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Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?

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Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jan 2019, 19:08
Hello!

My test takes place on March 05th. I study for 3 months now but question the effiency of my studies.

My study materials include most Manhattan Books, OG 2018 + Verbal/Quant and a Magoosh premium subscription.

However, I mostly had studied with Magoosh content and from January on also with more OG Material. At first, I had tried to stick to the 3-month plan by Magoosh but noticed that I had a hard time keeping up with doing 32 questions each day and carefully correct them. I became demotivated and sloppy in carefully reviewing each error I made, but kept doing questions and learning lessons almost every day.

My previous CAT's were quite disappointing but last week I did a CAT that gave me hope for 600+:

540 (Q36 V29, Manhattan Prep #2, Jan 24 2018)
490 (Q35 V23, GMAT Prep #1, Dec 22 2018)
460 (Q31 V24, Manhattan Prep #1, Dec 02 2018)
440 (Q24 V26, GMAT Prep #1, Nov 01 2018) No Prep

My last CAT was also the first CAT in which I truly identified some of my strengths, weaknesses and gaps in knowledge. Before, it was like there are no strengths to be found.

I feel confident doing algebra but I have some issues with artihmetic. In arithmetic, I am okay with most operations and concepts but I struggle with integer properties/divisibility. In geometry, I am okay with triangles, circles and coordinates but definitely need to solve more problems to become comfortable with them.
Recently, I've just started to fully grasp all word problem concepts. Before, I relied on logic, quant improvements and related video explantions. For the next weeks, I expect some improvements in that area.

In verbal I had not much practice before. For CR and RC, I relied on my daily readings of journal articles and I applied CR principles to my everyday life.
This month, I just started to study SC principles but already see some improvements.
With regard to my timing, I am okay finishing quant sections in a proper time but when it comes to verbal, I definitely have timing issues. In my practice exams I always needed to rush through the last 5-10 questions. I guess by practicing SC I can save some time. RC Questions are often correct, regardless of the dificulty but I am slow reading the according passages and I doubt that I will be much faster in the next weeks. It takes me 7-8 minutes to do three RC Questions. CR is mostly a matter of my Critical Reasoning I guess (?)

In the next weeks, I proceed as follows:

Every morning starts with reading two journal articles.
Every week's first day, I start with Magoosh Material, watching lessons I lack basics, doing 20 Quant there (PS+DS), reviewing them, and logging errors.
Any day after, I'll start the session by studying one Manhattan chapter I lack concepts (e.g. Number Properties), and afterwards only practicing with OG Material (e.g. 20 Quant or 20 SC+CR), reviewing them, and logging errors. Every second day, I'll study verbal material, especially SC.
Next Thursday, I summarize my learnings, take all questions I struggled with again, and analyze my performance.
On February 9th I will take another Manhattan CAT and refine my study focus.
On February 23th I will take my second GMAT Prep. If I don't break the 600 I will reschedule.

My goal is to study at the RSM this September. The application deadline is on May 15th but because of rollling admissions the application window can close earlier. I will also need to spend time for the TOEFL afterwards and I will do an internship on april.

I am deeply grateful for any help and advice to make the next weeks as efficient as possible. I am flexible and have no obligations on february.

Thank you!
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Re: Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Jan 2019, 19:26
Hello yungdemon ..... welcome to the community.

My 2 cents :

Next 2 weeks concentrate on the official Qs for verbal..... Go through the explanations at the GMAT club forum..... basically have clear understanding about why 4 wrong choices are wrong and the right one is right. In my opinion..... even if a problem takes 30 mins ... its ok... than to solve 15 Qs in 30 mins with out understanding.

Now for Q...... please donot get me wrong... but the scores show concept gap.
I would definitely go through again ... GMAT Club math book.
And then practice at the links below :
DS: https://gmatclub.com/forum/ds-question- ... 28728.html
PS: https://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-ps-ques ... 27957.html
(And only move to next level when achieving >80% accuracy in the lower level. i.e., 500 lvl(>80% accuracy )... then move to 600 level.... AND 600 lvl(>80% accuracy )... then move to 700 ... and finally try to reach at least 40-60% accuracy at 700 lvl.

Hope this helps!!
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Re: Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2019, 02:43
Thank you for your advice!

You are right, I got some concept gaps and I guess I was overwhelmed by all the material and anxiety from the CATs and from not making quick improvements.

Perhaps I should have ensured first that all my basics are there or at least be more reflective about my errors...

However, I believe I can make it to Q40+ in 4 weeks.
In Verbal, I guess, lies my true strength but I lacked some good practice. My weak spots are more about concentration, vocabulary (Non-native), some grammar and methodical practice. If I can raise my verbal by a few points, I should be able to break 600.

