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Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?

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Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2018, 08:59
...although I've gotten quite close! The GMAT is a test that I've pushed off for years, studying multiple times only to get to the stage that I'm at now - a borderline 700 score on mocks and then life getting in the way. Mainly due to the fact that I'm now on the "wrong" side of 30 (and finally have a decent career), I've decided once and for all that come "heck or high water", I'm finally at least going to take the actual test and at least see what happens (the relatively new score cancellation policy means at worst, a poor performance is "only" a monetary loss which I could live with).

I've taken one Veritas CAT roughly once a week the past few weeks, simulating test conditions as faithfully as I can, other than the AWA at the end (I've always been a good English student, and I truly enjoy writing; I don't believe it will take much effort to get a 5+ for me, here). Results are as follows:

Q46/V36/IR 5 - Score: 670
Q45/V38/IR 5 - Score: 680
Q47/V33/IR 3 - Score: 650 - this test, particularly IR/Reading comprehension, I was pretty fatigued; I had one RC passage I completely misread and got all questions wrong ( a first for me)
Q44/V41/IR 6 - Score: 690 - Just wrapped this up moments ago. Q score left me truly baffled; my percentage accuracy on Quant overall was 81% (much higher than all my other tests), so I guess I must have missed a lot of "easy" questions; My verbal score helped me to finally truly believe I can hit a 40+ on the real test (V42 is my "dream" Verbal score and probably realistically the highest I can get)

Tentative Goal: Take the actual exam by end of January 2019, at the latest (ideally by mid-December 2018)
Target Score: 720 - Q50/V42 would be my "dream" result
Important to note: I am taking a vacation at long last from mid December through New Year's Day. This can be a lengthy time to study, if needed, but I'd selfishly love to avoid that, as I've only taken 5 days off all year (and physically am starting to feel a bit burned out)! I am hoping to get a push that I need during the 4 days off for Thanksgiving at the end of this month

A few things that leave me scratching my head: I struggle massively with time on the Veritas quant section, especially compared to GMAT Club tests. There are questions on these tests where my work matches the suggested solution and it still takes me considerably over 2 minutes. Any question that takes me over 2 minutes on GMAT Club typically is me missing an elegant/optimal way to solve a problem (and ends with me invariably slapping my forehead and saying that's brilliant when I see the solution -_-). I also tend to do a bit better on GMATClub tests (48 on my last two tests; I hit a 50 once earlier in the year but not recently). I think I had about 10 minutes left when I got to my last question on my last GMAT Club test, Veritas I have virtually no time ever and am rushing throughout the section.

Resources available:
3 remaining GMAT Club tests (through 12/2018) - I plan to review 600 and 700 level questions, here, as my primary method of Quant studying
Magoosh (through 12/2018) - answered questions here and watched a few videos when I first started my GMAT prep; haven't really used since (through 12/2018)
Veritas books/practice tests/some remaining Qbank questions (books indefinite; tests/Qbank through 3/2019) - almost entirely utilized
Critical Reasoning Bible - read one time through a while ago, felt like I adapted well enough to CR afterwards, haven't returned to (indefinite)
Manhattan books (indefinite) - these are a friend's books; I've only used Manhattan for Sentence Correction and Advanced Quant thus far (Veritas for the rest)
(Official) Exams Packs 1/2/3 and Official question banks - Not yet touched. I am planning on starting to take official CATs after taking my one last remaining Veritas exam.

Known weaknesses:
Visual Geometry questions - plan to just review questions, here
Combinatorics (need to refresh) - plan to review the Veritas book, here
IR Section (have never specifically studied this section), much of it due to timing crunch - plan to read Veritas book, and review questions from mock tests
Sentence Correction - I say this tentatively as I've made substantial leaps here by starting to do some problems and seeing some core things (like how the GMAT appears to hate Passive Voice even when grammatically correct, whereas I personally like it, for one thing); even from the start, I typically never got anything below a 650 level wrong - plan to review questions, here; debating watching Magoosh videos for a primer on rules I may not have seen, yet

So I should also indicate, I studied pretty extensively at the start of the year. I then had some severe allergy/sinus problems that completely derailed my studying by early March. I restarted studying again at some point in September, or so, and started taking CATs starting in October. I am definitely still rusty on some quant items that I was handling well better before, but have been pretty encouraged how much I've retained/how quickly I'm picking up. I hadn't really studied verbal at all prior, so my current results there, other than the one V33, are pretty encouraging.

