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Formulating a Strategy after taking it once... Is this realistic?

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New post 15 Jun 2018, 21:17
Hello! I am in the middle of GMAT study right now and am curious to hear an expert's opinion on whether or not I should continue my strategy or whether I should change it/potentially focus on the GRE. I am aiming for a mid-700s score at the least (but want to know if this is realistic). I have been in GMAT study mode for a while and outside opinion would be incredible!

I just graduated university (top 20 school in the US, think WUSTL/Emory/Vanderbilt/Northwestern/Notre Dame), and am going to work in consulting at a fairly well-known firm. During my second semester of senior year, I decided to take the GMAT and put forth a fairly-serious studying effort. Other stuff got in the way so I ended up reading through the MGMAT math, doing about half of the practice problems at the end of each chapter, making some flashcards, but did not get to the verbal at all. To compensate, three nights before the GMAT I watched 2-3 YouTube videos on GMAT verbal rules.

The night before the GMAT, I was up late doing a homework assignment for a class, and combined with the nerves got about 5 hours of sleep. I went in and took the GMAT still not feeling too bad, and ended up with a 640 (Q36, V41). I ran out of time in the math section and ended up guessing for the last 2-3 questions, and was slightly surprised at the split - I was nervous that I would do worse than a 640 but was surprised at the low percentiles in Quant. I was below the 30th percentile (!!!), and after reviewing the Enhanced Score Report I was surprised at how terribly the quant seemed to go in terms of accuracy! Although arithmetic was >50th percentile, some sub-sections were much worse than <30th percentile. I went through all the MGMAT books, felt like I understood the concepts/strategy, and did not feel like I bombed the quant section outside of the time management. It was definitely a blow to the self-esteem (especially because everybody on this forum/many of the people I know seem to be getting 45+ no problem)! I am not a quant wizard but I've always been fairly comfortable with numbers.

Fast forward about 3 months later, I had 1 month prior to starting work full time and began studying again. I started formulating a new strategy - I re-read the MGMAT math making more flashcards, and for the past couple of days have been hitting the GMAT Club practice quizzes, aiming to do 30-60 problems a day. So far I have been focusing on 500 and 600 level questions, and am getting 50-70% correct, although about 50% of my errors are careless mistakes. I do feel like I am making progress and learning.

Now I am 2 and a half weeks prior to taking the GMAT, and can basically continue prepping full time. I can dedicate 5-9 hours a day to studying without feeling excessively burned out, and am going to start MGMAT CATs soon. I've heard stories of people/my friends with similar timelines score in the mid 700s and believe it is possible, but my questions are the following:

1) Is my strategy of focusing primarily on quant and only doing verbal questions on full-length CATs solid? Should I continue 500/600 level questions and trying to nail them with high accuracy, or should I throw in 700 level questions as well?

2) Is my goal of attaining mid 700s score at this point unrealistic? In other words, would I be better served not taking the GMAT before I start work and stretching out my studying over a longer period of time while I am working (which may be difficult bc I will likely be working 60-70 hours a week + travel), and saving the GMAC/MGMAT CATs for this time period?

3) Given my strength in verbal (and I think my comparative strength in memorizing vocab), would it be more wise to instead shift my efforts toward the GRE? How much of my GMAT studying would translate over to content tested by the GRE?

Thank you so much in advance! Happy to provide any other data points if helpful.
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New post 23 Jun 2018, 13:09
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landoro15 wrote:
Hello! I am in the middle of GMAT study right now and am curious to hear an expert's opinion on whether or not I should continue my strategy or whether I should change it/potentially focus on the GRE. I am aiming for a mid-700s score at the least (but want to know if this is realistic). I have been in GMAT study mode for a while and outside opinion would be incredible!

I just graduated university (top 20 school in the US, think WUSTL/Emory/Vanderbilt/Northwestern/Notre Dame), and am going to work in consulting at a fairly well-known firm. During my second semester of senior year, I decided to take the GMAT and put forth a fairly-serious studying effort. Other stuff got in the way so I ended up reading through the MGMAT math, doing about half of the practice problems at the end of each chapter, making some flashcards, but did not get to the verbal at all. To compensate, three nights before the GMAT I watched 2-3 YouTube videos on GMAT verbal rules.

The night before the GMAT, I was up late doing a homework assignment for a class, and combined with the nerves got about 5 hours of sleep. I went in and took the GMAT still not feeling too bad, and ended up with a 640 (Q36, V41). I ran out of time in the math section and ended up guessing for the last 2-3 questions, and was slightly surprised at the split - I was nervous that I would do worse than a 640 but was surprised at the low percentiles in Quant. I was below the 30th percentile (!!!), and after reviewing the Enhanced Score Report I was surprised at how terribly the quant seemed to go in terms of accuracy! Although arithmetic was >50th percentile, some sub-sections were much worse than <30th percentile. I went through all the MGMAT books, felt like I understood the concepts/strategy, and did not feel like I bombed the quant section outside of the time management. It was definitely a blow to the self-esteem (especially because everybody on this forum/many of the people I know seem to be getting 45+ no problem)! I am not a quant wizard but I've always been fairly comfortable with numbers.

