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The GMAT is driving me nuts

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The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2013, 16:40
The long and short of things are, I've been studying for close to a year and I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.

I've gone through several books, including Manhattan's foundations of GMAT math and their complete GMAT series. I'm still studying for math and after bombing the advanced OG DS word problem section, my frustrations have really come to a head.

I'm seeking a 700+ score. As ridiculous as it sounds, I almost think I'll never get there based on the rate I'm going at. For example, I'll go over a specific section in the Manhattan series (say, word problems) then by the time I finish and move on to doing the OG questions, I've forgotten material! Not to mention, there are just so many problems! Between my Manhattan GMAT books, the OG, Jeff Sackman's total GMAT (Which I WOULD NOT recommend, by the way - he makes it sound like it's a comprehensive guide that goes over problems in extreme detail when in fact, it does not) it's a bit overwhelming. It seems that by the time I get a relative handle on the OG questions and move on to others, I'll end up forgetting how to do the OG questions. There is so much material and so many variances on problems, I'm slowly sinking into the belief I won't master enough to get that elusive 700+ (and yes, I realize that no one is going to master all of the material, that is indeed borderline impossible)

I'm currently going through the whole of the OG, marking down problems that I get right and wrong. Once I complete that, I will go over again all the problems I got wrong and will keep doing so until I get them all right. Still, that's a long way from me being prepared. Each problem may have ten or so slightly different permutations, and I need to be able to do every single one. I'm at a loss on how to move forward. I'm not sure buying more books will help and while I do plan on taking a course, that's more for GMAT strategy than actual content understanding.

I'd love to be able to say I can devote hours each day, every day, to reach my goal. Of course, that's not a possibility. I'm spending far more time than just about anyone I know or have read about studying and it seems that my results have been mediocre at best.

Does anyone have any tips as to how I should proceed forward? I'm not going to give up on this, and I will get a 700, but I also want to look for ways to streamline the process so I can stop wasting time and energy on study methods that are not effective.

Thank you
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:11
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You have named your username after a Led Zeppelin Song! So you are DEFINITELY on the right track :)

First, 3 hours of the day is a lot of time but it really depends on what you do in those 3 hours. If you are just solving questions randomly from the OG you are doing it wrong.

1. Because your brain will definitely forget if you don't spend considerable amount of time and attention to each question.
2. You wont answer the question the way you should which is thoroughly going through the wrong answer choices to look for GMAT Traps.

After doing the above 2 steps I can confidently tell you I know every OG13 SC question and I will be able to answer any SC question which tests concepts that are based on those. I have 80% of that confidence on CR and RC and probably 90% of that in Quant. WHY? Because I really liked SC and paid more attention. Thats about it.
If you are not improving think about your strategy. Too many books and resources might flood you with more options than you want.
Ron Purewal Videos can be a breath of fresh air!
So can be the GMATClub Legend Bunuel's explanation and his SETs for Quant!
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:42
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At the risk of sounding crazy... how did that Jon Bonham line get in there? I mean, it's pretty great, but I didn't actually write it. Did a mod just edit my post? Hilarious.
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2013, 16:43
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Pardon for pointing this out but you really need to figure out how to pack your study process into a 3-4 month interval instead of studying for a year. Once you stretch your prep that much, all kind of things start happening and since your memory only retains about 3-4 months of materials, you are not seeing improvement.

You need to get more intense with the GMAT. Doing it casually does not work too well...

By the way, have you taken a practice test lately? How do you know you are not improving?
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2013, 16:57
bb wrote:
Pardon for pointing this out but you really need to figure out how to pack your study process into a 3-4 month interval instead of studying for a year. Once you stretch your prep that much, all kind of things start happening and since your memory only retains about 3-4 months of materials, you are not seeing improvement.

You need to get more intense with the GMAT. Doing it casually does not work too well...

By the way, have you taken a practice test lately? How do you know you are not improving?


To answer your first point, I study for at least 3 hours a day.

