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Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+

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Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+ [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2014, 14:51
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Hi GMAT Clubbers,

I just had my GMAT exam yesterday (23rd of June 2014) and I scored 540 :cry:
Q 42, 54%
V 23, 31%


A huge disappointment of course but let me lay some background information so you can assess my situation a little better. I am Egyptian who has been living in Cairo all my life. I have graduated in 2011 from an American university majoring in Computer Science and have been working for a technological multinational for the last 3 years. I consider my English skills to be adequate. Anyway, I have stared my GMAT journey back in October 2013 and I am planning to apply for top 20 MBA schools for class '17 in round 1 (October 2014) & 2 (January 2015) so I can use all the support you can provide me with.

I will try to put my story in timeline format for readability.

October 2013:


I want to start strong so I set myself away from all time wasters. I have deactivated Facebook, concluded meaningless friendships and relationships, moved TV out my room and basically, I stopped doing anything that was distracting in nature.

I initially scheduled by exam at the end of the December so I commit myself to studying and started in October by reading all MGMAT books. (8 guides) I know that I get confused and distracted when I am having multiple sources so I decided to stick with MGMAT guides only.

I work on average 12 hours per day so I dedicated daily 3 hours after work and 5 hours on weekends.

November 2013:


I was wasting way too much time as I spent 3-5 weeks per guide and I decided to hold the exam till March 2014.

December 2013 to February 2014:


By Mid-February, I finished 7 guides in total I wasn’t even done so I pushed back my exam till late May. I also gave up on reading on the last book (RC guide) so I can start solving a bit.

Reading the whole books without practicing was really one of my biggest mistakes; I never really grasped the concepts till I actually started solving. I was force-feeding my brain beyond its’ limits and by the time I started solving, I have already lost most of what I learned by reading.

March 2014:


I bought MGMAT 6 Exam set and started solving them. This was my very first trial of solving exams. (Or anything to be honest) First round, I took 5 exams over the course of the month and revised my answers. I averaged around:
AVG: 530
Q: 36
V: 26


April 2014:


I decided that I should focus only on Quant as I noticed that most 700 clubbers get an average of 44+, so I made my biggest mistake of totally ignoring the verbal. I took another round of 6 MGMAT exams however, whenever I reached the verbal section, I would just quit the exam.
AVG: 380
Q: 33
V: 15

(This was actually disappointing as I was targeting to increase the quant average score, not decrease it)

May 2014:


I realized that I was no way near ready so I postponed my exam for the third and last time to 23rd of June. I also noticed that I was focusing way too much on the quantity rather than the quality of my solving. I decided to finally follow the advice of fellow members and construct an error log.

My error log was quite simple, basically, I created a word document and whenever I solve a question incorrectly, I would just copy it with the detailed answer and include its’ difficulty level. A fellow member mentioned that the key to breaking the 700 barrier is solving all the questions from (300-500) range 100% correctly, the questions of (600-700) range by 80% efficiency and (700-800)range by at least 20% efficiency. I focused all of my energy on questions from range (300-700).

I created another word document (which was extremely useful) and I named it “Cheat Sheet” so basically whenever I ran to a smart method, short-cut, rules or anything that helped me to solve questions faster, I would log it into this document.

I decided that I was to increase my Quant average score and I decided to focus all my energy on solving Quant problems only which I did (raised my average from Q33 to Q42). I was getting around 42-44Q score on average per exam.

Last week in May, I was totally out of shape and becoming increasingly unhappy so I took a small vacation and stopped studying for around 10 days. I decided to hit the gym 3 times a week to combat stress.

June 2014:


The grinding phase. I finally decided to give up on MGMAT exams and work exclusively on GMAT Prep exams after a friend took the GMAT exam and told me that MGMAT scoring scheme is a bit skewed and doesn’t relate to your actual score. She told me the best indicator to your actual score was the GMAT Prep exams.

I worked daily on my error log and “Rules” documents and I felt my Quant level was getting really good. I took 3 GMAT Prep Exams during this month and averaged 550
Q: 42
V: 24

I know that my verbal score should have been a sign; however, I admit I was mistaken as I always rushed the Verbal section.

Exam day:


I took the day before the exam lightly, didn’t study a lot, just went through my “Cheat Sheet” and slept early. I felt pretty comfortable on the day of the exam, I woke before the exam by 2 hours, stacked 3 energy drinks with me and went there.

