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Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT

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Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 29 May 2018, 09:19
I took the GMAT this past Saturday and came away extremely frustrated and embarrassed by the result. Like many my weakness lies with the Quantitative section, so I focused most of my studying efforts towards that section. For background, I don't need a high GMAT score, >500 and >30th percentile on Quantitative.

I had been studying and doing practice problems for a few months and had an average of 540 on three practice tests (GMAT Prep x2 and Kaplan). I did poorly (470) on the second practice test, but I chalked that up to overexertion on that particular day. Even still, on that particular test I at least finished above 30th percentile on the Quantitative and it was actually the verbal that held me down that day. On all three practice tests my Quantitative percentile was over 33% and my verbal boosted my overall score. After my third practice test, I received a score of 580 and was satisfied with that. I figured given the information I had after taking three practice tests I thought I knew what to expect on the actual test day, WRONG.

I honestly don't know what happened. I think it might have been that heightened stress of knowing it was game day and the lights were on for real this time. I also got a very poor nights sleep before and had probably pushed myself too hard the night before as well as that whole week before. I didn't feel tired during the test as the adrenaline was flowing and I didn't necessarily feel overwhelmed by the questions either, but the results would beg to differ. I had been using Magoosh as my primary studying tool and overall I think it's a pretty good resource for the money. However, I really struggled to consistently follow their study schedule as I travel quite a bit for work. I also often felt the daily recommended work from Magoosh's daily schedule was too much to digest in a single day. Usually it would take me two days of actual work to complete one of their scheduled days.

I also think I lack a lot of the fundamental understandings of the GMAT math. Like so many I haven't done this type of math since junior high and high school, about half my life ago now. I guess it could be possible that I was just far more lucky for the questions I guessed on the practice tests than on the actual test. That seems unlikely to me though given I had "good enough" Quant. scores on all three of the practice tests.

I'm just so confused and frustrated now and pretty down about the whole thing. I don't know what to do next as I'm at a bit of a crossroads with regards to starting a program this fall. My contact from the main program I'm interested in suggested I retake but I just feel so deflated from this experience and what if I fall flat on my face again? That's another 3-4 weeks of time spent studying and stressing as well as another $250+ spent on the test itself. Another thing to note is I didn't do very well on the verbal section of the real test either. I actually felt quite confident during the test but was shocked when I saw how poorly I did. As I said before, my verbal is what had been carrying me to a high 500 score on previous practice tests.

Any and all advice and feedback is much appreciated.
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 30 May 2018, 08:22
vadey23 wrote:
I took the GMAT this past Saturday and came away extremely frustrated and embarrassed by the result. Like many my weakness lies with the Quantitative section, so I focused most of my studying efforts towards that section. For background, I don't need a high GMAT score, >500 and >30th percentile on Quantitative.

I had been studying and doing practice problems for a few months and had an average of 540 on three practice tests (GMAT Prep x2 and Kaplan). I did poorly (470) on the second practice test, but I chalked that up to overexertion on that particular day. Even still, on that particular test I at least finished above 30th percentile on the Quantitative and it was actually the verbal that held me down that day. On all three practice tests my Quantitative percentile was over 33% and my verbal boosted my overall score. After my third practice test, I received a score of 580 and was satisfied with that. I figured given the information I had after taking three practice tests I thought I knew what to expect on the actual test day, WRONG.

I honestly don't know what happened. I think it might have been that heightened stress of knowing it was game day and the lights were on for real this time. I also got a very poor nights sleep before and had probably pushed myself too hard the night before as well as that whole week before. I didn't feel tired during the test as the adrenaline was flowing and I didn't necessarily feel overwhelmed by the questions either, but the results would beg to differ. I had been using Magoosh as my primary studying tool and overall I think it's a pretty good resource for the money. However, I really struggled to consistently follow their study schedule as I travel quite a bit for work. I also often felt the daily recommended work from Magoosh's daily schedule was too much to digest in a single day. Usually it would take me two days of actual work to complete one of their scheduled days.

I also think I lack a lot of the fundamental understandings of the GMAT math. Like so many I haven't done this type of math since junior high and high school, about half my life ago now. I guess it could be possible that I was just far more lucky for the questions I guessed on the practice tests than on the actual test. That seems unlikely to me though given I had "good enough" Quant. scores on all three of the practice tests.

