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Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test.

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Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2013, 23:01
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Experts,

Sorry if I am frantically making it sound like a SOS call. But I am truly clueless about my dismal GMAT performance. Can't figure out where did I go wrong.

A month ago my average score of 6 MGMAT mocks was around 670. But after reading a GMATPREP What-if Quant and Verbal analysis by GC experts. I changed my strategy of giving more time to first 10-15 questions in my mocks.

After this change in strategy, even though I attempted around 25 in quant and 30 in Verbal (random guessed the remaining), my GMATPrep 2 scores were 690 and 700(Q48V37). I was happy with the change and thought that I was ready for GMAT.

I took the test yesterday and was shocked with 560(Q44V25). In real exam too, I had made random guesses in around 10 in Quant Qs and 12 in Verbal Qs, but I had done the same thing in my GMATPREP mocks too and doing so increased my score. I have never got below 46 in quant in MGMAT and 48 in GMATPREP. So I was shocked by a 44.

This is my second attempt of official GMAT(last score 590Q48V24), last time I scored Q48 without much prep. I just tried my best to attempt all questions without any strategy as such. Hence I stressed on my Verbal basics and created a strategy.

I am truly clueless about anything now and can't figure out anything.

If I had scored something in 660-680 (my overall average), then I would have concentrated on improving on my weaknesses, but 560 seems outrageous.

I will be very thankful if you guys can give me any advice.

Waiting in anticipation.

Regards,
Sam
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2013, 23:14
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Hi Sam,

It's hard to know what happened without a little more information about your test experience, but I'm very curious about your random guessing strategy. Why are you guessing on so many? Are these all at the end, or spread throughout the section? When you guessed that way on our exams & GMATPrep, what % of those guesses ended up being right? Did you have a lucky streak? Had you seen some of these problems before? You can't generally get a good score guessing on 10+ questions per section unless you spread those questions out and maintain near-perfect accuracy on all the rest.

Also, if I read you correctly, you *stopped* trying to spend more time on the early questions. Is that correct? I hope so, as spending more time up front is not a good strategy. Your best bet is to put effort into maximizing your overall performance by fully solving any problem you feel you can do in about 2 minutes, and dropping the problems you feel are going to eat up your time. If you want, you can pm me your contact info and I can look at your MGMAT scores to give more detailed feedback.
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2013, 00:36
Thanks for you concern, DmitryFarber. Even I am quite shocked about the outcome and want to improve on for next time, but I want to first understand the flaw in my approach.

- All guesses were in the end in a streak. It's like answer C in all remaining questions. This was done when only 1-2 mins remain with remaining Qs.

- GMATPREP stats, these were taken a week back.
First test GMATPREP 690 (5 Mar)
- Q47 (17-18 correct, random guesses - 12 (2 guesses correct))
- V37 (28 correct, random guesses 7 (3 correct, almost evry 2nd Q correct answer was C))

Second test GMATPREP 700 (8 Mar)
- Q48 (22 correct, random guesses - 9 (3 guesses correct))
- V37 (27 correct, random guesses 9 (first 2 correct,last 7 wrong))

I might have seen 2 questions 1st attempt and 4 Qs in 2nd attempt at max.

My MGMAT mocks tests might be a bit old, since I attempted it 2 weeks ago. Will PM you my ID.

My GMAT prep till now is like I studied the concepts for 2-3 days and gave the mock. Went through the assessment summary in MGMAT to identify weak areas and attempted tests again. Tried my best to avoid memorizing the questions of mocks and focus on weak areas.
I knew MGMAT was harder in Quant, so I scored low there, but the overall scores more or less were in 650s (640 on a bad day, 670 on a good day)

You are correct. I did spend more time on earlier questions, but it seemed to improve my accuracy, especially in RC (my weakest) & SC. I checked and rechecked every RC question.
Quant was more or less the same.

I guess you are correct about the 2 min sense of MGMAT because I could score Q48 in actual GMAT last time by allocating equal time to each question. That is one point, I will keep in my mind for quant.

I will be most thankful if you can give me any other pointers regarding verbal.

- Sam
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2013, 21:56
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striker2012 wrote:
Experts,

Sorry if I am frantically making it sound like a SOS call. But I am truly clueless about my dismal GMAT performance. Can't figure out where did I go wrong.

A month ago my average score of 6 MGMAT mocks was around 670. But after reading a GMATPREP What-if Quant and Verbal analysis by GC experts. I changed my strategy of giving more time to first 10-15 questions in my mocks.

