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590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?

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New post 11 Nov 2019, 15:46
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Hey guys,

So I’ve been studying for the GMAT for the past 4.5 months and had my first sit today, scoring 590-Q38-V33 which is very, very far from what i was expecting (Target is 700+).

Let me share it with more details:


Part 1

Before anything, I decided to take one of the GMAC’s Official Prep Tests, to measure my starting point:

07/07/2019: GMAC Official Prep 1: 540 Q28 V36

Looking for a 160-point improvement, I hired a local prep company from my country and started my prep in early July. Their method consists of a in-depth review of the basics (Quant and Verbal), which took me around 6 weeks to finish;

After this “phase one” I took GMAC’s Official Prep 2, and this was the result:

08/10/2019: GMAC Official Prep 2: 650 Q42 V37


Part 2

I was happy with my improvement, especially in Quant section, and scheduled my first GMAT for November 11th (right now i’m aware this was a mistake);

After that, I started studying on a slower pace (1 hour/day + 2-3 hours/day on weekend) because I was assigned an important project at work, which took a toll on me both mentally and physicaly (+ had zero study for a whole week in mid August). The biggest problem though wasn’t quantity, but quality. This prep course I had signed in was very good for the first 110 point gain, but their method wasn’t very good for the last sprint, so I started shooting everywhere, using a lot of different sources and wasting valuable resources, with little gain. I took, during the AUG-SET period a total of 4 mock tests , and my results were:


08/15/2019 1. GMAT Prep 3: 650 (again) Q45 V34

08/30/2019 2. GMAT Prep 3 (again): 730 Q46 V44 (I made the foolish mistake of trying the same mock a second time, getting a good result, only due to repeated questions, and believing it was actually positive);

09/12/2019 3. MGMAT: 640 Q44 V34

09/19/2019 4. MGMAT: 650 Q45 V34

This last MGMAT was the turning point which brought me to GMAT Club. I was getting pretty frustrated with, after 2.5 months of preparation, not being able to break the 650 mark and started looking for study sources other than those recommended by the prep company I hired when a friend told me he gave GMAT Club a try and was getting good results by using the questions posted here. I then started to study by choosing a different topic everyday (from the Question Directory by Topic) solving 700+ level questions and then checking the answers.

The problem is I had so little daily time to study that doing the most important parts (organizing, scheduling, keeping an error log) felt like a waste of time compared to just solving questions frantically. During this period I had 4 more mock tests, with the following results:

09/28/2019 1. MGMAT: 620 Q41 V34;

10/09/2019 2. MGMAT: 650 Q45 V34;

10/18/2019 3. MGMAT: 600 Q40 V32;


After that I adjusted my strategy and gave the official prep two more tries:

10/28/2019 1. Official Prep 4: 710 Q47 V40

11/09/2019 2. Official Prep 5: 680 Q44 V38

This last one was two days ago and left me pretty motivated for my first GMAT try. During the weekend I was able to distract myself from the test, worked out, went cycling with a friend and ate well. When I left for the center this morning I was feeling pretty nervous, but not enough to compromise performance or anything like that, I was expecting a score in the 640-670 range. Verbal section started smoothly, but I wasted time on some 2-3 questions betweeen 10-20 which cost me a full RC passage in the end. At the Quant section, I missed the very first questions and that cost me a lot mentally.

After test ended (but before seeing the results) I had changed my mind into expecting a 620-650, but I had never imagined the number in front of me:

11/11/2019 GMAT 590 Q38 V33

I've scheduled my second try for 12/22/2019 and started researching and trying to come up with a better study plan for theese next 5 weeks.

What would you guys recommend? What is the best way to build consistency and perform better during test day?

