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from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please...

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from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 28 Aug 2009, 06:30
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Hi, I just wanted to share my very sad GMAT experience today. Pardon the length please. I wanted to disclose relevant facts. I hope I can get your advice. Thanks :)

I'm a silent member of the forum but I've been following the inspiring posts of many here. They've kept me motivated during my eight weeks of GMAT preparation.
Sadly, I cannot share the same success. I just took the GMAT and scored a devastating 510 Q31 V28. This is a hard fall for me after scoring 470, 640, 580, 710, and 720 in my practice tests (GMAT prep). My Q score started from a hopeless 17 (diagnostic exam) and progressing to 38-48 levels. My V was more stable starting at 35 (diagnostic) to 40-42 consistently. I was hoping for at least a 680.
My failure has a lot to do with my physical and mental condition before and during the exam. Two nights before the exam, I only had around 3-4 hrs of sleep. I was so nervous, I just kept on thinking about the exam, how difficult it might be, how I might do, etc. I woke up at 5am with a headache and a very knotted stomach. I couldn't even finish my breakfast. I re-assured myself that this is how I always felt before major examinations (college midterm exams, CPA exam, etc) and somehow, I always got good marks. So I thought I would be just fine. Unfortunately, the GMAT CAT is a totally different species.
Quant: The first question was manageable, finished within two minutes. The second and third ones totally caught me off guard. The Q stems were unfamiliar to me and I couldn't see my answer in the choices. My already unsettled nerves started to be in panic mode. I had to guess no. 2 and 3 and the rest didn't get any better. I knew I wasn't doing well as the Qs seemed to be easier compared to GMAT prep. Qs that I could easily answer during my practice tests seemed difficult then. I was too nervous than even my arithmetic calculations were incorrect. I had to re-do problems hence lost a lot of time. I had to guess more than 3 Qs in the last 10.
I took the 8-minute break and cried in the restroom. I knew I did poorly in Q. It was like my first diagnostic (Q17) all over again. The sad part was that I knew I had most of those concepts mastered. I knew that if those came out in my practice tests, I would have easily answered them. I tried to shake off my morose mood but it's easier said than done. I was already deliberating whether to cancel my score or not. I decided it's better to see an assessment of my performance.
Verbal: The first Q was easy. The next five were not difficult either. I was still very much troubled by my Quant performance but I tried my best to focus. I got a lot of highlighted RC so I thought I was progressing well. I didn't encounter very difficult Qs. I even started to think the actual exam was easier than the practice exams. As I was eager to finish the exam and nurse my throbbing headache, I rushed through the Qs without reviewing my answers. I paid dearly. A price of V 28. This was my lowest V score ever. My diagnostic exam was a 35. I was easily scoring 40-42 consistently.
As I clicked the "report score" button, I was expecting a 600 since I thought I was doing well in Verbal. But there it was, 510 Q31 V 28. I sat there numb, fighting back the tears.
After this experience, I've re-assessed my preparation. I also want to get your opinion on what I did wrong or right and how I can improve. Although I'm not looking forward to studying again, I'm not giving up. I know that I've exerted tremendous effort in this. I've invested so much time and energy and I know I deserve a 700. So I want to get up from my first fall and try to claim that victory.

I want to schedule my second attempt on Sept 28, 2009. Do you guys think this is sufficient time for me to improve my score to 680-700 level? I sincerely believe that I have mastered most concepts tested in the GMAT. My pitfalls include anxiety hence lost focus, silly/stupid mistakes (arithmetic, misreading question, etc) and bad time management. Admittedly, I did not work much on my time management in Quant. I plan to work hard on this for my next attempt.

How else can I better prepare for the next round? What materials should I use? I've read great reviews of the Manhattan materials. It seems to be unavailable in my country though :( I'm thinking of answering the GMAT club tests. Should I? Is it close to the actual exam? Since I have 30 days to study, is it advisable to do one a day? Also, how can I improve my verbal score? To be honest, I still can't believe my very low score. Perhaps it was my nervousness and lack in focus (after quant episode).

My preparation:
-Eight weeks of studying, 2-4 hrs on weekdays, 5-6 hrs on weekends
-Materials:
OG 12 (finished all quant and SC, left around last 10-15 Qs in CR and RC unanswered)
Kaplan premier (finished all exercises but didn't answer CAT as many advised against it)
Princeton (finished all exercises)
Manhattan SC guide
GMAT prep SC compilation (finished 140 out of 180 Qs)
GMAT prep (took both sets 3 times)

Hope to get your opinion/advice guys. I know one month preparation time is very tight. But I really want to give ample time to apps preparation. Hopefully I will succeed in getting a 680-700 in my next attempt.