After this change in strategy, even though I attempted around 25 in quant and 30 in Verbal (random guessed the remaining), my GMATPrep 2 scores were 690 and 700(Q48V37). I was happy with the change and thought that I was ready for GMAT.

I took the test yesterday and was shocked with 560(Q44V25). In real exam too, I had made random guesses in around 10 in Quant Qs and 12 in Verbal Qs, but I had done the same thing in my GMATPREP mocks too and doing so increased my score. I have never got below 46 in quant in MGMAT and 48 in GMATPREP. So I was shocked by a 44.

This is my second attempt of official GMAT(last score 590Q48V24), last time I scored Q48 without much prep. I just tried my best to attempt all questions without any strategy as such. Hence I stressed on my Verbal basics and created a strategy.

I am truly clueless about anything now and can't figure out anything.

If I had scored something in 660-680 (my overall average), then I would have concentrated on improving on my weaknesses, but 560 seems outrageous.

I will be very thankful if you guys can give me any advice.

Waiting in anticipation.

Regards,
Sam


Some things that come to mind immediately:

1. The actual GMAT algorithm is a closely guarded secret. No algorithm can simulate it perfectly (not even the GMAT prep algorithm). Hence it is very inadvisable to make a strategy based on other algorithms and that too one which deviates a lot from the strategy GMAC advises in its Official Guides.

2. According to GMAC, first 10 questions are no more important than the other questions. If giving extra time to first few questions and stealing time away from the others gives you better results, it could be a weakness of the simulated algorithm. Don't you think that if there was such a bias in the actual GMAT algorithm, GMAC would have fixed it since it knows that GMAT takers believe in this? Perhaps it was somewhat true in the earlier versions and perhaps the GMAT prep software still uses the earlier versions of the GMAT algorithm - we will never know and can just speculate but GMAC insists that every question is equally important. Listen to them. There is one advantage in giving a little bit of extra time to the first few questions - it helps you get in the zone and increases your confidence because you know when you are doing well. But if you don't have time to spare, it is still not advisable to pace yourself in a biased manner.

3. We know that the algorithm is adaptive. So it decides on the next question based on your response to the previous question and adjusts your score depending on your response too. In that case, it is logical (though still speculative) that random guesses in a row would have a much more negative impact than those distributed evenly around. So you guess on a question, the software will deduct a point from your score and give you an easier question. You answer it correctly and you back to your original score. You answer the next one correctly and your score goes up. What happens if you guess on 10 questions in a row - the software will keep reducing your score till there may not be enough questions left to get back on track. Mind you, it is still a speculation but logically derived from whatever GMAC is willing to tell about the algorithm. We can be certain that there is certainly no reason why guessing in a row would be better than spreading the guesses around but there might be reasons why spreading the guesses around would be better.

4. To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised that you scored Q44 even with so many random guesses. It means you are fundamentally strong and answered almost every question that you did, correctly. Now, all you need to do is increase your speed so that you can do whatever you do in 2 mins rather than 3.
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2013, 21:57
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Well. I don't know what might have happened to reduce ur score so abruptly, but have you considered the possibility of experimental questions?

The only thing which is different between mocks and actual is experimental Q.

I guess 25% of total Q are experimental. So if I look at extremes, you spend all your time on experimental Qs, which might be top in the order and ignored all marked Qs, probably coming in the end.

I guess the safest strategy will be equal time allocations to each Qs since experimental Qs are random ones.

I am not very sure though, but just guessing out the odds.

- Soumen
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2013, 22:02
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soumens wrote:
Well. I don't know what might have happened to reduce ur score so abruptly, but have you considered the possibility of experimental questions?

The only thing which is different between mocks and actual is experimental Q.

I guess 25% of total Q are experimental. So if I look at extremes, you spend all your time on experimental Qs, which might be top in the order and ignored all marked Qs, probably coming in the end.

I guess the safest strategy will be equal time allocations to each Qs since experimental Qs are random ones.

I am not very sure though, but just guessing out the odds.

- Soumen


To add to what Soumen said, the best strategy regarding experimental questions in the exam is to forget that they exist. Since there is no way to know whether the question is experimental or not, the info that there are experimental questions doesn't help us at all - save for giving us some hope during the test that the previous question we lost our mind on was hopefully, an experimental!
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2013, 00:39
Soumen,
Thanks for your insights.

Karisma,
I think your points are making things clear about my dismal performance. Its best to adhere to common well known strategies rather than sticking to some particular mock results.

