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GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble

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GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Nov 2019, 18:59
Hi all. First time using this forum, so feel free to direct me elsewhere if this is an inappropriate place to post.

I started studying for the GMAT ~5 weeks ago. On my first official practice GMAC exam (before any studying), I got a 650 : 91st percentile in verbal and 43rd in quantitative. Since my quant score was really low, I decided to focus intensely on that. Using Magoosh's GMAT questions and study guide (and studying 12 hours/week), I got a 710 3 weeks later, with my quant score rising to the 71st percentile and my verbal score at the 89th percentile. After 2 more weeks of intense studying (12 hours/week), I got a 700, with my quantitative score falling to the 52nd percentile, and my verbal score at the 94th percentile.

I only have 3 official practice GMAC exams remaining, and I'm debating on how much time I should take between them. Part of me thinks that I should continue pushing on math, but part of me thinks that my last exam was just a particularly unlucky one, and that I'm better off taking more practice exams than returning to material (given that I've practiced TONS of material). My goal score is a 730, and I'll need a 75th percentile in Math and 91st in Verbal. I've done both of these things in separate GMAC exams, I just haven't combined those percentiles within one test.

It's hard to know whether I will benefit more from material review vs. test-taking. Wondering if any folks have insight that would be helpful.
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Nov 2019, 21:12
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Hi SolomonD ...
Welcome to Gmatclub. This is the correct forum and we would be happy to suggest you. 650 is very solid score in the first exam and I believe that you have the capability to score 730 or above. I have few questions for you-

Are you thoroughly analyzing the incorrect answers after doing practice?
Did you made an error-log to track where and why you are making mistakes?
Are you aware of the topics in Quant which need some extra attention?
Did you analyzed the whole mock exams?
The incorrect answers were due to silly mistakes/ lack of concept / unable to understand the question?

If you firmly believe that you have done enough practicing and still unable to reach to your target, then there is a need to change strategy in approaching the questions and skipping hard questions. If you know you can't solve the question within 3 minutes, you must skip it. The time saved in skipping can be used in easy/medium questions which will be enough to get your targeted percentile in Quant.
I advise you to take 1 more official mock and see where are you in Quant. Accordingly, you can decide and we can suggest further. Review of basic fundamentals and error log is always important.
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New post 22 Nov 2019, 00:19
You should still have plenty of official GMAT questions (from official guides and GMAT Official Advanced Questions). I recommend that you practice with those official questions and then make sure you fully understand them, esp. those you got wrong or spent too much time on.

Then, take another official mock test to see your progress.

Good luck!
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 06:05
SolomonD, for quant specifically, TTP is considered one of the best that this forum has. There are many a student and moderator on here who can attest to that, so maybe consider them if you truly want to focus on quant. The Gmatclub also offers free quant resources: https://gmatclub.com/forum/need-advice- ... l#p2409231

Good luck!
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 09:05
Hi SolomonD.

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. The good news is that you have some pretty solid quant and verbal scores under your belt, so if you can put your two top scores together on one exam, you’ll be at your score goal. Regarding quant, I think that the fluctuations in your quant score show that you still have numerous weak areas that must be strengthened in order for you to achieve a higher and more consistent GMAT quant score. That said, if you are looking for some GMAT quant resources, I agree that TTP would be an awesome resource for you. We are the top-rated quant course here on GMAT Club and offer a full-access, 5-day trial, so give the course a shot.

If you have any further questions regarding TTP, feel free to reach out to me directly.

Good luck!
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 12:08
Hi SolomonD,

Many GMATers spend 3 months (or more) of consistent study time before they hit their 'peak' scores, so you should not expect to have mastered every area of the GMAT in just 5 weeks. Based on your 3 CAT Scores, you're already a really strong critical-thinker - which is good. Your general math knowledge is probably also fine, but you have to remember that the Quant section of the GMAT is NOT a 'math test'; it's a critical thinking test that requires lots of little calculations as you work through it. This is meant to say that to score at a significantly higher level in the Quant section (and thus, overall), you'll need to change how you "see" (and respond to) that section of the Test.

