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Am I ready to take the GMAT

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Joined: 15 Dec 2009
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07 Jan 2010, 15:25
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Hi All,

let me know if you think I am ready or not!

Been studying plus/minus 1hour a day for about a month. Been through a several year old Barron's GMAT guide (that referred to the GMAT still being owned by ETS so it was THAT old). Still felt it was useful as the concepts haven't changed much, but probably wouldnt recommend that book to anyone unless they got it for 8 bucks like me. Next went through the Crash Course for the GMAT Princeton Review (also old book referring to ETS). Got that for 5 bucks and thought it'd be pointless, but actually this was phenomenal ROI. Introduced me to a few of the need to know tricks like the 3/2 split. By now I knew my weaknesses: Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency. Brushing up on Number Properties wouldn't hurt either. Ordered the OG Verbal Book and worked through the first half of each the section, scoring about 80% of the questions right. My understanding is they are in order of difficulty so I still have the most difficult ones for later in my prep. After 3/4 month I decided I needed to know where I truly stand, took a GMATprep test:
* skipped the AWA
* Q49/V40 Total 720 Had about 10mins extra in Quant and no time in Verbal

In the meantime Kaplan Premier 2010 Live arrived and similar to the OG Verbal Book I did the first half of all verbal Questions, scoring about 90% right. Second CAT test after the first month
* Kaplan Practice Test 2
* Again skipped AWA
* Scaled Scores:
Scaled Score
Overall : 660
Overall Percentage Below : 86
Quantitative : 42
Quantitative Percentage Below : 88
Verbal : 42
Verbal Percentage Below : 95

That was earlier today and I am somewhat puzzled as to what to make out of this. I had the first 20 quant questions right and then a total of 7 wrong in the last 18 questions. Many being Data Sufficiency, a known weakness I haven addressed yet. Verbal also 7 wrong, first 12 right and then fairly mixed. 6 out of the 7 wrong questions I narrowed it down to two answers and picked the wrong one, no clear error pattern though. Also, I had 25 (!) mins left in quant and again no time in verbal. Didn't have to guess any verbal though either, was spot on.

As for the Kaplan score, I am a little confused about the low quant though, as I am a scientist with a significant quant background. Concerning the composite score, I have read across the forum that the Kaplan Cats USED to be off by 50 to a 100 points. Does anyone know or have a feel for whether this still holds true?

I want to take the GMAT asap and am thinking about mid February.
Until then I plan to
*finish the Kaplan Live book.
*work through the MGMAT Number Properties
*finish OG Verbal
*take 2 CATs each weekend (Kaplan/MGMAT/GMATprep) all with AWA
*work through the OG

Also, I am shooting for 700+ and am generally a good test taker. I really get a kick out of spotting a trap and avoiding it

Do you guys think it's a sound plan to take my GMAT in February or am I running into disaster. Anything else I may have missed or should consider?
Thanks so much!
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07 Jan 2010, 15:29

I did try two GMATchallenges on the free holiday days, with about 50% correct answers. I didnt have much time to review my mistakes but found many of the questions to be centered around "mean" traps that I haven't yet encountered anywhere in my other prep material. I do think tough the provide some good training for the advanced test taker, I am still not convinced I should integrate those in me preparation though
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Last edited by ThomasD on 07 Jan 2010, 15:58, edited 1 time in total.

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07 Jan 2010, 15:48
can't really comment on the validity of kaplan tests. the only ones that usually do a decent job of predicting where you stand score-wise are gmat preptests (usually +/- 30 points), and to a lesser extent MGMAT full length tests (+/- 50 points, maybe more).

i dont see any compelling reason why you should delay the test further. a 720 on the gmat preptest is a solid score. obviously it wont guarantee a 700+ on the actual test, but if you continue your study plan (and NOT burn yourself out by trying to ramp it up to 8 hrs a day studying), then i would think you have a great shot at breaking 700.

also one thing to note, you would be surprised at how much difference getting a few more verbal questions right would affect your score, especially if you're at a V40. spend some time with the MGMAT sentence correction book - it's a great tool.
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09 Jan 2010, 14:48
Alright shadow I trust you and hopefully myself.... just scheduled for February 23, earliest possible date in my area without a 60 mile commute.

I'll take the first MGMAT CAT later today or may be tomorrow.

I agree with you, if you have a solid quant score the extra point or two in verbal is the kicker you really want!

