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Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?

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Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 07 Jul 2020, 21:10
Hello! :) Sorry for this very classic title, I'm not very original.

I have mostly been a lurker here as many others, but I have gathered a lot of information here and I thank the community and the moderators for all the work they put into this forum. The huge pool of questions is very helpful, as well as the CATs that I used a little.

I’m currently a French student willing to enroll in an European MSc in Finance, so nothing top-notch like the elite US MBAs most people are seeking here.

I’ve taken two official GMAT Prep in realistic conditions with IR + AWA towards the end of my prep, the first one on 06/19/2020 on which I got a 670 (Q48, V34 and IR8) and the second one on 07/02/2020 on which I got a 720 (Q47, V41, IR8).

However, I got 650 on the real one (Q40, V39, IR6, AWA6). I was disappointed by the result since I managed to score higher on mock tests, but not totally dissatisfied since I felt this was still a fair score that could give me a decent shot for some MSc programs.

But would it be a good idea to retake? I was disappointed by my Quant score – a Q40 seems rather weak for finance programs – but somehow, I also felt the real test was harder that the GMAT Prep. I correctly managed my time on the Quant section and used it all quite evenly on all the questions. I felt that I was doing as good as on the mock tests and though I was of course under a little pressure because of the test, I was not overwhelmed and kept my head cool.

Could the mock tests be easier that the real GMAT and could I have therefore wrongly estimated my Quant level? Because I honestly do not feel like I was underperforming on the real test and that I should have earned some extra points that were wrongfully taken away from me. Maybe the real GMAT is just tougher than the mocks and I am not up to a Q44/Q45+? :?

Concerning the Verbal, I think V39/V40 is my maximum. Since English is not my native language, I really struggle to grasp the hard and convoluted RC passages about geology, anthropology, astronomy or other complex topics, and the subtle idioms or parallelism tricks on hard SC. Increasing this score seems to be a tremendous effort to me.

Overall, I thought I did a fair job on the test, and I feel like I am unable to do much more. Is it worth it to appear again in one month and work harder in the meantime although I’m starting to get fed up with this exam (I’ve put a little more than two months and a half in it for now)? Would a 650 cut it for an MSc in Finance in an European school? I did not find a lot of information about the required scores for these programs, but only for the MBAs.

Thank you for reading this long post and have a nice day! :)

Originally posted by LH777 on 04 Jul 2020, 13:16.
Last edited by LH777 on 07 Jul 2020, 21:10, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jul 2020, 13:38
I think the experts would want to see the ESR so you might want to order that first and post it here.
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Re: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jul 2020, 14:39
Hi LH777,

First off, a 650 is a solid Score, so it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School. That having been said, there might be an issue with your Quant Scaled Score. Many Schools (and especially Finance Programs) view an Applicant's Quant Scaled Score as an indicator of how that Applicant might handle the 'academic side' of the Program - and a Q40 will not "impress" anyone. That score implies that you did well on most of the "math" questions that you saw on Test Day, but you made a number of little mistakes throughout the section and you missed out on LOTS of 'strategy-based' points. This is meant to say that by focusing on Quant Tactics, you'll be better able to increase your GMAT Score AND better impress how School Admissions Officers will view your potential to handle their respective Programs.

Before we can discuss how you might best continue with your studies, I'd like to know a bit more about how you've been studying so far and your goals:

1) How long have you studied? How many hours did you typically study each week?
2) What study materials have you used so far?
3) You listed just 2 practice CAT Scores; did you take any others? On what dates did you take EACH of your CATs/mocks and how did you score on EACH (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
4) What application deadlines are you currently considering?

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 went wrong on Test Day (and 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: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 06 Jul 2020, 12:45
@ EMPOWERgmatRichC
Thank you very much for your detailed answer. I’ll think I’ll give the test a second and last try at the end of this month since I'll have other things to take care of after that, and focus my studies at 90% on quant. I ordered the ESR and activate it as soon as my score is confirmed; I’ll share it here with pleasure.

1) How long have you studied? How many hours did you typically study each week ?

Between 2 and 4 hours a day on week days and 4+ hours on week-ends for two months and a half. I've been pretty consistent since I never spent a day without studying, and didn't want to cram too much to stay efficient and don't become too obsessed with the GMAT.

2) What study materials have you used so far?

