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530 after 5 months of studying.. please help me

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New post 29 Aug 2018, 13:55
Hello everyone,
I would really appreciate any help both mentally and with the actual material. I’m desperate and stressed out. No motivation left; thoughts about giving up are draining my life.
I took my first gmat yesterday and got embarrassing score of 530.

Studying:
I started preparing for the test in April 2018, as I signed up for Kaplan prep course for international students. (I’m a non-native speaker, but I live in the us at the moment). The course included online materials and every week in person classes with teacher. I felt like online materials were helpful to learn the basics, but the in person class was absolutely useless. I spent nearly 5 months (April-August) studying everyday except sundays for at least 4 hours.
Overall, I took about 9 or 10 practice tests to get used to it and train my stamina. Unfortunately, I don’t have records of my earlier exams, because Kaplan closed my account. All of them were in range of 590-620. The last two that I took from Kaplan were:
590 40Q, 31V
630 44Q, 33V

3-4 weeks prior my exam, I discovered gmat club, thank god. Reading the forum lead me to a decision to take a practice test from different website. I tried the GMATprep, the result shocked me — 520. By this moment I was extremely stressed out, sick and tired of the exam. I came to a point where I can’t concentrate anymore. I gave myself a week to rest and relax, took the 2nd practice test from GMATprep and got 530. Then I realized it wasn’t an accident. This was my score... I was unpleasantly surprised that Kaplan and GMATprep had such a huge difference in scoring. It was two weeks before my exam, I knew I wasn’t going to improve my score much in such a short time. The weird thing is that every time I review the test, check all the answers, read explanations, everything always seems clear to me. I’m thinking in the right direction, but then something happens and I pick the wrong answer. Or I miss a detail, feel time pressured etc.

Clearly something (everything) is wrong with my preparation and I can not do it anymore. Please share any advice on possible methods how to improve my score. Maybe I can get a private teacher or something like that? I know that there is a change that has to be made and I would greatly appreciate any other prep methods that were proven successful. I am open to all suggestions.

Goals: I’m applying this fall to Syracuse, JHU and USC. All programs are in marketing. The deadlines for first round are in late October and November. I need a scholarship, so the score must be as high as possible.

Please help. Thanks in advance!

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New post 29 Aug 2018, 14:31
The same thing occurred to me last month. After 2 months of studying, and several mock tests (ranging from 680 to 560), I got 540. I think because I am not very capable in dealing with stress and pressure, anyways I have already booked another exam for next week. Never give up and try to analyse why you failed :thumbup:
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New post 29 Aug 2018, 20:11
Hi mariali,

While you're understandably unhappy about this whole experience - and resulting GMAT Score - you can use everything that you've learned to better prepare for your next attempt (in particular, since you've now faced the Official GMAT, you can train to handle to handle all of the details of your next Test Day 'event').

Since you've named some specific Schools and the fact that you want a scholarship, you'll need to be more specific about your deadlines and goals:

1) What are the exact application deadlines for each Program that you plan to apply to?
2) What GMAT Score 'requirement' - if any - is there for the Scholarships that you plan to apply for (stating that your score goal is "as high as possible" is vague).
3) What were your Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for your Official GMAT Score?

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New post 30 Aug 2018, 22:01
Thanks for your support guys! I truly appreciate it.

1)First rounds deadlines are: Syracuse –November 30, JHU and USC - October 31
2)Syracuse - Recommended minimum is 600. 2016 class average was 623.
JHU - 675 2017 average
USC - 648 2017 average
I would love to have 700+, but I’m afraid that’s impossible in my situation. 650 would work I guess.
3)Q31, V34 :’(

I have 4.0 GPA along with many other extracurricular activities with leadership roles.

EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi mariali,

While you're understandably unhappy about this whole experience - and resulting GMAT Score - you can use everything that you've learned to better prepare for your next attempt (in particular, since you've now faced the Official GMAT, you can train to handle to handle all of the details of your next Test Day 'event').

