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GMAT 620 (Q42, V34): Strategy for Retake, Applying to Top MBAs (help!)

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GMAT 620 (Q42, V34): Strategy for Retake, Applying to Top MBAs (help!)  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2018, 18:57
Hi - I took my first GMAT exam today and received 620 (Q42, V34, IR 7). Unfortunately, this is not a sufficient score for the top MBA programs (e.g. Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, etc) that I'm interested in. I'll need to bring my score up by at 80+ points and break the 700 mark. I've scoured the gmatclub forum for stories similar to mine, and after hours of reading through other's questions and recommendations, I'm still unsure about my next steps; therefore, I thought it would be best to directly ask the gmatclub community for advice.

I know I can do better on both Q & V, and I feel I haven't been studying smart.. I've repeated the same errors in my practice CATs and haven't addressed them properly. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. I'm adding here my questions as well as my 3 month study plan and my exam day experience.

My questions about exam score, application, and study plan are:
1) Should I cancel my score?
2) When would you recommend I retake the exam if I'm planning to apply in Round 1 for MBA, but also being sensitive to the fact that I'll need to increase my score by at 80+ points? (I'm considering end of June or sometime July)

My questions about the exam to the community are:
1) What are the best resources to address my significant pacing issue in Quant?
2) What are the best resources to improve SC/CR? (I'm currently more deficient with SC)
3) Given I've used all OG offerings (Q&V extended review included), what's the next best resource to use? (I'm currently considering Manhattan or Kaplan as I've seen some positive reviews for these resources)
4) Do you recommend using material from GMAT Club Test Center to prep?

Before Exam Day
•Study material used: EmpowerGMAT 3 month study plan (completed) & Official Guides from GMAC.
•Study length: 3 months
•Study cadence: ~12-14 hours every weekend and 2hrs M-W on weekdays for ~12 weeks, and a power week last week where I studied M-F 8hrs a day. My primary goal was to ensure I completed all the GMAC CATs and Official Guide questions, including the additional Quant and Verbal review guides (~1,400 questions).
OG CAT scores: 610 (Q42, V32), 530 (Q33, V30), 690 (Q45, V40), 670 (Q47, V35), 650 (Q44, V36), 650 (Q44, V35)
•CAT settings: At home, at various times in the day. I always ran out of time for the Quant section by 10-15 minutes (so I had to pause the CAT to complete all the answers). In retrospect, these decisions clearly affected me on test day - I assumed that my adrenaline would kick in on test day and help me solve questions faster (sadly, I was mistaken).

On Exam Day
•Exam day of week: Monday
•Exam time: 8:00AM
•Exam order: Quant, Verbal, IR, AWA
•Optional breaks: Took both optional breaks to recharge
•Things that caught me off guard: At first, I put on the noise cancelling headphones thinking it was a good idea and realized I could hear my own heartbeat, which made me even more anxious; I took them off 1/4 of the way into the Quant section.
•Quant section: The second question caught me completely off guard, it was a problem solving question where I didn't think the words actually matched the table, I spent about 4+ minutes trying to solve it. After this question, I couldn't properly read the questions following, as I had a mind block that carried throughout -slowing down my speed beyond optimal. After answering the 13th question I had 20 minutes or so left, which is significantly behind schedule, further adding to my exam jitters for Quant (yellow flashing countdown clock also did not help). I'd estimate that I ended up guessing on 50% of the questions.
•Verbal section: This section was much easier, and I started to feel much calmer as I moved through the questions. I've always done well with RC questions so that was a breeze (1-2 questions wrong for each practice CAT). I didn't feel this section was difficult even for CR and SC.. but my scaled score has mostly lingered at ~30-35 (highest 40), which is not a great score, and I attribute the lower score to CR/SC.
•IR section: I didn't study for this section at all, aside from the practice CATs, and still managed to be in the 82nd percentile.
•AWA Essay: Easy, did not run out of time and wrote 5 well thought out paragraphs. I even had time to re-read my entire essay for any grammatical or spelling errors.

Thanks all, I genuinely appreciate your help in advance. I'm happy to share more details if needed
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Re: GMAT 620 (Q42, V34): Strategy for Retake, Applying to Top MBAs (help!)  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2018, 19:40
Hi aigoo1113,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, your last 2 CAT Scores - along with your Official Score - show that you essentially performed the same each of those times (about 640 +/- a few points).

Based on what you described, it sounds like you tried to do TOO MUCH during your last week of studying - and that you may have been 'burned out' a bit by the time you got to Test Day. As such, I have a few questions about the lead-up to Test Day and Test Day itself:

1) How many CATs did you take during that last week? What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT?
2) How did you sleep the night before your Test?
3) How long was the ride to the Test Center from your home?
4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test?
5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

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Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

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Joined: 31 Dec 2017
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GMAT 620 (Q42, V34): Strategy for Retake, Applying to Top MBAs (help!)  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2018, 20:32
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi aigoo1113,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, your last 2 CAT Scores - along with your Official Score - show that you essentially performed the same each of those times (about 640 +/- a few points).

Based on what you described, it sounds like you tried to do TOO MUCH during your last week of studying - and that you may have been 'burned out' a bit by the time you got to Test Day. As such, I have a few questions about the lead-up to Test Day and Test Day itself:

1) How many CATs did you take during that last week? What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT?
2) How did you sleep the night before your Test?
3) How long was the ride to the Test Center from your home?
4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test?
5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks?

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


Rich, here are my responses.

1) How many CATs did you take during that last week? What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT? 2 CATs the week prior to exam, had to cram because of my work schedule.
2) How did you sleep the night before your Test? Sleep was good, I was well rested.
3) How long was the ride to the Test Center from your home? 10 minutes.
4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test? No distractions, I was mainly just caught off-guard on the early quant question that was difficult.
5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks? I ate a small snack and walked up and down the hallway outside the testing center.

I can understand that the test measures within +/- 30 points, but still believe my abilities are not properly reflected with my GMAT score; I'm naturally much stronger in Quant and know that I can bring up that score with guidance on pacing, pattern recognition, and proper elimination strategies; additionally, I know I can improve my SC/CR with more tailored practice. I can understand that the lack of performance in my practice CATs and my actual GMAT can be associated to not adhering to EmpowerGMAT's testing guidance on practice CAT simulation, so that is clearly something I need to adjust. Let me know if you see any other flags I should be aware of as I go into my "retake" season.
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
User avatar
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Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 12205
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: GMAT 620 (Q42, V34): Strategy for Retake, Applying to Top MBAs (help!)  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2018, 21:17
Hi aigoo1113,

I responded to your email (and this recent post) with some notes/suggestions.

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
  Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!***********************

Re: GMAT 620 (Q42, V34): Strategy for Retake, Applying to Top MBAs (help!) &nbs [#permalink] 30 Apr 2018, 21:17
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