I'm just so confused and frustrated now and pretty down about the whole thing. I don't know what to do next as I'm at a bit of a crossroads with regards to starting a program this fall. My contact from the main program I'm interested in suggested I retake but I just feel so deflated from this experience and what if I fall flat on my face again? That's another 3-4 weeks of time spent studying and stressing as well as another $250+ spent on the test itself. Another thing to note is I didn't do very well on the verbal section of the real test either. I actually felt quite confident during the test but was shocked when I saw how poorly I did. As I said before, my verbal is what had been carrying me to a high 500 score on previous practice tests.

Any and all advice and feedback is much appreciated.
I think you should take it again. A lot of people underperform the first time around, and if you managed to get your target score on the GMATPrep tests, I think you're capable of getting that score on the actual GMAT.
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 30 May 2018, 12:33
Hi vadey23,

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. If you can answer a few questions, then we should be able to figure this out:

When you took your CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE (re: on a prior CAT, in an online forum or in a practice set)?

In addition,
1) What is the application deadline for this Program? What is the latest that you can submit your GMAT Score?
2) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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Rich
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2018, 07:18
In response to your questions:

When you took your CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
The first CAT was taken in full and I got an acceptable score (for what I need). For the second CAT I had planned to take it in full until I saw the IR questions were the exact same (GMAT Prep Practice Test #2) and from there I remembered the answers I put before and just replicated those. I skipped the AWA altogether on the second practice test. For the third, it was through Kaplan online, one of those free events, and for that they only administered verbal and quantitative sections. So for me it was a bit of a mixed bag. It's funny and a bit ironic that on the practice test I did the poorest was the one where I basically skipped the IR and AWA (the second test). Where I thought I was giving myself a bit of a break, but I think I over taxed myself beforehand.

2) Did you take them at home?
Yes, I did take all three of them at home.


3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
No, I'd say all three were at different times. The first was probably early afternoon, the second was maybe a bit later and drifted into early evening, and the third was from 7-10PM as it was a scheduled event through Kaplan. I took the official test at 8AM on a Saturday after a night of poor sleep and a week of less than stellar sleep as well.

4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
I'll admit I did pause the test a couple of times on the first practice, only on Quant. section. I only did that a couple of times when I was taking an especially long time and wanted to try to figure out the question. My mistake is I was probably over calculating in the first place. I did not do that on the second or third practice tests, and my Quant. score remained above what I needed it to be. On the second test my score was dragged down primarily because I did poorly on the verbal, not the Quant., which was quite surprising. It was a day of studying followed by the practice test and once I got to the verbal section (after the Q) I was so burnt out I could hardly concentrate on the reading passages or paragraphs. My Quant. was relatively constant and still above what I needed on that second practice, however. Other than that, I adhered to the break times and tried to simulate it as best I could without knowing how it was ACTUALLY going to be on test day.


5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE (re: on a prior CAT, in an online forum or in a practice set)?
The second GMAT Prep practice exam had the same IR questions as the first but other than that it seemed like a fresh test. I did not re-take any of the practice tests though.

In addition,
1) What is the application deadline for this Program? What is the latest that you can submit your GMAT Score?
There isn't exactly a hard, date-driven deadline for this program. It's basically closed once the cohort of 30 students fills up. I've been in pretty close contact with the program manager and she said she will let me know when the numbers start to get close. As of right now she said there's still plenty of room so it could essentially go until a week before class starts in August. Obviously, it's not my goal to use that as the deadline as I'd like to get this over sooner rather than later and enjoy some of my summer, right?

2) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?
I'd like to be able to commit between 12 and 16 hours per week towards studying. I travel quite frequently for work, especially in summer months, and have a couple trips coming up here in June. It's always a struggle to keep a consistent study schedule when traveling so that could present some additional challenges. My girlfriend is a Ph.D student in Accounting and got a 770 on the GMAT so she is going to take a more active role in tutoring me on the math portion. She's a math whiz and thinks a better understanding of the fundamental principles will definitely help. She has more time to dedicate to this now as well since she's essentially in her summer term, so that will also be a welcome addition.
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New post 01 Jun 2018, 07:31
Hi!

Let me begin by saying "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall"!

