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Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) -> OK, I guess! (Q:47 V:35 - 670)

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Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) -> OK, I guess! (Q:47 V:35 - 670) [#permalink] New post 23 Nov 2011, 17:11
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I was not going to post anything since I am a little disappointed, but since it seems that the vast majority of GMAT experiences posted on here are 700+ success stories (yes, 710 is great even if you were shooting for 780), I figured I would offer the perspective of someone that just flat out choked. I can't really think of a better way to describe it, as I felt about as prepared as I could be; I scored at or above my goal of 700 in the CAT exams I took in the couple of weeks leading up to the test.

I went into the test today fairly confident (perhaps too confident?), scoring 730, 720, 700 on my last MGMAT CATs. My verbal scores ranged from 40-44 on those tests, so I figured that to be my strong point. The quant section has been the absolute bane of my existence - my scores ranged from 40-49 during that last stretch of CATs, so I did not really know what to expect. My guess was around 46, so I wasn't all that far off. I figured that verbal may be able to carry me the rest of the way to my goal. Perhaps not the best outlook, but I have to work with what I have.

Essay - I breezed through the essays thanks to a couple of templates I found on here (GMAT club has been the best source of info I have used) I am confident that I that I scored a 5 or above. I did not put much thought into the essays prior to the test and it is not completely out of the question that it hurt me in the long run thanks to the debacle that was the last third of my verbal section (more on that in a bit).

Quant - Overall, I would say there were no real surprises here. I could tell that, through about question 10-13, I was doing at least pretty solid, since the questions seemed tough. I was about 2 minutes ahead of schedule at the halfway point, feeling like I was putting in a respectable performance. Then at around question 28-29, I realized that a) I had just received a couple of mind numbingly easy questions and b)I had under 12 minutes to finish the remaining 8-9 questions. I did what I could not to panic, but as I'm sure many of you know, if you are behind schedule, your mind inevitably plays tricks on you. Unfortunately, and perhaps unnecessarily, I rushed through to the end and completed the section with about 2 minutes left, paying close attention to the final 2 question because I actually had enough time to do so. I would not say I panicked, but it certainly affected my performance on the last few questions. The second half of the test quant section did me in, I absolutely know it. Although, I thought that there may have been a chance I saved it there at the end. I was wrong.

Verbal - My supposed strong suit. The reading comp and critical reasoning questions were fairly straight forward. I will say that the SC questions seemed a tad more difficult than the OG, MGMAT, or even GMAT prep questions. Nothing crazy, just an observation, maybe it was the pressure. In any event, it was kind of the same situation as the quant section. I was feeling great through the halfway point...I was RIGHT on target time wise and had 2 of RC sections behind me (not the long one though). I could tell by the level of CR questions that I was getting I was at least on track for high 30's or so it seems. Before I know it, I am on question 29 and have 12 minutes to go including 1 RC. A this point, I'd be lying if there wasn't a mini crisis going on in my head. Timing had never been an issue for me so I guess I wasn't too concerned about. I think test day jitters led to me over thinking and over checking answers. I have nobody to blame but myself on that. Perhaps I was under prepared, since I was focusing my energy on quant over the last 3 weeks.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the test center, the set up, etc. I have nobody to blame but myself on that. I rescheduled another exam for Dec. 28th and will take today as $250 learning experience...and to be honest, I learned a lot - both about myself and the test that no CAT or prep guide possibly could (as cheesy and lame as that sounds). Unfortunately with low undergrad GPA, I can not afford a 640 in my application for the schools I am targeting, so retake it is.

I have no doubt I will improve my score on my next test (650 here I come!!! :lol: ) . I will take a more thorough look over the MGMAT guides and possibly get a couple other recommended guides (including verbal!!!) to solidify my knowledge base and keep my brain in GMAT mode for the next 35 days.

Best of luck to everyone and I hope you can all take something away from my experience. This was pure stream of consciousnesses so I apologize for any grammatical mistake.

Last edited by gty893 on 28 Dec 2011, 16:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2011, 16:24
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So, I Got a 670 (84%) Q:47 (76%) V:35 (74%). I'm not overly ecstatic, but not terribly disappointed either. This was pretty much the lowest "acceptable" score for me. It's still a solid score, I just REALLY wanted that 7 in the hundreds place - sue me. At least, I don't believe that I killed my shot at any of my target schools (my GPA, well that's another story..at least I got a 3.97 in my MA program).

