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Seek advice: improving verbal score

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Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2014, 09:58
Hello,

This is my first post on gmatclub forum. I always thought that I will be merely a silent member since almost all answers to almost all situations/questions are already given. I really appreciate this forum and the quality of posts.

That said, I publish this message because I did not found an existing post exactly similar to my situation. I just came back from the test center, and I am disgusted with my score. I got 630 (q47/v30). I should also say that I already took a first GMAT 2 months ago without any preparation and I got 610 (q47/v27). And yes, I understood then that was stupid, being comfortable with maths is not enough for the exam and that I should strenghten my verbal section. So I purchased all the appropriate material (PS CR Bible, MGMT SC, MGMT CR, OG) and I worked roughly 3/5 of my time on verbal and the rest on quant. My plan was to improve my verbal score and refine my quant.

SC was the easiest to improve. My score on CR questions improved after reading and practicing principles of the PS CR Bible. I did not really grid on RC as much as I did on CR. I thought that RC requires the same strategy (read paragraph/write abv summary, reiterate on other §, identify main point, answer questions), that worked for me on RC exercices. I did 3 or 4 mock tests, and I got between 34 and 37 on verbal section. Main missed questions were on CR and RC. I was quiet satisfied with this score since I usually got 49 on quant and I aimed for a 670-680+ score.

As I said, I got 30 on the test day. I freaked out on managing my time since I was on question 4 or 5 with 60 minutes left. I tried to accelerate and catch up and I surely missed a lot there. For CR questions, I did not really applied my logical reasoning learned in PS CR Bible, it was just too diffcult with the constraint of time. I often chose answers without being convinced that all other contender choises are indeed "losers". On final questions, I realized that I still had "extra" time, and I finished the 41 question with 4 minutes left. I knew I did really bad.

After raging and blaming myself, I tried to chill out and understand what happened. I plan now on retaking the gmat with : first, reworking the fundations / second, exercicing under time constraints (all exercices) / third, taking several full verbal section tests (75mn) // without forgeting about maths. This time, I aim for 40+ score on verbal section on mock tests, but I don't really know how and how much time I need to reach this goal (but may be I already have a good start here: GC/forum/how-to-improve-verbal-from-v30-to-v40-142361.html)

Before planning my next gmat appointment, and before getting into my verbal-focused "plan", I would find it really valuable if you could advice me/criticize my approach.

Thank you very much.
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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 28 Jun 2014, 20:27
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I would also add to stay superfocused on a particular subsection during your studies. For example, you mentioned CR and RC are weaker on your end. Dedicate an entire 5 days in a row to CR. The night before, you can think "tomorrow is CR day" -- and really commit to it. This will help you focus without being distracted by the other concepts tested in the other sections.

Then mix it up as you mentioned and time yourself.

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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 30 Jun 2014, 03:41
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Ronaldo94 wrote:
Hello,
That said, I publish this message because I did not found an existing post exactly similar to my situation. I just came back from the test center, and I am disgusted with my score. I got 630 (q47/v30). I should also say that I already took a first GMAT 2 months ago without any preparation and I got 610 (q47/v27). And yes, I understood then that was stupid, being comfortable with maths is not enough for the exam and that I should strenghten my verbal section. So I purchased all the appropriate material (PS CR Bible, MGMT SC, MGMT CR, OG) and I worked roughly 3/5 of my time on verbal and the rest on quant. My plan was to improve my verbal score and refine my quant.


Hi.
Let's start with the basics. You said you figured out after your first attempt that just being comfortable with math will not cut it. However I do not see any prep material for quant in your bank on your second attempt. Did you forget to mention those?

I am not going to consider the Official Guide as a prep material. It's more of a practice guide.

Ronaldo94 wrote:
SC was the easiest to improve. My score on CR questions improved after reading and practicing principles of the PS CR Bible. I did not really grid on RC as much as I did on CR. I thought that RC requires the same strategy (read paragraph/write abv summary, reiterate on other §, identify main point, answer questions), that worked for me on RC exercices. I did 3 or 4 mock tests, and I got between 34 and 37 on verbal section. Main missed questions were on CR and RC. I was quiet satisfied with this score since I usually got 49 on quant and I aimed for a 670-680+ score.


Which practice CATs were you using? Again, when you said that your accuracy improved, you are not quite dealing with specific data. I would urge you to focus on the following scenario

Your accuracy in assumption questions is 30% and your accuracy in inference questions is 80%
Then:
Scenario 1: Practice CAT has 5 inference questions and 1 assumption question: Score: High
Scenario 2: Practice CAT has 2 inference questions and 3 assumption questions. Score: Low

I hope you are getting the point. Did you spend time on reviewing the questions that you missed? Did you spend time in analyzing why the wrong answer choices were wrong?
Unless that, you are going to miss similar questions in the future.

Ronaldo94 wrote:
As I said, I got 30 on the test day. I freaked out on managing my time since I was on question 4 or 5 with 60 minutes left. I tried to accelerate and catch up and I surely missed a lot there. For CR questions, I did not really applied my logical reasoning learned in PS CR Bible, it was just too diffcult with the constraint of time. I often chose answers without being convinced that all other contender choises are indeed "losers". On final questions, I realized that I still had "extra" time, and I finished the 41 question with 4 minutes left. I knew I did really bad.


Now, this is bordering in the "timing" and "efficiency on test day" territory. Did you take the practice CATs in simulated conditions (AWA, IR, 8 min breaks). When you are guessing questions, are you making sure that you are not guessing back to back? Do you have a concrete timing strategy?

