First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake : GMAT Verbal Section
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First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake

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First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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10 Jun 2012, 07:50
Hi all,

Took the exam about 2.5 weeks back and scored a 640 (Q46, V32) My strategy and schedule during my first attempt was like this:

Study Materials used-

Manhattan set of 8 guides.
OG 12th edition (did not finish practising CR as I ran out of prep time)
OG Quant Review
OG Verbal Review (only SC)
Powerscore CR Bible

Practice tests-
MGMAT #1 650 (Q45, V34)
GMATPrep #1 620 (Q42, V32)
MGMAT #2 640 (Q44, V34)
MGMAT #3 620 (Q41, V34)
GMATPrep #1 650
GMATPrep #2 620 (Q46, V30)
GMATPrep #2 Retake 720 (Q48, V40) [Not very representative]

I have made a new study plan focused on Verbal, as this is the area that needs to be improved a lot:

1. Apart from going over major books again (MGMAT+OGs), I also intend to go over the basics with Kaplan Math & Verbal workbooks since I have the time to prepare.
2. OG 11 and 10
3. GMATClub tests for hard Math questions
4. Retake the 6 MGMAT CATs and GMATPreps
5. Solve the GMATPrep document questions in the end of prep, after exhausting the tests.
6. Concentrate on building my stamina with better food and exercise.
7. Take all CATs with essays and IR if possible.

What other tests do you suggest I use this time as I have kinda run out of GMATPreps and few MGMAT mocks are remaining? (I intend to also do the old GMATPrep and Powerprep tests this time)

Please do chip in with your tips and advice on how to go about from 640 to 700+ in about 2 months time. I believe I can do it this time. My main focus will be boosting my Verbal score to a 40.

Thanks!!
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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10 Jun 2012, 11:36
I would strongly encourage you to read either the WSJ or NY Times for 45 minutes a day until your test day. This alone will absolutely improve your score.

The key to crushing verbal is developing the intuition to immediately recognize incorrect answers without necessarily knowing the technical rules that make it wrong. The way for that to happen is to practice.
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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10 Jun 2012, 21:27
Hi hifunda, figure out the types of verbal problems where you are weakest (think about major categories as well as subtopics). Practice what you are worst at first. Go back to your MGMAT CAT #3 and look at the verbal problems you missed. Chances are, there was a question on CAT #2 that you missed and that covered the same topic. Think of how you could have studied that question more so that you would have been better prepared for CAT #3 (i.e. study topics not problems).

Also, I noticed that your verbal score stayed consistent over multiple practice CATs. This could mean you are taking too many CATs when you should be spending time learning the rules. (If you had to run a marathon next month, would you run 3 marathons before then to prepare?)
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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10 Jun 2012, 22:47
I would strongly encourage you to read either the WSJ or NY Times for 45 minutes a day until your test day. This alone will absolutely improve your score.

The key to crushing verbal is developing the intuition to immediately recognize incorrect answers without necessarily knowing the technical rules that make it wrong. The way for that to happen is to practice.

I agree!! I just started 10 days back, and I already see a decent improvement in the way I am able to eliminate wrong answers as the common traps just jump out on me. I intend to really up my practice to make this second nature.

rjacobsMGMAT wrote:
Also, I noticed that your verbal score stayed consistent over multiple practice CATs. This could mean you are taking too many CATs when you should be spending time learning the rules. (If you had to run a marathon next month, would you run 3 marathons before then to prepare?)

Yeah I believe with the limited time I had then, I did not do enough analysis on my weaknesses. I will review the old CATs again before I attempt them this time. I mainly had problems in the following areas :

CR - Assumptions
CR - Strengthen/Weaken
CR - Boldface
RC - Specific Details/Inference

I am getting better with more targeted study and practice given that these are the most frequently tested topics anyway. Specifically, the "Must Be True check on each answer choice" for Assumptions has really helped me increase my accuracy. Previously, it was just asking myself "Is this an assumption??" Similarly, this increased understanding of Assumptions has also helped in S/W questions.

SC is relatively better, I consider myself strong in that area.

Also, How does Kaplan Math and Verbal Foundations match up??
Any suggestions on how to take my Quant score to a 49/50?
Thanks!!
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2012, 00:04
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To improve your quant score I recommend following

1. Go through MGMAT Guides more than once to reinforce the concepts
2. Solve OG12 OG quant review carefully. Also Solve GMAT Prep Questions pack 1
3. Go throught Thursdays with ron. http://www.manhattangmat.com/thursdays-with-ron.cfm
these lectures are awesome. Ron solves some of the toughtest questions on GMAT Prep on these tests
4. Solve GMAT Club tests these are awsome.

Above four things helped me to impove from Q44 to Q49 on actual test.

Also try to solve the questions using multiple approaches
1. Algebra
2. Back solving
3. Picking number

This is very important as GMAT needs flexible approaches to solve any particular problem.
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2012, 00:40
Thanks a lot Prashant! What was your final score? Any retake advice?
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2012, 22:17
"If you're not a native speaker, you should focus on improving your general English competence first before doing GMAT. You know the bias is there - it's like taking a German version of GMAT without speaking German quite well. Kinda a problem, huh? If you have problem with GMAT verbal, you probably have problem with TOEFL as well - which will altogether reduce your probability of getting into a top school.