My realistic level for quant is 48(same as last GMAT attempt). Although I have scored 49 nd 50 in some mocks, but those were either too easy on quant or repeat attempts. If I had attempted all questions in methodical manner, I would have got at least 47-48. Tricky DS always trips me.

Regarding my verbal, the most unpredictable section is RC. Sometimes I get 75% correct, but on bad days I just get 10% correct. In spite of trying hard, it still remains tricky. So in the real exam, I gave extra time on RC questions, leading to the downfall (last 12 questions random guesses). CR also consumed lot of time, but my historical accuracy rate in CR is 65-75%. Same for SC.

I am planning to take the GMAT again in 40 days after focusing on my weak areas with a simple strategy of attempting all questions with roughly equal time allocations as advised by you.

Thanks a lot for your help!!

Kudos to both of you..:)
Sam
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2013, 23:09
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Hi Sam,

It looks like you have already identified the main problems. You need to fix timing and get your RC more consistent. You don't seem to have timed out as badly on your MGMAT tests as you did on the real thing, but I do see you falling behind really far and then sliding at the end. The trick is to practice increasing your accuracy *within* the time limits. Practice RC realistically: if you're reading a short passage (40 or fewer lines), spend 6 minutes total to read the passage and answer 3 of the questions, and if you're doing a longer passage, expand that to 8 minutes and 4 questions. Don't give yourself any more time than that! Later on, you can go back and review untimed, focusing on understanding the subtle differences between answer choices and finding support for one over the others. But the goal is still to improve your timed performance. Taking time to review is a way of training yourself to see the right things before diving in and doing more timed work.

Make sure you are working with clear benchmarks. Basically, you need to get through about 8 problems every 15 minutes. You can adjust this slightly depending on how much SC you've seen, as those should go a little faster. But make sure you're hitting those benchmarks. If you're 30 minutes in and you're on problem 12, you're probably going to have to guess randomly on a few hard-looking problems (not in a row) to get back on track!
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2013, 23:12
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Here's a more detailed version of my RC advice:

how-to-get-good-score-in-rc-140302.html?hilit=passage
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 20 Mar 2013, 06:13
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Hi Dmitry,

Loads of thanks taking a look at my stats. Really appreciate it. Kudos 2 u!!

As you have already indicated, RC is my pain area in verbal. I get tripped by both main point and inference questions. Basically, I can zero down to 2 choices, but always end up picking the wrong one. I will follow your advice while prepping up for RC by following realistic time allocations in RC questions. Will focus mostly on MGMAT & OG questions for practice.

I am preparing a 30 day study plan, starting with diagnostic. I don't think my aptitude will change in a month, but the real test score has just destroyed my confidence. Need to build it again...:)

I did not worry about the 44-45 in quant as MGMAT is harder in quant, but it is great to practice and the overall score is more or less the same. Although I do want to increase my quant score, even if for a single point.

Thanks again!!
Sam
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 22 Mar 2013, 08:38
Hi Dmitry,

I am doing RC practice under timed conditions as advised by you. I am changing my core approach of reading RCs quite a bit.

Earlier I read the questions after reading whole passage, created para summaries and then looked at the question stem.
Now, I am reading the question stem just to deduce that it is broad based question like main point or an inference question.

For main point questions, I am reading the passage fast without worrying much about specific details. (just to get the basic structure of the passage). I am thinking about the main idea in my own words before looking at the choices.
For inference type questions, I am going thorough the passage with a objective of finding the components of the question stem.

With this approach, my overall time\passage has reduced. It's quite amazing that even though I am referring the passage again and again.

My accuracy by following this approach, my accuracy for easy and medium Qs has increased to 80%, but still need to see the good accuracy on hard Qs though.

Am I going on right track? I will keep practicing on the same lines then.

Although I do understand that each individual has his own optimal RC approach, still will be great to know your perspective.

Thanks,
Sam
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test. [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2013, 13:00
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If it's working for you, then great. That approach makes me a little nervous because your initial read-through of the passage should be something that helps you on all 3 or 4 questions you get, not just the first one. I find it more efficient to read the passage well once and get a feel for the overall. Then I can answer main point questions without much trouble, but my mental map of the passage allows me to tackle more specific problems, such as inferences, more easily than if I were going into the passage blind.

Still, if you find that the approach works for you, go with it. I'm just curious what happens if the first question is a specific one? Are you able to handle that well even if you haven't given the passage a good initial read? Also, do you ever miss main point questions because your read-through was too sketchy?
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Re: Need advice. Scored 680-700 in mocks but 560 in actual test.   [#permalink] 30 Mar 2013, 13:00
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