Have a positive mindset about the exam. According to me, getting bogged down and feeling nervous was the biggest contributor in your downfall. Tell yourself every morning and every evening and whenever you feel down, "GMAT is testing some core skills and nothing advanced. Just push yourself with the mantra, "If I can't, then no one can"."!!

Remember you might spend some more time and money on your next attempt but an improved score could take you places!!

Wishing you all the very best!! I hope you get your dream score!!

Regards,

Manish
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2018, 10:23
Hi vadey23,

From your prior post, there were some 'red flags' in terms of how you took your CATs. Before we discuss those issues though, I have a few additional questions about the lead-up to Test Day and Test Day itself:

1) What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT?
2) How did you sleep the night before your Test?
3) How long was the ride to the Test Center from your home?
4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test?
5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks?
6) Did you finish any sections early?
7) Did you have to rush to finish any sections (and guess on questions just to finish on time)?

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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jun 2018, 11:45
Haha, I'm probably going to give you more red flags then. I appreciate the honesty and the feedback/advice.

1) What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT?
I took the third CAT on Thursday (<2 days before the actual test). Other than that I studied every day that week. I also went to bed later than I would've preferred each night that week.

2) How did you sleep the night before your Test?
In a word, horribly. I wanted to be in bed by 11, but wasn't in bed until at least 1140. I planned to wake up at 620 the next morning as the test was scheduled for 8AM, but I instead woke up at 450 and couldn't turn my mind off. I "felt" ok during the test but I crashed really hard that afternoon/early evening.

3) How long was the ride to the Test Center from your home?
14 minutes one way, easy drive.

4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test?
No, none that were particularly noteworthy. The only thing that was frustrating at the testing center was the lack of attention the proctor paid to the testers when they needed to be escorted out for their break(s). I was a direct casualty of that as I had to wait for over 2 minutes on my second, 8-minute break for her just to see me. After I had a small snack and drink I lost a minute once I got back. Other than that there were no issues. I'm left-handed so using their marker tabs was a little frustrating because I would get marker all over my left hand as I wrote. That's not really anything but I thought I'd make note of it.

5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks?
During the first break I went to the restroom and got a drink of water. During the second break I had less time but I had some water and ate a protein bar as my stomach was starting to growl a bit. That was pretty much it.

6) Did you finish any sections early?
I finished the verbal slightly early. On the Quant I had to guess on the final three questions so I was a bit short for time on that section, but that's been per usual for me on that section.

7) Did you have to rush to finish any sections (and guess on questions just to finish on time)?
I guess I answered that in the previous question, yes I had to rush through the Quant. section. I finished the verbal with a minute or two remaining. I had to guess on the last couple IR questions as well.
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jun 2018, 10:43
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Hi vadey23,

Test Day is a rather specific 'event' - the details are specific and they matter, so you have to train as best as you can for all of them. The more realistic you can make your CATs, the more likely the score results are to be accurate. The more you deviate, the more "inflated" your practice scores can become - and that's what happened here. By skipping sections, taking the CATs at home, taking them at different times of day, etc., you weren't properly training for the FULL GMAT 'experience.'

Test Day involves a variety of really specific steps and parameters (including steps before the Test even begins - such as leaving your home, traveling, etc.). Every factor matters, including the psychological ones. When you sit down on Test Day, you KNOW that you're going to be in the Computer Lab for about 3.5 hours - but if you're just taking individual sections (or taking a CAT without the Essay and IR sections), then you KNOW that you'll be done in 1-2 hours. The attitude and energy that you use during practice will NOT be a match for what you'll need on Test Day, so it's not a proper way to practice.

In addition, 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. By taking a CAT in the last couple of days right before your Official GMAT, there's a reasonable chance that you experienced some 'burn out' on Test Day. The extra study time during that last week, going to bed later and the lack of sleep that you got the night before the Exam likely all contributed to that burn out. You described how your stomach was 'growling' during the Test; do you eat breakfast every day? Skipping breakfast is a big mistake - the brain and body need fuel to perform at a high level, and if you're not giving yourself that fuel, then your Test Day performance will suffer.

Thankfully, these are all relatively easy issues to fix - now that you've taken the Official GMAT, you know the EXACT details of what happens on Test Day, so you can better train to mimic those details during your CATs. In addition, you do not have to correctly answer ANY questions that you think are too hard or too weird (so getting comfortable with the idea that it's okay to quickly 'dump' a few tough questions should help you with your overall pacing. That all having been said, raising a 370 to a 500+ will likely take at least 2 months of additional study time - and you'll have to work to hone specific skills in BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections.