I was fairly confident going in to this exam, especially on the quant section. After the the first try, I went out and purchased the MGMAT Advanced Quant book. I cannot stress to everyone how crucial this book was to getting me those extra 3 points in quant (and could have been more, more on that in a bit). It really helped shape or reshape, depending on how you look at it, the way I view a lot of the questions I was either having difficulty with or wasn't really sure how to solve. If you've done all the MGMAT books and still need a little extra something, that book is it. I also purchased the CR Bible, and went through it, did all the exercises. It's a solid book, but I'm not really sure how much it helped (not that much obviously). It outlines the concepts and different questions very well, and it is certainly worth a read...but I think that, by nature, the CR questions are better mastered by scrutinizing the OG questions. Don't take it from me though, obviously :lol:

So on to today's test.

I wasn't anywhere as nervous this time around as I was the first time. I was more relaxed, and more importantly, I was more confident in my abilities than I was that I would get the score I was looking for (if that makes any sense). Having been through the routine once already definitely helped the nerves a bit...test day experience is huge. Sometimes I wish I would have had that perspective at the start of my studying so I could envision what I was in for from the start. Expensive lesson when you know the score is a throwaway...I just say that to stress the importance of familiarity to such a stressful and perhaps traumatizing :o event.

It was the same proctor as the time before. Everything about the check in routine was essentially the same. Decided against the 5 hour energy drink this time though, for whatever that's worth (hey, the debrief says to be detailed!)

Essay - I reviewed the Chinese Burned essay from GMAT Club this morning before heading out, only to go totally blank when I sat down to write...DOH! Not a huge deal, I had the general gist of it. I felt better about the essays I wrote today than about the essays from last month. In fact I didn't even finish the last sentence on my second essay last time and still got a 5.5. This time I finished each with about 5 minutes left and don't think I could have added anything if I wanted. I'd be totally shocked if I got less than a 5.5.

Quant - I took a GMAT Focus test 2 days ago, and one last night. I got 47-51 on the first and 44-49 on the second (80% confidence interval), so the scoring is pretty dead on. I was doing it less for the score and more to get my mind trained to to work through official problems in a timed/pressured situation. It's totally worth it, as I only saw a couple repeats. After working through Advanced MGMAT questions all month, it was a nice change of pace and definitely got my brain working in the right way. I would definitely recommend it if you've got a little cash to spare 24 questions/45 minutes, so it's not overly strenuous. As far as the test, again, totally blanked on the first question, it was a weighted average question, which I am usually OK with, but had NO clue how to solve it. Kind freaked me a little bit...at best got me unsettled. Worked through the next few questions and definitely felt like I found my groove. Tried to stay aware of the time during the entire section. I was doing great, until there was a 'series' question around #27. I probably spent 5-6 minutes on it...stupid, I know. I took the wrong approach initially, but I knew I could get there and just couldn't let it go. I know for a fact that I got the answer right, but who knows if it ended up killing me at the end. I think I had about 7 minutes for the last 5 questions. Doable, so I just kept chugging along and doing my best. Well, I rushed through the penultimate question, though I think I got it right. Then had about 45 seconds to get through the last...there was no way I had time to set up the equations etc...but I did it get down to 2 answers...I filled in the bubble and TIME!!! before I could hit 'Next'. Not sure if this counts as a guess or not...anybody know? Anyway, I was somewhat mortified as I went on break, thinking I has stupidly allowed myself to get penalized...especially after what I had been through the first time on verbal. I did manage to get it out of my head during the break and did not let it affect me during the verbal section. I am very happy with my quant score overall..I figured I would probably max out at 48, based on innate abilities alone.

Verbal - No real surprises here. Sentence correction did not seem anywhere as difficult this time around as it did last month. I put a huge emphasis on sentence correction by reviewing the MGMAT SC guide and re watching the SC lessons on the Knewton course. The CR and RC were all on par with what one would expect. Absolutely no curveballs on the verbal section. My timing was virtually impeccable on this section - I paced myself perfectly. I finished the last question, which was a SC question with about 30 seconds to spare. Though, I did rush through the 40th question, a CR, anticipating another CR question to close out the test. I saw no bold faced questions, a slight disappoint because I always found those to be the easiest for some reason. I am little miffed at my final score of 35 however. I was testing closer to 40 both before the previous test and the couple of practice tests I took. I am not sure what to really make of that...I never felt overly confused, rushed, or lost on any of the question (like last time!).

