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What should I do from here on? My story so far.

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New post 01 Nov 2019, 12:41
Allow me to share my story. I started preparing for GMAT in July this year. I wasn't particularly good with the Quant section. So, for the next two and a half months, I focused primarily on the Quant section. I studied fifteen hours a week on average. For some weeks, I studied almost 20 hours a week. I had decided that I would master the Quant concepts. Days went by and eventually I completed studying each concept thoroughly. It was about time that I took my first GMAT mock. So I did, and to my surprise I really stuttered while attempting the mock. I wasn't nervous. I was just bad at doing the questions within time i.e. within two minutes. I realized it took me some time to grasp what was being asked, and by that moment a lot of time would have already past and I would start feeling fidgety. I scored 530 in my first mock. I was disappointed but I thought that score might be due to the fact that it was my first attempt. So I took another mock a day after my first mock. Unfortunately, I scored a meager 540 this time. I was completely shattered. Here's me giving so many hours every week to GMAT, and the results were pathetic. Right now, this is where I stand. I think I've hit a plateau. The university deadline in the US are coming close. I needed to get done with GMAT by late October, and here I am completely ignorant of how to get over a plateau. Can any expert relate to my misery and share their words of wisdom? I'll be utterly grateful.
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New post 01 Nov 2019, 12:57
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Hey I'm no expert but I do know how to ace the quant section and it is not about the hours you put in, it is all about your skill level (and that comes with practice). Learning concepts is one thing, once you've had enough practice of a type of question, the next time you see such a question, your TAT will reduce significantly. So practice from varied sources diligently. Also, don't give back to back mocks, take it once a week to see where you stand and review them thoroughly to understand your shortcomings and work on them - if you do this well, you'll see your scores improve tremendously in a few weeks.

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New post 01 Nov 2019, 17:11
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Hi Louis14,

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied? How many hours do you typically study each week?
2) What study materials have you used so far?
3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
4) What is your overall goal score?
5) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
6) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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New post 02 Nov 2019, 16:09
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Hello, Louis14. I wrote a lengthy response to another person not so long ago who was in a similar situation, and I think you would benefit from the same considerations:

MentorTutoring wrote:
You cannot expect your score to jump simply due to the number of hours you have invested or the high quality of the questions you have been studying. (This is a common misconception.) Have you, for example, grouped your missed questions into different content areas? Have you figured out which types of mistakes are costing you correct answers? Along these lines, I like to place errors into three categories:

1) those you have made due to carelessness. Such errors can include misreading the question or answering a question that is not being asked (e.g., figuring out the value of x when then question is asking about y or 3x - 5). These are the first sorts of errors you should seek to eliminate or significantly reduce if you are shooting for a high Quant score.

2) those you have made due to a fundamental lack of understanding. Examining which types of questions you tend to miss (e.g., combinatorics, rates) or guess on can help you home in on these areas.

3) those you have made due to a lack of test-specific technique. This is where a good set of video tutorials, an Internet forum (ahem), a guidebook, or a live tutor can come in and revamp your perhaps inefficient manner of tackling more difficult questions especially. Maybe you are spending 3 minutes on certain questions because you are too tied to the notion that you need to get the exact answer, but the DS question in front of you is a simple Yes/No that does not require such precision. You should focus your efforts on this sort of fine-tuning with high-quality study materials or study buddies, preferably those you do not have to pay to bounce ideas off of. (And yes, I say this as a tutor.)

Something about all your hard work is still missing the mark, or else you would be earning higher scores. If you score the same consistently, then I would say to go back up and reexamine which (combination) of 1), 2), or 3) may be holding you back.



If you can organize your thoughts and put more effort into qualitative study over quantitative, x-hours-a-day study, and you savor working through high-quality official questions instead of burning through them expecting to just turn a corner and get better, then you will probably start to make genuine progress. This is a community that wants to see that happen, trust me, and wants to hear about it if you do.

As I like to say, I wish you the best in your studies.

- Andrew
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New post 04 Nov 2019, 10:31
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Hi Louis14,

I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with your GMAT. Since you’ve studied for a decent number of hours and have yet to break 540, it’s clear that you still have numerous weak areas in quant that must be addressed in order to improve your score. Moving forward you should follow a linear study plan that allows you to learn each GMAT quant topic individually and then practice each topic until you’ve gained mastery. Let me expand on this idea further.

