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Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?

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Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Dec 2018, 07:33
Hi all,

I have been studying for the GMAT for approx. 3 months now and unfortunately have not seen any improvement (I consistently score between a 610-640). I am wondering if anyone would have any recommendations for me on how best I can improve to a 700+, given that I have registered to write the test in about one month (January 18)?

I started prep with Manhattan Prep in September and have been studying since, diligently completing all homework questions, attending class and doing my own review. However since my diagnostic (610), I have seen very little score improvement (with my highest score being a 640). I do feel that I have learned a lot of material - absolute values, geometric properties, ratios/rates - as well as strategies - working from answer choices, testing cases - so I am struggling to understand why I can't raise my score. I have created numerous error logs and always review my mistakes, I have also reviewed questions by problem type as according to different problem sets created by Manhattan. The majority of my studying (approx. 75%) has been dedicated to quant.

Here are my most recent test scores (all MGMAT aside from CAT 6, which was from Veritas):
Diag. 620 Q38 V36 9/5/2018
CAT 2 510 Q30 V30 9/22/2018
CAT 3 630 Q39 V37 10/7/2018
CAT 4 630 Q38 V37 10/21/2018
CAT 5 640 Q42 V36 11/24/2018
CAT 6 610 Q37 V37 12/09/2018

I will write my official exam on January 18th. My initial goal was to write on December 8, giving myself a month to review after the 3 month Manhattan course, however due to my lack of improvement I recognized that I needed to push it back. I am worried because I feel myself burning out and getting tired of studying and so would like to write sooner rather than later. I am able to devote 2-3 hours on weekdays (including review) and 4-5 hours on weekends.

From my 3 most recent CATs, I can see that quant is my weakest area, with biggest areas for improvement in word problems and FDPs
Question Format Total Correct Incorrect Blank % Correct Avg Diff Correct Avg Diff Incorrect
Problem Solving 51 22 29 0 43% 570 640
Data Sufficiency 42 26 16 0 62% 610 640
Sentence Correction 42 21 21 0 50% 670 740
Critical Reasoning 30 20 10 0 67% 730 710
Reading Comprehension 36 30 6 0 83% 700 720

Quantitative
Content Area Total Correct Incorrect Blank % Correct Avg Diff Correct Avg Diff Incorrect
Geometry 11 6 5 0 55% 620 670
Number Prop. 17 10 7 0 59% 640 650
Algebra 21 12 9 0 57% 550 640
Word Problems 22 8 14 0 36% 640 630
FDPs 22 12 10 0 55% 550 650

Question Format Total Correct Incorrect
Critical Reasoning 30 20 10
500 - 600 2 1 1
600 - 700 5 3 2
700 - 800 23 16 7

RC 36 30 6
500 - 600 4 4 0
600 - 700 8 6 2
700 - 800 24 20 4

SC 42 21 21
300 - 500 1 1 0
500 - 600 3 3 0
600 - 700 10 7 3
700 - 800 28 10 18

I am a native English speaker, and so far have been relying mostly on my "ear" for the Verbal section. My target score is 700 +, and so I realize that I must score at least a Q44-56 and V40-43. I do not know how to go about creating a new study schedule that prioritizes each section accordingly (do I capitalize on Verbal being my strength and try to get that score as high as possible first? Or do I try and improve my Quant first since there's the most opportunity to improvement? However I have been working on Quant for months with little improvement...), and I don't know whether I should be looking at tutoring, a new online course or just self study (I am hesitant to continue self studying, as obviously there hasn't been much improvement so far).

I completed a Post Course Assessment with Manhattan, however I found the advice to be highly generic (i.e. complete timed problem sets on your weak areas) and I wasn't able to work out an actual roadmap for my studying. That being said, I did enjoy the course and again, feel that I did learn a lot of material and strategies, I am just having difficulty applying them in a methodological way.

Sorry for the long post. Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,
Nia
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Re: Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Dec 2018, 19:40
Hi Nia,

To start, the scoring algorithm on the Official GMAT is far more complicated than most people realize. Since that algorithm is proprietary, no GMAT company has an exact match for it, thus CAT scores can vary a bit based on the 'biases' involved in their respective designs. The MGMAT CATs are generally regarded as being a bit tougher than the Official GMAT, so it's possible that your current 'ability level' is a little higher than these Scores. That having been said, your results have been fairly consistent, so it's also possible that you have gotten 'stuck' at this particular score level. If that's the case, then you may have developed some 'bad habits' that will take some time to 'fix' (and replace with new 'good habits'). With your current Test Date, you have about 5 weeks of study time remaining - and you could potentially improve a great deal in that time if you're focused on learning and practicing the proper Tactics.

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 man hours have you typically studied each week?
2) Have you taken any of the Official GMAC CATs yet (and if you have, then how did you score?)?

Goals:
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2018, 07:01
EMPOWERgmatRichC thanks for your response.