1) You mentioned having to travel a lot during the summer. Are there going to be periods of time (days or even weeks) in which you won't be able to study at all? If so, when will those dates be?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2018, 04:16
vadey23 wrote:
I took the GMAT this past Saturday and came away extremely frustrated and embarrassed by the result. Like many my weakness lies with the Quantitative section, so I focused most of my studying efforts towards that section. For background, I don't need a high GMAT score, >500 and >30th percentile on Quantitative.

I had been studying and doing practice problems for a few months and had an average of 540 on three practice tests (GMAT Prep x2 and Kaplan). I did poorly (470) on the second practice test, but I chalked that up to overexertion on that particular day. Even still, on that particular test I at least finished above 30th percentile on the Quantitative and it was actually the verbal that held me down that day. On all three practice tests my Quantitative percentile was over 33% and my verbal boosted my overall score. After my third practice test, I received a score of 580 and was satisfied with that. I figured given the information I had after taking three practice tests I thought I knew what to expect on the actual test day, WRONG.

I honestly don't know what happened. I think it might have been that heightened stress of knowing it was game day and the lights were on for real this time. I also got a very poor nights sleep before and had probably pushed myself too hard the night before as well as that whole week before. I didn't feel tired during the test as the adrenaline was flowing and I didn't necessarily feel overwhelmed by the questions either, but the results would beg to differ. I had been using Magoosh as my primary studying tool and overall I think it's a pretty good resource for the money. However, I really struggled to consistently follow their study schedule as I travel quite a bit for work. I also often felt the daily recommended work from Magoosh's daily schedule was too much to digest in a single day. Usually it would take me two days of actual work to complete one of their scheduled days.

I also think I lack a lot of the fundamental understandings of the GMAT math. Like so many I haven't done this type of math since junior high and high school, about half my life ago now. I guess it could be possible that I was just far more lucky for the questions I guessed on the practice tests than on the actual test. That seems unlikely to me though given I had "good enough" Quant. scores on all three of the practice tests.

I'm just so confused and frustrated now and pretty down about the whole thing. I don't know what to do next as I'm at a bit of a crossroads with regards to starting a program this fall. My contact from the main program I'm interested in suggested I retake but I just feel so deflated from this experience and what if I fall flat on my face again? That's another 3-4 weeks of time spent studying and stressing as well as another $250+ spent on the test itself. Another thing to note is I didn't do very well on the verbal section of the real test either. I actually felt quite confident during the test but was shocked when I saw how poorly I did. As I said before, my verbal is what had been carrying me to a high 500 score on previous practice tests.

Any and all advice and feedback is much appreciated.


Best Books

For Concept Learning

Manhattan Quant Guides
Manhattan Verbal Guides
For CR: The Powerscore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible
For RC: Aristotle RC Grail

For Practice

The Official Guide for GMAT 2015-18
The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review 2015-18
The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review 2015-18

Strategies

You can start with Quant or Verbal which suits you. If you have started with Quant then Start with the Arithmetic but if started with verbal then start first with Sentence correction. One month for learning Quant concepts and one month for practicing question and same practice for Verbal. During you Practicing question don't forget to make an error log to track your weak areas after practice. Once you know your weak areas revise your Concepts related to those areas and do some more Practice. 6-8 CATs are enough for practice the real tests. Make your Stamina for sitting 3 hours in the test and don't study more than 2 hours in one sit and 4 hours per day

Top CATs for Practice

1. Official GMAC CATs
2. Manhattan CATs
3. Kaplan CATs
4. GMAT Club Quant CATs

Good Luck
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2018, 06:53
Just want to provide an update. I just received word that the program I'm trying to get into will accept the GRE as well and the program manager suggested I perhaps take that instead of taking the GMAT again. She said the admissions folks don't look at one test in a higher light than the other and that if I'm more comfortable with the math on the GRE that I should go with that one.