Ronaldo94 wrote:
After raging and blaming myself, I tried to chill out and understand what happened. I plan now on retaking the gmat with : first, reworking the fundations / second, exercicing under time constraints (all exercices) / third, taking several full verbal section tests (75mn) // without forgeting about maths. This time, I aim for 40+ score on verbal section on mock tests, but I don't really know how and how much time I need to reach this goal (but may be I already have a good start here: GC/forum/how-to-improve-verbal-from-v30-to-v40-142361.html)


Thank you. I am the author of the article you linked. However that is ONLY for verbal. Let me know what focus strategy you are currently using for quant and I should be able to help out in that area.

Best,
Souvik
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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2015, 08:07
souvik101990 wrote:
Hi.
Let's start with the basics. You said you figured out after your first attempt that just being comfortable with math will not cut it. However I do not see any prep material for quant in your bank on your second attempt. Did you forget to mention those?
I am not going to consider the Official Guide as a prep material. It's more of a practice guide.


Hi Souvik,

I'am answering your post very late. At first, thank you for taking time and answering my case. I thought my post went unnoticed and this is truly a great surprise.
Regrettably, I stopped revising since the last attempt. But I'm planning on resume preparation.
I didn't mention quant material merely because it is not what I wanted to focus on in this post. Of course I had prep material for quant: MGMT and the Official Guide.

souvik101990 wrote:
Which practice CATs were you using? Again, when you said that your accuracy improved, you are not quite dealing with specific data. I would urge you to focus on the following scenario
Your accuracy in assumption questions is 30% and your accuracy in inference questions is 80%
Then:
Scenario 1: Practice CAT has 5 inference questions and 1 assumption question: Score: High
Scenario 2: Practice CAT has 2 inference questions and 3 assumption questions. Score: Low
I hope you are getting the point. Did you spend time on reviewing the questions that you missed? Did you spend time in analyzing why the wrong answer choices were wrong?
Unless that, you are going to miss similar questions in the future.


I see your your point. I don't think I focused much on the type/nature of questions rather than their "macro-type": I didn't investigate my weaknesses at this detail level. This was surely a one big mistake.


souvik101990 wrote:
Now, this is bordering in the "timing" and "efficiency on test day" territory. Did you take the practice CATs in simulated conditions (AWA, IR, 8 min breaks). When you are guessing questions, are you making sure that you are not guessing back to back? Do you have a concrete timing strategy?


I had one basic strategy: dividing total time by the number of questions and deduce the "normal" range of questions I should answer. I know it is approximate, but this works more for the quant part (on the verbal part, one RC question can take much more time than a SC one).
In hindsight, I think this strategy wasn't good and I didn't exercise enough in "real conditions" in order to better control the timing (mentally).

souvik101990 wrote:
Thank you. I am the author of the article you linked. However that is ONLY for verbal. Let me know what focus strategy you are currently using for quant and I should be able to help out in that area.


Again, thank you Souvik. On quant, my idea is to try to improve my score from 47 to 49+, using your same advice (identifying and working on the weak areas).
For the verbal, I'm planning on re-reading the CR Bible, and exercising with a log in order to identify the weak areas.
I still don't know which site is the best for taking mock exams (there is a lot out there, I used to take the MGMT ones), neither if it is a good idea to buy a specific courses for the verbal part (such as e-gmat website).
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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2015, 17:50
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Hi Ronaldo94,

I was not around when you posted your original message, but since you've posted recently, I thought that I could offer some additional advice. Many Test Takers do what they "think" is best during their studies and don't quite hit their goals. The lack of "realism" is usually the issue - something about their studies does NOT match up with the specifics of Test Day. In that way, when they take the Official GMAT, they're not properly prepared (and their scores are lower as a result). In some situations, Test Day itself is too stressful (a lack of sleep, anxiety, etc. can absolutely impact your performance on the Official GMAT).

It sounds like you stopped studying for some time after your last Official GMAT. If you're planning to start back up, it's important to analyze what you did the last time, so that you can make the necessary adjustments and improve this time.

The first thing you should do is take a FULL-LENGTH practice CAT (including the Essay and IR sections). I know that finding the time to do so can be tough, but there is NO substitute for this. If you don't take the FULL CAT, under as-close-to-testlike conditions as possible, then the results likely won't be accurate. The CAT needs to be a "new" CAT - one that you have not taken before. Once you have that score, you should report back here. We can use the data to put together a proper study plan for this next attempt.

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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2015, 06:34
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Ronaldo94,

The first thing you should do is take a FULL-LENGTH practice CAT (including the Essay and IR sections). I know that finding the time to do so can be tough, but there is NO substitute for this. If you don't take the FULL CAT, under as-close-to-testlike conditions as possible, then the results likely won't be accurate. The CAT needs to be a "new" CAT - one that you have not taken before. Once you have that score, you should report back here. We can use the data to put together a proper study plan for this next attempt.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich


Hi Rich,

Thank you for your advice. I'm planning on taking a full CAT next week-end, and I will report back here data so we can build sth on.

I don't know what CATs should I take/buy. Do you have any benchmark / advice for this?

Thank you,
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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2015, 11:53
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Hi Ronaldo94,

There are plenty of CATs that are 'close enough' to the real GMAT that the score results can be useful. The more realistic you can make that experience, the better (e.g. take the FULL CAT, away from your home, in a test-like setting, etc.). Any CAT from GMAC, Veritas, MGMAT or Kaplan should be fine. Each organization offers a "block" of CATs that you can purchase.

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Re: Seek advice: improving verbal score   [#permalink] 18 Jan 2015, 11:53
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