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Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610

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Joined: 11 Jun 2015
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Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610  [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2019, 05:28
Hi all,

What I want:
- Ivy League MBA: Columbia, Harvard or Wharton
- Aiming for 700 (+- 10 points)
- Taking my time, but ideal would be to apply next year (2021 intake)

- Non native speaker, but lived in UK for several years
- Quantitative degree in business
- Working in finance

My story as of today:
Started off trying to do the GMAT with Kaplan material in 2015, ended up with a (V/Q) 27/31 (500). Then I hired a GMAT Tutor who tried to help (did feel it was a waste of money), and tried again in both Jan 2016 28/40 (570) and Feb 2016 36/38 (610). After this I took a break. In 2017 I tried again after reading through all the Manhattan Prep books of relevance (quant books and SC), GMAT Club Verbal/Quant, Official Guide. I started off in end of Aug 2017 in a very structured approach, with question log and using this forum for most questions. In addition, I also did lots of Bunuel/Souvik questions and read through several of the "Went from 500 to 700+ in x days, this was my approach bla bla bla".

2017 was probably the first time I felt I even understood anything about the whole test, even thought my study approach is very much like how you study subjects in school/CFA memorising stuff.

My Manhattan scores were:
- Aug (before studying): 510 (28/32)
- Sept 610 (31/43)
Then my test day was cancelled because the system didnt work and I had to reschedule for a couple of months later.
- Dec. 600 (32/41)

On test day: 610 (32/43) - cancelled the score

Some additional info:
- I did reach over 700 on the Gmat Prep tests, but just ignore as I had finished them before
- The trend on all of the Manhattan Prep tests was 700/800 range until 3/4 to end of the test, then **** up on 3-4 questions in a row
- I focused a lot on timing (even thought the above comment indicates otherwise) -- and have finished the CFA (know how important timing is)
- My log does not indicate any particular weaknesses, but I tried to improve the areas I know Im weak in (SC in particular; PS is worse than DS; And a few specific areas in maths)
- I did a practice test the day before the exam; some say its bad some dont

So what am I asking for?
Well, MBA from Ivy is a dream of mine and no matter how much I **** up in the past I still want it, but I plan for this to be the last time ever that I have to take this test. Have read some reviews about EmpowerGMAT, considering this. But any advice before I start would be very helpful.

- Lucy
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GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
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Re: Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610  [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2019, 13:47
Hi Lucy,

To start, studying for the GMAT now - far in advance of when you'll actually "need" your Score - is a smart choice. In addition, while we have to go back to 2015 to include the earlier data, you've clearly shown an improvement over time - so you have the capacity to learn new Tactics and adjust your approach. Assuming that your current 'ability level' is in the low-600s, raising a 610 to the point that you can consistently score 700+ will likely require at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level.

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 recent studies and your goals:

1) From your post, it's not clear how you've been studying RECENTLY (in 2019). When was the last time you were studying consistently from week-to-week?
2) What study materials do you currently have access to?
3) When was the last time you took a FULL-LENGTH practice CAT - with questions that you had NOT seen before - and what was your Score (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores)?

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Re: Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610  [#permalink]

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New post 26 May 2019, 18:01
Thank you for providing a detailed overview of your situation with the GMAT. So, from your story, one thing is clear; you’ve put in a a lot of time preparing for the GMAT. However, your approach has not really allowed you to move the needle, right? It appears that, to a large degree, your study plan revolved around just doing practice questions rather than following any sort of structured approach. Moving forward, to truly improve your GMAT skills, and thus your GMAT score, you need to follow a linear and structured study plan that allows you to individually learn each GMAT topic and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. Furthermore, although you may think you know where your weaknesses lie, the best thing you can do at this point is follow a study plan structured as if you were starting your GMAT prep from scratch, so that you can be certain to uncover and address ALL weaknesses. By preparing in such a way, you can methodically improve your GMAT skills and ensure that no stone is left unturned. Let me expand on this idea further.

If you are learning about Number Properties, you should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant skills.
Each time you strengthen your understanding of a topic and your skill in answering questions of a particular type, you increase your odds of hitting your score goal. You know that there are types of questions that you are happy to see, types that you would rather not see, and types that you take a long time to answer correctly. Learn to more effectively answer the types of questions that you would rather not see, and make them into your favorite types. Learn to correctly answer in two minutes or less questions that you currently take five minutes to answer. By finding, say, a dozen weaker quant areas and turning them into strong areas, you will make great progress toward hitting your quant score goal. If a dozen areas turn out not to be enough, strengthen some more areas.

Follow a similar routine for verbal. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken The Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice, so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, 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 instead 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 thereby 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 Reading Comprehension answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. Keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to analyze such passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as The Economist, 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.
Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the 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 logical meanings. 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 until you start to see the differences 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 take the 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 w(ill want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some new quant and verbal materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses. You also may find it helpful to read the following article about The Phases of Preparing for the GMAT.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions. Good luck!

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

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Re: Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2019, 09:48
Invest in an online course to get the most out of your prep. Egmat and TTP are the best options available but I would advise you to take a trial before purchasing it.
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Re: Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610  [#permalink]

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New post 27 May 2019, 09:55
I agree with CFC

Invest in online course egmat for verbal and TTP for PS and DS and do focused study .

Both of them provide trial access .

Take trial and see if these two suit you.

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Re: Guidance on reaching 700+ from 610   [#permalink] 27 May 2019, 09:55
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