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Test didn't go as per plan

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Test didn't go as per plan  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 08 Aug 2018, 22:37
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Hi

I would like to share my GMAT experience and appreciate feedback/strategies on how I can improve as I am not happy with the current outcome.

Preparation

In terms of preparation, I spread it over 3 months with varying levels of intensity, mostly studying for an hour after work on weekdays and 2-3 hours on weekends. Last 2 weeks I spent about 4-5 hours per day. I started off by finishing all Manhattan Prep books and doing end-of-chapter questions and making my own notes for retention.

Initially I finished about 60% of Official Guide questions. Then I did 2 Manhattan Prep CATs. Scored 580 and 640. Used the diagnostics to work further on my weak areas, re-read the relevant sections from Manhattan Guides and practice quizzes from Gmat club tests. I then attempted 2 free GMAT prep tests and scored 710 in each.

I then finished the entire GMAT Official Guide Questions and Official Guide Verbal Supplement. Finished GMAT Prep Question Pack 1 for Problem Solving, Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Finished around 75% of Data Sufficiency.

Subsequently I did around 11 GMAT club tests, scoring an odd 31 and the remaining were spread out in 40s with an average of around 44 and highest of 48. Just did the Quant. Also did all DS sets of Bunuel excluding the set which contains around 50 or so DS questions.

For the last 2 weeks, I finished 4 Gmat prep tests (Pack 1 and Pack 2). Scored 710, 680, 730, 660. Quant was between 47 and 50. Verbal ranged from 34 to 42. I did GMAT prep on every alternate day. Also focused on GMAT Prep Question Pack 1.

I did maintain an error log. However, it was mainly just the Level 1 of analysis, i.e. noting down the questions I got wrong. Didn't dig deep into Level 2 by classifying error by sections or types.

Test Day

I started with Verbal followed by Quant. Verbal started ok. However, towards the last 20-30 mins I realized I was behind scheduled so had to speed up. The mix at that stage was CR/RC so that unsettled me a bit. Had to guess on 2 questions to make up for time. I didn't feel too comfortable with the RC and CR in the exam. I felt they were of higher difficulty. Even for the ideas stated in the passage, I was struggling to find the relevant text in the passage. In my mocks, I was getting about 11/12 out of 14 right for RC passages. For Official Guide questions also, I had accuracy range of 80% or so. However, I knew I was struggling with RC in the exam. CR I struggled even in mocks with an accuracy of 50% - 60%. I used Powerscore for my CR prep. However, just read it once.

For Quant, I was comfortable with the timing. Towards the middle I had to pace myself by skipping one question to catch up. Overall there were 3-4 questions where I was't sure about the approach.

I scored 660 (Q 48, V 34). This is the exact same break-up as my last GMAT prep, which coincidentally was my lowest mock score as well for my Gmatprep exams. However, in my last GMAT prep mock, I had messed up on my SC, a section I had been performing constantly well on. Also messed up on CR. In the real exam, I messed up on RC and CR. Quant score was in line with my mocks.

Strategy for Re-take

I attempt to sit again end September. However, I am thinking of perhaps spending on a one-on-one course to further drill down on my weak areas and improve. I am targeting 730 plus as that is the average of the MBA programs I am planning to apply for.

For Quant, I did not review the error logs. I just reviewed the mistakes for Official guide quant and the GMAT prep mock exams. I plan to review all the mistakes from Official Guide quant. Also finish GMAT Quant Guide which I did not touch. Then I plan to do remaining GMAT club tests (about 11 of them), review all the mistakes, do all the PS sets by Bunuel and re-do the DS sets by Bunuel. I feel I can boost my Quant score to at least 50 if I follow these guidelines. In addition to these I plan to go through Manhattan Prep Advance Quant guide to be comfortable with the thinking process for 700+ questions.

For Verbal, I clearly need to work on my CR as I have been consistently underperforming. However, for SC and RC I do not know as I have exhausted all official guide materials. Will do the new ones for 2019 Official guides.

