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How to reach 700+ from 640?

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How to reach 700+ from 640? [#permalink] New post 08 Oct 2014, 08:32
Dear GMATClub Community!

I figured it is time to write something here, since I have been benefiting from the amazing discussions and resources on this site for the past 7 months or so. Thanks Bunuel and Friends! You are like gods to me!

I started studying for the GMAT in March of this year, used books and took a course with one of the most popular and highly rated GMAT test prep companies known. My score did not change much, if at all, from before and after taking the course. I took GMAT for the first time early August, after I saw my first 710 on the GMAT prep software. Sadly, I landed a 640 (v33 q46 7-IR 5.5-AWA) :? Since I was extremely panicked on the test, I thought, if I am relaxed and comfortable the second time around, the score will just improve as a result of that. To my dismay, it didn't! I confess, I didn't study much between the two exams, but I felt that I really overdid it the first time around, studying 4 hours a night and not having a life of any form, no gym, not enough sleep, just work and GMAT. I scored a 630 (v35 q42 5IR) on my second try. I was super relaxed, joked with the proctor at the center, etc. At this point I thought, I have no idea what I am doing wrong, and what I need to do to get to 700 on the actual test! The quality of the questions in both the quant section and the verbal seemed harder than the first time I took the test, so all through the test I thought I am doing well, but apparently they weren't!

I have a masters in engineering and an undergraduate degree in mathematics. It has been a while, but I know I don't lack too much content knowledge. However, I am yet to see anything over a Q48 on any test (I have taken 4 of MGMAT's tests and the 4 GMAT Prep tests). I see people who can't even speak English correctly who have scored a 720+ (kudos to them if they can do that) and it has inevitably made me think that this should be easier for me, so what am I doing wrong to not be able to do sentence correction or reading comprehension better than them?! Or people from humanities backgrounds who have a hard time doing algebra getting Q50! I know people who have done it in 30 days and that just blows my mind!

I need to crack 700 (hopefully by mid November) to have a shot at my target schools for R2. Not 780, not 750, not even 720. I will be happy and doing back flips with a 700! You are probably thinking, wow, she can't even do a 700!!! I KNOW, I am thinking the same thing! How can I do this? Where should I start? To all of you who have done it (gone from <650 score to 700+), please share your wisdom!

I have been told, "see where your problem areas are and start building from those." It seems I have not done it right, so how do you do this? Say, I know "absolute values" with DS is a problem area for me, what do I do from there? Keep finding and attacking problems with DS and absolute value? But being able to get one or a bunch of problems correctly doesn't mean I will get them all. I can always get a problem on the test that I can not do!

I know for a fact that I can improve on Data Sufficiency. That area is the bane of my existence, or my score rather. The strategy that requires choosing numbers is very difficult for me. I am not sure how to come up with numbers to pick, so I generally pick a positive, negative, zero and a fraction and end up spending too much time. What are the strategies for number picking for DS and generally the best ways to improve on this topic?

Also in the verbal section, CR is definitely an opportunity area. I have the MGMAT books and PowerScore for this, but I feel that it is not about being able to do problems, but being able to do 600-800 level problems. What is the best plan of attack to get that 700+?
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Re: How to reach 700+ from 640? [#permalink] New post 12 Oct 2014, 23:44
farshista wrote:
I need to crack 700 (hopefully by mid November) to have a shot at my target schools for R2. Not 780, not 750, not even 720. I will be happy and doing back flips with a 700! You are probably thinking, wow, she can't even do a 700!!! I KNOW, I am thinking the same thing! How can I do this? Where should I start? To all of you who have done it (gone from <650 score to 700+), please share your wisdom!


Firstly, remember about 25,000 people score a 700. There is no reason you shouldn't :) I believe putting yourself in a positive frame of mind is the first step to a great score. The more you think about the past - about what you could have done - the more you are going to get sucked into a negative vortex. Keep your mind clear. You can do it! (<- technically though the last line should be "you can do so" :)).

farshista wrote:
I have been told, "see where your problem areas are and start building from those." It seems I have not done it right, so how do you do this? Say, I know "absolute values" with DS is a problem area for me, what do I do from there? Keep finding and attacking problems with DS and absolute value? But being able to get one or a bunch of problems correctly doesn't mean I will get them all. I can always get a problem on the test that I can not do!


You have a strong background in math. However, what may have happened in school/college is you might have been rewarded for "remembering" stuff. I remember when I was in 12th standard in India, the guy who was able to solve the most number of questions always had an edge since on the exam we would always get questions very similar to the practice question. On the GMAT you need to know only a finite set of concepts. If you are scoring Q46 you perhaps already know that. You don't need to solve any more questions than perhaps you have already done. So instead focus on what you can take from the question.

Tip #1: Maybe you need to give your brain a workout. Why don't you pick some puzzles and try solving those. Anything to make your brain work. To get a 700 you just need a Q48 V38 split. So just a little more push that comes from applying yourself to the questions.

Tip #2: I have seen many of my students at a Q45-46 focus only on the question. Sometimes you may want to take your eyes off the question and figure out other ways to get to the answer. Maybe you can backsolve from the answer choices? Maybe you can just plugin some values? Maybe you can guesstimate? Make sure you have an arsenal of tools to attack the PS/DS questions.


farshista wrote:
I know for a fact that I can improve on Data Sufficiency. That area is the bane of my existence, or my score rather. The strategy that requires choosing numbers is very difficult for me. I am not sure how to come up with numbers to pick, so I generally pick a positive, negative, zero and a fraction and end up spending too much time. What are the strategies for number picking for DS and generally the best ways to improve on this topic?


For DS I would say instead of using the SAME set of numbers to plug-in, try to reduce the equation to a point where you need to check what could be plugged in. For example if the question says x >0 then you need to consider only positive integers. If the question is asking for powers then you should certainly consider fractions etc. At the end of the day it is all about logic. You are on the right track - maybe you need to optimize the way you solve questions by NOT considering a few values.

farshista wrote:
Also in the verbal section, CR is definitely an opportunity area. I have the MGMAT books and PowerScore for this, but I feel that it is not about being able to do problems, but being able to do 600-800 level problems. What is the best plan of attack to get that 700+?


A lot of these books have unncessary theory. I would rather want you to focus on solving good quality GMAT questions and get a hang of how to approach questions using logic. Again I think you are falling in the same trap. Remember this:

GMAT CR is not a test of memorization - this is a test of reasoning.

At the end of the day you just need to look at the 3 broad question types:

1. Assumption based questions: Find the assumptions, strengthen, weaken, evaluate etc. require you to understand what EXTERNAL data aka assumption is required to make or break the argument.

2. Content based questions: Find the conclusion, resolve the paradox, what can be inferred etc. Answering these questions hinges on your ability to ensure you pick an answer choice that is 100% true based on the facts stated.

3. Structure based questions: Mimic or parallel the reasoning, Boldface questions. These questions require you to understand the underlying argument strategy.

Hope this helps!

Arun
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Re: How to reach 700+ from 640? [#permalink] New post 13 Oct 2014, 14:41
This is an in depth reply to one of my lingering question. Thanks for nailing them for me.

I would also like to know how to approach abstract concepts like surface areas/ coordinate geometry .

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Re: How to reach 700+ from 640? [#permalink] New post 15 Oct 2014, 02:02
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Re: How to reach 700+ from 640?   [#permalink] 15 Oct 2014, 02:02
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