Each CAT is really a 'measuring device' - when used correctly, it will give you a realistic score and help define your strengths and weaknesses, but it will NOT help you to fix any of those weaknesses. To raise your scores, you have to learn the necessary Tactics and put in the proper practice and repetitions. The CAT will show you whether your studies are helping you to improve or not. As such, you really shouldn't take more than 1 FULL CAT per week.

Before I can offer you any additional advice for your studies, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How many hours do you typically study each week?
2) Have you used any other study materials besides the ones that you listed?

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

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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Nov 2019, 12:41
Wow. Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond to my post. Will definitely be using this forum going forward. sjas31 Thank you for the advice on the error log. Since I've been using pretty much only Magoosh's question bank, I generally re-do questions that I've made mistakes on, but I've never made an explicit error log. This is something I will make as I transition from the Magoosh question bank to the official OG 2020 question bank.

nightblade354 and ScottTargetTestPrep - Since I just got access to the OG 2020 question bank, I'm going to hold off on TTP and the GMAT Club until after I go through a substantial amount of the OG. But it's great to know that I have those two options if my quant scores stagnate.

EMPOWERgmatRichC - Thanks for the advice on the CATs and the encouragement. I'll stop myself from taking another CAT immediately. I'll wait at least a week. In terms of the info you've asked for :

I typically study 12 hours/week. Two hours/day, 6 days/week. I've done this for the past 5 weeks. However, I'm thinking of stepping up my game to 3-4 hours a day for the next week. But in general my resting state is 2 hours/day 6 days/week. So far I've only used the Magoosh question bank and lessons - I really like Mike McGarry's explanations. I just purchased the OG 2020 and will be using that question bank before taking my next CAT. I'm open to the GMAT Club Tests and TTP if my quant score doesn't increase meaningfully in the next week or two.

I'm planning to take the GMAT in early January, but I haven't signed up yet. If I hit 730 on a practice GMAC, I'll probably sign up to take the real test sooner than that, but early January is the plan (roughly 3 months from when I started studying).

I'm probably not applying to business school for several years. I'm a recent grad, and I've been working at Facebook in Menlo Park, California for about 6 months. My reason for taking it early is so that I don't have to think about it in the next 2-3 years.

I'm planning on applying to the very top programs. My reach/goal schools are Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia. I think I will need ~730 to be a strong consideration at those schools. Other schools I would consider are : MIT Sloan, Northwestern, Duke, Yale. I know this is an elitist list, but for me anything under that is perhaps not worth the tremendous debt. I have a degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, and my career goals (in Product Management) are mostly attainable without an MBA. I'm applying to an MBA hoping it will help me ascend to the director level in product management in 10 years time.
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New post 22 Nov 2019, 15:36
Hi SolomonD,

Studying for the GMAT now - years before you'll actually "need" your Score - is a really smart choice. In addition, you've given yourself plenty of potential study time - so I think that you have a very good chance of hitting your Score Goal (and you might not need all of the study time that you've planned for!). Given everything that you have described, I suggest that you study as you choose for the next 1-2 weeks, then take a new, FULL-LENGTH CAT. Make sure to take that CAT in a realistic fashion (take the FULL CAT - with the Essay and IR sections, take it away from your home, at the same time of day as when you'll take the Official GMAT, etc.). Once you have that Score, you should report back here and we can discuss the results and how you might adjust your studies going forward.

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New post 26 Nov 2019, 20:37
Hi SolomonD,

No problem. I’m here if you need me. Good luck!
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2019, 21:53
SolomonD wrote:
Hi all. First time using this forum, so feel free to direct me elsewhere if this is an inappropriate place to post.

I started studying for the GMAT ~5 weeks ago. On my first official practice GMAC exam (before any studying), I got a 650 : 91st percentile in verbal and 43rd in quantitative. Since my quant score was really low, I decided to focus intensely on that. Using Magoosh's GMAT questions and study guide (and studying 12 hours/week), I got a 710 3 weeks later, with my quant score rising to the 71st percentile and my verbal score at the 89th percentile. After 2 more weeks of intense studying (12 hours/week), I got a 700, with my quantitative score falling to the 52nd percentile, and my verbal score at the 94th percentile.

