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need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks

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need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 21 Oct 2013, 18:57
Hi
Would appreciate some advice on what I should focus on over the next 30 days as I gear up for a re-take of my recent disappointing 680 (Q44, V39). It's a fine score but not at the schools I'm applying to, and is lower than ANY of my practice tests so I can't help thinking I had a bit of an off day. Here's some background on my practice tests (in chrono order):

3/10: GMAT Prep 750 (Q48, V46) - before I had taken any Manhattan GMAT courses or anything, just some OG prep, so this gave me some confidence and I decided to take a project that had me overseas for the past 6 months and didn't touch any GMAT prep until end of august.

8/31: MGMAT 630 (Q38, V37) - was just trying to reacclimate to test so wasn't concerned with score
9/19: MGMAT 710 (Q42, V45)
10/3: MGMAT (Q41 - didn't do the verbal section)
10/6: MGMAT 720 (Q43, V45)
10/8: MGMAT 690 (Q45, V39)
10/12:MGMAT 700 (Q44, V40)
10/13:GMAT Prep 720 (Q48, V41) - I took this on a decent hangover so felt pretty good about this really
10/14:GMAT Prep 770 (Q49, V47) - yes this was a re-set and re-take as my 3rd GMAT Prep test but I only recognized a few questions and gave myself a 2-min time penalty on those. I figured it wasn't very inflated if at all.

My scores just days before my exam coupled with the apparent consensus on these fora that the GMAT Prep software is the most accurate in scoring had me pretty confident I could get upwards of a 750 going in. I was a bit baffled at what went wrong once I saw the 680. My best guess is the following:

I scheduled a 8am test like an idiot: I do my best work after midnight but jumped on an open 8am slot. I was considering changing it up until the practice test 3days prior when I got a 770 while starting at 8am. Still, I can't help but think my brain wasn't fully awake yet and I've scheduled the next test later in the day.

I think I second-guessed my verbal and had right-to-wrong switches: I frankly thought I owned verbal on the actual test, noticing what I thought were some hard questions but never feeling stumped. I did not own it. I definitely stopped and re-read/thought twice about a lot of questions and probably went back and changed some answers and I know others on here have suggested that's a common cause of underperforming on the actual test. So that's my best guess.

There were definitely some quant questions I just didn't feel like I'd prepared for: I think these were primarily number properties questions.

Reflecting on the results, I can't help but think I had a bit of an off day but maybe also missed some signs that I wasn't in the range that I thought I was in. Maybe it turns out that I'm an outlier and my Manhattan GMAT scoring was a better indicator of actual performance than GMATPrep software was. I would REALLY appreciate some suggestions for how best to get into the 750 range in 4 weeks given I've already been through MGMAT strategy guides, much of the OG (though I'll continue to plow through it further). I think for starters I'm going to focus on:

'practicing like I play': doing all OG problems in 30-50 problem chunks, with a time limit, and guessing on those I don't get (instead of stopping and learning the hardest ones as I go along as I did in the past). Also taking all practice tests with writing and IR at the beginning as I only did that on ~half

Doing the other free practice tests available online: Kaplan, etc. as others have said that a broader set of practice tests was helpful and provided noticeably different problems than MGMAT.

Listening to key MGMAT class recordings: I did self-study and stuck to the books but maybe I'm missing some valuable color from the class recordings that I have access to.


If anyone has suggestions for how I can turn this thing around, it would by MUCH appreciated. I've seen others rave about the help they received on these boards and hope to have a success story to share in a month from now. Thanks, Ambrose.
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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2013, 06:05
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ambrose6 wrote:
Hi
Would appreciate some advice on what I should focus on over the next 30 days as I gear up for a re-take of my recent disappointing 680 (Q44, V39). It's a fine score but not at the schools I'm applying to, and is lower than ANY of my practice tests so I can't help thinking I had a bit of an off day. Here's some background on my practice tests (in chrono order):

3/10: GMAT Prep 750 (Q48, V46) - before I had taken any Manhattan GMAT courses or anything, just some OG prep, so this gave me some confidence and I decided to take a project that had me overseas for the past 6 months and didn't touch any GMAT prep until end of august.