To answer your question, no, I haven't. I suppose that is a bit ridiculous on my part. My feeling is based purely on rough estimates of questions right this time around versus questions right, say, 6 months ago.

My rough score (and I know this isn't a great way of judging things) is 80% of Multiple Choice questions right and 60% of DS questions right.
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2013, 17:02
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Hm... wow. 3 hrs a day is significant.
I would say you may want to take a practice test and see how you do at it (if you studied just quant, you can take just the quant section and skip the verbal one - not reason to take it if you have not done verbal yet)

I would do that and verify that you are not progressing.
if that's the case, you may want to try to dig into the errors/mistakes you are making and the WHY behind them.
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 08:09
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 08:43
Yes, definitely take practice tests! You can miss a ton of questions on the GMAT and still get a really good score. The algorithm calculates your score based on which questions you miss, not just on how many questions you miss. You can miss 40% of the quant questions and get a spectacular score... or a terrible one, depending on which questions you miss. If you can learn to manage your time well on practice tests, you might not be doing as badly as you think.

I'm not sure whether this is really at the heart of your struggles, but it sounds like you're trying to memorize the steps necessary to solve every single quant question, and that probably isn't going to be the most efficient strategy in the long run, especially if you're using the often-goofy explanations in the official guide. You'll never be able to memorize every possible question variation that the GMAT invents--they're far too creative and crafty (and maybe evil?) for that. Instead, focus on understanding the concepts underneath the quant questions. This might sound geeky and silly, but the GMAT is designed as a reasoning test, not a content-based test. Yes, you need to understand some fundamentals, but the GMAT tests your ability to think through strange problems and make connections between concepts.

Sure, everybody needs to spend some time reviewing questions, but it sounds like you might be spending tons of time memorizing the steps for certain questions, and you probably want to spend more time learning concepts and attacking new questions. And doing practice tests, of course.

I hope this helps a little bit. Good luck!
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 09:34
Have you thought about taking a class? I'm a big time procrastinator. I can really say that I have studied since 2006 off and on. Last February I started to get "serious" when I heard the test was changing, and studied a few times a month. I'm easily distracted, so a class with deadlines and instruction is really helping me. If you can afford it, you should look into this option.

Best of luck!
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:20
Kudos to souvik101990 for the Led Zepplin love. But maybe the username is a reference to the film instead?

Now I'm curious, DazedAndConfused! Are you a 1990s film buff, or a classic rock lover? Or both? :-D
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:24
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GMATNinja wrote:
Kudos to souvik101990 for the Led Zepplin love. But maybe the username is a reference to the film instead?

Now I'm curious, DazedAndConfused! Are you a 1990s film buff, or a classic rock lover? Or both? :-D


HOLY Crap you have a 800 score!! :roll:
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:29
Yes, but only because I listen to Led Zeppelin while studying. :musband
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:44
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:44
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 10:49
Lol, awesome! You're welcome to Led Zeppelin-ize my posts anytime. And thank you for the kind words! In all seriousness, the perfect score didn't come until I'd spent way too many years teaching GMAT courses, so it's not anywhere near as impressive as it looks.

Sorry, DazedAndConfused, we've completely hijacked your thread!
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2013, 19:47
GMATNinja wrote:
Kudos to souvik101990 for the Led Zepplin love. But maybe the username is a reference to the film instead?

Now I'm curious, DazedAndConfused! Are you a 1990s film buff, or a classic rock lover? Or both? :-D


I've never seen the film, but I was listening to the live version off of How the West Was Won when I made my profile :-D
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 19 Jan 2013, 21:15
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1453633987

Try this book. If possible try to get GMAT Quant tutor who has scored Q51 and one whose rates are inexpensive.
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 25 Jan 2013, 08:46
GMATNinja wrote:
Yes, definitely take practice tests! You can miss a ton of questions on the GMAT and still get a really good score. The algorithm calculates your score based on which questions you miss, not just on how many questions you miss. You can miss 40% of the quant questions and get a spectacular score... or a terrible one, depending on which questions you miss. If you can learn to manage your time well on practice tests, you might not be doing as badly as you think.

