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Point forward strategy needed. Regressed on most recent GMAT

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Point forward strategy needed. Regressed on most recent GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 13 Jan 2019, 09:41
Yesterday, I took my third official GMAT. I got a 660 [Q47,V35]. This is after getting a 690 [Q47,V38] (official) on December 1, 2018 and a 700 [Q47,V38] (official) on December 19, 2018. I attached my ESRs for the December 1st and yesterday's exam.


I feel like I know most of the material. I never formally studied CR or RC outside of practice problems because I felt like I was able to discern my mistakes pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I think not studying (I have the MGMAT books and currently subscribed to an online study plan that is not MGMAT) the fundamentals of the problem may have hurt me as I can be really hit or miss on these problems. SC has always been a battle. I do really well sometimes, and other times I feel like I can't get anything right. Apparently (according to ESR), I struggled with meaning yesterday.

Quick notes about the 660 exam... I think I made a monumental error: I decided to change the order of how I take the test about a week and a half before. I normally did Quant, Verbal, IR, Essay. This time I opted for verbal first. I did one practice exam this way as well and scored lower than usual as well (probably should have been a warning sign). I can tell that my nerves are high when I first start testing and that I have the toughest time early. I end up being most focused during whatever I do second. Also, FWIW, I thought I crushed the verbal and was surprised to only get a 47 again. Clearly the ESR shows I botched the DS which is unfortunate since I thought I got pretty good at them. I have a pretty set strategy for those problems and can only imagine that this was an outlier. You can see a much better performance on my December 1st ESR in that category. Anyway, any advice would be appreciated. I think I would like to give the test one more swing in February. Pretty convinced I will go back to quant first, verbal second.

I will post the ESRs when I can. I do not have enough posts yet. (I do not have an ESR for December 19).

EDIT: Both ESR posted below. It will be easy to see the outliers in DS and meaning for SC.

Originally posted by brendoM on 13 Jan 2019, 09:29.
Last edited by brendoM on 13 Jan 2019, 09:41, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 13 Jan 2019, 09:33
FWIW, my GMATprep practice tests ranged from 710 to 730. The one exception is the 620 I got on my very first exam.
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New post 13 Jan 2019, 09:34
Placeholder for ESRs.
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Re: Point forward strategy needed. Regressed on most recent GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jan 2019, 18:18
Hi brendoM,

To start, a 700/Q47 is an outstanding Score (it's just a bit shy of the 90th percentile overall), so you can comfortably apply to any Schools that interest you. As such, a retest might not be necessary. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Your 3 Official Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 680 +/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the GMAT consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes. From what you describe, there are clearly some areas that you didn't spend too much time studying, so you could potentially pick up some points. In that same way, there are almost certainly Tactics that you could learn (for BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections) that could help you to Score higher.

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
2) Have you used any other study materials besides the books you mentioned? What is the source of the 'Study Plan' that you are following?
3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
4) What is your goal score?
5) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
6) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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New post 13 Jan 2019, 20:16
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi brendoM,

To start, a 700/Q47 is an outstanding Score (it's just a bit shy of the 90th percentile overall), so you can comfortably apply to any Schools that interest you. As such, a retest might not be necessary. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Your 3 Official Scores show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 680 +/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the GMAT consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes. From what you describe, there are clearly some areas that you didn't spend too much time studying, so you could potentially pick up some points. In that same way, there are almost certainly Tactics that you could learn (for BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections) that could help you to Score higher.

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
2) Have you used any other study materials besides the books you mentioned? What is the source of the 'Study Plan' that you are following?
3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
4) What is your goal score?
5) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
6) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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


Thanks for taking the time to respond!

Studies:
1) How long have you studied? I started studying consistently since the end of october.
2) Have you used any other study materials besides the books you mentioned? What is the source of the 'Study Plan' that you are following? The study plan was self created. I tried to focus on weaknesses and solve as many hard problems as I could on those weaknesses. Coincidentally, I have a month to month with empower right now, however, I did not foplow the syllabus strictly (sorry). I went through some of the early modules, SC correction modules, and a couple of the RC modules. I could've been more diligent there, but I was of the philosophy that learning from mistakes on problems would be best. The problems solves are from OG 19 (all 3 books) and gmatclub.
3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
5/10/18: 620 (Q45, V30) (diagnostic; didn't touch gmat for months after this)
11/3/18: 710 (Q48, V38)
11/12/18: 730 (Q49, V41)
11/29/18: 720 (Q50, V38)
12/15/18: 720 (Q48,V40)
1/3/19: 680 (Q49, V34) I switched to doing verbal first here, as I did on the actual gmat yesterday. I think that was clearly a mistake.

