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Over 140 Hours of Prep. Finally a 740... But Still Shaky on Verbal

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Over 140 Hours of Prep. Finally a 740... But Still Shaky on Verbal  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Apr 2019, 21:28
Hello,

I am new to the GMAT Club so please let me know if I am not complying with some of the many posting rules.

But on to my experience and situation, I have been studying for the GMAT for over 140 hours (within a time span of 3 months) and I still do not understand how to get as firm a grasp on the Verbal section as I do on the Quant section.

My first test I scored a 710 (50Q:36V) and on my second test I scored a 740 (49Q:41V), but I was not comfortable solving the Verbal questions and feel like the score rise was attributable mostly to luck. Between my first time and second time, I had 3 weeks to study and studies around 40 hours with Manhattan Prep Verbal books. I honestly believe that if I took the test again, my Verbal score would decrease. I understand that a score of 740 is at least competitive in most of the programs, but because I am an Asian-American (Chinese, Korea, Japanese) I want to improve my score to at least a 760 to be able to stand out to the M7 schools.

I feel that I can definitely get a higher score, and this score has been on the back of my mind for a while. To put my situation into perspective, I have applied to the deferred admissions programs (HBS, Stanford, MIT, Chicago, and Columbia), and, if I do not get accepted into any, will have 3 or more years to improve my candidacy before I apply again. I understand that I should be working on the other parts of my application - and I definitely will be - but I would also like to improve my GMAT score because I will have so much time to prepare my profile.

I am not as worried about the quant section because I have confidence that I can get it up to 51 or 50 with a bit of studying, but I am not sure whether I am studying for the Verbal correctly. My problems are as follows:

1.) While I am reading, I seem to lose focus and "read" the words without having understood anything; the "predict what's going to happen to focus" technique in Manhattan Prep books do not seem to work for me either (this occurs for RC, CR, and SC for me...).

2.) I also seem to lose the flow of the passage in general. I have been advised to focus on keywords and transition words to keep track, and read the first couple of sentences in each paragraph carefully (reading over details a bit faster), but I am still hazy on the content after reading the passage. I tried to summarize to myself after each paragraph, but tended to forget some of the content after I read the whole passage. I tried taking notes/"Passage Maps" but they were not very useful to me.

3.) I am always pressed for time on Verbal. I hear that some people finish with 5 to 10 minutes left over, but I am always guessing on at least 2 or 3 questions (I read on a regular basis, but the way I read my books and the way I read RC are very different: reading RC is a lot slower and I am more confused reading it).

4.) On quant questions, I can typically pick up on what the questions are asking and recognize trap/trick answers, but for Verbal - other than SC - I cannot discern any of the traps like "scope", "too extreme", "unsupported by passage", and the like. I seem to have the most problems with inference questions.

5.) On a related note, I have read on the forums of some people referring to Verbal question mess-ups as "silly mistakes". For me this only made sense in terms of the quant sections because a "silly mistake" would be forgetting the negative sign. What do I have to do to be able to recognize what a silly mistake is on the Verbal section? My mistakes do not seem "silly" to me because I do not think I have a firm enough grasp to identify my mistake clearly.

6.) For RC, it is difficult for me to go back and locate the parts of the passage that are relevant for the questions; I find myself scanning the entire passage from time to time because I do not know where to look, wasting tons of time.

7.) While I was practicing, I generally narrowed my answers down to 2 to 3 choices, but when I select the wrong answer, it seems to me that any one of the narrowed down choices could have been the correct answer depending on how the information was interpreted.

8.) What can I do to speed up my time and increase accuracy so that I, too, can have at least 5 minutes to spare by the end of the Verbal section?

9.) What other resources other than the following can I use to improve my Verbal score: Veritas Prep, Manhattan Prep, OG Guide, Aristotle Prep, PowerScore GMAT Bible, Kaplan, Princeton Review, and LSAT?

10.) Finally, what key things do you think that I am missing that are causing these issues for me? Are there ways to fix them? And if so, how can I fix them?

I would appreciate any and all feedback/criticism. I really need to improve both my confidence and ability on the GMAT Verbal section. Thank you in advance!
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Re: Over 140 Hours of Prep. Finally a 740... But Still Shaky on Verbal  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Apr 2019, 10:26
2118kool wrote:
Hello,

I am new to the GMAT Club so please let me know if I am not complying with some of the many posting rules.