I took a practice GRE yesterday, cold, never seeing the format before and I did OK. Overall, I got a 298 and I was right where the program admissions suggest on the quant., verbal, and the overall score. Considering this was my first experience with this format I think it's a decent indicator that maybe I should consider going in the direction of the GRE. I got a little tripped up with the timing of the final quant. section and had to rush through and essentially guess on the final six questions, of which I got all incorrect. So again, I believe that if I hone my timing there's no way I go 0/6 on those final questions if I'm able to actually work on them. On that section I started 10/12 so I do believe I'm more competent on this quant. material.

Is this a huge mistake or should I go with the GRE? I would plan on taking it at the end of June. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2018, 10:31
Hi vadey23,

Assuming that the School(s) that you plan to apply to each accept the GRE as part of the application process, you should certainly go with whichever Test you're more comfortable with. Most of the details that we discussed about properly training for the GMAT also apply to training for the GRE and you have to be mindful about putting in consistent, guided study to maximize your performance.

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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2018, 11:14
vadey23 wrote:
Just want to provide an update. I just received word that the program I'm trying to get into will accept the GRE as well and the program manager suggested I perhaps take that instead of taking the GMAT again. She said the admissions folks don't look at one test in a higher light than the other and that if I'm more comfortable with the math on the GRE that I should go with that one.

I took a practice GRE yesterday, cold, never seeing the format before and I did OK. Overall, I got a 298 and I was right where the program admissions suggest on the quant., verbal, and the overall score. Considering this was my first experience with this format I think it's a decent indicator that maybe I should consider going in the direction of the GRE. I got a little tripped up with the timing of the final quant. section and had to rush through and essentially guess on the final six questions, of which I got all incorrect. So again, I believe that if I hone my timing there's no way I go 0/6 on those final questions if I'm able to actually work on them. On that section I started 10/12 so I do believe I'm more competent on this quant. material.

Is this a huge mistake or should I go with the GRE? I would plan on taking it at the end of June. Thanks in advance.


It sounds like the GRE might be a decent choice in your situation. But here are some things you'd look over before making a choice:

https://www.manhattanprep.com/gre/resou ... v-gmat.cfm - table comparing the two tests, plus a helpful video. Note that this refers to the GMAT prior to the recent (minor) format changes.

https://www.manhattanprep.com/gre/blog/ ... -vs-gre-2/ - the archive of Manhattan Prep blog articles that deal with the GMAT vs GRE question
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2018, 12:13
1) You mentioned having to travel a lot during the summer. Are there going to be periods of time (days or even weeks) in which you won't be able to study at all? If so, when will those dates be?

Rich, to answer your question, no there aren't any specific weeks that I won't be able to study, but there might be a day or two here or there that are interrupted. So I'd say there will only be a few days in total that I will not be able to study. The program I am working towards does accept both tests and they've explicitly told me they don't view one over the other.
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Re: Average of 540 on 3 Practice Tests and Got a 370 on Actual GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jun 2018, 15:14
Hi vadey23,

What were your Quant and Verbal Scores for the GRE practice MST that you took? Based on those results, you should work on whichever section offers the greatest opportunity to pick up points (I would assume that that would be the Verbal section) for the next 1-2 weeks, then take the other free practice GRE. Once you have that result, you should post back here and we can discuss how best to proceed.

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New post 01 Jul 2018, 08:14
A quick update on how things have been going. I took the General GRE last night and got over my target score (156 V & 156 Q) I did it!!! This time I performed BETTER than the three practice tests I took which really felt satisfying. I performed well on the practice tests as well, above my target, but on the real thing I exceeded those scores. I also used some relaxation techniques to help control my heart rate and breathing and I think that really helped a lot as well. Where I believe part of my issue for the GMAT was that I panicked several times on the quant. section, I did not on the GRE. Also for me, I think the absence of the DS questions was a godsend. The straightforward nature of the GRE quant. is much better for me where I have a tendency to over think things and talk myself out of answers on those DS questions. I'm very happy with my decision to change course to the GRE.

I also spent a lot more and consistent stretches of time on my prep. First, re-learning the quant. basics, for which I have my wonderful girlfriend to thank for that. As I mentioned before she's a PhD student in Accounting and got a perfect on the GMAT math so she took a more hands-on approach to helping me re-learn those basics. We then moved onto working out problems and practice tests and that was really instrumental in helping me get above my target score.

Thanks for the wonderful advice and I'm happy I can finally move on in my application process!

All the best,

Dave
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