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What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores?

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What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2012, 09:52
I am a week away from my test and I'm still not sure if i'm ready or if I should push back my test date because of my inconsistent test scores.

I have taken MGMAT, Veritas, 800 Score, and GMAT Prep mock exams and these are my following scores:

GMAT Prep Q37 V36 610
GMAT Simulator Set 1 Q38 V35 600
GMAT Simulator Set 1 Q33 V35 570
GMAT Simulator Set 1 Q33 V30 540
GMAT Simulator Set 1 Q27 V37 550
GMAT Simulator Set 1 Q38 V39 620
MGMAT Q48 V38 710
800 Score Q34 V41 620
800 Score Q36 V37 610
800 Score Q41 V50 740
GMAT Simulator Set 2 Q42 V31 610
GMAT Simulator Set 2 Q39 V24 550
GMAT Simulator Set 2 Q33 V41 610
GMAT Prep Q38 V30 570
GMAT Prep Q39 V31 590

Since the official GMAT Prep is suppose to be the most accurate are those scores the only ones that indicate what I will score on the real exam?

Should I keep taking any more practice exams with only a week left?

What would you guys and gals do if in my position?
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2012, 14:28
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Hi Brian,

I'm curious as to how you've been studying over the last x months. Have you been taking weekly practice tests? Regardless of whether you break up the tests by 5 days or 2 weeks, have you been learning from the mistakes you've made on these tests? Also, besides test what prep materials have you been using?

The reason I'm asking all this is I wonder if most of your prep has involved taking practice tests. Since you haven't seen a consistent increase in score perhaps you are not as drilling the fundamentals as much as you should. It could be that you are strong in some areas but weak in others, and have not focused on developing the latter. If any of this is the case, I would definitely postpone on taking the test.

Instead, you should focus on a study plan that will help you address any weaknesses (or a tenuous grasp of certain fundamentals that is plaguing you).

But before I can unequivocally say, Yes, retake the test, I would be curious to know how you've been preparing for the GMAT.

Let me know, and we can go from there :).
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2012, 16:12
ChrisLele wrote:
Hi Brian,

I'm curious as to how you've been studying over the last x months. Have you been taking weekly practice tests? Regardless of whether you break up the tests by 5 days or 2 weeks, have you been learning from the mistakes you've made on these tests? Also, besides test what prep materials have you been using?

The reason I'm asking all this is I wonder if most of your prep has involved taking practice tests. Since you haven't seen a consistent increase in score perhaps you are not as drilling the fundamentals as much as you should. It could be that you are strong in some areas but weak in others, and have not focused on developing the latter. If any of this is the case, I would definitely postpone on taking the test.

Instead, you should focus on a study plan that will help you address any weaknesses (or a tenuous grasp of certain fundamentals that is plaguing you).

But before I can unequivocally say, Yes, retake the test, I would be curious to know how you've been preparing for the GMAT.

Let me know, and we can go from there :).


I started studying back in January of this year. I roughly took a practice test once or twice a week for three month. I have both the Veritas, MGMAT, and the OG12 as material and I have done them all. My error log doesn't show that i'm seriously weak in any one area. Out of all the types of problems i've done i've scored roughly a 70% on each section.

Given the amount of mock tests and studying i've done i'm afraid i've hit my peak.

For my last week i plan on just focusing on verbal since that is the area that has fluctuated the most.
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2012, 20:01
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Hmmm...with only a week left, I'm not sure how easy it would be to make any significant improvements. Perhaps one general area is the questions you've answered incorrectly. Is there any sort of pattern to your wrong answers? Take verbal. Are there certain kinds of Critical Reasoning questions in which you are drawn to a certain type of answer choice that turns out to be incorrect? Again, I am trying to find some area in which you could make an improvement. Without a tutor - at least not in the one week you have - it may be hard to pinpoint anything.

The GMATprep is usually the best indicator of your actual score so if breaking a 600 will help you with your b-school goals, then take the test. If you truly need a 700+, then postponing the test may not be a bad idea. But investing in a tutor could definitely make a difference if you've been going at it by yourself this entire time. If a large number of sessions with a tutor turns out to be prohibitive cost-wise, you may want to check out Magoosh's GMAT product: http://gmat.magoosh.com/plans

I hope that was helpful and don't hesitate to follow up. I'd like to be able to pinpoint something you can is the remaining week to help you improve by test day.

Best of luck :)
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2012, 20:18
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brian2426 wrote:

Since the official GMAT Prep is suppose to be the most accurate are those scores the only ones that indicate what I will score on the real exam?


Pretty much but then, except for a couple of outliers (the MGMAT test and the 3rd 800 score), your score range has been 550 - 620. Anyone with a current level of 580-590 is bound to get scores in this range. 20-30 point here and there is normal. The big concern here should be that you did not see consistent improvement.

