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GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result

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GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2019, 09:29
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I am writing this to discuss the problems that I have been facing with my gmat preparation. I have gone through several such stories on gmat club but have failed to find a solution that fits me.
Here is my story:

My first attempt:
Date: November 2018
Preparation material + duration:
2 months.
Quant: Manhattan books
Verbal: eGMAT verbal course. + Manhattan SC + RC books
Score: 530 (q42, v21)
My Response:
I understood that I had over-estimated my ability. I decided to work through the my preparation strategically.

In the following 3 months, I went through dozens of questions on gmat club. I started achieving a good accuracy of 80-90% for sub 600 level verbal questions(SC + CR). Then I progressed through sub 700 level verbal questions(SC+CR). Accuracy was 60-80%. Sometimes too good, sometimes too poor in performance.
For RC, I occasionally went through RC Butler - 2 RCs a day. I felt my RC accuracy to be increasing steadily - atleast in the sub 700 level and in the passages excluding Humanities and Social Science
(Till February - mid March)

After this till the month of May end(2.5 ~ months gap) I couldn't resume my preparation as I got busy with other tasks. This was my biggest mistake. I should have never left my pace. I really regret this.

My Second Attempt:
Date: August 2019 (Today)
Preparation material + duration:
2.5 months (but do consider my prep during Dec to Feb for sub 700 level questions)
Quant: Target Test Prep (I began with a q42 and my most recent mock score was a q47)
I did over 1800+ questions. Accuracy was 88%. I did this for 2 months. Towards the end, I was left with a few test in 'Number Properties' (#5 HARD tests) and a few miscellaneous questions. I took 2 months subscription ($100 dollars each) and thought of finishing up with HARD questions on gmat club as I decided not to purchase the subscription for the 3rd month.
BTW TTP made me quite confident in quant.
Verbal:
SC: I had already finished eGMAT course, went through the concepts again. Revised Manhattan SC book.
RC: Resumed RC Butler 2 passages a day exercise - however, I was not regular, did this in burst mode - for example: on a holiday I did 10+ passages, Now here is my mistake: technically it counts to ~ 14 passages for that week but I never developed a habit for RC
CR: This period showed the most improvement in my CR. I used to dread 700+ CR questions as I used to get them wrong every time, but then I followed various strategies and worked on my understanding of the various parts of an argument + how the author reached there. This insight was not new, however only when I was able to apply this and see the difference myself, I accepted and embraced it.

I also practised questions on eGMAT's scholorrarium, stepping up the difficulty gradually. I started observing improvement on meaning based SC questions.

Apart from this, I did past year GMAT official questions for both SC and CR (from all official guide tags on gmat club). I followed the same process. I started with 500-600 level questions, then 600-700 level and then finally 700+ level questions. I maintained an error log to keep track of the various errors I have been making. Whether it was a concept gap or a tactic to do a question(Example: reading too fast, skipping SV agreement etc) Rigorously analysed experts solutions(roughly 10+ minutes per official question, 2 minutes to attempt each question, then to read all expert's solutions - GMATNinja, daagh, @AriteshArun, @Satantc, souvik101990, @abhimanha)
Towards the end, I showed huge improvement in CR and some improvement in SC.

3 weeks prior to test (roughly 25 July, 2019) I took gmat prep mock and scored a 640(q47, v31) All the above progress in verbal was made AFTER this mock, in the 3 weeks after (month of August).
I was mostly on leave for the month of August, so I was studying for close to 10+ hours each day.

Score: 620(q48, v27) (August 17, 2019)

WHAT WENT WRONG TODAY(second GMAT exam):
#1 I was brain freezed. I felt a block in my brain. I was reading but was not able to comprehend. RC was worst. I had practised much difficult RC passages(but in relaxed environment at home - another mistake) but here I was not able to comprehend even easy RC passage because of my brain freeze.
Now, this brain freeze was not new. I felt the same during my official mock + during my first gmat attempt. It hinders my ability to think and comprehend(surprisingly I do not feel the same during quant - maybe its because of my confidence/practise in quant)

#2 I was re-reading the eliminated SC answer choices, This led to a time kill. Again this was due to the brain freeze. As I have mentioned above, I have practised HARD SC questions and even managed to get them right but here in the exam I was troubled.
CR was still better - However ESR report can give better analysis.