Given the work commitments, I could do 1-2 hours on weekdays and 3-4 hours on weekends.

Would you think one-on-one course would be useful or should I continue with the self-study approach? Also how can I approach CR differently? Should I re-read the CR Powerscore? And Is a 70 point improvement possible in 1.5 months as I plan to take a few days break before I re-start?

ESR Summary

I somehow can't attach the ESR as I need to be a member for at least 5 days or have at least 5 posts. I am a subscriber to GMAT club tests though. I have summarized my ESR below

Verbal

CR 49 percentile (1.42 min/question)
RC 57 percentile (2.11 min/question)
SC 81 percentile (1.24 min/question)

Overall 1.45 min/question

% correct (1st quarter 75% ; 2nd quarter 57%; 3rd quarter 86%; 4th quarter: 50%). Average response time was 2.10 for 3rd quarter and 1.19 for 4th quarter).

Quant

PS 58 percentile (1.51 min/question)
DS 70 percentile (1.48 min/question)

% correct (1st quarter: 100%; 2nd quart: 43%; 3rd quarter: 29%; 4th quarter: 100%)
Attachments

ESR Junaid.pdf [476.03 KiB]
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Originally posted by jasukhera on 06 Aug 2018, 09:09.
Last edited by jasukhera on 08 Aug 2018, 22:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Test didn't go as per plan  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Aug 2018, 17:46
Hi Mate, sorry to hear your exam didn't go as per your expectation.
Actual GMAT is very different from the mocks and very unforgiving in that sense :(
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New post 07 Aug 2018, 22:22
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jasukhera wrote:
Hi


ESR Summary

I somehow can't attach the ESR as I need to be a member for at least 5 days or have at least 5 posts. I am a subscriber to GMAT club tests though. I have summarized my ESR below

Verbal

CR 49 percentile (1.42 min/question)
RC 57 percentile (2.11 min/question)
SC 81 percentile (1.24 min/question)

Overall 1.45 min/question

% correct (1st quarter 75% ; 2nd quarter 57%; 3rd quarter 86%; 4th quarter: 50%). Average response time was 2.10 for 3rd quarter and 1.19 for 4th quarter).

Quant

PS 58 percentile (1.51 min/question)
DS 70 percentile (1.48 min/question)

% correct (1st quarter: 100%; 2nd quart: 43%; 3rd quarter: 29%; 4th quarter: 100%)

Time management in verbal is clearly an issue. You did well in the third quarter where you took 2.10 but your accuracy fell quite a bit in quarter 4 when the time was 1.19.
You might want to re-look at your approach to the problems.

Also, the performance in 2nd quarter is hurting you. The difficulty level in quarter 2 would be higher since your quarter 1 accuracy is good and you are falling short there.

Overall I would target CR and PS first for improvements, followed by RC and DS.
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New post 07 Aug 2018, 22:55
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With the esr in your hand I think go ahead and tackle where u have made mistakes. I guess so far you have been studying by self so u can use some help if any particular part is tough for you.

sometimes it is just a bad day.. u certainly will do well next time. Keep up the spirit.

All the best to you.

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New post 08 Aug 2018, 00:31
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Hi jasukhera,

I am sorry to hear that your result was not in line with your expectations. While you seem to have spent considerable time in learning the concepts and solving questions but there is an integral step in between and that is of learning the application of those concepts on GMAT like questions. If your application process is inefficient then you may end up spending a lot of time on every question or arriving at incorrect answer option.

    • Chintan gave too many mocks in his first attempt and ended up getting only a 630. In his second attempt, he realized his mistake, followed a methodical approach, got his fundamentals strong and improved to a 710. Click here to read his de-brief.

    • Askul tried coaching institutes and books but could not improve. Learn how he leveraged "3-step" process in SC" and "Pre-thinking" process in CR to improve from a V17 to V40. Click here to read his de-brief.

