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Study strategy refocus - advice please?

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Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2010, 07:52
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Hi,

First of all, I should say that this site is really a fantastic resource - big thanks and congratulations to those who have made it what it is. I wish I'd come across it sooner.

I have booked my GMAT for 2nd Nov, so have just over 3 weeks left to study - evenings and weekends. I'm looking for advice on how to get the very most out of this small remaining amount of time to push my score as high as it will go.

Here's what I've done so far and the results as far as I've recorded them:

OG 12 Diagnostic (threshold for "excellent" ranking in brackets):
Problem Solving: 22/24 (19+)
Data Sufficiency: 19/24 (19+)
Reading Comp: 17/17 (16+)
Critical Reasoning: 17/17 (14+)
Sentence Correction: 16/18 (16+)

N.B. This was completely untimed, so I imagine that in the quantitative sections, which I took a lot of time over, I would have scored a good couple of points lower had it been under timed conditions. The timing on the verbal sections wasn't really an issue.


OG 12 practice questions:
PS: 230Qs at 90% success rate (much higher frequency of errors in later questions - got last 4 wrong!)
DS: 77Qs so far at 96% (first 77Qs so haven't tackled harder ones yet)
RC: 139Qs at 95%
CR: 123Qs at 98%
SC: 140Qs at 93%
In terms of timing, again there are no major issues with the verbal - I was tending to average around 1min30 per question in occasionally quite distracting environments. Although I need to account for the fact that there will (hopefully) be a higher concentration of tough questions on the real thing, I think I have enough leeway to handle that, with a bit more practice. On the quant however, there are real timing issues, especially on the harder questions where I'm taking up to 2min30 or 3 mins per question and still getting quite a few wrong.


I also, a long time ago, did Kaplan GMAT 800 (published 2002), in completely untimed conditions, often taking a long time over a single problem just to see if I could get the concept. For the record, the results of that were as follows, but I'm not sure it's worth reading too much into them:
PS (straight math): 88%
PS (word problems): 86%
DS: 70%
RC: 81%
CR: 95%
SC: 65%
Looking back at some of the ones I got wrong in that book, I know I'm better now, particularly at SC, although there's work still to do.


So based on all of this, and on my intuitive feeling that quant - especially applied algebra and some of the more tricky number properties stuff - is the sticking point, I'm planning to move ahead as follows...

- Save the rest of the OG Problem Solving questions for later and find some good maths review/strategy resources to work from to improve my conceptual understanding and get more fluency in interpreting what's required by a question.
- Work through some good Sentence Correction resources, as it's the one of the 3 verbal question types where I feel least sure what I am being asked to do.
- Keep the Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension ticking over but focus on other areas.
- Find some banks of tough questions for all verbal and quant question types, and work through those to get used to the intensity of tough questions one after another.
- Do a few practice tests in the last week to get a feel for the pace of the exam and concentrating for that amount of time unchecked.

I have to say, I haven't given any attention to the AWA, and I'm struggling to know how to fit this in to my study schedule or how much time to give it.

Any thoughts on this are welcome, but in particular:
- What would be a good resource for the quant concepts and strategy? Based on what I've read so far I'm thinking of picking up a couple of the MGMAT books for this. I think I need to be quite thorough here in addressing the basic concepts and the strategy.
- What would be the best resource for sharpening up my SC? I'm fine on the basic concepts, this one's more a case of tweaking - it's really just the tricky concepts and questions I need to work more on.
- If I've misread my situation at all, or you can send any cautionary warnings on any aspect please go ahead.
- If anyone can take a quick look at my stats and give me a vague range of score that you feel I ought to be shooting for then I'd be glad to hear of it. I'll use the score predictor on here as soon as I've taken any of the relevant practice tests, but in the meantime a vague idea would be helpful.

Many, many thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer. I know this is my first post but I look forward to being an active contributor over the next few weeks leading up to my test and beyond.

Cheers,

Matt
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2010, 08:19
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Your diagnostic test scores are impressive. I can't advise you on anything at all, beside make sure to take a bit time to train on AWA before test day.

How did you train up to now to achieve such high scores?
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2010, 08:22
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While the OG diagnostic is still a good preliminary assessment, I would recommend that you take GMAT Prep - the free practice test offered by GMAC through their website.

That would be the most accurate predictor of your score, and will help assess where your actual baseline is, on a scale of 200-800. Apart from that, using the MGMAT Guides, Powerscore CR and just picking one good strategy for RC and sticking with it, would be all you'll need.

Good luck!
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2010, 05:58
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PadawanOfTheGMAT wrote:
Your diagnostic test scores are impressive. I can't advise you on anything at all, beside make sure to take a bit time to train on AWA before test day.