My Take:
#1 I have to tackle this brain freeze. I panic during my mocks and exam itself. This is basically because I yearn to apply to B-Schools this year. Im already 3+ years experienced and the deadlines are approaching soon.
- How to overcome this? - more mocks in exam like environment ? Really need help to tackle this

#2 RC - my most weak verbal section. Im able to solve well in relaxed environment but due to #1(brain freeze + panic) Im not able to think and comprehend hence my RC suffers. I do not take notes while doing RC(I didn't feel because I was able to comprehend well while attempting it at home)
- How to tackle Humanities and Social Science topics, I have been reading The Economist for a few months.

#3 How can I practise mini-verbal quizes to overcome the above 2 points. I am looking for ways in which I can mix various level verbal questions and practise them in a timed environment so that I can prep my brain against the panic and brain freeze.

I feel that I have learned most of the concepts in verbal but I am terribly failing at executing them well while attempting the questions. Also this brain freeze is an issue, I don't feel it at home but do get a taste of it during mocks and especially on the real exam.
Also my accuracy is deviating a lot in verbal. How should I stabilise it ?
What should be my retake strategy, what timeline can I expect given all of the above constraints(especially the brain freeze)

My Target GMAT Score:
730+ - thats what I had dreamt, but now I wish that if I could at least touch the 700 mark.
I am feeling clueless and helpless at the moment. I feel dumb. I have worked hard but still couldn't see results yet.
I would really appreciate guidance with my preparation and the recent results .
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GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2019, 10:08
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abhishek893rai wrote:
I am writing this to discuss the problems that I have been facing with my gmat preparation. I have gone through several such stories on gmat club but have failed to find a solution that fits me.
Here is my story:

My first attempt:
Date: November 2018
Preparation material + duration:
2 months.
Quant: Manhattan books
Verbal: eGMAT verbal course. + Manhattan SC + RC books
Score: 530 (q42, v21)
My Response:
I understood that I had over-estimated my ability. I decided to work through the my preparation strategically.

My Second Attempt:
Date: August 2019 (Today)
Preparation material + duration:
2.5 months (but do consider my prep during Dec to Feb for sub 700 level questions)


#3 so that I can prep my brain against the panic and brain freeze.

I feel that I have learned most of the concepts in verbal but I am terribly failing at executing them well while attempting the questions. Also this brain freeze is an issue, I don't feel it at home but do get a taste of it during mocks and especially on the real exam.


It is practically impossible to diagnose the true causes of a performance. You have provided detailed analyses of your preparation and so it appears you have good insights into yourself.

But some things concerned me. Mind you, these are just my outside observations:

- You seem to have "over-prepared" with countless amounts of materials and enormous number of hours a day.

An overprepared mind can sometimes lead to paralysis on D-day. This is what appears to have happened to you. The paralysis was so great that you were prevented from performing at your best.

I would suggest that you draw back from this kind of intense preparation. Give yourself room to breathe and move freely. On performance day, you need a relaxed but ready mind capable of utilizing the mind to its full capacity. If your mind is already full of "stuff", as it appears to have happened here, you will be at risk.

Prep materials are only part of the stories. Prep companies will sell wonderful sounding stories of the few people who did well, but remain silent on those who did not. The lesson is that you need fewer wonderful prep materials and prep stories and more time to yourself to give your best.

