limited number of concepts, there are only so many ways it can present a question. After having done tons and tons of problems, you will immediately be able recognize a question type and attack it within the time allotted.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 16:46
"Studying hard" is not something that should be taken lightly indeed and if you want to know how I did it, read my sticky about my experience in this forum. I explained it at length. Other stickies also do so very well. Read them and you will learn for yourself.

If you fail to achieve your target score the first time, and even second time, you will be very tempted to give it all up and blame your own intelligence but it is not right to do so. The GMAT is not a test of intelligence. It is an aptitude test, a test of your ability to take a standardized test. Nothing more. That being said, conditioning yourself is possible by making sure you answer all questions under timed condition. There are only two exceptions to this. The first is that you do not time yourself in your early practise and see if you can really understand the fundamentals of any given question. The second is that you do not time yourself at first to see if you can not only pick the right answer but also reject all other answers in a concise manner. After those initial setbacks, you should be able to do these questions under timed conditions. Remember that there is no merit in getting an answer right. You have to understand how you arrived at the answer and if your method is the fastest possible method.

Standardized tests, let's face it, do involve a portion of innate skills but much of the rest can be built upon and you can learn to think fast in recognizing question types on these tests and how to best approach them.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 19:58
I aced all my undergrad math courses too and am having trouble with DS as well; it is a special breed of a problem that takes <b>a lot of practice</b>. I truly believe that doing well in DS is an art.

This forum gives everyone an opportunity to work on his or her skills. Have a problem with a specific question? Post it and I guarantee you'll have some form of an answer within a couple hours or so (depending on when you post). I have learned so much on this forum and am hoping it pays off on my test. However, even if it doesn't or I don't receive my utopian goal, it is nice to know that there are complete strangers out there willing to help one another. The people here have great attitudes that it's contagious. Try it out and you'll see! Plus, it's free :-D

Last edited by ValleyBall1 on 27 Oct 2005, 20:11, edited 1 time in total.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 20:06
What you first need to do is condition your attitude. Too much negative thinking. Why ask for advice you won't believe? Your posts read like a troll job. But if you are serious look through the GMAT experience forum, not just the stickies. The stories are a dime a dozen, as I've said here a few times before, it has happened too many times to be considered lucky.

Tell me what I have to gain from telling people I improved from a 640 to a 730? I found the help here amazing, so when someone asks how I studied I'll tell them. Take it for what its worth, then devise your own study plan based on the experiences of several people or what you personally think would work best.

Why even waste time contemplating what will happen if you fail? Your MJ example is complely off base. You should look at it more like a marathon. Anyone can run a marathon if they wanted to. The regimen to condition the body to be able to run 26 miles however, differs greatly from person to person. But your body will be able to learn how to do it. The GMAT is no different, if you study enough you recognize the tricks and the patterns that the GMAT uses. This is conditioning. You develop discrete thought patterns on how to approach different types of problems to the point they become second nature. I studied so much I would verbalize concepts to myself as I fell asleep or when I driving to work. This is the level of commitment it takes for a lot of people. Your expressions of doubt and negativity run counter to this ethic.

If you don't think you can do something, you probabbly can't and most likely never will.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 20:23
Sounds to me like you're determined to convince everyone here that it can't be done. Well, the only person who loses on that one is you. It's up to you: believe it and work hard, or have a defeatest attitude from the start and look for someone to blame. If you choose the latter, then nobody's success stories will mean much of anything to you. As others have said, nobody on this forum is selling anything; everyone's here with the same goal and everyone's just trying to help. So it's your call: which is it gonna be?
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2005, 23:36
BillyBoy -

Be positive.
Work Hard.
Be open to learning.

You will see great success stories in this forum - keep your ears open and devise a study plan that works for you.

Get to work now....
  [#permalink] 27 Oct 2005, 23:36
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