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Guidance Required - How to proceed..

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New post 25 Sep 2018, 05:09
Hi All,

I'm in need of guidance on how to approach the coming months in terms of studying for the GMAT. Brief summary below:
I started studying in June (I've been on and off for a year before that), this was my CAT (ALL GMATPrep 1-6) trajectory.

June 1st 2018 Q40 V34 610
June 15th 2018 Q41 V41 670
July 1st 2018 Q36 V39 620
July 17th 2018 Q34 V39 610
July 28th 2018 Q44 V37 670
August 3rd Q35 V35 580
August 5th Q31 V37 570
August 11th Q42 V37 640
August 13th Q35 V31 580
August 25th Q47 V39 700
September 3rd Q42 V37 650
September 21st Q41 V34 620
September 24th Q39 V34 600

Yes I repeated CATs and in BOLD are the actual GMAT tests. The only trend I've noticed is that when I diligently went through the MGMAT books and made notes and did ALL the problems I scored a 700, then I wandered away from diligent studying everyday. What I have done is categorized which questions I get wrong in the CATs, there is no trend or topic that is worse. Apart from the 700+ Quant topics.

I've obviously run out of GMATprep tests, but I do have access to the Manhattan tests (completely untouched). That being said, I own the OG 2017 have done most of the PS/DS questions already. I own the entire MGMAT guide and the Kaplan Premier book.

My question is, I have 2 months, I need a 700+ score for INSEAD and am not sure how to approach this.
Should I diligently go through every MGMAT book and study it in the conventional way? If so, how should I organize the study plan so I'm hitting V42 Q47.
Should I sign up for an online course (Don't really want to spend more money)?
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Sep 2018, 09:49
JourneyToTheTop wrote:
Hi All,

I'm in need of guidance on how to approach the coming months in terms of studying for the GMAT. Brief summary below:
I started studying in June (I've been on and off for a year before that), this was my CAT (ALL GMATPrep 1-6) trajectory.

June 1st 2018 Q40 V34 610
June 15th 2018 Q41 V41 670
July 1st 2018 Q36 V39 620
July 17th 2018 Q34 V39 610
July 28th 2018 Q44 V37 670
August 3rd Q35 V35 580
August 5th Q31 V37 570
August 11th Q42 V37 640
August 13th Q35 V31 580
August 25th Q47 V39 700
September 3rd Q42 V37 650
September 21st Q41 V34 620
September 24th Q39 V34 600

Yes I repeated CATs and in BOLD are the actual GMAT tests. The only trend I've noticed is that when I diligently went through the MGMAT books and made notes and did ALL the problems I scored a 700, then I wandered away from diligent studying everyday. What I have done is categorized which questions I get wrong in the CATs, there is no trend or topic that is worse. Apart from the 700+ Quant topics.

I've obviously run out of GMATprep tests, but I do have access to the Manhattan tests (completely untouched). That being said, I own the OG 2017 have done most of the PS/DS questions already. I own the entire MGMAT guide and the Kaplan Premier book.

My question is, I have 2 months, I need a 700+ score for INSEAD and am not sure how to approach this.
Should I diligently go through every MGMAT book and study it in the conventional way? If so, how should I organize the study plan so I'm hitting V42 Q47.
Should I sign up for an online course (Don't really want to spend more money)?


Hi,

I would suggest you to practice on GMAT club for quant and verbal. GMAT club's quant questions are really amazing and tough.
Don't waste money on resources without thinking. As you have exhausted lots of tests including GMAT preps, you must save MGMAT CATs for future. You can also buy Veritas perp tests whenever required.

Here are few threads that can enlighten you about the test more deeply:

1. https://blog.targettestprep.com/how-to- ... -on-gmat/#

2. https://www.veritasprep.com/blog/tag/qu ... -wisdom-2/

3. https://magoosh.com/gmat/all-posts-by-category/

4. https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-definiti ... 69705.html
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Sep 2018, 11:36
Hi JourneyToTheTop,

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Your 2 Official Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 590 +/- a few points), so continuing to study in the same ways as before will likely lead to the same general score result. Raising a 600 to a 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 timeline and goals:

1) What is the exact application deadline for INSEAD?
2) Are you planning to apply to any other Schools?
3) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2018, 06:37
Hi Rich,

1) What is the exact application deadline for INSEAD? - April 17th is my goal, however in January I'd like to take a supplemental course to aid my low GPA
2) Are you planning to apply to any other Schools? - I don't think so
3) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week? - I can commit 7-12 consistently.