I'm not sure whether this is really at the heart of your struggles, but it sounds like you're trying to memorize the steps necessary to solve every single quant question, and that probably isn't going to be the most efficient strategy in the long run, especially if you're using the often-goofy explanations in the official guide. You'll never be able to memorize every possible question variation that the GMAT invents--they're far too creative and crafty (and maybe evil?) for that. Instead, focus on understanding the concepts underneath the quant questions. This might sound geeky and silly, but the GMAT is designed as a reasoning test, not a content-based test. Yes, you need to understand some fundamentals, but the GMAT tests your ability to think through strange problems and make connections between concepts.

Sure, everybody needs to spend some time reviewing questions, but it sounds like you might be spending tons of time memorizing the steps for certain questions, and you probably want to spend more time learning concepts and attacking new questions. And doing practice tests, of course.

I hope this helps a little bit. Good luck!


Hi GMATNinja,

You hit the nail on the head with your comments about memorizing steps. We are taught different ways growing up how to solve math, science, or English problems and we try to memorize those steps to solve them. I am slowly getting out of the habit of trying to memorize steps for the GMAT because memorization has been very successful for me in the past. The old saying goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” LOL. I think we focus too much on tests in the states. Also, I had to throw my old notes away from when I first started studying because I had too much information written down. Now I am taking notes just to remind myself of the important aspects of a concept or formulas.
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Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts [#permalink] New post 25 Jan 2013, 08:48
DazedAndConfused wrote:
The long and short of things are, I've been studying for close to a year and I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.

I've gone through several books, including Manhattan's foundations of GMAT math and their complete GMAT series. I'm still studying for math and after bombing the advanced OG DS word problem section, my frustrations have really come to a head.

I'm seeking a 700+ score. As ridiculous as it sounds, I almost think I'll never get there based on the rate I'm going at. For example, I'll go over a specific section in the Manhattan series (say, word problems) then by the time I finish and move on to doing the OG questions, I've forgotten material! Not to mention, there are just so many problems! Between my Manhattan GMAT books, the OG, Jeff Sackman's total GMAT (Which I WOULD NOT recommend, by the way - he makes it sound like it's a comprehensive guide that goes over problems in extreme detail when in fact, it does not) it's a bit overwhelming. It seems that by the time I get a relative handle on the OG questions and move on to others, I'll end up forgetting how to do the OG questions. There is so much material and so many variances on problems, I'm slowly sinking into the belief I won't master enough to get that elusive 700+ (and yes, I realize that no one is going to master all of the material, that is indeed borderline impossible)

I'm currently going through the whole of the OG, marking down problems that I get right and wrong. Once I complete that, I will go over again all the problems I got wrong and will keep doing so until I get them all right. Still, that's a long way from me being prepared. Each problem may have ten or so slightly different permutations, and I need to be able to do every single one. I'm at a loss on how to move forward. I'm not sure buying more books will help and while I do plan on taking a course, that's more for GMAT strategy than actual content understanding.

I'd love to be able to say I can devote hours each day, every day, to reach my goal. Of course, that's not a possibility. I'm spending far more time than just about anyone I know or have read about studying and it seems that my results have been mediocre at best.

Does anyone have any tips as to how I should proceed forward? I'm not going to give up on this, and I will get a 700, but I also want to look for ways to streamline the process so I can stop wasting time and energy on study methods that are not effective.

Thank you


A friend gave me some useful advice and told me to take a few months off. It really helped and since I already studied for over eight months I do not need to study as much. Sometimes I take two to three days off a week and this month I took off two weeks because I did not feel like studying. Everyone is different so you have to determine how many days you can take off. I do not plan to take anymore extended breaks. :)

My studying is more focused on learning the concept and trying to figure out what is being tested. I am still a work in process because I still have good and bad days while studying. Even though today is Friday I still plan to study after work. I really do not feel like studying on a Friday evening but I have to get the GMAT finished.
Re: The GMAT is driving me nuts   [#permalink] 25 Jan 2013, 08:48
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