Fast forward about 3 months later, I had 1 month prior to starting work full time and began studying again. I started formulating a new strategy - I re-read the MGMAT math making more flashcards, and for the past couple of days have been hitting the GMAT Club practice quizzes, aiming to do 30-60 problems a day. So far I have been focusing on 500 and 600 level questions, and am getting 50-70% correct, although about 50% of my errors are careless mistakes. I do feel like I am making progress and learning.

Now I am 2 and a half weeks prior to taking the GMAT, and can basically continue prepping full time. I can dedicate 5-9 hours a day to studying without feeling excessively burned out, and am going to start MGMAT CATs soon. I've heard stories of people/my friends with similar timelines score in the mid 700s and believe it is possible, but my questions are the following:

1) Is my strategy of focusing primarily on quant and only doing verbal questions on full-length CATs solid? Should I continue 500/600 level questions and trying to nail them with high accuracy, or should I throw in 700 level questions as well?

2) Is my goal of attaining mid 700s score at this point unrealistic? In other words, would I be better served not taking the GMAT before I start work and stretching out my studying over a longer period of time while I am working (which may be difficult bc I will likely be working 60-70 hours a week + travel), and saving the GMAC/MGMAT CATs for this time period?

3) Given my strength in verbal (and I think my comparative strength in memorizing vocab), would it be more wise to instead shift my efforts toward the GRE? How much of my GMAT studying would translate over to content tested by the GRE?

Thank you so much in advance! Happy to provide any other data points if helpful.


You ask a great question, and I’m happy to help! First of all, it would be helpful to get an up-to-date GMAT score so we can determine whether your two-week timeline is realistic for you to achieve your score goal.

Thus, in short order, can you please take a (fresh) official practice exam from MBA.com and report back with your score breakdown?

Also, in the meantime, feel free to check out my article How to Score a 700+ on the GMAT — A Mini Guide for Success.

Once you report back with your scores, we can discuss your situation further.
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New post 24 Jun 2018, 13:50
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
landoro15 wrote:
Hello! I am in the middle of GMAT study right now and am curious to hear an expert's opinion on whether or not I should continue my strategy or whether I should change it/potentially focus on the GRE. I am aiming for a mid-700s score at the least (but want to know if this is realistic). I have been in GMAT study mode for a while and outside opinion would be incredible!

I just graduated university (top 20 school in the US, think WUSTL/Emory/Vanderbilt/Northwestern/Notre Dame), and am going to work in consulting at a fairly well-known firm. During my second semester of senior year, I decided to take the GMAT and put forth a fairly-serious studying effort. Other stuff got in the way so I ended up reading through the MGMAT math, doing about half of the practice problems at the end of each chapter, making some flashcards, but did not get to the verbal at all. To compensate, three nights before the GMAT I watched 2-3 YouTube videos on GMAT verbal rules.

The night before the GMAT, I was up late doing a homework assignment for a class, and combined with the nerves got about 5 hours of sleep. I went in and took the GMAT still not feeling too bad, and ended up with a 640 (Q36, V41). I ran out of time in the math section and ended up guessing for the last 2-3 questions, and was slightly surprised at the split - I was nervous that I would do worse than a 640 but was surprised at the low percentiles in Quant. I was below the 30th percentile (!!!), and after reviewing the Enhanced Score Report I was surprised at how terribly the quant seemed to go in terms of accuracy! Although arithmetic was >50th percentile, some sub-sections were much worse than <30th percentile. I went through all the MGMAT books, felt like I understood the concepts/strategy, and did not feel like I bombed the quant section outside of the time management. It was definitely a blow to the self-esteem (especially because everybody on this forum/many of the people I know seem to be getting 45+ no problem)! I am not a quant wizard but I've always been fairly comfortable with numbers.

Fast forward about 3 months later, I had 1 month prior to starting work full time and began studying again. I started formulating a new strategy - I re-read the MGMAT math making more flashcards, and for the past couple of days have been hitting the GMAT Club practice quizzes, aiming to do 30-60 problems a day. So far I have been focusing on 500 and 600 level questions, and am getting 50-70% correct, although about 50% of my errors are careless mistakes. I do feel like I am making progress and learning.

Now I am 2 and a half weeks prior to taking the GMAT, and can basically continue prepping full time. I can dedicate 5-9 hours a day to studying without feeling excessively burned out, and am going to start MGMAT CATs soon. I've heard stories of people/my friends with similar timelines score in the mid 700s and believe it is possible, but my questions are the following:

1) Is my strategy of focusing primarily on quant and only doing verbal questions on full-length CATs solid? Should I continue 500/600 level questions and trying to nail them with high accuracy, or should I throw in 700 level questions as well?

2) Is my goal of attaining mid 700s score at this point unrealistic? In other words, would I be better served not taking the GMAT before I start work and stretching out my studying over a longer period of time while I am working (which may be difficult bc I will likely be working 60-70 hours a week + travel), and saving the GMAC/MGMAT CATs for this time period?

3) Given my strength in verbal (and I think my comparative strength in memorizing vocab), would it be more wise to instead shift my efforts toward the GRE? How much of my GMAT studying would translate over to content tested by the GRE?

Thank you so much in advance! Happy to provide any other data points if helpful.


