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2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED

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Joined: 29 Dec 2018
Posts: 15
Location: India
GMAT 1: 540 Q44 V21
2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jan 2019, 20:09
Phew, where do I start? I sincerely have started to feel I am not good enough for GMAT. Please Help!

Let’s start from the beginning; I am a 2015 graduate, working since then. I had taken a month long break before this second attempt
Before you ask, I had rather not go into the details of my first attempt because I had scored a 600+ in the mock without studying and booked a date straight away only to get a sub 500 score, I was devastated. After that, I actually started preparing for the GMAT.

What have I done?

1. Verbal
SC (Aristotle, Manhattan)
CR (5 Chapters from CR Powerscore Bible)
RC – I feel I am very weak, at times I can manage a 3 question passage in 5 minutes with all correct and other times (which is most of the times) I can’t go beyond 25% accuracy and don’t ask about the timing – I can take over 8 min but still can’t get anything close to 50% accurate – I guess my English overall vocab is too fragile and if I don’t understand the passage MAYBE I just zone out and mark answers without giving my 100%.
OG, Verbal Review (all questions – I think twice, thrice – lost the count)

2. Quant
Maths Bible – Jeff Sackmann (gone through twice)
No hard feeling, but I genuinely feel this book is NOT enough for the GMAT, it explains concepts without any hiccups but the level of questions on the test are much tougher than the one in this book.
OG, Quant Review (sold once)
Just a few days before my second attempt my friend told to go through Gmat Club Math book, honestly I loved this book just because I was almost getting tested every question – but since I had limited time before the attempt – I could only manage till work word problems chapter (also while I solved some questions here – the first time I solved without looking at the solution – I either got it incorrect or took more than 2 minutes to somehow get the answer – so at the back of the mind I just knew it that “This is not going to help me get to Q50” just because I was NEVER excited or rather confident when I used to see a 700+ question during practice.

I have given almost 6 months to GMAT to score this 540, I really have no idea should I give this more time or rather just give up. Maybe the number of Kudos on this post will help me judge – what decision I should take. If you think I have tried everything and given so much time to this prep, then too just got a 540 – hence I am not a apt candidate to get a score of 700+ please do not kudos this post, if you do – I will know you want me to study harder and not give up.

Experts – Frank Question: I feel my sources of study are good, why am I not getting the score which I want? (the B-schools I am looking at have a minimum score requirement of 680 – so maybe a Q50 & V34)
Also, If you all think I should give GMAT one more shot, how much time should I space my next reattempt? (PS – I am joining work again) Maybe 3 months? I feel I should get my basics right in Quant So I avoid doing silly mistakes and for Verbal I am clueless – should I just start reading good novels to just strengthen or rather get my grip on English language?
Joined: 14 Dec 2018
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Re: 2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jan 2019, 21:00
What is the breakdown of your 540? Did you order the ESR? If so, can you share the ESR with us to get a better sense of what happened?

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Re: 2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jan 2019, 21:05
Hi DarkHorse2019,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day did not go as well as hoped. While it sounds as though you have worked through lots of practice questions, it's unclear HOW you were approaching those questions - or whether you were truly focused on developing the proper Test-taking skills or not. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. However, to earn a much higher Score, you will likely require at least another 3 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections.

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

1) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
2) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
3) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: 2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2019, 05:11
Hi DarkHorse2019,

While it may be disheartening to not reach your target score despite putting in effort, you are not alone. A lot of students take multiple attempts to reach their target score. Here are few such examples:
• Prawee  (550 to 740) used all the books and local coaching classes but was unable to improve her GMAT score beyond a certain point.  She changed her approach and finally scored 740 in her 5th attempt and got a $180,000 fellowship cumulatively from 3 top business schools. She is currently pursuing MBA from Kellogg. Kellogg was once not even on her radar. Click here to know more about her journey.
• Arjun was unable to cross V26 in his last 3 attempts and improved to a V41 in his 4th attempt. Click here to view his video interview. He secured admits from ISB and Oxford Said.
• Anastasiia improved from V31 to V39 (640 to 740). Click here to read her de-brief. Click here to watch her video interview.
• Rohit Bansal scored a 740 (Q51 V40) in his fifth attempt which allowed him to secure admits from Kellogg, ISB and interview calls from Tepper as well as UCLA. Click here to watch his amazing video debrief.

I would recommend that you go through this article on Personalized Study Plan to create a structured plan for yourself to reach your target score. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to us at We would be happy to help.


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Basics of the GMAT
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Re: 2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jan 2019, 10:25
Hi DarkHorse2019,

I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with your GMAT. Stay strong, my friend, and DO NOT give up. I’m happy to get you on the path to improving your GMAT score. First off, since you have been studying for 6 months and scored 540, you really need to look at HOW you have been studying and make some changes. From what I can tell, you have been using MANY resources, so it’s quite possible that your prep has been unfocused and somewhat disorganized, and thus has led to little improvement. Moving forward, I suggest following a structured and linear study plan that allows you to individually master each topic, beginning with the foundations and progressing to more advanced topics. By studying in such a way, you can ensure that all knowledge gaps are addressed and no stone is left unturned.

For example, if you are learning about Number Properties, you first should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant skills.

Follow a similar routine for verbal. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and instead focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and thereby comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect Reading Comprehension answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. Keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to analyze such passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, it is likely that you will have to work on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending under two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and those reasons are not that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answer were always the one that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey logical meanings. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences and figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could have done differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your skills improve, you will then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

In order to follow the path described above, you may consider using some fresh materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses.

Regarding how long to study, since you are not under a time constraint, I suggest that you wait to schedule your GMAT until you are comfortably hitting your score goal on practice exams.

Lastly, you may find it helpful to read the following articles about
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT and the phases of preparing for the GMAT.

Scott Woodbury-Stewart
Founder and CEO

GMAT Quant Self-Study Course
500+ lessons 3000+ practice problems 800+ HD solutions

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Re: 2nd Attempt – A Meagre 540 (Quant 44, Verbal 21) HELP NEEDED &nbs [#permalink] 04 Jan 2019, 10:25
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