How did you train up to now to achieve such high scores?


Thanks Padawan, not sure I can advise you either based on your prep scores, which show some impressive progress.

All I've done is what I wrote in my post. Since I felt reasonably comfortable with most of the concepts (studied A-level maths about 10 years ago and did a tough philosophy degree which was good for RC and CR in particular), if a bit rusty on the maths, it has so far just been a case of practising questions, ideally tough questions, to get a feel for what's being asked and to identify weak spots. Now I've identified a few weaker areas I think I need to go back and cover some of the conceptual stuff before coming back to practice questions. If I do end up doing well on the test I'll happily come back and do a full debrief, but at this point I think it would be jumping the gun. I have a long way to go yet!

Thanks for the point on the AWA - I will be sure to do so.

Cheers
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2010, 06:00
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whiplash2411 wrote:
While the OG diagnostic is still a good preliminary assessment, I would recommend that you take GMAT Prep - the free practice test offered by GMAC through their website.

That would be the most accurate predictor of your score, and will help assess where your actual baseline is, on a scale of 200-800. Apart from that, using the MGMAT Guides, Powerscore CR and just picking one good strategy for RC and sticking with it, would be all you'll need.

Good luck!


Thanks whiplash, I will take a prep test asap for diagnostic purposes, but am still curious as to which would be the best resource(s) for my particular weak spots: quant applied algebra/number properties + SC. Any thoughts? No sure that Powerscore CR is worth the time at this point as it's my strongest area.

Cheers

Matt
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2010, 08:15
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MGMAT Math Guides (All 5 of them and Number Properties in particular) are monstrous and incredibly helpful. I'd strongly suggest getting that, especially if you have trouble with number properties and algebra!

As for SC, again - MGMAT SC is almost considered a Bible for this question type. I've thumbed through Veritas Prep's SC and that one is a pretty solid book too.
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2010, 08:42
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wow what an accuracy !!

I do not think you need guides for the verbal as you are already performing at par.

I strongly advice you to start GmatClub tests for higher difficulty questions + Mgmat cat's + Gmatprep.

Also check
sameer-s-sc-notes-101380.html

download all the sc notes !! Also download whip's and singflox's Cr notes for reviewing the theory of CR.

I do not think you need any strategy guides for verbal. You need to master the mock tests. So better spend time in practicing the tests, reviewing the mistakes,and minimizing the errors.

You should give Gmatprep right now to know your level, followed by Mgmat cat's and gmarprep's other tests.
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2010, 09:32
Ok, great, thanks both.

So based on this I think I'm going to pick out the MGMAT books for the concepts I'm weakest on, and then make use of the forum resources for tests, tough question banks and notes such as SC. And take a diagnostic ASAP!

Thanks for the extra tips Gurpreet!

Matt
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2010, 10:33
mattdrummer wrote:
Ok, great, thanks both.

So based on this I think I'm going to pick out the MGMAT books for the concepts I'm weakest on, and then make use of the forum resources for tests, tough question banks and notes such as SC. And take a diagnostic ASAP!

Thanks for the extra tips Gurpreet!

Matt


Also put Bunuel on follow and follow his signature links...
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2010, 23:25
So I took the first MGMAT CAT exam, scored 710 (Q48, V39). I rushed it a bit so think I'll do better next time but it was good practice. For the record, in case it's useful for anyone else:

1. I was surprised by how different it is trying to answer questions from the screen to answering from a book. Useful to find this out and direct my practice accordingly.

2. I actually found the time pressure helpful, it focused my mind on getting to an answer quickly, which was often quite productive. Again, useful to practice in these conditions.

3. It was well worth trying to do an AWA, as it was tougher than I'd imagined trying to clearly articulate a response to that kind of information, even as someone who studied essay-based subjects at university and still writes every day.

4. I was surprised how tough the maths questions were, they were mostly similar to the ones at the very end of OG12. I ended up doing a fair bit of guesswork, which was uncomfortable but also quite useful - a reminder to work on guessing strategies as well as trying to be able to answer every question properly.

All in all a bit of a wake-up call but also encouraging - getting so many wrong, I expected a lower score. I scored 26/41 (63%) in both sections, so am surprised to see that come out as 710 (the percentiles were 86% for quant, 89% for verbal and 94% overall, which seems to suggest that consistency across quant and verbal is quite valuable with respect to the overall score - wonder if that's the same in the real thing). The percentages of questions answered correctly obviously compare very unfavourably to my prep in OG12 which suggests that I've not prepared adequately for the toughness of the questions I'm likely to come across. In retrospect spending all that time on low-level questions may not have been all that productive.

Hope someone can take something from this, maybe avoid similar mistakes or address these things sooner.