I don't know how much time you still have left. If you can still tolerate a bit of waiting - I suggest that you read magazines, starting from Newsweek, New Statesman, TIME, to more sophisticated ones such as Economist and Foreign Affairs (by council on foreign relations) . But I have no way of knowing if these are available at all at your place. WSJ and NYTimes are good stuff, too and you can just skim them every day - there are always new articles.

From my experience, an ESL student has pretty noticeable English improvement after reading these magazines for an extended period of time, say, 6-12 months. But you shouldn't expect to have a sharp improvement in, say, 2 weeks or even 10 weeks of cram. Don't waste time on fiction - novels are always written in lightheaded, if not frivolous prose that sound like daily conversations. I was just picking up "The bonfire of vanities" - supposedly a I-Banking classic on the masters of the universe, and I find the prose disgusting. Sounds like some fool babbling on the street. The Economist is widely regarded as well-written, and they even have a style guide for sale (style, as in good way of writing). For books, pick up some history or political science books. For one with more dense prose, try George Soros' "Alchemy of Finance" -which both appeals to business interest (finance that is) as well as practicing enduring boring academic writing.

Also try : http://www.the-american-interest.com/contents.cfm"

"You really probably just haven't read enough. Let me tell you my story. I'm a native English speaker, but I spent countless - day and night - hours reading stuff : US history, European history, politics, economics. Mostly books. The purpose? To bolster my SAT reading and writing score. You know the benefit of reading a lot, I mean a lot = reading one book a day consistently, that is 360+ books per year. The only drawback of that is the high cost - at one point I'd spend over $1000 per month just to buy books. At the end, I had so many examples to write on my SAT writing that I didn't even bother looking at any "strategies", "formula" ...\ On the exam, I just started throwing everything I read from whichever source, and I ended up writing more words than allotted - of course, I scored a 12 out of 12 (which is the same as 6.0 on AWA) For the SAT reading, I scored a 780 (out of 800), with not too much prep either. Buy a Kindle (http://www.amazon.com) if you have the opportunity. Saves you a lot of money, a$25 hardcopy is $9 on Kindle - you can always read it in a day and return it the next day for full refund. The good thing about Kindle is that it's thin and light - you can read while eating at a restaurant. My favorite route every day is to walk out and take the subway to a Whole Foods Market (where I can get countless fruits, smoothie and other goodies) , sit down with my book, eating, reading, eating, reading. Repeat the pattern every day. You can also hold the device without much pain while you're on the train - on the beach, anywhere. ALSO, it has a built-in dictionary that allows you to learn words way faster than reading off a paper back, for which you'd have to aid with an external dictionary to look up for words. There's a reason why SAT verbal is highly correlated with socio-economic status of the individual in question. It is because that in high SES households, there tend to be a lot more books available. Moreover, books tend to be expensive, out of the reach of working class Americans. More analysis see Charles Murray's "Coming Apart" : http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Apart-Stat ... 0307453421 Overall: Just Read. " "no I'm not a teacher...I'm entering college this fall, so a student. Also: don't try to save$5 on a $200,000 degree such as MBA. WSJ online costs$108 to subscribe to, the Economist, $135, NYTimes, probably$200. Pay the money, otherwise you're not gonna get superior service.

In fact, it is generally a bad idea to skip subscriptions of these papers at all at any time. Without reading NYT/WSJ every day, you're blind and deaf - when you try to have an intelligent, informed conversation with anybody, whether it is your friend, your co-worker, someone you just met a cafe, you'd lose big time.

If you think about it this way, newspaper and magazine subscriptions are not just must-have, but also value investments at a bargain. An average preparatory school in New England (for example, Choate, Andover, or St.Albans in DC) costs $48,000 per year tuition and boarding. So the total cost of education for a kid from age 12 to 17 is about 5 * that amount, or$220,000. Let's say that's 200 grand. But if you're from a family of obscure and impoverished background (let's say, income lower than $80,000 per year), you'd get full ride for these schools because they have general endowments. So if you had read extensively prior to age 12, you'd probably outperform 95% of the kids who take that exam, taking a full-ride of$50000 per year for five years until college. An investment of $1000 on newspapers and magazines amounts to about just 1.5% of the total annual family take-home pay - tiny. I'm only explaining this concept for low-income households, because the rich don't give a damn about$1000 - they burn it for fun. "
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2012, 23:00
Thank you for the detailed advice!

However, though I am not a native English speaker per se, we do speak a lot of good English, compared to the majority of people, and I definitely consider myself strong in the area. The main focus for me would be to specifically know how to approach and attack Verbal questions on the GMAT. I do have a habit of reading good books regularly, but I will take your advice on reading more such magazines, I'm sure it helps at least on RC.
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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19 Jun 2012, 02:55
Hello hifunda,

I see the problem in the way you have constructed your question. There is very little analysis and more focus on what material to cover. No amount of practice is really going to help you beyond a point. Focus instead on WHAT you have to improve.