You ask a great question, and I’m happy to help! First of all, it would be helpful to get an up-to-date GMAT score so we can determine whether your two-week timeline is realistic for you to achieve your score goal.

Thus, in short order, can you please take a (fresh) official practice exam from MBA.com and report back with your score breakdown?

Also, in the meantime, feel free to check out my article How to Score a 700+ on the GMAT — A Mini Guide for Success.

Once you report back with your scores, we can discuss your situation further.



Hey Scott,

Thank you for your reply. I enjoyed reading that article, and would love to hear your thoughts/expertise in this situation.

I just took my first GMAC CAT on mba.com and scored a 670 (Q44, V38, IR5). Prior to taking this CAT I took 2 days off from GMAT studying to move into a new place, and honestly felt pretty rusty/unnerved jumping back into things, especially with quant (for example I spent 4-5 minutes on one of the first 5 questions and still may have gotten it wrong). I think this is due to having been out of the zone for a while. I also managed time atrociously on the IR section.

Nevertheless, the score surprised me. Since my official GMAT, my quant score increased by 8 points which was a pleasant surprise, and my verbal decreased by 3. Perhaps this is the result of studying purely quant for 2 weeks nearly full time, or perhaps it was chance.

I do feel capable of scoring 41+ on verbal with a bit of polishing off the rust but really want to lock in that 46+ quant score. I would define this as my primary objective.

What do you think is the best path forward to maximize my score on test day? I would imagine the ROI is higher studying quant than verbal (other than SCs) especially as a native English speaker with relatively decent CR skills (reading/writing was my stronger point with SAT/ACT/APs), so should I just drill 600 level math questions and study areas where I am conceptually weaker? Should I continue doing CATs?

I welcome your thoughts (or anyone else if they are reading) here!
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New post 24 Jun 2018, 19:29
Hi landoro15,

To start, your posts imply that you have two priorities: take the GMAT in 2 weeks (before your job starts to get 'crazy') and score in the mid-700s.

With that type of Score Goal, you would likely need at least another 1-2 months of consistent, guided study, so if that Score is your real priority, then you'll likely need to keep studying regardless of whether you take the GMAT in 2 weeks or not. Thankfully, there's no harm in taking the GMAT in 2 weeks, but you could save some money - and potentially some frustration - by pushing back your next Test Date.

I'd like to know a bit more about how you took this recent CAT:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take it at home?
3) Did you take it at the same time of day as when you plan to take the Official GMAT?
4) Did you do ANYTHING during this CAT that you can't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you take this 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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New post 24 Jun 2018, 19:37
Hi Rich,

Thanks for the reply! First off to answer your questions about the CAT:

1) Yes, in the order I plan on taking it - Quant first
2) Yes, although I have just moved in 2 days ago so I would say it is somewhat more realistic than practicing the exact same place I have been studying. I can certainly amend this by practicing elsewhere.
3) I took it around the same time -- about an hour and a half or two hours later. This is also something I can amend.
4) No, timed the breaks, ate the same food, etc.
5) No, none of the questions have been seen before. As a matter of fact, this is my first full-length practice CAT.

Although I think it is a reach goal, I am wondering how to maximize my chances of getting as high of a score as possible. I do know a couple of my friends (and some folks on GMAT Club) took a similar approach of studying before starting work full time (most of them doing investment banking/consulting), and realized similar score gains from mid-high 600s to mid-high 700s by condensing 2-3 months of sustained prep of 1-2 hours a day into ~1 month of full time study (5-7 hours a day). In my eyes, 1 month of full time studying is a substantial undertaking, and the total hours studied is probably around the same!

I'm sure that sustained periods of studying is the more beneficial strategy for the greatest quantity of people on average, and I may be forced into doing this anyway, but figure that there won't be any time in my life after this that will be as fruitful for GMAT studying (i.e. as little distractions from work).

Would love to hear your thoughts on how to best improve in the short term! I'm sure small and hard-to-predict things account for a +/- 30 point variance, so I figure if I can take a rusty 670, prep enough to raise my score organically by 20-40 points and do everything else right, it is within the realm of possibility to get a good score (and I can make the decision to retake depending on work). I'm sure it may be tough, but would love to hear your thoughts! I am thinking that once I begin my full-time job working ~70 hours a week, studying will be much more difficult. Plus, I do not want to take the GMAT more than 3-4 times (I have heard it will start to look bad?).
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New post 24 Jun 2018, 20:26
Hi landoro15,

You mentioned reviewing your ESR. While the Enhanced Score Report doesn't provide a lot of information, there are usually a few data points that we can use to define what went wrong (and what you should work on to score higher). If you send me your ESR (either via PM or email) then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

1) What is your exact Test Date?
2) While you might now have thought of this yet, have you considered which Schools you plan to apply to?

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New post 24 Jun 2018, 20:33
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi landoro15,

You mentioned reviewing your ESR. While the Enhanced Score Report doesn't provide a lot of information, there are usually a few data points that we can use to define what went wrong (and what you should work on to score higher). If you send me your ESR (either via PM or email) then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

1) What is your exact Test Date?
2) While you might now have thought of this yet, have you considered which Schools you plan to apply to?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich


Hi Rich,

I plan on applying to M7, potentially with a couple of safeties, and targeting H/S/W. My UG GPA is a 3.8 as Econ. My test date is in 10 days.