A practice test has two main purposes:
1. It helps you train your mind to perform under stress (read timed conditions) for 4 hrs at a stretch.
2. It helps you identify your weak areas so that you can improve upon them.

There are many things a pratice test does not do: it doesn't help you understand the concepts you do not know, it doesn't give you time to think harder on the problems you do not comprehend easily, it doesn't make you capable of achieving a higher score in the next test etc. In addition, it eats up a lot of your time so until and unless you are devoting 8 hrs a day to your test prep, it is highly inadvisable to take many practice tests.

Ideally, you should take one diagnostic before you start your prep, then you should take a test after going through most of the theory and low and medium level practice questions from the material of your choice, and then after reviewing your weak areas again, you can take one practice test every week for 3-4 weeks (depending on your test date).

brian2426 wrote:
Should I keep taking any more practice exams with only a week left? What would you guys and gals do if in my position?

Definitely a 'no'. If your aim is to get around 600, try to relax and work on your weak areas. Your last GMAT prep tests scores were 570 and 590 (if the scores are listed in the order in which the tests were taken) so with some effort, you should touch 600. On the other hand, if you are aiming for something higher, you might want to postpone your test. I don't think you have been approaching the preparation in the right way. You need to put in effort to learn and apply the concepts. You need to practice a lot of questions un-timed before you decide that you are ready to give yourself the stress of a ticking clock. When you do take a practice test, you need to analyze each and every question thereafter to understand exactly what the question wanted, what you did, where you are lacking and how you can do better the next time around. Taking the test takes 4 hrs but analyzing it takes 8 hrs at least.

Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't expect a miraculous result (though I would hope for one). But with some effort, you could see miraculous improvement if you use the right approach.
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 05 Mar 2012, 06:38
VeritasPrepKarishma wrote:
brian2426 wrote:

Since the official GMAT Prep is suppose to be the most accurate are those scores the only ones that indicate what I will score on the real exam?


Pretty much but then, except for a couple of outliers (the MGMAT test and the 3rd 800 score), your score range has been 550 - 620. Anyone with a current level of 580-590 is bound to get scores in this range. 20-30 point here and there is normal. The big concern here should be that you did not see consistent improvement.

A practice test has two main purposes:
1. It helps you train your mind to perform under stress (read timed conditions) for 4 hrs at a stretch.
2. It helps you identify your weak areas so that you can improve upon them.

There are many things a pratice test does not do: it doesn't help you understand the concepts you do not know, it doesn't give you time to think harder on the problems you do not comprehend easily, it doesn't make you capable of achieving a higher score in the next test etc. In addition, it eats up a lot of your time so until and unless you are devoting 8 hrs a day to your test prep, it is highly inadvisable to take many practice tests.

Ideally, you should take one diagnostic before you start your prep, then you should take a test after going through most of the theory and low and medium level practice questions from the material of your choice, and then after reviewing your weak areas again, you can take one practice test every week for 3-4 weeks (depending on your test date).

brian2426 wrote:
Should I keep taking any more practice exams with only a week left? What would you guys and gals do if in my position?

Definitely a 'no'. If your aim is to get around 600, try to relax and work on your weak areas. Your last GMAT prep tests scores were 570 and 590 (if the scores are listed in the order in which the tests were taken) so with some effort, you should touch 600. On the other hand, if you are aiming for something higher, you might want to postpone your test. I don't think you have been approaching the preparation in the right way. You need to put in effort to learn and apply the concepts. You need to practice a lot of questions un-timed before you decide that you are ready to give yourself the stress of a ticking clock. When you do take a practice test, you need to analyze each and every question thereafter to understand exactly what the question wanted, what you did, where you are lacking and how you can do better the next time around. Taking the test takes 4 hrs but analyzing it takes 8 hrs at least.

Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't expect a miraculous result (though I would hope for one). But with some effort, you could see miraculous improvement if you use the right approach.


Thanks for affirming what I already believe. My highest scores have been on mock exams where I had more than a 24hr break. I'll probably stop taking mock exams at this point and make sure that I understand all the questions I missed in official guide 12.
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores? [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2012, 22:06
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Wow, you've taken a LOT of practice exams and your scores have been everywhere.

I would focus on not taking any more exams and focus on attack strategies to increase your overall score. Taking practice exams, getting prep help, and reviewing the answers to the test questions you've gone through already are going to be more important than taking more tests.

Focus on accuracy and efficiency! That will improve your score - not taking more practice tests!
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Re: What to do about inconsistent practice GMAT scores?   [#permalink] 14 Mar 2012, 22:06
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