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Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks

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Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 17 Oct 2018, 18:49
Hi All,

I took GMAT today and came home disappointed with a score of just 660 [Q48, V34]. I cancelled the score.
I started preparing in the first week of August and studied from the OG and my coaching institute's study material, which has a good collection of questions from various sources.
My GMAT prep scores are as follows:

GMAT Prep 1 - 680
GMAT Prep 2 - 720
GMAT Prep 3 - 740
GMAT Prep 4 - 690
GMAT Prep 5 - 710
GMAT Prep 6 - 690

Now the score that I got on the actual exam is the lowest I have ever gotten. In the mocks I never got a score lower than a Q49, but on the real exam I got a Q48, I found the quant section in the real exam to be slightly tougher than the mocks, it was also the first time that I struggled to complete all 31 questions in this section (I am usually done with quant about 10 minutes before the time runs out).
Verbal is the area which I feel where I am lacking. I have managed to get a V40 and V38 twice on the mocks, but I also got 35 twice. So I feel I lack consistency in this section. I need advice on two things:

1. What can I do to hit a V40 every time.
2. When should I retake the exam. I want to take it as soon as possible, because I also want to start working on my applications.

Why do you think I had such a drop on the real thing? I am really disheartened and posting this in extreme agony. Any advice/ recommendation would be of great help. Thanks a lot!

Originally posted by shubham21 on 17 Oct 2018, 07:37.
Last edited by shubham21 on 17 Oct 2018, 18:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 08:23
shubham21
Can you order and share ESR.
It will be helpful in analyzing weak areas.
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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 18:47
Princ wrote:
shubham21
Can you order and share ESR.
It will be helpful in analyzing weak areas.


Hi Princ,

My mba.com page says there are no score reports available.
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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 20:51
Hi shubham21,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day did not go as well as hoped. A 660/Q48 is still a solid score though (it's right around the 80th percentile overall, so it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School.

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, your 6 CAT score results show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 690 +/- a few points). This Official Score IS in the range of almost all of your CAT Scores (albeit at the lower end of the range). There are a variety of factors that could have influenced your performance during your CATs and/or on Test Day, so those factors are worth defining before you go in to retest. If you can answer a few questions, then we should be able to figure this out:

When you took your CATs:
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: on a prior CAT, in an online forum or in a practice set)?

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Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 22:05
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi shubham21,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day did not go as well as hoped. A 660/Q48 is still a solid score though (it's right around the 80th percentile overall, so it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School.

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, your 6 CAT score results show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 690 +/- a few points). This Official Score IS in the range of almost all of your CAT Scores (albeit at the lower end of the range). There are a variety of factors that could have influenced your performance during your CATs and/or on Test Day, so those factors are worth defining before you go in to retest. If you can answer a few questions, then we should be able to figure this out:

When you took your CATs:
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: on a prior CAT, in an online forum or in a practice set)?

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


Hi Rich,

Thanks for your reply. To answer your questions:

1. I did not attempt AWA for the first 3 mocks, I did however attempt IR in each of the CATs. I always start with quant and keep AWA for last, so that shouldn't be a factor.
2. I did take the CAT at home, but with exam like conditions.
3. I took all CATs at the same time, which was also the time for my actual exam.
4. I never paused a CAT, I never even take the optional break as I feel it breaks my flow. I did not take the break even during the actual exam.
5. GMAT prep 2 was a repeated attempt, I got 1 short RC with 3 questions that I had done before somewhere else. All other CATs were my first attempts and no questions were repeated.

I really need help to get consistent with my verbal score. It varies from 34 to 40. I can't seem to find any weak area though, sometimes I ace SC and get all of them correct and mess up CR and vice versa. I almost always get all RCs correct. Should I just keep practicing more and more questions? I want to give my second attempt within the next 12-14 days.

P.S. I can devote all of my time to GMAT as I have quit my job. So I would be able to go through even a very strenuous routine to get me to 720 in the next 10 days.
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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 23:45
Hi shubham21,

It is not uncommon to see a drop in the actual exam compared to mock tests however unfortunate it may be. This occurs because the test pressure and anxiety are not something that we can account for and it manifests differently for different people. A score of 660 suggests that you have a fairly good understanding of concepts and processes.

Inconsistency in Verbal scores could be because there are some topics in which you are not good. While answering questions from those topics your accuracy will vary drastically and thereby your total score. To overcome this, I would recommend that you Fine Tune your performance. You may follow the steps mentioned below to do so:

Hope this helps! Please feel free to write to us in case of any further queries.

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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Oct 2018, 10:41
Hi shubham21,

While it might be tempting to try to "cram" a lot of studying into 2 weeks, that type of studying rarely leads to great results on the GMAT. That type of volume-study will greatly increase your chances of 'burn out' before Test Day, which could greatly hinder your performance - and that is something that we want to avoid. Based on your Official Score, you have the opportunity to pick up points in BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections - but you will have to make some significant changes to how you "see" (and respond to) the Test. Simply working through lots of additional practice questions in the same ways as before will likely NOT lead to your Score Goal. This is all meant to say that you might need more than just 2 weeks of study to hit 720+.

From your prior post, there were some 'red flags' in terms of how you took your CATs. Before we discuss those issues though, I have a few additional questions about the lead-up to Test Day and Test Day itself:

1) What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT?
2) How did you sleep the night before your Test?
3) How long was the travel time to the Test Center from your home?
4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test?
5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks?
6) Did you finish any sections early?
7) Did you have to rush to finish any sections (and guess on questions just to finish on time)?

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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Oct 2018, 17:08
Hi shubham21,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. For starters, 660 is not all that bad, right? Considering that you scored 690 on two of your three most recent practice tests, I would not consider 660 a total disaster. That being said, the question we have to answer is WHY your score dropped on your real exam. Is it possible that nerves or pressure affected your test-day performance? Yes. However, looking at your previous study plan, your prep was centered on doing practice questions. While engaging in practice is a necessary part of improving your GMAT skills, such practice is only beneficial after you have studied the necessary topics on which those questions are based. Thus, it’s quite possible that you had a number of verbal weaknesses that were exposed on test day.

So, how can you move forward and ensure that you score a V40 on test day? First off, consider adjusting your study plan such that it allows for linear learning. Specifically, consider using a resource that allows you FIRST to learn the concepts and strategies related to GMAT verbal and SECOND to practice with a large number of realistic questions. This process will take some time. When is the latest you can retake your GMAT?

In any case, I’m happy to provide some specific advice on how to improve your GMAT skills. Let’s say you begin studying Critical Reasoning. First, you need to ensure that you fully understand the essence of the various question types. Do you know the importance of an assumption within an argument? Can you easily spot a conclusion? Do you know how to resolve a paradox? Do you know how to properly evaluate cause and effect? Do you know how to properly weaken or strengthen an argument? These are just a few examples; you really need to take a deep dive into the individual Critical Reasoning topics such that you develop the necessary skills to properly attack any Critical Reasoning questions that you encounter.

As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you incorrectly answered a Weaken the Argument question, 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.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice Reading Comprehension, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. You can perfect your reading strategy with a lot of practice, but keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to tackle such passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, you likely will have to work on all three of those aspects. Furthermore, the likely reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is that you have not been working on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending under two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and those reasons are not that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answer were always the one that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing that you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey meanings that make sense. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences and to figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could have done differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your Sentence Correction skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

You can follow a similar process for the quant section. For example, if you are reviewing Number Properties, be sure that you practice 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 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.

Lastly, you may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Low GMAT score after decent scores in mocks &nbs [#permalink] 18 Oct 2018, 17:08
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