Thank you all! :)
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Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 28 Aug 2009, 07:45
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One of the top reason for your score to be lower than your expected one was due to your loss of calmness. GMAT not only tests your techinical skills but also tests your mental skills. 4 hour long exam itself is one of the mind test - that means we need to have lot of patience. Infact during my first exam, same thing happened with my verbal. First few questions were tough and that made me panic. And the result was, rather than concentrating on the rest of the questions, I was panicing more and losing my time and concentration.

I would suggest you better take as many CAT exams as possible. This way, you can judge your self the timing, speed, accuracy, stamina. Also this will teach how to pass on the questions that are not your level and move on rather than worrying about the past questions. If you start panicing, take it for granted that you are on verge of losing to GMAT.

Also my opinion is that you need to get comfortable with topics in Quant since there is wide range in your practice tests scores for quant. Participate a lot in the forums. Rather than going thru the posts from other users, if you also try to attempt the answers and reply them, it will be sort of a learning exercise. That might improve your Quant skills little better.

From my first experience, I decided I will not pick the date for GMAT, until I am constantly hitting my desired score. If you pick the date, that will add more pressure to your preparation. If I were you, I will take time, get my comfort level in my weak areas and then pick the date.

All the best.
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Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2009, 00:44
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This is tough. I thought I had it the hard way, but this is definitely an uphill battle.

GMAT does have ability to surprise (usually harder questions) and that's why you can't really prepare to it by practicing questions over and over again (hence it does not really pay off).

It sounds like you have a good grasp of general principles and a good background based on your test scores. Probably a series of full-length tests would help get you back on the solid ground and also regain your confidence?

P.S. You need to find a way to reduce stress around the test. I am not sure what it is (tea, painkillers, happy thoughts, etc) but you need to find a way to regain your confidence and peace. It is very easy to say of course. Everyone stresses and panics on the GMAT - no secrets here. However, people are usually able to regain confidence by getting into the rhythm of answering questions. Perhaps if you develop that (by taking full length tests with essays), and assuming the next test will not throw 2 unfamiliar questions right away, you should be pretty good.
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Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2009, 06:02
Thank you very much mrsmarthi and bb for taking time to reply. I will take your pieces of advice to heart.
Just some questions if you dont mind.
-I'm planning to really work on my quant so I've purchased the gmat club tests. I'm thinking of working on 1 set per day for 3 hrs. Do you think this is advisable? How can I get the maximum use for maximum knowledge? What scores should I be getting to assure me 44-47 level?
-For verbal, I'm still really boggled as to what the heck happened. Why I got a 28 after consistently hitting 38-42 level. Might be my unstable emotions, my admitted defeat and acknowledgement of the need to take a second round after my performance in quant. If this is not reason enough for my low score I really dont know how to address my low score :( I've answered the SC gmat prep compilation and hit 90-95% accuracy in the last 40 qs. For rc and cr, I usually have only 1-2 mistakes in gmat prep (w/ some repeats though). What can I do to get the 40s level again?
-I agree with you guys suggesting that I should do more CATs. I've actually done 6, all gmat prep though. My problem is, if i do more again, I'll probably see lots of repeat qs hence my score will be much inflated. What do you suggest? Should I have a buffer say +30-40 pts of 700 to guarantee a 700?

Thanks very much for the encouragement guys. I'm really resolved to conquer gmat. :)

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Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 29 Aug 2009, 12:44
I am not as experienced as some gurus here, but i can relate your experience to my first GMAT prep.
Actually, nerves didnot allow me to perform upto the level i could have especially in verbal.

I think it was nerves that hampered your score on GMAT( you didn't sleep for two days before the D-day).

IF the nerves did not hamper you on actual day, you would have easily crossed 650.

The GURU (BB) has provided you with golden advice, a CAT series will actually help you to handle the pressure, and also keep you in touch and practice.

Definitely on re-take nerves wont play the role they played this time as you have already faced the official test and now you know what it asks for, it is almost similar to GMAT prep. So you will not have sleepless nights fearing some unexpected questions.
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Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 01 Sep 2009, 18:06
your experience happened pretty much the same to me, so you are not alone...when i was doing the test, i felt the questions were getting easier [compared with GMATPREP] and that is a BAD sign. Also, try to go for later test timing, preferably in the afternoon.

i believe u have covered quite a bit and what u need to do is to go thru' your error log and reinforce those concepts. get the manhattan flash cards [free download from the website] and read them whenever you can so that concepts stay fresh.

gd luck for your retake and mine!... my test is on 30 sep.
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Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please... [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2009, 10:59
sorry to hear that. Better luck next time.
Re: from 680-700+ practice tests to 510 actual :( Help please...   [#permalink] 22 Sep 2009, 10:59
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