Thanks in advance for any tips and advice that anyone can give, here! It's much appreciated! And my apologies for the lengthy post!
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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2018, 11:53
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Hi cecilpaladin32,

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. Since you have not taken any of the Official GMAC CATs yet, it would help to have data from one of those results. As such, for your next CAT, 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 the results.

"Review" is an exceptionally important part of the GMAT training process; your ability to define WHY you're getting questions wrong is essential to defining the areas that you need to work on (and the specific things that you need to 'fix'). As such, I'd like to know a bit more about your last CAT. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing each section of this recent CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) How many Verbal questions did you 'narrow down to 2 choices' but still get wrong?

Beyond those questions, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on your timeline and your goals:

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2018, 13:21
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi cecilpaladin32,

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. Since you have not taken any of the Official GMAC CATs yet, it would help to have data from one of those results. As such, for your next CAT, 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 the results.

"Review" is an exceptionally important part of the GMAT training process; your ability to define WHY you're getting questions wrong is essential to defining the areas that you need to work on (and the specific things that you need to 'fix'). As such, I'd like to know a bit more about your last CAT. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing each section of this recent CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) How many Verbal questions did you 'narrow down to 2 choices' but still get wrong?

Beyond those questions, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on your timeline and your goals:

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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

Thanks for your response, Rich. I strongly agree with you that reviewing why one has gotten problems wrong and learning from mistakes is crucial. I full attribute my gains in Sentence Correction solely from learning things from questions I had gotten wrong, previously. I plan on reviewing my most recent CAT when I get home from work tonight and will try to answer your questions, then (I was a bit under the weather yesterday and decided to hold off on reviewing it until today).

I am currently planning on applying to Business School with the hopes of being enrolled in the Fall of 2020. As for the schools I will be applying to, I haven't made a final list of the schools that I will be applying to, yet, but I know that I will certainly apply to the following four schools, barring disastrous GMAT results: NYU (Stern), Cornell (Johnson), UCLA (Anderson), UVA (Darden).
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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2018, 13:53
Hi cecilpaladin32,

Since you won't be applying to Business School for some time, you have plenty of time to continue studying - which is good. Locking up a strong GMAT Score now is a smart choice - and it will free you up later to put the proper effort into the other areas of your applications. Once you've analyzed this recent CAT result, we'll be better able to plan out the next phase of your studies.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2018, 19:43
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi cecilpaladin32,

Since you won't be applying to Business School for some time, you have plenty of time to continue studying - which is good. Locking up a strong GMAT Score now is a smart choice - and it will free you up later to put the proper effort into the other areas of your applications. Once you've analyzed this recent CAT result, we'll be better able to plan out the next phase of your studies.

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

Hi Rich,
So after reviewing my most recent CAT, here are the takeaways I see:

Quant: Of the six questions I got wrong, 4 were incredibly careless mistakes. 1 was an interpretation problem where I had difficulty understanding the question. 1 is a question that I found tricky and would have likely solved correctly in a non-test situation, but I was not surprised to see that I got it wrong in a "test situation", and is a problem type I've rarely come across (min/max optimization type problem). Unfortunately, as I had feared, I got 4 incorrect answers in the the first 9 questions. 3 of these were in the 500-600 range; these are questions which I typically have near 100% accuracy on across the board (in both Veritas and GMAT Club). Subsequently, I got 19 of the next 20 questions correct, but by that point it looks like the damage to my score was already done. I'm hoping that part of the reason for the high volume of careless errors was due to how early I took the test and with less sleep than I need to perform optimally.

