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From V41 on GMAT Prep to V32 on real GMAT - advice?

This topic has 4 expert replies and 5 member replies
mzuberi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
08 Jun 2016
Posted:
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From V41 on GMAT Prep to V32 on real GMAT - advice?

Post Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:57 am
Hi All,

I would sincerely appreciate any advice, following a somewhat surprising result on my first official GMAT exam this morning.

Preparation:

Time: ~2 months while working full time, approximately 2 hrs per weekday and 6-8 hrs on weekend days.
Material: the MGMAT book series, OG13 and OG Quant Review. (majority of my time spend on quant, as I always excelled in verbal)
Practice CATs:
GMATPrep 1 - 730 (Q49, Q41)
GMATPrep 2 - 690 (Q47, V38)
GMATPrep exam pack 1 test 1 - 730 (Q49, V41)
GMATPrep exam pack 1 test 2 - 710 (Q46, V41)

Actual GMAT
- 660 (Q49, V32)

With a target score of >700, i'm disappointed with my results - specifically the shocking verbal score, which is significantly lower than i've ever scored before. I was confident throughout the exam, not fatigued or crunched for time, and am very confused about the V32... As i'm planning on submitting R1 applications, and don't want to wait too long between exams in order to maintain my quant memory, I re-scheduled my GMAT in 20 days.

I would appreciate any advice on how to best maximize my time over the next 20 days in order to improve my verbal, keep quant fresh, and also allocate time to my applications. Should I re-do the MGMAT verbal books or buy new material? Is it possible the V32 was a fluke?

Thank you,
Mo

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Marty Murray Legendary Member
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Post Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:08 am
Hi Mo.

In a way that verbal score looks like a fluke, but when flukes happen, there are reasons why they had the opportunity to happen and here's what I usually see when people's verbal scores bounce around.

Scoring in the the low to mid 30's on GMAT verbal can be done by applying basic strategies and using gimmicks to eliminate answers choices. For instance, to some degree the so called "splits" strategy can be used effectively to eliminate SC answer choices, and in CR you can have some success by doing things such as eliminating extreme answer choices.

However, most of those type of things don't work all of the time, and the more sophisticated the questions get, the less those type of methods or strategies are effective in getting to right answers.

So here's what can happen. A person has his ways of getting answers to verbal questions, maybe some of them strategies he has picked up somewhere, and if the questions are right for his methods, he scores high on verbal. If, however, the questions somehow catch the flaws or holes in how the person works, his verbal score will be in the low to mid 30's, and guess what? The person gets totally shocked by the score. Yup. I have seen this kind of thing happen before, and the reason the person gets shocked is because he was carefully using his methods and everything seemed to have been going well.

But the methods had holes and through those holes came wrong answers.

So what's the solution?

To make sure that you score higher on verbal next time, you have to adjust your methods. For instance, rather than eliminate CR answer choices because they are too extreme, you might have to adjust your method to make the fact that an answer choice is extreme a red flag rather than a clear decision point. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people blow up in verbal is that their methods cause them to eliminate right answers early in the process of answering questions. Then they sit there and carefully choose the best of the wrong answers! One way this happens is via things that should be used as caution flags being used as decision points.

So while I am not sure what specifically happened to cause your verbal score to drop that way, I can say that probably you should review how you are going about answering verbal question and tighten up your processes. One way to do that is to do practice questions slowly, focusing on noticing the logic underlying why each wrong answer is wrong and each right answer is right. Can you CLEARLY prove every wrong answer wrong and every right answer right? without looking at explanations? To the degree that you have trouble doing that you have work to do in verbal, and when you are doing verbal practice questions, since you have plenty of time to figure out the answers, you should get maybe at least 85% to 90% of them right.

Regarding quant, one great resource for some general quant practice is the free Veritas Question Bank. Also, a good offense is often the best defense. So to maintain quant proficiency and possibly even drive you quant score higher, you could continue working on less strong areas of quant, along with doing more general quant work to keep your game up. One great way to work on quant topic by topic is by setting up a free practice account in the GMAT area here, http://bellcurves.com.

Hey, maybe you can get that verbal score to the mid 40's in a few weeks. Keep taking practice tests to get better at consistently scoring high.

Enjoy the game!!!

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Post Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:55 pm
Wise words from Marty. Given the distribution of your practice test scores, yeah, it's perfectly reasonable to posit that your test day experience was a fluke. Another possibility is that the adrenaline rush of test day heightened your focus for quant, allowing you to score towards the high end of your range, but left you depleted for verbal. There simply isn't enough evidence to know definitively at this point.

