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General Advice - bad test day versus more studying

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General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2019, 17:24
Long time reader, first time posting. A few questions are in italics.

1) I took the GMAT for the first time a few days ago and needed a minimum score of 650. I only hit 600, which is a bit below my GMAT official practice tests of 670, 630, 680, and 700. Is it common for there to be this much difference between the official and practice tests?

2) I do not feel like I was in my "best place" when I took the exam. The typical list of work pilling on lately (work full-time), a cold, and irregular sleep pattern the couple days prior to the exam. Also, I generally do very well in the RC and CR sections, but my unofficial report shows verbal at 27 with a 46 percentile. The score is lower than my practice exams that reflect two 90th percentile scores for verbal. Thus, I dropped the ball on that section. Does anyone have thoughts on simply brushing up a bit more and trying the exam again in say 4 weeks? I still have a good chunk of the official GMAT test practice questions and maybe 150 Magoosh questions that I can work on without any repeats.

3) In regards to review materials, I made it through the Magoosh product. Overall it is good, but the SC did not stick the best. I'll admit I have always been a numbers person anyways, so the SC issue is probably operator error. Also, I am a native english speaker, so I can "stumble" my way through parts of SC. My question is regarding study materials, is the e-GMAT product worth doing for their approach on SC? I have read some posts that after trying one or two other review courses, the person tried e-GMAT and saw a dramatic difference. I would not have serious time for this product for a while and may not be able to test again until July. My goal score is really only 650. Sure, 700+ sounds amazing. I think I could even reach that point given time, but I have other commitments. So, I am hesitant to invest time and money into another review course.

4) Thus, I am debating between taking the again exam in 4 weeks or giving e-GMAT's review materials a shot. I am leaning towards trying again in 4 weeks. While I could be out another test fee, if I make the 650, I would be done. Thoughts?
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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2019, 17:52
1
Sorry about the score drop.


1. When you have taken your practice tests (they all seem consistent, did you hit any questions you have seen before/elsewhere?) Even a single question that you knew how to solve and did not account for time?

2. There are a number of stories of people just doing some brushing up (or not much at all) and scoring 100 points more. Not many but i have seen a few of these debriefs in the Share GMAT Experience

3. e-GMAT would be interesting for a native speaker. You may find some things odd or eye-opening since you have not technically learned English grammar in a scientific way but rather by ear. Some of the native speakers complained that the indian accent of the speakers was a bit of an adjustment. However, Magoosh is a fairly skinny course - it gives you the basics and minimum in a short period of time. e-GMAT is much more extensive but you could focus on SC only.

I would recommend hitting your weak spots if you can in the 4 weeks. I would like to hope that you can score 100 or even 50 points more by just waiting a month and staying current, but it wold be a lot better if you could get 150 points or at least protect yourself and save time if you don't hit that 100-50 point improvement. My recommendation would be to re-take in 4 weeks (GMAT is a perishable skill and you will start losing your abilities and scoring lower and lower if you wait more than 30 days and not continuously challenge yourself). You can also consider MGMAT SC book but don't neglect quant - keep it engaged and current.

To summarize:
1. Yes to 4 week-retake.
2. Recommend doing more than just review of what you covered, though that is helpful
3. Keep quant engaged as well - don't drop it completely
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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2019, 21:30
Thank you bb and I appreciate the quick reply, too. Your feedback was really helpful.

The practice test scores were all on my first try. I feel like I may have seen one or two questions already in the OG or Magoosh, but they were really rare. I have not exhausted all of the available prep questions yet, except the OG.

I am already checking test dates and planning on running them by work. Going to try doing the retake on a 3 or 4 day weekend for the exam.

Now that I am thinking about it, I had a really bazaar RC passage. Perhaps that set of questions contributed to the score drop...

Anyways, I feel much better about where I am at now. Thank you again! :) :thumbup:
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New post 27 Jan 2019, 21:41
I think it would help people to help you if you can post your raw scores (Q and V) so that it is a bit more clear where practice and final tests had a difference of opinions.

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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2019, 22:15
Hi soccerfan6598,

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) How long have you studied in total?
2) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
3) What were your Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores on the Official GMAT?

Goals:
4) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
5) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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 28 Jan 2019, 06:55
Hi bb: GMAT Official CAT results
1) Q44 V40 Comp:690 Date 12/1/18
2) Q45 V31 Comp:630 Date 12/19/18 Spent too long on questions. Tried Verbal first for the test order, but did not finish that section.
3) Q48 V35 Comp:680 Date 1/4/19
4) Q48 V40 Comp:700 Date 1/19/19

Unofficial GMAT Score
Q47 V27 Comp: 600 Date 1/28/19

Hi Rich, Thank you for your reply. Here you go.
1) I took a GMAT review course through my previous college in early 2018, but did not have a lot of time to study outside of the class. The course was more of a 8 wk crash course presented by a few private tutors. I did not feel ready at that point, so I held off until I had time starting Oct '18. In Oct I purchased Magoosh and followed 1 month study plan, which I finished 1/20/19. I also studied for about 2 weeks straight at the end of Dec. Actual time commitment, I would venture probably 150 hrs pretty easily. I also started reading the Financial Times to get used to more technical writing in November.
2&3) See above
4) Actually, my goal is to apply for a PhD program. Since I stayed at the same school for my masters I bypassed the GMAT requirement. I already finished my masters a few years ago and passed the CPA, too. Thus, I am not a stranger to standardized tests. However, I was only working part-time and doing the CPA. Presently, studying and working salaried full-time is proving to be quite a bit more challenging. I also have some research experience, so I have been told I have a strong PhD candidate profile. Thus, my only major hurdle is the GMAT.
5) I am looking at schools in the midwestern and south-midwestern US, mainly UT Dallas and UT Austin. I plan on applying to probably 1 or 2 other schools, once I reach that point. While I've read that I might be able to get by with a 600, most PhD schools list a 650 minimum and an average in the low 700s.