I only have 3 official practice GMAC exams remaining, and I'm debating on how much time I should take between them. Part of me thinks that I should continue pushing on math, but part of me thinks that my last exam was just a particularly unlucky one, and that I'm better off taking more practice exams than returning to material (given that I've practiced TONS of material). My goal score is a 730, and I'll need a 75th percentile in Math and 91st in Verbal. I've done both of these things in separate GMAC exams, I just haven't combined those percentiles within one test.

It's hard to know whether I will benefit more from material review vs. test-taking. Wondering if any folks have insight that would be helpful.


SolomonD: Test taking has limited benefit. It helps you identify your problems. It DOES NOT help you rectify them. Even if you understand the mistakes you made in a particular question, the same thing phrased differently may seem tough again. Material review and practice questions help you understand the concept well so then how the question is phrased becomes irrelevant.

Basic concepts and some advanced will be discussed in any company's test prep material. Additionally, a lot of advanced concepts are discussed in detail on our blog here:
https://www.veritasprep.com/blog/catego ... mat-quant/
https://www.veritasprep.com/blog/catego ... om/page/9/
You are sure to find it useful. I would advise you to go through all the Quant posts, bring up your percentile to a consistent 80-85 and then take the test.
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2019, 14:47
Hi all. Just re-took another GMAC practice test after a little over a week of digging into the OG Math questions. I studied a standard 2 hours a day and got through 460 of the quant problems.

On my new GMAC I got a 760, which blew all of my expectations out of the water. That being said, most of this improvement seems to be related to an elite verbal score, rather than huge strides in the quant section. I got in the 98th percentile on Verbal and 75th percentile on Quant. Best percentiles I've gotten in either to date.

I have a few questions for some of you GMAT gurus (particularly EMPOWERgmatRichC and @ScottTargetTestPrep) :

1. If my target score is a 730, should I schedule to take the official GMAT ASAP (within 2 weeks) or should I plan to wait another 4 weeks? I have two official GMAC practice exams remaining.

2. I only have 115 unanswered OG Quant questions. Should I plan to take the test immediately after finishing these, or should I try out another service (ex : TTP or GMAT Club Practice Tests) ? If I should try another service to boost my quant percentile, which of these two do you recommend?

3. In applications to elite MBA programs, do you notice a strong variance in acceptance rates and/or scholarships between people who score ~730 and those who score ~750? This might influence my decision to wait or take the test immediately.

Thank you all so much for your help. I was not expecting to receive such amazing advice at no personal cost to me. You really have made my life a bit brighter.
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Dec 2019, 15:46
Hi SolomonD,

Assuming that you took this CAT in a realistic fashion that matches up with what you will face on Test Day, then appear to have the necessary skills to hit your Score Goal - meaning that you would probably be fine taking the GMAT whenever you like (whether that's sooner or later). In addition, I want to reiterate that your overall math knowledge and skills are probably fine.

"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 recent 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?

Unfortunately, there's no practical way to answer your Admissions-related questions at this point. The 'class profile' of each School can vary from year-to-year (so acceptance rates and Scholarship rates/options can also change) and since you're not planning to apply to School for several years, we don't know what YOUR overall profile will 'look like' - nor do we know what the Admissions 'landscape' will become, so even an Admissions Expert would be hard-pressed to answer the questions that you're asking with certainty.

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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Dec 2019, 20:00
Hi SolomonD,

760 is a great practice test score! Since you have plenty of time, I don’t think that it would hurt to keep working on quant prior to taking the GMAT. That said, give TTP a shot. If you can complete the course, there is no reason why you can’t score Q49+ on test day. I realize that you’d be happy with 730; however, with some further prep, if you can score 750+ on the GMAT, I think that the extra study time would be well worth it.
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Re: GMAT Diminishing Returns, Math Trouble   [#permalink] 04 Dec 2019, 20:00
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