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2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670

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2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jan 2017, 01:39
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Hello guys! I have been a long time lurker but my attempt at the GMAT yesterday ultimately made me sign up here as I would like to get some advice from you guys on how to proceed with my GMAT prep regarding a prospective third retake.

I took my first GMAT three years ago but I did not take prep too seriously by then. I only needed to get into a European MIM programme and any 600+ score would suffice, so my aspirations were not necessarily that high. All I really did for prep was to work through the OG. In so doing I figured that Verbal did not really pose any significant difficulties to me. Math was a different story though. I never took math too seriously in high school and for the most part it wasn't really one of my strongpoints. So I purchased the Manhattan Guides and worked through them. By the end I was by no means an expert in math but I had functional basics with which I took my first GMAT. The test was a dreadful experience as I hadn't sufficiently practiced CATs before and I constantly fell behind timing in Quant, leading me to guess almost every second question. Verbal was the opposite, I breezed through that section with about 15 min to spare. Ultimately I ended up on a V42/Q44 combined 700 with which I was happy for the time being.

Now I am applying for a PhD and decided it might be a good idea to improve my score a bit. I worked a lot with numbers lately and I felt that my numerical abilities had improved by quite a margin. So I decided to give the GMAT another shot. I worked through the OG again and, indeed, the math came a lot easier to me, although I still struggle with some of the Algebra / Number Properties stuff. Verbal again wasn't an issue to me, so I largely ignored it on my prep. I also purchsed the GMAT Prep package to improve my test taking abilities, as I didn't want to get into the type of timing troubles as I did last time. On all 6 GMAT Prep CATs I ranged between 730 and 760 now with Quant hovering around the 70th %ile and Verbal fairly stable between 97th and 99th %ile. So I felt ready to improve my GMAT score.

On the test day I didn't have any significant time struggles during Quant, but I skipped some questions that were in my weakness areas and of which I knew I would have most likely gotten them wrong anyways. However, at some point the GMAT was throwing some really simple questions at me that I would expect to see in the first quarter of the OG, so I began to grow a bit worried. But all in all, I skipped less questions than last time and was way less stressed out upon finishing Quant.

The Verbal section was much tougher though than anything I had experienced before. While usually I would just be able to "see through" the questions, that wasn't the case this time. The whole section felt "off" for some reason and I wasn't really able to get into my "zone". Some of the RCs were just brutal. While in the CATs RC would usually refer to some specific aspect of the text, I had a lot of questions that required me to "read between the lines" and interpret the text. So for the first time ever I actually came into timing troubles on the Verbal part. Before I sat the test I had taken the free Kaplan CAT. And on my real GMAT the Verbal was more similar to that of the Kaplan CAT than to that of the GMAT Prep CATs in terms of the phrasing of CR questions, types of RC passages etc. Have any recent adjustments been made to the Verbal section, that could explain why it felt so "different" to me?

Eventually, I ended up with a score of 85th %ile on Verbal and 54th %ile on Quant, Total 670, which I cancelled immediately. I was seriously frustrated. I realistically aimed for the 720 to 730 range and didn't expect that my performance would fall even below what I had scored before. All the improvements I had made in Quant were seemingly for nothing and Verbal way worse than anything had scored before. Yet, I was less stressed out during the test than before and I struggle to understand what had happened. I don't want to back down now, so I scheduled another GMAT one month from now, as I know I can do better.

The question is, where should I focus my prep now? For sure I will work on the Quant parts I have been struggling with. But I also did that before, seemingly to no effect. For Verbal I have no idea - I feel that actually "learning" the stuff would potentially make me overthink Verbal, even further lowering my performance... I would be happy for any suggestions on what might have gone wrong on test day and how I could remedy that on my next attempt?
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Re: 2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jan 2017, 11:19
Hi Scyzo,

To start, both 700 and 670 are fantastic scores (they're both between the 80th and 90th percentiles), so either could be enough to get you into your first-choice PhD Program. As such, a retest might not be necessary. In addition, GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability, so these two scores really aren't that different from one another. 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:

Studies:
1) How long did you study before this recent attempt at the GMAT?
2) What materials have you used?
3) How have you scored on each of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for each)?
4) Did you take the FULL CAT each time (with the Essay and IR sections)?
5) Had you taken any of the CATs before?

