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Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+

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Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 29 Sep 2018, 21:26
Hi everyone,

I'm new here and I'm seeking advices/suggestions. I'm sure you've seen this situation many times, I've been scoring consistently and I'm pretty bummed out right now and I'm not too sure what to do.

Background:
I started my GMAT journey in Dec 2017 - I started with the OG + math + verbal review, and have been doing questions. Due to my work commitments, I had to enroll with the more flexible online class from Economist GMAT. My diagnostic test score was 620 Q42 and V35, and I thought I could improve 80+ points and break into the 700 end zone, and I'd be done with this forever. As I was finishing up with the Economist course, I started to take the Economist's practice tests. I scored from 530 (ran out of time in Q) to the latest 700, in that order, after taking the diagnostic test (so I actually performed worse than the diagnostic test until the 700 score). Given the 700 score (Q46, V40), I thought I was ready for the real test. I also took the GMAT Prep practice tests 1 & 2 in preparation for it, I scored 660 Q46, V35 on both tests. I've read the posts here saying that there are margins of errors +/- 40 points, so I thought I was performing on the lower end of my actual abilities. I noticed I couldn't improve my Quant score beyond Q46, so I focused on doing verbal questions to make sure I'd go back to V40. I took the real GMAT test yesterday and scored a 550 - (I wasn't at the peak of my performance and I was unwell) I cancelled it immediately.

Tools Utilized:
- OG + math + verbal review 2017, also the OG question bank online
- the Economist GMAT

Other Notes:
- I took the practice tests at the library (isolated corner on a quiet floor) and at the office
- my target score is 700+, preferably 720+
- I'm planning to retake GMAT in 16 days to meet the round 1/2 deadlines
- I have a 9-5 office full time job

I noticed it's easier to improve my overall score by improving on my verbal score, so I plan on focusing on verbal rather than breaking into Q50. Considering I spent so much money on the Economist course and it hasn't really helped that much, financially, I can't pay for another $1000+ course. Given my tight timetable, what can I do to break into 700+? Any strategies? Any other tools I should use? What reference materials I can utilize?
I greatly appreciate your advices/help. Thanks!

Originally posted by t3sttak3r1234 on 02 Sep 2018, 08:53.
Last edited by t3sttak3r1234 on 29 Sep 2018, 21:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2018, 09:16
t3sttak3r1234 wrote:
Hi everyone,

I'm new here and I'm seeking advices/suggestions. I'm sure you've seen this situation many times, I've been scoring consistently and I'm pretty bummed out right now and I'm not too sure what to do.

Background:
I started my GMAT journey in Dec 2017 - I started with the OG + math + verbal review, and have been doing questions. Due to my work commitments, I had to enroll with the more flexible online class from Economist GMAT. My diagnostic test score was 620 Q42 and V35, and I thought I could improve 80+ points and break into the 700 end zone, and I'd be done with this forever. As I was finishing up with the Economist course, I started to take the Economist's practice tests. I scored from 530 (ran out of time in Q) to the latest 700, in that order, after taking the diagnostic test (so I actually performed worse than the diagnostic test until the 700 score). Given the 700 score (Q46, V40), I thought I was ready for the real test. I also took the GMAT Prep practice tests 1 & 2 in preparation for it, I scored 660 Q46, V35 on both tests. I've read the posts here saying that there are margins of errors +/- 40 points, so I thought I was performing on the lower end of my actual abilities. I noticed I couldn't improve my Quant score beyond Q46, so I focused on doing verbal questions to make sure I'd go back to V40. I took the real GMAT test yesterday and scored a 550 - I cancelled it immediately.

Tools Utilized:
- OG + math + verbal review 2017, also the OG question bank online
- the Economist GMAT

Other Notes:
- I took the practice tests at the library (isolated corner on a quiet floor) and at the office
- my target score is 700+, preferably 720+
- I'm planning to retake GMAT in 16 days to meet the round 1/2 deadlines
- I have a 9-5 office full time job

I noticed it's easier to improve my overall score by improving on my verbal score, so I plan on focusing on verbal rather than breaking into Q50. Considering I spent so much money on the Economist course and it hasn't really helped that much, financially, I can't pay for another $1000+ course. Given my tight timetable, what can I do to break into 700+? Any strategies? Any other tools I should use? What reference materials I can utilize?
I greatly appreciate your advices/help. Thanks!


Hi
You can find a lot of resources in Gmatclub. For Quant you can refer to the Ultimate Gmat Quant Megathread.
For Verbal, you can refer to the following post:
https://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-impro ... 42361.html
IMO it is difficult to score a 700+ from a 550 within 15 days. I would suggest to order an ESR to know about your weaknesses. Then you can start working on them. After about a month appear for another Gmatprep test and check your current level. Then you can take the test date.
Hope it helps.
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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2018, 12:24
Hi t3sttak3r1234,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. When these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day. If you can answer a few questions, then we should be able to figure this out:

When you took your CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
3) 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.)?
4) 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: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2018, 17:28
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi t3sttak3r1234,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. When these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day. If you can answer a few questions, then we should be able to figure this out:

When you took your CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you took your Official GMAT?
3) 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.)?
4) 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)?

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


I actually had a really bad day on the test day, I was a little sick, so I wasn't performing at the optimal condition.

