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Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750

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Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 23 Jan 2020, 09:51
Hi all,

I'm looking to apply for top business schools in the US (e.g. Harvard), and am hoping to get a great GMAT score to help in the application. First I'll explain what I've done up until now, and then ask for your help on next steps.

I studied quite a bit last summer at which time I read 2 books: Princeton Cracking the GMAT review, and Manhattan Advanced Quant. I also took all 6 official practise tests for which my scores are below. My strategy was mainly to read the theory, take practise tests, understand questions I got wrong, retry those questions until I could crack them. I found this was effective from my first test to the second, but seem to have plateaued after that.

Test: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Score: 640, 730, 720, 730, 710, 720
Quant: 38, 49, 47, 49, 47, 49
Verbal: 39, 41, 42, 40, 41, 40
IR: 5, 7, 8, 5, 5, 7

I took the official test at the end of the summer and scored 700 (8 IR, 39 V, 47 Q). I didn't think this score was sufficient so I cancelled it and planned to retake the test. Unfortunately, I've not been able to do much over the past 3 months or so, but since the start of this year I've got back into it. Since then I've been working mostly from the GMAT OG just answering questions. I've answered 50% of the questions for each question category, and have kept a detailed log of where I've made errors. I have been learning about weaker areas as I go, but am planning next to go back over every question I had wrong to see if my revision sunk in. As a guide, I have the accuracy percentage for each question type below:

Problem solving: 87%, average time 61s
Data sufficiency: 83%, average time 53s
Reading comprehension: 78%, average time 64s
Critical reasoning: 92%, average time 75s
Sentence correction: 87%, average time 59s

So all in all, not a bad place but really need to take it to the next level. I need to take the test in around 1-1.5 months so I can apply for the April round of business schools. I know it's quite last minute, but not sure what else I can do as I am currently studying a full time masters program as well. Any advice on how to structure the next 4 weeks or so, I would be grateful. I suppose I should now be retaking a diagnostic test, but now I have completed all 6 (last summer), I wondered whether questions would be repeated so perhaps it would not reflect my true score, instead being higher than in reality. I can study some days more than others, but typically works out at about 3-4hrs a day, 6 days a week.

FYI, I bought the Magoosh package which I found helpful in some ways, but found the OG more helpful all in all so have not used it that much. Buying a more expensive package with a different company (e.g. with personal tutoring) would be tough right now.

Many thanks,
Sam

Originally posted by sammccolgan on 22 Jan 2020, 12:59.
Last edited by sammccolgan on 23 Jan 2020, 09:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jan 2020, 21:00
Hi Sam

First off, a 710 is an outstanding Score, so assuming that your Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores were in line with your practice CAT Scores, you can comfortably apply to any Business Schools that interest you. As such, a retest is probably not necessary. Since you're interested in some highly-competitive Schools, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile and plans. Those Experts should be able to answer your Admissions questions and help define the specific areas of your profile that could use some improvement.

There's a Forum full of those Experts here:

https://gmatclub.com/forum/ask-admissio ... tants-124/

While I understand that you probably want to apply sooner rather than later, you have to remember your REAL Goal: to get into your first-choice School. It might be better for your overall 'chances' if you waited for Round 1 in September (so that you can improve other aspects of your overall application).

If you do choose to retest though, then the logical next step would be for you to take a NEW, FULL-LENGTH CAT - so that we can get a sense of your current skills, strengths and weaknesses. While the most realistic CATs available are the 6 from GMAC, retaking a CAT that you've already taken is NOT a realistic way to assess your skills - since you will likely see some 'repeat' questions that you have already faced. Unfortunately, seeing even a couple of repeats can 'throw off' the Scoring Algorithm and impact your pacing, energy levels, fatigue, etc. (meaning that they would likely all appear to be better than they actually are). Thankfully, the CATs from Kaplan, MGMAT and Veritas are all 'close enough' to the real thing that they will provide you with a relatively realistic score assessment (assuming that you correctly take the CAT in a realistic fashion) - so you could use any new CATs from any of those sources next.

Beyond that, 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 you should work on to score higher. If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

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Re: Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2020, 08:46
Hi Sam,
It seems that your time management is not good enough for answering the question-you took less than 1 min in 2 sections and it is less than 1.5 min in every section. You should take approximately 2 min in every question. You should take an official mock again with a pure "time-management".
Are you a native speaker? How about your reading speed/habit?
Which one (sc,cr,rc, etc,.) is your weakest area?
I think, the perfect way of studying is to learn concept frm unofficial materials and apply your learning to the official materials with specific difficulty level. You can use "search tag" to study perfectly (search tag link is available in my signature)
Thanks__
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Re: Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2020, 09:50
Thank you both so much for the replies! Individual comments to your questions and comments below.

rich
Upon looking at my ESR, I realise I made an error and in fact, the actual score was 700. I thought this score would put me at a disadvantage, especially when I know I can get higher. I think my nerves were peaked for the exam, and then I end up pacing it quite badly. Hopefully, I'll manage this much better the second time around.
I think I'll take you up on the advice to chat with an admissions expert. I'm aiming for the third round this year because I want to apply for a 2+2 or similar deferral program and these generally ask to apply during the third round.
I agree with you on which test to take. I'll likely run a full test with one of the few you mentioned on Saturday and let everyone know.
Also, I have the ESR now but sadly can't post attachments on here since I'm a new member. If you drop me your email, I'll send it through.

Asad
You might be right. I'm on average faster than I need to be. I suppose I go faster since last time I was too slow going through the questions, and I was worried to repeat that.
I am a native speaker. I think of myself as reading on the slower side, and am weaker on skimming as I like to read to understand thoroughly. This is probably something I could improve, but not sure how!
In my ESR, I had the following in percentiles, 94RC, 82CR, 72SC. However, I focussed on SC since and think I have picked it up a bit. I'm not sure about percentiles, but in pure accuracy, the order of my verbal seems to have flipped now.
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Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2020, 10:27
Hi sammccolganm,

First off, great job with the 700! Regarding how to improve your GMAT score to a higher level, you need to go through GMAT quant and verbal carefully to find your exact weaknesses, fill gaps in your knowledge, and strengthen your skills. The overall process will be to learn all about how to answer question types with which you currently aren't very comfortable, and do dozens of practice questions category by category, basically driving up your score point by point. For example, if you find that you are not strong in answering Number Properties questions, then carefully review the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions and practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. 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. 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, 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.

You can work on verbal in a similar manner. Let’s say you are reviewing Critical Reasoning. Be sure that you practice a large number of Critical Reasoning questions: Strengthen and Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, find the Conclusion, Must be True, etc. As you go through the questions, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get correct. If you missed a Weaken question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize what the question was asking? Did you skip over a key detail in an answer choice? Getting GMAT verbal questions right is a matter of what you know, what you see, and what you do. So, any time that you don't get one right, you can seek to identify what you had to know to get the right answer, what you had to see that you didn't see, and what you could have done differently to arrive at the correct answer.

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.

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!
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Re: Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2020, 16:18
Hi Sam,

I've sent you a PM with an analysis of your ESR and some additional notes.

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Re: Help for strategy to take me from around 720 to 750   [#permalink] 23 Jan 2020, 16:18
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