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I'm doing something wrong here

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I'm doing something wrong here [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2012, 14:05
I was hoping to get some advice on how I can make my GMAT score significantly better.

Here's my background:
I graduated from undergrad last June with a BA in International Relations (concentration in Global Political Economics), from a top-10 INTS program, and a minor in Finance, from a top 15 business school. I graduated in the top quartile of my class, and after graduating I followed up on an invitation to talk to the school about grad school. Everything was in line - I just had to take the GMAT... so I got the Kaplan GMAT book and studied hard because I only had like three weeks. I took it, and completely bombed it with a 490 - Q26V34 14th percentile quantitative and 69th percentile verbal.

So I gave up on grad school for fall semester, but I enrolled in undergraduate intermediate algebra and a trig class. I broke my arm and took a couple weeks off, and couldn't attend the Kaplan classes. I instead decided to consider a less prestigious B-school, but they had a looming deadline. So i registered again, and completely hit the books again for a couple weeks. I figured the Mat classes would help, and I also finished the Kaplan book completely - twice, took the practice GMAT on PlatinumGMAT (I got a Q39V40). I went up to take the GMAT again, and actually did worse than before: 470 (Q25V29).

I figure there is probably something that I'm clearly not doing right. I did very well in undergrad, and got As and Bs in all my Math, Econ, and Finance classes. It's mind-boggling to figure how I did so poorly on the actual test. Advice?
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Re: I'm doing something wrong here [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2012, 20:32
Maybe I'm missing something, but I didn't see any mention of any official materials in your post. Did you use the GMAT Official Guide and verbal/quant review supplements at all? Did you take the GMATPrep, or use the GMATPrep Question Pack? If not, that's probably the heart of the problem.

It's definitely good that you took an algebra class, but the GMAT doesn't really test "normal" algebra in a traditional way. GMAT questions are pretty goofy, and the best way to get better at them is to spend massive amounts of time with retired questions. Platinum GMAT is a relatively new entrant to the market and I don't know much about their materials, but Kaplan's book isn't going to get you very far. Manhattan GMAT is much more thorough if you need some extra help with quant and verbal techniques, but there's absolutely no substitute for official questions published by GMAC. Spend some time with the official stuff and take lots of high-quality practice tests (GMATPrep is the best, MGMAT is probably the next-best), and I'm sure that your scores will start to improve.

Good luck with everything!
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Re: I'm doing something wrong here [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2012, 21:31
GMATNinja wrote:
Maybe I'm missing something, but I didn't see any mention of any official materials in your post. Did you use the GMAT Official Guide and verbal/quant review supplements at all? Did you take the GMATPrep, or use the GMATPrep Question Pack? If not, that's probably the heart of the problem.

It's definitely good that you took an algebra class, but the GMAT doesn't really test "normal" algebra in a traditional way. GMAT questions are pretty goofy, and the best way to get better at them is to spend massive amounts of time with retired questions. Platinum GMAT is a relatively new entrant to the market and I don't know much about their materials, but Kaplan's book isn't going to get you very far. Manhattan GMAT is much more thorough if you need some extra help with quant and verbal techniques, but there's absolutely no substitute for official questions published by GMAC. Spend some time with the official stuff and take lots of high-quality practice tests (GMATPrep is the best, MGMAT is probably the next-best), and I'm sure that your scores will start to improve.

Good luck with everything!


Thanks a lot.... yeah the 490 was with no preparation whatsoever, and the 470 was after I used the Kaplan book, and that was pretty much it. I took no classes, and the only practice test I took was from PlatniumGMAT. I did do all the questions from the free software I got after registering, but that's about it.

I figure something is up because 490 seems very low considering my academic record... I take it most people prepare for months rather than just taking it?

Do I need a specific study plan/classes? I'm thinking about signing up with the Economist GMAT tutor (I read the Economist quite a bit and it comes with a 6 month subscription), and the programs with the Magoosh website that came with registration here seem a lot harder than the Kaplan questions, and they also seem more like the questions I got on the test.

Also, I noticed on your link that you're a tutor based out of Denver... ironic, because I live in Denver now, and I'd really like to apply to the Daniels College of Business.
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Re: I'm doing something wrong here [#permalink] New post 02 Dec 2012, 20:44
Ha, you're in Denver?! Awesome! This might be the very first time that I've run across a Denver resident on a GMAT forum by complete accident. Good stuff.

