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Retake statistics

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Intern
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Joined: 21 Feb 2014
Posts: 8
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 530 Q35 V27
GPA: 3.24
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Retake statistics [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2014, 04:33
Hi all,

I've taken the GMAT twice and am considering whether I should take it a 3rd time. I've been researching a bit on retake statistics and came across some different data. Can anyone help me better understand how to read the data below?

For example, if the first attempt was in the 500-590 range, then the second attempt has an average gain of around 30 pts. For the third attempt, does it mean that I can expect around another 45 pts on top of my 2nd take or does that mean around 45 pts from my first take?

In the same vein, if the first attempt was in the 700-800 range, the average gain on second attempt is around 8 pts. Then on the fourth attempt is it negative versus the 3rd attempt or what?

Any insights on how to read this data or any other retake statistics would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

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Re: Retake statistics [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2014, 10:52
Expert's post
wit wrote:
Hi all,

I've taken the GMAT twice and am considering whether I should take it a 3rd time. I've been researching a bit on retake statistics and came across some different data. Can anyone help me better understand how to read the data below?

For example, if the first attempt was in the 500-590 range, then the second attempt has an average gain of around 30 pts. For the third attempt, does it mean that I can expect around another 45 pts on top of my 2nd take or does that mean around 45 pts from my first take?

In the same vein, if the first attempt was in the 700-800 range, the average gain on second attempt is around 8 pts. Then on the fourth attempt is it negative versus the 3rd attempt or what?

Any insights on how to read this data or any other retake statistics would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

Image

http://www.mba.com/us/the-gmat-blog-hub ... sting.aspx

Dear wit,
I'm happy to respond. :-)

First of all, I will recommend this article:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/should-i-retake-the-gmat/

I will point out a few things. It verges on the ridiculous to retake the GMAT when one's first score is already 700+. That is simply asking for trouble. Remember, as always with statistics, these are raw averages. An average of 8 points means, for example, that while a sizable portion of students in this zone gained 10, 20, or 30 points, some people dropped 50 or 100 points. One of the HUGE mistakes of reading statistics is to think of the average as exact predictions.

The chart is not particularly clear on this point, but it seems to indicate that, on say the third retake, a 45 point increase from the first take, not from the the more recent second take, the first retake. Think about it. On average, people do about the same. On average, people don't make wild jumps from one retake to the next. The Law of Diminishing Returns is in full effect here. Once again, do not make the mistake of assuming that an average for the population is a prediction for you in particular. Saying that, after the third retake, folks are 45 points up, on average, from their first test means that there are some individuals who are up 100 or 150, and others who are down 50 or 100, and you could be anywhere in that spread if you are not careful. It would be a terribly naive mistake to assume that this average increase is more or less guaranteed for you personally.

I think the HUGE mistake that so many people do on a retake is: in studying for the retake, they do approximately more of the same. If the student just goes back, and more-or-less repeats his procedure, perhaps with a new question source or new test-prep book, then there's no reason necessarily that the student will see any improvement at all, and perhaps with chance fluctuations, will even see a drop. If you really want to see radical improvement, you need to make radical changes, not only in your materials, but most important, in your mindset, in your entire approach and engagement with the material. Most people are not ready to make radical changes, especially to their mindset, so they don't see radical improvement.

I will say: Magoosh offers a score guarantee for which you would qualify:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/score-guarantee
Part of the requirement for that score guarantee is that the student watch the explanation video for each and every question she got wrong. That's a level of engagement with one's mistakes that many people don't do on their own, and it contributes to the score increase that Magoosh customers see.
Here's a practice SC question:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/3604
Here's a practice DS question:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/questions/1004
When you submit your answer, the following page will have the explanation video. Each Magoosh question has its own VE, for accelerated learning.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Intern
Intern
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Joined: 21 Feb 2014
Posts: 8
Location: United States
GMAT 1: 530 Q35 V27
GPA: 3.24
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 5 [0], given: 0

Retake statistics [#permalink] New post 22 Jun 2014, 01:19
Hi Mike,

Thanks for your feedback.