I started the first month by watching Magoosh videos while doing a fair amount of exercises in their questions pool. Then I used the OG, GMAT Club Cats and Magoosh questions pools alternatively using a daily schedule I made. I always did my questions in grapes of twenty with a timer either on Quant or Verbal, and then reviewed each of my answer carefully until I understood my mistake or became aware of which traps I could have fallen in for the questions I got right. My practice question breakdown was 65% Quant - 35% Verbal.

3) You listed just 2 practice CAT Scores; did you take any others? On what dates did you take EACH of your CATs/mocks and how did you score on EACH (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

GMAT Prep #1 : 06/19/2020 – 670 (Q48, V34, IR8)
GMAT Prep #2 : 07/02/2020 – 720 (Q47, V41, IR8).

I also took a mock on Experts'Global in early June and got 700 (Q45, V41, IR 8) since this platform access was in the bundle with GMAT Club CATS, but didn't really trust the score since it wasn't a CAT and since I found the verbal section rather strange and not in line with the GMAT.
Thanks and have a nice day!

Originally posted by LH777 on 05 Jul 2020, 08:26.
Last edited by LH777 on 06 Jul 2020, 12:45, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jul 2020, 09:00
LH777 wrote:
Hello! :) Sorry for this very classic title, I'm not very original.

I have mostly been a lurker here as many others, but I have gathered a lot of information here and I thank the community and the moderators for all the work they put into this forum. The huge pool of questions is very helpful, as well as the CATs that I used a little.

I’m currently a French student willing to enroll in an European MSc in Finance, so nothing top-notch like the elite US MBAs most people are seeking here.

I’ve taken two official GMAT Prep in realistic conditions with IR + AWA towards the end of my prep, the first one on 06/19/2020 on which I got a 670 (Q48, V34 and IR8) and the second one on 07/02/2020 – two days before my real test – on which I got a 720 (Q47, V41, IR8).

However, I took the real one today and got a 650 (Q40, V39 and IR6, still waiting for the AWA but should be OK I think). I was disappointed by the result since I managed to score higher on mock tests, but not totally dissatisfied since I felt this was still a fair score that could give me a decent shot for some MSc programs.

But would it be a good idea to retake? I was disappointed by my Quant score – a Q40 seems rather weak for finance programs – but somehow, I also felt the real test was harder that the GMAT Prep. I correctly managed my time on the Quant section and used it all quite evenly on all the questions. I felt that I was doing as good as on the mock tests and though I was of course under a little pressure because of the test, I was not overwhelmed and kept my head cool.

Could the mock tests be easier that the real GMAT and could I have therefore wrongly estimated my Quant level? Because I honestly do not feel like I was underperforming on the real test and that I should have earned some extra points that were wrongfully taken away from me. Maybe the real GMAT is just tougher than the mocks and I am not up to a Q44/Q45+? :?

Concerning the Verbal, I think V39/V40 is my maximum. Since English is not my native language, I really struggle to grasp the hard and convoluted RC passages about geology, anthropology, astronomy or other complex topics, and the subtle idioms or parallelism tricks on hard SC. Increasing this score seems to be a tremendous effort to me.

Overall, I thought I did a fair job on the test, and I feel like I am unable to do much more. Is it worth it to appear again in one month and work harder in the meantime although I’m starting to get fed up with this exam (I’ve put a little more than two months and a half in it for now)? Would a 650 cut it for an MSc in Finance in an European school? I did not find a lot of information about the required scores for these programs, but only for the MBAs.

Thank you for reading this long post and have a nice day! :)

Two scenarios i can point out here:
1. If you see V34 to V41 is amazing but do get into the minute details that how suddenly the score jumped. Are you a V40 person or a V34 one, former the better. But if not, how was that jump possible, did you got repeated questions. So, if you got repeats that takes us to 670 and hence 650 in actual test is acceptable.
2. Had the actual score been Q47,V39 it would have taken you at 700 at least. Assuming that you are a V40 person, see what was different that caused the sudden drop in quant score.

Coming to apps, if your program's average score is 650 and if you have a better profile overall, consider applying. However, to be on a safer side, if you feel you made silly errors that you can get hold on in the actual test then you should try it once more. And you are right about GMAT being tough in actual test than prep tests. As a non-native V39/40 is great; so you should look into the quant part - get the ESR i mean.
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Re: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jul 2020, 20:31
Hi LH777,

Before you can include attachments with your posts/PMs, you need to have at least 5 posts in the forums (right now, you have just 2 posts). If you would rather not go through those extra steps at this point, then you can feel free to email me directly once you receive your ESR (at Rich.C@empowergmat.com).

