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Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?

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Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2019, 05:28
Last year around this time, I decided to set out for my MBA and do the GMAT. I already work in Consulting and finding time was the most challenging aspect of it.

I bought a Kaplan Premier book as well as all Manhattan Prep ones and tried to go through it as systematically as possible.

Books: Kaplan Premier, Manhattan Prep Books and CATs, Manhattan App
Target: 700+
Background: Undergrad, ranked in the 40ish, Consultant at MBB
Length of study: On/off across 6 months, focused with 2 week and 3 week episode

Scores:
1/ March '18/ Kaplan 2017: 570 (lost the break down)
2/ April '18/ Kaplan 2017: 640 (lost the break down)
3/ May '18/ Kaplan 2017: 680 (Q41, V42)
4/ May '18 / GMATPrep #1: 590 (Q39, V33)
5/ June '18 / GMATPrep #1: 620 (Q42, V34)
6/ June '18 / GMATPrep #2: 660 (Q42, V39)
7/ June '18 / GMAT #1 (cancelled): 560 (Q34, V33)
8/ November '18 / Kaplan 2018: 630 (Q38, V38)
9/ November '18/ March '18 / Kaplan 2018: 670 (Q43, V39)
10/ December '18 / Manhattan Prep: 640 (Q40, V37)
11/ December '18 / Manhattan Prep: 640 (Q41, V36)
12/ January '19 / GMATPrep #1: 680 (Q44, V37)
13/ January '19 / GMAT #2: 600 (Q38, V34)

In April, I took 2 weeks off and prepared for my first run at it. I knew quite early that I would not hit my target score, but on test date I was a full 100 points worse than with the GMATPrep the day before. There were some distractions at the test center that threw me off as well.

Case work picked up again and I made the mistake to let it drag on. Then I took another 3 weeks off, focused on the test (and essays and other MBA stuff, next big mistake). Test scores looked a lot better, a little closer to the 700. It ended up being a 600 (only positive was that I scored full at IR and AWA)

At both test, I experienced some black-out moments, especially at the math section.

With such a score, all my applications were useless as well and I scrapped everything afterwards. Now I've set my mind for R1 2019. Essays and Recs are pretty much good to go, but I know that the GMAT will remain my main obstacle. Now, I am thinking about how to best tackle it. I cannot take in-person or online classes due to my job. I think having something self-paced that just puts content right in front of me and adapts to my weaknesses would help me get into a routine that I can do every day. Having to figure out daily what my study content of the day should be was challenging and too often I just ended up doing some random problems.

These are the main questions that I am currently thinking through:
A) Is it worth sticking with the GMAT or should I see if the GRE suits me more?
B) If sticking with the GMAT, should I keep running with the books I have or take a self-paced course online? If so, which one would fit me best?
C) How to deal with test taking anxiety which has popped up both times at the quant section?

Any advice is more than welcome!

More info that could help:

1) How many times have you taken the actual GMAT? Please list the dates on which you’ve taken the GMAT, the total scores, and the quant, verbal, and IR scores, as well as how you were feeling while taking the tests.
See above, was very nervous during both, especially the Quant part.

2) How many practice GMAT tests did you take? Please list the dates on which you’ve taken any practice GMATs, the total scores, and the quant, verbal, and IR scores, as well as how you were feeling while taking the tests. Also, please tell me where these tests came from.
See above.

3) Please describe how you studied. For how many hours a day did you study and for how many months? What resources did you use?
During the week, 1-2 times for 1-2h each, weekend for 2-3h each, then before the test once 2 weeks of full time, then before the second test 3 weeks of full time. Resources see above.

4) To what programs will you be applying? What are the deadlines for these programs?
HBS, Stanford, probably 2 more from Top 7, 1 absolute safety school
Round 1, 2019

5) By when would you LIKE to take the GMAT? By when MUST you take the GMAT?
I'd like to get it out of the way ASAP, this has been following me for way too long. Latest would be end of July, so I have all of August to focus on essays and other stuff

6) For how many hours a day, on average, can you study between now and your next GMAT?
During weekdays, max. 1h-1.5h realistically, most likely either super early (6:30amish, or late (past midnight).

7) In your opinion, how prepared were you for the GMAT? It's important that you answer this question as objectively as possible.
At first, I lived in a bubble as all my colleagues had amazing scores and spent a good amount of time, but not an insane one, which was also what everyone told me. My gut feeling told me early on that it would be a different story for me, but I got lulled by all their anecdotes.

