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Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)

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Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Aug 2019, 11:39
I am absolutely shattered today after receiving the scores for my 4th attempt this year for the GMAT. I feel completely lost and I don't know what I should do next, considering that it'll be my final attempt for the year if I retake it yet again.

Breakdown of my attempts

Attempt 1 (15/5/2019)
- Full-time studying for 1.5 months
- Prep used: OG, GMAT Prep (1-6), Economist
- GMAT Prep scores: 650-670
- Score: 700 (Q44, V42)
- Reflection:
- Overall: I managed to finish both quant and verbal on time during the test, but felt there were many instances where I skimped and took a leap of faith, especially in quant. Overall i felt there was a an element of hoping that I'll be lucky.
- Quant: I felt that there were many concepts that I was still rather weak in, eg. Factors, Perm&Combi, Arithmetic Properties. My ESR showed that I was particularly weak in Geometry and Algebra, but that's because not many P&C questions came out, and most of the questions of higher level that I got wrong were Geometry/Algebra. So i decided that I would go back and practice more OG questions, and find out how others are solving questions on gmat club.
- Verbal: I didn't really 'feel' anything after the test, because for verbal I literally went in thinking that I wasn't going to score too badly.

Attempt 2 (20/6/2019)
- Full-time studying for 2 weeks (less organized and less hours per day)
- Prep used: OG, GMAT Prep, Previous notes, GMAT Club
- Score: 650 (Q36, V43)
- Reflection: Thinking that I got a 700 in the first attempt, I believed that practicing more OG questions would naturally get me a higher score (very silly). But as away for a holiday between my first and second attempt, and by the time i got back to work I had just 2 weeks or so to prepare. I felt I became slower, and I struggled with Quant very early on in the test (first 10 questions), and by the time I got to verbal, I knew i was going to score less. I blamed it on my still rather weak math concepts, like I never REALLY understood the theories behind some of the arithmetic property questions.

Attempt 3 (3/7/2019)
- Full-time studying for 2 weeks (more dedicated to studying, but had many errands/duties in life that I needed to attend to in the midst)
- Prep used: OG, GMAT Prep, Previous notes, GMAT Club, Manhattan
- Score 620 (Q35, V41)
- Reflection: The Manhattan books significantly helped me understand some of the Math concepts much better. But what I lacked was constant day-day practice. I learned new methods to solve math questions that I wasn't confident with, but suffered in terms of timing. I ended up not being able to finish my verbal in time (hurried through some questions, guessed 2 questions at the end, missed 1 question), and I suffered too for quant in terms of timing. I was also unable to answer many arithmetic type (prime/factor etc. questions in the beginning, as well as some complex word questions in the middle).

At this point I felt maybe I was being overly optimistic about my abilities, and that I was rushing it too much to retake the exam in such short successive periods. I decided that I would hold back on my plans for application, and take some time to do constant work everyday, and make sure I was fully well versed with the quant parts that I am not familiar with.

Attempt 4 (15/8/19)
- Part-time studying (I have a full time job)
- Prep: OG, GMAT Prep, Previous Notes, GMAT Club, Manhattan
- New prep style: Error logs, more detailed analysis of each question, made sure I was very well versed with my weak math concepts.
- Score 600 (Q41, V31)
- Reflection:
- Verbal (started with verbal this time): I feel I knew what went wrong. After about 20 questions (all of which I feel I did very well), I felt the the standard really jumped on question 21. It was a long RC question which I had trouble understanding at first read. I ditched my new approach to RC questions which I used for the previous 20 questions ( write down simple info, comparisons etc.) and tried to re-read it many times. Seeing that I have wasted 2 minutes on the passage, and that RC typically carries 4-5 questions, I was unwilling to give up and skip the question. I ended up taking far too long for the question, and ended up skimping on the final 10 questions (pretty much guessed the last 6). So i knew my verbal was down the drains. I previous thought with my improved understanding of the verbal section ( made a lot of improvement in C/R), I would get a V46-V47 at least, I was completely shattered.
- Quant: The first question was difficult and I didn't know how to solve it (algebra/decimal/percentage question). And from there it was actually rather smooth. But this time I reminded myself that I would need to make a best guess for questions that I was going to be stuck with (around 2-3 questions max). The other questions felt easy to me, and I felt I got most of them right. But the overall score showed otherwise. I didn't know what went wrong, I will be getting an ESR tomorrow.

----------------------------------
My dilemma:
I feel really confident about the technical part of verbal, and have scored consistently above 90% in the OG. But feel i tend to take too much time for C/R questions as it was my previous weakness. I feel I can rectify this in the next two weeks.

For quant, I feel I am running in circles here. The only difference I could feel between my first attempt and subsequent attempts is that I am making less guesses, I am trying to take less short cuts, I am estimating less, and trying to solve each question a lot more. This hasn't improved my accuracy at all, and I felt having a single, systematic approach to each question, and taking enough time for each question didn't really work for me. I started with the Economist prep - which teaches short-cuts and estimating answers really well, but mathematical principles weren't the focus. So now I feel although I am better with the principles behind these math questions - I am doing worse!