With a 650, you're closer to a 700+ than you probably realize - so with the proper Study Plan, you could potentially retest in 3-4 weeks and hit that higher level. Since some of your CAT Score results were notably higher than your Official Score, we'll also need to take a more-detailed look at how you took your CATs (as you might have taken those Exams in ways that led to artificially 'inflated' results).

1) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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Re: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Jul 2020, 09:35
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Hi LH777,

I’m sorry to hear how things went with your GMAT.

Assuming that you took your official practice exams under realistic testing conditions, the results show that, on a good day, you are capable of scoring higher than 650. Thus, it’s quite possible that nerves, stress, tiredness, or a combination of all three negatively affected your test-day performance. However, it’s also possible that you have some lingering weaknesses that were exposed on test day. Although I’m unsure of how you prepared, it’s possible that, in your preparation, particularly in verbal, you did not really learn to do what you have to do in order to score high on the actual GMAT. Rather, you picked up on some patterns that were effective in getting you relatively high scores on practice tests. So, for you to hit your score goal, your preparation, particularly for verbal, probably needs to be more complete, meaning that you have to go through the various types of GMAT questions carefully to find your exact weaknesses, fill gaps in your knowledge, and strengthen your skills.

For verbal specifically, you have to become more skilled at clearly defining the differences between trap choices and correct answers. Otherwise, you will get stuck guessing between two choices or be surprised to find that you incorrectly answered questions that you thought you answered correctly. Becoming more skilled in this way takes carefully analyzing all of the answer choices to lots of verbal questions to develop an eye for the logical differences between the choices. In other words, you have to go beyond answering practice questions and reading explanations to doing deep analysis of questions to learn to see everything that is going on in them. With all this said, if you can get motivated for one last retake, I don’t see any reason not to give the GMAT one last good shot.

So, if you do move forward with a retake and need additional materials, take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses. You also may find my article with more information regarding how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.
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New post 06 Jul 2020, 11:54
Hello all,

@unraveled

I think I can come up with another V39/40, but not more. I’m quite good in English (for a foreigner I mean), and I read quite often in both English and my mother tongue French, so I can read rather efficiently. However, I won’t be able to go further. I really felt that on test day was the GMAT was throwing at me was my maximum level, the RC I got were very hard for me.

@EMPOWERgmatRichC

I enclosed my ESR in my post along with the results of my two GMAT Prep. I would highly appreciate if you have the time to provide any advice.

My feeling after reading this ESR is that my performance is even in both the Verbal and Quant section, though of course I have a much worse percentile in Quant since it is much more competitive. My time management seems OK in Quant and my weaknesses are mostly evenly spread, meaning I’d have to work on everything.

I also saw, in Verbal, the consequences of a very difficult RC passage during the third quarter that took me a lot of time and drained my energy, thus significantly lowering my accuracy in the fourth quarter.

To answer your question regarding mocks, I’ve taken them in realistic conditions, apart from that I had to take them at home since I have no other option. I took each of them at 8:30 am (my real test was at 10 am), in Quant – Verbal – IR – AWA order, with two breaks of only 6 minutes each instead of 8. I did the IR and the AWA each time, with a 600+ words essay.

@ScottTargetTestPrep

Thank you for the the detailed answer! I'll look the links you posted and answer you later when I have more time.

My decision

I’ve definitely made up my mind to try it one more time this month before I become short of time to study for this exam despite the $250 it costs, and start studying again as of tomorrow.

I think I can improve my Quant and, maybe, with a bit of luck and more confidence, land on the other side of the +/-30 points variation while maintaining my level in Verbal. I’d be happy if I can come up with a 670 or 680.

Moreover, I think the pressure will be lower since I know the test center and its material, and that in case I score badly I have a fair back-up score with which I should be able to apply to some programs I want with good odds.

My plan was to focus 90% on Quant and test taking strategies, and do some verbal questions drills to keep my mind fresh on that part meanwhile.

Also, I always chose as a section order Quant – Verbal – IR – AWA, since I always felt that Quant what was required the most energy, but could another order be better?