Since you've named some specific Schools and the fact that you want a scholarship, you'll need to be more specific about your deadlines and goals:

1) What are the exact application deadlines for each Program that you plan to apply to?
2) What GMAT Score 'requirement' - if any - is there for the Scholarships that you plan to apply for (stating that your score goal is "as high as possible" is vague).
3) What were your Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for your Official GMAT Score?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich


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New post 31 Aug 2018, 14:56
Hi mariali,

Raising a 530 to a 650+ will likely require at least another 2-3 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. By extension, you might need to consider adjusting your application plans a bit (and perhaps apply for Round 2). Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. However you choose to proceed at this point, you're going to need to be really efficient with your studies going forward - and you might have to decide what's more important (making a particular application deadline OR locking in a high GMAT Score so that you can comfortably apply to all of these Schools at some point - even if it isn't for Round 1).

You might also choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report. While the ESR doesn't provide a lot of information, there are usually a few data points that we can use to define what went wrong (and what you should work on to score higher). If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

1) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 01 Sep 2018, 13:04
I can dedicate at least 5 hours a day. I think I might be able to apply in the 1st round for Syracuse, but other school applications I’ll have to push to the 2nd one.
What course do you think I should try?

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Re: 530 after 5 months of studying.. please help me  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2018, 04:30
mariali wrote:
Hello everyone,
I would really appreciate any help both mentally and with the actual material. I’m desperate and stressed out. No motivation left; thoughts about giving up are draining my life.
I took my first gmat yesterday and got embarrassing score of 530.

Studying:
I started preparing for the test in April 2018, as I signed up for Kaplan prep course for international students. (I’m a non-native speaker, but I live in the us at the moment). The course included online materials and every week in person classes with teacher. I felt like online materials were helpful to learn the basics, but the in person class was absolutely useless. I spent nearly 5 months (April-August) studying everyday except sundays for at least 4 hours.
Overall, I took about 9 or 10 practice tests to get used to it and train my stamina. Unfortunately, I don’t have records of my earlier exams, because Kaplan closed my account. All of them were in range of 590-620. The last two that I took from Kaplan were:
590 40Q, 31V
630 44Q, 33V

3-4 weeks prior my exam, I discovered gmat club, thank god. Reading the forum lead me to a decision to take a practice test from different website. I tried the GMATprep, the result shocked me — 520. By this moment I was extremely stressed out, sick and tired of the exam. I came to a point where I can’t concentrate anymore. I gave myself a week to rest and relax, took the 2nd practice test from GMATprep and got 530. Then I realized it wasn’t an accident. This was my score... I was unpleasantly surprised that Kaplan and GMATprep had such a huge difference in scoring. It was two weeks before my exam, I knew I wasn’t going to improve my score much in such a short time. The weird thing is that every time I review the test, check all the answers, read explanations, everything always seems clear to me. I’m thinking in the right direction, but then something happens and I pick the wrong answer. Or I miss a detail, feel time pressured etc.

Clearly something (everything) is wrong with my preparation and I can not do it anymore. Please share any advice on possible methods how to improve my score. Maybe I can get a private teacher or something like that? I know that there is a change that has to be made and I would greatly appreciate any other prep methods that were proven successful. I am open to all suggestions.

Goals: I’m applying this fall to Syracuse, JHU and USC. All programs are in marketing. The deadlines for first round are in late October and November. I need a scholarship, so the score must be as high as possible.

Please help. Thanks in advance!

Posted from my mobile device


Hi Mariali!

First of all, I would be interested in knowing your official test split of Quant and Verbal. Also, getting your ESR might be useful though it is not essential in cases where the actual score matches the practice test score. I see that your GMAT Prep scores were 520 and 530. What were your Quant Verbal splits in those? How did you perform in various question types? Is you performance same across the board?

What is best suited to you depends on your answer to these questions. A 520 score with similar performance in all areas means a full fledged run of a curriculum will add value. A private tutor may not be the answer at this stage. Usually, private tutors add value when there are a few areas in which you need substantial help. That happens when your score reaches 600+ (mind you, these are all rough numbers I am throwing around. Usually, the best approach varies case-to-case). Since you did not find value in the instructor led classes, you can try an on-demand course (such as https://www.veritasprep.com/gmat/gmat-on-demand/ or https://learnwithorion.com).

