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Desperately seeking help

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Desperately seeking help  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Sep 2019, 20:24
Hello, I've been stuck in an awful rut for 2 years now when it comes to my GMAT exam. I first attempted this test over 2017 without much preparation and scored a dismal 540. I vowed I'd do better and signed up for a series of GMAT coaching classes and online prep., after taking a month off from work and preparing extensively by myself I gave it another go in sept of 2018, and much to my utter horror I scored a 550.

Clearly something wasn't working, i took time off and started preping again in april of 2019. After using an online course i took the exam again yesterday. Third time i felt was the charm but i got a 480 (Q25, V31). I cant understand how this happened and the worry and stress is getting to me. With admissions right around the corner my lack of even a semi-decent gmat score has me crippled with depression. (I've been working for 6 years and am almost 28, so its now or never for my MBA)

I'm clearly lacking either the ability to tackle this test or the strategy to go about it. In my mocks during my last attempt I was touching the late 670s, however I cant be too confident on the accuracy since when I attempted to solve 700 quant level problems on this forum I was constantly stumped.

So here I am, asking for guidance, help, direction on how to tackle this exam one last time. I honestly havent got the finances for a Manhattan prep or a Veritas Prep unfortunately, with over $1000 in fees it is absolutely beyond my means. I do however have a 3 month subscription to ExpertsGlobal.

Could you guys please help me with a clear strategy on how to go about this? I've clearly always struggled with quants and my last score Q25 pays testament to that.

Is there a 2-month study plan I someone would be willing to help me draw up? I'm pretty desperate at this point since I work a 10-hour job every weekday (thankfully I have weekends free) and I kind of see my next attempt as the last one I can afford both financially and time wise (given admissions start in Oct/Nov)
I do want to start from the very basics to maybe weed out my horrid foundations and maybe have a chance at securing a score in excess of 700?

Any sort of help would be massively appreciated.
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New post 19 Sep 2019, 20:39
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Hi. I think Experts Global course could be good and great. Though with Q25, no course can help you. You seem to have substantial gaps in your mathematical abilities, which requires taking a few steps back. Taking a course for you is analogous to teaching someone to dance who has not learned to walk. You should focus on walking first and get something like the MGMAT Math Foundations book and get that under control. Once you master then, only the you should worry about actually doing a study plan.
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New post 19 Sep 2019, 22:16
Thank you very much for your help and guidance, so my step 1 is now to pick up the Foundations of Math Gmat book by Manhattan Prep, got it. I'll place the order and actually get cracking on it right away.

Just a bit of information thats got me stumped, when i took the exam last time round (my 570 score), my Verbal was horrible (V26) and my Quants, while still pretty bad at (Q36) was nowhere near how horrible it was right now?

But I agree, my basics are nowhere near where they should be. I'll work on that going forward.

Would anyone be willing to help me chalk out a map through which I can maybe approach this in a step by step method? I've been running from pillar to post, throwing money at prep classes and software without a concrete plan. I realize this is something I should do myself, but at the moment my self-confidence is pretty low and im struggling to see a way out of this.

Sorry if i seem abit whinny, just really lost at the moment.
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New post 20 Sep 2019, 10:19
Hi Lythos,

I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with the GMAT. Since you have been studying for over two years and have yet to break 550, it’s clear that you need to look at HOW you have been preparing and making some changes right? To truly improve your GMAT quant and verbal skills (and thus your GMAT score) you need to follow a linear and structured study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic individually and then practice each topic until you've gained mastery. Let me expand on this idea further.

If you are learning about Number Properties, you should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant skills.
Each time you strengthen your understanding of a topic and your skill in answering questions of a particular type, you increase your odds of hitting your score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see, types that you would rather not see, and types that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in two minutes or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

Follow a similar routine for verbal. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken The Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice, so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and instead focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and thereby comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect Reading Comprehension answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. Keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to analyze such passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the New York Times, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, you likely will have to work on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending less than two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and none of those reasons are that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answers were always the ones that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey logical meanings. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice until you start to see the differences that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to take the time to see the differences between answers and to figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off, and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could do differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your skills improve, you will want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some new quant and verbal materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses. You also may find it helpful to read the following article about The Phases of Preparing for the GMAT.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions. Good luck!
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New post 20 Sep 2019, 23:43
Thanks so much Scott. Your response is really really appreciated. I sent you a pm, if you could please let me know your thoughts whenever you have a moment that would be great. Thanks

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New post 21 Sep 2019, 12:28
Hi Lythos,

You mentioned a number of different issues in your posts, so we should discuss them all before we discuss how to best proceed with your studies:

1) While it's understandable that you want to apply to School sooner rather than later, if you're planning to apply to any highly-competitive Programs, then you're going to need a much stronger GMAT Score. There's no point to 'rushing in' an application if it's not going to be strong enough to earn you an invite to a Program. Thus, you should probably push back your application plans and focus on earning that higher GMAT Score right now. The REAL Goal is to get into your first-choice School, NOT to make an upcoming application deadline.

2) With both a Q36 and Q25, your general math knowledge might actually be okay, but it's not great - and "your way" of approaching the Quant section might be leaving you open to making lots of little mistakes. As such, you would likely benefit from focusing on your general math skills in the short term.

For free math practice and help, I recommend that you set up an account at Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org). The site is completely free and makes the learning a bit more fun and 'game-like' (as opposed to the dry academic approach taken by most books). While the site is vast, you should limit your studies to basic Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry. After spending a little time re-building those skills, you can restart your GMAT studies.

3) Assuming that your current 'ability level' is in the low-500s, and that your Score Goal is 700+, raising a low-500s to the point that you can consistently score 700+ will likely require at least another 3 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level.

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) As you were preparing for this 3rd attempt, many hours did you typically study each week? Did you take any 'time off' during your studies?
2) What study materials have you used over the course of ALL of your studies? Which 'brands' of practice CATs did you use for each attempt?
3) Over the last 2 months, on what dates did you take EACH of your CATs/mocks and how did you score on EACH (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
4) What is your overall goal score?
5) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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New post 22 Sep 2019, 18:40
Lythos wrote:
Thanks so much Scott. Your response is really really appreciated. I sent you a pm, if you could please let me know your thoughts whenever you have a moment that would be great. Thanks

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My pleasure!
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New post 23 Sep 2019, 05:50
thank you so much scott for the valuable input. would bookmark this page..
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Re: Desperately seeking help   [#permalink] 23 Sep 2019, 05:50
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