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Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700

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Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Oct 2018, 21:40
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Hi everyone,

I’ve been lurking on this forum for months reading and internalizing advice and approaches to problems, but have decided to make my first post because I really need help figuring this out. I am grateful to whoever can help, and I apologize in advance for this long post. I have taken 3 Official GMAT’s in the last 2 months and my scores have been going down! My first score was 620, then 610, and now a 580. I am completely flabbergasted because I have been studying for over 7 months and have done over 20 practice exams (official GMAT practice tests, Manhattan Tests, Veritas, and Kapan) with scores ranging between 700 and 740 for most (although I did get a 770 once). Verbal has generally been 40 and above and Quant has generally been 46/47 and above. IR is usually around 6 or 7. I even tried manipulating a few of these practices a while back to see how my performance would be if I purposely missed a few in the 1st 5 or so questions, 2nd 5 or so questions, etc. for both Quant and Verbal, and then attempting other parts of the test normally. I still was scoring above 700 on those…

I have been diagnosed with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder since I was a kid and after many months of getting all my documents and tests in order, I was able to get 50% extra time on the GMAT, even though my doctors all suggested 100% due to my difficulties. Unfortunately, the committee would not grant it to me and I’m not sure how I could submit a convincing appeal. I made 50% work on my practice tests and I thought that was fine. However, I’m not sure what’s going on. After taking this last test, I spoke with my doctor and my tutor and they both suggested that I am having performance anxiety issues which are affecting memory recall and timing stress during my actual test since I’m not in the same environment that I’m taking practice tests in. However, for all my practice tests, I have made sure to mimic test day conditions as accurately as possible including what time I wake up, what I eat, when I eat, when I work out, etc. I take very good care of my body, both physically and mentally, and so I’m shocked by all of this. I have purchased both the 2018 and 2019 OG guides, plus the Verbal and Quant specifics, the Total GMAT Math book, Veritas Prep books, various Kaplan and Manhattan books, and have subscriptions to Magoosh and Target Test Prep, all while also working with a private tutor. I have probably put in over 800 hours of study time to date. I have also generally done well in my academic career for English (native English speaker). Math has been more challenging over the years, but nothing I haven’t been able to tackle with a lot of practice and time. I do have issues with memory retention so it does take me longer to reinforce concepts, but at this point I feel like I have done a good job with that.

I am prescribed Adderall which I have taken for years and this has helped with focus immensely, but my doctor and I have a feeling that this may be affecting my stress during day of, even if it’s the exact same dosage and timing on practice test days. My doctor and tutor both suggested I take a beta blocker called Propranol to help with this anxiety. I have my 4th attempt scheduled in 2 weeks and am going to make a request for a 5th to be safe. I’m stressing because I have been sitting on applications for the schools that I am trying to apply to and know with my background and rather unique career experience that I am a good candidate for the schools that I’m applying to. However, I’ve already missed one deadline, and may miss another if I can’t do well on this next attempt.

My questions are below. If anyone can please help me, I would be immensely grateful.

1. Has anyone run into a similar situation with day of testing anxiety? How have you solved it?
2. For the day of the actual test, I normally have found that doing warmup problems (about 10-15 medium level quant, across all categories from Target Test Prep or Magoosh) plus reviewing my notecards and notes for everything has been helpful for about 2 hours before my actual test. I don’t feel like it’s mentally exhausting on practice test days, but perhaps on actual test days, its causing extra stress and may actually be draining? Can anyone help elaborate on similar experience? Any alternate suggestions?
3. Has anyone had experience taking Propranol for testing? Does it help with memory recall, especially for clinical test anxiety? I don’t really have the physical systems of performance anxiety (sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, etc.), but I absolutely feel like I’m a deer in headlights when I take the actual test, forgetting on what to do for a lot of the things that I shouldn’t.
4. Is there any other suggestions or advice or insight that you all can offer that may help me with my next attempt?

