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Please help me in conquering GMAT

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Please help me in conquering GMAT [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2004, 16:13
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Some quick facts about me
Indian male . Education : Engineering .Good language background

GMAT taken three times.

1st GMAT
Prepared for around 40 days. DidnтАЩt work too hardтАж. I Was quite confident owing to my earlier successes with standardized tests such as GRE and also the fact that I got 710 and 720 in PP tests just 10 days after starting the preparation. I primarily did OG and bit of Kaplan and Princeton ( I concluded that both Kaplan and Princeton are way off mark.. so didnтАЩt spent much time on them)
Actual GMAT (January 2003) 690 ( 92 percentile) ( q-49 v-35( 76 percentile)) AWA 4.5

My reaction: I didnтАЩt feel too much excited about my score. Since other aspects of my application werenтАЩt too strong ( GPA , work experience etc) , I thought I needed a 720+ score with verbal at least at 85 percentile( scaled score of 38).

I decided to give another shot within a month.

2nd GMAT

I hardly prepared anything this time. Just went through some SC questions of OG once again as I thought I might have messed up in SC section first time since those questions come in the beginning.

Actual 2nd GMAT (March 2003) 630 ( 79 percentile) ( Q- 42( 67 percentile)v -34 ( 72 percentile) ) AWA 5.0

My reaction: Obviously devastated and utterly confused. Coming from a Maths background this was an absolute carnage. Also, the feeling that I failed to improve my verbal score killed me. Since I had planned to apply for fall 2004, I knew I had to take it once again before the end of 2003. Some people advised me against retaking but now, apart from my application, it was a question of prestige.

3rd GMAT

. I started believing stories of profiling done by ETS. I read somewhere that when you take the test second time, computer starts from where u ended last time , which means that if u did decent first time it will start with giving you tough questions from the very start instead of giving moderate questions.
I decided to start preparing around dec 2003.
I did some paper tests released by ETS this time. Though I scored quite well in paper tests also, I was still not sure about verbal. I tried to master SC concepts once again as I believed that you cannot do much about RC and CR questions . SC questions I believed can be tricky for non native speakers. I went through Princeton verbal work out. I did all the SC questions in OG once again and tried to understand them more minutely.I also did some end questions of OG for DS.

Actual 3rd GMAT :( jan 2004) All through the verbal portion, I felt very confident about my answers. I can bet with anybody that I did first five question correct. None of the SC questions, except for one, bothered me. I was quite confident for most of them. I guessed one CR question and 1-2 RC questions.
In maths , I got stuck at a tough geometry DS question which came at number 3тАж I guessed and moved on to encounter another tough question. This one I managed to solve. After question number 10 or so , questions became very easy. I started wondering that I might have messed. I finished the section 25 minutes earlier. It had never happened with me before.
Score: 650 ( 85 percentile)( q44( 73 perecentile) v35!!!!!!!!!( 77 percentile)

My reaction. I donтАЩt know whatтАЩs going on. When I do RC/SC/CR questions at home, I hardly make any mistakes. So I never feel any need to prepare something extra for these. But Iam stuck on bloody 35 in the real GMAT. I feel so stupid when people write about how they increased from 26 to 40 in verbal. Am I that stupid that I cant even improve 2-3 scale points? The biggest problem is, I donтАЩt know what my weaknesses are.
I donтАЩt know if I am getting trapped in SC questions, or in CR questions, or in RC questions or I mess up questions which come at very critical points in terms of scoring algorithm, or worse still my concentration betrays me during crucial moments in the exam( We all know how one is feeling stressed during the exam and particularly during the end feels so drained, just wants to finish the damn thing). May be those questions in the latter half are not that non significant as we think.

What I plan now: I believe that since I donтАЩt know whatтАЩs wrong with my preparation, I would try to fix everything which I feel might have contributed for my failure test after test. If itтАЩs SC, I would do basic grammar book such as practical usage by Michael swan. For improving my RC and CR ,I intend to take some LSAT tests available free on internet. For some more tough quant practice and may be even for verbal ,I am planning to buy KAPLAN 800.For improving concentration and lack of focus during the exam, I would take at least 10 full length tests. Iam told about Arco TESTS. Somebody told me about some site which sells actual GMAT questions and some manhattan and crack GMAT tests also. If they are of any good, I would like to purchase them
Though I have touched absolute low in Maths, I am still more concerned about verbal. Of course I would do lot of practice in Maths this time as Iam sure itтАЩs just lack of practice and overconfidence in maths which betrayed me. I would be happy to get back my 49 in maths but I certainly need 38 in verbal.