I am not sure If I should schedule another test in two weeks. I feel I am good enough to score higher than my first attempt and still have a conscious tendency to refuse to believe that I am anything less than that. I know I am stubborn, but at the same time I am feeling increasingly less confident about my real abilities. I knew that I was half-hearted for my 2nd and 3rd attempt and I deserved those scores. That led me to believing that if I quiet down and go back to doing some real studying, I should be able to score better, but my 4th attempt showed otherwise. I am really lost, and am trying to find someone who could shed some light for me - is there something that I am clearly not seeing?

I know I sound stupid but this is exactly how I feel, without any cover up. I am dejected, but inside I feel I am ready, in terms of knowledge, and am unwilling to accept defeat. I don't know if I am being oblivious and overly confident..I am in a hurry to get this GMAT done, and now I am faced with having only one attempt left for the year. And four attempts left in my lifetime.

I am aiming for a 720-730.

Please help, and share your experience if you've been through a similar situation, please.
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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2019, 12:02
bb I kinda have a wrong feeling about this.

My most probable guess is that you've exhausted the material by your first attempt. I really hope you have cancelled your GMAT score after getting less than your first one

When you repeat the same tests, your score inflates. That's useless.

But really, there are no tests compared to the original ones. So I think you can take GRE route if uou have no official material left

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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2019, 12:53
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Hi whatsaysjtt,

Sorry to hear about your sliding scores. Unfortunately it is proving an annoying rule And physiological limitations of the human brain. Your short term memory can last you through three months and if you stay on top of it and refresh, up to six months.

To get a high score on the GMAT, it involves keeping track of traps, nuances, and other many little things. If you don’t refresh them and don’t stick current then you can lose them even within a few weeks. After I was done with my GMAT (or so I thought) and mentally checked out, I was amazed at how much I forgot with in just one week. I’m afraid that’s what happened to you or at least that’s my best theory ;-) The other possibility is just burn out and it’s huge challenge it takes to maintain top shape for months out.

Your point about the first test and feeling like you were winging it, indicates you were at the top of your ability and getting hard questions. Being challenged and having to almost guess, indicates you’re performing at your best level. Feeling confident about questions indicates the opposite. I know it’s completely logical and I thought I have completely bombed my verbal when I took the test. I expected a VE 30 or 35 but got IV 42 instead which was 96th percentile.

I think at this point you have a choice of spending another three months and doing a ground up offensive on the GMAT or applying with your best score. I think the first 700 you got is a great score by the way. People have gotten into top 10 programs with scholarships With an almost exactly that split. Your success will depend on your work experience, your essays, and your story. Unless you are from a highly over represented demographics, which based on your split, I don’t think you are, you can apply to Ross, Yale, Duke And even Booth and Kellogg as stretch programs.

.

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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2019, 13:53
Hello,
Your story is truly touching but I think a lot has been said already that I feel you should consider. I wouldn't want to add much but I think you should focus on your application and use your best score. You might just get the full scholarship and admission you so longed for. All the best

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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2019, 13:58
I would just add that chances of scoring 720 after just getting a 600 aren’t huge when it is your 5th attempt. Look at the best use of your time and what would improve your overall candidacy. Something tells me it is not 20 points on the GMAT but I am just guessing here.

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Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Aug 2019, 07:46
Hi whatsaysjtt,

I’m sorry to hear about how things have been going with your GMAT. First off, I don’t think taking the GMAT in 2-weeks will do you much good. If you 100% want to retake the GMAT, as BB mentioned, you need to give yourself plenty of time, and follow a study plan that allows you to learn and practice GMAT quant and verbal from the ground up. That said, if you decide to go this route, feel free to reach back out, and I’d be happy to provide some more specific advice on how to improve your quant and verbal skills.

You also may find it helpful to read this article about The Phases of Preparing for the GMAT.
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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Aug 2019, 13:09
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Hi whatsaysjtt,
I guess, that you need more than 2 weeks between exams to push your original score, so that you can review all the previously done work and improve your weak places. Error correction is a great source of improvement.
And remember:sometimes, when you are near the greatest opportunity, you have to fight the greatest resistence. Keep up, stay focused and calm. Hope you will find the best sollution ;)
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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Aug 2019, 13:34
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I think that before you do anything else regarding the GMAT, you should take a break. Continuously dropping scores can be a sign of burnout / mental fatigue. You're also wearing yourself out by taking so many tests so close together: if you were training to run a marathon, you wouldn't run a marathon every single month! You'd gradually build up your training to 'peak' for one or two targeted races. It's also clear that you aren't giving yourself enough down time between tests for things to really change.

So, take a couple of weeks off and don't think about the test. Definitely don't retake in two weeks. What were your practice test scores like before your official attempts? When you start studying again, you may want to aim for a practice test or two at/around your goal score, and only schedule an official test date if you can comfortably score in that range on a practice test (taken in a similar environment to the real thing.)

Also, don't forget that 700 is a very strong score (90th percentile!) and although it's below the mean for the very top schools, it's also well within the range of accepted scores for those schools.
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Re: Continuously prepping but scores keep dropping (700, 650, 620, 600)   [#permalink] 22 Aug 2019, 13:34
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