See attached my recent ESR, I've anonymized it.
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2018, 20:20
JourneyToTheTop wrote:
Hi Rich,

1) What is the exact application deadline for INSEAD? - April 17th is my goal, however in January I'd like to take a supplemental course to aid my low GPA
2) Are you planning to apply to any other Schools? - I don't think so
3) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week? - I can commit 7-12 consistently.

See attached my recent ESR, I've anonymized it.
1. Your total in verbal is good, but your SC is very low. This is not usually what happens, as SC is the most concept heavy of the 3 (verbal) question types. Are you going "by sound" in SC?

2. Was the Q47 (on the test taken on Aug 25) on a repeat? If yes, I suggest you work on your basics. Familiarity with numbers, basic arithmetic operations, and concepts. This doesn't even have to be from GMAT material.

Overall, I'd say that this is a pretty good ESR if you're looking to improve. I'd expect your verbal score to improve significantly with just a little effort (especially if your SC score was not a one-off), but I think quant will take time.
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2018, 21:20
Hi JourneyToTheTop,

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

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Sep 2018, 05:03
1. Your total in verbal is good, but your SC is very low. This is not usually what happens, as SC is the most concept heavy of the 3 (verbal) question types. Are you going "by sound" in SC?
I'm definitely going by ''sound''.

2. Was the Q47 (on the test taken on Aug 25) on a repeat? If yes, I suggest you work on your basics. Familiarity with numbers, basic arithmetic operations, and concepts. This doesn't even have to be from GMAT material.
Q47 was on a repeat but 2 months after the first, the only anomaly around the Q47 was that I had studied very diligently the week prior with all concepts and practice. I've haven't replicated that level of diligence (nothing crazy just 1-2 hours a day very focused).

Overall, I'd say that this is a pretty good ESR if you're looking to improve. I'd expect your verbal score to improve significantly with just a little effort (especially if your SC score was not a one-off), but I think quant will take time.
Thanks, I'm starting with the MGMAT SC Guide (I've never studied for Verbal), and move on from there. Do you think in a week I should switch between SC and different Quant topics? Or do a full sweep of SC first.
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New post 27 Sep 2018, 08:50
Hi JourneyToTheTop,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. The first thing I’ve noticed regarding your study routine is that you are taking practice exams before you are ready. GMAT practice tests best serve two main purposes. The first purpose is to provide diagnostic information. In other words, by taking a practice test, you can get a sense of what types of GMAT questions you’re comfortable answering and arrive at a reasonable estimation of how you would score on the GMAT at that point in time. The second purpose is, naturally, to provide a way to practice taking the GMAT and handling its various challenges, such as time pressure and the varying difficulty of the questions presented.

Unfortunately, people often misuse practice tests as primary learning tools. You may have seen posts that go something like the following: A person with a score goal of 740 has been preparing for six weeks, has already taken all six of the official practice tests, and is wondering why her scores have been 600, 590, 570, 610, 600, and 560. In such a case, the person likely has been using practice tests as primary learning tools, meaning that taking practice tests has been much of, or possibly most of, what she has been doing to drive up her score.

Can practice tests be valuable tools for learning and continued score improvement? Yes, of course, if they are used properly and at optimal times in your preparation. However, practice tests should not be used as primary learning vehicles because practice tests don’t really provide the kind of practice that you need to increase your score. To improve your score, you need to learn the basics of answering various types of GMAT questions, and then practice applying what you have learned by carefully answering practice questions in order to learn to answer them correctly. When you first learn how to answer a particular type of question, answering that type of question correctly can easily take way longer than the two minutes or so per question that you are allotted when taking the GMAT (or a practice test). Two minutes can fly by, and if you want to finish the sections of the test on time, in many cases, regardless of whether you have figured out how to answer a question, you may have to just answer and move on. So, while taking a practice test can be a great way to work on your overall approach to taking the GMAT, taking a practice test is not a great way to practice getting right answers to various types of questions. To effectively prepare for the GMAT, you have to practice answering questions of each type without the time constraints of the test, and work up to a point at which you can answer questions of each type in around two minutes. Thus, there is very limited utility in taking practice tests before you have done substantial preparation. When you take multiple practice tests early in your prep, the tests simply underscore exactly what you already know: you need to learn more content and develop more skills to hit your score goal. Why spend three hours taking a practice test just to learn what you already know, wasting a valuable learning tool in the process?