Currently working through the remainder of the Kaplan Live book.
Nice thing I learned today: /x-3/=3
one should really think of as x-3=3 or x-3=-3 had never really approached the problem like this, but always thought about it in a way more complicated way. Anyhow, how do I make the correct /absolute/ signs?

I'll keep this post up to date with my progress....
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10 Jan 2010, 16:07
Didn't take an MGMAT CAT, decided to do another Kaplan 2010 Live Premier First:
Within their program it first refers to this as Practice Test 3, but when the window pops open it says CAT1, little confusing but whatever...

Overall 740
Over Percent Below 97
Quant 50
Quant Percentile 94
Verbal 48
Verbal Percentil 99

Am quite pleased with that. I again did not do the AWA, had about 8 mins left in quant and 30 secs in the verbal.

Funny thing I noticed, the test window always said GMAT 2007 on top, I thought these test had been redesigned, did someone just forget to edit this or were they not redesigned?

Anyhow, I think I will do an MGMAT on Tuesday w/o AWA and from then on all with AWA.

I am almost finished with the Kaplan book, only have the Data Sufficiency left, which I still think is one of my weaknesses.

To bring another old thread back to live: verbal-rc-help-30247.html I am using rhyme's approach to reading comp and it works great for me. It does require some practice though..
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12 Jan 2010, 14:08
Alrighty, first MGMAT CAT done, also the last without AWA.
Little disappointing:
TYPE SCORE ESTIMATED PERCENTILE RANK
Quantitative 44 73 %
Verbal 35 77 %
Total 650 84 %

Not happy with either the quant or verbal. Ran out of time on the last quant question. Discovered that in the quant section there were 2 problems where I had no idea how to even start, that was a new feeling for me. Also, I had three educated guesses who all turned out to be not so educated
In the verbal, boy I had a hard time with one of the RC sections where I got every single question wrong whereas all other RC questions were correct. Checking over my RC notes for that section, I wrote down all the wrong stuff. What was I thinking....Missed several of the harder SC questions. CR was fine.
Not quite what I had hoped for overall.
Will finish the OG verbal workbook until the weekend and do some more data sufficiency questions. First full CAT with AWA Saturday....wondering now whether I want to do a Kaplan or MGMAT, MGMAT did seem harder to me...
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13 Jan 2010, 09:31
^ great score! and as you will find out on these forums, the mgmat exams are generally more difficult than other exams. your score indicates that you would do quite well on the real exam, plus or minus 30-50 points.

to be absolutely certain, take another 1 or 2 mgmat exams after you brush up on the areas you mentioned above.

best of luck!

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13 Jan 2010, 19:19
Thanks for the words of encouragement TimesSquareDesi. I am addressing some of my weaknesses from my last MGMAT as we speak. 650 was just a little disappointing at this point after cracking the 700 on Gmatprep and Kaplan tests. It's just that I know I need to crack this score as I need to overcome a significant lack of WE in my applications - can't seem to get that out of the back of my mind.
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13 Jan 2010, 20:04
Depending on your age, a higher gmat score will carry more weight than work experience although both of these areas are certainly considered. I feel that, for example, HBS would take you if you are very young and scored very well on the gmat (and undergrad grades, etc) or if you are slightly older but have significant and stellar work experience.

There are forumla's for finding out the area of a triangle but no real formula that admissions comittees will use when reviewing your app :D

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14 Jan 2010, 08:48
Yeah, I kind of think of GPA and GMAT as initial numbers that need to be hit. Since there are so many applications to the top schools if you dont hit certain benchmarks, they will have some else in their application pool that has a very similar profile but did hit those benchmarks. I kind of think those benchmarks are around GPA 3.5 and GMAT 680 (maybe 700); I further believe that if you do exceptionally well on GPA or GMAT it does give your application a boost as it does help the schools with their numbers. So I have a good GPA, but I also want an above benchmark GMAT to compensate for a lack of WE. Again, if it really does compensate I do not know, I agree with what you said about young applicants with stellar benchmarks, problem for me is, by the time I apply I will be 27 and 28 for matriculation, so I will be dead on average age. Problem being, my complete lack of WE outside of my PhD studies. I know I'll be able to work that angle in my essays, but I just want to make sure that my application doesn't get 'weeded out' before anyone ever reads those essays, thus I think a strong GMAT will really help.

