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Retaking GMAT in 3.5 weeks - need help assessing & study plan

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Retaking GMAT in 3.5 weeks - need help assessing & study plan [#permalink]

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New post 16 Dec 2017, 20:46
Hello Experts,

I took my first official GMAT a few days ago and scored a 600:

Q34 - 26th percentile (not good enough)
V39 - 89 percentile
IR3 - 26 percentile - need to improve timing

Although this was my highest total score after 3 practice MGMAT CATs, this was the first time my quant score dropped. It was steadily increasing during my CATS and was at 38 in my last CAT 4 days before the exam. I was hoping to at least match or improve on this quant score (turns out if I had at least matched it, I may have scored closer to 640). On the other hand, verbal of 39 was my highest in this section.

I've registered to retake the exam in 3.5 weeks in the second week of January as this is the only available date before some of my round 2 deadlines. I actually have (or maybe now had) 3 other deadlines prior to my next exam but I'm now uncertain if to still apply to these schools with a score of 600 which is below their averages (in two cases it falls in the middle 80% but I don't know how much this counts?).

My target score is at least a 650 and I'm really hoping to achieve this by my next exam. I'm optimistic by the fact that I improved from 490 to 600 in the last 3.5 weeks.

That being said, I need some assistance planning the next few weeks to achieve my goal. My main focus is improving quant to at least the 38 I achieved before if not higher and also IR which I've been stuck at a score of 3.

On Quant, I was disappointed to see that very few of the areas that I studied and practiced a lot (and was generally better at) actually came on the test such as:

1. Geometry - usually my strongest area - about 2 questions came and they were on solids - not a single one on triangles or circles and their special properties.

2. Distance/Work questions - not a single one.

3. Age questions - zero

4. Units digits, sequence (recursive/arithmetic) - zero

5. Exponents - about 1-2 questions

Incidentally, I got many questions in the topics which I didn't get to study thoroughly or in some cases at all - probability, co-ordinate geometry and functions (yes 2-3 functions questions which I had seen not 1 in any practice CAT).

On the IR, I know my issue is timing and I also didn't study or practice IR. The only time I did it was on the 3 CATS. I'm not sure what the appropriate strategy should be for this - how many questions should I skip? How many do I need to get right at a minimum to get at least a 4 or 4.5? Any advice on this is greatly appreciated.

I would also appreciate any guidance on how to structure these next few weeks to improve my quant and IR (and still keep my verbal up). Should I go back and learn new material in probability, coordinate geo, functions etc.? Or since its only about 3 weeks, should I continue with doing practice questions and CATs until then? Basically, I'm not sure what I should do differently to boost my score.

Lastly, I received my ESR today and would like some assistance in getting the best insights out of it but I'm not quite if or how I can share it here.

Looking forward to any feedback - thanks!
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New post 17 Dec 2017, 05:36
Hey Jae! JAE18
What you're describing about the Quant section is a sad reality of the GMAT - this section has many topics, each of which will only appear a few times at most, and possibly not at all. What this means is we can indeed have the very frustrating outcome you've described: stuff we've studied doesn't appear, and stuff we've haven't - does.
What this means is two things:
1. In order to succeed on the quant section, we have to have a basic grasp of ALL of the quant topics. Thus, you should go back and learn material which you don't know yet.
2. That being said, don't spend too much time on any one topic, just enough to have a fair chance at it - as noted, it will only make up a few questions at most. What's more important is honing your question solving skills. In other words, practicing.

Thus - what I'd recommend for the next 3.5 weeks is this: spend up to a week learning new material. Then review your last two CAT's and see what other reasons led to mistakes aside from not knowing the material. Make a list of your mistakes, and think of how you can refrain from repeating them. Spend the rest of your time practicing, especially CAT's.

As for IR, I recommend thinking about it the other way around - what is a realistic number of questions to answer? It's important to realize - almost no one can solve all 12 questions in the amount of time given. See how many you can get to, and settle ahead of time on a realistic number which allows you enough time to tackle them.

This is a blog post I've written on preparing in one month - even though it is geared towards someone who is just starting, you may find it useful.
http://exampal.com/gmat/blog/prepare-gmat-1-month/
This is another one about improving an existing high score:
http://exampal.com/gmat/blog/how-to-imp ... mat-score/
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New post 17 Dec 2017, 10:48
Hi Dave,

Many thanks for your reply and helpful tips! Since you mentioned practicing CATs - how many would you recommend I do in the 3.5 weeks? Before, I was doing one every 2 weeks to give myself enough time to analyze, study and improve between the CATs. However, as time isn't on my side here - I'm considering 1 CAT/week until the exam. What do you think?

Also, thanks for sharing your posts - they're very helpful. I did notice on the one titled "GMAT Cancellation Explained" you mentioned the below:
"Another effect of cancelling is a shortening of waiting period before taking another test: without cancelling, you must wait 31 days before a retake; with cancelling – this is reduced to 16 days. "

Is this still true? I ask because I didn't cancel my score and I'm registered to retake the test 26 days from my last exam - should I be worried about not being able to take it then? Or would they have not let me registered for the second one if I weren't able to take it in 26 days?
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Re: Retaking GMAT in 3.5 weeks - need help assessing & study plan [#permalink]

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New post 17 Dec 2017, 15:33
Hi JAE18,

It would help to know a bit more about how this Official Score compares to your CAT results - so how did you score on EACH of those practice CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)? In that same way, if you're interested, I can analyze your ESR for you (you can either email or PM me a PDF of it).

You could potentially pick up a bunch of points in the Quant section in the time that you have - IF you can make the necessary adjustments to how you 'see' (and respond to) the Quant section. With a Q34, you made a lot of little mistakes as you worked through the section AND you missed out on LOTS of 'strategy-based' points. You don't have to correctly answer ANY of the hard/weird questions to pick up those missing points, but you do have to be efficient with your work overall and you have to avoid making little mistakes (which really means that you have to take the proper notes and do NO work 'in your head').

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Re: Retaking GMAT in 3.5 weeks - need help assessing & study plan [#permalink]

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New post 18 Dec 2017, 09:23
Hey JAE18
Glad you asked about the CAT's! I would recommend leaving the CAT's for the last 10 days, and then taking them every other day, using the next day to analyze your performance and practice issues which have arisen from the mock test.
Check this blog post out - http://exampal.com/gmat/blog/make-gmac-mock-tests/

As to your question on cancellation - you are right, that is out of date. You can retake the test after 16 days, so you should be fine.
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Re: Retaking GMAT in 3.5 weeks - need help assessing & study plan   [#permalink] 18 Dec 2017, 09:23
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Retaking GMAT in 3.5 weeks - need help assessing & study plan

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