Of course, you can benefit from taking one diagnostic practice test early in your preparation. Furthermore, once you’ve done substantial preparation and mastered much of the content tested on the GMAT, when you sit for practice tests, they will actually show, to some degree, lingering weak areas. I say “to some degree” because although practice tests provide a pretty good approximation of how a person would score on the GMAT at a particular point in time, the sample size of questions on any practice test is rather small (31 quant questions and 36 verbal questions), so practice tests don’t do a very good job of pinpointing specific areas of weakness.

For example, let’s assume that of the 31 quant questions on a given practice test, you encounter one Rate-Time-Distance question and get it wrong. Should you conclude that you need extensive work on Rate-Time-Distance questions? Of course not. Similarly, what if you correctly answered the Rate-Time-Distance question? Are you good to go on those questions? Maybe. But maybe not. In fact, let’s assume that you took six practice tests, saw a total of six Rate-Time-Distance questions, and correctly answered them all. Can you conclude that you’re solid on Rate-Time-Distance questions? Probably not. One thing that makes the GMAT challenging is the vast potential for variation in the questions. There are hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of variations of Rate-Time-Distance questions that can appear on the test. So, correctly answering five or six (or ten) Rate-Time-Distance questions doesn’t really tell you too much. You must take care not to over-infer based on practice tests alone.

To truly improve your GMAT quant and verbal skills, and before taking any further tests, you will want to follow a linear study plan that allows you to slowly build GMAT mastery of one topic prior to moving on to the next. Within each topic, begin with the foundations and progress toward more advanced concepts. For example, let’s say you begin studying Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so you can assess how well you understand the topic. If, for example, you incorrectly answer 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 are reading a paragraph, also 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 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. Furthermore, the reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is likely that you have not been working 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 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 under 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 those reasons are not 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 answer were always the one 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 that 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 be determined to see the differences 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 that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order 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 have done 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 Sentence Correction skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with SC questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

Follow a similar process for quant. For example, if you are reviewing Number Properties, be sure that you practice 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. As you 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. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

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 and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions 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.

So, work on accuracy and generally finding correct answers, work on specific weaker areas one by one to make them strong areas, and when you take a practice GMAT or the real thing, take all the time per question available to do your absolute best to get right answers consistently. The GMAT is essentially a game of seeing how many right answers you can get in the time allotted. Approach the test with that conception in mind, and focus intently on the question in front of you with one goal in mind: getting a CORRECT answer.

I realize that you prefer not to spend more money on prep materials, but in order to follow the path described above, you may need to invest in some new materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed..  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Sep 2018, 18:08
JourneyToTheTop wrote:
I'm definitely going by ''sound''.

Q47 was on a repeat but 2 months after the first, the only anomaly around the Q47 was that I had studied very diligently the week prior with all concepts and practice. I've haven't replicated that level of diligence (nothing crazy just 1-2 hours a day very focused).

Thanks, I'm starting with the MGMAT SC Guide (I've never studied for Verbal), and move on from there. Do you think in a week I should switch between SC and different Quant topics? Or do a full sweep of SC first.
Normally I'd suggest that you not spend more than 3-4 days exclusively on any one section, but the first week should be okay. Just try not to get into a habit of doing only quant or only verbal (this becomes more important as you get closer to your exam). If I had to estimate what you could get with the practice that you're about to put in, I'd say that you're capable of getting V40 (90%) or more.

It's important to understand that the GMAT is a test of reasoning, and that someone who can do well on verbal should be capable of doing as well on quant (and vice versa). Keep working on your quant, and I think that you'll see your score improve significantly once you manage to get the "tools" that you need to do well.
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New post 15 Oct 2018, 06:15
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi JourneyToTheTop,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. The first thing I’ve noticed regarding your study routine is that you are taking practice exams before you are ready. GMAT practice tests best serve two main purposes. The first purpose is to provide diagnostic information. In other words, by taking a practice test, you can get a sense of what types of GMAT questions you’re comfortable answering and arrive at a reasonable estimation of how you would score on the GMAT at that point in time. The second purpose is, naturally, to provide a way to practice taking the GMAT and handling its various challenges, such as time pressure and the varying difficulty of the questions presented.