A few tips:

1) A lot of times we tend to have incorrect metrics to measure our progress. We look at accuracy - a bad parameter not only because it doesn't reflect the difficulty of the questions but also because it tells us where we were (when we solved the question) and not where we are (knowledge gained from solving the question). Here is another suggested method: www.crackverbal.com/nailed-it-missed-it ... crewed-it/

2) Another problem is over-reliance on theory and not thinking/introspecting. You cannot do MGMAT book once more and get more information. Infact this was the same advice I suggested to Prashant (the other poster). You have to internalize the problem (i.e. acknowledge that it is within you to do well) and not externalize the problem (i.e. that the answer to the problem lies in a book).

3) Verbal is not as big a problem as you make it out to be - V32 is a 64%ile, while a Q46 is a 73%ile. The way you have made this post and your focus on V 40 seems to suggest you have done everything about Quant that you possibly can. Though you do have (again) a list of questions you intend to solve for Quant, I would suggest you take the same introspective approach for this section as well.

4) Within each topic - SC, CR, RC - based on point #1 above, try to make a list of problem areas you have. Once you have the list ensure you attack to see how you have find a solution to the problem. For some problems the solution is just to be "aware" of the problem and give it more time on the test.
Here is a sample:
Top 3 problems in CR: 1. Unable to use negation for assumption based questions, 2. I freak out in Boldface - need to have a solid approach, and 3. In inference questions I end up picking "maybe/can be true" instead of "must be true".
Top 3 problems in RC: 1. Last passage my accuracy plummets 2. Spend too much time reading the passage 3. Inference questions end up being wrong (same as CR above).
Top 3 problems in SC: 1. I use vague reasons for elimination such as "awkward and wordy" to eliminate 2. I am not comfortable with tenses 3. I end up reading too much into "meaning" and "clarity" type of questions and get them wrong.

(BTW based on my experience the top 3 listed above is usually true for most Indian students)

Arun
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Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake [#permalink]

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19 Jun 2012, 05:03
arun@crackverbal wrote:
Hello hifunda,

I see the problem in the way you have constructed your question. There is very little analysis and more focus on what material to cover. No amount of practice is really going to help you beyond a point. Focus instead on WHAT you have to improve.

A few tips:

1) A lot of times we tend to have incorrect metrics to measure our progress. We look at accuracy - a bad parameter not only because it doesn't reflect the difficulty of the questions but also because it tells us where we were (when we solved the question) and not where we are (knowledge gained from solving the question). Here is another suggested method: http://www.crackverbal.com/nailed-it-mi ... crewed-it/

2) Another problem is over-reliance on theory and not thinking/introspecting. You cannot do MGMAT book once more and get more information. Infact this was the same advice I suggested to Prashant (the other poster). You have to internalize the problem (i.e. acknowledge that it is within you to do well) and not externalize the problem (i.e. that the answer to the problem lies in a book).

3) Verbal is not as big a problem as you make it out to be - V32 is a 64%ile, while a Q46 is a 73%ile. The way you have made this post and your focus on V 40 seems to suggest you have done everything about Quant that you possibly can. Though you do have (again) a list of questions you intend to solve for Quant, I would suggest you take the same introspective approach for this section as well.

4) Within each topic - SC, CR, RC - based on point #1 above, try to make a list of problem areas you have. Once you have the list ensure you attack to see how you have find a solution to the problem. For some problems the solution is just to be "aware" of the problem and give it more time on the test.
Here is a sample:
Top 3 problems in CR: 1. Unable to use negation for assumption based questions, 2. I freak out in Boldface - need to have a solid approach, and 3. In inference questions I end up picking "maybe/can be true" instead of "must be true".
Top 3 problems in RC: 1. Last passage my accuracy plummets 2. Spend too much time reading the passage 3. Inference questions end up being wrong (same as CR above).
Top 3 problems in SC: 1. I use vague reasons for elimination such as "awkward and wordy" to eliminate 2. I am not comfortable with tenses 3. I end up reading too much into "meaning" and "clarity" type of questions and get them wrong.

(BTW based on my experience the top 3 listed above is usually true for most Indian students)

Arun

Thanks Arun! You were spot on, for most of the issues.

1. Nice article. I have decided to use an error log similar to the one you suggested, and not just rely on accuracy levels. Individual problem analyzing is a must.
2. By doing MGMAT books again, I didn't mean to say I will get more info or learn more again, I believe during my first attempt, I did not give myself enough time to internalize performance on practicing problems after learning the requisite concepts.
3. I think you got me wrong here. It's not that I am complacent in my Quant preparation, I am working hard to improve my score on tat front, but consistently never crossing a 34 level on Verbal was frustrating, hence the need to give much needed importance to Verbal. I know I did not prepare in the most ideal way possible, especially CR and RC
4. Yeah, I am now aware of my specific pain points in Verbal - CR (Assumptions), Weaken, Inference; SC (Tenses and Meaning); RC (Specific Details-Inference)

Thanks a bunch!
Re: First attempt 640 - Verbal strategy HELP needed for Retake   [#permalink] 19 Jun 2012, 05:03
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