Let me start off by thanking the gmatclub community. You guys have been very helpful through out my GMATprep process. I have been preparing for GMAT since Jan of this year and have not gotten anywhere. So PLEASE advice me on what I have been doing wrong and how i can change my strategy.
Here is what I have done this Year.
I took the Manhattan 'in-Class' course from Feb to April. During this course, I kept up with the schedule and practiced every evening and took diagnostic exams as recommended. I took the GMAT for the first time during May and did horrible. I think 570 (Q44 and V low 20's dont quite remember)
After a month of break, I started my preparation once again. I have been doing GMAT's since then with moderate to high intensity till Sept. The majority of the prep was directed to Verbal. I went through the basics. Material that i used were: Manhattan workbooks (SC,CR,RC), OG12
and OG verbal
review for practice, Aristotle SC and RC99 for practice and basics, 1000 CR,SC,RC (didnt not complete everything). I stopped doing 1000 SC,CR after becoming very familiar with them and stopped doing 1000 RC because i though Aristotle RC99 was better. Also i worked on numerous paper tests.
From Aug, after I felt comfortable with Verbal, I started working on Math. I used Manhattan guides (All of them) to go over my basics and did OG12
Math, Gmatclub exams (untimed, i felt they were pretty hard) and a bunch of GMAT related math problems from PDF's etc that I borrowed or downloaded (from gmatclub, beatthegmat).
From November I started taking constant practice exams (not including essays). I have been taking exams every weekend. I took all 6 Manhattan verbal exams (repeat because I already took them once before my first GMAT official exam), Kaplan
Math/Verbal exams from their CD, Gmatclub exams math/verbal (but math was untimed, verbal timed - felt verbal was easier than the real GMAT exam), 800score Math/verbal, power score (took both exams with repeats, so total 4 exams), Diagnostic exams of Knewton, Veritas
, GMATprep old version (4 times math/verbal the last 2 times including essays), GMATprep (new version - 4 times with essays). For GMATprep exams, I took them starting Mid December.
I have spend all my later part of this year preparing for GMAT. Other than my (full-time) work, I have spend most evenings and all weekends (6 hrs atleast per day) preparing for GMAT with Zero social life. After all this prep work, I took my second GMAT today (12/28) and got a devastating 590 (Q45/V26). My target was to get close to 700, but was devastated to not even reach 650. With 590 i know i cannot go anywhere.
My scores ranged from 550 - 700. (550,570,600,640,650,650,700 .. so one). I have also taken many GMAT paper test exams and GMAT practice tests that were on PDF ( which i dont have a raw score for). On average, I have been getting 10-15 wrong in Math and about 13-18 wrong in Verbal.
I apologize for such a long post, but I desperately need some helpful advice as to how i need to change my strategy. Also can someone PLEASE suggest a good Private tutor in the Washington DC, Virginia area so i can meet with him and get some personalized help. I would really appreciate a quick reply on a good Tutor recommendation, so that I can start my third attempt soon. I am planning to take the GMATs again by mid of Feb 2012. Also does Knewton prep company offer a private tutor or in person classroom secession's? What do you guys think about their course.
Following would be my advice to you:
In the next 1.5 months
1. Do regular Quant pratice. Say, 10-20 questions a day. Since you are in the 44-45 score range, be prepared for some tricky number properties and some tough Algebra questions. There are lots of traps in number properties e.g. "non negative number" which means think about 0 etc. Make sure red flags go up the moment you see such words. Geometry questions are generally not very tough but probability can be tricky. Make sure that your score doesn't fall here due to lack of practice.
2. Focus on Verbal. There is huge scope of improvement here. Going from 25 to 35 is not hard is Verbal. It is much harder to go from 45 to 50 in Quant so I would suggest you to invest most of your time here. At 26, I would guess that you are comfortable with at most one of the three question types. You need to use different strategies for each:
SC - Most people dislike it probably because it involves grammatical rules which we haven't touched for years now and also because we speak incorrectly. That said, the effort required to answer 70%-80% is not much. Most errors that appear on GMAT can be categorized - Agreement errors, Pronoun errors, Verb errors, Modifier errors etc. Learn to spot these quickly. Learning a list of rules doesn't help. GMAT is focusing less and less on rules and more and more on logic e.g. above 700 level questions will often involve 'accuracy' errors i.e. grammatically an option is correct but it changes the meaning intended. We tend to overlook this error. So to improve SC, focus on the most common errors and make sure you know the correct usage. Then practice. OG12
has good questions to practice on. Go through the explanation of each and every option
. Figure out why A, B, C and D are incorrect and why E is correct. Take notes whenever you come across something new. It might take you up to 10 minutes to go through one question thoroughly but you would have learned some new things. The point is not to jump from question to question but to actively try to learn. Blind practice (one question after another in quick succession) makes you learn passively. You develop an intuition for right/wrong. You know what feels right but you may not know why which is ok but it is a very long process. It takes years for one to develop this intuition. Instead, try to actively learn by understanding what is acceptable and what is not.
RC - Mainly practice will help. Read properly the first time around and note the scope, tone, organization and purpose of the passage. Then go on to questions. Do not make errors in the specific detail questions since the answer is right in front of you. Go back to the passage to confirm if you have a doubt. The extra 10 seconds are worth it. Veritas
has an RC book which has many 650+ passages. In fact, some of them are the hardest that you could see on GMAT. You can practice from that book if you have the time.
CR - Very logical, very mathematical... You should be relatively more comfortable with CR since your Quant is strong. Again, there are some things which are very important to keep in mind, especially in higher level questions. e.g. While working on Strengthen/ Weaken questions, focus on the conclusion of the argument. That is what you have to strengthen/weaken. Make sure that the option you pick strengthens/weakens your conclusion, not a premise of the argument. At the end of the day, every CR question comes down to some such detail.
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