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HOW TO approach GMAT study: Highly-effective method

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New post 25 Apr 2017, 07:33
Hello guys,

I am new on the GMAT Club and my objective is to get a 710 on GMAT to ensure I get into the business school I want. I am planning to take the exam in October or before.

I have been preparing the GMAT for two months now (basically creating the base as I have been a few years out of studies and I am working at the same time). I get an average time of 2 hours on weekdays and 4/5h on weekends for studying, generally after work.

I did not take any test yet (for instance, GMAT Prep Software) as I thought it was to early and I wanted to keep the tests for as close to the exam as possible.

First thing I did was to complete "How To Pass the GMAT" (Mike Bryon), a book I found to be full of mistakes but it was useful to get to know the kind of questions I could find on the GMAT. I also tried the free trial of "The Economist GMAT Prep" which I though was brilliant as it adjust to your level. However, I found it very expensive to buy it. Is there something as good as this with a better price?

Now, I bought the Official Guide 2017 (three-book bundle) and I did the diagnostic test with these results:

Problem Solving: Average
Data Sufficiency: Below average

Reading Comprehension: Above Average
Critical Reasoning: Average
Sentence Correction: Average

I have been reading a lot about the test, the preparation courses, the books, etc ... but I did not find much detailed information about how to approach the study itself in the best way.

I guess doing lots of practice questions and reading explanations afterwards is not the most efficient way. Probably focusing on the mistakes is much more effective. For instance, doing a timed bunch of questions, marking the ones you got wrong ( or you guessed) and coming back to them the next day reading through the explanation. Ideally, you should make them again but probably after a certain time so you forget about the right answer and take them as new question ... Maybe it is better to jot down more information and not only that you got it wrong, I am not sure about it.

My question here is: Can you explain an efficient system of study? How did you manage to study in order to get the score you wanted?


Furthermore, any personal recommendations to help my personal case are more than welcome!

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New post 25 Apr 2017, 10:20
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Take the GMATprep test. DOn't wait until last few weeks to take it.... Take one now, and you're pretty much guaranteed not to see the same questions if you try them 3 months later. Also since your initial test will give you easier questions, you're likely to see harder questions months later... Don't be scared of not giving GMATprep test. Take a mock and then report back then you can make a proper plan. Without mock you don't know where to begin.

Hope this helps.
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New post 25 Apr 2017, 11:03
Hi luigidt,

If you've been studying consistently for 2 months, then you really MUST take a FULL-LENGTH CAT (including the Essay and IR sections) sometime soon (perhaps this weekend). That initial diagnostic CAT is important - it helps to define your strengths and weaknesses and gives you a basis for comparison as you continue to study. Most Test Takers are not happy with that first CAT result, but that's not a big deal - the extra months of available study time are there so that you can IMPROVE on this initial practice result. Once you take that CAT, you should report back here with your results and we can talk through how best to plan out your upcoming studies.

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New post 25 Apr 2017, 19:10
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luigidt wrote:
Hello guys,

I am new on the GMAT Club and my objective is to get a 710 on GMAT to ensure I get into the business school I want. I am planning to take the exam in October or before.

I have been preparing the GMAT for two months now (basically creating the base as I have been a few years out of studies and I am working at the same time). I get an average time of 2 hours on weekdays and 4/5h on weekends for studying, generally after work.

I did not take any test yet (for instance, GMAT Prep Software) as I thought it was to early and I wanted to keep the tests for as close to the exam as possible.

First thing I did was to complete "How To Pass the GMAT" (Mike Bryon), a book I found to be full of mistakes but it was useful to get to know the kind of questions I could find on the GMAT. I also tried the free trial of "The Economist GMAT Prep" which I though was brilliant as it adjust to your level. However, I found it very expensive to buy it. Is there something as good as this with a better price?

Now, I bought the Official Guide 2017 (three-book bundle) and I did the diagnostic test with these results:

Problem Solving: Average
Data Sufficiency: Below average

Reading Comprehension: Above Average
Critical Reasoning: Average
Sentence Correction: Average

I have been reading a lot about the test, the preparation courses, the books, etc ... but I did not find much detailed information about how to approach the study itself in the best way.

