I took the GMAT yesterday and scored 650 (Q40, V39) after 2.5 months of prep. My goal was to hit 710+ and based on my practice tests I thought I was in good shape… wow, what a rude awakening! Although verbal was within my practice test range, my quant dropped lower than all of my practice exams after the first diagnostic (and that was over 2 months ago before extensive review, primarily with MGMT guides). Who says studying helps?
Needless to say, I was shocked at my poor performance and I’m trying to piece together what happened.
I’ve pulled together some personal conclusions at the end of my post, but I really need everyone’s help to figure out where to go from here. Another big question is how long to wait before a retake.Background:
I started prep by focusing on quant with the Kaplan
GRE & Math workbook (somewhat dated) and then moved on to my greatest quant weakness at the time, number properties. I used the MGMT guide and worked through the whole book. I was optimistic and thought the other quant areas would come to me through OG problems, so after the problem sets in those two books, I completed all PS and DS problems in the OG (keeping track of right and wrong answers).
Then I moved over to verbal, completed the MGMT SC guide along with the categorized questions from the Verbal companion, and then completed all SC questions in OG11
. I was about a month away from the test date at this point, and I realized that I would need a much better review of all topics, so I ordered the rest of the MGMT guides except for RC, which is my strongest suit. Over the course of the last month, I read through all of the guides and did most of the included problems sets. During the last two weeks of prep, I completed a few of the GMATClub challenges
and burned through the Quant companion in DS and PS. I also started going over missed quant questions from my error log
during the last week.
Following is my practice test history, almost all tests were taken with the AWA:
MGMT CAT1 05-10-09 580 37 32
GMATPrep1 06-13-09 690 47 38
MGMT CAT2 06-21-09 690 45 38
MGMT CAT3 06-28-09 710 42 44
MGMT CAT4 07-05-09 670 43 38
MGMT CAT5 07-09-09 700 45 40
GMATPrep2 07-11-09 710 44 41
GMATPrep1 07-12-09 760 49 44 Retake
GMATPrep2 07-18-09 740 48 44 RetakeActual GMAT 07-20-09 650 40 39Test Day:
I was pretty nervous at the beginning of quant, and I totally blanked on the first few questions. One problem that stumped me was asking for a square root of a decimal, and I didn’t think to convert to integers and factor… that just looked like the wrong way to go for some reason. Another easy problem that I never had problems with involved averages… I had to guess on 2 problems in the first three. From there I got comfortable, but the test was rather easy. I’m not sure if the difficulty went so low in the beginning that it took forever to ramp up again, but I didn’t feel challenged for the rest of quant, and managed to finish early. I had never finished early on any practice exam and usually struggle to keep time. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that I couldn’t have recovered to more than a 40, so I’m guessing I must have fallen for some traps.
Verbal didn’t produce any surprises, but I know I spent too much time on some SC’s, and consequently I was pressed for time on CR and RC. Conclusions:
- My Quant foundation is shakier than I thought. What’s the best way to fix this?
- I’m missing <700 level questions in quant. I need to go through the error log
and hammer at these before tackling harder problems.
- My prep time was too short for my needs, and I never had a chance to fully digest my errors (only reviewed error log
once for Quant).
- I didn’t have enough time to really drill my weaknesses. For example, inequality DS’s are still shaky, as are high level number properties questions.
- I think I’m solving too many problems the ‘brute force’ way, and I lose sight of shortcuts or concepts. This is likely my downfall on the higher level questions.
- My biggest fear is that there is some fundamental flaw in my basic quant that is holding me back, even before we start talking about the <700 level questions.
- I probably shouldn’t have taken the last practice exam 2 days before. I had been going full-bore for over a month (3 hrs weekdays, 5+ on weekends), and burnout may have been a factor
What do you guys recommend from here? Should I go back and pick up math from the beginning before moving to the OG error log
? Which materials should I stick to?