Thanks a lot for the help!
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New post 11 Nov 2019, 17:09
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First of all, crmarschner, thank you for sharing your journey. I think you understand a lot about what might have gone wrong after you had finished your prep course. I will say, however, that one issue you brought up that you did not comment on was your decision to study a bunch of 700-level questions leading up to the test. Sure, you want to get some of those questions correct to crack the 700 barrier, but more important than that is working harder to reduce errors on sub-700-level questions. Thus, you might consider spending more time on Medium questions especially to shore up any problematic areas there first. That is, if you miss a 500- or 600-level question or two, especially in a row or around each other in the earlier part of the test, then you are going to have to work hard to pull yourself out of the hole you have dug before you will even get a shot at that 700-level question. What happened on your test is not uncommon among first-time test-takers. They practice, maybe taking mocks under realistic conditions, maybe not, and then they give themselves unrealistic expectations that if they could score, say, a 650 once, then on a good day, they could swing that up to a 700. More likely, you will score a 700 or above if you have earned such a score across multiple official tests that you have taken under test-center-like conditions, and, as you have noted already, those tests are first-time efforts. Your Verbal performance was fairly consistent with your practice results--I like to say that your worst (recent) score is probably what you should keep in mind for test day. Your Quant, of course, is what derailed your total score. You might want to consider a one-month subscription package to one of the more affordable online modules, such as those by Target Test Prep™ or EMPOWERgmat, to help you address those weaker Quant areas.

There is no reason to expect a higher score within a month necessarily, even with hours of additional study. You have to focus on putting in quality hours and getting those weak spots shored up. Nothing beats official questions. No matter what else you may practice with, you should always make an effort to tie your understanding of the material back to official questions. Like produces like.

Whatever you decide, good luck.

- Andrew
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New post 11 Nov 2019, 18:13
MentorTutoring wrote:
First of all, crmarschner, thank you for sharing your journey. I think you understand a lot about what might have gone wrong after you had finished your prep course. I will say, however, that one issue you brought up that you did not comment on was your decision to study a bunch of 700-level questions leading up to the test. Sure, you want to get some of those questions correct to crack the 700 barrier, but more important than that is working harder to reduce errors on sub-700-level questions. Thus, you might consider spending more time on Medium questions especially to shore up any problematic areas there first. That is, if you miss a 500- or 600-level question or two, especially in a row or around each other in the earlier part of the test, then you are going to have to work hard to pull yourself out of the hole you have dug before you will even get a shot at that 700-level question. What happened on your test is not uncommon among first-time test-takers. They practice, maybe taking mocks under realistic conditions, maybe not, and then they give themselves unrealistic expectations that if they could score, say, a 650 once, then on a good day, they could swing that up to a 700. More likely, you will score a 700 or above if you have earned such a score across multiple official tests that you have taken under test-center-like conditions, and, as you have noted already, those tests are first-time efforts. Your Verbal performance was fairly consistent with your practice results--I like to say that your worst (recent) score is probably what you should keep in mind for test day. Your Quant, of course, is what derailed your total score. You might want to consider a one-month subscription package to one of the more affordable online modules, such as those by Target Test Prep™ or EMPOWERgmat, to help you address those weaker Quant areas.

There is no reason to expect a higher score within a month necessarily, even with hours of additional study. You have to focus on putting in quality hours and getting those weak spots shored up. Nothing beats official questions. No matter what else you may practice with, you should always make an effort to tie your understanding of the material back to official questions. Like produces like.

Whatever you decide, good luck.

- Andrew


Hey Andrew, thanks a lot for reaching out and helping me with your tips!

I have to confess this isn't the first time I've been advised to focus on questions of levels of difficulty other than 700+ but, having limited time to spare, I've often neglected the advices (I know i shouldn't have) in order to make "better" use of this time. Moving forward, I'll surely put more focus on the 500-600 and 600-700 questions.

Regarding Mock Tests, I've tried to emulate test day as much as possible by taking them at the same time I would eventually take the GMAT, limiting breaks to 6 min (Leaving and entering test room usually takes up to 2 min each time) and using a similar Notepad.