I'd be happy to PM you some of the details of the ESR. The key takeaway from my review was the following (potentially for others following the thread):

1) Time management for the Quant was awful - I have fixed this problem significantly.

2) There were significant performance differences between sections. On arithmetic I was >50%, and in others I was <10%. This could partially be attributed to time management as well.
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New post 25 Jun 2018, 08:54
Hi landoro15,

As I mentioned, I'll be happy to analyze your ESR - but I'd need to see the FULL ESR.

Beyond that data, we should also examine your most recent CAT in more detail. "Review" is an exceptionally important part of the GMAT training process; your ability to define WHY you're getting questions wrong is essential to defining the areas that you need to work on (and the specific things that you need to 'fix '). As such, I'd like to know a bit more about your last CAT. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing the Quant section of this CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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New post 26 Jun 2018, 01:20
landoro15 wrote:
Hello! I am in the middle of GMAT study right now and am curious to hear an expert's opinion on whether or not I should continue my strategy or whether I should change it/potentially focus on the GRE. I am aiming for a mid-700s score at the least (but want to know if this is realistic). I have been in GMAT study mode for a while and outside opinion would be incredible!

I just graduated university (top 20 school in the US, think WUSTL/Emory/Vanderbilt/Northwestern/Notre Dame), and am going to work in consulting at a fairly well-known firm. During my second semester of senior year, I decided to take the GMAT and put forth a fairly-serious studying effort. Other stuff got in the way so I ended up reading through the MGMAT math, doing about half of the practice problems at the end of each chapter, making some flashcards, but did not get to the verbal at all. To compensate, three nights before the GMAT I watched 2-3 YouTube videos on GMAT verbal rules.

The night before the GMAT, I was up late doing a homework assignment for a class, and combined with the nerves got about 5 hours of sleep. I went in and took the GMAT still not feeling too bad, and ended up with a 640 (Q36, V41). I ran out of time in the math section and ended up guessing for the last 2-3 questions, and was slightly surprised at the split - I was nervous that I would do worse than a 640 but was surprised at the low percentiles in Quant. I was below the 30th percentile (!!!), and after reviewing the Enhanced Score Report I was surprised at how terribly the quant seemed to go in terms of accuracy! Although arithmetic was >50th percentile, some sub-sections were much worse than <30th percentile. I went through all the MGMAT books, felt like I understood the concepts/strategy, and did not feel like I bombed the quant section outside of the time management. It was definitely a blow to the self-esteem (especially because everybody on this forum/many of the people I know seem to be getting 45+ no problem)! I am not a quant wizard but I've always been fairly comfortable with numbers.

Fast forward about 3 months later, I had 1 month prior to starting work full time and began studying again. I started formulating a new strategy - I re-read the MGMAT math making more flashcards, and for the past couple of days have been hitting the GMAT Club practice quizzes, aiming to do 30-60 problems a day. So far I have been focusing on 500 and 600 level questions, and am getting 50-70% correct, although about 50% of my errors are careless mistakes. I do feel like I am making progress and learning.

Now I am 2 and a half weeks prior to taking the GMAT, and can basically continue prepping full time. I can dedicate 5-9 hours a day to studying without feeling excessively burned out, and am going to start MGMAT CATs soon. I've heard stories of people/my friends with similar timelines score in the mid 700s and believe it is possible, but my questions are the following:

1) Is my strategy of focusing primarily on quant and only doing verbal questions on full-length CATs solid? Should I continue 500/600 level questions and trying to nail them with high accuracy, or should I throw in 700 level questions as well?

2) Is my goal of attaining mid 700s score at this point unrealistic? In other words, would I be better served not taking the GMAT before I start work and stretching out my studying over a longer period of time while I am working (which may be difficult bc I will likely be working 60-70 hours a week + travel), and saving the GMAC/MGMAT CATs for this time period?

3) Given my strength in verbal (and I think my comparative strength in memorizing vocab), would it be more wise to instead shift my efforts toward the GRE? How much of my GMAT studying would translate over to content tested by the GRE?

Thank you so much in advance! Happy to provide any other data points if helpful.


Here are some thoughts on your situation:

1. Don't aim for just the 600 level questions. Since you want to score in mid 700s, you must work on a substantial number of 700+ level questions too. They will bring forth the gaps in your prep and you must fix them before going into the test.

2. A lot of people study while working. Though the pressures of a new job are certainly more intense, you will need to take out 2 hrs every week day and more over the weekend. If you actually expect to put in 70 hrs a week in your job, I doubt you will be able to do that. Stretching out your study over a longer period (though not very long) usually works for the better but you probably cannot afford that luxury. I would suggest you to go ahead and take the upcoming test and then review the possibility of a retest, if required.