Seeking some suggestions:. I would like to hear from all of you guys regarding your suggestions on approach I should take, the books and preparation material I should use and also if somebody understands the mysterious scoring algorithm in actual GMAT and whatтАЩs the best strategy for that.
I would particularly like to hear from somebody who has gone through such rough time and succeeded in the end

In the end: I know that GMAT is not everything. I understand that scoring high on GMAT does not mean you are smarter. I have known some people who have scored quite low in this test and they are much smarter than me any day. ItтАЩs just that itтАЩs any other battle of my life and success in this will help me.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2004, 18:27
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I must admit that I sometimes skim when I read long posts, but I empathize completely. Additionally, the "In the end" section is particularly thoughtful and in proper perspective. I know consolation won't make you feel better, but I think that you're much more "admittable" than I am. I have a 730 on the books, am at a Liberal Arts college that I haven't graduated from yet, and possess "zero" job skills ( I can't even make coffee). My resume is so pathetic, that advisors have even recommended putting my GMAT score on it. My point is that the GMAT is not everything and you have a very good score (690).

However, you clearly want to do better. My advice would be to buy some LSAT books since you want to improve your verbal score and sit the test one more time. If you can raise your verbal score to 40, a 730 is in order for you. If you can't, I wouldn't waste more time torturing yourself with trying to achieve your potential. I think anyone who can score 49 on math is clearly very bright, but may not have great luck on test day. After one more shot, think about the other aspects of your application (just my advice).

First of all, 690's get in to Harvard if they can make their other credentials stand out. Second of all, you may be able to do better on the GMAT (a 740-50) even with a few more months or a few more sittings but it is at a great cost. There is an opportunity cost to worrying about standardized test performances. In my personal experience it is at the expense of many much more important things. The reason I write so much is because I understand your frustration and wish you the best!! Give me some feedback.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2004, 21:24
Hello paul
thanks for your words. i really appreciate that. Thanks for understanding my plight rather than simply asking me to concenterate on other aspects of my application. I do understand that gmat is a part of game not everything, but as u noted, I want to do better.
Yes i checked lsat material and they are surely more challenging than gmat questions. that's good thing.. but can u tell me what are the acceptable scores in their section tests to get a feeling that u are going fine. ( FOR EXAMPLE, there are 25 cr and rc questions to be done in 35 minutes.. what is a good score in that)
Also, do u have any suggestions and information for timing, focus and scoring alogrithm. What about other preparation material I mentioned?
Thanks for being a buddy
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2004, 22:56
Hi, I'll have to do more research because I never took LSAT section tests. But let me tell you what my typical 41-42 score performance was with the powerprep algorithm. With OG questions I would typically get about 80 or so percent correct. I got a 42 one time on PP with a verbal score of 24 out of 30 scored questions. I'm sure I don't have to reiterate for you that question difficulty in the section matters more than raw percent. I just do so because otherwise someone will come on here and reprimand me for being practical.

LSAT questions seem to include very tough and challenging CR and RC questions. I would think managing to get 8 out of 10 critical reasoning (they call them logical reasoning) would be typical of a 40 scorer, with a similar or better percentage on the reading comprehension. I think I get around 80 percent correct on critical reasoning questions, a little worse on sentence correction, and a little better than that on reading comprehension.

If you can get good enough that you can answer 24-25 somewhat tough verbal questions out of 30, I'm sure you will reach 40. I myself never improved verbal, but never invested the time by studying LSAT material. I hear it works wonders. Good luck!!! I'll be around.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Feb 2004, 23:07
You also asked about timing focus and algorithm. The only algorithm I know is OG. I also achieve approximately 40-44 on verbal with an even paced timing. That means I spend about the same amount of time on each question. When I took the test I never really believed that I had to spend that much more time on the early questions. In fact when I experimented with timing strategies on PP practice tests, I found that answering a question in an efficient amount of time is more effective than over-analyzing questions your confident about. This will allow more time for the truly difficult questions when they come up.

I didn't improve my verbal score or get extra materials to supplement it. I can't tell you if the source of practice is good. The major companies whose material I bought were Kaplan and Official guide.
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 [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2004, 23:25
Paul thanks once again. By scoring alogrithm I meant that we all know that first few questions are quite important. But first, how important they are , and second , till which question your score can be profoundly affected. I mean, whenever I take exam, at question number 15 or so.. i genrally feel that now computer must have realized my level and is now only fine tuning the score. But now i wonder if that's true. I now feel that even till the end ( qn 35-41), 3-4 scale points can be affected. for example, if u are at 38-40 level and u mess up those questions.. u come back at 35. Is it true?
Also,, man i found this site http://www.realtestquestions.com, which claim to have real gmat questions.. Is it worth it? what about manhattan and stuff?
Also, i request some other people also to give your suggestions. Particularly those who have aced the exam and verbal.
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 [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2004, 00:09
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crackgmat750 wrote:
Paul thanks once again. By scoring alogrithm I meant that we all know that first few questions are quite important. But first, how important they are , and second , till which question your score can be profoundly affected. I mean, whenever I take exam, at question number 15 or so.. i genrally feel that now computer must have realized my level and is now only fine tuning the score. But now i wonder if that's true. I now feel that even till the end ( qn 35-41), 3-4 scale points can be affected. for example, if u are at 38-40 level and u mess up those questions.. u come back at 35. Is it true?
Also,, man i found this site http://www.realtestquestions.com, which claim to have real gmat questions.. Is it worth it? what about manhattan and stuff?
Also, i request some other people also to give your suggestions. Particularly those who have aced the exam and verbal.


well , crackgmat, 690 is a good enough score for most B-schools. but that doesnt make you feel any better.

take one question at a time and keep going relentlessly toward the end of the test. Let there be no let up, whether it is a simple algebra problem or a complicated DS, your intensity should not change.

