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Seeking some expert guidance

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Seeking some expert guidance [#permalink] New post 17 Nov 2013, 21:36
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Long story made short, first I started to prep for the GMAT back in March (scoring around 450 28Q 25V). After little improvement, I signed up for VeritasPrep's online course in September (which ended in late October) and now I'm stuck around a score of 560 (35Q 32V - I have taken 3 VeritasPrep mocks as well as 2 GMATprep exams under real test conditions w/o the AWA section).

Quant Overall Performance 49%
DS 67%
PS 36%

Verbal Overall Performance 66%
SC 100%
CR 71%
RC 29%

I have devoted over 250+ hours (4-5 hours every day, completed & reviewed VeritasPrep's problem sets as well as the OG13 problems) to the preparation process (before and after the course) and I honestly don't know what to next. I'm aiming for a 700+ score, any tips or input is highly appreciated!

Thanks in advance for your time & help!!!
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Re: Seeking some expert guidance [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2013, 16:16
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Hey sepujr,

Congratulations on bringing your score up from 450 to 560 - while it's not quite where you want to be, it's a great positive trend and a not-insignificant accomplishment. And the great news is that it looks like you have a pretty good idea of where you'll need to spend your time from here on out, too. If those percentage-correct statistics are over a significant sample size of each question type, it looks like you have a lot of points to gain on both Reading Comprehension and Problem Solving. Ordinarily I'm not bowled over by %right/wrong stats in practice tests since the difficulty levels aren't standardized, but with your percentages that far below 50% on those two question types I'd say it's safe to put some work in there. And "work" includes:

-Analyzing your practice tests and homework sets and asking yourself both why your answer was wrong *and* why your answer was "tempting". You may be falling for the same traps frequently (for example, most people struggle with Inference questions in RC, frequently going with the "probably true...but not definitely" answer) and then you can start to address those.

-Working through problems from the Official Guide and GMAT Prep software on your weaknesses, alternating between "test-like" timed pressure and "unlimited time" true mastery.

-Using the forums here and the Live Online Office Hours you get through Veritas to ask for assistance on problems and themes that give you the most trouble.

I should also add that there's a pretty common pattern when people phrase their experience like you did, namely dropping "% correct" and "time spent" statistics. You'll see this phrase in the first lesson of the Veritas books "never mistake activity for achievement", meaning that just putting in the time and doing more and more problems won't necessarily get you where you want to go. I'd highly recommend doing some qualitative analysis of your most common mistakes, the concepts that you know you've memorized but still don't truly understand, and that kind of thing. The more specific you are in noting what you're struggling with, the easier it is to find help and improve.

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Brian

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Re: Seeking some expert guidance [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2013, 18:55
Hi Brian,

Thank you for your prompt response and cooperation. Then, I do spend quite some time going over my mistakes, plus I go back to the skillbuilders to review. What really gives me trouble is identifying how to improve most since problem sets/mocks don't include a detailed dashboard to track performance (something I brought up to the instructor while taking the course, given that even though I kept an error log for each problem set, identifying the main topics, subcategories, average time per section, etc. was very time consuming). For the OG13 problems, I also used a custom error log for tracking practice.

On Quant, I think what is actually happening is that I'm having trouble translating general word problems into equations even though Algebra is my greatest strength followed by Arithmetic > DS > Statistics & Combinatorics > Advanced Word Problems > Geometry. What would you suggest to address this weakness?

As for the verbal section, I usually use the STOP method but I tend not to fully engage in the passage and spend too much time digesting the topics. How do you think I can improve in RC + CR?

I wonder if I need any additional resources, practice material or strategy. Any insight or recommendation would be vastly appreciated.
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Re: Seeking some expert guidance [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2013, 16:58
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Hey, definitely didn't mean to "accuse" (for lack of a better term) you of not analyzing your performance. I was just playing correlation...you see a lot of posts with similar content from people who are just grinding out problems and tests without a whole lot of analysis. Glad to hear you're doing all the rest, too!

A couple suggestions for you:

1) There's a drill I loving having students do for Word Problems that attempts to do two things: one is improve pacing and two is exacerbate the kinds of mistakes you make when you're under pressure from trying to push the pace. Take a set of 10 questions and give yourself 30 (or up to 40 if 30 feels too tight) seconds each. In that time, get started...put something on paper, whether it's assigning variables or setting up equations or beginning a calculation. Then after 30 seconds move on to the next one and keep going until you're through those ten. Then go back and finish the problems. The goal is to force yourself to more quickly identify common problem structures and get started, and then if you do make "silly" setup mistakes while you're doing it you're quickly aware of the kind of places you need to slow down and be careful.

2) In a similar "drill", go through 10 questions and don't even look at the question stems...just look at the answer choices and jot down a few notes if you notice anything about them. Try this first with problems you've already done since you may not have exhausted the answer choices - my theory in a case like yours (much better at DS than PS) is that at least a couple times per test you're missing some important clues in the answer choices that would help you save time or leverage those assets (for example, does it look like a number property would help; could you get away with an estimate; are there the kinds of clues like root3 or root 2 that suggest you have to find a certain kind of triangle or shape, etc.). Try this out and see if it helps...it often depends on the student or the problem set but I've had this work to show people that there's often more to the problem than the problem itself, so it at least gets them thinking of all their resources.

3) For Reading Comp, try a few passages with the mindset that you *only* care about Scope and Organization. If you jot down 5-7 words in a paragraph make no more than 3 of them related to content and the others should be structural/organizational. You're probably getting too deep in the content of each passage - that's a huge tendency of a lot of test-takers - and missing a lot of the general roadmap stuff that would help you come back to details only when you really need them. I was going through some RC passages with a student the other day and he and I were both amazed at how little I knew about the content after I finished each passage and how much he knew about it, but then on the flip side how I'd get every question right in 30-40 seconds and he was struggling. And it comes down essentially to the way we read. I read to figure out where things are for when I need to go back to find the "smoking gun" for a question, and he reads to try to understand everything. My take - they're only going to ask you 3-4 things about the passage so becoming an expert on 7-8 things is kind of a waste (plus in limited time it's hard to do). I read to set myself up for success on the questions.


See if any of that helps, and if you are looking for more problems I'd recommend using the Veritas Prep Question Bank (hundreds of free questions and a ton of great word problems especially), plus all the official stuff from mba.com.

_________________

Brian

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Re: Seeking some expert guidance   [#permalink] 19 Nov 2013, 16:58
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