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Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request

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Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2018, 23:12
Hello to all of you,

My name is Michel and I am planning to sit for my GMAT exam in the late September - Mid October period. My goal is to apply for round 1 or round 2 the latest. I started my GMAT Journey 2 months ago, almost completed the GMAT OG2018 along with Quant and Verbal GMAT official books and I can say I noticed a lot of improvement in terms of concepts and time management. I took my first unofficial practice test (test 1) a month ago and scored 680 (Q48 V35). However, since then, I started minimizing my practice time and taking practice exams (resetting free exam 1 & 2) more often opting for more improvement since I FELT I have the confidence and what I takes to ace the 700 threshold. However, I realized that I am wasting my time and no benefits are in the eyesight. I feel so stuck and lost. I bought the GMAT 400 question pack and started practicing 15-25 questions daily after work. There are beneficial but to a certain extent. What gave me the real shock is that I bought Test 3 and 4 last week, tried these tests (tried test 4 yesterday)and scored 620 on both (Q49 V27 & Q46 V28 respectively). I honestly don't know what to do. My exam is approaching and I feel like the dumbest person ever. I can buy exams 5&6 but I am sure I will score the same if no appropriate strategy is applied to my studies. In fact, I am not really following a strategy in my studies and this is what made come here and post my story hoping to get some helpful guidance. What should I do? I need an efficient advice that can really help. I really don't want to waste my time buying new material that will tell me what I already know. Well, I know that I may lack some concepts in Quant and surely in Verbal but a strategy on how to think when solving and how to approach each question is maybe what I really need. All I know is one think : I will not give up until I reach a minimum score of 700. I will appreciate some helpful guidance.

Thanks in advance,
Michel
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Re: Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2018, 23:37
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Q49 isn't bad, but you should aim for Q50. For verbal you should focus on narrowing down at least which types of questions you're getting wrong. How are you comparing between SC, RC, and CR? I started off with a 590 on my official exam (you can search my posts) and ended with a 720 on my latest one. My weakness was verbal and math and I spent 1 week of non-stop practice making sure I understood why each verbal question that I got wrong was actually wrong.
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New post 03 Aug 2018, 00:18
strivingFor800 wrote:
Q49 isn't bad, but you should aim for Q50. For verbal you should focus on narrowing down at least which types of questions you're getting wrong. How are you comparing between SC, RC, and CR? I started off with a 590 on my official exam (you can search my posts) and ended with a 720 on my latest one. My weakness was verbal and math and I spent 1 week of non-stop practice making sure I understood why each verbal question that I got wrong was actually wrong.

Thank you for your feedback. Honestly, what I really struggle with in verbal is time. I always start my practice exams in good shape and after 20 questions I always leave myself with very little time to spare so I end up loosing my focus on the remaining questions. For example, in the test 4 I did yesterday, I got 8 wrong answers in the first 27 verbal questions and then got them all wrong due to the very limited remaining time. I am good in sentence correction although I may lack some concepts, but I take too much time in critical reasoning and usually get them wrong after rushing to make a decision. In the OG, my performance in CR is way much better. I don't know how to solve my time management issue. I admit I am slow in Verbal and this is what is forcing me to make mistakes in rushing to answer. In quant, what do u suggest in order to get a steady 50? I had a Q46 yesterday for the first time ever which is alarming.

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Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2018, 01:32
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Hi MichelNader,

To really personalize the response, I'd appreciate the answers to two questions
1. How much time do you have to prepare in the next month/two months?
2. Have you written and used an error log?

Other that that, I have two general comments to make and a suggestion to offer.

The first comment is that it looks like your foundations are excellent! A Quant score of 48-49 is more than sufficient for a total score of 700 and if you can maintain this all you'll need to do is boost your Verbal score by a few more points (to the high 30s). Even if you get a slightly lower Quant you can still break 700 so long as your Verbal increases enough (to the very high 30s, low 40s).

The second comment is that you seem to be studying in a slightly unorganized fashion, by just going over the books and learning the material in them. I suspect this is why you aren't seeing the improvement you'd like to see: breaking 700 on the GMAT isn't only about studying the material, it is about studying yourself. What types of mistakes do you make? Which types of questions give you more difficulty? Are you familiar with only one way to solve each question, or do you have several different approaches? This capacity for cognitive flexibility - that is the ability to, very quickly after reading a question, decide on a strategy with which to approach that question - is what you need to work on. On a personal note, I'll mention that this is what we at examPAL do - we give students a variety of strategies with which to approach each question and then, using an AI-assisted learning platform, help them find the strategy that works best for them.

