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Disappointed with my 620 so here's my GMAT retake strategy

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reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Disappointed with my 620 so here's my GMAT retake strategy Post Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:43 pm
I spent the last few months doing the Princeton Online course with 5 CATs. I did all lessons and completed all homework, including all OG 11 problems the course picked out for me, based on my progress.

When the course instructed me to at various points in the syllabus, I took the five PR CATs and scored between 620 and 690 on each (avg breakdown of about Q38 V40). I also wrote the two AWAs essays prior all 5 tests to simulate the full test duration.

After the five PR tests, I took GMATPrep 1 (~650) followed by GMATPrep 2 and on that last test finally broke the 700 barrier with a 710 Q42 V45. About six days later I sat for the real test.

On the real GMAT test last Saturday I scored a 620 - Q42 V32. I was very disappointed by my low Verbal score as that tended to be higher than my Quant in the practice tests. While I employed a disciplined timing strategy in my practice tests, timing got the better of me in the real test as I scrambled to plug in answers for the last 4 questions or so in each section. What a bummer, but I'll learn from that and try to do better next time. Lastly, if it matters, I wore earplugs and did not eat a snack during the breaks on the real test - during my practice tests I wore no earplugs and always ate a snack between Q and V sections.

GOAL: On the retake, I would like to increase my score by 80-100 pts (and break 700!).

I do not think all of my study thus far has been a waste. The Princeton Online course was fun, engaging and filled my need for a self-paced program. Now, with familiarity and some grasp of the fundamentals, I am more motivated than ever to give the official GMAT test another shot. I know I can do it. The retake will be better.

MY PLAN: After reading much in this forum and weighing various options, like taking another full course from another vendor and/or buying additional books (I already own OG 11 which was partly used in my PR cours), I have decided to do the following. I am posting my story here as I am open to suggestions, feedback on my plan:

I purchased 5 CATs from Manhattan (thanks for the 10% discount, btw) and am going to focus on working and understanding the difficult OG 11 problems. From my PR course, I have a list of all the difficult OG 11 problems and will use that as my guide. I'll take 1 Manhattan test each weekend and use those to gauge my progress. As for the official retake, I am planning to take it six weeks from now so mid-March.

Let me know if you think my GMAT retake plan sucks or if it sounds realistic.

Cheers.



Last edited by reag on Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:27 pm
I think that you've got the foundations of a really solid study plan. I was really inspired by your post, by the way, regarding how you're motivated to kick this test's butt.

I have two suggestions: one is to emphasize tracking your errors and analyzing them thoroughly. You can learn how to do this here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/gmat-practice-grid-use-this-to-analyze-your-errors-t68.html

The other suggestion is to leverage this forum for your prep. Post your questions here when you find yourself in doubt, and contribute to other people's posts with your own solutions. A very effective way to improve your understanding is teaching others, and consistently I've seen that the top GMAT scorers on this website tended to have posted a lot.

Good luck with your prep and please keep us posted!

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reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:49 pm
Btw, I printed the flashcards today. I remain skeptical of their value but I'll likely give them a chance. They seem to have many fans.

parore26 Really wants to Beat The GMAT! Default Avatar
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Post Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:15 am
Good luck with the re-take. I used the flashcards on the morning of the test to review stuff. I found it useful in that sense but I had a good under-standing of the topics and fundamentals by that stage so that helped immensely.

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Post Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:28 am
Reag,

can you please post question no.s of the difficult questions from OG11 ? I guess, it would helps us to figure out, which ones are the toughest and needs to be concentrated more upon.

Thanks.

reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:48 pm
smar83 wrote:
can you please post question no.s of the difficult questions from OG11 ?
I'm guessing that document from Princeton is copyrighted so no, I won't do that.

However, I've seen a few comments in this forum mentioning that the last 100 problems in each OG section are the more difficult ones.

Finally, further to my retake strategy, I went ahead and bought the Manhattan question banks and challenge problems. I realized it is unrealistic that I will be lugging the orange OG book everywhere I go and need some web-driven practice problems to fill the gaps.

reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:34 pm
reag wrote:
As for the official retake, I am planning to take it six weeks from now so mid-March.
I have gone ahead and scheduled my retake for March 10th. Scheduling the test makes my retake plan very real and now forces me to stay in test prep mode. Time now to execute the plan.

For me, the test has to be scheduled in order for there to be sufficient motivation to study. What attitudes do other test takers have?

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Post Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:07 am
Congrats on scheduling your test--it's definitely a nice motivation to have a set date in mind. It's like a light at the end of the tunnel.

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reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:10 am
For the past two weeks I have focused on reviewing OG 11.

I'm about 350 problems (out of ~800) into my complete OG 11 review and am starting to gain more confidence in my weaker areas. I realize now that I should have done this review prior to my first test. I am noting all misses or particularly tough ones for subsequent future review.

I am also finding the Manhattan OG timer to be useful. So all of my OG question blocks are being timed and I am rarely spending more than 1:50 on any question (and ~1:00 on SC questions). I'm hoping that this timing discipline pays off.

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Post Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:26 pm
That's excellent progress--I'm especially happy to hear that you're getting comfortable with the pacing.

Best of luck and please keep us updated!

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reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:54 pm
Just an update on my study progress in prep for my retake.

I am about 80% done with my first full pass through OG. I have been using the Manhattan OG timer for all questions. The other day I spent what felt like an eternity on two math questions before guessing and moving on. I expected the time to report afterwards that I blew 4:00 minutes on each but was pleased to discover I only wasted 2:45 each. This tells me I am becoming much more pace-aware. Am currently averaging under 2 minutes for each question, easily. And under my target of 90 seconds for each SC question.

In the past week I have also started to review the Manhattan SC guide as I am aware of a weakness in that area.