Goals:
4) What is your goal score? 720+
5) When are you planning to apply to Business School? Fall 2019
6) What Schools are you planning to apply to? Harvard, mccombs, and a few others in the top 15 (not completely decided). I would likely only go to mccombs if I had significant scholarship. I'm not 100% sold on going to b school, however, I'd love the opportunity to go to Harvard (me and everyone else, I know). I know the odds aern't necessarily great at any score, but I want to give my best shot.
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Re: Point forward strategy needed. Regressed on most recent GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jan 2019, 23:04
brendoM wrote:
Yesterday, I took my third official GMAT. I got a 660 [Q47,V35]. This is after getting a 690 [Q47,V38] (official) on December 1, 2018 and a 700 [Q47,V38] (official) on December 19, 2018. I attached my ESRs for the December 1st and yesterday's exam.
Your scores are not really changing (the drop from V38 to V35 doesn't mean much).

Are you focusing on quant or verbal? There is more room for improvement in quant.
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New post 14 Jan 2019, 12:07
Hi brendoM,

To start, you're clearly a strong critical thinker overall. The variations in your Official Scores (and sub-scores) are likely due to two things. First, you might not be taking your CATs in as realistic a fashion as you should be (and that can often lead to 'inflated' score results). Second, you might be "winging it" at times in the Quant and Verbal sections. To be fair, your results have been fairly great when you work in that way - but if you're inconsistent about how you're approaching ALL of the questions (and not just the 'hard' ones), then that could account for your Quant and Verbal Score drops on Test Day. To be clear - the 'hard' questions are NOT why you haven't hit 720+ on the Official GMAT yet.

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

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New post 14 Jan 2019, 14:21
My plan is to put 18 to 20 per week. I was hoping to test again in February. You are right, I definitely wing many problems.. I have studied many specific problem types intensively (SC, combinatorics, absolute value & inequalities, a ton of DS, which seems not to be the case based on my last test ha, and quite a few others). I really have relied on my base knowledge to solve everything else: most types of word problems, RC, CR, to name a few.
I can put more hours in if needed, or push my target date out. I feel like I am so close though. Curious to get your thoughts!

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New post 14 Jan 2019, 20:45
Hi brendoM,

I sent you a PM with notes on your ESRs and some additional suggestions.

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New post 15 Jan 2019, 08:55
There is room for improvement both in your Quant and Verbal score.

I feel you could work on finishing the test well along with maintaining your overall performance.

I feel you are rushing both in Quant and Verbal in the last quartile. You may pace your overall test in a better way.

All the very best!!
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Re: Point forward strategy needed. Regressed on most recent GMAT  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jan 2019, 19:10
Hi brendoM,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. Based on your story, it’s quite possible that your latest score drop could be related to the fact that you changed up the section order. However, since you’ve previously taken the GMAT and have yet to break 690 despite scoring as high as 730 on your practice exams, it’s also likely your lower GMAT scores are due to some of your weaknesses being exposed when you took the actual GMAT. In other words, it could be that in your preparation, you did not really learn to do what you have to do in order to score high, but rather you picked up on some patterns that were effective in getting you relatively high scores on practice tests. So, there are two main moves for you to make here. One is to get a few more points in quant. The other is to improve your overall game in verbal. Let's talk about quant first.

To get some more points in quant, you could go through GMAT quant carefully to find your exact weaknesses, fill gaps in your knowledge, and strengthen your skills. The overall process will be to learn all about how to answer question types with which you currently aren't very comfortable and do dozens of practice questions category by category, basically driving up your score point by point. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to at least around 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better.

For example, if you find that you are not strong in answering Number Properties questions, carefully review the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions and practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. As you 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. By using the above process, you should be able to score at least 2 to 3 points higher in quant.

Verbal is a different animal, and GMAT verbal is trickier than many people think it is (your hit-or-miss results in SC are one sign of this trickiness). To consistently score above the mid-30s in verbal, you have to more clearly see the tricks and trap answers in the questions, and learning to see those things takes more than quickly learning a few strategies or patterns. You will have to do a lot of slow, careful practice in verbal, and learn to carefully define EXACTLY why each wrong answer is wrong and each correct answer is correct.

As you go through verbal questions, do a thorough analysis of EVERY choice in every question that you answer. Learn to see the logic, the key details, and the traps in the questions. Also, if you miss a question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize what the question was asking? Did you skip over a key detail in an answer choice? Getting GMAT verbal questions right is a matter of what you know, what you see, and what you do. So, any time that you don't get one right, you can seek to identify what, if anything, you would have needed to know in order to get the right answer, what you had to see that you didn't see, and what you could have done differently to arrive at the correct answer.

So, for both quant and verbal, 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.

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