Attend the free RC Webinar this weekend

We are conducting a free RC webinar this weekend where in you can learn how to read a passage of any length and topic effectively so that it becomes simple to comprehend what the author wants to communicate through the passage. Register here to reserve your spot.

Attend the free Quant Workshop this weekend

We are also conducting a free Quant workshop this weekend wherein you can get personalized insights on how to achieve your target Quant score. Register here to reserve your spot.

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New post 08 Aug 2018, 19:15
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Hi jasukhera,

First off, a 660/Q48 is a strong score (it's right around the 80th percentile overall), so it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School. As such, a retest might not be necessary. That having been said, you have the potential to pick up points in both the Quant and Verbal sections, so it's understandable that you might want to retest.

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 (and what you should work on to score higher). If you email me your ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

I'd like to know a bit more about your timeline and goals:

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
3) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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New post 08 Aug 2018, 19:39
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HI jasukhera ,

You can attach the ESR, there are two rows which say add attachments. You can click and add Attachment
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New post 08 Aug 2018, 22:09
nishantd88 wrote:
jasukhera wrote:
Hi


ESR Summary

I somehow can't attach the ESR as I need to be a member for at least 5 days or have at least 5 posts. I am a subscriber to GMAT club tests though. I have summarized my ESR below

Verbal

CR 49 percentile (1.42 min/question)
RC 57 percentile (2.11 min/question)
SC 81 percentile (1.24 min/question)

Overall 1.45 min/question

% correct (1st quarter 75% ; 2nd quarter 57%; 3rd quarter 86%; 4th quarter: 50%). Average response time was 2.10 for 3rd quarter and 1.19 for 4th quarter).

Quant

PS 58 percentile (1.51 min/question)
DS 70 percentile (1.48 min/question)

% correct (1st quarter: 100%; 2nd quart: 43%; 3rd quarter: 29%; 4th quarter: 100%)

Time management in verbal is clearly an issue. You did well in the third quarter where you took 2.10 but your accuracy fell quite a bit in quarter 4 when the time was 1.19.
You might want to re-look at your approach to the problems.

Also, the performance in 2nd quarter is hurting you. The difficulty level in quarter 2 would be higher since your quarter 1 accuracy is good and you are falling short there.

Overall I would target CR and PS first for improvements, followed by RC and DS.



Thank you for the suggestions and I think they are spot on. CR I always knew even before going into the exam. I was trying to solve most questions through logic/common sense only. While that works on easier/lower mid level questions, does not work that well on higher difficulty. I wasn't applying customized approaches for different question stems. I tried to improve by solving all official CR related questions from Official guide, verbal guide supplement, GMAT Prep Question Pack and all GMAT Prep exams. Accuracy was typically between 60 - 70% for the exams and around 75% for Official Guide questions. After reviewing the explanation, it would all make sense but unlike other problems, I felt reviewing the wrong ones for CR was less effective as I was familiar with the argument and the potential traps.

PS I will definitely work on. I had spent a lot more time on DS thinking it was the tougher one but need to work on PS now. Will also focus on RC and DS and ensure that SC remains at that level. For SC I had 100% correct in grammar. However, only 57% in communication.

For Quant, I had a clear timing strategy, 2 mins/question. And i would monitor it after every 5 questions. For verbal, however, I just had a half-way checkpoint to see if I was 50% through with the questions as well. I had a general sense that for SC it should be closer to 1 min, for CR around 1.5 mins. However, for RC as you get different lengths of passages and different set of questions after every passage, I did not have an effective strategy to monitor time. I clearly need to rectify that.
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New post 08 Aug 2018, 22:24
Hi Aditee,

Thank you for your suggestions. I will incorporate them in my study plan. Have gone through the debriefs as well. Quite inspirational. Have registered for webinars also.
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New post Updated on: 08 Aug 2018, 22:39
Hi Rich,

Thank you for your words of encouragement and also for offering to review my ESR. I have attached it in the post now.

In terms of questions:

1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?