Overall, I am satisfied. I don't believe I will be taking the GMAT again, so I guess I will never be part of the 700 club. I'm OK with that...as long as my score is good enough to get me into at least one of my target schools, I am happy. That's the point of taking this test, right? RIGHT?!

A little background. I started studying mid September. I immediately signed up for the online Knewton course and had a diagnostic test of 570., First GMAT Prep on 9/3 was 550 (Q:36 V: 30) (HOLY CRAP!) Knewton course is really great. I thought it was particularly helpful to get the math basics down, but the SC sections were probably the most helpful. It was helpful having a person talking me through it rather than diving right in and staring at a book - MGMAT SC guide is pretty intimidating if you're just diving in right away. I also used all the MGMAT math guides. Number properties, word translation, and sytem/equations are absolute must haves in my opinion. The Geometry and Probability books are good to brush up, but if you aren't weak in those areas, I think you could find sufficient info online. During the last month of study I added MGMAT advanced quant book, which is so incredibly crucial to get your score into the 47-49 range if you are not there already. I also added the CR Bible - it was good, but I wish I had it from the start. Based on my performance, I would say that it did not add anything to my score, tough to really say though.

And lastly, thank you to everyone for the support. I swear if I had never found this forum I probably would have bought the OG one Kaplan guide, studied for a month, scored a 590 and called it quits. The wealth of knowledge and inspiration in this place with everyone's stories really is truly outstanding. I didn't get my goal of 700, which I felt I needed to offset my terrible GPA, but I think I've done well enough to at least not get tossed into the "No" pile. So cheers to that!
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 23 Nov 2011, 18:20
Hey

Good luck and keep in there mate. I wrote my test 3 days ago, and even though I scored 710, I had a similar crisis as you in my Verbal. At question 21, I was at 29 minutes remaining. I literally could feel my heart thumping madly. I still had my long RC left (which came at Q35!). Needless to say I pretty much just blind guessed around 6-7 questions. I ended up with a V38 (perhaps the 30-32 or so questions that I answered had actually answered properly were mostly correct).

I too was doing pretty well in my Manhattan CATs scoring in the 41-44 range. My wake up call came when I did my GMAT prep and realised that 1) Manhattan verbal didn't score correctly, and also was way too easy on the SC; and the CR didn't capture the style of the GMAT (I scored V35 on my first GMAT Prep).

I know I can do better, but I am going to focus on my applications now. However, I would recommend Powerprep perhaps. Some posts have claimed that it is not too far off from GMAT prep, even if a little obsolete.

The problem is that while the resources for Quant are generally great, no one really covers the actual GMAT style verbal, especially SC. The SC in the OG is considerably easier. Perhaps take a look at Powerscore CR. I found it better than MG's CR book. I have heard good things about Aristotle's SC book too, although never used it (MG was what I used). In the end though, I paid very close attention to the SC in the OG, to get used to the GMAT style of SC (Even so, there was this one SC in the GMAT that had me completely foxed..Even though I had narrowed it down to two, they both seemed perfect, and I couldn't for the life of me choose the "better" one. Something I have never come across in my practice thus far..maybe it was nerves, but I really think that once you are scoring at a higher level, the SC difficulty is at a level we don't see too often).

Hopefully will see a 700+ report from you in a month's time.

Cheers.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 24 Nov 2011, 07:35
710 is a great score...if you can get the timing down, you can clearly get much higher.

Yes...there were 2 SC questions that were pretty much what you described. A level of difficulty I have not encountered.

Unfortunately, I blindly guessed on about 5 questions on the verbal section, and rushed through the 5 before that, so I know I made a few mistakes there as well. I was just in a bad spot mentally once I realized how much ground I needed to make up.

I was rushed as well on the quant section for the 8-9 questions leading up to the final 2, for which I had more than enough time for.

Timing was something I had not really prepared myself for because it had not been issue for me in my prep, but that all changed when it was on the line. Live and learn.