So next time around you have two goals. First, you want to boost your verbal scores on practice tests, so that even on an off day, you'll end up with a score you can live with. And second, you want to minimize the odds that there will once again be a gap between your official test and your practice exams. You'll want to hit any official material that you haven't yet tackled (exams + question pack) and you'll want to work on your stamina and the psychological aspects of the test. For some test-takers, this means a meditation practice. For others, it might be something as simple and practical as monitoring the way various food affect your attention levels during practice exams and modifying your test day regimen accordingly.

Last, be reassured that nearly everyone who has this experience ends up with a much better result the next time around, particularly if they make some thoughtful strategic adjustments.

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mzuberi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:11 am
Thank you both for your great insight and advice.

Marty - I think you are absolutely right that my 'verbal gimmicks' failed me, and I need to tighten my approach on eliminating wrong answer choices. I almost wish they had failed me sooner, during my practice exams, so I could have recognized the weakness and corrected before the big day.

David - I definitely plan on purchasing the remaining OG material I haven't yet reviewed (question pack + exam pack 2)

I ordered an enhanced score report - it appears my main weakness was CR, as well as a poor RC, with the majority of my mistakes occurring in the last quarter of the exam.

Percentile breakdown:
CR - 33rd percentile
RC - 51st percentile
SC - 87th percentile

Questions answers correct:
1st quarter of the exam: 75% correct
2nd quarter of the exam: 71%
3rd quarter of the exam: 86%
4th quarter of the exam: 50%

Post Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:42 am
mzuberi wrote:
Thank you both for your great insight and advice.

Marty - I think you are absolutely right that my 'verbal gimmicks' failed me, and I need to tighten my approach on eliminating wrong answer choices. I almost wish they had failed me sooner, during my practice exams, so I could have recognized the weakness and corrected before the big day.

David - I definitely plan on purchasing the remaining OG material I haven't yet reviewed (question pack + exam pack 2)

I ordered an enhanced score report - it appears my main weakness was CR, as well as a poor RC, with the majority of my mistakes occurring in the last quarter of the exam.

Percentile breakdown:
CR - 33rd percentile
RC - 51st percentile
SC - 87th percentile

Questions answers correct:
1st quarter of the exam: 75% correct
2nd quarter of the exam: 71%
3rd quarter of the exam: 86%
4th quarter of the exam: 50%
Well, that 4th quarter struggle would certainly be consistent with the adrenaline-burst/eventual depletion theory. (Though it's hardly dispositive. It could be the case that the last quarter of the exam contained a larger percentage of CR questions, which you struggled on, etc.) How do the official CR/RC/SC percentiles compare to the percentiles on your practice exams?

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Marty Murray Legendary Member
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Post Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:51 am
mzuberi wrote:
I ordered an enhanced score report - it appears my main weakness was CR, as well as a poor RC, with the majority of my mistakes occurring in the last quarter of the exam.

Percentile breakdown:
CR - 33rd percentile
RC - 51st percentile
SC - 87th percentile
Wow. Look at that CR level. So much room for improvement, and RC is a lot like CR.

As I said, going forward when you practice CR, prove every wrong answer wrong, not just by saying something along the lines of, "I don't see why this is relevant," but rather by defining exactly why an answer choice does not make sense given the prompt and question asked. Also prove every right answer right. Doing that can be even more challenging than proving the wrong answers wrong.

As you develop the vision to see the key details and skills in using logic to define why answer choices are wrong and right, you can get to a point such that your see what's going on in CR questions and answers with unerring clarity and practically never get one wrong.

RC questions can similarly be approached with care and a fair amount of RESPECT. There are so many ways one can get fooled into choosing the wrong answer. You have to make sure that the passages say what you think they say, and not get sucked into making choices based on cues that lead you astray of understanding what is really the case. In RC too, you can practice by CLEARLY defining why every wrong answer is wrong and every right answer is right.

Meanwhile, even in SC, maybe you could tighten up what you are doing, partly to make sure that you maintain your current level. Also, you want your SC processes to be tight enough to handle any tricky question that may come along as you rock verbal.

Vision and logic. Vision and logic.

Let's see you score higher than those practice test scores next time you take the real test. By adjusting your perception of and approaches to answering verbal questions, you will, I suspect, significantly exceed your current personal best.

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Marty Murray Legendary Member
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Post Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:04 am
DavidG@VeritasPrep wrote:
mzuberi wrote:
Questions answers correct:
1st quarter of the exam: 75% correct
2nd quarter of the exam: 71%
3rd quarter of the exam: 86%
4th quarter of the exam: 50%
Well, that 4th quarter struggle would certainly be consistent with the adrenaline-burst/eventual depletion theory. (Though it's hardly dispositive. It could be the case that the last quarter of the exam contained a larger percentage of CR questions, which you struggled on, etc.) How do the official CR/RC/SC percentiles compare to the percentiles on your practice exams?
That point about the adrenaline-burst/eventual depletion theory is interesting, and that fourth quarter performance does stick out.

