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Need advice for 3rd attempt

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Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 07:17
Hi! I've been searching the GMAT Club for quant and verbal explanations but this is my first post. I've taken the GMAT twice - late Nov. '12 and 2/5/13 (prior to the GMAT, I took the GRE). The first time (long story short), I thought I was getting a call for an interview but instead, I was told that I needed to get a 600 on the GMAT. Since I wanted to try to make the application cutoff, I decided to study and take the test. I had 4 weeks to prep, but I had to try. I ended up with a 470 (32Q; 22V). I was crushed but I wasn't going to let the GMAT stand in my way of b-school, after all, I was so close to getting in! I moped for a few hours and then devised a new study plan for the retake (I'm a machine). My new study plan didn't work because after I took the GMAT on Tuesday, I was numb when I saw my score on the screen: 460 (33Q;21V) - I did worse! But once I got home, I logged onto GMAT Club for tips and inspiration. I can't let the GMAT get the best of me, so after a couple of hours, I knew that I needed to move forward.

For my first GMAT, I studied daily. I had a daily plan where each day I would do 20 DS, 10 SC, and 2 RC passages, and watched a few videos (all Magoosh material). Although I had a compressed schedule, looking back, I should have taken the time to take notes, review them regularly, and focus more on quality than quantity. Within the 4 weeks of studying, I took 5 GMAC practice tests:

400 (25:20)
370 (22;19)
540 (36;28)
520 (36;25)
520 (32:28)

For my second GMAT, I studied daily. My study plan was comparable to the one that I used for my first attempt, except in addition to Magoosh, I also used OG 13 and some other practice tests (GMAC/ PR/ MGMAT/ Kaplan). I took notes and went back and reviewed them, but I didn't review my notes until the last week of studying. I used GMAT Club to look up question explanations after each practice test.

One of the big mistakes I made both times was focusing too much time (and energy) tackling problems and not enough time on reviewing and understanding.

I'm very disciplined, resilient, and have great stamina so following and keeping a study plan is no problem. I work full-time and I don't like to waste time - I'm very OCD like that. This site has an overwhelming amount of tips and resources, which is great, but at the same time, with so many options, I'm not sure which resources/ materials I should use to prepare for the next GMAT.

My practice tests (leading up to second GMAT):
12/21/12: GMAC 480 (31Q;25V)
12/29/12: GMAC 480 (35Q;21V)
1/4/13: GMAC 550 (38Q;28V)
1/8/13: PR 520 (37Q;25V)
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1/18/13: MGMAT 420 (23Q;25V)
1/28/13: Kaplan 550 (?)
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(Looking back, I realize that I took practice tests too frequently...I didn't list all 10 of them).

Last night, I found (and downloaded) an error log, read up on recommended books, etc., printed off The GMAT Pill materials (specifically, "How to Ace the GMAT in 1 Month), and The GMAT Club Math Book.

Since I started studying early November '12 and took the GMAT twice, I'm wondering if one more month of studying could get me from 460 to 600? I'm also wondering if someone could recommend materials, daily study schedule, the feasibility of a 140 score increase? I thought about finding a meet up group, a tutor, or a test prep service, or...? I can and will get there, I just need assistance mapping out a (new) starting point. I want to have a plan in place by the end of the day so that I can dive back in tomorrow (2/8).

Thanks for reading my long post and thanks in advance for any insight anyone can provide!
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 12:12
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I will be happy with a 600. I read the Economist Terms and Conditions and in order to get the 50 point guarantee, "sustained and regular access over at least 10 consecutive weeks" is required. This would have been a good option, and thanks again, but I don't plan to study for 10 weeks. Do you know anyone that has tried GMATPill? I am considering them, too. They have a 1-month schedule and I just emailed them to see how many hours I will need to devote during the week (while working) and on the weekends.

So, even with Kewton (and OG), you used other material like MGMAT? My hope is to use OG and GMATPill (if I go that route).

Thanks again!
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 08:01
Well, it's definitely possible for you to increase your score by 100+ points. Doing it in a month is kind of a stretch, though. Look to the official GMAT prep tests as a fairly accurate indicator as to how you'll perform on test day.