I see that you have been putting in effort (4 hrs a day is much more than what an average GMAT test-taker invests) but not getting results. Perhaps your study method isn't what works for you. You need to figure out what gives you the light bulb moments since those are what help you solve every "new" question you see during the actual exam. Try out the two links I have given above and see if you like one of them.
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New post 02 Sep 2018, 13:09
Hi mariali,

Based on everything that you’ve described, I think that you would find the EMPOWERgmat Total Score Booster to be quite helpful. Most of our clients complete that Study Plan in under 2 months, but your goal should NOT be to try to 'rush' through any of the material - you need to learn and consistently practice the proper Tactics to earn a 650+. We have a variety of free resources on our site (www.empowergmat.com), so you can 'test out' the Course before setting up an Account.

If you have any additional questions, then you can feel free to contact me directly.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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www.empowergmat.com/

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New post 03 Sep 2018, 17:00
I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with the GMAT, but hang in there. With a thorough and sound study plan, you can improve your GMAT score.

Based on your previous study routine, you were taking practice exams before you were ready. GMAT practice tests best serve two main purposes. The first purpose is to provide diagnostic information. In other words, by taking a practice test, you can get a sense of what types of GMAT questions you’re comfortable answering and arrive at a reasonable estimation of how you would score on the GMAT at that point in time. The second purpose is, naturally, to provide a way to practice taking the GMAT and handling its various challenges, such as time pressure and the varying difficulty of the questions presented.

People often misuse practice tests as primary learning tools. You may have seen posts that go something like the following: A person with a score goal of 740 has been preparing for six weeks, has already taken all six of the official practice tests, and is wondering why her scores have been 600, 590, 570, 610, 600, and 560. In such a case, the person likely has been using practice tests as primary learning tools, meaning that taking practice tests has been much of, or possibly most of, what she has been doing to drive up her score.

Can practice tests be valuable tools for learning and continued score improvement? Yes, of course they can, if they are used properly and at optimal times in your preparation. However, practice tests should not be used as primary learning vehicles, because practice tests don’t really provide the kind of practice that you need to increase your score. To improve your score, you need to learn the basics of answering various types of GMAT questions, and then practice applying what you have learned by carefully answering practice questions in order to learn to answer them correctly. When you first learn how to answer a particular type of question, answering that type of question correctly can easily take way longer than the two minutes or so per question that you are allotted when taking the GMAT (or a practice test). The two minutes per question can fly by, and if you want to finish the sections of the test on time, in many cases, regardless of whether you have figured out how to answer a question, you may have to just answer and move on. So, while taking a practice test can be a great way to work on your overall approach to taking the GMAT, taking a practice test is not a great way to practice getting right answers to various types of questions. To effectively prepare for the GMAT, you have to practice answering questions of each type without the time constraints of the test and work up to a point at which you can answer questions of each type in around two minutes. Thus, there is very limited utility in taking practice tests before you have done substantial preparation. When you take multiple practice tests early in your prep, the tests simply underscore exactly what you already know: you need to learn more content and develop more skills to hit your score goal. Why spend three hours taking a practice test just to learn what you already know, wasting a valuable learning tool in the process?

Of course, you can benefit from taking one diagnostic practice test early in your preparation. Furthermore, once you’ve done substantial preparation and mastered much of the content tested on the GMAT, when you sit for practice tests, they will actually show, to some degree, lingering weak areas that require further study. I say “to some degree” because although practice tests provide a pretty good approximation of how a person would score on the GMAT at a particular point in time, the sample size of questions on any practice test is rather small (31 quant questions and 36 verbal questions), so practice tests don’t do a very good job of pinpointing specific areas of weakness.