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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 16 Oct 2010, 04:25
I think you need only MGMAT Number Properties for your weakest areas and as far as Algebra is concerned where do you feel you are weak (Equations or Formulas or Functions or Inequalities)? I f you don't wanna go into greater details of Algebra & Number Properties then GMAT Club's Math Book is enough along with OG questions, questions posted here on forum and GMAT Club Quant tests.
I've compiled GMATClub's Math Book into a .pdf file, make sure you download it and it would be a great resource for revision also Algebra has been explained well by Shrouded1 other than that you need practice, practice, and practice. Give GMATPrep about 4 times before G-day. And giving free CATs by Kaplan, Knewton, and other good GMAT prep company would be a nice addition.

Just my 2 cents. Good Luck :)
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 16 Oct 2010, 05:18
AtifS wrote:
I think you need only MGMAT Number Properties for your weakest areas and as far as Algebra is concerned where do you feel you are weak (Equations or Formulas or Functions or Inequalities)? I f you don't wanna go into greater details of Algebra & Number Properties then GMAT Club's Math Book is enough along with OG questions, questions posted here on forum and GMAT Club Quant tests.
I've compiled GMATClub's Math Book into a .pdf file, make sure you download it and it would be a great resource for revision also Algebra has been explained well by Shrouded1 other than that you need practice, practice, and practice. Give GMATPrep about 4 times before G-day. And giving free CATs by Kaplan, Knewton, and other good GMAT prep company would be a nice addition.

Just my 2 cents. Good Luck :)


Thanks Atif. The more I look into it the more I see my quant weaknesses are scattered around. I know instinctively that I need number properties help so have ordered the MGMAT book for that, and I know Combinatorics is a weak area as I simply don't know the theory (although am also sceptical as to how often it comes up in real GMAT questions - haven't seen much of it in the OG). But apart from that I have small weaknesses all over, and am still making silly mistakes which make it hard to rely on % right/wrong analysis from only 3/4 questions per question group. I think I need to cover the theoretical gaps I know about and then take a couple more MGMAT CATs to fill out the stats a bit before I'll have an idea where the real unknown weaknesses are.

Thanks for the recommendations for resources on here, will follow those. One thing I've been wondering though: if I start working through the 700-800 level questions on here, am I going to start seeing repeats in the MGMAT CATs? I am assuming there are a fair number of shared questions as people try the CATs and then post the tricky ones on here...?
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 16 Oct 2010, 05:49
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Well, you can use tag search (go to search & then use tags) for particular questions like 700-800 level and/or GMAT Prep and so on. By tag search you can avoid MGMAT questions here on forum (not totally). About 2-3 questions regarding probability & combinatorics appear on tests according to majority of the test-takers here on forum or maybe 3-4 and sometimes less. But you should be prepared anyhow, see combinatorics topic in GMATClub's Math book and solve them here as much as you can (use tag search).

And once again do give GMATPrep which is the most accurate indication of where exactly do you lie right now. Track your progress & weaknesses into Error log (you can find here on forum & I'd suggest use the one by Saruba) and then revise the topics you feel like you are weak at.

And yea probability & combinatorics are included in MGMAT Word Translations book, if you wanna go into more details then I think there's a book on this topic by Veritas Prep (See Book recommendations topic by bb here on forum)
Hope it helps!
gmat-prep-power-prep-official-free-gmat-tests-77548.html (download GMAT prep here--> 2 versions)
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Last edited by AtifS on 16 Oct 2010, 05:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 16 Oct 2010, 05:54
AtifS wrote:
Well, you can use tag search (go to search & then use tags) for particular questions like 700-800 level and/or GMAT Prep and so on. By tag search you can avoid MGMAT questions here on forum (not totally). About 2-3 questions regarding probability & combinatorics appear on tests according to majority of the test-takers here on forum or maybe 3-4 and sometimes less. But you should be prepared anyhow, see combinatorics topic in GMATClub's Math book and solve them here as much as you can (use tag search).

And once again do give GMATPrep which is the most accurate indication of where exactly do you lie right now. Track your progress & weaknesses into Error log (you can find here on forum & I'd suggest use the one by Saruba) and then revise the topics you feel like you are weak at.

And yea probability & combinatorics are included in MGMAT Word Translations book, if you wanna go into more details then I think there's a book on this topic by Veritas Prep (See Book recommendations topic by bb here on forum)
Hope it helps!


Thanks again - good advice. Haven't cottoned onto error logs yet but think it's time. Will go check it out!

Cheers
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please? [#permalink] New post 16 Oct 2010, 07:11
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Re: Study strategy refocus - advice please?   [#permalink] 16 Oct 2010, 07:11
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