I think I can study 20 hours a week for the upcoming weeks.
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New post 06 Jul 2020, 20:46
Hi LH777,

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

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Re: Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2020, 12:22
LH777 wrote:
Hello all,

@unraveled

I think I can come up with another V39/40, but not more. I’m quite good in English (for a foreigner I mean), and I read quite often in both English and my mother tongue French, so I can read rather efficiently. However, I won’t be able to go further. I really felt that on test day was the GMAT was throwing at me was my maximum level, the RC I got were very hard for me.

@EMPOWERgmatRichC

I enclosed my ESR in my post along with the results of my two GMAT Prep. I would highly appreciate if you have the time to provide any advice.

My feeling after reading this ESR is that my performance is even in both the Verbal and Quant section, though of course I have a much worse percentile in Quant since it is much more competitive. My time management seems OK in Quant and my weaknesses are mostly evenly spread, meaning I’d have to work on everything.

I also saw, in Verbal, the consequences of a very difficult RC passage during the third quarter that took me a lot of time and drained my energy, thus significantly lowering my accuracy in the fourth quarter.

To answer your question regarding mocks, I’ve taken them in realistic conditions, apart from that I had to take them at home since I have no other option. I took each of them at 8:30 am (my real test was at 10 am), in Quant – Verbal – IR – AWA order, with two breaks of only 6 minutes each instead of 8. I did the IR and the AWA each time, with a 600+ words essay.

@ScottTargetTestPrep

Thank you for the the detailed answer! I'll look the links you posted and answer you later when I have more time.

My decision

I’ve definitely made up my mind to try it one more time this month before I become short of time to study for this exam despite the $250 it costs, and start studying again as of tomorrow.

I think I can improve my Quant and, maybe, with a bit of luck and more confidence, land on the other side of the +/-30 points variation while maintaining my level in Verbal. I’d be happy if I can come up with a 670 or 680.

Moreover, I think the pressure will be lower since I know the test center and its material, and that in case I score badly I have a fair back-up score with which I should be able to apply to some programs I want with good odds.

My plan was to focus 90% on Quant and test taking strategies, and do some verbal questions drills to keep my mind fresh on that part meanwhile.

Also, I always chose as a section order Quant – Verbal – IR – AWA, since I always felt that Quant what was required the most energy, but could another order be better?

I think I can study 20 hours a week for the upcoming weeks.


My pleasure. I'm happy to help.
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New post 22 Jul 2020, 00:10
Hello all,

Just a quick update, to thank you for your advice.

I finally decided to retake yesterday after the 16 mandatory days between two attempts, since I had other things to work on afterwards.

I decided to study during those days using exclusively official questions I never saw. I bought the Advanced Questions bundle as well as the Quantitative Review, and did my questions in packs of 30, timed. 75% of the questions I did were Quant, 25% Verbal. I did two 30-question sessions each day, and then spent a lot of time reading and understanding the official explanations for every question carefully, especially for Verbal as @ScottTargetTestPrep suggested, no matter if my answers were correct or wrong.

I also did two mocks on which I scored 670 (Q47, V35, IR5) and 740 (Q47, V44, IR8). I also reviewed them carefully. The last high score gave me confidence for the test.

Yesterday I scored 700 (Q44, V41, IR8). Even though my quant remains not strong, I’m happy with my overall score and will settle with it. I'm also happy to have increased my Verbal from 39 to 41 - which I didn’t think was possible since I’m a non-native - and to have scored 8 on IR. I didn’t get the AWA yet, but since I got 6 on my previous attempt, I think it should go well and should be above 4.5/6.

I also followed the advice of @EMPOWERgmatRichC: I dumped quant questions that seemed too hard after 30 seconds rather than trying to figure them out during 3 minutes, and spent less time on Sentence Correction - despite my habit of wanting to triple check my answers - to free more time for the RC passages. Thanks to that, I better managed my time, was left with one minute to spare on Quant and Verbal, and never felt that I needed to speed up, whereas I was in a bit of a rush on the last quarter of both sections during my previous attempt.

I’m definitely glad I went for I retake. My advice would be to definitely go for it if you’re in the same situation as me, since already knowing the test center and having taken the exam in real conditions substantially reduce stress.

I thank you again for your time and I wish you a very nice day.

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Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?   [#permalink] 22 Jul 2020, 00:10

Lower score than on mocks, should I retake (650) ?

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