8/31: MGMAT 630 (Q38, V37) - was just trying to reacclimate to test so wasn't concerned with score
9/19: MGMAT 710 (Q42, V45)
10/3: MGMAT (Q41 - didn't do the verbal section)
10/6: MGMAT 720 (Q43, V45)
10/8: MGMAT 690 (Q45, V39)
10/12:MGMAT 700 (Q44, V40)
10/13:GMAT Prep 720 (Q48, V41) - I took this on a decent hangover so felt pretty good about this really
10/14:GMAT Prep 770 (Q49, V47) - yes this was a re-set and re-take as my 3rd GMAT Prep test but I only recognized a few questions and gave myself a 2-min time penalty on those. I figured it wasn't very inflated if at all.

My scores just days before my exam coupled with the apparent consensus on these fora that the GMAT Prep software is the most accurate in scoring had me pretty confident I could get upwards of a 750 going in. I was a bit baffled at what went wrong once I saw the 680. My best guess is the following:

I scheduled a 8am test like an idiot: I do my best work after midnight but jumped on an open 8am slot. I was considering changing it up until the practice test 3days prior when I got a 770 while starting at 8am. Still, I can't help but think my brain wasn't fully awake yet and I've scheduled the next test later in the day.

I think I second-guessed my verbal and had right-to-wrong switches: I frankly thought I owned verbal on the actual test, noticing what I thought were some hard questions but never feeling stumped. I did not own it. I definitely stopped and re-read/thought twice about a lot of questions and probably went back and changed some answers and I know others on here have suggested that's a common cause of underperforming on the actual test. So that's my best guess.

There were definitely some quant questions I just didn't feel like I'd prepared for: I think these were primarily number properties questions.

Reflecting on the results, I can't help but think I had a bit of an off day but maybe also missed some signs that I wasn't in the range that I thought I was in. Maybe it turns out that I'm an outlier and my Manhattan GMAT scoring was a better indicator of actual performance than GMATPrep software was. I would REALLY appreciate some suggestions for how best to get into the 750 range in 4 weeks given I've already been through MGMAT strategy guides, much of the OG (though I'll continue to plow through it further). I think for starters I'm going to focus on:

'practicing like I play': doing all OG problems in 30-50 problem chunks, with a time limit, and guessing on those I don't get (instead of stopping and learning the hardest ones as I go along as I did in the past). Also taking all practice tests with writing and IR at the beginning as I only did that on ~half

Doing the other free practice tests available online: Kaplan, etc. as others have said that a broader set of practice tests was helpful and provided noticeably different problems than MGMAT.

Listening to key MGMAT class recordings: I did self-study and stuck to the books but maybe I'm missing some valuable color from the class recordings that I have access to.


If anyone has suggestions for how I can turn this thing around, it would by MUCH appreciated. I've seen others rave about the help they received on these boards and hope to have a success story to share in a month from now. Thanks, Ambrose.


I think what you did was fine, i coudnt spot anything that you might have lacked. But since now you are retaking , you must work on your weakness(I am sure your aware of that now).

For Quant- Get the mgmat advance guide and work on GC club tests.

For verbal- You can try egmat, gmatpill etc.

Overall you can also try knewton (50 points more wont harm)

Just read this before buying...

http://gmatclub.com/marketplace/courses.xhtml?fl=menu

patterns-among-those-who-scored-750-what-did-they-use-157979.html

gmatclubbing-administered-770-50q-45v-86239.html
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Indian Bschools Accepting Gmat | My Gmat Daily Diary | All Gmat Practice CAT's | MBA Ranking 2013 | How to Convert Indian GPA/ Percentage to US 4 pt. GPA scale | GMAT MATH BOOK in downloadable PDF format| POWERSCORE CRITICAL REASONING BIBLE - FULL CHAPTER NOTES | Result correlation between GMAT and GMAT Club's Tests | Best GMAT Stories - Period!

