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A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Important Lessons Learnt

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A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Important Lessons Learnt  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Aug 2019, 00:59
Hi All,

I gave my first GMAT exam last Monday (19th aug) and got a score of 530. It was nowhere close to my practice test scores. After seeing my score, I was shattered and was on the verge of giving up. But an inner voice told me that this was probably not my best performance and i shouldn't give up after coming so far.

Some background:

My GMAT prepaparation started about an year back, although slow and steady. ( I am a mom of a toddler and have a full time job).
Resources used - OG 2019, Verbal Review, Economist tutor and Magoosh Quant

My preparation started with Economist. The course definitely improved my understanding of verbal concepts but did little on the quant part (i found the questions and the whole pattern very different from actual GMAT and also demanding in terms of number of hours needed to cover most of the topics). So i later switched to Magoosh quant - very interactive, though questions might seem bit different from GMAT. I could really not utilize this well as by the time i got this course, my exam was near and i wanted to spend more time on GMAT like questions - so practiced questions (mostly 600 level) from GMAT CLUB and some from OG 2019. I can't say that I didn't practice enough questions - i think i did quite a lot. But in hindsight, i can understand what mistakes led to such a low score.

1. I was always confident of my verbal skills, being from the marketing field. I knew that if i want to achieve or get closer to my target score of 700, i will have to work really hard on Quant. So the last 6 months of study was mostly devolted to quant, with less importance to Verbal. I used to look at the incorrect questions from OG once in a week before prep tests. And in the last two weeks before actual exam, i started spending some more time on Verbal (mostly 700 level official questions from Gmat Club). Say out of 7 hours of study, 1 hour was devoted to Verbal.

2. Pacing - Pacing was always a problem area, though I thought I could improve it later on as my accuracy improves. I seriously thought about pacing only in the last 10 days of prep. In the practice exams i was facing pacing issues, sometimes in verbal and sometimes in quant.

3. Review and error log - I realised the importance of error log only in the last two weeks or so, and started putting all incorrect answers in one place for later review. Didn't get much time at the end to review everything. For verbal, since i was using GMAT Wiley, which anyway tracks incorrect answers in each section, i didnt really feel the need for an error log or didn't know how to use it effectively.

4. Practicing 'more questions' not - Considering my low quant scores, i wanted to spend maximum time on practicing different types of questions, which i did. But with no real benefit. I feel that not reviewing the incorrect/difficult questions frequently was the biggest mistake, especially in quant, as it is not really about the number of questions we practice, but a solid understanding of the concepts tested. Real questions might always look different from practice questions, irrespective of number of questions practiced.

5. I took off from work and was studying 6-7 hours a day, and 'thinking' GMAT even when i wasn't styding - A recipe for disaster?


What went wrong in the exam


I started off with Verbal. In the last practice exam before the actual GMAT, i missed few questions in the verbal section that resulted in a low score of 590 (previous ones were 630, 690 and 740 - the last two were quite inflated). So in the exam i tried to do SC questions very fast so that i will have more time for CR and RC. I felt that the questions were really easy and thought maybe its because of all the difficult questions that i practiced in the last two weeks. The RC felt easier than the GMAT prep and OG. But overall i was very confident about verbal and finished a coupleof minutes earlier.

Quant started okay, but i realized i was taking more time in easy questions and at question no.11 i felt i need to pace up. I tried doing that but i was seeing some inequality questions that took time and it felt that every other question was taking more than 2 minutes. I even guessed on some questions in between, as I cudn't solve those. By the time i was on the 25th question i was really short of time and i didnt want to skip any question, so just quickly guessed on each of the last 5-6 questions. There was no time to pause and think. I realized already that i was in deep mess. And the picture of a 650 plus score came crashing down. I felt so so dejected, i knew i did so badly that even a great verbal score won't make up for it. Finished IR and AWA somehow.

It was when the 530 score popped up that i go the biggest shock - i knew i did badly on quant so Q28 wasn't surprising, but V34? I cudn't believe it, i felt the CR and RC questions were really easy and SC's also didnt seem too tough, but its never that easy to say if you got an SC question right or wrong. I immediately cancelled the score and walked out of the test center in dismay.

Questions

1.The ESR report was an eye opener in a way - It shows i did really well in CR 42, RC 51 but got 22 in SC. Could relate it to my strategy of taking less than a minute for SC and ignoring SC in last two weeks of practice. But the result was too brutal. But i did not understand why all the verbal questions were of the same difficulty level - Medium, although i did well in CR and RC? Sharing my ESR.

2. In quant, is there really a pacing strategy that I need to stick to even during practice ? And since I plan to retake in about 45 days, how can i take my score to a Q42 (average of prep test score was about Q38). How to utilize the Magoosh quant, GMAT club questions, OG and Quant review (latest editions) in this short period?

3. How many practice exams should ideally take, as i have only one GMAT prep left, i can reset and take some previous ones but i think it really confuses me with the inflated scores, as i saw in the last couple of weeks before exam. Any additional cats that i should buy?


4. Don't think i need more resources to study but need to understand how to most effectively utilize them so that i can get closer to my target score of 700, balancing a decent quant score and 40+ verbal score. Suggestions?

Please share your thoughts. Really need help to get back into the game. Don't want to QUIT.
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Re: A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Important Lessons Learnt  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Aug 2019, 19:20
Hi smits,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. 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. This Official Score is remarkably similar to the CAT Scores you mentioned in late April and early May of this year - so you may have developed some 'bad habits' during your studies that continued into your Official GMAT. Before we discuss any of those issues though, it would help if you could answer a few questions about your studies and current goals:

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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). Since you have purchased the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you. If you would rather not post it publicly, then you can feel free to PM it directly to me.

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Re: A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Please help!  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Aug 2019, 01:23
Thanks Rich, have messaged you separately, I am not able to upload ESR here for some reason.

Other recent test takers & experts - Bunuel mikemcgarry Please share your thoughts. I want to understand an effective way to use Magoosh quant and OG plus GMAT Club in these 30-45 days so that I can improve my Quant score to 40+. I had taken a mixed approach in the past 2-3 months that clearly didn't pay off.


Regards,
Smita
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Re: A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Important Lessons Learnt  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Aug 2019, 15:02
Hi Smita,

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

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

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

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Re: A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Important Lessons Learnt  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Aug 2019, 17:32
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Hi smits,

I’m sorry to hear how things went with your GMAT. The fact that you scored Q28 and V34 on your actual GMAT is a sign that you still have numerous weaknesses that were exposed on test day. Thus, rather than continuing to follow the same study routine you previously followed, you may consider following more of a linear, gradual, and thorough study routine. In other words, follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic individually, and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. By studying in such a way, you can ensure that you methodically improve your quant and verbal skills and leave no stone unturned. With all that said, you likely will need more that just 45 days to improve your GMAT score by 170 points, so consider taking the GMAT at a later date.

Certainly, if you’d like more specific advice on how to improve your verbal and quant skills, feel free to reach out. You also may find it helpful to read the following articles:

The Phases of Preparing for the GMAT

How to Score a 700+ on the GMAT — A Mini Guide for Success
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Re: A Disheartening Gmat Experience - Important Lessons Learnt   [#permalink] 22 Aug 2019, 17:32
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