I guess doing lots of practice questions and reading explanations afterwards is not the most efficient way. Probably focusing on the mistakes is much more effective. For instance, doing a timed bunch of questions, marking the ones you got wrong ( or you guessed) and coming back to them the next day reading through the explanation. Ideally, you should make them again but probably after a certain time so you forget about the right answer and take them as new question ... Maybe it is better to jot down more information and not only that you got it wrong, I am not sure about it.

My question here is: Can you explain an efficient system of study? How did you manage to study in order to get the score you wanted?


Furthermore, any personal recommendations to help my personal case are more than welcome!


Also, if you have that much time to study, I would take the test sooner than October... Studying for 6 months is too long IMO.
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New post 26 Apr 2017, 01:12
Thank you all very much for your answers. I am really impress with their quality!

I will learn a little bit about AWA and IR between today and Friday and I will take a CAT GMAT with the GMATPrep Software this weekend. I'll report the results here as all you suggested to design a plan of action.

okay wrote:
Also, if you have that much time to study, I would take the test sooner than October... Studying for 6 months is too long IMO.

If I feel prepared that is my intention. However, I have to take IELTS at the same time and I am already struggling to keep the pace of study.

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New post 27 Apr 2017, 04:23
IMO, time is relative.

Some of us start our GMAT journey at a 290 level, others at a 650 level. Some people are able to raise 300 points in 30 days, other struggle to gain 100 points in one year.

If you manage close your GMAT chapter in less than 6 months, super! Otherwise, be prepared to spend more time (specially if you work full time are are in the low-end of the GMAT spectrum).
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New post 02 May 2017, 04:10
Hello again!

Following your suggestions, I took a simulated GMAT Full-Lenght exam on the GMATPrep software yesterday. This were my impressions BEFORE seeing the final score.

AWA: It was the first time I tried to write an essay and I run out of time to explain everything but I think was not a disaster, maybe a 4.0/6.0

Integrated Reasoning: I had never practiced those kind of questions before so I didn't even know the format I could find. I thought I didn't perform good enough. I managed my time poorly and ended guessing the last question.

Quantitative: I performed quite worse than expected on this section. I felt gaps of knowledge to answer some questions and I finished the section with 12 minutes remaining.

Verbal: I though I did a low-average performance compared to my practice exercises. I finished the section with 4 minutes remaining and the sensation of guessing or being unsure about too many questions.

And here are my actual results:

Integrated Reasoning - 7, Percentile 81
Quantitative - 31, Percentile 26
Verbal - 35, Percentile 74

Total Score - 550, Percentile 47

Overall, I am quite satisfied as I feel there is a lot of room for improvement. I performed quite badly and I got 550 (31Q, 35V). I was not expecting to get more than 530 in any case at this stage before taking the simulated exam. Furthermore, I did IR and Verbal sections fairly good considering I have less than 35 effective hours of study over my shoulders (total between quantitative and verbal).

Now, the next questions are:

- What is the most effective method to improve my score consistently and build a strong range of tools to beat the GMAT?
- If you had to choose an online preparation course like "The Economist GMAT Preparation", "Magoosh", "e-GMAT" or something similar. What would you recommend as the best one? I am considering to do this very seriously on top of my self-study preparation.

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New post 02 May 2017, 10:59
Hi luigidt,

To start, a 550 is a solid initial CAT score (the average score on the Official GMAT hovers around 540-550 most years). Raising this 550 to a 710+ will take some serious work - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. All of that work will likely take at least another 3 months of consistent, guided study. Thankfully, you've given yourself plenty of time to study and improve - which is good.

It's interesting that you finished both the Quant and Verbal sections early. After reviewing this CAT, how many questions did you get wrong because of a silly/little mistake? By extension, how many additional questions could you have gotten correct IF you had slowed down a bit, took more notes, did more work (on the PAD), etc? You had the time to do that work, so now you have to slow down a bit and use your time effectively.