Studies:
1) How man hours have you typically studied each week? About 14 hours total - approx. 2 hours for 4 days a week, and 6 hours on weekends.
2) Have you taken any of the Official GMAC CATs yet (and if you have, then how did you score?)? I have not. I recognize that MGMAT is a bit harder than the official ones, but I think in terms of overall trends for strengths and weaknesses it is fairly accurate (based on my strengths and weaknesses when going through the official OG 2018 book).

Goals:
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School? I will apply for a 2020 year start.
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to? I have not decided on a final list yet, but I know I need at least a 700-710. My top choices include Kellogg and University of Toronto.
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New post 12 Dec 2018, 11:29
Hi niasilgardo,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. My first thought is that since you have been studying for 3 months and have been unable to improve your score beyond 640, you really need to look at HOW you have been preparing and make some changes, right? Looking at your current study routine, it appears that your prep is centered on doing practice questions. While engaging in practice is a necessary part of improving your GMAT skills, such practice is only beneficial after you have studied the topics on which those questions are based. Thus, consider adjusting your study plan such that it allows for linear learning. Specifically, consider using a resource that allows you FIRST to learn the concepts and strategies related to GMAT quant and verbal and SECOND to practice with a large number of realistic questions.

Although you have self-diagnosed some of your quant weaknesses, since you are averaging around a Q38 on practice exams, you probably have further, unknown weaknesses that must be addressed in order to improve your GMAT quant score. Thus, you need to take a more structured and linear approach to your prep so that you can slowly build GMAT mastery of one topic prior to moving on to the next. By following such a methodical approach, you can ensure that you fill in ALL knowledge gaps and that no stone is left unturned.

Let me expand on this idea further. Say you are learning about Number Properties. First, 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.

So, 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.

In order to follow the path described above, you may need some new quant materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant courses. You also may find it helpful to read this article about how to improve your GMAT quant score.

Feel free to reach out with further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2018, 20:05
Hi Nia,

You've given yourself plenty of 'lead time' before you plan to apply to Business School - which is good. Since you've been using only 3rd-party CAT data to assess your current skills, if that data is 'off' in any measurable way, then we really need to know. As such, I strongly recommend that you take one of the Official GMAC CATs and take it in a realistic fashion (take the FULL CAT - with the Essay and IR sections, take it away from your home, at the same time of day as when you'll take the Official GMAT, etc.). Once you have that score, you should report back here and we can discuss how best to proceed.

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Re: Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Dec 2018, 20:55
niasilgardo

I would suggest you to first focus on below 600 level and 600~700 Level questions.
Increase accuracy and speed in these levels of the question.

As of now, Do not bother about 700+ questions.

But doing this, you can easily jump to 650+ score.
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Re: Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2018, 11:46
Hi niasilgardo,

You will find answers to most of your questions in the article One Month Study plan. I would also like to invite you to the free GMAT Strategy webinar that we are conducting this weekend. You can ask all your study plan and strategy related queries in the webinar. Register here to reserve your spot.

Incase you have any further GMAT related query, please feel free to write to us at support@e-gmat.com. We would be happy to help.

Regards,
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Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jan 2019, 02:40
Hi, niasilgardo

I’m sorry to hear that you are worried about your little improvement on Quant. It is really annoying to see the scores without conspicuous change even though you put a large effort in Quant. Considering that you are getting Q37-42 (even though it is a little bit shaky), I think that the problem that you cannot see great improvement is not just rooted in lack of solid base. Of course, it is important to focus on some topics that you think you have weaknesses, but you don’t have to refresh and learn all quant topics. Assuming that you already solidified your quant foundations, inappropriate approaches or lack of skills to solve the problem could be the likely reasons.

In this case, taking a personal tutoring is one good way to tackle the stagnation and refresh. According to some students’ experiences, tutors can check and figure out your fundamental and specific problems. Also, they can offer individualized and customized skills for you. But considering that personal tutoring is expensive and it is difficult to find right teachers for you, taking online courses could be another good way. The way teaching skills are different by companies and you should choose one that takes your fancy. You can refer to this page : https://gmatclub.com/reviews/highest-ra ... or-quant-4

Math revolution’s online courses and teaching styles are a bit different and unique and focus on saving time. While conventional approaches focus on complicating sequence and setting formula, math revolution’s approach focuses on simplifying those sequences making easy to translate long questions into short formula quickly and accurately. There’s a strategy to improve your quant score. Focus on DS first. There are patterns and logic to GMAT quant problems and you can save a lot of time especially in DS questions. With Math Revolution ’s ’Variable Approach’ for DS questions, you can minimize time spent on each question while improving accuracy (solving a question in + having a checking time = 2 minute) On average, our students have about 10 minutes to spare before the exam ends. About our variable approach and IVY approach https://www.mathrevolution.com/gmat/vs)

Check out our free trial pack and free video lessons on our site at mathrevolution.com See if our materials work for you! While there, don’t forget to try our free diagnostic test!!
Please let us know if you have further questions.
You can reach us at info@mathrevolution.com

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Good luck!
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Stagnant GMAT Score (low-mid 600s) after 3 months prep, any advice?   [#permalink] 08 Jan 2019, 02:40
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