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Feeling hopeless. Scored 550 and would like near 700 for a M7 program.

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Feeling hopeless. Scored 550 and would like near 700 for a M7 program.  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jan 2019, 21:53
Growing up I was always "behind" in math relative to my peers. Or I've always thought. I find basic arithmetic more challenging, for instance if I needed to do a random calculation in my head (for ex., if I thought what's 8*17, I'll end up visualizing the math steps to get to 136). I did well in school everywhere else and went to a top-25 undergrad program with a degree in finance. I ended high school with 2nd-level algebra (did okay) and ended my freshman year in UG with a C- in calculus. So I've always felt "behind" compared to my peers.

I studied from 1/18 through 7/18, sometimes on/off due to work/life but studied for the last 3-months of the period quite hard. Started with the MGMAT books then then practice problems with the OG then online (Magoosh/EmpowerGMAT). Took the test July 2018 and ended scoring Q/V/IR of 36 (29%), 29 (56%), 4 (28%) for a total of 550.

I took 6 practice tests that were not repeats and my quant range & mean score was 32-39; 35.8 and my verbal range & mean was 31-35, 32.8. So I scored right on top of my quant score and actually did worse in verbal (I know the exact 4/5-question long form reading section that I knew I got murdered on).

One lesson I learned was that my method of studying was ineffective. Just reading the MGMAT books and doing the practice questions did no good. I noticed I kept getting the same types of quant problems wrong. I ended up realizing that I should have been keeping a detailed error log. In the last 2-3 weeks before the test I did, and here's a summary of the results http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fi ... 9617062326 (for those interested). Obviously it was a little too late to really make much improvement.

So now it's the beginning of 2019 and I'd like to take a better approach to re-take the test. I'm a cheap-o and thought I could save money and self study, rather than shell out $1,000-1,500 for an in-person class. I have a decent job so could afford it, so maybe I should bite the bullet. I could also lay out a plan where i give myself 6-9 months to study without burning myself out. I could do an hour/two a day, but doing 3-5 hours a few days a week didn't help last spring.

Or, now I'm thinking that I could try my hand at the GRE, which I know has an easier quant section. It sounds like pretty much any top-25 MBA program accepts the test anyways.

Hoping anyone could provide assistance or kind words.
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Feeling hopeless. Scored 550 and would like near 700 for a M7 program.  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jan 2019, 09:34
surfingpirate wrote:
So now it's the beginning of 2019 and I'd like to take a better approach to re-take the test. I'm a cheap-o and thought I could save money and self study, rather than shell out $1,000-1,500 for an in-person class. I have a decent job so could afford it, so maybe I should bite the bullet. I could also lay out a plan where i give myself 6-9 months to study without burning myself out. I could do an hour/two a day, but doing 3-5 hours a few days a week didn't help last spring.

Or, now I'm thinking that I could try my hand at the GRE, which I know has an easier quant section. It sounds like pretty much any top-25 MBA program accepts the test anyways. Hoping anyone could provide assistance or kind words.


Must be a difficult time for you. You're at 550 and to get to a 700 you'll definitely need to put in a good amount of effort. There is no skill that cannot be learned and no weakness that cannot be conquered. If I were you, I'd do the following - Forget the GMAT for 3-4 months and simply focus on basic math which is the building block of GMAT Math. I'd spend most of my time on https://www.khanacademy.org/ and solve the problems on the website and strengthen my fundamentals. Just enjoy the process of learning math and not worry about the GMAT. Once I'm feeling confident about my newly learned skills I'd purchase a good GMAT online program and prepare a good 6 month study plan. If you do this religiously I don't see how you will not get a 700 in the exam.

My advice would be to not take the easy route to GRE since it could lead to a loss of self esteem. Besides, GMAT is a mountain that can be conquered by anyone. Just got to sweat it out a bit. All the best.
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Re: Feeling hopeless. Scored 550 and would like near 700 for a M7 program.  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jan 2019, 13:31
Hi surfingpirate,

After reviewing our prior emails and forum conversations, I've come across a couple of instances in which you refer to doing math 'in your head.' That is the WORST way to approach a GMAT question (of any type - Quant or Verbal) and I think that is a big factor in why your Scores appear to have gotten 'stuck' in the 500s. Your self-analysis during the last summer shows that you clearly have the capacity to score higher, but you're not EARNING those points when you take your Tests.

GMAT questions typically require 3-5 'steps', but if you make a little mistake on any of the steps, then you will likely get the question wrong. That's why consistent, organized note-taking is so important! The good news is that the work is actually pretty straight-forward: the note-taking is not difficult - and the individual 'steps' rarely are either - but there is no 'substitute' for doing that work. In simple terms, you should never do work in your head (and I mean it - not ever - not even once - NEVER), since the potential for lost points is just too great.

You don't need to be great at advanced math (Calculus is NOT tested on the GMAT) and you don't need to spend a lot of money to hone your skills (I suspect that you have most of the necessary knowledge already), but you do have to consciously change how you 'respond' to GMAT question. The GRE is a valid alternative to the GMAT, if that's something that you want to look into. Even if you switch to that Exam though, the same advice I offered above will still apply - and you'll have to put some time in to build your GRE Vocabulary knowledge (since much of the Verbal Score of that Exam is based on your knowledge (and proper use of) vocabulary.

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Feeling hopeless. Scored 550 and would like near 700 for a M7 program.  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jan 2019, 18:45
I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. First off, you must understand that you ARE NOT ALONE. Over the last 15 years of working with GMAT students, I’ve worked with MANY students who initially struggled with the GMAT but were able to learn and dominate GMAT quant and verbal after developing a sound and thorough study plan. So, before making any major decisions regarding an in-person class or taking the GRE, you need to analyze HOW you have been preparing and make some changes. Yes, you studied hard for 3 months; however, it appears that you were jumping between resources and then began taking practice exams before you fully developed your quant and verbal skills. Since you scored a Q36/V29, you still lack the quant and verbal fundamentals you need for a high score, right? So, you simply need to hit the reset button and more or less begin your GMAT prep from scratch. In doing so, you need to follow a linear and structured study plan so you can individually learn each topic, starting with the foundations before moving to more advanced topics.

Regarding resources, you may consider continuing to self-study rather than taking a GMAT prep class, but this time around, consider using a robust resource such as an online self-study course. Most online self-study courses offer detailed study plans that you can follow, so you can see the starting point and the finish line.

I understand that you are frustrated, but if you can get on the right study path, YOU CAN BEAT THE GMAT!!
If you’d like some more specific advice on how to improve your GMAT verbal and quant skills, feel free to reach back out, and I’ll be happy to provide some detailed advice. Also, you may find it helpful to read these articles about how to score a 700+ on the GMAT and developing the proper mindset for GMAT success.
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Feeling hopeless. Scored 550 and would like near 700 for a M7 program. &nbs [#permalink] 13 Jan 2019, 18:45
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