When it comes to studying for the GMAT, there are a variety of different options. Most GMAT Companies offer some type of free materials (practice problems, Trial Accounts, videos, etc.) that you can use to 'test out' a product before you buy it. We have a variety of those resources at our website (www.empowergmat.com). I suggest that you take advantage of all of them then choose the one that best matches your personality, timeline and budget.

If you have any additional questions, then you can feel free to contact me directly.

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New post 12 Nov 2017, 03:48
Hello again,

It's been a long time since my last update. During this time, I bought 3-months preparation with The Economist, which helped my improving my Quant skills and taught me some tricks for the Verbal section. Apart from that, I also completed 25% of the Official Guide 2018 (I know it should have been all as I still fail too many questions) and took several mock exams from several companies and I bought the Exam Packs 1&2 (only took 1 out of 4 so far). Results are below:

01/05/2017 - GMAT Official Mock: IR7 Q31 V35 550
24/06/2017 - The Economist Prep IR5 Q28 V28 470
04/08/2017 - Manhattan Mock: IR0 Q40 V39 650
09/09/2017 - The Economist Prep: IR5 Q38 V28 540
16/09/2017 - The Economist Prep: IR4 Q38 V38 620
27/09/2017 - Veritas Prep: IR5 Q37 V33 580
08/10/2017 - GMAT Official Mock: IR5 Q44 V33 630
14/10/2017 - GMAT Official Mock: IR7 Q45 V35 660
04/11/2017 - GMAT Official Mock: IR5 Q41 V36 640

I believe my biggest improvement, after finishing The Economist, came from reviewing the official exams and where I fail.

Last Friday, 10th of November, I took my official test after having delayed it due to unforeseen circumstances with this dissapoint result:

10/11/2017 - GMAT Official Exam: IR4 Q44 V31 620

I had time management issues on the Quant section of the real exam as I tried to ensure my answers to the first 10 questions. As a result, I didn't answer the last question as I was writing and didn't realise my time had run out. I never had this issue before and felt discouraged about the big penalty for not finishing the exam.

In the Verbal section, I was not concentrated enough and had to read the texts several times. I found all the sections difficult (especially complex RC) and selected several questions while doubting between 2-3 answers. This was the biggest disappointment of the exam.

IR was awful. I didn't solve the two-part analysis questions and I couldn't process all the information provided in the multi-source passages. I was only strong with graphs.

AWA. I'm still waiting to know the score but I expect 4.5-5.0 at the least.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm planning to sit the exam again in mid-December and my objective was always 710. However, given the circumstances, I would be satisfied with 680-700. I believe I can reach that range improving my Quant to Q49 and doing an average Verbal of V35-36 as per my last mocks.

I will finish the Official Guide + Quant Guide + Verbal Guide and will take the official GMATPrep exams and review my mistakes.

I would welcome any suggestions about how to improve my Quant in such a short period of time. I was thinking about purchasing some specific quant course but I work full-time and have to study the IELTS exam as well. Hence, I don't want a course to teach me the basics I already know and waste my time. I need something to take me directly from the level where I am.

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New post 13 Nov 2017, 20:23
luigidt wrote:
I had time management issues on the Quant section of the real exam as I tried to ensure my answers to the first 10 questions. As a result, I didn't answer the last question as I was writing and didn't realise my time had run out. I never had this issue before and felt discouraged about the big penalty for not finishing the exam.
You shouldn't do that. Just maintain average (or close to average) time throughout the entire section.
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New post 14 Nov 2017, 03:34
AjiteshArun wrote:
luigidt wrote:
I had time management issues on the Quant section of the real exam as I tried to ensure my answers to the first 10 questions. As a result, I didn't answer the last question as I was writing and didn't realise my time had run out. I never had this issue before and felt discouraged about the big penalty for not finishing the exam.
You shouldn't do that. Just maintain average (or close to average) time throughout the entire section.

I know I should not. I did not do it on purpose as I had not done it in any mock before. I guess my nerves betrayed me on the real exam.

My only concern now is how to ensure next attempt in 1 month will score higher in Quant and same as my average mocks in Verbal. This last one must be concentration, but I'm really concern about Quant.