One thing i did on my gmat was to start from first principles. that is forget the jazzy formula based approach and start from the ground up.
what is asked, what is given, what information will help me get the answer. this helped me to tackle the "weird" problems on my gmat.

too many times, we go in expecting your run of the mill type probability or your regular geometry problems. you cannot add to your quant or verbal skill after a point , all you can do is improve your accuracy under time pressure. keeping a cool head and concentrating on one question at a time helps.

i will tell you what i tell most of my colleagues here, participate in discussions and "teach others". that, in my opinion, is best way to learn.

Guys with 750's get dinged in droves at harvard or wharton or any of ther other top 15 schools. There is much much more to an application than a 95 or a 99 percentile. Go in thinking you will give every problem your best shot. Dont think of 700, 750 or whatever...just keep going at every problem you see. Forget the algorithm. if you think you need to check your answer again, do it. Otherwise move on.

Different people use different approaches, i used the above. see if it works for you.

hope this helps

good luck
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LSAT MATERIAL [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2004, 23:46
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Hello pretorian
thanks for your reply. I was just wondering if anybody could tell me that what's a good score in RC/CR sections of LSAT tests. Out of 25 questions to be done in 35 minutes, how many should be done correct to have a feel that you are going fine.
Iam asking this because i just started doing these tests and i felt that standard of some of the questions is way too high compared to GMAT questions. Also, first 10-15 questions of cr in each test are doable, but last few questions, particualrly last 3-5 are real busters.
I ahve also observed that lsat cr questions at times are of different pattern than gmat. I mean the style of questions etc
Iam not avoiding work but i also dont want to waste my energy on something which will rather confuse me more.
Any thoughts from somebody who has used lsat material while prpearing for gmat .
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Re: LSAT MATERIAL [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2004, 09:07
crackgmat750 wrote:
Hello pretorian
thanks for your reply. I was just wondering if anybody could tell me that what's a good score in RC/CR sections of LSAT tests. Out of 25 questions to be done in 35 minutes, how many should be done correct to have a feel that you are going fine.
Iam asking this because i just started doing these tests and i felt that standard of some of the questions is way too high compared to GMAT questions. Also, first 10-15 questions of cr in each test are doable, but last few questions, particualrly last 3-5 are real busters.
I ahve also observed that lsat cr questions at times are of different pattern than gmat. I mean the style of questions etc
Iam not avoiding work but i also dont want to waste my energy on something which will rather confuse me more.
Any thoughts from somebody who has used lsat material while prpearing for gmat .


The "similarity" of questions is not an issue. Any body can solve the "simpler" CR's.

I agree some of the types on the LSAT "may" not be seen on the GMAT. But what are you going to do if you do see one of those types ?

By solving different problems, what you are learning is ANALYSIS, Not a skill set. You are learning to concentrate on a paragraph, understanding complex material and then applying that knowledge to solve a problem.

I would recommend you take clear notes of the problems you do. Write down what mistakes you did...

if you got a problem right, why did you get it right.

1. Was it a a guess?
2. Was it Process of Elimination
3 Was it a clear understanding of the passage.

I would like a lot of "responses" under the third category. The other two WILL help you complete the process faster. Sure, you might not be able to tackle every problem using METHOD 3, but you should relentlessly aim to understand every CR word for word.

My strategy would be to first analyze clearly as many problems as i can. during this phase, i would analyze every CR to the last detail and group it under the categories mentioned above. Then a month or 45 days before the scheduled test, i would start working CR problems "at speed" . That is, time your self to see if you are good enough under time pressure.

Give your best shot at every problem. Remember, the problems that you get wrong will help you learn more than the problems you do get right.

After sufficient preparation, start working problems with a clock by your side. Do 50 problems at a stretch as fast as you can. then go back and see what did you did right and wrong.

Importance of maintaining an error log
It doesnt matter how many problems you get wrong, just make a diligent effort to write it down somewhere and make a comprehensive report for yourself.
Imagine yourself three days before test day... this is when your Notes, detailed work and the error log should be on your table.
Make a detailed study of all the problems you got wrong. you will feel much better prepared knowing what you do wrong.

Finally, try to spend time on our forums, you will find guys who are extremely helpful.

Do not hesitate to write to us

Best Wishes
Praetorian
Re: LSAT MATERIAL   [#permalink] 02 Mar 2004, 09:07
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