Disastrous Second Attempt... need advice : General GMAT Questions and Strategies
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07 Jan 2014, 14:17
After studying for several months, I scored a 690 on the GMAT (47Q, 38V). Overall I felt ok about the test, but there were a couple Quant and Verbal questions (mostly CR) that I had no idea how to do so I guessed. I was frustrated at not breaking 700, so I registered to take the test again 5 weeks later.

I spent 1 month studying very hard, 3-4 hours a day. Used MGMAT, Powerscore, some other prep company materials, Thurdays with Ron. Reviewed all my weak areas, particularly around inequalities and permutations re: Quant, and CR re: Verbal. I learned a lot of new tricks and definitely felt that my fundamentals were much stronger.

I took 3 tests during the last month, meticulously reviewing both right and wrong answers in each test (used GMATclub + BeattheGMAT to review answers too). Here's the breakdown:

-About a week after my 690, I took a GMATprep (Exam pack 1) test to gauge where I really was. Lo and behold, got a 690, same exact split. All new questions.
-Two weeks in, I took a MGMAT. Scored a 720. This time my split was weighted more towards verbal, as I think MGMAT verbal is easier but their quant is harder than the actual GMAT
-Last week before exam, I took the second GMATprep test in the exam pack. I scored a 720 (48Q / 41V). There were no repeats on quant and 2 repeats on verbal. For each verbal repeat, I waited about 1 min 50 sec and answered them wrong, so as to get a more accurate score.

So at this point, I feel pretty good. My quant improved a bit, and I'm confident about my verbal. Every problem set I do (includes both med + hard problems), I get 9/10 on my SCs and 8/10 on my CRs.

Anyway.. this may have been my undoing - I went out really hard two nights before the test (had a very close friend in town who I never get to see). Got wasted and didn't get much sleep. The next day (T-2 until GMAT) I slept half of the day, did a few problems. The day before the test I didn't do much and tried to sleep early.. ended up getting 6 hours of sleep.

Test day: Despite the lack of sleep, I actually felt pretty good.. wasn't tired at all. Watched some TV and chilled until my test in the afternoon.
-Essay: wasn't too bad, got a 6 my last time
-IR: really easy (got an 8)
-Quant: first 5 questions seemed pretty easy. Toward the middle to end, started getting some hard questions, i.e. probability and multi-shape geometry questions. Answered to the best of my ability. Overall, felt way better this time than my last GMAT attempt.
-Verbal: Starts off with mostly SCs and a few CRs. Then I get really convoluted RC, takes me longer to answer than usual, but I'm pretty sure I know at least 2/3 of them. Continue to get what seems to be like pretty hard, but solvable problems. There were a couple CR's / RC's that were challenging, but other than that, felt good.

Finish the verbal and click on my show score. I almost felt out of my chair. I somehow scored a 630... I don't even want to talk about my breakdown but my verbal was a 30! I haven't gotten a 30 on my verbal ever, even in my first practice test. At first, I contemplated asking GMAT for a rescore, because I was so shocked.. but I realized that GMAT is 99.9% never wrong and I don't think they can do a rescore anyway.

So seeking some advice on what to do next. Do you think my brain got fried and I just crapped the bed? I honestly felt ok during the test. Had a snack in the break.

I plan to take the test again in a month or so.
-Am I doing anything fundamentally wrong?
-I've used up a ton of practice tests, including all the GMATprep ones I think... what practice tests should I try now - Veritas?
-Should I hire a tutor?

Sorry for the long story, but appreciate any feedback!
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Economist GMAT Tutor Representative
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08 Jan 2014, 09:43
Hi there,

Your state of mind on test day most certainly impacts how you'll do on the GMAT. The reason for your score drop could also be purely statistical.

From one test to the next you can easily jump +/- 30 points (and even up to 80 or so) depending on where the mistakes are. So you can get the same percentage of right and wrong on two exams with the same amount of knowledge and yet have a score that differs by quite a bit. This is the same as the real GMAT. To illustrate, I can make a mistake every other question in the Quant over 5 exams (ie in every exam my percentage is 50% but have a score range from, say, a 15 to a 35, for example, which is quite insane, but it shows too that where you make mistakes can often be more important than how many. Overall, when a student wants to know where he/she stands, the best way to do so is to take the average after a few exams. This should get you to a fairly close estimation of where you are at. You can also check out our blog for more info on GMAT scoring (gmat.economist.com/blog).

While I like to encourage students to retake exams if they have the energy and time to do so, in certain circumstances in may not be necessary especially in the context of other application criteria. So altogether a retake is good for students who are both far and close to their GMAT range but this will take dedication and further practice. If you have it in you to do so then go for it! If you have other aspects you need to take care of but are already at your range then I do not see it as all important. The other aspects of the application may carry quite a bit more weight. And finally, you can always ask the school itself whether it is worth doing. Sometimes they actually help in that regard.

Best of luck!

Elizabeth
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Liz
http://econgm.at/KvjVSi
Economist GMAT Tutor
(866) 292-0660

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