Since my first official gmat on Feb 2, I ave taken 3 MGMAT practice tests, always timed to simulate the real thing:

MGMAT1 on feb9: 630 42Q 34V
MGMAT2 on feb17: 610 40Q 34V
MGMAT3 on feb24: 690 44Q 39V *

* I tried something new on the MGMAT3 test of feb 24. In my OG practice for Quant problems I have been making grids with about 20 squares on each piece of paper. This provides a neat little space to work out each problem, planned in advance. I believe this is helping me to be more organized in my quant execution and I think this helped me on the MGMAT3 test. In all prior tests, including the PR, GMATPrep and actual GMAT, I used no grid and would scribble and scratch up about five sides of paper. This time on MGMAT3, with the grid, I only used up a page and a half. Seemed way easier. That, and I'd like to think OG practice is paying off. One more thing - I finished MGMAT3 quant and verbal sections each with a few minutes to spare -- this was a new and unique experience that I would like to repeat. Much better than rushing and guessing on a few questions as time expires.

Regarding the retake, I am still holding onto a March 10 test date. However, I expect I'll need 2-3 more weeks after that to complete my review of OG, along with revisiting missed problems of which I expect there will be about 50-100 total. I would also like to take two more MGMAT tests to see if I can continue to see some improvement before retesting. So I'll probably reschedule the official retake in the the next day or two for later on in March or early April.

I have not looked much at the flashcards though I have printed them -- should I not pass go and do that right away?



Last edited by reag on Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:26 pm
Thanks for this update, and glad to hear you're improving! I'd start taking a look at the flashcards sooner than later--go through the set at least once per day, it will only take a few minutes and will help ground you on some critical concepts.

Keep up the good work!

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reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:41 am
I finally completed my full first pass through all problems in OG 11. I am excited to reach this point. It took about 25 days at an hour or two each night after work.

I took all OG 11 problems under timed conditions with a target of 2 minutes for each problem except SC where I targeted 1:30 for each. For RC I spent 3-4 minutes reading the passage and about 1 minute per RC question.

In all, I had a total of 154 wrong answers (included are several I got right but that I deemed took me too long). I am retaking these 154 problems this week, timed of course. I wish the overall number was lower but it's a good starting point for the next phase of my prep.

Breakdown of my wrong and correct-but-too-slow results in OG 11:
- Quant Problem Solving - 60 misses out of 249 total
- Quant Data Sufficiency - 36 misses out of 155 total
- Verbal Reading Comprehension - 20 misses out of 141 total
- Verbal Critical Reasoning - 19 misses out of 124 total
- Verbal Sentence Correction - 19 misses out of 138 total

Quant: 96 misses out of 404 total or ~76% correct
Verbal: 58 misses out of 403 total or ~86% correct

My current plan:
1. complete all review of the misses above by this Friday.
2. Continue using the flashcards a little bit daily (yes, I'm using them and I like).
3. Continue reading Manhattan SC
4. Take MGMAT 4 on March 8th
5. Take MGMAT 5 on March 15th
6. Take Official GMAT retake on March 22nd

Onward!

Tips or feedback?

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bcg4muva Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:01 am
reag-
very encouraging postings. I'm in your same boat. I took the GMAT two weeks ago and scored 570. I had scored 730 on GMATPrep only weeks prior. I've studied a lot on my own and don't feel the need for a course before I retake. I'm going to a similar program as you (OG 11 Boot Camp!).

Can you advise, where can I purchase Manhattan Question Bank, and gain access to Manhattan OG Timer?

Thanks

reag Just gettin' started! Default Avatar
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Post Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:28 pm
bcg4muva wrote:
...I'm going to a similar program as you (OG 11 Boot Camp!).... Can you advise, where can I purchase Manhattan Question Bank, and gain access to Manhattan OG Timer?
"OG 11 Boot Camp" -- I think that describes what I just went through. As for the Manhattan OG Timer, I think you can unlock that with purchase of the MGMAT tests. Remember, buy one of their books and you get the tests included. See manhattangmat.com for more info. I bought the SC book via amazon.com, btw. When all is said and done, the challenge questions and questions banks will likely end up useless to me. I don't see where they fit into my study plan.

To follow-up on my last post regarding my OG 11 progress, this past week I worked to complete (and get correct at least once under timed conditions) all OG 11 questions. It took 3 rounds of retaking some missed questions before I got them right. The following summary shows how I missed some questions 2-3 times before understanding the mechanics and getting them right.

1st round of taking each question timed:
Quant: 96 misses out of 404 total or ~76% correct
Verbal: 58 misses out of 403 total or ~86% correct

2nd round of timed review of missed 1st round problems:
Quant: 32 misses out of 96 total or ~66% correct
Verbal: 20 misses out of 58 total or ~66% correct

3rd round of timed review of missed 2nd round problems:
Quant: 7 misses out of 32 total or ~78% correct
Verbal: 4 misses out of 20 total or ~80% correct

4th round of timed review of missed 3rd round problems:
Quant: 0 misses out of 7 total or ~100% correct
Verbal: 0 misses out of 4 total or ~100% correct

Through yesterday I had also made 1 full review pass through my BeattheGMAT flashcards (they rock!), and I am about halfway through Manhattan SC book, which I will continue with this week, along with review missed questions in MGMAT4, which I took today.

MGMAT4 on mar9: 700 47Q 38V finished both sections with two minutes to spare, which is how I want to do it on my retake.

My current plan as of today:
1. complete all review of the MGMAT4 misses above by Tuesday.
2. Continue using the flashcards a little bit daily.
3. Continue reading Manhattan SC
5. Take MGMAT 5 on March 15th.
6. Take Official GMAT retake on March 22nd.

full speed ahead.

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