I realize that some of these questions may be more medically related, but whatever information and help I can gather is better than not getting help by not asking in the first place, in my opinion. Thank you so much for any and all help!
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Oct 2018, 17:41
Could anyone provide any insight onto this? It would be greatly appreciated going into these next two weeks before my 4th exam. I did take another practice exam today and got a 700...
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Oct 2018, 22:26
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TrainernTraveler, I apologize in advance if this isn't too coherent. It's a ridiculous hour of the night in my part of the world, but your post caught my eye, and I wanted to write at least something.

First, test anxiety is probably the #1 killer of GMAT dreams, and it's something that we don't talk about enough as a community. I've read academic studies that suggest that 20-40% of adults suffer from test anxiety, and that seems about right to me. So for whatever it's worth, you're definitely not alone in your struggles. And if you keep an eye on this section of the forum, you'll see that the majority of posts come from test-takers who scored worse on their actual exams than on their practice tests, and anxiety is usually at least part of the story in those cases.

I can ramble forever about things that seem to help SOME people with their test anxiety, but I haven't run into anything that's a magic bullet. If your sleep habits and diet aren't great, those will make your anxiety worse, but great sleep habits and a great diet don't necessarily cure anxiety. Exercise helps; it's not usually a cure by itself. I've met one or two people that swear by beta blockers, but others tell me that beta blockers put their brain in a GMAT-wrecking fog. Consistent meditation seems to help most people who dedicate themselves seriously to it, but I've also met a few people who have built businesses around the idea that meditation training can cure test anxiety -- and the results have been mixed. I haven't been impressed by the results of hypnosis or talk therapy, but I'm having lunch with a therapist in a few weeks who has some interesting ideas.

So that might sound like a big, fat nothingburger, but if any of those things sound appealing to you, they're worth looking into.

A GMAT Club moderator, adkikani, is co-hosting a live GMAT Club chat next Tuesday, October 23 (8:00 a.m. Pacific time, I think?) about test anxiety, and the conversation will feature a GMAT Club member who managed to beat her anxiety. Join that if you can, or check out the transcript afterwards? (adkikani, let me know if I'm screwing up any details.)

I hope this helps a tiny bit. We're rooting for you, and let us know how things go!
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Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Oct 2018, 01:21
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GMATNinja - you are right Sir, Date and time: 23rd October 2018; 20:30-21:30 IST / 08:00 AM PST

https://gmatclub.com/forum/live-chat-to ... 79401.html
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Oct 2018, 07:42
Hi TrainernTraveler,

I think you will find the success story of Shekhar to be helpful as he reached his target score despite ADHD.
    - Shekhar overcome his attention disorder issue to score 770 from 600. Read his inspiring story by clicking here.

If you need help with any specific GMAT related query, please feel free to write to us at support@e-gmat.com. We will be happy to help you.

Regards,
Aditee
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Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2018, 11:58
GMAT Ninja,

Thank you for taking the time to write all of that. Any factors that I can try to control such as sleep, diet, and exercise, I do. But I know that that can all be for nothing if stress takes over. I will certainly look into the live chat on Tuesday (and definitely the transcript). I appreciate the support. Every little bit helps. ArjunLeo, thanks for clarifying.

EGMAT, I will read that story as a source of inspiration. I appreciate you sharing it.

If anyone else has other insight, it is greatly appreciated.
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Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2018, 05:26
Hi TrainernTraveler.

Here are some things I have seen work to solve test anxiety issues.

First, work on your overall perception of the situation. See yourself as infinitely capable, and have a growth mindset. See, ADHD, anxiety, or anything else that affects your test performance as a temporary issue that you can solve. See the medication that you have been using only as a short term workaround that you are using only until you truly resolve any issues that the medication is helping you to deal with.

This way, rather than feeling out of control, wondering whether anxiety, etc., are going to get the best of you or the medication will "work", you realize that you are in charge, that you can develop yourself and make things happen, that you can learn to be calm and focus and to score as high as you want to on the GMAT or do anything else.

Anyone who tells you differently is spouting utter nonsense.

Now here is an attitude to take on test day.

I used to have people focus on reducing the amount of anxiety that they were experiencing, but I found that, while seeking to reduce anxiety makes sense, focusing too much on doing so can actually be distracting and increase anxiety. In other words, people stress out over being stressed out.

So what do you do instead?

