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Four unsuccessful attempts, where do I go from here?

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New post 03 Mar 2019, 08:44
Hi All,

Saying I'm disheartened is an understatement.

Bit of background, I've taken the GMAT four times now:

First practice GMAT exam without any studying, I got a 640. Studied for about two months using a 2007 Official GMAT guide and Kaplan's 2018 guide, then took the actual test.

Attempt 1: taken in February during my last semester of college and during a weekend after multiple midterms. Bad idea trying to juggle job hunting, maintaining a good GPA, and the GMAT.

Got a 620... Lower score than before I started studying.

Attempt 2: took a couple months off and restarted studying in July. Started my job by had ample time after work and on weekends to study. I use Manhattan's verbal guides, Princeton's GMAT guide, a free online course from my local library and the Official 2018 GMAT guide. I felt confident going in the second time, felt wiser. I was scoring in the 700s on the official practice tests but underscored the effect that seeing the same questions had on my performance.

Got a 650... +1 better than before I even started studying. I felt like I misunderstood the RC passages. RC was my strongest point the first time so I didn't focus on studying it much before my second time. Bad idea.

I thought the 650 might have been a fluke so quickly retook the GMAT a third time.

Attempt 3: I don't remember how I felt but I think it was good. I studied the mistakes I made on prior practice questions and was ready.

Got a 670... (Q43V39) better but I really want to be in the 90th percentile. I was happy with the Verbal score at least. I submitted this score and was happy to see I got AWA 6. IR 5 was on my lower end than previously.

I now decided that my self study and doing countless practice questions wasn't working, I needed a prep course. An angel saw my pity post on Reddit and gave me free access to Orion, a spinoff of Veritas. I used this for three months and was scoring around 680, but Veritas isn't the OG algorithm so I then purchased OG Exams 3 & 4.

I scored 680 my first go around on #3, not the drastic improvement that I had hoped for. Looks like Veritas was pretty accurate. My V37 also wasn't as high as I've scored before but I got Q48. I was really happy to see my Quantitative finally improved!

I then took #4 but was disappointed to see a lot of repeat RC questions. I also decided to take Verbal first instead of Quantitative because I figured I might as well put focus in the area I'm better at, and is weighed heavier. I scored a 750 (Q50V44) which is great, but it was definitely skewed by the repeat questions. I'm pissed that GMAC make you pay for these two tests that share some questions, how ridiculous.

But now I was ready for my last attempt. Just want to score in the 90th percentile.

Attempt 4: I decided to switch things up and take Verbal first. Honestly it didn't feel good. I found myself misunderstanding the RC passages again and second guessing the hell out of myself. However I feel like I aced all the SC questions, no issues there. CR was ok. I didn't see any probability and group questions on the Quant section so I knew I probably messed that up. IR seemed really easy this time, though I hadn't even studied for it. And the AWA prompt was actually a good one.

Scored a 630..(Q45V31) what.in.the.world.

I'm lost for words. It's likely this is just an outlier based on my verbal score - I've never scored that low. But after 3 months of Orion, a whole year of studying, I score lower than before I even started studying for the GMAT? How is that possible? Was it just a bad day? I felt confident though. How many bad days will I keep having. It's not so much that they're expensive bad days, it's all the time I've put in that goes to waste.

Admittedly my time management was off this time. Guessed on the last ~4 questions on both sections but would that significantly drop my score? It means I wasn't performing in the 700 range prior.


At least I got an 8 in IR haha.

Where do I go from here? I feel like I know all the content. I need to be better at guessing and moving on instead of spending too much time on a question. Also how do I overcome second guessing? During practice tests and questions, whenever I second guess, I usually end up selecting the wrong answer when I originally had the right one. This likely mirrors my actual exam performance.

While this was disappointing, I'm more disappointed that I didn't get a Q47+ than by my verbal score which I'm still believing is an outlier.

I appreciate your responses in advance.

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New post 03 Mar 2019, 08:51
Buddy, try to score higher in quant. You have touched V-39, so that is quite good, for 700+, try to get to Q49.

It is just a matter of more practice, don't lose heart now. You can definitely get to 700+.
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New post 03 Mar 2019, 18:19
Hi Bluerang1,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day did not go as well as hoped. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Your 4 Official Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 650+/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the GMAT consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes. The 'swings' in your Scores are likely due to a handful of lucky/unlucky guesses in each section - and that could be the result of an inconsistent use of Tactics, although there are a number of other factors to consider.

As it stands, your prior 670/Q43 is still a solid Score - and it could be enough to get you into Business School. 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 your timeline and your goals:

1) What is your goal score?
2) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
3) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 07:39
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Bluerang1,


1) What is your goal score?
2) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
3) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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


1) 740 but at this point I'd be over the moon with a 710. Just trying to get in the 9th percentile
2) Fall 2020 to start Fall 2021
3) Top 10 - hence the strive for 90th percentile. The two schools that I most want to get into are Booth and Kellog

Thanks!
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New post 04 Mar 2019, 12:47
Hi Bluerang1,

You've given yourself plenty of lead-time before you plan to apply to Business School - which is good. Since you're consistently scoring at the same general level on the Official GMAT, you should not plan to rush back in to retest, but you won't necessarily need to study that much more IF you can make the necessary changes to how you 'see' (and respond to) the Quant section.

Many Business Schools view an Applicant's Quant Scaled Score as an indicator of how that Applicant might handle the 'academic side' of the Program - and scores in the Q42-Q45 range won't impress anyone. That score implies that you did fairly well on most of the "math" questions that you saw on Test Day, but you made some little mistakes throughout the section and you missed out on LOTS of 'strategy-based' points. This is meant to say that by focusing on Quant Tactics, you'll be better able to increase your GMAT Score AND better impress how Business School Admissions Officers will view your potential to handle their Programs.

1) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

You might also choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report. While the ESR 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 purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 16:02
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Bluerang1,


1) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

You might also choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report. While the ESR 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 purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

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

I can get about 10 hours a week. I know you said not to rush but I've already scheduled a test for April 12th. I thought this three months i took to study, after by 3rd attempt, was not rushing but it made me do even worse than before.

I just purchase the ESR
CR: 29th
RC: 57th
SC: 81st

My records (from all attempts excluding the 670 as I didn't get that ESR) have been:
CR: 78th
RC: 90th - on my 620 attempt, for some reason I've gone downhill from here
SC: 81st

I've averaged my best performances and am only at a 690 (Q46V39), definitely have improvements to make.

My Quant has gotten better each time but my PS is shameful. I would have thought I performed better on PS than DS but that's incorrect. This at least gives me hope in improving further because I have no excuse not to get in the 90th percentile on PS.

Thanks for the note on looking at Quant strategies. I know there were a few times I spent too much time solving the question when I realized the answer was easier to get than I thought. I have a lot to work on but I'm confident for my next attempt if I fully focus on my weak points.

In your perspective tough, why did my Verbal scores tank so much? How come I've never reached 90th in RC since my first time?
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New post 04 Mar 2019, 21:15
Bluerang1 wrote:
In your perspective tough, why did my Verbal scores tank so much? How come I've never reached 90th in RC since my first time?
There could be a lot of reasons for that, but you should keep in mind that those (sub-section) scores you see on your ESR are not very accurate. For example, someone who gets a low overall score but gets every RC question correct will get the highest RC score possible (95%), but that could change if the questions get tougher (the GMAT does not score RC, or any other question type, separately).
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New post 05 Mar 2019, 15:37
Hi Bluerang1,

With an April 12th Test Date, you have about 5.5 weeks of study time - and you could potentially improve a great deal in that time. While the ESR 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). Since you have purchased the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you. If you would rather not post it publicly, then you can feel free to PM or email it directly to me.

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New post 05 Mar 2019, 15:59
AjiteshArun wrote:
Bluerang1 wrote:
In your perspective tough, why did my Verbal scores tank so much? How come I've never reached 90th in RC since my first time?
There could be a lot of reasons for that, but you should keep in mind that those (sub-section) scores you see on your ESR are not very accurate. For example, someone who gets a low overall score but gets every RC question correct will get the highest RC score possible (95%), but that could change if the questions get tougher (the GMAT does not score RC, or any other question type, separately).


This crossed my mind. Makes sense, thank you!
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New post 05 Mar 2019, 17:26
I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to to help. So, let’s look at the good news: a Q45 is not terrible, right? Sure, that is not your ultimate score goal, but it's not a terrible score either. On the other side of the coin, it’s clear that your verbal score was a real drag on your overall score. Furthermore, the real question is why you are unable to hit your score goal on most practice tests or on the real GMAT.

One thing that sticks out to me is the fact that you spend a lot of time second-guessing. Second-guessing yourself on many questions is a sign that you lack confidence, and lacking confidence is a sign that you lack knowledge of the content or skill in arriving at correct answers, or both. So, although it may seem crazy that you scored 10 points lower on your latest exam than you did on your first “cold” exam, if you don’t know GMAT quant and verbal like the back of your hand, that situation isn’t so crazy. Remember, there is a massive difference between looking at a GMAT question and immediately knowing how to attack it and looking at a GMAT question and having some idea of how to attack it.

Take the following example:

14! is equal to which of the following?

(A) 87,178,291,200
(B) 88,180,293,207
(C) 89,181,294,209
(D) 90,000,000,003
(E) 91,114,114,114

Upon seeing this question, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Grabbing a calculator to add up the values in the expression? If you are able to quickly recognize that using the “5 x 2 pair rule” will allow you to efficiently attack the problem (see the solution below), the question becomes very basic, and you can avoid having to perform tedious calculations that will be time-consuming and potentially lead to a wrong answer.

Solution:

Notice that there is at least one (5 × 2) pair contained in the product of these numbers. It follows that the units digit must be a zero. The only number with zero as the units digit is 87,178,291,200.

Answer: A

This is just one example, but hopefully you can see that your ability to recognize and quickly attack is what will lead to a high GMAT score.

Regarding verbal, what you need to do is absolutely clear. The difference between correct and incorrect answers in verbal is stark, IF you see what is going on. There is only one correct answer to a verbal question, except in the very rare cases in which GMAC blows creating a question. So, if you are second-guessing your verbal choices, you are not really seeing what is going on in verbal questions. To lock in a high verbal score, you have to train yourself to more CLEARLY DEFINE why wrong choices are wrong and correct answers are correct. You have to learn to come up with clear, logical arguments for eliminating or keeping choices. Once you learn to do so, you won't be second-guessing or running out of time in verbal, because you won't be circling through answer choices wondering which is correct. You will know exactly which choice is correct.

I realize that you are frustrated, but the only path forward, in my eyes, is to pick yourself back up and begin following a very thorough and structured study plan, one that allows you to individually learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic, starting with the foundations before moving to more advanced concepts. By studying in such a way, you can ensure that you methodically learn GMAT quant and verbal and leave no stone unturned.

Certainly, if you’d like further advice on how to improve your GMAT quant and verbal skills, feel free to reach back out.
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Re: Four unsuccessful attempts, where do I go from here?   [#permalink] 05 Mar 2019, 17:26
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