Is it at all an option to take a few months off? I was in your boat when I first took the GMAT and got a 550 (30Q, 36V) so I decided to sign up for one of the programs with a 50 point guarantee, Knewton (Economist also offers one now too, they have two actually - one that guarantees a 50 point increase and the other 70 or so, but that one also guarantees a refund of your test cost too - with your current score - I'd probably go for that one, there isn't much to lose and they seem well-reviewed. But Knewton helped me see a 110 point increase in my score.

Within a month, unless you have a LOT of free time and don't get burned out easily, it's probably very difficult to see that kind of improvement. I would recommend taking less CATs and reviewing a lot of the basics. I would go through all of the books and wouldn't even look at another CAT until I was a bit more comfortable with all of the material presented.

Good Luck.
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 09:59
Hi RyanCJW,
Thanks for your quick response!

I prefer not to take time off because I want to try and make the mid-March app deadline. Plus, I figure since I've been studying for the past few months that I shouldn't drag it out another 2 months. This is mostly because of deadlines and I worry that if I take too long of a break, that I'll start to forget what I've learned. And I know I need to think positive, but in the event that I take the GMAT in March (before the first app deadline), and need to take the test again, I'd have time to retake the GMAT (yet again) and make the mid-May deadline.

Although I work full-time, I do have a somewhat flexible schedule (can work from home every so often, Fridays off, etc.) and I don't feel like I get burned out easily. This is why I want to dive back into my GMAT prep tomorrow.

I looked up the Economist GMAT Tutor (thank you), and they offer a 7-day free prep that I might try and see if it's worth continuing. Aside from Kewton, could you share with me the other material you used (OG, etc.)? Also, with Kewton, did they help you map out a daily study plan? This is what I'm trying to figure out - a daily study plan and the materials to use.

Thanks again!
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Joined: 08 Jun 2012
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GMAT 1: 550 Q30 V36
GMAT 2: 660 Q41 V40
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 11:23
subiblue wrote:
Hi RyanCJW,
Thanks for your quick response!

I prefer not to take time off because I want to try and make the mid-March app deadline. Plus, I figure since I've been studying for the past few months that I shouldn't drag it out another 2 months. This is mostly because of deadlines and I worry that if I take too long of a break, that I'll start to forget what I've learned. And I know I need to think positive, but in the event that I take the GMAT in March (before the first app deadline), and need to take the test again, I'd have time to retake the GMAT (yet again) and make the mid-May deadline.

Although I work full-time, I do have a somewhat flexible schedule (can work from home every so often, Fridays off, etc.) and I don't feel like I get burned out easily. This is why I want to dive back into my GMAT prep tomorrow.

I looked up the Economist GMAT Tutor (thank you), and they offer a 7-day free prep that I might try and see if it's worth continuing. Aside from Kewton, could you share with me the other material you used (OG, etc.)? Also, with Kewton, did they help you map out a daily study plan? This is what I'm trying to figure out - a daily study plan and the materials to use.

Thanks again!


I can understand your urgency, but it is certainly going to be tough.

First off, I'd definitely reiterate- try to stay away from the CATs, I had to take 6 through Knewton and felt like I could have benefitted more with less CATs and more intense training on the questions I obviously didn't understand. Knewton doesn't really put together a study plan based on weaknesses. They have a thorough program that covers a lot, but it doesn't really adapt to your weaknesses. It seems (and I haven't used it so I can't attest to their quality like I can to Knewton) that the Economist one is a bit more customized. They say that it recognizes areas that you're strong in and tends to focus more on improvement areas which should help you from wasting too much time on stuff you already know. But I think to get any of these guarantees, you'll have to take all assigned CATs - so you may not have a choice.

I used the OG (not the most recent edition), OG for Quant, Veritas DS book (I don't think this one helped too much, but this time around I will give it a more thorough reading) and the MGMAT set. People seem to swear by the MGMAT set, I used it but I wasn't really thorough with it. From what I did use, it was pretty helpful.

If your goal is to get 600 or mid-600's and you're confident you can devote the time necessary to Knewton - I think you'd be able to meet your goal. I felt like I couldn't get a whole lot more out of their program at 660, but I definitely think their program was a large part of my 110 point improvement.