Learn to rock the test even if you are starting to feel anxious, by putting your focus, all your energy into the question in front of you. In other words, be so determined to get the correct answer to the question in front of you that you don't have the time or the energy to be anxious, because you are using all you have to answer the question.

Imagine that? If you can rock the test even if you feel anxiety coming on, then NOTHING can stop you. I have seen people do so well with this approach. For instance, one test-taker was pretty sure that he had missed the first question of the verbal section. Struggling with and missing that first question could have set him up to flail for the rest of the section, but he decided to just focus on the question in front of him for question after question. He ended up scoring above 700, blowing away his original score goal.

So, next time you take the GMAT, see it all as a game. Consider the anxiety stuff part of the game. Play the game of seeing how calm you can make yourself, the game of laughing in the face of anxiety as you FOCUS on the question in front of you with nothing else in mind but getting the correct answer to THAT question. Don't worry about your score or anything else until you are finished. THEN you can look at the screen and see how well you played the game.

Here's a blog post that you could get some more ideas from: https://blog.targettestprep.com/get-exc ... -the-gmat/
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Oct 2018, 11:56
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Thank you for those tips! I will certainly keep that in mind. I've been trying to gamify this essentially like you suggest and I hope it will help. Even if I can't get the highest score possible for me, doing the best I can is what I can hope for.
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Oct 2018, 18:24
Hi. Sorry about the scores going down despite the effort.
You got some great advice here from quite a few experts already. Just one small thing - sometimes the score going down is a sign of change in strategy/direction. This is very common with people who start studying, learn a bit and then feel that they should be doing better but don't have the entire strategy together and it is not "natural" to them in the way that their "gut" strategy approach in the past worked out for them. So, possibly, this may be due to change in your approach.

Another reason for scores drop could be stretching your prep - i know it sounds like prepping for 7 months would be better than prepping for 1 month (perhaps true) but prepping for 3 months is actually better than prepping for 7 months. The longer you prep, the more likely you will forget small points you picked up during your mistake analysis in week 3 of your 7-month journey. Unless you review your mistakes weekly, brush up on checklists, and regularly build up on what you have learned, there is no way your mind will retain all it has learned.


P.S. If you missed that chat, you can find the transcript here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/live-chat-to ... 79401.html
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2018, 16:14
bb appreciate the reply!

I had thought of that actually. I have been working with a tutor multiple times a week since the beginning, but I actually brought that up with him. I have been writing notecards for things that I need to remember (even from early on) and reviewing them constantly, but yes that doesn't account for everything. I do review mistakes weekly with my tutor, and constantly review my notes (especially for verbal). The problem was that my math skills were basically elementary going into my study plan earlier this year. I have not taken any type of math class in over 10 years. However, I was able to get my foundation back relatively quickly, but it took a little time to even remember concepts such as long division. As my practice tests now show, that foundational gap is no longer the case. However, I absolutely agree that retention is difficult for that long of time (especially for someone like myself). I have always had retention issues and have probably put in 800+ hours of GMAT studying to date. Where someone without my difficulties may take 5 hours to learn a concept, it may take me 2-3x as long for it to be as solid as it is for that person. However, my recall for that over time is not great.

I'm a very black and white individual, so my sentence correction on most of my actual exams is consistently above 90% and my Reading Comprehension is above 85%. The reason I think that this is the case is that (other than inference type questions), I can approach these questions without the critical thinking component that is necessary for all the other sections (Critical Reasoning and Quant essentially). Without the anxiety/stress, I can access this part of my brain. With the anxiety/stress, my critical reasoning functions are heavily reduced.

Based on your experience, do you have any suggestions, on how to overcome that last bit? Essentially accessing the "thinking outside the box" component that is required for critical reasoning and most of quant, when under heavy test anxiety/stressful conditions? If I can overcome that, I think I can get a score that is reflective of my practice test scores.

P.S. Please forgive my grammar errors in this reply. I'm currently typing from my phone. :)
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Re: Please Help! 3 Tests & Scores are going down; Over 20+ Prac above 700 &nbs [#permalink] 26 Oct 2018, 16:14
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