But on to my experience and situation, I have been studying for the GMAT for over 140 hours (within a time span of 3 months) and I still do not understand how to get as firm a grasp on the Verbal section as I do on the Quant section.

My first test I scored a 710 (50Q:36V) and on my second test I scored a 740 (49Q:41V), but I was not comfortable solving the Verbal questions and feel like the score rise was attributable mostly to luck. Between my first time and second time, I had 3 weeks to study and studies around 40 hours with Manhattan Prep Verbal books. I honestly believe that if I took the test again, my Verbal score would decrease. I understand that a score of 740 is at least competitive in most of the programs, but because I am an Asian-American (Chinese, Korea, Japanese) I want to improve my score to at least a 760 to be able to stand out to the M7 schools.

I feel that I can definitely get a higher score, and this score has been on the back of my mind for a while. To put my situation into perspective, I have applied to the deferred admissions programs (HBS, Stanford, MIT, Chicago, and Columbia), and, if I do not get accepted into any, will have 3 or more years to improve my candidacy before I apply again. I understand that I should be working on the other parts of my application - and I definitely will be - but I would also like to improve my GMAT score because I will have so much time to prepare my profile.

I am not as worried about the quant section because I have confidence that I can get it up to 51 or 50 with a bit of studying, but I am not sure whether I am studying for the Verbal correctly. My problems are as follows:

1.) While I am reading, I seem to lose focus and "read" the words without having understood anything; the "predict what's going to happen to focus" technique in Manhattan Prep books do not seem to work for me either (this occurs for RC, CR, and SC for me...).

2.) I also seem to lose the flow of the passage in general. I have been advised to focus on keywords and transition words to keep track, and read the first couple of sentences in each paragraph carefully (reading over details a bit faster), but I am still hazy on the content after reading the passage. I tried to summarize to myself after each paragraph, but tended to forget some of the content after I read the whole passage. I tried taking notes/"Passage Maps" but they were not very useful to me.

3.) I am always pressed for time on Verbal. I hear that some people finish with 5 to 10 minutes left over, but I am always guessing on at least 2 or 3 questions (I read on a regular basis, but the way I read my books and the way I read RC are very different: reading RC is a lot slower and I am more confused reading it).

4.) On quant questions, I can typically pick up on what the questions are asking and recognize trap/trick answers, but for Verbal - other than SC - I cannot discern any of the traps like "scope", "too extreme", "unsupported by passage", and the like. I seem to have the most problems with inference questions.

5.) On a related note, I have read on the forums of some people referring to Verbal question mess-ups as "silly mistakes". For me this only made sense in terms of the quant sections because a "silly mistake" would be forgetting the negative sign. What do I have to do to be able to recognize what a silly mistake is on the Verbal section? My mistakes do not seem "silly" to me because I do not think I have a firm enough grasp to identify my mistake clearly.

6.) For RC, it is difficult for me to go back and locate the parts of the passage that are relevant for the questions; I find myself scanning the entire passage from time to time because I do not know where to look, wasting tons of time.

7.) While I was practicing, I generally narrowed my answers down to 2 to 3 choices, but when I select the wrong answer, it seems to me that any one of the narrowed down choices could have been the correct answer depending on how the information was interpreted.

8.) What can I do to speed up my time and increase accuracy so that I, too, can have at least 5 minutes to spare by the end of the Verbal section?

9.) What other resources other than the following can I use to improve my Verbal score: Veritas Prep, Manhattan Prep, OG Guide, Aristotle Prep, PowerScore GMAT Bible, Kaplan, Princeton Review, and LSAT?

10.) Finally, what key things do you think that I am missing that are causing these issues for me? Are there ways to fix them? And if so, how can I fix them?

I would appreciate any and all feedback/criticism. I really need to improve both my confidence and ability on the GMAT Verbal section. Thank you in advance!


Congrats on your awesome GMAT score. Thanks for sharing your detailed GMAT journey:thumbup:
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Re: Over 140 Hours of Prep. Finally a 740... But Still Shaky on Verbal  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Apr 2019, 10:31
2118kool wrote:
Hello,

I am new to the GMAT Club so please let me know if I am not complying with some of the many posting rules.

But on to my experience and situation, I have been studying for the GMAT for over 140 hours (within a time span of 3 months) and I still do not understand how to get as firm a grasp on the Verbal section as I do on the Quant section.