1. The Economist GMAT practice exams do not have AWA/essay sections. But when I was taking the GMAT Prep ones, yes, I took the entire CAT each time.
2. About the same time of the day, +/- 2 hours
3. For 1-2 CATs, unfortunately, yes, but for the others, no.
4. No, I attempted once for the GMAT Prep 1 & 2.

Rich, do you have any advices for me? Given my situation, what can I do to improve my performance? Thanks!
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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2018, 14:05
Hi t3sttak3r1234,

From your prior post, there were some 'red flags' in terms of how you took your CATs. Before we discuss those issues though, I have a few additional questions about the lead-up to Test Day and Test Day itself:

1) What did you do in the 3 days before your GMAT?
2) How did you sleep the night before your Test?
3) How long was the ride to the Test Center from your home?
4) Were there any distractions at the facility or during the Test?
5) What did you do during the two 8-minute breaks?
6) Did you finish any sections early?
7) Did you have to rush to finish any sections (and guess on questions just to finish on time)?

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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2018, 14:32
Hi Rich,

1. I tried to relax and go through the practice questions that I got wrong. I did not take another CAT before the GMAT
2. I did not sleep well, thus, that's probably one of the reasons why I had a bad test day
3. It was supposed to be 30 minutes, max, but an unexpected downpour + thunderstorm flooded the roads and I was a lot more anxious, and I was rushing to the test center
4. No distractions, very professional and pleasant experience. I was probably too nervous
5. I went to the bathroom, stretched a little bit, and went back in
6. No, in my practice tests, I felt like I scored lower in my verbal because I rushed through the verbal section and often ended sections too early. I ended up making some silly mistakes, so I decided to take a little bit more time
7. For Quant during the real test, yes. For the practice tests, I rushed in half of them and did not finish the Quant sections. But for the three latest practice tests (1 Economist, 2 GMAT Prep 1&2), I finished them and scored V46.

Here's a thought:
Would it be better to focus on my areas of weaknesses and just continuously do practice questions from the OG question bank (OG + verbal + quant)?
Or do you recommend another method, or tool? Is there a tool that would evaluate my areas of weaknesses and focus on those areas to improve?

Your advices are greatly appreciated. Happy to DM if it's more convenient. Thanks!
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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Sep 2018, 21:15
Hi t3sttak3r1234,

I've sent you a PM with some additional notes/suggestions about how to proceed.

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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Sep 2018, 09:07
Hi t3sttak3r1234,

I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with your GMAT. Since you have been studying for some time and scored 550 on your GMAT, you really need to look at HOW you have been preparing and potentially make some changes. Moving forward, you will want to follow a study plan that allows you to learn linearly, such that you can slowly build GMAT mastery of one topic prior to moving on to the next. Within each topic, begin with the foundations and progress toward more advanced concepts.

For example, if you are learning about Number Properties, 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.

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.

You can work on verbal in a similar manner. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each Critical Reasoning question type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type of question. If, for example, you get a Weaken 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.

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 with 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. You can perfect your reading strategy with a lot of practice, but keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to tackle such passages, begin reading magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction 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, it is likely that you will have to work on all three of those aspects, and it is also likely that the reason that your Sentence Correction performance has not improved is 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 really a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning the 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. Likely, the main reason that Sentence Correction has not "clicked" for you is that you have not put enough work into developing your skill in seeing what is going on in the various versions of the sentence that the answer choices create. 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.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing 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 are answering 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 extended 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 will then want to practice with Sentence Correction questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

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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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2018, 02:34
Hi t3sttak3r1234,

I am sorry that your scores were not in line with your expectations. It is possible to break in to the 700+ category without getting a Q50. Here are a few success stories of students who did that:
    - Martina knew it would be tough for her to improve her Quant score, so she focused on Verbal prep and scored a 730 (V46). Click here to see her interview.
    - Anupriya scored 760 (Q48 V46). Click here to watch her amazing interview.
Since you are a working professional, I think you would find this article on Study Plan for Working Professionals – Balancing Work and Study to be useful.

Get Access to the material used by Martina and Anupriya

Sign up for the e-GMAT Free Trial to get access to the course used by Martina and Anupriya and check whether it works for you as well! We are also conducting free CR and Algebra webinars this weekend. Register on the below links to reserve your spot and experience the course.

Hope this helps! Feel free to write to us at support@e-gmat.com for any further queries.

Regards,
Aditee
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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2018, 18:02
Thank you everyone for the replies. I did have a bad test day on my first attempt. Subsequently, I took more practice tests and got scores from 660 to 720 (official GMAT practice tests and the Economist GMAT tests). In all of my practice tests, I consistently scored Q46-48 (Q46 is in line with my practice tests taken prior to the first attempt). Today, I retook the real test and got a 680 Q44, V38. Getting enough sleep and not being sick made a huge difference. But, I still couldn't get rid of my test anxiety. I tried to relax by taking my time, but I eventually screwed up my quant because I spent too much time on the first 10 questions, leaving little time for the last 10. So right now, I'm planning to retake the test in 16 days (my target score is 720+), and I'm deciding whether I should cancel my score - should I cancel a 680? Next, how should I tackle on improving my Quant back to 46+ (hopefully hitting 49?), and Verbal above 40 (my target is hitting 80th percentile for both)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Tight timeline, inconsistent GMAT scores, breaking into 700+ &nbs [#permalink] 29 Sep 2018, 18:02
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