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What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)

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What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Aug 2018, 16:28
I am in a state of disarray. I've completed a 4 month Manhattan prep course, studied my butt off (16 - 20 hours per week) and I am just not getting anywhere. My recurring score on Manhattan practice test is 580. This is a problem in and of itself but matters become much worse with the Gmat practice test; my recurring Gmat practice score is 460! This is craziness. I've given up so much over these last 5 months. My personal well being has deteriorated, I've developed pains in my body from sitting for so many hours and studying. This sucks! What is happening? :hurt:
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Re: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Aug 2018, 19:17
expialadocious wrote:
I am in a state of disarray. I've completed a 4 month Manhattan prep course, studied my butt off (16 - 20 hours per week) and I am just not getting anywhere. My recurring score on Manhattan practice test is 580. This is a problem in and of itself but matters become much worse with the Gmat practice test; my recurring Gmat practice score is 460! This is craziness. I've given up so much over these last 5 months. My personal well being has deteriorated, I've developed pains in my body from sitting for so many hours and studying. This sucks! What is happening? :hurt:
Although this depends to a large extent on your target score and timelines, I suggest you take a short break first. It'll be very hard for you to approach this positively at this stage, given the impact, both mental and physical, that you say your prep has had on you.

Once you've done that, I suggest you extend your timelines and use all the resources you have. Add more details on this thread so that people here can understand your situation and give you recommendations. Reach out to your instructors at Manhattan as well, as they are likely to know you better than anyone here. Once you've got a plan of action in place, set more easily achievable interim score targets and track your progress towards those. Remember: it's important not to put any major pressure on yourself to achieve any of this within (say) only a month's time.
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Re: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 09:56
expialadocious wrote:
I am in a state of disarray. I've completed a 4 month Manhattan prep course, studied my butt off (16 - 20 hours per week) and I am just not getting anywhere. My recurring score on Manhattan practice test is 580. This is a problem in and of itself but matters become much worse with the Gmat practice test; my recurring Gmat practice score is 460! This is craziness. I've given up so much over these last 5 months. My personal well being has deteriorated, I've developed pains in my body from sitting for so many hours and studying. This sucks! What is happening? :hurt:


Follow links may help you :

1. https://blog.targettestprep.com/how-to- ... -on-gmat/#

2. https://www.veritasprep.com/blog/tag/qu ... -wisdom-2/
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Re: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 10:22
Hi expialodocious,

Inconsistent CAT Score results can be due to a variety of factors. Thus, I'd like to know a bit more about how you took your CATs:

When you took your CATs:
1) On what dates did you take each CAT and how did you 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: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2018, 20:40
Thanks for the input. I feel like my issue is a combination of many things but mainly a combo of anxiety, assuming when I shouldn't be, and making careless mistakes. I feel that everything is being driven by anxiety revolving around my desire to hurry up and get my score to 670, and anxiety during the test that I will not be able to stay on course with completing each question under 2 minutes.
I have taken 8 CAT exams since June, with each exam taken about 1 -2 weeks apart from the last. To answer your questions:

1) Every one of my CATS have been taken on a Saturday or Sunday. Manhattan scores improved slightly in the first month high but capped to where they have been without budging - (Q: 38 / V: 32). Regarding verbal, the improvement has not occurred and I have remained at Verbal: 32

Scores from my my free 2 practice exams from Gmat are horrendous - (Q: 26 / V: 28)

2) I have taken the entire CAT each time. I arrange my exams to have IR and the essay at the very end. I have only completed the essay on 1 of my CAT exams.
3) I take all of my CAT's at home. One of my Cats was taken at my parents house, while running a fever with chills; I received a 580 on that exam :/
4) I've taken 7 of the Cats in the daytime at different times ranging from 11am to 2 pm. One exam was taken at 4 pm
5) No. I always say on course. I do skip the essay but that is at the very end of my Cats
6)I've only seen 1 question more than once.

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Re: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Aug 2018, 19:27
Hi expialodocious,

Test Day is a rather specific 'event' - the details are specific and they matter, so you have to train as best as you can for all of them. The more realistic you can make your CATs, the more likely the score results are to be accurate. The more you deviate, the more your practice scores can vary - and that's what happened here. You have not been taking your CATs in a fashion that 'matches up' with what you will face on the Official GMAT, so beyond the inconsistencies in these Scores, it's not clear what your actual 'ability level' is right now.

Before we can address all of these issue, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on your timeline and goals:

1) What is your goal score?
2) When are you planning to take the GMAT?
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460)  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2018, 16:09
Hi expialadocious,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. Since you have been studying for some time but are unable to improve your GMAT score, you really need to look at HOW you have been preparing, and potentially make some changes. Since your GMAT score has plateaued around 460, it’s clear that you lack certain GMAT quant and verbal fundamentals that are necessary for a high score. To improve your score from a below average to awesome level, you will need 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 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 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.

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.

Follow a similar routine for verbal. 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 the Argument 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. 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, read 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 can be created with the answer choices. 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 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 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 then will want to practice with Sentence Correction questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

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: What am I doing? Manhattan Simulations (580) Vs. Gmat practice (460) &nbs [#permalink] 29 Aug 2018, 16:09
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