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680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.

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680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Mar 2019, 14:36
Hi Everyone,

I am really looking for some help/insight/support on my GMAT journey. Needless to say, it has been long, stressful, and somewhat discouraging. I have taken the GMAT twice now, with my third attempt scheduled next Tuesday, March 19th, 2019.

January 2018 GMAT 1 590 (Q41V31) - It was clear to me I did not prepare enough for this exam
August 2018 GMAT 2 620 (Q48V29) - I used Economist GMAT + 1 month of EMPOWERgmat prep. This really helped my Quant score, but verbal score was all over the place. I took some time off and re-started again in January 2019.

Starting in January 2019, I signed up and re-did the entire EMPOWERgmat curriculum. I followed the curriculum religiously, and really felt that my fundamentals were rock solid. I kept detailed error logs of all my mistakes, both from the OG and my practice CATs. These were things I did not do in the past. I also used the Official MBA practice CATs for all my practice exams. This is where things get rocky.

CAT 1 680 (Q48V35) - After a few weeks of studying, this was great news. I had 2 months to go and I started off at a 680!
CAT 2 710 (Q48V40) - I focused mostly on verbal and saw an improvement in my second CAT. As it should be right? I was ecstatic!
CAT 3 660 (Q47V34) - So I went down slightly. I had a bad week, I was stressed as well, I attributed it to this. My target score is 680, so I thought to myself, hey, if on a bad week I got a 660 and on a good week I got a 710, I'm right in the ballpark.

Today:

CAT 4 620 (Q48V27) - My heart sunk. I am now less than 2 weeks away from my third (and hopefully last) attempt at the GMAT, and this was my result.

At this point I am really looking for some help/guidance from the experts. The amount of time I have left to study is limited, and due to a huge work project that is happening the week after my GMAT, I will be out of commission for 2-3 weeks. This was my intent in giving myself 10 weeks to study prior to taking the exam.

Unfortunately, this seems all too familiar to my second attempt at the GMAT, where I had scored 720 on my second to last practice CAT, a 600 on my practice CAT closest to the exam, and then ended up with the inevitable 620.

My specific questions to anyone are as follows:

1) I have one more practice CAT left. Should I take it next Sunday (before my exam?). This is when I have taken all of my practice CATs. On one hand, I am concerned the CAT may drain or discourage me further, on the other hand, I would really like to know if this score is an outlier.
2) For studying, what should I do between now and my exam? I have access to the OG and GMATClub practice questions. My thinking is I should really review problems I have done incorrectly, to further my understanding of concepts I have done incorrectly vs. trying new problems. In parallel, I plan to go through my entire error log in detail.

Any help is much appreciated. I have not done an in-depth review of my CAT 4, this will be posted shortly. Going to step away from the computer for a bit but felt that posting this would be a good idea prior to doing so.

Thanks in advance!
Anton
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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Mar 2019, 14:52
1
Hi Anton,

Considering how well you've been performing on your other CATs, it's possible that this recent CAT might just be the result of a 'bad day.' At higher-and-higher score levels, the GMAT becomes really 'sensitive' to little mistakes (especially on 'gettable' questions), so your analysis of this performance is really important (re: you need to properly define WHY you were getting questions wrong). There's a big difference between getting a bunch of questions wrong because you made some little mistakes and getting questions wrong because they were too difficult and you just could not figure out how to solve them. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer about your performance on this CAT (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing each section of this recent CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) How many Verbal questions did you 'narrow down to 2 choices' but still get wrong?

The process of taking (and reviewing) a CAT requires a significant amount of energy and effort - and takes time to 'recover' from. This is one of the reasons why you typically shouldn't take more than 1 CAT per week - and your last CAT should be taken about 1 week before Test Day. Since your next Official GMAT is March 19th, you should NOT take a CAT on the 17th; you would be far more likely to experience some 'burn out' on Test Day (and that is something that we want to avoid). Your last few days before your Official GMAT should be spent on light practice and review. You will be better served by getting some extra rest, so that you can go into Test Day calm, clear-headed and ready to work.

