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# Stagnation during GMAT Prep

Author Message
Intern
Joined: 15 Aug 2017
Posts: 8

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05 Nov 2017, 18:05
Hey all,

I am currently ~2.5 months into GMAT prep using Magoosh/MGMAT books/OG books. Within the first month, I made a jump from two scores of 560 to ~630, but after the initial month, I have stagnated and stayed at or below. (~43/32 split). I am putting in 3-4 hours every night/6-10 on weekends. Any advice regarding maximizing my CATs, and breaking through this plateau to hopefully reach 700+ in 2 months?

Thanks!
Founder
Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 16982
Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.5

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05 Nov 2017, 18:37
1
Try switching and putting only two hours but in the morning. You are much more productive when fresh.

Also it depends on what you are doing and working and what areas you are working. Sometimes things get slow.

Another question - why you doing magoosh + mgmat? Which program are you following?

You should also lay off CATs until you hit the CAT taking stage. You should not need more than 10 total CATs.

PS. Read some posts about gmat prep and what people do right/wrong - you may get some further tips.

Edit: you can definitely go up in score with a few tweaks. You should aim to take the gmat in 1.5 months tops. In 2017. That will keep you on a high intensity schedule and fresh. Keep refreshing every morning and going over last days material recapping the hey items.

Posted from my mobile device
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Intern
Joined: 15 Aug 2017
Posts: 8
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2017, 18:48
bb wrote:
Try switching and putting only two hours but in the morning. You are much more productive when fresh.

Also it depends on what you are doing and working and what areas you are working. Sometimes things get slow.

Another question - why you doing magoosh + mgmat? Which program are you following?

You should also lay off CATs until you hit the CAT taking stage. You should not need more than 10 total CATs.

PS. Read some posts about gmat prep and what people do right/wrong - you may get some further tips.

Edit: you can definitely go up in score with a few tweaks. You should aim to take the gmat in 1.5 months tops. In 2017. That will keep you on a high intensity schedule and fresh. Keep refreshing every morning and going over last days material recapping the hey items.

Posted from my mobile device

Thanks for your reply. Clarification on the prep material: I am following Magoosh 3 month prep, using MGMAT mocks, as well as using the books to read thru slowly to gain extra support for content.
Founder
Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 16982
Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.5
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2017, 18:53
Ok. Got it. I figured you were doing a magoosh course + mgmat books. The mgmat books are designed for about 3 months and at 4 hours a day I figured you were doing both.

I think it is good you are asking the question you are asking - try to think objectively - are you doing everything you can to score and prep as good as you can?

What else can you do?
Mgmat roadmap is a good best practices book.

I am sure others would have some tips.

Posted from my mobile device
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EMPOWERgmat Instructor
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
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Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 13081
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
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Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

06 Nov 2017, 14:45
Hi SSSWF,

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) What "brand" of CATs have you been using?
2) On what dates (and at what times) have you taken these CATs? Have you taken the FULL CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
3) How have you scored on each of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for each)?

Goals:
4) When is your exact Test Date?
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
_________________

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Intern
Joined: 15 Aug 2017
Posts: 8
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

06 Nov 2017, 16:43
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi SSSWF,

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) What "brand" of CATs have you been using?
2) On what dates (and at what times) have you taken these CATs? Have you taken the FULL CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
3) How have you scored on each of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for each)?

Goals:
4) When is your exact Test Date?
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

Studies:
1) What "brand" of CATs have you been using?
MGMAT/GMATPrep/Magoosh (Mainly MGMAT, others were in the beginning phase of study for diagnostic)
2) On what dates (and at what times) have you taken these CATs? Have you taken the FULL CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
On Sat or Sundays consistently in early afternoon with mocked test settings (QV first and VQ first, FULL CAT each time, although that doesn't seems to directly impact score since QV are taken first).
3) How have you scored on each of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for each)?
First couple diagnostics 2 months ago (Magoosh/GMATPrep) 560 (38/29)
Within past month of MGMATS
VQ 630 42/34
VQ 620 42/33
VQ 610 44/31
VQ 630 44/32
^^^^Weekly tests
2 weeks gap here to not burn thru another CAT
QV 620 42/33