More useful links-->

GMAT Prep Software Analysis and What If Scenarios| GMAT and MBA 101|Everything You Need to Prepare for the GMAT|New to the GMAT Club? <START HERE>|GMAT ToolKit: iPhone/iPod/iPad/Android application|

Verbal Treasure Hunt-->

"Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT|Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)|Best Verbal GMAT Books 2012|Carcass Best EXTERNAL resources to tackle the GMAT Verbal Section|Ultimate GMAT Grammar Book from GC club [Free Download]|Ultimate Sentence Correction Encyclopedia|Souvik's The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Everything Official-SC|ALL SC Rules+Official Qs by Experts & Legendary Club Members|Meaning/Clarity SC Question Bank by Carcass_Souvik|Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips|Critical Reasoning Megathread!|The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Everything Official- CR|GMAT Club's Reading Comprehension Strategy Guide|The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Everything Official- RC|Ultimate Reading Comprehension Encyclopedia|ALL RC Strategy+Official Q by Experts&Legendary Club Members

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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2013, 10:25
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Hey Ambrose,
Maybe you'd find my debrief helpful. 750 in 35 days?? Challenge accepted.
I'd done it in 35 days, 7 days more than your four weeks deadline.
Any questions you have after you read it, feel free to PM me.

All the best,
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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2013, 15:30
Thank you both, very helpful.

Prateek, can I ask what you mean by "50 points more won't harm" for Knewton? Do you mean that it can't hurt to hit a score of 50 in verbal (vs. focusing on fixing quant)? Or something else?

Also, one thing I didn't mention that now I'm reading in a lot of places: the one area in quant where I spent little to no time was Data Sufficiency. I convinced myself that learning the PS problems would give me a better command of content and when my MGMAT tests weren't showing much difference in my performance on DS vs. PS I assumed I'd be fine. Looking back I'm thinking that might have been an oversight. Would others agree? The good news is I haven't barely touched the OG problems for DS so I have some fresh material.

Aside from this, I think I'm going to spend some time on the difficult quant questions posted on this site that others have praised and see if my quant scores start to budge.
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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 22 Oct 2013, 16:57
Data sufficiency is a world of it's own, Ambrose. It's true that the basics to be used are same as that of PS, but we approach the answers in different ways. There are different mechanisms people use in working out DS problems. The basic one is that of AD/BCE or BD/ACE approach. This cuts down the confusing time into half. Aslo, I'd suggest following Bunuel's (Quant Moderator) posts. That guy does a lot of amazing work everyday. He always provides one of the best possible solution to the problem. You will learn a lot from reading his posts daily.,
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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 23 Oct 2013, 06:50
ambrose6 wrote:
Thank you both, very helpful.

Prateek, can I ask what you mean by "50 points more won't harm" for Knewton? Do you mean that it can't hurt to hit a score of 50 in verbal (vs. focusing on fixing quant)? Or something else?

Also, one thing I didn't mention that now I'm reading in a lot of places: the one area in quant where I spent little to no time was Data Sufficiency. I convinced myself that learning the PS problems would give me a better command of content and when my MGMAT tests weren't showing much difference in my performance on DS vs. PS I assumed I'd be fine. Looking back I'm thinking that might have been an oversight. Would others agree? The good news is I haven't barely touched the OG problems for DS so I have some fresh material.

Aside from this, I think I'm going to spend some time on the difficult quant questions posted on this site that others have praised and see if my quant scores start to budge.