3. If you do not get a score you like, you can just cancel it and move on. It will not appear on your score report which means that theoretically, you can take the test as many times as you want till you get your desired score.
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New post Updated on: 26 Jun 2018, 12:55
VeritasPrepKarishma wrote:
landoro15 wrote:
Hello! I am in the middle of GMAT study right now and am curious to hear an expert's opinion on whether or not I should continue my strategy or whether I should change it/potentially focus on the GRE. I am aiming for a mid-700s score at the least (but want to know if this is realistic). I have been in GMAT study mode for a while and outside opinion would be incredible!

I just graduated university (top 20 school in the US, think WUSTL/Emory/Vanderbilt/Northwestern/Notre Dame), and am going to work in consulting at a fairly well-known firm. During my second semester of senior year, I decided to take the GMAT and put forth a fairly-serious studying effort. Other stuff got in the way so I ended up reading through the MGMAT math, doing about half of the practice problems at the end of each chapter, making some flashcards, but did not get to the verbal at all. To compensate, three nights before the GMAT I watched 2-3 YouTube videos on GMAT verbal rules.

The night before the GMAT, I was up late doing a homework assignment for a class, and combined with the nerves got about 5 hours of sleep. I went in and took the GMAT still not feeling too bad, and ended up with a 640 (Q36, V41). I ran out of time in the math section and ended up guessing for the last 2-3 questions, and was slightly surprised at the split - I was nervous that I would do worse than a 640 but was surprised at the low percentiles in Quant. I was below the 30th percentile (!!!), and after reviewing the Enhanced Score Report I was surprised at how terribly the quant seemed to go in terms of accuracy! Although arithmetic was >50th percentile, some sub-sections were much worse than <30th percentile. I went through all the MGMAT books, felt like I understood the concepts/strategy, and did not feel like I bombed the quant section outside of the time management. It was definitely a blow to the self-esteem (especially because everybody on this forum/many of the people I know seem to be getting 45+ no problem)! I am not a quant wizard but I've always been fairly comfortable with numbers.

Fast forward about 3 months later, I had 1 month prior to starting work full time and began studying again. I started formulating a new strategy - I re-read the MGMAT math making more flashcards, and for the past couple of days have been hitting the GMAT Club practice quizzes, aiming to do 30-60 problems a day. So far I have been focusing on 500 and 600 level questions, and am getting 50-70% correct, although about 50% of my errors are careless mistakes. I do feel like I am making progress and learning.

Now I am 2 and a half weeks prior to taking the GMAT, and can basically continue prepping full time. I can dedicate 5-9 hours a day to studying without feeling excessively burned out, and am going to start MGMAT CATs soon. I've heard stories of people/my friends with similar timelines score in the mid 700s and believe it is possible, but my questions are the following:

1) Is my strategy of focusing primarily on quant and only doing verbal questions on full-length CATs solid? Should I continue 500/600 level questions and trying to nail them with high accuracy, or should I throw in 700 level questions as well?

2) Is my goal of attaining mid 700s score at this point unrealistic? In other words, would I be better served not taking the GMAT before I start work and stretching out my studying over a longer period of time while I am working (which may be difficult bc I will likely be working 60-70 hours a week + travel), and saving the GMAC/MGMAT CATs for this time period?

3) Given my strength in verbal (and I think my comparative strength in memorizing vocab), would it be more wise to instead shift my efforts toward the GRE? How much of my GMAT studying would translate over to content tested by the GRE?

Thank you so much in advance! Happy to provide any other data points if helpful.


Here are some thoughts on your situation:

1. Don't aim for just the 600 level questions. Since you want to score in mid 700s, you must work on a substantial number of 700+ level questions too. They will bring forth the gaps in your prep and you must fix them before going into the test.

2. A lot of people study while working. Though the pressures of a new job are certainly more intense, you will need to take out 2 hrs every week day and more over the weekend. If you actually expect to put in 70 hrs a week in your job, I doubt you will be able to do that. Stretching out your study over a longer period (though not very long) usually works for the better but you probably cannot afford that luxury. I would suggest you to go ahead and take the upcoming test and then review the possibility of a retest, if required.

3. If you do not get a score you like, you can just cancel it and move on. It will not appear on your score report which means that theoretically, you can take the test as many times as you want till you get your desired score.


Karishma,

Understood! Thank you for taking the time to respond. A few data points from the most recent CAT:

1) The overwhelming majority of my mistakes in Quant are careless mistakes. I would say 70-75%. Careless mistakes as a proportion of my incorrect answers is increasing, which I would assume is a good sign?

2) I got 12 verbal questions incorrect, 2 were from CR, 2 from the arguments, and the rest (8) from SC. This was different from the real GMAT, where they were all about the same.

I would maybe imagine that the above two being the primary areas for improve would make it straightforward to improve? Doesn't mean it'll be easy, but I would imagine I can probably increase my score substantially if I continue working on Quant and Sentence Correction, with an emphasis toward eliminating careless mistakes.

I have a couple of questions:

1) What are your best tips for eliminating careless mistakes? The reason I assume drilling 600-700 level questions would be effective is if careless mistakes keep me from the 700 level questions, I would assume this would hold me from attaining a Q47+ score?

2) What is the most effective way to study at this point (i.e. so close to the exam?) My current plan is a CAT every other day, with the days in between dedicated to drilling quant questions in areas that I am weaker in.