I started the exam normally with AWA, it was an easy passage. I skipped the IR (randomly answered the 12 questions) then started the Quant section, I was particularly cautious not to make any mistake within the first 10 questions. I kept on solving till I noticed there were about 6 minutes left and about 9 questions remaining. I spent way too much time on certain questions making calculations. I got nervous and managed to finish the remaining questions on time.

I took the 8 minutes break to try to calm down and then started my Verbal section. I felt pretty comfortable solving it and I finished on time, till I got my scoreboard which was quite shocking. I estimated a final score between 640 to 680 but I didn’t plan for what I saw.

The worst thing is I didn’t even feel I was solving questions incorrectly in the Verbal section. On the other side, I would know if I am making a mistake on the Quant so this indicates that I have to work on my Verbal skills heavily.


NOW:


Due to schools deadlines and test center availability. I scheduled a retake on 25th of August. (In exactly 2 months)

I am aware that some of you might think this is irrational as I am posting this 1 day after my exam. However, I thought about this a lot and I believe that if I was able to concentrate on my Verbal and increase my average to 38-40 then I will break the 700 barrier. It took me roughly the same time (2 months) to increase my Quant average. Meanwhile, I will try to increase my Quant score by 3-5 points or at the very least maintain my current level.

I realized that my SC is rather good, however, I struggling heavily with CR and RC. I don’t know where to start from.

All I can think of is solving verbal questions consistently on daily basis. I am considering buying GMAT Prep Exam Package to practice their verbal sections. I can’t afford to waste time reading whole verbal guides all over again but I can go through minor guides that give quick fixes or summaries to verbal questions. Please share your advices on how I can increase my verbal score average over the course of the next 8 weeks.

I am a very persistent and tireless person and I know I will reach my target score eventually, however with your help, I can reach it faster.

Thank you.
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Re: Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+ [#permalink] New post 25 Jun 2014, 04:29
ogabry wrote:
Hi GMAT Clubbers,

I just had my GMAT exam yesterday (23rd of June 2014) and I scored 540 :cry:
Q 42, 54%
V 23, 31%


A huge disappointment of course but let me lay some background information so you can assess my situation a little better. I am Egyptian who has been living in Cairo all my life. I have graduated in 2011 from an American university majoring in Computer Science and have been working for a technological multinational for the last 3 years. I consider my English skills to be adequate. Anyway, I have stared my GMAT journey back in October 2013 and I am planning to apply for top 20 MBA schools for class '17 in round 1 (October 2014) & 2 (January 2015) so I can use all the support you can provide me with.

I will try to put my story in timeline format for readability.

October 2013:


I want to start strong so I set myself away from all time wasters. I have deactivated Facebook, concluded meaningless friendships and relationships, moved TV out my room and basically, I stopped doing anything that was distracting in nature.

I initially scheduled by exam at the end of the December so I commit myself to studying and started in October by reading all MGMAT books. (8 guides) I know that I get confused and distracted when I am having multiple sources so I decided to stick with MGMAT guides only.

I work on average 12 hours per day so I dedicated daily 3 hours after work and 5 hours on weekends.

November 2013:


I was wasting way too much time as I spent 3-5 weeks per guide and I decided to hold the exam till March 2014.

December 2013 to February 2014:


By Mid-February, I finished 7 guides in total I wasn’t even done so I pushed back my exam till late May. I also gave up on reading on the last book (RC guide) so I can start solving a bit.

Reading the whole books without practicing was really one of my biggest mistakes; I never really grasped the concepts till I actually started solving. I was force-feeding my brain beyond its’ limits and by the time I started solving, I have already lost most of what I learned by reading.

March 2014:


I bought MGMAT 6 Exam set and started solving them. This was my very first trial of solving exams. (Or anything to be honest) First round, I took 5 exams over the course of the month and revised my answers. I averaged around:
AVG: 530
Q: 36
V: 26


April 2014:


I decided that I should focus only on Quant as I noticed that most 700 clubbers get an average of 44+, so I made my biggest mistake of totally ignoring the verbal. I took another round of 6 MGMAT exams however, whenever I reached the verbal section, I would just quit the exam.
AVG: 380
Q: 33
V: 15

(This was actually disappointing as I was targeting to increase the quant average score, not decrease it)

May 2014:


I realized that I was no way near ready so I postponed my exam for the third and last time to 23rd of June. I also noticed that I was focusing way too much on the quantity rather than the quality of my solving. I decided to finally follow the advice of fellow members and construct an error log.