So I guess the really important question is, why the heck are you wasting time on the GMAT when you could be skiing or snowboarding instead? Can't the GMAT wait until spring? :wink:

The trouble with the GMAT is that there really isn't an easy, one-size-fits-all answer for everybody. Most of the people you'll meet on this forum will ultimately spend quite a few months studying like crazy for this exam. Some people nail it in a few weeks. Some lucky people study for a few hours and manage to get away with it. Considering that the GMAT has already humbled you a couple of times, I think you should be prepared for a few months of pain... and there's no shame in that at all.

Hopefully a few others will weigh in on this, but I think the biggest advantage of a class (or a tutor) is that it will give you some structure, and you'll have to complete a certain amount of work between classes... and that can be awfully appealing, since it isn't always easy to come up with a self-study program on your own. Then again, it's rare that a class works perfectly for any given individual--depending on your exact strengths and weaknesses, you'll find that some classes are too fast or too slow or not thorough enough or don't address the topics in a way that matches your learning style. There are a ton of solid classes out there, but they don't work for everybody.

If you decide to do self-study, you'll definitely need a plan of some sort, and there are plenty of resources on GMAT Club that can get you started. Many people love the MGMAT books, so you might want to consider those if you don't sign up for a class. No matter what you choose, you should be prepared for a long slog through the study process, and if it ends up being easier than you expected, then thank the GMAT gods... but don't underestimate the task in front of you if you're trying to improve by 100+ points. And don't fall too madly in love with study materials from non-official sources; if possible, the vast majority of your practice should be from official sources.

Good luck with everything! See you on the slopes?
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Re: I'm doing something wrong here [#permalink] New post 02 Dec 2012, 22:01
GMATNinja wrote:
Ha, you're in Denver?! Awesome! This might be the very first time that I've run across a Denver resident on a GMAT forum by complete accident. Good stuff.

So I guess the really important question is, why the heck are you wasting time on the GMAT when you could be skiing or snowboarding instead? Can't the GMAT wait until spring? :wink:

The trouble with the GMAT is that there really isn't an easy, one-size-fits-all answer for everybody. Most of the people you'll meet on this forum will ultimately spend quite a few months studying like crazy for this exam. Some people nail it in a few weeks. Some lucky people study for a few hours and manage to get away with it. Considering that the GMAT has already humbled you a couple of times, I think you should be prepared for a few months of pain... and there's no shame in that at all.

Hopefully a few others will weigh in on this, but I think the biggest advantage of a class (or a tutor) is that it will give you some structure, and you'll have to complete a certain amount of work between classes... and that can be awfully appealing, since it isn't always easy to come up with a self-study program on your own. Then again, it's rare that a class works perfectly for any given individual--depending on your exact strengths and weaknesses, you'll find that some classes are too fast or too slow or not thorough enough or don't address the topics in a way that matches your learning style. There are a ton of solid classes out there, but they don't work for everybody.

If you decide to do self-study, you'll definitely need a plan of some sort, and there are plenty of resources on GMAT Club that can get you started. Many people love the MGMAT books, so you might want to consider those if you don't sign up for a class. No matter what you choose, you should be prepared for a long slog through the study process, and if it ends up being easier than you expected, then thank the GMAT gods... but don't underestimate the task in front of you if you're trying to improve by 100+ points. And don't fall too madly in love with study materials from non-official sources; if possible, the vast majority of your practice should be from official sources.

Good luck with everything! See you on the slopes?


Thanks for the response... I'll look into creating a study plan. I'm on the verge of getting the Economist GMAT tutor, and I got the official GMAC Review - 13th edition.

As for the skiing... my dad has a place in Winter Park and I practically spend winter up there, mostly hitting the chutes/moguls on Mary Jane. However, I shattered my humerus and I'm in rehab, so I had to get my pass deferred to next season, which sucks because I just got a new pair of Icelantics custom from the factory (at 6th and Kalamath).

Anyway, thanks for everything...
Re: I'm doing something wrong here   [#permalink] 02 Dec 2012, 22:01
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