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

*****Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!*****

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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Mar 2019, 15:05
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Anton,

Considering how well you've been performing on your other CATs, it's possible that this recent CAT might just be the result of a 'bad day.' At higher-and-higher score levels, the GMAT becomes really 'sensitive' to little mistakes (especially on 'gettable' questions), so your analysis of this performance is really important (re: you need to properly define WHY you were getting questions wrong). There's a big difference between getting a bunch of questions wrong because you made some little mistakes and getting questions wrong because they were too difficult and you just could not figure out how to solve them. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer about your performance on this CAT (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing each section of this recent CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) How many Verbal questions did you 'narrow down to 2 choices' but still get wrong?

The process of taking (and reviewing) a CAT requires a significant amount of energy and effort - and takes time to 'recover' from. This is one of the reasons why you typically shouldn't take more than 1 CAT per week - and your last CAT should be taken about 1 week before Test Day. Since your next Official GMAT is March 19th, you should NOT take a CAT on the 17th; you would be far more likely to experience some 'burn out' on Test Day (and that is something that we want to avoid). Your last few days before your Official GMAT should be spent on light practice and review. You will be better served by getting some extra rest, so that you can go into Test Day calm, clear-headed and ready to work.

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


Thanks Rich - I will analyze tonight / tomorrow and provide feedback. In the interim, do you have any tips on how to approach studying over the next week leading up to my exam?
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Mar 2019, 14:02
Hi Anton,

Your analysis of this recent CAT is pivotal to defining what you should be working on over the next week. Beyond the specific content/Tactics that you might focus on, I'm concerned that you might be getting 'stressed out' a bit - and we don't want you to carry that stress into Test Day. If possible, you should try to get some extra rest/sleep this week so that you can go into Test Day calm, clear-headed and ready to work.

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

*****Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!*****

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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Mar 2019, 17:53
Hi AntonYatsenko,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. To answer your questions:

1) If possible, take your last CAT on either Friday or Saturday, at the latest, so you have plenty of time to do a thorough review of that exam but still keep yourself fresh for test day. That said, are you concerned that a poor test score would derail your mindset for your upcoming exam?

2) Your study plan seems pretty solid. Ideally, you want to keep your studying somewhat light and do things such as focused practice or flash card/notes review to ensure that no knowledge has slipped through the cracks.

You also may find it helpful to read this article that has tips for your final week of prep as well as for test day.

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out. Good luck!
_________________

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

Founder and CEO

Scott@TargetTestPrep.com
TTP - Target Test Prep Logo
122 Reviews

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self study course

See why Target Test Prep is the top rated GMAT quant course on GMAT Club. Read Our Reviews

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Joined: 06 Jan 2018
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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Mar 2019, 03:03
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi AntonYatsenko,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. To answer your questions:

1) If possible, take your last CAT on either Friday or Saturday, at the latest, so you have plenty of time to do a thorough review of that exam but still keep yourself fresh for test day. That said, are you concerned that a poor test score would derail your mindset for your upcoming exam?

2) Your study plan seems pretty solid. Ideally, you want to keep your studying somewhat light and do things such as focused practice or flash card/notes review to ensure that no knowledge has slipped through the cracks.

You also may find it helpful to read this article that has tips for your final week of prep as well as for test day.

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out. Good luck!


1) Hi Scott - thanks for offering your advice. I definitely think that the 620 I received last week is not truly indicative of my potential. Likewise, I suppose this is the case, if I were to score again poorly on my last practice CAT, it would definitely not be a confidence boost going into Test Day.