My error log was quite simple, basically, I created a word document and whenever I solve a question incorrectly, I would just copy it with the detailed answer and include its’ difficulty level. A fellow member mentioned that the key to breaking the 700 barrier is solving all the questions from (300-500) range 100% correctly, the questions of (600-700) range by 80% efficiency and (700-800)range by at least 20% efficiency. I focused all of my energy on questions from range (300-700).

I created another word document (which was extremely useful) and I named it “Cheat Sheet” so basically whenever I ran to a smart method, short-cut, rules or anything that helped me to solve questions faster, I would log it into this document.

I decided that I was to increase my Quant average score and I decided to focus all my energy on solving Quant problems only which I did (raised my average from Q33 to Q42). I was getting around 42-44Q score on average per exam.

Last week in May, I was totally out of shape and becoming increasingly unhappy so I took a small vacation and stopped studying for around 10 days. I decided to hit the gym 3 times a week to combat stress.

June 2014:


The grinding phase. I finally decided to give up on MGMAT exams and work exclusively on GMAT Prep exams after a friend took the GMAT exam and told me that MGMAT scoring scheme is a bit skewed and doesn’t relate to your actual score. She told me the best indicator to your actual score was the GMAT Prep exams.

I worked daily on my error log and “Rules” documents and I felt my Quant level was getting really good. I took 3 GMAT Prep Exams during this month and averaged 550
Q: 42
V: 24

I know that my verbal score should have been a sign; however, I admit I was mistaken as I always rushed the Verbal section.

Exam day:


I took the day before the exam lightly, didn’t study a lot, just went through my “Cheat Sheet” and slept early. I felt pretty comfortable on the day of the exam, I woke before the exam by 2 hours, stacked 3 energy drinks with me and went there.

I started the exam normally with AWA, it was an easy passage. I skipped the IR (randomly answered the 12 questions) then started the Quant section, I was particularly cautious not to make any mistake within the first 10 questions. I kept on solving till I noticed there were about 6 minutes left and about 9 questions remaining. I spent way too much time on certain questions making calculations. I got nervous and managed to finish the remaining questions on time.

I took the 8 minutes break to try to calm down and then started my Verbal section. I felt pretty comfortable solving it and I finished on time, till I got my scoreboard which was quite shocking. I estimated a final score between 640 to 680 but I didn’t plan for what I saw.

The worst thing is I didn’t even feel I was solving questions incorrectly in the Verbal section. On the other side, I would know if I am making a mistake on the Quant so this indicates that I have to work on my Verbal skills heavily.


NOW:


Due to schools deadlines and test center availability. I scheduled a retake on 25th of August. (In exactly 2 months)

I am aware that some of you might think this is irrational as I am posting this 1 day after my exam. However, I thought about this a lot and I believe that if I was able to concentrate on my Verbal and increase my average to 38-40 then I will break the 700 barrier. It took me roughly the same time (2 months) to increase my Quant average. Meanwhile, I will try to increase my Quant score by 3-5 points or at the very least maintain my current level.

I realized that my SC is rather good, however, I struggling heavily with CR and RC. I don’t know where to start from.

All I can think of is solving verbal questions consistently on daily basis. I am considering buying GMAT Prep Exam Package to practice their verbal sections. I can’t afford to waste time reading whole verbal guides all over again but I can go through minor guides that give quick fixes or summaries to verbal questions. Please share your advices on how I can increase my verbal score average over the course of the next 8 weeks.

I am a very persistent and tireless person and I know I will reach my target score eventually, however with your help, I can reach it faster.

Thank you.



its best for you if you start from the basics again read the manhattan book for basics these are good books and then do starts again, the most important thing in gmat is time management so use the excel which i have posted on time management while practice it will help you. follow OG books again and give kudos if you like
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Re: Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+ [#permalink] New post 25 Jun 2014, 11:40
Thank you for offering to help but I really don't think I afford the time to read the Manhattan books for the basics. I could skim through the MGMAT Critical reasoning guide but I won't spend more than a day or two doing that. I will focus mainly on solving as many questions as possible and learn along the way. If I have any mistakes, then I will log them and review later to get the underlying rules/methods being tested.

I will try to start solving exams again at the start of August and limit myself to keep myself within the time limits.

singhaldheeraj wrote:

its best for you if you start from the basics again read the manhattan book for basics these are good books and then do starts again, the most important thing in gmat is time management so use the excel which i have posted on time management while practice it will help you. follow OG books again and give kudos if you like
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Re: Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+ [#permalink] New post 25 Jun 2014, 19:17
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Hi ogabry,

I'll first comment on your article and then answer your questions.