I will definitely be getting the Powerscore CR since I have heard nothing but great things. I thought the MGMAT book was confusing and poorly structured... admittedly, I did not spend much time with it.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 29 Nov 2011, 14:36
Hey good luck with the retake. I think you will do much better the second time.

I took the GMAT on Oct 8 and choked on the quant section. I was nervous and made a lot of dumb mistakes. My score was lower than that of any of my practice tests in the previous two months. I went straight home and scheduled a retake for a month later, and went into it feeling much more relaxed.

The score of my retake was 50 points higher than my first try. So, I really do think its about the pressure, my first try felt nothing like a practice test since I was feeling so anxious. Just go in relaxed, and make sure you nail the timing and I'm sure you'll be at 700+ considering your practice scores.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 29 Nov 2011, 15:39
Thanks! I hope so! I don't plan on taking the foot off the pedal between now and next month, so hopefully I can shore up on the concepts I was weak on in both sections to achieve optimal goal. I have no doubt that nerves will not be as much of a factor. I suppose I underestimated the whole 'visit the test center' advice everybody dishes out. Although, I think it was the totality of the experience that through me off, not just the setting etc.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 30 Nov 2011, 22:02
jmr71483 wrote:
Thanks! I hope so! I don't plan on taking the foot off the pedal between now and next month, so hopefully I can shore up on the concepts I was weak on in both sections to achieve optimal goal. I have no doubt that nerves will not be as much of a factor. I suppose I underestimated the whole 'visit the test center' advice everybody dishes out. Although, I think it was the totality of the experience that through me off, not just the setting etc.


yeah i think it was the same for me - it was more just the psychological aspect with it being the actual test, and all the pressure I put on myself.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 17:50
Hi there,
Your experience sounds a lot like mine. I was testing 690-710 pretty consistently (Quant at 43-48, Verbal 41-42) and then did a major choke on my first exam. Ended up with a 640 (44V :-D 31Q :shock: ).
Yes you read that correctly. Extreme choke.

Now, this is a tricky test, and I truly believe that some days you're going to get a problem set that plays to your strengths and other days you're going to get one that plays to your weaknesses. Looks like both you and I got the short end of the stick on our first go around.

I just retook and ended up with a 740 (44V 48Q).
Going back to the test center was completely different this time around. First of all I had an attitude that said: I've studied enough, I put enough time into this exam, and I'm asking to be better than 90% of people who take it. I sure hope that's true, but I have to be ok if I'm just not better than 90% of the smart kids out there. This was hugely relaxing.

The new attitude combined with some different study techniques made all the difference.

If I'd have gotten a 690 or 700 the first go around I would never have retaken, I was pretty sure that 710 was my max. Now, I'm thrilled a choked... showed me that I could be a 740.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 18:39
That's an amazing score and definitely keeps me hopeful and motivated to at least raise my score 40-50 points.

I can relate on the confidence issue. About 2.5 weeks prior to my test, I scored that 730, a score I didn't think I was capable of to be honest, so my confidence was sky high. Then, in those last 2 weeks or so, I let my guard down a bit and got lazy about the studying. I told myself I needed to follow through to exam day (or at least a couple of days before) but, not only was I burned out, but seeing that 730 pop up on that screen gave me a false sense of security. About 3 days before the test, I retook GMAT prep quant only just to sharpen up on official GMAT questions and scored a measly 40. I couldn't believe it as I hadn't scored that low in quant since fairly early in my prep. The easing up of my prep routine, at perhaps the most critical time, coupled with that devastatingly low quant score shook my confidence...at best, it knocked me down a peg or 2 from the high of scoring so high well on those CATs about 2 weeks prior.

All that being said, I know that walking into the same test center for round 2 will have a different feel. I took about 5 days off started up again mid last week, and plan on using the next 3 weeks as efficiently as possible. Picked up advancedMGMAt guide, CR Bible, and going back through MGMAT SC
guide...essentially working the weaknesses where I feel I will get highest ROI.

I appreciate you sharing your story, nice to hear I am not the only one that wilts under pressure :). Here's to hoping I improve even half as much as you!

Also, update: AWA = 5.5...shooting for 6 next time.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2011, 21:40
for quant MGMAT guides are best.
I increased my score to 50 using MGMAT quant.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 09:41
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 10:30
Retake is Dec. 28th. (I have apps due the 4th, 5th and 6th to my top 3 choices...awesome!)