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.

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 quant materials, so take a look at the GMAT Club reviews for the best quant courses.

You also may find it helpful to read this article about How To Increase Your GMAT Quant Score.

Feel free to reach out with further questions.
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New post 09 Nov 2019, 09:50
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi Louis14,

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied? How many hours do you typically study each week?
Till now, I have studied for almost two and a half months. On average, I study for 15 hours each week.

2) What study materials have you used so far?
I've been studying from this course material provided to me by my tutor. I think he has collected the material from different official and unofficial sources.

3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?
530; 540

Goals:
4) What is your overall goal score?
700+
5) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
By the end of December for the US. And by the mid of January for the UK.

6) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
I plan to do MSc Finance from a top school in the US or the UK. Since I'm not going for MBA, I'm hoping for a slightly lesser intense competition to get admission in say NYC, Columbia, or even maybe Harvard or Stanford. For the UK, I particularly focused on London School of Economics.

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New post Updated on: 09 Nov 2019, 10:02
Thank you for the time and effort you put in responding to my query, Sir. I thoroughly went through your words and I completely understand your point of view. It couldn't be said better. I'll be working through each concept again and, as you advised, will try to master each concept from different angles. Hopefully, this will work. I'll surely share my progress with you in the coming days. Thanks, again.

Originally posted by Louis14 on 09 Nov 2019, 09:54.
Last edited by Louis14 on 09 Nov 2019, 10:02, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 09 Nov 2019, 09:56
Thanks for your words of guidance. I think you're right. I must space my mocks with longer duration. I'm just afraid that I might not miss the deadlines of business schools in the US. That's why I was so hasty with my first two mocks.
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New post 09 Nov 2019, 10:00
Thanks for your time and effort in trying to help me out. I'm extremely grateful and I have fully grasped where you're coming from. I'll be more vigilant in classifying my mistakes in the three ways you have mentioned. Plus, I definitely think I have gone for quantity over quality and that outright wrong. Thanks for pointing that out.
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New post 10 Nov 2019, 09:35
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Hi Louis14,

From what you describe, it's not clear how your tutor is training you (What have you learned? What Tactics are you using? etc.) nor what practice materials you are actually using (and some materials are more reputable/realistic than others).

Assuming that you took your practice CATs in a realistic fashion - and that these results are accurate - raising a 540 to the point that you can consistently score 700+ will likely require at least another 3 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level.

In addition, since you're interested in some highly-competitive Schools, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile and plans. There's a Forum full of those Experts here:

https://gmatclub.com/forum/ask-admissio ... tants-124/

"Review" is an exceptionally important part of the GMAT training process; your ability to define WHY you're getting questions wrong is essential to defining the areas that you need to work on (and the specific things that you need to 'fix'). As such, I'd like to know a bit more about your last CAT. While a full Mistake Tracker would provide a lot more information, there are some basic questions that you should be able to answer (and the more EXACT you can be with your answers, the better):

After reviewing each section of this recent CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just could not remember how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?
5) How many Verbal questions did you 'narrow down to 2 choices' but still get wrong?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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New post 16 Nov 2019, 06:02
Sir, thank you so much for your guidance. In my last CAT, I got 540 but unfortunately I don't remember the exact reasons for the many wrong answers. Some questions were too hard while the others were missed because I couldn't manage time properly. For example, in my verbal section, I could only attempt 31 question. Of these 31 questions, only 21 were right. The next time I take the CAT, I'll identify the exact reasons for my wrong answers.

Also, if it's gonna take me another 3 months, as you have said, I guess I won't be able to make it to any school in the US because the furthest deadline is due by January. That would be disastrous for me. Please guide me what should I do in this situation.
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New post 16 Nov 2019, 15:25
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Hi Louis14,

One of the reasons why it can be beneficial to reach out to an Admissions Expert is because that person can potentially define the type of GMAT Score that you might 'need' to get into the various Schools that you plan to apply to. Assuming that you 'need' a 700+ Score to be considered a competitive Applicant - then THAT goal has to come first (and application deadlines do not matter since there's no benefit to rushing in an application if it won't be strong enough to earn you an invitation to that School).