Do you have an advice how to prioritze areas I should adress first?
I am a relatively slow learner (or maybe inefficient) and want to make sure that areas (including timing, initial stress etc.) that contribute to my overall score get higher weight during the next weeks.

Merci and all the best!

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Re: Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Feb 2019, 10:30
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Hi yungdemon,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. Honestly, it’s difficult to say whether your current prep materials/study plan will be enough for you to hit your 600+ score goal (especially in only 1 month). Thus, the best thing you can do is objectively evaluate your progress so that, in the event that you don’t seem to be making the improvements you need, you can adjust your study plan.

That being said, try not to fall into the trap of strengthening a set of skills that may be too narrow to get you to your score goal. Yes, I realize that you may have issues with properties of numbers and arithmetic, for example; however, given that you scored a Q36, it’s clear that still have numerous quant weaknesses, some of which are likely unknown. Yes, individually attacking quant and verbal topics can be an effective way to increase one's expected GMAT score. At the same time, be sure to cast a fairly wide verbal and quant net so that you develop sufficient skills in a sufficient number of areas to hit your score goal. In other words, ensure that you are following a structured study plan that allows you to individually attack each quant and verbal topic. By following such an approach, you can methodically improve your quant and verbal skills and thus improve your GMAT score.

Feel free to keep me updated and reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Feb 2019, 12:49
Thank you for the advice! ScottTargetTestPrep

Today, I took my second GMAT practice exam and I scored 590 (Q40,V31).
That's been the first time I felt (almost) completely rested and mentally fit. I already woke up at 6:30 am, with around 7h of sleep, what suggests I won't sleep long before test day. As done with my previous Manhattan CAT, I took the CAT in another location at the same time I've scheduled the official one (11:30 am, March 5th).

Quant

Because of some disturbance by others in the room and my mediocre pacing performance, I guess I could have done slightly better. I felt rushed the last 3 questions and randomly guessed the last one, which was incorrect but doable.
Overall, I definitly suck at Geometry and Combinatoric, perform well on Statistics, Algebra (exc. some inequalities) and Coordinate plane and some Arithmetic. I do soso on Word problems (Struggle with Rates!)

Verbal

SC: 10/13 were correct and were spread out widely during verbal section.
CR: 4/9 were correct. 7 came before the first RC passage, which came the first time at the 14th question.
RC: 6/13 were correct (3x short, 1x long). While I perform quite well during practice sessions, I only felt comfortable with the first RC passage. The second passage started immediately 2 questions afterwards and kind of crushed my concentration. The third and the fourth passage came last, again almost subsequently. I rushed through the third passage and had to randomly guess the last passage.

I believe I had 10 minutes for the last 10 questions, randomly guessed the last passage, and left the last question out.

Further Thoughts

I became way better doing verbal questions but I am a slow reader and lack continous practice, what translated into my poor timing, especially on the verbal section. My plan was therefore to immediately skip two CR on the second half and perhaps one SC but I failed to do so during the CAT today.

What do you think about that strategy and do you have any good advice how to address the timing on the verbal section, especially as a non-native? I hardly believe I can speed up my reading. Instead, perhaps more practice may enable me to point quicker to the right answer choice. For CR, most questions take 2,5-3min most of the time. A passage takes me 4-6 minutes depending on the length. According questions take 1-2min each. For SC, I even out at 90s.

I do have 2 days left to decide whether to reschedule the real exam. I would love to have the exam behind me on March 5th but I guess a reschedule to March 27th is more reasonable. In case I would stick to March 5th, what would you recommend for the last 7 days?

In case of a reschedule, what would you recommend for the next 4 weeks (Note: I have 3 unused Manhattan CATs left)?
I do the TOEFL on March 16th, what might be a good warm-up for the test but takes some time of preparation of my GMAT preparation. Otherwise, I have almost no obligations before April.

And is there a way to find out detailed information (e.g. time/question) about one's GMAT CAT performance?

Sorry for the length :')

Thank you very much!
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Re: Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Feb 2019, 11:25
I’ll start by addressing your issues with timing in the verbal section. The first thing to understand is that timing on the GMAT, as in life, improves as your knowledge, understanding, and skill improve. Timing does not improve simply by “trying to go faster.” In fact, when people try to force speed before they’re ready to go faster, they tend to end up making a significant number of preventable mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes badly erode people’s test scores. In addition, when people rush learning -- a common pathology of those trying to force speed -- they actually never end up developing the speed they seek. One of the great paradoxes of learning is that to develop speed, a student must slow down to ensure that he or she masters the material. Consider the following examples, which hopefully will bring you some more clarity:

Imagine your goal were to run a mile in four minutes, a difficult feat even for professional athletes. So, you get yourself a running coach. You show up on the field and ask, “Coach, how do I get faster?” The coach responds, “Well, just run faster.” So, you try your best to “run faster,” but you can't; you’re running a 12-minute mile. Out of breath, you come back to the coach and say, “Coach, I stink. How do I get faster?” Again, he says, “Just run faster.” So, you try again, but this time you fall and skin your knees. You keep trying to run faster. On the tenth attempt, you pull your hamstring, falling to the ground in pain. Over your next four months of recovery, you ponder why you couldn't run faster.

