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Second try to conquer GMAT - how to approach it?

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New post 17 Jan 2020, 11:55
Hi hello!

Tomorrow I plan to start to study for my second GMAT attempt. My story goes as follows:


19.10.2019 | 490 | Pretest Kaplan 2016
01.12.2019 | 580 | Q40 (41%) V31 (62%) Manhattan Test 1
09.12.2019 | 520 | Q36 (31%) V25 (39%) Economist GMAT Test
14.12.2019 | 660 | Q40 (47%) V40 (90%) Kaplan
17.12.2019 | 570 | Q40 (39%) V29 (56%) Veritas
21.12.2019 | 610 | Q42 (45%) V33 (69%) GMAT Prep 1
23.12.2019 | 670 | Q47 (70%) V34 (69%) Experts' Global
26.12.2019 | 640 | Q45 (57%) V34 (71%) GMAT Prep 2
30.12.2019 | 590 | Q38 (32%) V33 (68%) TEST DAY


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As you can see, I kinda failed on the Quant section at my last GMAT. To be honest, I had 2 big mentally bad events just three days before the GMAT so in effect I went there a bit distracted and off, my mindset just wasn't there.
Honestly, I feel pretty confident that I am able to score at least Q45. My target is around 660, so with a slightly better Verbal section - I think I can do it.

Now I am wondering - what way should I choose to study? What materials should I use?
Should I buy any materials from for ex Kaplan or MGMAT? Or just official GMAT Tests? What do you suggest?




Also, I am super confused about the date. I totally prefer to study hard day by day for 3 weeks instead of studying chunk by chunk for 1,5 month..
So now, looking at my calendar - I will be abroad again from 11th to 20th, without any possibility to study.

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Ideally for me would be to hit the GMAT on 10th, after the weekend chill. However, my testing facility is off this weekend:

Image

So now, what do you guys think. Should I try to get into the rhythm, during those 3 weeks again and hit the GMAT on 7th of Feb?
Or would it be better to wait till the end of February? (but I won't be able to study and get back on track that quickly after my trip)

Or maybe it would be better to try it on 11th of February in the city I am travelling to? (I am going to the city where my future Uni is).
But isn't it risky to do it in such a new environment?
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New post 17 Jan 2020, 15:28
Hi kyloxylo,

In a prior post, you mentioned 3 application deadline dates (and only one of them was in February - Feb. 14th; the other 2 were in March and April). While it's understandable that you would want to retest relatively soon, based on all of the information that you have provided over the last month, it's likely that you will need more study time than you have allotted to hit 660+.

Which of those deadlines is for your first-choice School? I ask because if your goal is to get into any of those Schools as soon as possible, then from what you describe, your 590 might be enough to help you do that. However, if your first-choice School ultimately requires that you score a lot higher - and you really want to get into that Program - then THAT needs to be your Goal - and you have to give yourself enough time to continue studying (meaning that a Retest Date in early February is probably not a good idea).

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New post 17 Jan 2020, 15:33
Hi! Thanks for the reply.

I already decided that I will not aplly to this university with 14th Feb deadline. Won't make it on time.
The deadline in my first-choice school is on 1st of April, but the application can be accepted earlier if I apply earlier.
The recommended GMAT score is 600, but I heard from friends who applied year ago that with late application (March), score around 650-660 is preferable.

On the other hand, all second-choice schools have deadlines on 1.03, so if I won't hit GMAT on time and something will go wrong with my first selection - I'll end up without university.
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New post 20 Jan 2020, 11:02
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Hi kyloxlo,

Since you have been studying for some time and are 70 points below your score goal, moving forward, make sure that you are following a linear and structured study plan. In other words follow a study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant and verbal topic individually and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. By studying in such a way you can ensure that you methodically improve your GMAT quant and verbal skills and ensure that no stone is left unturned. Let me expand on this idea further.

If you are learning about Number Properties, you should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. 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 around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such 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, types that you would rather not see, and types 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.

Follow a similar routine for verbal. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken The Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice, so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, 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 instead 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 thereby 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 Reading Comprehension answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. Keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to analyze such passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the New York Times, 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, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the 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. Likely, the main reason that Sentence Correction has not "clicked" for you is that you have not put enough work into developing your skill in seeing what is going on in the various versions of the sentence that the answer choices create. 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 logical meanings. 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 until you start to see the differences that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices in a Sentence Correction question, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to take the 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 will want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some new quant and verbal materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant and verbal courses. You also may find it helpful to read the following articles about
How to Score a 700+ on the GMAT and The Phases of Preparing for the GMAT.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions. Good luck!
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New post 20 Jan 2020, 12:02
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Hi kyloxylo,

From what you describe, you want to account for both of the 'good' outcomes (re: get into one of your Schools AND get into your first-choice School). That's perfectly fine, but it will almost certainly require that you study for a longer period of time - and probably take the GMAT at least 2 more times (one sooner attempt - and a later one that would give you a better chance at scoring 650+). If that series of tasks is something that you are willing to commit to, then we can put together a Study Plan for you that accounts for all of those factors.

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New post 11 Feb 2020, 09:08
Hello everyone,

I just took the GMAT today (my second try) and I got yet another disappointing result.
I got 600 (which is the required minimum I need), but I was aiming much higher.

So my last CATs were like this:

26.12 | 640 | Q45 (57%) V34 (71%) GMAT Prep 2
30.12 | 590 | Q38 (32%) V33 (68%) GMAT #1
20.01 | 600 | Q42 (45%) V32 (66%) MGMAT 2
24.01 | 580 | Q42 (45%) V29 (57%) MGMAT 3
26.01 | 620 | Q39 (37%) V36 (81%) MGMAT 4
01.02 | 640 | Q43 (50%) V34 (71%) MGMAT 5
02.02 | 650 | Q46 (60%) V34 (71%) GMAT Prep 3
05.02 | 570 | Q37 (34%) V31 (62%) MGMAT 6 (I got a lot of similar questions so I kinda gave here)
08.02 | 640 | Q50 (86%) V27 (47%) GMAT Prep 4 (I got interrupted during the V)
11.02 | 600 | Q42 (42%) V30 (58%) GMAT #2


As you can see, I was constantly scoring 640, 650, 640 o my GMAT Prep CATs and a bit worse on MGMAT.
I was really hoping for at least 640, yet this happened.
What do you think is the reason of this? Are the GMAT Prep CATs easier than the real ones?

I don't know if I should try again or what should I do now.
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New post 12 Feb 2020, 17:36
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Hi kyloxylo,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. When these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day. Since most of your recent CAT scores are 'clustered' around the low-600s, it's likely that the score differences are due to mix of lucky/unlucky guesses and little mistakes that you made (or did not make) on individual tests.

In January, we discussed this exact situation - that you could score 600+ on your 2nd attempt, but that you would likely need additional, guided study to get to the point that you could hit 650+ on the Official GMAT. With an April 1st application deadline, you still have plenty of time to continue studying and improving. That having been said, your 2 Official Scores are similar-enough to one another that they imply that you continue to 'see' (and respond to) the Official GMAT in the same general ways - meaning that if you continue to approach this process "your way", then you will likely end up with a similar Score (right around 600).

You might choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report for your 2nd attempt. 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: Second try to conquer GMAT - how to approach it?   [#permalink] 12 Feb 2020, 17:36
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