My first test I scored a 710 (50Q:36V) and on my second test I scored a 740 (49Q:41V), but I was not comfortable solving the Verbal questions and feel like the score rise was attributable mostly to luck. Between my first time and second time, I had 3 weeks to study and studies around 40 hours with Manhattan Prep Verbal books. I honestly believe that if I took the test again, my Verbal score would decrease. I understand that a score of 740 is at least competitive in most of the programs, but because I am an Asian-American (Chinese, Korea, Japanese) I want to improve my score to at least a 760 to be able to stand out to the M7 schools.

I feel that I can definitely get a higher score, and this score has been on the back of my mind for a while. To put my situation into perspective, I have applied to the deferred admissions programs (HBS, Stanford, MIT, Chicago, and Columbia), and, if I do not get accepted into any, will have 3 or more years to improve my candidacy before I apply again. I understand that I should be working on the other parts of my application - and I definitely will be - but I would also like to improve my GMAT score because I will have so much time to prepare my profile.

I am not as worried about the quant section because I have confidence that I can get it up to 51 or 50 with a bit of studying, but I am not sure whether I am studying for the Verbal correctly. My problems are as follows:

1.) While I am reading, I seem to lose focus and "read" the words without having understood anything; the "predict what's going to happen to focus" technique in Manhattan Prep books do not seem to work for me either (this occurs for RC, CR, and SC for me...).

2.) I also seem to lose the flow of the passage in general. I have been advised to focus on keywords and transition words to keep track, and read the first couple of sentences in each paragraph carefully (reading over details a bit faster), but I am still hazy on the content after reading the passage. I tried to summarize to myself after each paragraph, but tended to forget some of the content after I read the whole passage. I tried taking notes/"Passage Maps" but they were not very useful to me.

3.) I am always pressed for time on Verbal. I hear that some people finish with 5 to 10 minutes left over, but I am always guessing on at least 2 or 3 questions (I read on a regular basis, but the way I read my books and the way I read RC are very different: reading RC is a lot slower and I am more confused reading it).

4.) On quant questions, I can typically pick up on what the questions are asking and recognize trap/trick answers, but for Verbal - other than SC - I cannot discern any of the traps like "scope", "too extreme", "unsupported by passage", and the like. I seem to have the most problems with inference questions.

5.) On a related note, I have read on the forums of some people referring to Verbal question mess-ups as "silly mistakes". For me this only made sense in terms of the quant sections because a "silly mistake" would be forgetting the negative sign. What do I have to do to be able to recognize what a silly mistake is on the Verbal section? My mistakes do not seem "silly" to me because I do not think I have a firm enough grasp to identify my mistake clearly.

6.) For RC, it is difficult for me to go back and locate the parts of the passage that are relevant for the questions; I find myself scanning the entire passage from time to time because I do not know where to look, wasting tons of time.

7.) While I was practicing, I generally narrowed my answers down to 2 to 3 choices, but when I select the wrong answer, it seems to me that any one of the narrowed down choices could have been the correct answer depending on how the information was interpreted.

8.) What can I do to speed up my time and increase accuracy so that I, too, can have at least 5 minutes to spare by the end of the Verbal section?

9.) What other resources other than the following can I use to improve my Verbal score: Veritas Prep, Manhattan Prep, OG Guide, Aristotle Prep, PowerScore GMAT Bible, Kaplan, Princeton Review, and LSAT?

10.) Finally, what key things do you think that I am missing that are causing these issues for me? Are there ways to fix them? And if so, how can I fix them?

I would appreciate any and all feedback/criticism. I really need to improve both my confidence and ability on the GMAT Verbal section. Thank you in advance!


Congratulations on getting a very good score. Verbal section does take time!

All the best for your GMAT and admissions journey!
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Re: Over 140 Hours of Prep. Finally a 740... But Still Shaky on Verbal  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Apr 2019, 18:10
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Hi 2118kool,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. Based on your post, I get the feeling that the bottom line is that you need some advice on how to improve your verbal skills. So, let’s start with Critical Reasoning.

When studying Critical Reasoning, 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 to 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 stimulating. So, to better prepare yourself to tackle such bland 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, to be successful in Sentence Correction, 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 less than 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 none of those reasons are 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 answers were always the ones 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 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 put in the necessary time to see the differences between answers 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 to arrive at that answer and what you could do differently 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 do 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 skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple SC topics.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any questions. Good luck!
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Re: Over 140 Hours of Prep. Finally a 740... But Still Shaky on Verbal   [#permalink] 13 Apr 2019, 18:10
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