Actually, I am already a Magoosh member and used it during my retake preparation. I went from 530 Q35 V27 to 570 Q39 V30. This increase was quite in line with the average retake statistics which is why I was particularly interested in understanding the chart for average score gains on a 3rd retake. Realistically, I think I would have to work super hard to reach a ceiling of low 600s and even that is not guaranteed.

Do you have any advice for taking the GMAT a third time? A note is that during my retake preparation I studied for 3 months following the 3 month plan for beginners but got only around halfway through as I wanted to be thorough with the material. For me, I felt like I would have had to go really fast to cover all the material in 3 months. So I basically decided to go at a thorough pace for me and focus on quality over quantity. In hindsight, perhaps that was not the correct strategy as I didn't get a 50 point improvement. So for example, do you think I should continue with the material or try something different?
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Re: Retake statistics [#permalink] New post 23 Jun 2014, 15:25
Expert's post
wit wrote:
Hi Mike,

Thanks for your feedback.

Actually, I am already a Magoosh member and used it during my retake preparation. I went from 530 Q35 V27 to 570 Q39 V30. This increase was quite in line with the average retake statistics which is why I was particularly interested in understanding the chart for average score gains on a 3rd retake. Realistically, I think I would have to work super hard to reach a ceiling of low 600s and even that is not guaranteed.

Do you have any advice for taking the GMAT a third time? A note is that during my retake preparation I studied for 3 months following the 3 month plan for beginners but got only around halfway through as I wanted to be thorough with the material. For me, I felt like I would have had to go really fast to cover all the material in 3 months. So I basically decided to go at a thorough pace for me and focus on quality over quantity. In hindsight, perhaps that was not the correct strategy as I didn't get a 50 point improvement. So for example, do you think I should continue with the material or try something different?

Dear wit,
My friend. First of all, think about this from the school's perspective. If you get 530, then 570, then say, 600 or 610, that's not going to be much of a statement. OK, you've done a little better with experience. If you really want to make a difference, you need to have a very big increase.

I would say: if you plan a 3rd retake, a somewhat dubious undertaking, then you need to guarantee that you will be over-the-top successful. Here are some of the steps I would recommend:
1) Watch every Magoosh lesson video, at least once. For any confusing topics, watch them multiple times.
2) Answer every Magoosh question. For every Magoosh question you get wrong, watch the VE and take notes on it; occasionally watch the VE for more difficult questions you get right, just to make sure you got everything right for the right reasons.
3) Read the entire Magoosh GMAT blog, all the content articles.
4) Read and study carefully the entire MGMAT book set.
5) Every day, read at least an hour a day. Read the Wall Street Journal every day. Read the Economist magazine, cover to cover, every week. For more suggestions, see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-reading-list/
6) Get the NOVA math prep book
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/novas-gmat ... ok-review/
and do every problem in that book; study them until you know them all cold.
7) Get the OG Verbal Review book and the OG Quantitative Review book, and do all those problems.

The mediocre student asked: "If I just do A, B, and C, is that enough? Can I consider myself done then?" The excellent student asks, "After I do A, B, and C, what else can I do?"

I don't know how long it would take you to do all this --- at least six months, I would estimate. That's the kind of thorough, over-the-top prep I would recommend if you really want your third GMAT to make a statement: "Shazam! Look how much this student jumped up!"

Forget the graphs. The graphs are about averages. Averages are about mediocrity. Folks have mediocre improvements because they do more-or-less the same preparation for their retake that they did for the the original. Most folks simply aren't willing to make the effort to stand out, so they just do a little and wind up with mediocre results. Don't settle for blending into the crowd. Work hard to make yourself stand out.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

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Re: Retake statistics   [#permalink] 23 Jun 2014, 15:25
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