On a more joking note, I just thought about a formula to combine gmat and gpa into one measure and hmmm, really not that easy
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14 Jan 2010, 08:50
It sounds like you're on top of your game for the GMAT, and doing quite well on the tests to boot. I'm sure you've thought of this, but I would suggest doing the AWAs when you're taking practice exams, because even if they aren't graded, they do add another hour to an exam that's already three hours long. It's good training for your endurance and concentration to do them every practice test!

Also, you might be doing this already, but make sure to use our analysis tool on our tests and go through the questions you got wrong to see why you did them wrong. (We have detailed explanations of each question that you can access when you're done taking the exam.)

In addition, if you want a few more resources, you might want to check out our free tutorials for some good strategies: http://www.manhattangmat.com/tutorials/

Best of luck with the rest of your studying!

Caitlin Clay
Student Services Associate
Manhattan GMAT
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Manhattan GMAT Discount | Manhattan GMAT Reviews

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14 Jan 2010, 14:18
Thanks for your suggestions CClay. My plan was to start including the AWAs beginning with the next CAT; you are right it does make a difference and will likely negatively impact performance as you need more stamina.
I have used your analysis provided to look into the questions I got wrong and the ones where I knew I was guessing. I havent checked out your tutorials, I'll give em a shot later.
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16 Jan 2010, 13:26
Alright, results of MGMAT CAT2 with AWA are in:

TYPE SCORE ESTIMATED PERCENTILE RANK
Quantitative 47 81 %
Verbal 40 91 %
Total 710 94 %

I can do with that. A point more in quant and may be one or two more in verbal would be great.

Just reread the AWAs though and they could certainly need some polishing. I wouldn't give myself higher than a 5 score at best. So I will need to practice that just a little.

I'll give myself an hour idle time before I go and analyze my mistakes and educated guesses.

Still this feels so much better than the initial MGMAT 650 CAT
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17 Jan 2010, 14:58
Alright, another Kaplan CAT first with AWA

Overall: 620
Quant: 40
Verbal: 35

Low values....I know, but they are in line, as I experimented with this CAT. I added another variable to the situation to test myself. Namely: STRESS.
After the AWA I started my Tv loud and added the Radio at similar levels. Holy Moly it was annoying and I had the hardest time concentrating. From my preliminary analysis, it seems like I missed a lot of the types of question where the stem gives you somthing in hours, but all the answers are in minutes. So all the stuff where you need focus. Also in the verbal all CR that were lenghty were a lot more difficult to memorize. By the time I got to answer choice C I had forgotten what I was looking for. I'll need to look in greater detail what else is different, but I think I can fairly conclude that stress poses a serious threat to my performance. Certainly the test center wont be that bad, but it;s good to know what possibly could happen.... I may need to develop a mechanims by which i quickly outline the 'real' question on my scratch paper to lose less time going back and forth between screen, scratch paper and my thoughts....
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19 Jan 2010, 20:31
I have noticed that some people are wondering how the percentage of correct answers during their GMAT preparation might correlate to the actual score. Well I have no answer to that, but as I plan to keep this post alive until I am done with my GMAT, why not post those scores and may be find some predictive value once I am done?

So finished with Kaplan Live 2010

SC: 84%
CR: 86%
RC: 86%

PS: 82%
DS: 70%

Anyone an idea what my weakness is? Darn DS, I really need to address this....

I do not know if the question in this book were sorted by difficulty or not ( I actually think they are not, only the 'Master' Questions are highlighted and supposedly more difficult), but I did all of these questions in batches of 25, and the batches differed by no more than 2%. So overall I was pretty consistent.

I am using the same approach for the OG verbal and will post those scores once I am done with the second batch of the questions. That might be a while though, I think I should devote a little more time to quant, in particular DS.

Anyone ideas on how to improve there? I am actively reading the DS Forum, thinking about purchasing the MGMAT DS book, other suggestions?
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23 Jan 2010, 12:57
Another CAT bites the dust....

Kaplan CAT4:

Total: 690
Quant: 48
Verbal: 41

Yet have to analyze my mistakes. For the first time today I actually liked writing the AWA, while of course adding to the exhaustion, somehow I before I started this prep I was nervous today and it gave me time to calm down. While I am using Rhyme's approach to RC I still need get quicker reading the passages. I also feel I have an advantage in the Kaplan Cats as a lot of the passages are scientifc in nature and that represents my comfort zone. Can't rely on that for the real deal though...
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26 Jan 2010, 19:46
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Alright, I didnt take my MGMAT CAT on Sunday, I was not feeling too well, so I postponed it until today. Results including AWA are as following:

Quant: 44
Verbal: 37
Total: 670

Hmm, yeah well I suppose it's ok, but I was hoping for more. Especially in math I stumbled in three traps and one stupid miscalculation. I need to work on that, I hope that will come with more practice.