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New post 14 Nov 2017, 15:04
Hi luigidt,

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, most of your recent CAT Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 630 +/- a few points) - thus, your 620 on the Official GMAT isn't that surprising. You have the potential to pick up some serious points in BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections - but the work required to make those improvements and raise a 620 to a 710+ will likely take at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study. Your current timeline only gives you 1 month though, so you might need to consider pushing back your Test Date.

1) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
2) What are the exact application deadlines you're facing?

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luigidt wrote:
I know I should not. I did not do it on purpose as I had not done it in any mock before. I guess my nerves betrayed me on the real exam.

My only concern now is how to ensure next attempt in 1 month will score higher in Quant and same as my average mocks in Verbal. This last one must be concentration, but I'm really concern about Quant.
Okay, just remember that the "extra time on the first ten questions" strategy isn't really a great strategy.
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New post 15 Nov 2017, 01:49
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi luigidt,

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, most of your recent CAT Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 630 +/- a few points) - thus, your 620 on the Official GMAT isn't that surprising. You have the potential to pick up some serious points in BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections - but the work required to make those improvements and raise a 620 to a 710+ will likely take at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study. Your current timeline only gives you 1 month though, so you might need to consider pushing back your Test Date.

1) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
2) What are the exact application deadlines you're facing?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
Thank you for your answer Rich,

To be honest, I was expecting a 650 on the test. Not finishing one section or doing such a poor verbal is something it didn't happen to me on the recent mocks. During the test, I was aware I was performing far below my level on Verbal.

I'm confident to perform at V35-36 in the next exam, which I believe is my "real" level under normal conditions. I agree I could improve both sections. However, as I pursue a MSc in Finance, my Quant score is more important for me. Some of the admission teams from the Universities I will apply for have told me they particularly check the Quant score.

I am planning to apply to some Swedish business schools such as SSE and Lund University (closing in early January). My other preferences are RSM, Tilburg and some UK schools (all suggesting to apply as soon as I can even though they close later). As RSM is my first option, I want to apply to all universities at the same time to receive the answers within the same frame of time. I don't want to get accepted by some BS without having an answer from RSM.
For this reason, I must submit applications over Christmas. Nevertheless, I don't discard to sit the exam a third time in the beginning of February to improve my chances if my score is not good enough in December.

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New post 15 Nov 2017, 19:36
Hi luigidt,

Now that you've taken the Official GMAT, you have a far better idea of what Test Day will involve, so you should be better able to prepare for those details. Since you're looking to improve a great deal in a relatively short period of time, it's important to analyze how you took your prior CATs (so that you can make the necessary adjustments to how you take your CATs in the future).

1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE (re: in an online forum or in a practice set)?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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New post 16 Nov 2017, 01:33
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi luigidt,

Now that you've taken the Official GMAT, you have a far better idea of what Test Day will involve, so you should be better able to prepare for those details. Since you're looking to improve a great deal in a relatively short period of time, it's important to analyze how you took your prior CATs (so that you can make the necessary adjustments to how you take your CATs in the future).

1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE (re: in an online forum or in a practice set)?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

That's true. I have a better idea of what to expect now. It was quite shocking for me to find such a big erasable notepad and such a little table to put it over. Most of the table was taken by the horizontal CPU.

Answering your questions:

1) Yes, I always took the entire CAT.
2) Most of them were taken at home. Nevertheless, one or two (at the beginning) were taken at the public library but I stopped doing it as it is not always silent and the WiFi is slow, speeding down the transition between questions.
3) Not all of them, but some. All exams were started between 11am and 3pm. My real exam was at 11:45pm.
4) No. I always tried to stick to the rules since the beginning.
5) I took one CAT twice, it was my first official CAT (550) and I got 630 the second time. However, almost 6 months had past since the first attempt. Most of the questions were different and, if there was some repeated, I can assure you I didn't remember how to answer them. Overall, I believe I have never seen any CAT question before.

By the way, I just received my Official Score Report and my AWA is a 6.0!!! I know this is not very influential for business schools but, at least spiritually, it is a bright light in the black hole!

Kudos [?]: 0 [0], given: 8

HOW TO approach GMAT study: Highly-effective method   [#permalink] 16 Nov 2017, 01:33
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