I am planning for Fall 2019. My initial plan was to finish GMAT by early August, apply to 2 schools in Round 1 and remaining in Round 2. However, now I would be applying only in Round 2. And will work on the application process in parallel, primarily the thinking process for essays and writing a few drafts.

2) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

I work in PE so I am looking only for schools with strong Finance focus (PE/I-banking/investment management). I will be applying to Wharton, NYU , Chicago, Columbia and Stanford. May add one of Cornell/Dartmouth too. Wharton remains my first choice. My ex boss is a Wharton graduate so I will be picking up his brains a lot for the application process.

3) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?
For the 5 work-days, I can manage 1-2 hours a day. For the weekends, I can do 4-5 hours/day. However, last time around I felt I was quite burnt out towards the end as I did not take any breaks in between. I am thinking of having some off days in between to keep myself fresh. Since Round 2 deadlines are early January in most cases, so I think end September/early October may work for my retake.

Originally posted by jasukhera on 08 Aug 2018, 22:34.
Last edited by jasukhera on 08 Aug 2018, 22:39, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 09 Aug 2018, 16:02
Hi jasukhera,

The process of taking (and reviewing) a CAT requires a significant amount of energy and effort - and takes time to 'recover' from. This is one of the reasons why you typically shouldn't take more than 1 CAT per week - and your last CAT should be taken about 1 week before Test Day. By taking fours CATs in the last 2 weeks before your Official GMAT, there's a reasonable chance that you experienced some 'burn out' on Test Day. Even if you didn't "feel" tired, the pacing issues you describe about in the Quant and Verbal sections certainly makes it sound like you were not at your best.

I've sent you a PM with some notes on your ESR and some suggestions.

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New post 17 Aug 2018, 18:51
Hi jasukhera,

Thank you for such detailed information regarding your previous study routine.

Since you scored between V34 and V42 on your practice tests, it appears that you had some lingering verbal weaknesses. Thus, when you took the real GMAT, those weaknesses were clearly exposed, resulting in a verbal score of 34. However, if you continue with your self-study (rather than an in-person course) and follow a sound and thorough study plan, you can improve your GMAT score. So, what constitutes a sound and thorough study plan?

It's possible to score 660 without fully understanding some topics or refining certain skills. To score 730, your preparation is going to have to be more complete. So, to lock in that type of score, you have to go through GMAT quant and (especially) 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 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.

For example, let’s say you are reviewing Critical Reasoning. Be sure that you practice a large number of Critical Reasoning questions: Strengthen and Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, find the conclusion, must be true, etc. 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 go through the questions, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get correct. If you missed a weaken question, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize what the question was asking? Did you skip over a key detail in an answer choice? Getting GMAT verbal questions right is a matter of what you know, what you see, and what you do. So, any time that you don't get one right, you can seek to identify what, if anything, you would have needed to know in order to get the right answer, what you had to see that you didn't see, and what you could have done differently to arrive at the correct answer. Follow this process for all verbal topics. I understand that you are looking to improve Critical Reasoning in particular, but to get to a 730, you will want to improve in all aspects of GMAT verbal.

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 Reading Comprehension questions with which you struggle: find the main idea, inference, author’s tone, etc. As you would handle 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.

The process above can be perfected with a lot of practice. However, keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to read such passages, begin reading magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction, on the other hand, 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 reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is likely that you have not been working on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, to be successful in Sentence Correction, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning 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. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending under 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 in the sentence clearly refer to nouns in the sentence? 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 those reasons are not 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 answer were always the one 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.

The third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct is what you have to do. The main thing that 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 meanings that make sense. 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 repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices 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. It may take time for you to see what you have to see. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences 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. For instance, 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 that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order 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 have done differently that would have resulted in your extending 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 Sentence Correction skills improve, you’ll then want to practice with SC questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

Although your quant is stronger, you can follow a similar process for that section. 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. 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 and types that you would rather not see, and types of 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 best quant and verbal courses.

You also may find my article with more information regarding
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!
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GMAT Quant Self-Study Course
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