To a large degree you can deal with that type of issue by remembering to finish out the verbal section. It seems that people allow themselves to score lower than they might by allowing themselves to give into fatigue, lose focus or start thinking about the finish toward the end of the verbal section. While what happened in your case is not entirely clear, these things are worth keeping in mind.

That having been said, with 71% and 75% correct, you don't seem to have really been at the V40+ level for most of the section, though the 86% correct third quarter might have gotten you there.

Meanwhile, the more your processes are tight and the more you are good at seeing what's going on in verbal questions, the less adrenaline, fatigue or anything else will matter.

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Post Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:47 am
Marty Murray wrote:
DavidG@VeritasPrep wrote:
mzuberi wrote:
Questions answers correct:
1st quarter of the exam: 75% correct
2nd quarter of the exam: 71%
3rd quarter of the exam: 86%
4th quarter of the exam: 50%
Well, that 4th quarter struggle would certainly be consistent with the adrenaline-burst/eventual depletion theory. (Though it's hardly dispositive. It could be the case that the last quarter of the exam contained a larger percentage of CR questions, which you struggled on, etc.) How do the official CR/RC/SC percentiles compare to the percentiles on your practice exams?
That point about the adrenaline-burst/eventual depletion theory is interesting, and that fourth quarter performance does stick out.

To a large degree you can deal with that type of issue by remembering to finish out the verbal section. It seems that people allow themselves to score lower than they might by allowing themselves to give into fatigue, lose focus or start thinking about the finish toward the end of the verbal section. While what happened in your case is not entirely clear, these things are worth keeping in mind.

That having been said, with 71% and 75% correct, you don't seem to have really been at the V40+ level for most of the section, though the 86% correct third quarter might have gotten you there.

Meanwhile, the more your processes are tight and the more you are good at seeing what's going on in verbal questions, the less adrenaline, fatigue or anything else will matter.
Agreed. And the more you view the GMAT experience as a fun competitive endeavor, the more you'll see the fourth quarter as when you really need to heighten your focus, allowing you to enter the virtuous cycle of: recognizing what the question writers are up to/enjoying a mini-victory/feeling energized and more likely to recognize the key details on future questions, etc.

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mzuberi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:13 am
I wanted to thank everyone again for the advice and support. I had round 2 yesterday, and got a 710.

I'm pumped about the score, although the breakdown was opposite from last time, and I ended up getting the lowest Q and highest V i've ever gotten (Q45 and V42). I'm hoping the low quant won't hurt me too much, since i've proven my quantitative proficiency through my consulting work experience and engineering undergrad background. Also, I know schools only consider the highest GMAT score and i'm not banking on this by any means, but some of my buddies currently in top programs told me admissions technically gets access to my past 3 scores, and may notice my Q49 from the last attempt?

It hurts to even ask this question ha, but do you guys think I should consider a re-take to get a Q score closer to the 80th percentile, if i'm only applying to top 15 schools?

Post Mon Aug 22, 2016 8:05 am
mzuberi wrote:
I wanted to thank everyone again for the advice and support. I had round 2 yesterday, and got a 710.

I'm pumped about the score, although the breakdown was opposite from last time, and I ended up getting the lowest Q and highest V i've ever gotten (Q45 and V42). I'm hoping the low quant won't hurt me too much, since i've proven my quantitative proficiency through my consulting work experience and engineering undergrad background. Also, I know schools only consider the highest GMAT score and i'm not banking on this by any means, but some of my buddies currently in top programs told me admissions technically gets access to my past 3 scores, and may notice my Q49 from the last attempt?

It hurts to even ask this question ha, but do you guys think I should consider a re-take to get a Q score closer to the 80th percentile, if i'm only applying to top 15 schools?
I'd post this in the admissions consulting section as well. On the one hand, I wouldn't count on anyone noticing a score from a previous test - they're paying attention to the scores you indicate in the application. (There are some programs, such as Tuck, that will consider your highest quant score and your highest verbal score, but that's rare.) On the other hand, what I typically hear from my friends on the consulting side is that so long as you've scored 45+ on the quant, the admissions committee will not consider this a weakness. So it really comes down to the added benefit of potentially applying with a 49/42/740 vs the cost of: detracting from other elements of your application. There's no wrong decision here, and it's an enviable position to be in.

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