As for verbal, there were two questions on the exam where I think MGMAT needs to do some re-evaluation. For those familiar with the Alligator incident question: In essence it's a CR question asking what would explain more DEADLY alligator attacks and their answer is that a campaign to destroy alligator eggs ended two years ago. So they are trying to tell me that 2 year old alligators cause deadly attacks. A wild 2 year old alligator is 4-5 feet by age 2, if he sees me at 6ft+ he is going to go bye bye see you later alligator

Anyways, I finished the MGMAT Number Properties book and all I have left material wise is the OG12 which I have not yet touched. Thinking about getting the MGMAT SC book, I did really like the Number Properties book. Got like 25 days to go or so, so I think I should have time for another book or maybe two. I wish my Quant was consistently in the 47/48 area.
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26 Jan 2010, 21:09
great progress so far and you're using the exact materials that I will be using - my exam is on the 10th of april....

for quant - have you looked at the gmatclub sets yet? from what i've read, they seem to be a great way to reinforce gmat-tested math and are very challenging...

how are you doing with sc? if you feel you're doing well and are consistently getting a good number of them right, i dont think it would be the best use of time getting the mgmat sc book - even though it's the bible here.

otherwise you can try to find the older edition on craigslist. since the new one is out, the prices should be lower.

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27 Jan 2010, 14:28
Yeah I think i can square and fair say my bottom should be a 650 score. I seem to be scoring higher than that consistently. I have tried some of the club challenges on free weekends, but while challenging I find them fairly 'removed' from the real questions. Real being in perspective to what I saw when taking the Gmatprep Cat1. I thought the club challenges had a lot of traps in them and I deem it more important to manifest concepts (even though I still do fall for traps too).

I further believe the key to a high overall score is the verbal subscore. I do not think I can do much for my reading comprehension, I read plenty and challenging material and for the most part I think I got a good handle on that. Sure I do miss detail questions in long passages here and there, but I don't see that improving much.

For CR, when I have to guess, I have it narrowed down to 2 answers most of time, sometimes only 3. So again, I don't feel training will do much.

Now SC, while you can't fool me with Subject/Verb agreement and simple stuff like that, I do miss parallelism too frequently and sometimes have issues with present and past perfect. Even idioms I do miss. Then sometimes I get confused with adverb and adjective, I put for example an adjective where there should be an adverb an vice versa. I feel that investing some more time in SC can lead to the highest increase in points overall, thus I think I will spend some extra time studying the MGMAT SC book. But yeah I may be wrong. I certainly do appreciate your feedback though....

Any master tricks for DS? I feel DS can still trick me all the time too, independent of whether it's geometry algebra or whatever, I sometimes just forget to consider the 'special' number like 1,0,-1 fractions etc..
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30 Jan 2010, 14:13
And another Cat test.... Kaplan CAT 4
Overall: 680
Quantitative: 42
Verbal: 45

I am continuing to make stupid mistakes in quant. I had 2 errors by misinterpreting and > for < sign and one really horrendous miscalculation that I should have caught. However, I also see progress, after finishing MGMAT's Number Properties, I have been using factorization on some problems that I would tried differently otherwise. Reviewing those problems I made the correct (more time efficient choice) to use factorization. So there is hope! 16 mins left at the end. Haven't seen that in a while.

As for the verbal, if that was my score on the real thing, I'd take it. However, I really feel like I am at an advantage with Kaplan tests, 3 out of the 4 RCs were scientific and that really plays into my strength. They were also all relatively short this time around. Still some SC errors and bad educated guessing on 2 CR questions. This was also my first time ever finishing a verbal section early....by 9 minutes - I bet it was the short RC sections.

AWA feels like it's going smoother time after time, definitely using chinesburned's template and will be sticking to it!

So the overall score seems to be well within my standard scoring range, with the subscores still being a bit inconsistent. I am wondering whether I should take my second GMATprep exam next weekend to get a better gauge at an 'official' score. In the meantime my MGMAT SC book has arrived so I will work through that. I also started the math review in OG12 and boy, it's a plain review not neat tricks explained nothing.....little disappointing but I suppose GMAC agenda is a little different from all other prep only companies.

If anyone has any other suggestions what to look out for, how to eliminate careless mistakes etc. let me know please
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