3) You mentioned it being difficult to study consistently for the GMAT with 70+ hours of work. Unfortunately, this is real and the firm I'll be working for is well known for this (although I will likely have time on the weekends). Should I wait until there is a lull period in my job, which could be 1+ years from now to begin studying again, or should I capitalize on the time already spent studying and continue until I get my target score? Hopefully it doesn't come down to this, but I wouldn't count on a satisfactory score this upcoming week!

Thanks!

Originally posted by landoro15 on 26 Jun 2018, 12:53.
Last edited by landoro15 on 26 Jun 2018, 12:55, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 26 Jun 2018, 12:54
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi landoro15,

As I mentioned, I'll be happy to analyze your ESR - but I'd need to see the FULL ESR.

Beyond that data, we should also examine your most recent CAT in more detail. "Review" is an exceptionally important part of the GMAT training process; your ability to define WHY you're getting questions wrong is essential to defining the areas that you need to work on (and the specific things that you need to 'fix '). As such, I'd like to know a bit more about your last CAT. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing the Quant section of this CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?

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Rich


Rich --

Sent you a PM with my full ESR, key takeaways, and how I have targeted areas for improvement.
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New post 27 Jun 2018, 23:31
landoro15 wrote:
Understood! Thank you for taking the time to respond. A few data points from the most recent CAT:

1) The overwhelming majority of my mistakes in Quant are careless mistakes. I would say 70-75%. Careless mistakes as a proportion of my incorrect answers is increasing, which I would assume is a good sign?

2) I got 12 verbal questions incorrect, 2 were from CR, 2 from the arguments, and the rest (8) from SC. This was different from the real GMAT, where they were all about the same.

I would maybe imagine that the above two being the primary areas for improve would make it straightforward to improve? Doesn't mean it'll be easy, but I would imagine I can probably increase my score substantially if I continue working on Quant and Sentence Correction, with an emphasis toward eliminating careless mistakes.

I have a couple of questions:

1) What are your best tips for eliminating careless mistakes? The reason I assume drilling 600-700 level questions would be effective is if careless mistakes keep me from the 700 level questions, I would assume this would hold me from attaining a Q47+ score?

2) What is the most effective way to study at this point (i.e. so close to the exam?) My current plan is a CAT every other day, with the days in between dedicated to drilling quant questions in areas that I am weaker in.

3) You mentioned it being difficult to study consistently for the GMAT with 70+ hours of work. Unfortunately, this is real and the firm I'll be working for is well known for this (although I will likely have time on the weekends). Should I wait until there is a lull period in my job, which could be 1+ years from now to begin studying again, or should I capitalize on the time already spent studying and continue until I get my target score? Hopefully it doesn't come down to this, but I wouldn't count on a satisfactory score this upcoming week!

Thanks!


I prefer conceptual gaps to careless mistakes, not that we have a choice (well, if there were a choice, neither would be it!!)
We know how to deal with those gaps - work on the concept and we are done. Making too many careless mistakes means we need to double check all our calculations, we need to go back to confirm what the question is asking before we mark an answer etc. Even though making careless mistakes is better for one's ego (that is, I knew how to do it - the mistake was just an oversight), in a test such as GMAT which only cares about the actual answer and not the steps one took to arrive at it, they are equally bad if not worse. You spend enough time on it, you feel you got it right but you don't get any credit for it! Just practicing questions will not help eliminate/minimize careless mistakes. Evaluate the kind of mistakes you make and then ensure that you double check when faced with a similar situation in a new question.

You should rely on the data obtained from the actual GMAT. If the mistakes are about the same in all 3, you should focus on all 3. With every practice test, your performance will vary since we don't know how realistic each type of questions were. Also, the performance will depend on other factors such as the subjects of the RC passages and your comfort in them.

A CAT every other day is too much. Fewer tests with focus on evaluation and takeaways is preferable. You should take no test in the last 4 days.

It is preferable to capitalise on the time already spent. If you start again after 1 yr, you will need to almost start from the scratch, but then, constraints are constraints. One has got to work within them. I can tell you what is preferable and why, but you will need to see what you can realistically implement.
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New post 27 Jun 2018, 23:43
VeritasPrepKarishma wrote:
landoro15 wrote:
Understood! Thank you for taking the time to respond. A few data points from the most recent CAT:

1) The overwhelming majority of my mistakes in Quant are careless mistakes. I would say 70-75%. Careless mistakes as a proportion of my incorrect answers is increasing, which I would assume is a good sign?

2) I got 12 verbal questions incorrect, 2 were from CR, 2 from the arguments, and the rest (8) from SC. This was different from the real GMAT, where they were all about the same.

I would maybe imagine that the above two being the primary areas for improve would make it straightforward to improve? Doesn't mean it'll be easy, but I would imagine I can probably increase my score substantially if I continue working on Quant and Sentence Correction, with an emphasis toward eliminating careless mistakes.

I have a couple of questions:

1) What are your best tips for eliminating careless mistakes? The reason I assume drilling 600-700 level questions would be effective is if careless mistakes keep me from the 700 level questions, I would assume this would hold me from attaining a Q47+ score?

2) What is the most effective way to study at this point (i.e. so close to the exam?) My current plan is a CAT every other day, with the days in between dedicated to drilling quant questions in areas that I am weaker in.