Unfortunately, people often misuse practice tests as primary learning tools. You may have seen posts that go something like the following: A person with a score goal of 740 has been preparing for six weeks, has already taken all six of the official practice tests, and is wondering why her scores have been 600, 590, 570, 610, 600, and 560. In such a case, the person likely has been using practice tests as primary learning tools, meaning that taking practice tests has been much of, or possibly most of, what she has been doing to drive up her score.

Can practice tests be valuable tools for learning and continued score improvement? Yes, of course, if they are used properly and at optimal times in your preparation. However, practice tests should not be used as primary learning vehicles because practice tests don’t really provide the kind of practice that you need to increase your score. To improve your score, you need to learn the basics of answering various types of GMAT questions, and then practice applying what you have learned by carefully answering practice questions in order to learn to answer them correctly. When you first learn how to answer a particular type of question, answering that type of question correctly can easily take way longer than the two minutes or so per question that you are allotted when taking the GMAT (or a practice test). Two minutes can fly by, and if you want to finish the sections of the test on time, in many cases, regardless of whether you have figured out how to answer a question, you may have to just answer and move on. So, while taking a practice test can be a great way to work on your overall approach to taking the GMAT, taking a practice test is not a great way to practice getting right answers to various types of questions. To effectively prepare for the GMAT, you have to practice answering questions of each type without the time constraints of the test, and work up to a point at which you can answer questions of each type in around two minutes. Thus, there is very limited utility in taking practice tests before you have done substantial preparation. When you take multiple practice tests early in your prep, the tests simply underscore exactly what you already know: you need to learn more content and develop more skills to hit your score goal. Why spend three hours taking a practice test just to learn what you already know, wasting a valuable learning tool in the process?

Of course, you can benefit from taking one diagnostic practice test early in your preparation. Furthermore, once you’ve done substantial preparation and mastered much of the content tested on the GMAT, when you sit for practice tests, they will actually show, to some degree, lingering weak areas. I say “to some degree” because although practice tests provide a pretty good approximation of how a person would score on the GMAT at a particular point in time, the sample size of questions on any practice test is rather small (31 quant questions and 36 verbal questions), so practice tests don’t do a very good job of pinpointing specific areas of weakness.

For example, let’s assume that of the 31 quant questions on a given practice test, you encounter one Rate-Time-Distance question and get it wrong. Should you conclude that you need extensive work on Rate-Time-Distance questions? Of course not. Similarly, what if you correctly answered the Rate-Time-Distance question? Are you good to go on those questions? Maybe. But maybe not. In fact, let’s assume that you took six practice tests, saw a total of six Rate-Time-Distance questions, and correctly answered them all. Can you conclude that you’re solid on Rate-Time-Distance questions? Probably not. One thing that makes the GMAT challenging is the vast potential for variation in the questions. There are hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of variations of Rate-Time-Distance questions that can appear on the test. So, correctly answering five or six (or ten) Rate-Time-Distance questions doesn’t really tell you too much. You must take care not to over-infer based on practice tests alone.

To truly improve your GMAT quant and verbal skills, and before taking any further tests, you will want to follow a linear study plan that allows you to slowly build GMAT mastery of one topic prior to moving on to the next. Within each topic, begin with the foundations and progress toward more advanced concepts. For example, let’s say you begin studying Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so you can assess how well you understand the topic. If, for example, you incorrectly answer 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 are reading a paragraph, also 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 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. Furthermore, the reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is likely that you have not been working 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 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 under 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 those reasons are not 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 answer were always the one 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 that 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 be determined to see the differences 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 that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order 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 have done 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 Sentence Correction skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with SC questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

Follow a similar process for quant. For example, if you are reviewing Number Properties, be sure that you practice 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. As you 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. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

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 and types that you would rather not see, and types of questions 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.

So, work on accuracy and generally finding correct answers, work on specific weaker areas one by one to make them strong areas, and when you take a practice GMAT or the real thing, take all the time per question available to do your absolute best to get right answers consistently. The GMAT is essentially a game of seeing how many right answers you can get in the time allotted. Approach the test with that conception in mind, and focus intently on the question in front of you with one goal in mind: getting a CORRECT answer.

I realize that you prefer not to spend more money on prep materials, but in order to follow the path described above, you may need to invest in some new materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!


I've taken this massive post to heart, taken a break and am ready to reset and start with new focus.
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Re: Guidance Required - How to proceed.. &nbs [#permalink] 15 Oct 2018, 06:15
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