Goals:
4) When is your exact Test Date?
Not scheduled because I wanted to wait until I was within reach of target of 720/730
(Want to aim for late December/Early January) around 4 months total study time (2 months in now)
5) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
Still in college but want to apply to early admit programs
6) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
HBS 2+2, Kellogg, MIT, GSB,

Excuse my ambitions please... It keeps me motivated to reach a top score!
I appreciate any guidance via this thread or PM/email. Thank you so much.
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
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Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

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07 Nov 2017, 20:04
Hi SSSWF,

By scheduling an Official GMAT, you'll then know exactly what time your appointment will be and you should be able to determine how much travel time will be needed to get to the Test Facility. Both of those pieces of information are important - since you really need to factor in those details when taking your CATs. In addition, by scheduling far enough in advance, you can choose the perfect Day/Time combination for your schedule (and not have to pick from whatever options are 'left over' if you wait until we hit December/January to schedule.

Since most of your CATs have been from MGMAT, it would be a good idea for you to take one of the Official GMAC CATs next (we need to see if the consistency that you're showing on these recent CATs is more about an accurate assessment of your abilities or the fact that you're taking 3rd-party CATs). Once you have that score, you should report back and we can discuss the results.

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, your 5 recent CAT score results show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 620 +/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the Test consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes. Raising a 620 to a 720 will require that you make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections - and all of that training will likely take at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study.

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

# Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save \$75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
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Intern
Joined: 15 Aug 2017
Posts: 8
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

07 Nov 2017, 20:09
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi SSSWF,

By scheduling an Official GMAT, you'll then know exactly what time your appointment will be and you should be able to determine how much travel time will be needed to get to the Test Facility. Both of those pieces of information are important - since you really need to factor in those details when taking your CATs. In addition, by scheduling far enough in advance, you can choose the perfect Day/Time combination for your schedule (and not have to pick from whatever options are 'left over' if you wait until we hit December/January to schedule.

Since most of your CATs have been from MGMAT, it would be a good idea for you to take one of the Official GMAC CATs next (we need to see if the consistency that you're showing on these recent CATs is more about an accurate assessment of your abilities or the fact that you're taking 3rd-party CATs). Once you have that score, you should report back and we can discuss the results.

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, your 5 recent CAT score results show that you essentially performed the same each time (about 620 +/- a few points). You handle certain aspects of the Test consistently well, but you also make certain consistent mistakes. Raising a 620 to a 720 will require that you make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections - and all of that training will likely take at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study.

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

Thank you for the valuable insight! Would you be able to give me a suggested plan of attack assuming the following scenario?
Say exam is planned for Dec 29 (Friday). I am on Magoosh's guided prep and will be done in a couple weeks, and I plan to use that month in between then and test day to dramatically shift my studying approach, assuming I haven't gradually adapted to studying my weaknesses now.
Also say I perform similarly in score (~620 42/33) on the official GmatPrep exam. What would your advice be regarding making significant improvements at this phase? (How to maximize my learnings from mistakes on CATs). Feel free to respond here or privately for more discussion. I appreciate your advice!
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 13081
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

07 Nov 2017, 20:25
Hi SSSWF,

If we assume that you're currently at the "620 level" - and considering that you've earned the same general score on each of these last 5 CATs - it's likely that you've gotten 'stuck' at this score level. By extension, you've likely developed some 'bad habits' that are keeping you from scoring higher. Thus, continuing to study in the same ways is a questionable decision - especially given your timeframe and score goal. I mentioned earlier that it would likely take at least 2 months of consistent, guided study to raise these 620s to a 720+, but that study is completely dependent on your ability to train properly and make significant improvements to how you handle the Quant and Verbal sections. Based on what you've described, it's not clearly exactly what you plan to do differently over the next month.

1) What are the early admit deadlines for the Schools that you're considering?
2) If you took the GMAT on December 29th and scored 660, would you continue studying or stick with that score?

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

# Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save \$75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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Intern
Joined: 15 Aug 2017
Posts: 8
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

07 Nov 2017, 20:30
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi SSSWF,

If we assume that you're currently at the "620 level" - and considering that you've earned the same general score on each of these last 5 CATs - it's likely that you've gotten 'stuck' at this score level. By extension, you've likely developed some 'bad habits' that are keeping you from scoring higher. Thus, continuing to study in the same ways is a questionable decision - especially given your timeframe and score goal. I mentioned earlier that it would likely take at least 2 months of consistent, guided study to raise these 620s to a 720+, but that study is completely dependent on your ability to train properly and make significant improvements to how you handle the Quant and Verbal sections. Based on what you've described, it's not clearly exactly what you plan to do differently over the next month.