3) You mentioned it being difficult to study consistently for the GMAT with 70+ hours of work. Unfortunately, this is real and the firm I'll be working for is well known for this (although I will likely have time on the weekends). Should I wait until there is a lull period in my job, which could be 1+ years from now to begin studying again, or should I capitalize on the time already spent studying and continue until I get my target score? Hopefully it doesn't come down to this, but I wouldn't count on a satisfactory score this upcoming week!

Thanks!


I prefer conceptual gaps to careless mistakes, not that we have a choice (well, if there were a choice, neither would be it!!)
We know how to deal with those gaps - work on the concept and we are done. Making too many careless mistakes means we need to double check all our calculations, we need to go back to confirm what the question is asking before we mark an answer etc. Even though making careless mistakes is better for one's ego (that is, I knew how to do it - the mistake was just an oversight), in a test such as GMAT which only cares about the actual answer and not the steps one took to arrive at it, they are equally bad if not worse. You spend enough time on it, you feel you got it right but you don't get any credit for it! Just practicing questions will not help eliminate/minimize careless mistakes. Evaluate the kind of mistakes you make and then ensure that you double check when faced with a similar situation in a new question.

You should rely on the data obtained from the actual GMAT. If the mistakes are about the same in all 3, you should focus on all 3. With every practice test, your performance will vary since we don't know how realistic each type of questions were. Also, the performance will depend on other factors such as the subjects of the RC passages and your comfort in them.

A CAT every other day is too much. Fewer tests with focus on evaluation and takeaways is preferable. You should take no test in the last 4 days.

It is preferable to capitalise on the time already spent. If you start again after 1 yr, you will need to almost start from the scratch, but then, constraints are constraints. One has got to work within them. I can tell you what is preferable and why, but you will need to see what you can realistically implement.


Karishma,

Thank you for your thoughts here. You are totally right about the careless mistakes - I was thinking about that earlier today, and the time spent surely makes a careless mistake more penalizing than a guess-and-move-on type situation. On my next CAT, I will make sure to be more deliberate about calculations and understanding the problem and see if this helps.

I think I can buy myself another 2 weeks of time, which would bring my cumulative study time to about 1.5 months full time. I would assume it is possible to reach the target, although I suppose it doesn't really matter because this is the only time I have!

I have just one more follow up question:

What would you say is a safe period of time to stop or heavily slow GMAT studying before needing to "start from scratch"? It may be possible for example to slow my GMAT studying to 30 minutes - 1 hour a day, 8 hours on the weekend, and then take the GMAT around New Years. I am sure you have worked with clients who work demanding jobs (e.g. investment banking), or clients with demanding family situations (e.g. newborns), what have they found to work the best?

My thought is that my performance will not have "plateaued" until I feel like I am not learning more and each mistake feels novel. This is not the case now - with every practice test or set of practice questions, I genuinely feel as though I am learning and improving, and I believe I have applied newly learned concepts well on a cumulative basis (e.g. not making the same mistake twice). This makes me think that I should just keep preparing until I am scoring around where I need to be scoring, but do not want to see diminishing returns if that's what 30min-1 hour of prep a day will yield.
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New post 28 Jun 2018, 15:36
landoro15 wrote:
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
landoro15 wrote:
Hello! I am in the middle of GMAT study right now and am curious to hear an expert's opinion on whether or not I should continue my strategy or whether I should change it/potentially focus on the GRE. I am aiming for a mid-700s score at the least (but want to know if this is realistic). I have been in GMAT study mode for a while and outside opinion would be incredible!

I just graduated university (top 20 school in the US, think WUSTL/Emory/Vanderbilt/Northwestern/Notre Dame), and am going to work in consulting at a fairly well-known firm. During my second semester of senior year, I decided to take the GMAT and put forth a fairly-serious studying effort. Other stuff got in the way so I ended up reading through the MGMAT math, doing about half of the practice problems at the end of each chapter, making some flashcards, but did not get to the verbal at all. To compensate, three nights before the GMAT I watched 2-3 YouTube videos on GMAT verbal rules.

The night before the GMAT, I was up late doing a homework assignment for a class, and combined with the nerves got about 5 hours of sleep. I went in and took the GMAT still not feeling too bad, and ended up with a 640 (Q36, V41). I ran out of time in the math section and ended up guessing for the last 2-3 questions, and was slightly surprised at the split - I was nervous that I would do worse than a 640 but was surprised at the low percentiles in Quant. I was below the 30th percentile (!!!), and after reviewing the Enhanced Score Report I was surprised at how terribly the quant seemed to go in terms of accuracy! Although arithmetic was >50th percentile, some sub-sections were much worse than <30th percentile. I went through all the MGMAT books, felt like I understood the concepts/strategy, and did not feel like I bombed the quant section outside of the time management. It was definitely a blow to the self-esteem (especially because everybody on this forum/many of the people I know seem to be getting 45+ no problem)! I am not a quant wizard but I've always been fairly comfortable with numbers.