From what you describe, you are currently focusing on a number of Round 2 deadlines, but most Programs also have a later Round 3 (and sometimes even a Round 4), so it would be a good idea to define ALL of the various application deadlines that you can apply for.

1) Which specific Schools are you planning to apply to and what are all of the potential deadlines?
2) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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New post 18 Nov 2019, 08:53
Sir, to be honest, I haven't listed down the universities I'm going to apply to. That's because, as you also said, my score in the GMAT would inform which schools I should apply to. I'm aiming for 700 because that's what I would need to be considered competitive for schools such the Ivies, based on the average GMAT scores at those schools.

Sir, currently, I study for around four hours every day, excepting the weekends. So, it's like 20 hours a week. But I can study more. Studying more is not a problem in my case. The problem is that I don't know what is it that I particularly need to study. I'm revising the Quant concepts, hoping that I'll get more conceptual clarity by doing so. I'm also taking quizzes every day to get the ability to solve question within 2 minutes. I'm doing what I think would be right for me but honestly I'm a bit blank. I don't know if I'm treading the right path or not. It's terrifying actually.
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New post 18 Nov 2019, 12:32
Hi Louis14,

The process of applying to (and ultimately attending) Grad School will require a big investment of time, money and energy on your part, so you really should make sure that the Programs that you apply to match your career goals/needs. There are a variety of factors that go into selecting the Schools that you'll apply to; here are some other things to think about:

1) Is there a particular company that you want to work for or industry that you want to work in? Certain degrees are more appropriate than others if you have a specific career goal.
2) What do you want your Degree to do for you?
3) Do you want to go to School full-time or part-time?
4) Are you willing to relocate? Are you comfortable with working through a program that is primarily online?
5) Are you going to be applying for scholarships?
Etc.

Assuming that you are going to continue to study until you score 700+, we should make that Score your current Goal. That study timeframe would require that you apply for a later application Round - and I suggest that you research some of the Schools that you're interested in in more detail and define exactly what those later application Rounds are.

In addition, it sounds as though it has been some time since you took a practice CAT/mock - so you should plan to take another one sometime soon (so that we can better define your current skills, strengths and weaknesses). Make sure to take a NEW CAT and take it in a realistic fashion (take the FULL CAT - with the Essay and IR sections, take it away from your home, at the same time of day as when you'll take the Official GMAT, etc.). Once you have that score, you should report back here and we can discuss the results and how best to proceed.

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Rich
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New post 19 Nov 2019, 11:33
Alright, Sir. I'll right away look into the programs that I would eventually apply to. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR GUIDANCE. I'll take another test very soon and I'll surely get back to you. Sir, I want to pursue a degree in finance because I want to work in the finance industry. My bachelor's degree was also in finance and marketing (double majors), and I graduated with a CGPA of 3.56 out of 4. I'm currently working in my family's business and I've learned a lot of new skills but I'm not sure if the Grad schools would consider my working in my family's business as acceptable, let alone appreciating it. I'm afraid this might become a disadvantage for me. Finance is my passion and I want to pursue a master's degree in Finance because I dream myself as a financier down the line. Given how competitive and mature people are who go for master's degree in top notch Grad schools, with years of experience in their fields, I'm always afraid that my being a simple graduate with a couple of years of experience in family business and big dreams might not make me as lucrative a prospect from Grad schools' point of view. That's another reason why I want to score 700+ and probably make up for the lack of relevant work experience. Your word on this would be invaluable, sir.
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New post 19 Nov 2019, 20:47
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Hi Louis14,

You have asked an important question (how working for your Family's Business might impact the strength of your application) and that whole situation might ultimately mean that you truly 'need' a high GMAT Score for your applications. In a prior post, I noted that you might want to discuss your profile and plans with an Admissions Expert - and based on your latest post, I think that would absolutely be a good idea. Those Experts can be found here:

https://gmatclub.com/forum/ask-admissio ... tants-124/

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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Re: What should I do from here on? My story so far.   [#permalink] 19 Nov 2019, 20:47
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