Verbal:
Sentence Correction: I went 6/10 on 700-750 questions (10/15 overall). 1 of the 4 was a 50/50 type situation, the other 2 I got wrong were questions I just found to be very difficult questions. 1 was a careless error to a degree; it still was not an easy question but if I had spent a bit more time on it, I would have likely gotten it correct. I understand the core concepts that were being tested on the questions I got wrong, just the application was quite difficult. I also got one 650 level sentence correction wrong which was definitely a careless mistake (one of the only two questions below 700 level difficulty that I got wrong in the entire verbal section; the other such question was in in reading comprehension).

CR:
I went 6/9 overall, here. The 3 CR questions that I got incorrect were all 700+ level. 1 was a 50/50 that I got wrong, the other 2 were just very challenging questions for me. Of these two, one was a question that I'd definitely get right in a non-testing situation with some pensive thought, but the subtle nuance of the answer was very tricky (it was one of the only two 750-800 level verbal questions that I received on this test; the other one was in reading comprehension), and it would definitely be a stretch to call it a truly careless mistake.

Reading Comprehension:
I went 10/12 here. One was a 50/50 that I got wrong (600-650 level), and the other was a 700-750 level question that I just found very difficult. I did manage to get the one 750-800 level question that I saw in this section, correct.

So in summation to your original questions:

1) 4 atypical silly mistakes on quant of very low difficulty, 2 truly silly mistakes on verbal - both in sentence correction
2) N/A - All the concepts needed for all questions were present on both sections
3) 1 quant question I just didn't understand (not actually terribly hard with correct understanding); 5 verbal questions that I found very challenging (2 sentence correction/2 critical reasoning/1 reading comprehension)
4) None directly, but I did start rushing needlessly a bit early on in quant a bit as I felt like I was falling behind from the get-go; the Veritas test analysis summaries always tell me that I perform the math at a good pace but I almost always feel behind the curve
5) There were three 50/50 questions that I got wrong (1 in each of the 3 verbal sections)

Thanks again for all of your valuable time, help, and insights - I greatly appreciate it!
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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2018, 12:50
Hi cecilpaladin32,

At higher-and-higher score levels, the GMAT becomes really 'sensitive' to little mistakes (especially on 'gettable' questions). Between the Quant and Verbal sections, there are only 67 questions in total - and if your analysis shows that you got 6 questions wrong because of silly/avoidable mistakes, then that's approximately 10% of the Exam. In simple terms, you cannot 'absorb' those types of losses and hit your Score Goal. Thus, you might just need a bit of additional study that is focused on your 'mechanics' (your note-taking process, how you work through questions on your pad, etc.) so that you avoid making the little mistakes in the first place.

That all having been said, since your CAT Scores are all in the mid-600s to high-600s, you might have developed some 'bad habits' during your prior studies that are keeping you from scoring higher. Your Quant Scaled Scores imply that you're treating the Quant section as if it were a 'math test', when it is NOT that (it's a 'critical thinking test' that requires lots of little math steps as you work through it). To score at a much higher level in this section, you need to become more of a 'strategist' and less of a 'mathematician.'

You could potentially fix all of these issues on your own, but you might also find it useful to work with some new study materials that will keep you focused on honing the exact skills that you need to be working on.

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

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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

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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Nov 2018, 14:25
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi cecilpaladin32,

At higher-and-higher score levels, the GMAT becomes really 'sensitive' to little mistakes (especially on 'gettable' questions). Between the Quant and Verbal sections, there are only 67 questions in total - and if your analysis shows that you got 6 questions wrong because of silly/avoidable mistakes, then that's approximately 10% of the Exam. In simple terms, you cannot 'absorb' those types of losses and hit your Score Goal. Thus, you might just need a bit of additional study that is focused on your 'mechanics' (your note-taking process, how you work through questions on your pad, etc.) so that you avoid making the little mistakes in the first place.

