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After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help

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After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Sep 2018, 23:36
Snapshot : Started studying in 2016.
Material used (books): OG, Kaplan, Manhattan SC, Princeton Review
Subscription learning: Empower GMAT (2017) & Math Revolution (2018)

GMAT 1 (2016) :510
GMAT 2 (2016): 520
GMAT 3 (2017) :660 (Q45, V34)
GMAT 4 (2018) :600 (Q40, V33)


I'm out of idea of how am I suppose to tackle this exam. Because I've stretch my studying time for 2 years, I believe I have covered all the topics.
I would constantly score 680+ on my GMAT practice test, but I still bombed my GMAT exam :(

Can experts and others help me on this? Would like to score at least in 700 range so I can apply in second round this year. Thank you
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2018, 13:06
Hi chid2,

To start, you've clearly improved your GMAT Score a great deal over time. In addition, a 660 is a solid score (it's above the 80th percentile overall), so it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School. As such, an additional retest might not be necessary.

Since you've been studying over the last several years, before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on each 'phase' of your studies and your goals:

Studies:
1) On what dates did you take your 4 Official GMATs?
2) How long did you study before each attempt?
3) What study materials did you use before each attempt?
4) Which 'brands' of practice CATs have you used so far? Have you taken any CATs more than once?

Goals:
5) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
6) What are the exact application deadlines you're facing?

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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Sep 2018, 01:43
Hi Rich, thanks for the reply.

Studies:
1) On what dates did you take your 4 Official GMATs? Just last week
2) How long did you study before each attempt? Since the exam last year, I started studying again on March.
3) What study materials did you use before each attempt? I'd normally attempt GMATclub questions, OG, reviewed all my notes and signed up with Math revolution.
4) Which 'brands' of practice CATs have you used so far? Have you taken any CATs more than once? GMATprep2, Manhattan CAT, Kaplan CAT. Some I have taken back in 2016, only GMATprep2 is new.

Goals:
5) What Schools are you planning to apply to? Columbia / NYU / Cambridge Judge / Oxford Said/. The median GMAT for those schools are at 690-710.
6) What are the exact application deadlines you're facing? Round 2 so early Jan.

Thanks again Rich, look forward for your feedback & suggestions.
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Sep 2018, 10:18
Hi chid2,

From your response, it looks like you have described how you studied for your 4th Official attempt (the 600). Since you scored higher on your 3rd attempt (the 660), I'd like to know how you studied for THAT attempt - and if there were significant differences in your overall approach that time.

Studies:
1) On what date did you take your 3rd attempt and 4th attempt?
2) How long did you study for your 3rd attempt?
3) What study materials did you use for your 3rd attempt?

Since your 4th attempt was recent (and in the current/shorter format of the Exam), you might 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.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Oct 2018, 06:11
Hi Rich,

the 3rd attempt was made on Nov last year. Regarding study material, everything else is similar except that I subscribed to your course in Empower last year thus learning important strategies such TEST IT and TRIAGE.

With the new timing under quant, I think I got flustered on the test day. There's no prep material that mimics the revised timing up to now. Do you have suggestions for new quant timing ?

I don't think I will be ordering ESR for my last test. But according to my 3rd test ESR, in verbal my opportunities are in CR & RC.
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Oct 2018, 09:49
Hi chid2,

Your 3rd Official GMAT was in the old/longer format, which you spent more time preparing for. The GMAT was changed to the current/shorter format back in April - and practice CATs in that same format have been available for the last 5 months. Did you take any practice CATs in the current format? I ask because assuming that you did take some of those updated practice CATs, it's not clear why you would suddenly be flustered by the 'new' Quant pacing on Test Day. There are any number of other factors that might have impacted your performance.