By 50 points i meant over all score and not just verbal,since they have 50 points improvement program.
_________________

General GMAT useful links-->

Indian Bschools Accepting Gmat | My Gmat Daily Diary | All Gmat Practice CAT's | MBA Ranking 2013 | How to Convert Indian GPA/ Percentage to US 4 pt. GPA scale | GMAT MATH BOOK in downloadable PDF format| POWERSCORE CRITICAL REASONING BIBLE - FULL CHAPTER NOTES | Result correlation between GMAT and GMAT Club's Tests | Best GMAT Stories - Period!

More useful links-->

GMAT Prep Software Analysis and What If Scenarios| GMAT and MBA 101|Everything You Need to Prepare for the GMAT|New to the GMAT Club? <START HERE>|GMAT ToolKit: iPhone/iPod/iPad/Android application|

Verbal Treasure Hunt-->

"Ultimate" Study Plan for Verbal on the GMAT|Books to Read (Improve Verbal Score and Enjoy a Good Read)|Best Verbal GMAT Books 2012|Carcass Best EXTERNAL resources to tackle the GMAT Verbal Section|Ultimate GMAT Grammar Book from GC club [Free Download]|Ultimate Sentence Correction Encyclopedia|Souvik's The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Everything Official-SC|ALL SC Rules+Official Qs by Experts & Legendary Club Members|Meaning/Clarity SC Question Bank by Carcass_Souvik|Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips|Critical Reasoning Megathread!|The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Everything Official- CR|GMAT Club's Reading Comprehension Strategy Guide|The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Everything Official- RC|Ultimate Reading Comprehension Encyclopedia|ALL RC Strategy+Official Q by Experts&Legendary Club Members

----
---
--
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1 KUDOS = 1 THANK


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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 25 Oct 2013, 06:08
Hi Ambrose,

I'm in the same shoes as you- this post might be helpful: gmatclub dot com/forum/gmat-study-plan-go-from-650-to-80235.html

Hope you show them what you're made of! ;)

Best,

P.M.
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Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2013, 14:09
Thanks all for the advice. Took it today and came out at 760 (Q49, V44). Given the help I think this board provided figured the least I could do is give my own perspective of what worked better:

Preparation:
-spent more time since my first test reviewing wrongs and re-doing anything I got wrong until i understood it. I also mentally tried to tease out general themes for why I was getting things wrong and make the necessary adjustments. In general, spend less time answering new problems and more time reviewing wrong and/or slow problems.
-Covered all (content) bases - can't overemphasize the importance of this, at least for me. Before my first test, I had not done a single verbal study guide or problem outside of the practice tests. I realized too late (after my test) that my verbal scores were really inconsistent and I couldn't count on just having one of my good days on test day. So I actually spent some time with the hardest sentence correction and critical reasoning problems, and also made sure I eliminated all errors on medium/sub-700 questions.
-from an overall focus standpoint, the best advice I got over the whole GMAT experience was that verbal (for me) was worth way more than quant, the old 80%/80% hurdle isn't really true, and therefore rather than focusing on my weakness - Quant - I should make sure I aced verbal. Hands down the most helpful thing I heard the whole time (thanks manhattan gmat).
-Practiced as I played - every test was with writing and IR section, which I hadn't done previously.

Test day
-On my first test I think I wanted to be "extra sure" of every answer on the actual test. Horrible idea. Take the test just as you took the practice tests - don't second guess answers. It will only lead to time management issues and right-to-wrong switches.
- I scheduled the first one at 8am and I'm not a morning person. I also took an ambien the night before (anticipating that I'd be too nervous to sleep). I don't think either of those was a great idea. This time I took the test at noon and didn't take a pill the night before.
-I also don't discount that I took advantage of every break to eat a kind bar, drink caffeine, and splash cold water on my face. I felt fresh starting each new section. Do this.

Good luck to everyone - hopefully a 680 to 760 in 31 days story provides some inspiration to some.
Re: need help with re-take strategy: 680 to 750 in 4 weeks   [#permalink] 18 Nov 2013, 14:09
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