Since the last test, I purchased the CR Bible and MGMAT Advanced Quant book. I have also gone back through the MGMAT Number Properties, Equations, and SC guides much more carefully. I will also likely take another quick gander at the geometry book just to make sure triangle and circle properties are second nature, then review all my highlights in the previously mentioned texts. The advanced quant book has been amazing and definitely led to a couple breakthroughs for me...let's see if it helps on test day.

Just for chagrins, I have also gone back through each of the MGMAT Quant sections and have scored 47-49 each time. I would highly reccomend this to everyone...the MGMAT questions are much more intricate and are less susceptilble to memorization than the GMAT Prep questions in my opinion. I skipped the verbal sections because it is far too easy to remember the questions and answers, particularly CR.

I don't plan on taking any more CATs despite my timing issues during that test. I don't think they will do anything but shake my confidence if I score anywhere lower than expected at this point.

About 10 days out - this was about the time where, to be honest, I lost a little focus and slacked in my final weeks rather than following through on my studies to stay sharp. I am not going to let that happen this time, as I have told my self that through next Sunday night, it's all GMAT all the time. I took Monday off and plan on using this weekend to shore up my CR and SC skills and knowledge. I will also do some quants sets just for the excercise.

To answer your question, am I ready to crush it? - We'll see! I feel like I have done all the right things in attacking the areas where I feel I will benefit the most. If I improve those areas in the way I intended, I think the timing piece will fall into place. The experience of that mini freak out will also prove invaluable - I think.

If you never hear from me again, assume the worst. :)
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 11:10
Remember not to overtire yourself... shouldn't be a sprint to the finish....
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2011, 12:10
If you are really dedicated, then I would say go through the Jeff Sackmann material for quant, including all 1800 questions. I liked this better than MGMAT. For Verbal, I used Knewton and thought it helped a lot. Honestly, your Quant score needs about 3 or 4 points, which Sackmann will do, but the harder part will be the 5 or 6 points that you need. You just need to put in the time with Knewton and you should be fine. Plus, you can use the 50 point guarantee, so its risk free to some extent. Anyway, hope this helps.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2011, 12:53
Thanks for the advice. I actually wish I would have found out about the Jeff Sackman material sooner, that would have been great prep. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), my test is on Wednesday afternoon so I am pretty much stuck with what I got at this point!

I used Knewton from the very start of my prep...my diagnostic was 570, so I exceeded the 50 point guarantee on my first try. Clearly worth the money - it was a great help.

I honestly believe that with better time management alone I should be able to pick up a point or 2 on verbal...that was my worst verbal performance on any CAT (GMAT Prep or not)...being really rushed on those last 10 questions, then blindly guessing on the last 5-6 just killed me. Granted, part of time management is just being truly prepared with the material. I went back through all the Knewton SC sections, gave the MGMAT SC guide a more thorough look, and bought/read the CR bible.

I took Veritas/CatPrep #3 last night...scored a 44/44 (690)...although on 800 Score converter that breakdown is a 710, so I'm not really sure what to make of it. It was also only 7 wrong on Quant, so something definitely seems off. I got a Q47/V42 (690) (730 800Score breakdown) on Veritas #1 last week. I know the scores from these CATs shouldn't be held as gospel, but if nothing else, it shows that I am at least in the ballpark for picking up a few extra points this time around. Barring another catastrophic meltdown, of course. :o
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2011, 21:43
good luck for your retake
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2011, 23:38
Sounds like you are ready. Good luck.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2011, 13:26
All the best for your exam and do share your retake experience :)
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2011, 09:44
Just read through your post. All the best for tomorrow mate.
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Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640) [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2011, 00:54
Hi all!

This thread is great. I have my test on Jan 2, and I'm a bit nervous after my latest practice test. I got 640 (36Q 41V) and 660 (44Q 36V) on my first 2 MGMAT practice tests. I just took the 3rd one, and scored a 590 (yikes!) Do you recommend taking tests everyday? On the one hand, I feel like I should take all the MGMAT exams. On the other, I feel like it's best to skip a day and recharge my batteries. Any suggestions? Looking to break 700 on Monday :/
Re: Choke! (Q:44 V:33 - 640)   [#permalink] 28 Dec 2011, 00:54
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