- Deactivated FB/put tv out????!!!?? May be you should reduce your time on these, but I'm not sure whether you should eliminate them. You need to have a method to rejuvenate yourself. I used to have a drink with my friends once a week, and sure had my fb/tv active.

- Your studying hours - daily/weekends, seem fine. But do you do anything at work/when you travel? Here's what I did. I downloaded the GMATclub toolkit, which is very useful, and did it whenever I got time. One of the more important things is the fact that I'd write up a list to memorize every day morning. Just half an A4 sheet. I'll make sure I memorize them by end of day. Imagine what 2 months of daily A4 half sheets would look like.

- Why'd you take 3-4 weeks on a guide? By the time you finish the last guide, you'd have forgotten the first few ones. It should be 3 days a guide. Have the discipline to do that. Plan every hour you study.

- Don't ignore Quant or Verbal all together. You sure can focus on one at a time, but make sure you keep doing questions on the less priority portion so that you don't lose form on it. You don't want to improve Quant at the cost of Verbal do you? Just 30 questions a day is fine. I used to do GMATclub tests, 1 a day so that I may stay in form. There're 20 exams, and they're fully worth it. Just keep in mind that they might be a bit tougher than the actual GMAT.

- 44+ for Quant is not the usual 700+ scorer's Quant score. You should target 48+. (Unless you could score 42+ on Verbal, which is very tough).

- As you said, GMATprep exams are the closest you could get to the actual GMAT, but MGMAT is the next best. Their Quant may be a bit tougher, but their scoring method is fine. Their Verbal is close to the actual as well.

- Did I read 'skipped IR'???? No no no NO NO...!!!!! You should practice with IR. Here's what I did. I used to write an entire exam with AWA, IR, Q and V every weekend when I had the time. This very VERY IMPORTANT. GMAT is all about building your stamina, and if you don't practice it beforehand, you won't have it on exam day.

- You have timing problems. I see that your emotions might be getting in your way. The way GMAT scoring works, remember that 'Half the questions perfectly done, with no time for the rest' would mean a lower score than 'All questions done, but half of them wrong'. Even when I got the 710, I used a few freebies - randomly selected answers after intelligently eliminating a few choices - by taking 20-30 seconds to answer the freebies. I did this so that I could get back on track in timing.

Now comes the answer to your questions:

I guess you may be having emotional problems with the GMAT, get emotions out of the way and focus more on timing and keeping yourself in form. Its not whether you know the 'stuff', its that you should 'show that you know the stuff in time'. The way I see GMAT is like any game - say a game of football. You should peak at the game day - the test day. Until then, you should practice and keep yourself in form.

First I mastered each component of the GMAT, SC/RC/CR/PS/DS. But after that, I did practice exams over and over again. I did an average of 4 practice exams a week. 1 full exam in the weekend, and 2 Quant and 2 Verbal during the week. If you're weak in Verbal you can make it 3 Verbal and 1 Quant. But make no mistake, you should master the exam format, only after you master every component.

1-Master each component whatever the time.
2-Master each component with strict time limits.
3-Master the exam format whatever the time.
4-Master the exam format with strict time discipline.

As you said, at every step of the process, maintain the error log. Do the questions you went wrong at least thrice. At one point, you might have finished all your exams. But reset them and do them again.

Hope above helps. Keep me posted on your progress.
Good luck - God speed.
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Re: Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+ [#permalink] New post 26 Jun 2014, 09:28
ogabry wrote:
Thank you for offering to help but I really don't think I afford the time to read the Manhattan books for the basics. I could skim through the MGMAT Critical reasoning guide but I won't spend more than a day or two doing that. I will focus mainly on solving as many questions as possible and learn along the way. If I have any mistakes, then I will log them and review later to get the underlying rules/methods being tested.

I will try to start solving exams again at the start of August and limit myself to keep myself within the time limits.

singhaldheeraj wrote:

its best for you if you start from the basics again read the manhattan book for basics these are good books and then do starts again, the most important thing in gmat is time management so use the excel which i have posted on time management while practice it will help you. follow OG books again and give kudos if you like




so the best way for you to get the desired results is sign up for a good online gmat prep course such as master gmat/manhattan/kaplan etc

i have taken master gmat good for building your basics but it just provide 3 mock test but its learning tech is very good

give kudos to the people whom you thinks help you
Re: Seeking advice. GMAT 540 yet seeking 700+   [#permalink] 26 Jun 2014, 09:28
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