As for expectations, I never really expected to score above 670 (I'd actually be satisfied with a 650) but in fact I've underestimated how much anxiety can hurt you on test day.
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New post 11 Nov 2019, 18:50
Yes, a little test-day anxiety is expected, and it can even be somewhat advantageous. If you go into the test too relaxed, you will likely make careless mistakes. However, you want to mitigate the chances of hitting the panic button, at which point your brain undergoes physiological processes that cloud your reasoning ability, just when you need it the most. That can take several minutes to come back down from, and that, in turn, can affect the way in which you tackle questions that maybe 3/4 of the time you could do in your sleep (so to speak). This is where preparedness can kick in. Grow comfortable with the foundational topics that are covered on the test, and practice questions to the point you feel confident approaching any given topic at least 9/10 times. Be organized with the way you approach the questions. Write down what you know, and make sure you are working toward solving the question that is being asked. I know it sounds silly or as though it would be a waste of time, but organizing your thoughts by transferring them to note board can often break the inertia of laying eyes on the whole problem at once, and you will also be less likely to fall into the traps the question-writers love to put into the questions, especially in the responses to PS questions. Some test-takers practice breathing exercises or other ways of keeping themselves primed but calm enough to focus. You just have to see what works for you. And above all, take the time to learn about the incorrect answers. If you are just focusing on getting the questions correct all the time, you will miss out on the finer points of what makes the incorrect answers incorrect, and you will be more likely to fall into the same sorts of trouble areas again and again. And in Quant in particular, see if you can spot a different way to work a problem--easy numbers, solving from the answers first, or using some other method instead of the one that might be suggested--to develop stronger on-the-spot reasoning habits and give yourself a better chance of finding such a correct line of reasoning on test day.

As I said before, good luck. A month is enough time to fine-tune, but you have to go into the process with clear expectations and an idea of what it may take to reach your goals. (Posting here was probably a good idea.)

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New post 11 Nov 2019, 19:47
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Hi crmarschner,

While you have been working hard since you started your prep in July, since your practice test scores have been most hovering around 650 and you scored 590 on the GMAT, it’s clear that you have numerous weak areas that must be strengthened in order for you to hit your 700+ score goal. Thus, moving forward you need to follow a more structured, gradual and linear study plan, In other words follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. Let me expand on this idea further.

If you are learning about Number Properties, you 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.
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, types that you would rather not see, and types 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.

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 Reading Comprehension, 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 New York Times, 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.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the 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 less than 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 none of those reasons are 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 answers were always the ones 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 until you start to see the differences 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 take the time to see the differences between answers 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. 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 to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently 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 do 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 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 need some new quant and verbal materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses. You also may find it helpful to read the following article about The Phases of Preparing for the GMAT.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions. Good luck!
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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2019, 17:21
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Hi crmarschner,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. Your practice CAT scores clearly show that you're capable of scoring at a much higher level. When these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day.

Before we discuss any of those potential issues though, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) What specific study materials have you used so far?
2) What is your overall goal score?
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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 on Test Day (and what you should work on to score higher). If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 12 Nov 2019, 17:49
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi crmarschner,

While you have been working hard since you started your prep in July, since your practice test scores have been most hovering around 650 and you scored 590 on the GMAT, it’s clear that you have numerous weak areas that must be strengthened in order for you to hit your 700+ score goal. Thus, moving forward you need to follow a more structured, gradual and linear study plan, In other words follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. Let me expand on this idea further.

If you are learning about Number Properties, you 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.
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, types that you would rather not see, and types 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.

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 Reading Comprehension, 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 New York Times, 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.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the 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 less than 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 none of those reasons are 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 answers were always the ones 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 until you start to see the differences 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 take the time to see the differences between answers 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. 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 to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently 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 do 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 want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.


Feel free to reach out with any further questions. Good luck!


Hi Scott,

Thank you a lot for the amazing in-depth explanation of how to make effective use of my study time going ahead. I'll be sure to follow every detail to the letter!
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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2019, 18:13
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi crmarschner,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. Your practice CAT scores clearly show that you're capable of scoring at a much higher level. When these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day.

Before we discuss any of those potential issues though, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) What specific study materials have you used so far?
2) What is your overall goal score?
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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 on Test Day (and what you should work on to score higher). If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

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


Hi Rich,

Thanks a lot for reaching out! Anxiety definitely played a role during test day as it was stronger than I had predicted.

As for the questions asked, I'm happy to contextualize it to you:

1) I've purchased the OG 2019 online and used around 30% of the questions in it (Mostly "Hard" questions). I've also used some Manhattan and Veritas questions available here at GMAT Club as well as some questions from Crack the GMAT;

2) I plan on getting a 700+ until late February. My next scheduled seat is at December 20th and I'm expecting to improve to a 640-680 this time.

3) I plan to apply during R1 of 2020.

4) LBS, Cornell Johnson, Ross, UCLA Anderson and Tuck.

