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Need help with final prep stages..

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Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 13:14
I took the Kaplan classroom course and have made good use the online resources. My CAT scores have ranged from 550-760, with the bulk in the mid 600s, and only breaking above 700 once. The 760 score was my Ultimate Practice Test, and really only happened because I saw so many repeat quant questions.

I have somewhat consistently scored in 90th+ percentiles in Verbal, and started chasing my quant scores higher. Now though, my verbal scores have fallen down below 40, since I've focussed so exclusively on quant.

I've had a ton of pacing problems in the quant section, and have always considered my verbal to be my strength, but now I am at a stage where I am still struggling with pacing (because the math problems are getting harder), and I'm suffering from lower scores, namely in sentence correction from lack of practice in verbal.

I'm taking the real test on Jan 29th, and am unsure how to proceed. Should I make the most use of the quizbank questions, or keeping plugging away at CATs? When should I start refocusing on Verbal instead of trying to shore up my weaknesses in quant?

Also, what are your opinions on canceling scores? I have a tendency to either hit the ground running or just blow up at the start. What do you recommend if I know I'm in trouble to start out with?
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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 14:11
1. I say don't ever cancel your score...if you get a bad score, then you can just take it again and do better. Most schools take the highest score.

Jan 29 is three weeks away. This is my suggestion, i.e. how I would approach it.

Week 1: Do a three-pack every night: 10 each of SC, RC, and CR OR 10 each of straight problems, data sufficiency, and word problems. This way, you'll do 30 questions per night, which will take about one hour. After you finish, METICULOUSLY go through every single answer and see what you did well/not so well - this is the most important part!! This should take another hour. So two hours of studying per night.

Week 2: At the start of this week, take a CAT. Figure out what your three weakest areas are. Do 30 questions in each area, focusing on one area every night. Two hours of studying per night, you can take a night or two off.

Week 3: At the start of this week, take another CAT. What is your single biggest weakness now? (hopefully you only have one or two). Attack it relentlessly by doing more problems in that area. Take ANOTHER CAT two days before the test (27th is a Sunday, so you should have time). By now, you should be above 650 comfortably.

The day before the test, relax, don't think about GMAT too much, and at night, get to bed early. The next morning, get up and do ten questions in your area of biggest weakness. Then take the test and nail it!

This is just what my opinion is...I think the most important thing is to review your answers every single time, whether you got something right or wrong. What do you think?
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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 14:37
Thanks for the advice. I think the Kaplan quizbank is a good tool because it is very customizable regarding question types and difficulty. I did very well on the GMATprep CATS - 680s, but was frustrated because there were no explanations.

I appreciate your advice about the review period after the practice. Usually I am so burnt out after a CAT that I have a very hard time fully analyzing the explanations. The quizbank should help here big time.

I'm lucky because I enjoy the Verbal sections, it comes much more naturally to me- Quant is only exciting if I feel like I'm doing well. Some of the Kaplan tests have all out abused me in Quant, which can be very discouraging.

Since I want to use all of the CATs I have left, I think I'll do M-F 30 questions with review a night, then Sat AM CAT, Sunday off (yay football). My CAT today was 640 (blew up on verbal of all things), and my CAT yesterday was 760... I wanted to ask the Pearsonvue people if they could magically count yesterday's score...

One other question - what level difficulty do you recommend I set the quizbank practice questions at?
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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 15:31
I have no experience with any of the Kaplan materials, but I'd start off with easy difficulty questions in areas where you think you are weak. The reasons are:

1. It'll help you understand if you are missing some of the basics.
2. If you are solid on the basics, it'll show in your scores and your confidence will go up!

Once you feel good at a certain level of difficulty, then move up to the next one. I agree with you about Quant being not as exciting unless you feel like you're getting things right! The key, I'll say again, is to REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW!

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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 18:43
msday86, what a great post. That's a killer strategy.

Manbehindthecurtain, you need to balance out your prep. If you focus on just one area, the others will definitely suffer. Add verbal back into your daily prep. Do a minimum number of each question type per practice session, with a few more for the weak areas.

Also, I would add the PR tests to your arsenal. They are closest to the real thing after GMATPrep, and they have answer explanations.
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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 18:50
Is PR Princeton review? I feel a little maxed out spending money on GMAT prep - what are some of the cheaper practice questions you recommend?
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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2008, 19:06
Yep, PR = Princeton Review. Their book (Cracking the GMAT) is $25 on Amazon, not bad, actually. The DVD has some cool interactive tools and the tests are really worth it. They do have a free test on their Web site (http://www.review.com), so that would give you at least one free test. But after you take the GMAT, you could sell your materials and recover your costs, so I wouldn't worry about another $25.
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Re: Need help with final prep stages.. [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2008, 17:12
msday - when should I focus on my strengths? Kaplans advice is to make sure to cover strong areas in the week before the test to make sure they are reinforced. your strategy focusses a lot on improving weak areas - what are you thoughts?
Re: Need help with final prep stages..   [#permalink] 07 Jan 2008, 17:12
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