2) My goal was to review past problems done incorrectly and try and further hone in / solidify those concepts. Would that be considered as light prep work? I hear the message both you and Rich are echoing - but I suppose it is tough for me to wrap my mind around just studying lightly vs. giving 110% prior to test day to maximize performance. I can see the rationale, just seems unintuitive :)

Regards,
Anton
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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Mar 2019, 18:14
AntonYatsenko wrote:
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Anton,

Considering how well you've been performing on your other CATs, it's possible that this recent CAT might just be the result of a 'bad day.' At higher-and-higher score levels, the GMAT becomes really 'sensitive' to little mistakes (especially on 'gettable' questions), so your analysis of this performance is really important (re: you need to properly define WHY you were getting questions wrong). There's a big difference between getting a bunch of questions wrong because you made some little mistakes and getting questions wrong because they were too difficult and you just could not figure out how to solve them. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer about your performance on this CAT (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing each section of this recent CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) How many Verbal questions did you 'narrow down to 2 choices' but still get wrong?

The process of taking (and reviewing) a CAT requires a significant amount of energy and effort - and takes time to 'recover' from. This is one of the reasons why you typically shouldn't take more than 1 CAT per week - and your last CAT should be taken about 1 week before Test Day. Since your next Official GMAT is March 19th, you should NOT take a CAT on the 17th; you would be far more likely to experience some 'burn out' on Test Day (and that is something that we want to avoid). Your last few days before your Official GMAT should be spent on light practice and review. You will be better served by getting some extra rest, so that you can go into Test Day calm, clear-headed and ready to work.

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


Hi Rich,

Here are my results:

1) Quant I counted 5 "Silly mistakes." Definitely a lot.
2) 3 Question on Quant.
3) 3 Questions on Quant that were too hard or time consuming, so I Triaged them. Ended up getting all 3 incorrectly but this has not always been the case. About 4 Questions on Verbal had me thinking that these questions are too hard. However, some of them I still managed to narrow down to two choices.
4) Did not guess on any questions but I did 'strategically eliminate/triage' a few questions that appeared to be too tough time consuming.
5) 6 Verbal questions that I narrowed down to two options and picked incorrect one.

I definitely see in the math section I need to slow down a little. While Q47 is not a bad score I see opportunity for improvement. For verbal side, after some self-reflecting, this CAT did seem tougher than others, but after reviewing, this did not seem to be the case. Only one tough RC passage that I ended up missing 0/3 questions right at the start. This most definitely may have thrown me off.

Do you have any other insight/tips for me as I approach test day?
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Mar 2019, 20:56
Hi Anton,

Based on your analysis of this CAT, your biggest 'issue' is the little things that you are not doing to make sure that you get the correct answer. There are only 31 questions in the Quant section - and you cannot 'absorb' 5 little mistakes and still score 700+. What additional work should you have done (on your PAD, not "in your head") to make sure that you got those questions correct? If you have not already done so, then I suggest that you redo all of those questions, by head, step-by-step on your pad. To maximize your performance on Test Day, you cannot leave these little details to chance.

With those 6 Verbal questions that you narrowed down but still got wrong - you were really close to getting the correct answer... so what did you 'miss?' Was it a grammar rule or some specific wording in the prompt? Do you know what the rule/pattern is now, so that you can spot it again later (if/when it shows up on a different question)? Could you have approached the question differently and gotten the correct answer? What notes are you willing to take to be sure that you're getting the correct answer?

One of the reasons why Business Schools put so much value on an Applicant's GMAT Score is because the GMAT will always give you the Score that you EARN. Right now, I think that you have the capacity to Score in the high-600s or 700s, but you're not consistently doing the necessary work to earn all of those correct answers (and by extension, that higher result).

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

*****Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!*****

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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Mar 2019, 16:53
Hi Anton,

Thank you for reaching back out. To answer your question, yes, I would consider your plan of reviewing past problems as “light prep work.” So, I think you have a solid plan in place. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out.

Good luck!
_________________

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

Founder and CEO

Scott@TargetTestPrep.com
TTP - Target Test Prep Logo
122 Reviews

5-star rated online GMAT quant
self study course

See why Target Test Prep is the top rated GMAT quant course on GMAT Club. Read Our Reviews

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Re: 680, 710, 660, NOW 620 on Practice CATs. HELP.   [#permalink] 13 Mar 2019, 16:53
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