Goals:
6) What is your goal score?
7) When are you planning to apply to School?
8) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jan 2017, 03:28
Thanks for answering to my post!

1.) Before this recent attempt to my GMAT I studied about 1 month. But I was already familiar with most of the material from my earlier attempt so I divided my time between brushing up my weak areas and practicing CATs.

2.) I used the OG 13th Ed & Quant Review 2nd Ed. as well as GMAT Prep (Test Packs and Question Pack)

3.) GMAT Prep 1: 730 (Q44/V46) ; GMAT Prep 2: 750 (Q49/V44) ; GMAT Prep 3: 740 (Q48/V44) ; GMAT Prep 4: 740 (Q46/V46) ; GMAT Prep 5: 730 (Q47/V44) ; GMAT Prep 6: 760 (Q48/V47) ; Kaplan Free CAT: 710 (Q45/V43)

4.) For the first two I skipped AWA, the rest I took in full at home and without cheating

5.) I had taken GMAT Prep 1 and 2 three years ago when I particed for my first GMAT (I don't remember my scores from back then exactly anymore but they were both in the upper 600s I believe)

6.) My goal score would be in the 720 - 740 range

7.) I was planning to apply this for year. As the deadlines are approaching I will give it a shot with my current 700 score. However, If I do not succeed I will try to improve my GMAT and reapply next year in the schools that allow reapplications. Currently I am working at my family's business, so If I wanted to, it shouldn't be too much of a problem for me to carve out time and become more "serious" about GMAT prep.

8.) My stretch goals are LBS and Insead, besides I am applying to SDA Bocconi (third choice) as well as Univ. of Edinburgh, Cass Business School, and St Gallen Univ (fallback options).
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Re: 2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jan 2017, 19:50
Hi Scyzo,

Applying to a PhD Program is a bit different from applying to an MBA Program - since there are so few 'spots' available, each applicant's OVERALL application tends to be really 'nitpicked' - and it's likely that there will be an interview (which can really give you the opportunity to 'market yourself' to each Program directly). As such, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile and application plans. There's a Forum full of them here:

ask-admission-consultants-124/

I have a few follow-up question about how you took your CATs:
1) On what dates did you take these CATs?
2) On what date was your Official GMAT?
3) Did you take the CATs at the same time of day as your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Re: 2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jan 2017, 12:57
Ahh thanks for answering and sorry for the delayed reply. I took a weekend off so I didn't check the forum.

Anyhow;

1. I took the CATs during christmas break and during the two weeks before the test. For this second attempt this was pretty much all I did for prep though, but I felt I was getting a much better hold on GMAT logic than when I prepared for the test three years ago (going through grad school may have helped). My main concern remained timing on the Quant though.

2. My offical GMAT was on Jan 3rd.

3. Yes, pretty much. As I had nothing else to do during christmas break I tried to do them in the morning around the same time I would take my actual GMAT.

4. No, I tried to simulate the actual test as good as I could and kept the break times, did not stop the CAT etc.

5. I took CAT 1 and CAT 2 three years ago for the first time. But other than that, studying for this GMAT I only took them once each and each problem was "fresh" to me.
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Re: 2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jan 2017, 16:34
Hi Scyzo,

The process of taking (and reviewing) a CAT requires a significant amount of energy and effort - and takes time to 'recover' from. This is one of the reasons why you typically shouldn't take more than 1 CAT per week. From what you've described, you took 7 CATs in a 2-3 week span - and that is far too many CATs for such a compressed time period. By taking so many CATs right before your Official GMAT, there's a reasonable chance that you experienced some 'burn out' right before Test Day. Even if you didn't "feel" tired, the way that you describe the questions that you faced sounds like you might not have been alert enough to recognize the patterns in what you were dealing with.

If you do continue to study, then you have to be a bit more practical with how you schedule your CATs. The bulk of your time would need to be spent on additional practice and review, so that you could avoid a similar let-down when you retested. Given your performance in the Quant, placing a greater emphasis on Quant Tactics and pattern-matching would also be advisable.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Re: 2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670   [#permalink] 10 Jan 2017, 16:34

2nd attempt w better prep but score drop from 700 to 670

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