That all having been said, since your CAT Scores are all in the mid-600s to high-600s, you might have developed some 'bad habits' during your prior studies that are keeping you from scoring higher. Your Quant Scaled Scores imply that you're treating the Quant section as if it were a 'math test', when it is NOT that (it's a 'critical thinking test' that requires lots of little math steps as you work through it). To score at a much higher level in this section, you need to become more of a 'strategist' and less of a 'mathematician.'

You could potentially fix all of these issues on your own, but you might also find it useful to work with some new study materials that will keep you focused on honing the exact skills that you need to be working on.

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

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

Hi Rich,
Thank you for your response. I try to put in 1-2 hours a day on weekdays four times a week and then 4-5 hours a day on both Saturday and Sunday. I'll go down the middle and say a ballpark figure of about 15 hours a week on average. I am still pretty rusty on the quant and feel that just simply doing more questions/reviewing problematic concepts will get me up to Q48 pretty regularly with a month or so of studying, based on how my studying at the start of the year went (It took me two months of solid studying to hit Q48 fairly regularly at that time; thus far, I've probably put in about 6 weeks of prep in total since I started up again).

I'm sure what you said applies. I could definitely benefit from being a bit strategic with certain things. Sometimes I miss the forest from the trees for a while and overlook some things. I've never got to a point where I could hit Q49 regularly, even though I had been able to score as high as a 50 on a GMATClub test and started hitting 48 regularly, previously (which gives me belief that the potential is there for me to get to Q49 somewhat consistently, eventually).

I think a big problem during my CATs has been time management on the Quant section. I think part of this is due to being rusty, as well, as some questions I setup quickly but spend a fair amount of time solving out. I am certainly open to potentially trying new materials. I was hoping to start hitting low 700s at the end of my Veritas run and then practice mostly with solely official material in the hopes of going from this point to 720+ (obviously I fell a bit short of the 700 that I was hoping to hit on the Veritas thus far).

Thanks!
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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2018, 22:23
Hi cecilpaladin32,

Based on everything that you've described, if you can commit to learning and practicing the proper Tactics, then you could potentially earn that higher Quant Score (and Overall Score) in a month or less. Based on everything that you've described, I think that you would find the EMPOWERgmat Quant Score Booster to be quite helpful. Most of our clients complete that Study Plan in under a month, so the time commitment wouldn't be too intense. We have a variety of free resources on our site (www.empowergmat.com), so you can 'test out' the Course before setting up an account.

If you have any additional questions, then you can feel free to contact me directly.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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760+: Learn What GMAT Assassins Do to Score at the Highest Levels
Contact Rich at: Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Rich Cohen

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Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free
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www.empowergmat.com/

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

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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying?  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Nov 2018, 15:07
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi cecilpaladin32,

Based on everything that you've described, if you can commit to learning and practicing the proper Tactics, then you could potentially earn that higher Quant Score (and Overall Score) in a month or less. Based on everything that you've described, I think that you would find the EMPOWERgmat Quant Score Booster to be quite helpful. Most of our clients complete that Study Plan in under a month, so the time commitment wouldn't be too intense. We have a variety of free resources on our site (http://www.empowergmat.com), so you can 'test out' the Course before setting up an account.

If you have any additional questions, then you can feel free to contact me directly.

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

Hi Rich,
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll consider taking that particular program if I haven't made the tangible progress that I'm looking for in the next few weeks. I think I'm slowly resigning myself to the fact that I'll likely have to study beyond mid-December. I'm still feel like I'm dusting the cobwebs off with quant a bit, and I feel that I should naturally progress to Q48 on the pace that I'm going relatively soon. I'm also going to do problem sets reviewing solely questions that I got incorrect and see if I still struggle with the same items from both a timing/content perspective. In the short run, I'm planning to take my an official GMAT CAT next weekend (I'll have to likely work for my job this weekend, in all likelihood, unfortunately).

Thanks again!
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Re: Struggling to hit 700+ on Veritas CATs - how to optimize studying? &nbs [#permalink] 08 Nov 2018, 15:07
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