Knewton does not help you map out a study plan or anything like that. You follow their program at your own pace, they give you a ton of problems to do and a lot to learn but not necessarily a road map from day to day.

Feel free to message me with any other questions!
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2013, 21:38
subiblue wrote:
I will be happy with a 600. I read the Economist Terms and Conditions and in order to get the 50 point guarantee, "sustained and regular access over at least 10 consecutive weeks" is required. This would have been a good option, and thanks again, but I don't plan to study for 10 weeks. Do you know anyone that has tried GMATPill? I am considering them, too. They have a 1-month schedule and I just emailed them to see how many hours I will need to devote during the week (while working) and on the weekends.

So, even with Kewton (and OG), you used other material like MGMAT? My hope is to use OG and GMATPill (if I go that route).

Thanks again!


Yeah, I did. I mainly used MGMAT for specialized areas that I knew I was weak in. OG is good for practice but their explanations aren't the best. Knewton was great but I have a bus ride to and from work and on my breaks I liked having a book to read as it was difficult to use Knewton on my iPhone. It all depends on your preference.

I haven't really looked into Pill to be honest with you. I've never really heard ringing endorsements of their products - not to say they're not good - it's just that I haven't run into any really enthusiastic users like I have with other products. I guess I'd just do a board search and see if you can locate threads where people bring it up - their products may be in the review section as well.
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2013, 07:33
Hi RyanCJW - I ended up buying the MGMAT books (instead of GMATPill). I'm half way through the first book (Sentence Correction-my greatest weakness) - taking notes, re-reviewing my notes, and doing the exercises at the end of each chapter. I plan to finish each book in the series before moving on to the next (while continuing to review my notes so I don't forget what I've learned already).

From your experience, is it better to focus on one topic or overlap topics (i.e. SC & DS)? I also have the OG13 book. I'm not sure when to do OG questions. Maybe after I finish the MGMAT SC book I could do some OG SC questions? I am trying to get organized and create a schedule. Thanks.
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2013, 13:08
Hi subi

My advise will be hire a Veritas or MGMAt tutor, It will cost few bucks but for sure you will see an improvement towards the end of 6th week, They have total 6 weeks's course. You need a personal tutor rather than recorded videos.

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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2013, 13:52
subiblue wrote:
Hi RyanCJW - I ended up buying the MGMAT books (instead of GMATPill). I'm half way through the first book (Sentence Correction-my greatest weakness) - taking notes, re-reviewing my notes, and doing the exercises at the end of each chapter. I plan to finish each book in the series before moving on to the next (while continuing to review my notes so I don't forget what I've learned already).

From your experience, is it better to focus on one topic or overlap topics (i.e. SC & DS)? I also have the OG13 book. I'm not sure when to do OG questions. Maybe after I finish the MGMAT SC book I could do some OG SC questions? I am trying to get organized and create a schedule. Thanks.


Try to keep an error log. The problem set you get with each of the books is very helpful as well. Try to take advantage of those. You're just going to have to recognize your weaknesses with SC and drill them down.

I think that MGMAT gives you the # of the OG problems that go with each concept. Try to find the page that lists those and go through them as you finish each chapter. I would answer the questions on a separate piece of paper and not mark up the questions in your book so that you could do them multiple times if need be without any of your notes/hints from the previous go-around.

I was honestly all over the place in my studying. I think if I had time I would have dedicated more to CR but I also don't think for the score you're aiming for, you should be totally focuing on one area at a time. You could probably studying everything at once, just to stay strong everywhere rather than lose some of what you learned as it gets further and further away from when you last looked at that stuff. But- you should be able to eliminate some concepts/problem types that you really have a firm grasp on at some point, that way you don't have to go over EVERYTHING all the time.

Anyway - to answer your question - I would use both in tandem. I would learn the concepts through MGMAT, answer their questions, figure out which ones you got right/wrong, figure out what went wrong, do those ones again, and then tackle the questions that go over those same concepts in your OG and from there your problem sets, once everything is done. You have a lot of resources now so you should have no trouble finding ways to take advantage of them!
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Re: Need advice for 3rd attempt   [#permalink] 11 Feb 2013, 13:52
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