I've purchased the ESR and these are the key takeaways from it:

Verbal

CR: 66th percentile

Analysis/Critique - 75%
Construction/Plan - 25%

SC: 72nd percentile

Grammar - 66%
Communication - 66%

RC: 55th percentile (Should be taken with a pinch of salt as I had to guess a full passage at the end)

Identify inferred idea: 80%
Identify stated idea: 40%

Percent Correct by quarter:

Q1: 100% - Mostly medium
Q2: 43% - Mostly medium-high
Q3: 71% - Mostly medium (guessed 1 SC here)
Q4: 25% - Mostly medium (had to guess 3 RC + 1 CR here)

Quant

Problem Solving: 25th percentile
Data Sufficiency: 36th percentile

Percent correct by fundamentals

GEOMETRY - 66%
RATES/RATIO/PERCENT - 80%
VALUE/ORDER/FACTORS - 50%
EQUAL./INEQUAL./ALG. - 40%
COUNTING/SETS/SERIES - 57%

Percent Correct by quarter:

Q1: 86% - Mostly medium (Missed questions 1)
Q2: 29% - Mostly medium-high
Q3: 86% - Mostly medium
Q4: 29% - Mostly medium (had guess 5 out of last 7)

I'd appreciate your view on these results, thanks a lot!
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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2019, 20:52
Hi crmarschner,

Studying for the GMAT now - far in advance of when you will actually 'need' your Score - is a smart choice. That having been said, raising a 590 to the point that you can consistently score 700+ will likely require at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. Your next attempt is less than 6 weeks away though - so you might want to consider pushing back that Test Date.

While I appreciate the information that you've provided about your ESR, I would actually like to see the Full ESR. If you would rather not post it publicly, then you can feel free to PM it to me directly.

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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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Nov 2019, 05:28
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi crmarschner,

Studying for the GMAT now - far in advance of when you will actually 'need' your Score - is a smart choice. That having been said, raising a 590 to the point that you can consistently score 700+ will likely require at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. Your next attempt is less than 6 weeks away though - so you might want to consider pushing back that Test Date.

While I appreciate the information that you've provided about your ESR, I would actually like to see the Full ESR. If you would rather not post it publicly, then you can feel free to PM it to me directly.

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

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


Hi Rich, thanks for all the help,

Ansswering your question, I'll have around 16-18 hours a week to study*, split into:

1) 8-10 hours during the course of the week (2 hours/day but twice a month I take a Friday off to relax);
20 ~8.5 hours on weekends (5 hours on SAT + Mock Test on SUN);

*My work weeks have been pretty intense lately, so these 2 hours/day are the absolute best I can do, but I can make up a couple more hours available on weekends (Just haven't done it before because I felt it to be a little counter productive);

** From 12/20 untill 12/30 (test day) I'll be home for holidays and will have free 10 free days before the test, so I believe I can put in some 5-6 quality study hours a day during this period.

Here are my ESR scans:
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CMARSCHNER ESR (1).docx [802.7 KiB]
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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Nov 2019, 13:00
Hi crmarschner,

I've sent you a PM with an analysis of your ESR and some additional questions/notes.

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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Nov 2019, 20:18
crmarschner wrote:
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi crmarschner,

While you have been working hard since you started your prep in July, since your practice test scores have been most hovering around 650 and you scored 590 on the GMAT, it’s clear that you have numerous weak areas that must be strengthened in order for you to hit your 700+ score goal. Thus, moving forward you need to follow a more structured, gradual and linear study plan, In other words follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. Let me expand on this idea further.

If you are learning about Number Properties, you 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.
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, types that you would rather not see, and types 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.

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 Reading Comprehension, 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 New York Times, 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.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the 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 less than 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 none of those reasons are 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 answers were always the ones 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 until you start to see the differences 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 take the time to see the differences between answers 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. 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 to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently 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 do 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 want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.


Feel free to reach out with any further questions. Good luck!


Hi Scott,

Thank you a lot for the amazing in-depth explanation of how to make effective use of my study time going ahead. I'll be sure to follow every detail to the letter!


I'm happy to help!
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Re: 590 after a journey that took too long. What to do now?   [#permalink] 14 Nov 2019, 20:18
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