For example, let’s assume that of the 31 quant questions on a given practice test, you encounter one Rate-Time-Distance question and get it wrong. Should you conclude that you need extensive work on Rate-Time-Distance questions? Of course not. Similarly, what if you correctly answered the Rate-Time-Distance question? Are you good to go on those questions? Maybe. But maybe not. In fact, let’s assume that you took six practice tests, saw a total of six Rate-Time-Distance questions, and correctly answered them all. Can you conclude that you’re solid on Rate-Time-Distance questions? Probably not. One thing that makes the GMAT challenging is the vast potential for variation in the questions. There are hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of variations of Rate-Time-Distance questions that can appear on the test. So, correctly answering five or six (or ten) Rate-Time-Distance questions doesn’t really tell you too much. You must take care not to over-infer based on practice tests alone.

To truly improve your GMAT quant and verbal skills, and before taking any further tests, you will want to follow a linear study plan that allows you to slowly build GMAT mastery of one topic prior to moving on to the next. Within each topic, begin with the foundations and progress toward more advanced concepts. For example, let’s say you begin studying Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so you can assess how well you understand the topic. If, for example, you incorrectly answer a Weaken the Argument question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific Critical Reasoning 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 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 comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you are reading a paragraph, also 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 Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of Reading Comprehension questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. You can perfect your reading strategy with a lot of practice, but keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be stimulating, so to better prepare yourself to tackle 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, you likely will have to work on all three of those aspects. Furthermore, the reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is likely that you have not been working on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, to be successful in Sentence Correction, 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 in the sentence clearly refer to nouns in the sentence? 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 that 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 meanings that make sense. 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 in a Sentence Correction question, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. It may take time for you to see what you have to see. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences and to 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. For instance, 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 that would have extended your streak.

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

Although your quant is stronger, you can follow a similar process for that section. For example, if you are reviewing Number Properties, be sure that you practice 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. As you 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.

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.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some new verbal and quant materials, so take a look at the Beat the GMAT reviews for the top-rated GMAT courses.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.
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Re: 530 after 5 months of studying.. please help me  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Sep 2018, 23:33
Hi mariali,

Do not be disheartened at your current scores. Consider this as an eye-opener at the right time and learn from it. Here are a few examples of students who were in your position and went on to achieving their target score:

- Anurag improved his score from 530 (V18) in mocks to 710 (V38). Click here to learn about his incredible GMAT journey.

- Askul improved from 520 (Q44 V17) to 710 (Q48 V40). Click here to read his inspiring GMAT journey. 

- Richa followed a methodical approach and improved from 470 to 720 (V16 to V39).  Click here to learn how she achieved this feat.

I see that you are confused about the course that is best suited to you. While reviewing the various options for courses that you have, you must look at the following factors:  
Will the course work for you? Look at the free trial resources of various courses out there and evaluate their teaching methodologies. Choose the one which suits your needs.  
Is the course proven to deliver success to students like you? – Look at the reviews of courses out there and see what others have to say and then decide.  

EXPERIENCE THE e-GMAT FREE TRIAL  

I’m sharing some direct links of free trial material with you. More of them (25 video lessons and 380+ practice questions) are available on your free trial dashboard.  

- Learn to identify "Verb-ed" forms that don’t act as verbs - Play Video Lesson  
- Learn to understand the "Main Point" or purpose of a RC Paragraph - Play Video Lesson  

  
Regards, 
Aditee
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New post 10 Sep 2018, 12:50
Hi Rich! I just purchased the ESR, would you please help me to analyze it? I cannot attach anything here though. I can email the report to you directly. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!

EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi mariali,

Raising a 530 to a 650+ will likely require at least another 2-3 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. By extension, you might need to consider adjusting your application plans a bit (and perhaps apply for Round 2). Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. However you choose to proceed at this point, you're going to need to be really efficient with your studies going forward - and you might have to decide what's more important (making a particular application deadline OR locking in a high GMAT Score so that you can comfortably apply to all of these Schools at some point - even if it isn't for Round 1).

You might also choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report. While the ESR doesn't provide a lot of information, there are usually a few data points that we can use to define what went wrong (and what you should work on to score higher). If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

1) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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Rich
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Re: 530 after 5 months of studying.. please help me  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2018, 14:33
Hi mariali,

You can email me your ESR (to Rich.C@empowergmat.com) and I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Re: 530 after 5 months of studying.. please help me &nbs [#permalink] 10 Sep 2018, 14:33
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