Fast forward about 3 months later, I had 1 month prior to starting work full time and began studying again. I started formulating a new strategy - I re-read the MGMAT math making more flashcards, and for the past couple of days have been hitting the GMAT Club practice quizzes, aiming to do 30-60 problems a day. So far I have been focusing on 500 and 600 level questions, and am getting 50-70% correct, although about 50% of my errors are careless mistakes. I do feel like I am making progress and learning.

Now I am 2 and a half weeks prior to taking the GMAT, and can basically continue prepping full time. I can dedicate 5-9 hours a day to studying without feeling excessively burned out, and am going to start MGMAT CATs soon. I've heard stories of people/my friends with similar timelines score in the mid 700s and believe it is possible, but my questions are the following:

1) Is my strategy of focusing primarily on quant and only doing verbal questions on full-length CATs solid? Should I continue 500/600 level questions and trying to nail them with high accuracy, or should I throw in 700 level questions as well?

2) Is my goal of attaining mid 700s score at this point unrealistic? In other words, would I be better served not taking the GMAT before I start work and stretching out my studying over a longer period of time while I am working (which may be difficult bc I will likely be working 60-70 hours a week + travel), and saving the GMAC/MGMAT CATs for this time period?

3) Given my strength in verbal (and I think my comparative strength in memorizing vocab), would it be more wise to instead shift my efforts toward the GRE? How much of my GMAT studying would translate over to content tested by the GRE?

Thank you so much in advance! Happy to provide any other data points if helpful.


You ask a great question, and I’m happy to help! First of all, it would be helpful to get an up-to-date GMAT score so we can determine whether your two-week timeline is realistic for you to achieve your score goal.

Thus, in short order, can you please take a (fresh) official practice exam from MBA.com and report back with your score breakdown?

Also, in the meantime, feel free to check out my article How to Score a 700+ on the GMAT — A Mini Guide for Success.

Once you report back with your scores, we can discuss your situation further.



Hey Scott,

Thank you for your reply. I enjoyed reading that article, and would love to hear your thoughts/expertise in this situation.

I just took my first GMAC CAT on mba.com and scored a 670 (Q44, V38, IR5). Prior to taking this CAT I took 2 days off from GMAT studying to move into a new place, and honestly felt pretty rusty/unnerved jumping back into things, especially with quant (for example I spent 4-5 minutes on one of the first 5 questions and still may have gotten it wrong). I think this is due to having been out of the zone for a while. I also managed time atrociously on the IR section.

Nevertheless, the score surprised me. Since my official GMAT, my quant score increased by 8 points which was a pleasant surprise, and my verbal decreased by 3. Perhaps this is the result of studying purely quant for 2 weeks nearly full time, or perhaps it was chance.

I do feel capable of scoring 41+ on verbal with a bit of polishing off the rust but really want to lock in that 46+ quant score. I would define this as my primary objective.

What do you think is the best path forward to maximize my score on test day? I would imagine the ROI is higher studying quant than verbal (other than SCs) especially as a native English speaker with relatively decent CR skills (reading/writing was my stronger point with SAT/ACT/APs), so should I just drill 600 level math questions and study areas where I am conceptually weaker? Should I continue doing CATs?

I welcome your thoughts (or anyone else if they are reading) here!



So, a 670 is a great starting point. With that said, it will almost certainly take you longer than two weeks to achieve your desired score goal. However, if you MUST take the test in two weeks because your job will start, then you can still take the test to see what happens. Worst case scenario, you cancel the score and continue your prep, no harm, no foul.

With that said, two weeks it not a tremendous amount of time, so at this point it may be helpful to continue to find and fix any lurking weaknesses.


For example, if you are reviewing Number Properties, be sure that you practice 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. Once complete, do a thorough analysis of each incorrect question. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why you got it wrong. 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 properly analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to more efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant knowledge. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

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 quant score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see and types that you would rather not see, and questions that take you 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 currently take you 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, make some more areas stronger.

Remember, you can follow this process for all verbal sections as well.

In about another week, you may consider taking one more practice exam to track your improvement.

To make your practice test conditions as realistic as possible, I recommend adhering to the following:

1) Plan to go the library and rent a private study room, or go to another quiet location to take the practice test. Do not take the test at your home. After all, you will not be taking your actual GMAT at home.

2) Do not skip any sections of the test. Yes, that means you must do the Integrated Reasoning section and the essay.

3) Do not take any additional breaks or do anything that you could not do on test day (such as pause the exam and go for a walk). It’s extremely important that you simulate test day in every way possible. Turn your cell phone off.

4) Do your scratch work with a wet-erase marker and pad similar to those provided at GMAT test centers.

In general, you should always give a practice test your best effort and treat it like the real deal! Remember, the practice test will not be an accurate gauge of your current GMAT skills unless you adhere closely to actual GMAT testing conditions when taking it. If you allow yourself to pause repeatedly, go over the allotted time for a section, or use a calculator during the Quant section, your score will not be accurate.

After taking each practice exam and getting some rest, you need to analyze your results. Begin by reviewing every question that you CORRECTLY answered. Take note of what you’re doing well and what skills and concepts are coming naturally to you. Take note of the question types with which you feel strong.

If you see the improvement you need, then that is awesome! If not, please reach out and we can continue to troubleshoot.

Either way, please reach out with any further questions.
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