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Guide to achieving 720 for those strong in Verbal but weak in Quant

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Joined: 11 Jan 2017
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Location: Indonesia
GMAT 1: 720 Q49 V40
GPA: 3.7
Guide to achieving 720 for those strong in Verbal but weak in Quant [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2017, 10:30
I took the GMAT for the second time today and scored 720 Q49 V40 and IR 8. Although I haven't quite slayed the GMAT (wanted to hit V50 and break the 95th percentile very badly), I am happy with my score... for now (unless I get waitlisted by my preferred schools). When I first started lurking in the forums, it was clear to me that a number of the forum members had a high Quant score but a low Verbal score. I was on the other end of the spectrum and thought someone in a similar predicament might benefit from my debrief. Aside from the less-than-stellar Quant, I suffered from pathetically low IR scores in my mock exams (think 1 or 2 out of 8!)

1. GMAT is not fair: Get it out of your system as soon as possible. Why do I say that? GMAT assumes that question difficulty is the same for everyone and nobody gets the same set of questions. I could do the most difficult geometry questions at 95% accuracy, but would be stumped by a simple combinations question. But alas, life isn't fair and the GMAT isn't either. Get that out of the way and start concentrating on your prep.

2. Take a mock exam early: I did not attempt a mock exam until 4 months into my prep. I didn't feel that I was ready and didn't want to waste my free test. The proportion of Quant correct answers I was getting in my practice was abysmally low and I did not want to face the possibility of a low score flashing up on my computer screen. In hindsight, this was a mistake. When I attempted my first mock, my Quant score was low but not atrocious and my decent Verbal score pulled the score up to 690. This gave me some much needed confidence. Moral of the story: You probably aren't doing as bad as you think you are.

3. Focus on your strengths: I see lots of posts advising candidates to tackle their weaknesses. Not many touched on strengthening already solid areas. The good thing about being strong in Verbal and weak in Quant is that your Verbal scores tends to lend a greater weight in your overall score. For instance, I obtained 720 (94th percentile) despite only scoring Q49 (75th percentile). My decent Verbal score of V40 (91st percentile) helped my overall score dramatically. I'm not encouraging you to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room (i.e., mediocre Quant score), but the fact that you are strong in Verbal should give you some reassurance and confidence that you can score decently overall.

4. Quant-Verbal trade-off: For me at least, there was some sort of trade-off between Quant and Verbal. My scarce resources were prep time and money, and I knew that if I invested all of the resources in maximising my Verbal score, I could get a much higher score than if I were to spend them improving my Quant. However, no respectable business school would take a candidate with such score disparity seriously. It was a difficult decision but I arrived at a 70:30 split between Quant and Verbal.

5. If error logs don't always work, try error book: Excluding the practice tests, I recorded some 550 errors in my log... That means that I did well over 2000 Quant practice questions. I maintained an error log but it was nothing more than a record of the number of questions I attempted. I did not draw any meaningful conclusions from the log as I already knew my weak areas: word problems, rates, and combinations/permutations. Instead, I created an error book. For every question that I answered incorrectly, I captured a screenshot and pasted it on a Word document. Along with the question, I pasted a screenshot of the answer and workings. The answer and workings were then collapsed. This allowed me to review 550 questions in one central repository, without having to open multiple links or documents. The error book is extremely portable. I saved a version of it on every computer (including my work laptop so I could review the questions during idle time at work) and on my Kindle (so I could review on the train to and from work).

6. Free resources: I was determined not to spend a bomb on my GMAT preparation. I invested in a few items: OG, Manhattan Advanced Quant, Manhattan mock tests x 6, and GMATPrep exam packs 1 and 2. I borrowed the Manhattan suite of books and CR Bible from my local library. I took most of the prep companies' free mock tests. As my Quant was weak, I had to relearn a lot of the mathematical concepts. I had forgotten nearly all of them from school (not to mention maths was not taught in English in my country). I spent hours relearning my Maths by perusing the resources on GMATPrepNow and Don'tMemorise; both sites offer free videos and excellent explanations.