After the GMAT was shortened, we updated our Tactical and Pacing Modules in the EMPOWERgmat Course to account for the new format, so we can certainly discuss updated pacing advice if you're interested. However, while it's certainly possible that you had some pacing issues on Test Day, it's important to remember that pacing issues do NOT exist on their own - they're the results of OTHER issues. With a Q40, you would have made a number of little mistakes as you worked through the Quant section - and you missed out on lots of 'strategy-based' points. Thankfully, all of this can be improved on - and you've shown that you can learn and score higher - so we just have to make the proper adjustments to how you currently 'see' (and respond to) the Exam.

1) Over the last 3 months - and considering only the CATs you took in the current format - how have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

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Rich
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2018, 07:50
Unfortunately I have practised the CATs using the old timing. On quant test, my timing I was trying to follow :
Q 8 (50mins) , Q 15 (30mins) and Q 25 (12mins). I did triage around 5 questions (1 on 1-10, 2 on the mid, and 3 on the last questions). I think mentally I was already defeated because the questions didn't feels like 700+ towards the mid- end. Any recommendation on the strategy, Rich?

Last CATs (Gmat prep)
680 (Q 48, V 34)
690 (Q 46, V39)

Thank you again for taking the time to reply, really appreciate it Rich :)
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2018, 14:53
Hi chid2,

The content of the GMAT - and the Tactics that you can use against the Exam - have not changed, but since the length of the Quant and Verbal sections has changed, you really have to train for that new format. By choosing to take practice CATs in the older format and trying to 'crunch' the old Pacing Table to fit the shorter Exam, you were not properly preparing for your recent Test Day. If what you wrote is accurate, then you spent just 12 minutes on the first 8 questions (which would be an average of 1:30 minutes per question); that is entirely too fast for the opening block of questions in the Quant section - and you likely lost some points simply because you were moving too quickly and making little mistakes.

Thankfully, you still have plenty of time before the Round 2 deadlines, so you can continue to study and improve. To start, you are going to need NEW CATs in the current format. You should NOT retake any CATs that you have previously taken (regardless of whether those CATs were in the old or current format). You will likely need another 1-2 months of consistent, guided study to get to your Score goal though.

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: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2018, 16:31
Hi chid2,

I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with your GMAT. Since you have been studying for two years and have not hit your GMAT score goal, you really need to look at HOW you have been studying and make some changes. I see you have made some good improvement since starting your prep in 2016; however, it’s going to take another round of GMAT prep to get you to your 700+ score goal. So, as long as you are up for the task, with a new, thorough study plan, we can get you on the right track.

Given that you most recently scored a Q40/V33, it’s clear that you lack certain quant and verbal fundamentals that are necessary for a high score. Moving forward, ensure that you follow a study plan that allows you to learn linearly, such that you can slowly build mastery of one GMAT topic prior to moving on to the next. Within each topic, begin with the foundations and progress toward more advanced concepts. For example, 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 and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in two minutes or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

You can work on verbal in a similar manner. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual Critical Reasoning 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. 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 easy to read. 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, it is likely that you will have to work on all three of those aspects, and it is also likely that the reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is 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 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. Likely, the main reason that Sentence Correction has not "clicked" for you is that you have not put enough work into developing your skill in seeing what is going on in the various versions of the sentence that the answer choices create. 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 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 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 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, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. 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 are answering 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 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 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 Sentence Correction skills improve, you will then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

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.

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: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2018, 06:30
Hi Scott,

Thanks for the feedback, will incorporate the new perspective to my study routine.

Hi Rich,

I can do 2 hours/day everyday. What's your suggestion?
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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2018, 17:44
Hi chid2,

If you're not going to purchase the ESR for your recent Official GMAT, then we're going to need performance data from other source. If you don't have any practice CAT results from CATs taken in the current, shorter format, then we need to start there. This weekend, I suggest that you take a NEW CAT (meaning one that you have NOT taken before in the older format) and take it in a realistic fashion (take the FULL CAT - with the Essay and IR sections, take it away from your home, at the same time of day as when you'll take the Official GMAT, etc.). Once you have that score, you should report back here and we can discuss the results and how best to proceed.

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Re: After 4th GMAT test, still far from my goal score of 700+. Please help &nbs [#permalink] 03 Oct 2018, 17:44
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