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Have taken the GMAT 4 times

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New post 10 Mar 2019, 09:59
I am posting for the first time as I have reached a very low point of motivation regarding my performance on the GMAT. I have taken the GMAT 4 times from September 2018 to March 2019. My test score history is as follows:

September 2018: 640 (41Q / 37V)
October 2018: 610 (Cancelled)
November 2018: 670 (41Q / 41V)
March 2019: 660 (45Q / 36V - Cancelled)

I work a full time job in private equity which means that (1) studying only occurs on weekends or late at night/very early in the morning, and (2) I do not have the opportunity to take 2-3 weeks off for study leave.

My main area of weakness is the Quantitative section, although in my most recent test, I performed much lower on the verbal section than expected. In terms of study materials, I have used:
- GMAT Tests (1 - 6)
- Math Revolution - basic package
- Manhattan Guides (only used these at the beginning as a refresher on topics that I was unfamiliar with)
- Veritas Prep - free GMAT test
- Official Guide - diagnostics test + official questions (have not completed all questions)

In verbal, I believe my main area of development is critical reasoning. In general, I feel like I have hit a brick wall as far as test performance is concerned. In my most recent test, I felt slightly more confident on the quantitative section but still felt that there were a lot of questions that seemed completely new to me and had no idea how to solve. I am desperately trying to hit the 700+ score but am not sure what to do at this point. In terms of timing, I am looking to apply for Round 1 2020 MBA intake so applications are due September 2019. I was hoping to get my GMAT out of the way and then fully focus on my applications but it appears that I'll concurrently need to work on both at the same time.

I am open to any and all suggestions regarding GMAT tutors, study materials, alternative strategies, etc. I don't have a specific timeline as to when I would like to write the GMAT next but I was hoping to re-write it sooner rather than later. To anybody who has any suggestions, I would sincerely appreciate any and all help.
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Re: Have taken the GMAT 4 times  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Mar 2019, 13:30
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Hi caga,

To start, GMAC limits each Test Taker to no more than 5 total attempts at the GMAT in any 12-month period (and up to 8 attempts overall; with an opportunity to petition for a 9th attempt). Based on the dates of your first 4 attempts, you will be able to take the GMAT just ONCE MORE before this coming September. As such, you should NOT 'rush in' to take the GMAT for a 5th time unless you are certain that your skills are strong enough to get you to your Goal Score.

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Your 4 Official Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 640 +/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the GMAT consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes. Raising a 640 to the point that you can consistently score 700+ will likely require at least another 1-2 months of consistent, guided study. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level.

You might also choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report for your latest attempt (the cancelled 660). 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 (and what you should work on to score higher). If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

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) On what dates did you take each of your practice CATs/mocks and how did you score on EACH (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to? Do you know the exact application deadlines for each?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 10 Mar 2019, 13:37
Thank you very much Rich for your detailed response. Would you mind if I emailed (and/or) PM'ed you separately to provide further details on my score report and study routine?
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New post 10 Mar 2019, 14:30
Hi caga,

Yes - you can feel free to PM or email me directly if you prefer.

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Rich
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Re: Have taken the GMAT 4 times  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Mar 2019, 18:52
Hi caga,

The good news is that you’ve been able to score as high as a Q45 and V41 on an official GMAT, so things are not horrible, right? That said, since you are still 30+ points from your score goal, it’s clear that you have some remaining quant and verbal weaknesses that are holding you back from hitting your goal. Thus, I’m happy to provide some advice on how to improve your Critical Reasoning and quant skills. Let’s start with quant.

Say you are learning about Number Properties, for example. First, 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 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.

To improve in Critical Reasoning, you first need to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice so 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.

A major mistake that people make when training for CR is that they do practice questions too fast. To get Critical Reasoning questions correct, you have to see exactly what is going on in the passages and answer choices, and you likely won't learn to do so by spending a few minutes on each question. At this stage of your training, you may need to spend as many as fifteen minutes on each question, learning to see what there is to see. Here is a way to look at this process: If you get a new job in a field in which you are not experienced, you may not be as fast as the other people working with you, but you know you have a job to do and you make sure you learn all the angles, so that you do the job well, if not as quickly as those around you. Rushing through the job and doing it incorrectly would not make sense. Then, as you gain more experience, you learn to do the same job more quickly. Think of Critical Reasoning questions similarly. Your job is to do what? To get through questions quickly? Not really. Your job is to get correct answers.

So, first you have to learn to get correct answers, generally at least 10 to 15 in a row consistently, and more in a row would be better. That is your job, and if it takes you 15 minutes per question to get correct answers consistently, then so be it. Only after you have learned to get correct answers consistently can you work on speeding up. Working quickly but not doing your job is useless. Better to work slowly and learn to do your job well. You can be sure that with experience, you will learn to speed up, and then you still will be doing your job well, i.e., getting correct answers consistently.

Finally, a key aspect of getting correct answers to Critical Reasoning questions is noticing the key differences between trap choices and correct answers. Trap choices can sound temptingly correct but don't get the job done. The logic of what a trap choice says simply doesn't fit what the question is asking you to find. So, to get better at your job, learn to see the key differences between trap choices and correct answers.

You may find it helpful to read the following articles about developing the proper mindset for GMAT success and how to increase your GMAT quant score.

Feel free to reach out with further questions. Good luck!
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Re: Have taken the GMAT 4 times  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Mar 2019, 04:43
Hi caga,

I understand your score has not been in line with your expectation. When you get scores in the same range we refer to it as score plateau. Many students have overcome score plateau in the past. You too can learn how to improve your GMAT score from a score-plateau.

The good thing is you have enough time in hand to improve from 660 to 700.

Way Forward

You are at a good ability in Verbal. Even with a V36 you will not be required to put in much effort for Verbal. In Quant, you can improve significantly and it would require effort.

For a score of 700 you will need a Q48 and V38. I got this split from the Personalised Study Planner. You can also use this tool and chart out the path to reach your target score. Precise inputs from your GMAT score report will help you refine the plan for a jump from 660 to 750.

In Verbal, since you have the potential to reach a V40 working on your weak areas should help you reach the target in verbal. You can take a Verbal Ability Quiz in Scholaranium and then analyse the Skill Data section to identify the weak areas.

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In Quant, there seem to be significant conceptual gaps. Learn all the topics that GMAT tests.

I am sharing a few free resources from Quant so that you can get started with the prep. You can get access to a lot more of these videos and practice questions once you sign up for the Free Trial.


To make the learning more effective, learn the right processes that will help you score high consistently. To do so you can attend the following free sessions this weekend and learn from the top-rated experts. Click on the following links to register.

1. CR session – Pre-thinking for Assumptions– Learn effective ways to Pre-think assumptions and ace GMAT CR.
2. Algebra Webinar – Lean how to confidently tackle any algebra question in GMAT.

If you have ESR available, you can send it to us support@e-gmat.com. It will help us get detailed insights about your test day performance.

Regards,
Zinnia
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Re: Have taken the GMAT 4 times   [#permalink] 13 Mar 2019, 04:43
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