1) What are the early admit deadlines for the Schools that you're considering?
2) If you took the GMAT on December 29th and scored 660, would you continue studying or stick with that score?

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

I still have a year+ before I apply for early admit. I will definitely continue to study until I am near my target score of 720. My main issue is like you observed: I do feel stuck and do not know how to break "bad habits" (which I probably do not recognize), as well as how to differentiate my study ASAP to break out of this stuck period.
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 13081
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

08 Nov 2017, 19:10
Hi SSSWF,

Since you're not going to be applying until next year, you have plenty of time to study, so you can proceed however you choose. You're currently enrolled in a Course, so there's a certain logic for you to finish up that Course before you try to incorporate new Tactics (from a different Course) into your studies. It's also possible that you might be able to make some adjustments and improve on your own.

You seem focused on scoring 720+, and you're not on a strict deadline, so your planned December Test Date isn't really a factor in the decision-making process at this point. Once you've completed your current Course, you should report back with your last CAT score and we can discuss how best to proceed from there.

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

# Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save \$75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

*****Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!*****

Intern
Joined: 15 Aug 2017
Posts: 8
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

### Show Tags

08 Nov 2017, 19:18
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi SSSWF,

Since you're not going to be applying until next year, you have plenty of time to study, so you can proceed however you choose. You're currently enrolled in a Course, so there's a certain logic for you to finish up that Course before you try to incorporate new Tactics (from a different Course) into your studies. It's also possible that you might be able to make some adjustments and improve on your own.

You seem focused on scoring 720+, and you're not on a strict deadline, so your planned December Test Date isn't really a factor in the decision-making process at this point. Once you've completed your current Course, you should report back with your last CAT score and we can discuss how best to proceed from there.

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

Rich,

Thanks for the advice through all this. For my sanity and curiosity, please give me an example of how to proceed assuming I end up with my last CAT (offical exam) as a 630/640.
Some other advice I would appreciate is how to address some of the following issues:
1) I am actively prethinking in CR, but prethinking incorrectly or not as close to the scope of the answer. I know practice is an easy answer to give, but how do I adapt my way of prethinking or adjust my approach in general in CR?
2) PS - I am making many more guesses than I have in the past. And when I see the solution, I get the AHA moment, and know how to adapt to it in the future, but I am still constantly having these guessing moments. I feel like I am not getting the chance to use the learning from the AHA moments because most problems I am guessing on is on an approach I have not seen before. I know that most problems are variations on basic approaches... Any advice on this would be helpful.
3) DS - I feel very unconfident in this section. I am actively aware of testing edge cases and unique cases, but it always seems to be that I either have no approach to a problem, or a case I have not considered before is used. Advice?
EMPOWERgmat Instructor
Status: GMAT Assassin/Co-Founder
Affiliations: EMPOWERgmat
Joined: 19 Dec 2014
Posts: 13081
Location: United States (CA)
GMAT 1: 800 Q51 V49
GRE 1: Q170 V170
Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep  [#permalink]

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08 Nov 2017, 20:05
Hi SSSWF,

We really need to see how you perform on one of the Official GMAC CATs - taken under realistic conditions (meaning that you take the CAT in a location that is NOT your home, at the same time of day as your Official GMAT and you must complete ALL sections - including the Essay and IR sections) before we can define exactly what you would need to work on. That having been said, if you were to score in the low-600s on that CAT, then your focus for the next 2 months would need to be Quant and Verbal Tactics. You probably know the 'content' just fine, but 'your way' of approaching the GMAT is 'inefficient' and it's keeping you from scoring higher. There are faster, more strategic ways to approach the Quant and Verbal sections, but you haven't properly trained to use those approaches consistently. Thus, you would need to train to 'see' (and respond to) the GMAT in a new way - and that process will take time to properly implement.

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

760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

# Rich Cohen

Co-Founder & GMAT Assassin

Special Offer: Save \$75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee
www.empowergmat.com/

*****Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!*****

Re: Stagnation during GMAT Prep &nbs [#permalink] 08 Nov 2017, 20:05
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# Stagnation during GMAT Prep

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