Practically speaking, if you haven't yet done so, build and use an error log. This wasn't mentioned at all in your description and is very lacking. With respect to CR in particular, it sounds like you fall into the trap of wasting a lot of time by reading (and then thinking about) all of the answers. This is completely unnecessary as, in many of the questions, the most efficient approach is to first build a logical flowchart modeling the question, then to infer what a likely answer might be, and finally to just look for that answer. You can check out our (freely availale) explanatory videos on the topic here or PM me if you'd like more info.

Best of luck!
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Re: Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Aug 2018, 11:59
Hi Michel,

Many Test Takers who use a "book heavy" study approach end up getting 'stuck' at a particular score level - and since your studies appear to have been book heavy, it's possible that this has happened to you as well. Even the best books are limited in what they can teach you; they also can't force you to approach questions in a certain way and their explanations are often one-sided.

There are a number of factors that can influence your performance on a practice CAT, so before we can discuss how best to proceed with your studies, I have a few questions about how you took each of your CATs:

1) On what dates did you take each CAT and what was your score on EACH (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
2) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
3) Did you take them at home?
4) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you plan to take your Official GMAT?
5) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
6) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE (re: on a prior CAT, in an online forum or in a practice set)?

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Re: Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Aug 2018, 12:09
Hi MichelNader,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. The good news is that 620 (on your last exam) is not a bad starting point. At the same time, as I’m sure you are aware, you will need to put in a lot of effort and time to improve to a 700+ GMAT score.

Since your GMAT score has stagnated, you really need to look at HOW you have been preparing and potentially make some changes. In your previous study routine, you appear to have not mastered GMAT quant and verbal prior to practicing OG questions and taking practice exams. Furthermore, GMAT practice tests are tools designed to help gauge your current GMAT skills, not improve your GMAT score. Sure, each test provides a general overview of your strengths and weaknesses, but taking tests won’t help you improve those weaknesses. As you’ve seen, taking test after test without true GMAT mastery leads to inconsistent scores and no improvement in your GMAT skills.

Moving forward, you want to ensure that your study plan allows for linear learning, so that you can build GMAT mastery of one topic prior to moving on to the next. Remember, it’s possible to score 620, or even 680, without fully understanding some topics or refining certain skills. To score 700, your preparation is going to have to be more complete, meaning that you have to go through GMAT quant and verbal carefully to find your exact weaknesses, fill gaps in your knowledge, and strengthen your skills. The overall process will be to learn all about how to answer question types with which you currently aren't very comfortable and do dozens of practice questions category by category, basically driving up your score point by point. When you do dozens of the same type of question 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.

For example, let’s say you’re studying Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, resolve the paradox, etc. As you learn each Critical Reasoning problem type, do focused practice so you can track your knowledge in the topic. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific Critical Reasoning 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.

For quant, you can follow a similar process, albeit a slightly more streamlined one (assuming you are looking to score a Q49+). For example, if you are reviewing Number Properties, be sure that you practice 50 or more questions just from Number Properties: LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. Once complete, do a thorough analysis of each incorrect question. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why you got it wrong. 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 properly analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to more efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant knowledge. 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 and types that you would rather not see, and questions 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.

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 verbal and quant materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the[url=https://gmatclub.com/reviews/highest-rated-gmat-courses/best-for-quant-4
]best quant[/url] and [url=https://gmatclub.com/reviews/highest-rated-gmat-courses/best-for-verbal-3
]verbal courses[/url].

You also may find my article with more information on [url=http://blog.targettestprep.com/how-to-score-a-700-on-the-gmat/
]how to score a 700+ on the GMAT[/url] helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Aug 2018, 09:05
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MichelNader wrote:
Thank you for your feedback. Honestly, what I really struggle with in verbal is time. I always start my practice exams in good shape and after 20 questions I always leave myself with very little time to spare so I end up loosing my focus on the remaining questions. For example, in the test 4 I did yesterday, I got 8 wrong answers in the first 27 verbal questions and then got them all wrong due to the very limited remaining time. I am good in sentence correction although I may lack some concepts, but I take too much time in critical reasoning and usually get them wrong after rushing to make a decision. In the OG, my performance in CR is way much better. I don't know how to solve my time management issue. I admit I am slow in Verbal and this is what is forcing me to make mistakes in rushing to answer. In quant, what do u suggest in order to get a steady 50? I had a Q46 yesterday for the first time ever which is alarming.

regards,



How you think through a question dictates how much time you will spend on different parts of a question stem and corresponding answer choices. This is the key for time management -- minimize the time you spend on parts of the question that don't matter!

http://www.gmatpill.com/criticalreasoni ... Estate.mp4

With CR, there's a lot of text to read. The key is to make sense of what's important and ignoring the stuff that is less important.

That way you can go into the answer choices already with something in mind of what to expect.
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Here's a Google sheet with links to OG SC video explanations that can help walk you through the thinking process:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing

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Re: Stuck in my studies - Guidance Request &nbs [#permalink] 09 Aug 2018, 09:05
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