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30 point improvement after 1.5 years. What should I do?

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Joined: 31 Aug 2017
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30 point improvement after 1.5 years. What should I do?  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2018, 20:27
I have been studying the gmat since August 2017 and have taken the test three times. After taking the test today I was shocked that I’d only improved my score by 30 points.

So I first decided that I wanted to apply to business school round mid August and aimed to take my first Gmat test around mid November. During that time I was completing my final year at university. Now I started by buying the Manhattan course and completed all the Manhattan guides. I thought that was all the theory I needed and then started practicing lots of questions, though I made the mistake of not reviewing the answers. I consistently did this until October and when I started taking tests I was getting around 570-590, which was disheartening as my aim was 700. On top of that my quant range was 44-49 but I was barely hitting v28, even though I was a native English speaker. After pushing my exam back to December I was hoping for a miracle and eventually ended up with 540 (q35 v28). I was absolutely devastated as I’d put in so much work studying on average 5 hours a day!

So after a month break I decided to try for the Gmat again and booked my exam in April. After looking online I saw great reviews for Empower and decided to give it a try. So I studied for a solid two months while balancing my uni work. Although my reviewing again wasn’t as thorough, however I picked up a lot of tips and tricks and on practice papers I was getting around 600-630. So I knew that I was improving my gmat score. However test day comes, nerves kicked in and I got 560 (q35, v32). Again, absolutely devastated as I knew that I had worked a lot harder and had definitely improved although this was not evident on my score. Crazy thing was that IR score was 7!

So I took a break until June so I could finish uni and move back home. Then I decided I would take a year off to perfect my gmat and volunteer in my free time. I decided this time to really review my answers and the explanations given. So for quant I did the whole of the OG book until I was able to complete most questions with little to no difficulty and started using the gmat club to help me. Moreover, I also did the same for verbal, used lsat papers for reading comprehension and read the economist for 30 minutes a day. So I was putting in a lot more effort this time round and was studying a lot smarter. I even purchased the EGmat, however I did not find this very useful. So everyday I was doing 30 quant questions, 5 cr questions, 2 RC passages and 10 sc questions a day with thorough reviewing. On top of that I had read the whole of the cr bible and read the Manhattan sc book again plus hired a tutor to help me. The tutor, however proved to be waste of time as they did not help to improve my score, which was now 650 (q44, v34) from the GMATPrep papers. And with the Veritas papers I saw a gradual improvement of 600 to 650 from June to November. So I decided to take the bullet and book a test in November as I felt that I had really improved. Test day comes and I get 570 (q44 v25). Did not expect it. From completing the gmatprep and getting a score of 650 (q44, v34) a week ago I did not understand how my score could have dropped so low.

Now I’m at a point where I don’t know what is going on as I know these scores do not reflect my ability. I just don’t know what to do from here. I’ve booked a test for February to stop myself from giving up. But I really don’t know where to go from here. Any help or suggestions would be great because I know 570 is not my ability.

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Re: 30 point improvement after 1.5 years. What should I do?  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2018, 04:42
Hi Shirshieravi,

I am sorry to know that your scores were not in line with your expectations. From what you have described it seems that you focused more on quantity than quality. A big problem in using courses from multiple companies is having multiple approaches to solve a question none of which are wrong but create confusion for the student. You must find a course that suits your learning style and make the most of it. Your score proves that there are gaps in your conceptual and process understanding which you haven’t been able to bridge. You must focus on bridging these gaps and learning a reliable and repeatable process using which you can ace the GMAT. It may seem difficult after all the effort you have already put in but it is possible.

Here are a few stories that may motivate you and guide you towards reaching your target score in this attempt:
    • 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. There was a time when Kellogg was not even on her radar. Click here to watch her video interview.
    • Arjun was unable to cross V26 in his last 3 attempts. Click here to learn how he improved to a V41 in his 4th attempt view his video interview. He secured admits from ISB and Oxford Said.
    • 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.

These stories and many others on GMAT Club are a proof that you can get to your target score once you identify the gaps in your preparation and work towards fixing that. Here is an article on Retake Strategy which you can use to create a plan for your next attempt.

I am sorry to know that you did not find value in our course last time around. It would be great if you could write to us on with what you felt was not up to the mark in the course so that we can work towards improving it.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to write to us at for any further GMAT related guidance.

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Re: 30 point improvement after 1.5 years. What should I do?  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Dec 2018, 19:14
Hi Shirshieravi,

I’m sorry to hear how things went with your GMAT. First of all, studying for a year and half can be mentally taxing, so given that you have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into your prep, it’s certainly possible that all of that pressure negatively affected your performance on test day. Additionally, although it may sound crazy, despite studying for such a long period of time, your practice exam scores indicate that you still have lingering quant and verbal weaknesses, which may have been exposed further on test day.

Scoring high on the GMAT tends to involve using logic and noticing key details. However, it is possible to get some questions right by looking for patterns that you have already encountered in your preparation. Looking for patterns will not always work, though, and if the patterns you are familiar with don’t show up in the questions that you see on the actual GMAT, your score will not be very high. So, another possible reason for the difference between your scores on practice tests and your score on the real GMAT is that in your preparation, you did not really learn to do what you have to do in order to score high on quant and verbal. Rather, you picked up on some patterns that were effective in getting you relatively high scores on practice tests.

Moving forward, you need to go through GMAT quant and verbal carefully to find your exact weaknesses, fill gaps in your knowledge, and strengthen your skills. The overall process will be to learn all about how to answer question types with which you currently aren't very comfortable and do dozens of practice questions category by category, basically driving up your score point by point. 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.

For example, if you find that you are not strong in answering Number Properties questions, then carefully review the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions and practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. 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. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

Each time you strengthen your understanding of a topic and your skill in answering questions of a particular type, you increase your odds of hitting your score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in two minutes or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

You can work on verbal in a similar manner. Let’s say you are reviewing Critical Reasoning. Be sure that you practice a large number of Critical Reasoning questions: Strengthen and Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, find the Conclusion, Must be True, etc. As you go through the questions, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get correct. If you missed a Weaken question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize what the question was asking? Did you skip over a key detail in an answer choice? Getting GMAT verbal questions right is a matter of what you know, what you see, and what you do. So, any time that you don't get one right, you can seek to identify what you had to know to get the right answer, what you had to see that you didn't see, and what you could have done differently to arrive at the correct answer.

So, work on accuracy and generally finding correct answers, work on specific weaker areas one by one to make them strong areas, and when you take a practice GMAT or the real thing, take all the time per question available to do your absolute best to get right answers consistently. The GMAT is essentially a game of seeing how many right answers you can get in the time allotted. Approach the test with that conception in mind, and focus intently on the question in front of you with one goal in mind: getting a CORRECT answer.

I know that I provided you with a lot of information, so feel free to reach out with further questions. You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

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Re: 30 point improvement after 1.5 years. What should I do?   [#permalink] 03 Dec 2018, 19:14
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