Preparing for the second attempt, I noticed how I got a much better understanding of the types of questions, and how the GMAT flows. I feel that my knowledge is spotty: Mostly well covered, with sometimes a random glaring hole popping up out of nowhere. I tend to run into every trap within quant, even if I have seen it too often already.
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Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2019, 09:53
coconutcola

Sorry to hear that your test experience did not go as well as you anticipated.
Let me first congratulate you for missing out your accomplishments (in case of
sadness and stress, we often tend to ignore our positives, a classic psychological trap
which ones often finds oneself spiraled in)

Quote:
Test scores looked a lot better, a little closer to the 700. It ended up being a 600 (only positive was that I scored full at IR and AWA)

No amount of :clap: and :thumbup: can take away the emotions that you might have experienced when seeing these perfect scores
in your official report. Keep them close to your heart as they shall keep you motivated when chips are down - such as in the current scenario.

Few additional points to ponder over:
a. Too many mocks and too frequently do not result in serving the main purpose of giving a mock: a reasonable score improvement.
I noticed that you gave mocks almost on consecutive days.
Are you sure that you analyzed your mocks in terms of your weak areas
and practiced on them before attempting next mock? A thorough analysis may take 4-5 hrs but it is an investment worth made.
b. Anxiety, stress and blank outs - The forum is an excellent platform to understand that these emotions are as natural as ones when we feel tired after
a marathon or get angry over a complaining client at a workplace. Few awesome stories such as this help to understand that given proper tools, the same can be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
This beautiful app provides an affordable option for reading the e-books as this on tablet/ mobile.
We also conducted a live chat event with one of the members who herself climbed to greater heights by exercising and diverting anxiety to physical action. You can download the chat transcript at the end of post for better insights. You may also find this blog very useful.
c. Also I would not shy away from using online courses since they come with a definite study plan. Once you share your ESR here or while enrolling with them, a majority of them can help you with a score guarantee and strategic plan on where to divert your majority of the time (a factor always tough to allocate wisely for working professionals)

Wishing you all the best for your re-attempt and looking forward to hear from you soon with your dream score.
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Re: Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2019, 10:07
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coconutcola, It is very clear from your perfect score in IR, that you possess a very good level of analytical skills.
As rightly briefed by adkikani, you need a definite GMAT study plan, you can follow the gmatclub forum or take any online course.
In case of any doubts, feel free to tag the experts or moderators.

Happy Learning.
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Re: Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jan 2019, 14:10
Hi coconutcola,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Your 2 Official Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 580 +/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the GMAT consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes.

When these types of CATs-to-Test-Day 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)?

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Re: Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jan 2019, 20:18
HI coconutcola,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. To answer your first question, I’d stick with the GMAT. Rather than making a switch to the GRE, you really need to take a look at HOW you’ve been preparing and make some changes, right? Certainly, since you’ve been unable to break a 700 (your score goal) on any of the 13 practice/real GMAT exams you’ve taken, something is going on with your prep that is not allowing you to improve your quant and verbal skills. Thus, you need to follow a more structured and linear study plan, so that you can methodically improve your skills. You can study in such a way by using an online self-study course, and to answer your second question, I think an online course would be a better option for you. To see what is available, you should check out the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses, and also read through some [url=https://gmatclub.com/forum/share-your-gmat-experience-8/?fl=menu] GMAT success stories to see what materials have worked well for other test-takers.

Regarding test anxiety, I believe that if you sufficiently improve your quant and verbal skills, such that you are scoring 700+ on practice exams, you will be MUCH MORE confident going into test day and much of your anxiety will dissipate. That being said, to help manage your nerves, you could try some visualization techniques. Imagine various test-day scenarios such as getting stuck on a question, issues in the testing center, feeling pressed for time, or worrying that you’re underperforming. As you feel your stress responses start to kick in when thinking about those things, practice pulling yourself together and visualize focusing on getting correct answers.

When taking the GMAT, the best way to deal with stress is to get busy answering the question in front of you, focusing completely on the task at hand so that you redirect all of that nervous energy and naturally calm down. In other words, you distract yourself with a goal. Just tell yourself that all that matters is getting the correct answer to the question in front of you, and then when you have finished that question, take the same attitude toward the next one. Focus on winning each “mini-battle” and you won't have time for anxiety. If you can win enough of those battles, you can win the GMAT war, right?

You also may find it helpful to read the following articles about how to limit GMAT anxiety and [url=http://blog.targettestprep.com/how-to-score-a-700-on-the-gmat/] how to score a 700+ on the GMAT.

Please reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Bombed GMAT (560,600) and MBA apps last year: How to move forward?   [#permalink] 22 Jan 2019, 20:18
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