Schedule a retake only when you are in relaxed but reasonably prepared state. GL!
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Re: GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2019, 11:41
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Hovkial wrote:
abhishek893rai wrote:
I am writing this to discuss the problems that I have been facing with my gmat preparation. I have gone through several such stories on gmat club but have failed to find a solution that fits me.
Here is my story:

My first attempt:
Date: November 2018
Preparation material + duration:
2 months.
Quant: Manhattan books
Verbal: eGMAT verbal course. + Manhattan SC + RC books
Score: 530 (q42, v21)
My Response:
I understood that I had over-estimated my ability. I decided to work through the my preparation strategically.

My Second Attempt:
Date: August 2019 (Today)
Preparation material + duration:
2.5 months (but do consider my prep during Dec to Feb for sub 700 level questions)


#3 so that I can prep my brain against the panic and brain freeze.

I feel that I have learned most of the concepts in verbal but I am terribly failing at executing them well while attempting the questions. Also this brain freeze is an issue, I don't feel it at home but do get a taste of it during mocks and especially on the real exam.


It is practically impossible to diagnose the true causes of a performance. You have provided detailed analyses of your preparation and so it appears you have good insights into yourself.

But some things concerned me. Mind you, these are just my outside observations:

- You seem to have "over-prepared" with countless amounts of materials and enormous number of hours a day.

An overprepared mind can sometimes lead to paralysis on D-day. This is what appears to have happened to you. The paralysis was so great that you were prevented from performing at your best.

I would suggest that you draw back from this kind of intense preparation. Give yourself room to breathe and move freely. On performance day, you need a relaxed but ready mind capable of utilizing the mind to its full capacity. If your mind is already full of "stuff", as it appears to have happened here, you will be at risk.

Prep materials are only part of the stories. Prep companies will sell wonderful sounding stories of the few people who did well, but remain silent on those who did not. The lesson is that you need fewer wonderful prep materials and prep stories and more time to yourself to give your best.

Schedule a retake only when you are in relaxed but reasonably prepared state. GL!


Thanks for your suggestions and insights. Yes, I feel that I somewhat 'crammed' a lot of stuff in a little tight schedule. I really cant get it how some people are able to do it in 3 months and come out with straight 700+ scores. There is a lot to this exam than what one perceives. I will be working more on stabilising to a decent score first, throughout my mocks. I think this shall give me some confidence before my next reattempt.
Looking for more advice on how to achieve this on verbal section, especially with RC. @EMPOWERgmat egmat ttp GMATNinja
please have a look and provide with your suggestions
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Re: GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2019, 16:39
Hi abhishek893rai,

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:

1) What 'brands' of CATs/mocks have you used over the course of ALL of your studies?
2) Over the last 2.5 months, on what dates did you take EACH of your CATs and how did you score on EACH (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
3) 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 on Test Day (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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Re: GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Aug 2019, 07:38
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Hi abhishek89rai,

First off, let’s look at the good news. Q48 is a really good quant score my friend - nice job! Also, since you scored V31 just 3 weeks before your GMAT, I would not say that scoring V27 is a total disaster right? Regarding how to move forward, it’s clear that you need to spend some time improving your verbal skills. I know RC seems to be your weakest area; however, since you scored V27, you likely need to improve in all facets of verbal. Here is some advice on how to do so. I’ll start with CR.

When studying Critical Reasoning, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual Critical Reasoning topics to develop the necessary skills to properly attack any Critical Reasoning questions that you encounter.

As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you incorrectly answered a Weaken the Argument question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. You can perfect your reading strategy with a lot of practice, but keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be stimulating. So, to better prepare yourself to tackle such bland passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the New York Times, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, you likely will have to work on all three of those aspects. Furthermore, the likely reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is that you have not been working on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, to be successful in Sentence Correction, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending less than two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and none of those reasons are that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answers were always the ones that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey meanings that make sense. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to put in the necessary time to see the differences between answers and to figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could do differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

Lastly, you may find it helpful to read this article about how to score a 700+ on the GMAT.

Please reach out with any further questions.
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Re: GMAT Experience (August 17: 620 - q48, v27) : crushed with test result   [#permalink] 20 Aug 2019, 07:38
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