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# went from Q50 in practice to a Q36 on actual test, why ??

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Joined: 23 Jul 2015
Posts: 34
went from Q50 in practice to a Q36 on actual test, why ??  [#permalink]

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21 May 2017, 00:11
Literally the sections I thought I did well on, I ended up doing horrible; and the section I thought I did poor on, I actually ended up doing well.

IR - normally score in the 80% percentile here, thought it was much easier than mocks. One I didn't know, and one I was semi confident about, the others I thought I knew, but ended up with a "3" 27th percentile on the actual test

Verbal - usually score V34-35 on mocks. Thought the first 20 were easy-medium, didn’t think any of the SC or CR was hard, but the last RC was brutal...ended up V40 (89th percentile).

Quant - scored Q50 on all four practice tests I took, ended up with a Q36 (47th percentile) on the actual exam...and for the life of me, I can't even guess why.....

(1) I will admit the questions I received were really easy. There were very few, if any 700 level questions. Literally question ~20 was a single addition/subtraction problem with four single digit numbers each inside of absolute value signs and question ~30 asked me to find the median in a set of numbers
(2) I did miss 2-3 problems in each practice test for being careless and not answering what the question asked for. For example, finding the radius when it asked for the diameter, or reading over the question stem that states x can only be an integer, etc.
(3) I was on problem #35 with about 22 minutes left... Normally I get done in time, or a few minutes before time, on mocks. I didn't rush through the test though, this might just be because I didn’t see many 700 level questions, thus I didn’t require much time.
(4) With so much time left, I obviously took my time when I got to #35, and #35 was a easy problem but had a trap (asked for the biggest range, not largest number), #36 was another one of these that you use the radius to solve the problem but the question asked for the diameter in the answer, #37 was a mean/median if you didn't pay attention to, you'd solve for the mean instead of median. I didn't fall into these traps here, but if I started taking my time on #35, and #35, 36, and 37 had these easy questions that you had to pay attention to what they were asking for, or you'd get it wrong....was the whole test like this?

As I was saying, I was doing well in practice, averaged ~Q50, so it's not like I missed a lot, but I would miss 2-3 each test for not reading the question correctly or not answering what the question was looking for. I am still puzzled with the Q37.
I probably missed #2 on the actual test (600-700 level exponent question) that I couldn’t figure out. Assuming I missed that and fell into these trap questions where I'm not answering the question early… to where I missed 3 out of the first 7 or 10 questions, do you think the computer already tossed out all 700 level questions for me?

I am really trying to figure out what went wrong.

I am not sure if I just had a bad test and I should reschedule asap, or if I really need to work on quant (I did the GMAT Club tests early in my prep and got a Q49-50 on many of them, and only missed about ~15 questions out of the several hundred in the official guide)

I will admit I didn’t get much sleep the night before. And believe it or not, there was an Amber Alert at 6AM (that loud obnoxious sound) that woke me up. But, I don’t think either bothered me, I felt focused during the entire exam
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Re: went from Q50 in practice to a Q36 on actual test, why ??  [#permalink]

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21 May 2017, 14:50
Hi jasonfodor,

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. Getting a few questions wrong would NOT be enough to turn a Q50 into a Q36 though, so you would have made lots of little mistakes on Test Day. A poor night's sleep would almost certainly impact most Test Takers - and finishing the Quant section so early means that you 'rushed' through lots of questions (and likely missed little details, did work "in your head", etc.) and lost points. Before we attribute that drop in score to just those two factors though, I'd like to know a bit more about how 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 home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you plan to take your Official GMAT?
4) 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.)?
5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE?

You might also choose to purchase the Enhanced Score Report. 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). If you purchase the ESR, then I'll be happy to analyze it for you.

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Re: went from Q50 in practice to a Q36 on actual test, why ??  [#permalink]

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23 May 2017, 12:19
jasonfodor wrote:
(1) I will admit the questions I received were really easy. There were very few, if any 700 level questions. Literally question ~20 was a single addition/subtraction problem with four single digit numbers each inside of absolute value signs and question ~30 asked me to find the median in a set of numbers
(2) I did miss 2-3 problems in each practice test for being careless and not answering what the question asked for. For example, finding the radius when it asked for the diameter, or reading over the question stem that states x can only be an integer, etc.

...

As I was saying, I was doing well in practice, averaged ~Q50, so it's not like I missed a lot, but I would miss 2-3 each test for not reading the question correctly or not answering what the question was looking for. I am still puzzled with the Q37.
I probably missed #2 on the actual test (600-700 level exponent question) that I couldn’t figure out. Assuming I missed that and fell into these trap questions where I'm not answering the question early… to where I missed 3 out of the first 7 or 10 questions, do you think the computer already tossed out all 700 level questions for me?

Sorry to hear that you had a rough time on test day! It sounds like you've already identified the problem here, though. If you miss easy questions early in the section, you'll see more easy questions... and then your margin of error vanishes. If you're scoring in the 50Q range on your practice tests, then the issue isn't how well you know math: it's execution.

As a general rule of thumb, I think test-takers seem to make about twice as many careless errors on their actual exam as they do on practice tests in the comfort of their homes. That seems about right in your case: if you were making 2-3 on each quant practice test, you probably made 4-6 careless errors on the real thing... and on an adaptive test, 4-6 avoidable errors on easy questions is enough to make the wheels completely fall off. If you decide to purchase the ESR, I can promise that it'll back me on this: you'll see lots of errors on easy-to-medium stuff, particularly toward the beginning of the section.

It's totally not sexy, but the best way to improve on this is to focus 100% of your energy on making sure that you're religiously re-reading questions and re-checking your work to avoid those careless errors. As you practice, don't tolerate those errors at all. It's easy to say, "well, that was a brainfart, but I knew the math, so it's all good" when you practice. But on an adaptive test, the opposite is true: the brainfarts are the real killers.

I hope this helps! And congrats on the 40V! Come see us in the verbal forum if we can help you at all on that side of things.
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Re: went from Q50 in practice to a Q36 on actual test, why ?? &nbs [#permalink] 23 May 2017, 12:19
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