7. Build muscle memory: It is important to keep taking practice tests. I took 17 mock tests in total (paid and free). The mock tests allow you to practise setting up your scratch paper and shave off the precious seconds leading up to the start of the exam. Check out Stacey Koprince's scratch pad strategy. I followed her method to the letter.

8. Create flashcards: Quizlet is a phenomenal flashcard app. I used it for Quant concepts and formula. It made flashcards a lot more portable. I reviewed the flashcards twice a day on my way to and from work. Quizlet allows you to add images, randomise the order of your cards, and create quizzes.

9. Take the GMAT in the traditional order: For those strong in Verbal but weak in Quant, I would recommend taking the exam in the traditional order: AWA, IR, Quant, and Verbal. If you are strong in Verbal, chances are, you can write pretty well too. Taking the AWA first allows you to get over your initial anxiety and get into the groove. The IR then leads nicely into the most stressful section for many of us strong-Verbal-weak-Quant candidates. Finally, finish off with Verbal; if you mess up Quant, you still have a chance of a decent overall score if you ace Verbal. If you attempt Verbal first, you may lose your confidence entirely for the remaining sections if for some reason you mess up your Verbal. Plus, many mock tests are still run on the old inflexible format. If you stick to the old format, you may benefit from muscle memory.

10. Unnecessarily hard Quant questions may destroy your confidence: I got my Manhattan mock tests out of the way early on. I knew that a pathetic score would affect my confidence, and it did (my Manhattan scores, especially IR, totally obliterated my self confidence). Having said that, these hard questions are like tough love. I never scored above 2/8 for IR in my Manhattan mocks but I miraculously developed an aptitude for IR after I completed all the Manhattan mocks. My subsequent IR scores on GMATPrep exam packs were 8/8. Unnecessarily hard questions are important to push you to achieve better timing and develop alternative strategies to answer Quant questions. Get the notoriously tough mocks out of the way early so you can concentrate on mocks that are modelled closer to the real thing. You may find that your scores are significantly higher in the GMATPrep mocks. Sources of hard Quant questions: Manhattan mock tests, Manhattan Advanced Quant book, Scholaranium free question packs, Bunuel's collection

Mock scores:
GMATPrep 1 - 690, Q45, V39, IR4
Manhattan 1 - 680, Q44, V38
LBS - 710, Q48, V41
Kaplan - 710, Q48, V40, IR1
Veritas - 680, Q47, V37, IR5
GMAT Pill - 610, Q35, V38, IR4
Manhattan 2 - 670, Q39, V42, IR2
Manhattan 3 - 620, Q45, V31, IR2
Resit GMATPrep 1 - 690, Q49, V35, IR7
Manhattan 4 - 700, Q46, V40, IR4
Manhattan 5 - 710, Q47, V40, IR2
Manhattan 6 - 700, Q46, V40, IR2
GMATPrep 2 - 750, Q49, V42, IR8
GMATPrep 3 - 720, Q48, V41, IR8
GMATPrep 4 - 720, Q49, V38, IR8
GMAT first attempt - 710, Q47, V40, IR4
GMATPrep 5 - 760, Q50, V42, IR8
GMATPrep 6 - 710, Q47, V40, IR8
GMAT second attempt - 720, Q49, V40, IR8

Regrets: I regret not spending enough time doing Bunuel's questions. I think if I had, I would have achieved the elusive Q50 I so desperately wanted.

Hope my debrief helps! :)

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Re: Guide to achieving 720 for those strong in Verbal but weak in Quant [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2017, 14:10
Great tips! I'm just beginning my studies but am planning to adopt several of your ideas! Thanks for taking the time to write them down. Much appreciated!

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Kudos [?]: 6 [0], given: 19

Re: Guide to achieving 720 for those strong in Verbal but weak in Quant   [#permalink] 06 Aug 2017, 14:10
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Guide to achieving 720 for those strong in Verbal but weak in Quant

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