I am considering the ESR, but I first need to talk to my work about getting a 4 day weekend during busy season. The only 2 test spots that work are in 3 weeks or 5 weeks. If I have to do the 3 weeks, I think the ESR might not be available in time. Please let me know if I am wrong. I am assuming the ESR would not be available until after the official test report, which is about 20 days (18 now) from now.

Presently I feel like I have not spend enough time just churning through questions and looking at what I missed. For example, I hit a PS probability question format that I had never seen before on test day.
On the theory side, I wish I could get a better handle on the SC questions. Some of SC is sticking better, but I still (obviously) hit rough patches. My hand written note cards are helping, yes I am one of those people, I just have not had a lot of time to go back and review weaker points.

Anyways, off to work! Thank you both for your help!
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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jan 2019, 09:59
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soccerfan6598 wrote:
I am considering the ESR, but I first need to talk to my work about getting a 4 day weekend during busy season. The only 2 test spots that work are in 3 weeks or 5 weeks. If I have to do the 3 weeks, I think the ESR might not be available in time. Please let me know if I am wrong. I am assuming the ESR would not be available until after the official test report, which is about 20 days (18 now) from now.

Hi soccerfan6598.

Actually, usually getting one's official scores takes much less time than the 20 day maximum. Meanwhile, regardless of when you get your official scores, you can get the ESR within a few days of taking the test.
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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jan 2019, 14:53
Hi soccerfan6598,

To answer the immediate question, the ESR is generally available rather soon after Test Day (and yours might actually be available right now) - it probably would not include your AWA/Essay Score though (that often requires a bit more time to generate and certify).

Since you'll be applying to PhD Programs, you'll be dealing with a smaller number of (likely) highly-qualified applicants competing for a few 'spots', so every aspect of your application will likely be nit-picked. As such, it's possible that a higher GMAT Score might be necessary. This is meant to say that the more time that you can put towards your studies, the better. Raising a 600 to a 650 in 3-5 weeks is absolutely doable, but raising a 600 to a 700+ would likely require 2 months (or more) of additional, guided study time.

While having a cold and getting inconsistent sleep right before your Exam certainly could have impacted your performance, there are additional factors that we have to consider. Given the difference between your Official Score and many of your CAT Scores, I'd like to know a bit more about how you took your CATs:

1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a 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 28 Jan 2019, 18:47
Thanks Rich and Marty, I'll be ordering my ESR in a few minutes.

EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
I'd like to know a bit more about how you took your CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a 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)?


1&2) Yes
3) Yes, based on the debriefs I've read.
4) No, followed the scheduled 8 minute break schedule.
5) No, see prior post. I sprung for the 6 CAT pack, so I still have 2 more to use. I have not spent much time in the online official practice questions, just the OG.
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New post 31 Jan 2019, 18:27
Hi soccerfan6598,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. The good news is that your quant score was pretty much in line with how you were scoring on your practice exams, right? Thus, the score drop was related to the drop in your verbal score.

As I’m sure you’ve read many times here on GMAT Club, many folks have scored higher on their practice exams than they did on the real GMAT. Of course, the big question is WHY. Sure, it’s possible that stress from work contributed to the score drop; however, the score drop also could be because in your preparation, you did not really learn to do what you have to do in order to score high on verbal. Rather, you picked up on some patterns that were effective in getting you relatively high scores on practice tests. To hit your verbal score goal, you probably have to adjust the way you have been preparing. In other words, you have to focus your preparation on developing skills, such as use of logic, that you can use to correctly answer GMAT verbal questions regardless of what verbal tricks the test presents. In order to develop those skills, you may need to slow way down in your verbal preparation, and analyze questions and answer choices until you clearly see the logic in them. In other words, your preparation has to be deeper so that it results in your much more clearly seeing what is going on in verbal questions.

Regarding how to move forward, I agree that you should consider using a verbal course. However, you may need more time than just 4 weeks to improve your GMAT verbal score, so consider taking your GMAT at a later date. If you’d like more specific advice on how to improve your GMAT verbal skills, feel free to reach back out, and I’d be happy to help.

Good luck!
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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Feb 2019, 09:47
Thank you Scott. I may end up trying that when I have time again at the end of the year. For the moment though, I am going to give it another shot. I'll give another update in a few weeks.
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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Feb 2019, 15:34
Hi soccerfan6598,

I've sent you a PM with some notes on your ESR and some additional suggestions.

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Re: General Advice - bad test day versus more studying   [#permalink] 02 Feb 2019, 15:34
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