That situation would be insane, right? No qualified running coach would ever provide you with that advice, because the coach would understand that no one gets faster merely by trying to run faster. Instead, the coach would set you up on a linear, comprehensive plan to make you a BETTER runner. He may have you run progressively longer distances at relatively slow speeds. He may have you run up and down the stairs at the football stadium. He may have you run up and down hills. He even may have you engage in strength training, yoga, or Pilates to make you a more fit athlete. After all of that training, he finally would bring you back on the field and time you running the mile. At that point, he’d coach you on how to push yourself through the pain of sprinting and help you to understand what a four-minute-mile pace feels like. He now could help you with those things because you would be in the necessary shape to be receptive to them. So, you begin your run, and BOOM! You run a 6-minute mile. What happened? Well, you became a better runner. You became a fitter athlete. You became stronger. Although you’re not yet at the four-minute-mile mark, your training has yielded considerable improvements.

Now imagine your goal were to play a complicated song on the piano. The tempo at which a pianist plays greatly impacts the way a song sounds. To make songs sound the way they should, often a pianist must play at a fast pace. But your experience with the piano is limited. Can you imagine trying to play the complicated song at full speed right at the outset? Doing so wouldn't be possible. Instead, you first need to master many aspects of the piano -- without really trying to get faster. In fact, you need to proceed slowly at first, sometimes very slowly. As you master the piano, you find that you’re able to play your song at progressively faster tempos. With time and dedicated, proper practice, you’re able to recreate the sound you seek. If in the early days of practicing you had tried to force speed instead of mastering your technique, you never would have become truly accomplished at playing the song.

The process of getting faster at solving GMAT questions is quite analogous to the process of improving one’s running speed or ability to play the piano at the proper tempo! To get faster, you must get better. As you further develop your GMAT skills, you will get faster at a) recognizing what a problem is asking and b) executing the necessary steps to quickly attack the problem.

The key takeaway is that as you develop stronger GMAT verbal skills, better timing will follow. In fact, a great way to know how well you have a mastered a particular topic is to be cognizant of how you react when seeing a question involving that topic. For instance, consider the following simple question, which might be challenging for someone just beginning to work on Sentence Correction:

The researchers traveled into the rainforest to observe monkeys while swinging through the trees, using their hands, feet, and tails.

(A) traveled into the rainforest to observe monkeys while swinging

(B) traveling into the rainforest, observing monkeys that were swinging

(C) traveled into the rainforest to observe monkeys, swinging

(D) traveled into the rainforest to observe monkeys, which swing

(E) were traveling into the rainforest to observe monkeys in order to swing

Looking at this question, a test-taker might quickly see that choice (B) can be eliminated because the sentence it creates has no main verb, and that choice (E) can be eliminated because it conveys the nonsensical meaning that researchers had the goal of swinging through the trees (and had tails). Having eliminated those two choices, the test-taker could end up using a lot of time cycling through choices (A), (C), and (D), not sure what is wrong with any of them.

A person who has studied modifiers knows that, when an “–ing” modifier is preceded by a comma or preposition (such as “while”), that “–ing” modifier targets the preceding subject-verb combination. So, a person with that knowledge would quickly recognize that “while swinging” in (A), and “swinging” preceded by a comma, in (C), target the subject and verb of the preceding clause, which are “researchers traveled.” Thus, (A) and (C) convey the illogical meaning that the researchers were swinging through the trees, using their hands, feet, and tails. Therefore, the only choice that works is (D).

Although this is just one example of many, you see that you must have many tools in your toolbox to efficiently attack each GMAT verbal question that comes your way. As you gain these skills, you will get faster.

Regarding your plan forward, since you are still 60 points from your score goal, I suggest that you take your GMAT at the latest possible date. Between now and your (hopefully) later GMAT, continue to follow my previous advice. Follow a structured study plan, so you can continue to learn and practice each individual verbal and quant topic. By doing so, you will methodically fill in knowledge gaps and improve your skills. Once you have improved both your verbal and quant skills, then resume taking practice exams.

Feel free to reach out with further questions.

Good luck!
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Scott@TargetTestPrep.com
TTP - Target Test Prep Logo
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Re: Jump from 540 to 600+ in less than five weeks - Legit Plan?   [#permalink] 26 Feb 2019, 11:25
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