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Help! I just bombed my GMAT

This topic has 5 expert replies and 3 member replies
sdv Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
08 Mar 2017
Posted:
3 messages

Help! I just bombed my GMAT

Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:40 am
Hey all! I am new here. I took my GMAT hours ago and got a 660. I am applying to 2+2 HBS program in less than a month, so it's important that I retake it in 25 days.

So, I was consistently scoring in the mid-700s on Manhattan Prep CATs and somehow I bombed the actual GMAT today. (Q 44 (54 perc) and V (don't remember but 83 perc.) I didn't practice IR at all so I screwed it up completely (I know it doesn't factor into the 800-score, but it feels like it did). Does anyone have any suggestions on how I study for the next 20 days (while still being in school)? I am pretty confident about my foundational knowledge and I am usually good at Math (Engineering major) but I don't know why I screwed up quant so badly.

Any help is highly appreciated!! Thank you!!

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Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:35 am
Hi sdv,

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. If you can answer a few questions, then we should be able to figure this out:

When 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 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?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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Thanked by: sdv
sdv Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
08 Mar 2017
Posted:
3 messages
Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:05 am
Hey Rich,

Thank you for your quick response. To answer your Qs:
1. No, I took the entire test thrice and other times only Quant and Verbal, but I would perform similarly in the two sections regardless of whether I took the entire CAT or not.

2. Half of the times at home and the other half in super quiet libraries at school

3. I didn't take them at the same time of the day all the times because of class conflicts, but I did take them twice a day sometimes.

4. Very rarely did I do something out of the usual 8 min breaks.

5. I never took the same CAT twice, no.

Also, if you could give me any suggestions on how to practice Quant and IR, I would really appreciate it. Thanks again Smile

Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:58 pm
Hi sdv,

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 "inflated" your scores can become - and that's what happened here. By skipping sections, taking the CATs at home, taking them at different times of day, etc., you weren't properly training for the FULL GMAT 'experience.'

Thankfully, this is a relatively easy set of problems to fix. The big question now is "how long will it take you to properly get 'used to' taking the GMAT under realistic conditions?" You'll certainly need a new set of practice CATs to work with and you have to put in the necessary time to train your brain (and body) for the FULL GMAT. You might also need to invest in some new GMAT training materials.

1) How long have you studied?
2) What materials have you used?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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sdv Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
08 Mar 2017
Posted:
3 messages
Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:37 pm
Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com wrote:
Hi sdv,

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 "inflated" your scores can become - and that's what happened here. By skipping sections, taking the CATs at home, taking them at different times of day, etc., you weren't properly training for the FULL GMAT 'experience.'

Thankfully, this is a relatively easy set of problems to fix. The big question now is "how long will it take you to properly get 'used to' taking the GMAT under realistic conditions?" You'll certainly need a new set of practice CATs to work with and you have to put in the necessary time to train your brain (and body) for the FULL GMAT. You might also need to invest in some new GMAT training materials.

1) How long have you studied?
2) What materials have you used?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
Thank you, again.

So, I went through a few concepts for Sentence Correction, but other than that, I have not done anything major for Verbal because I was consistently in 85th percentile. On the other hand, I took all the Quant sections of the MGMAT CATs and went through the solutions thoroughly to make sure I didn't repeat the same mistakes. Because I am comfortable with math (still in college + engineering), I didn't "study" any material per se.

So to directly answer your Qs:
1) I studied non-stop for about 2 weeks before the GMAT
2) I used practice CATs from MGMAT and GMATPrep. I also used the OG books for practice couple times. I also watched some GMATPrepNow videos for clarifications on the topics I always made mistakes on.

And another thing was that I thought I was doing really well while taking the exam. I was pacing myself, so I don't know exactly why my Quant score sunk so much. Only once or twice during the exam did I feel lost in a question the problem unlike during MGMAT CATs where I felt lost very often.

Thanks again!!

Post Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:28 pm
One more suggestion: consider grabbing an Enhanced Score Report from GMAC. http://www.mba.com/us/store/store-catalog/gmat-preparation/gmat-enhanced-score-report.aspx

This report sometimes simply confirms what you already know, but in this case, I suspect it might be helpful. If, for example, the report reveals that you missed some easier questions in the first quarter of the test, it would account for why the test didn't feel particularly hard despite the fact that your score was below what you'd become accustomed to getting.

In truth, most of the time I see this scenario (test-taker feels well-prepared/is hitting a goal score on practice tests/test-day is an inexplicable disappointment) the next test goes dramatically better, irrespective of how they tweak their approach. The main adjustments are psychological.

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Post Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:26 am
Hi sdv,

Many Test Takers spend 3 months (or more) of consistent study time before they hit their 'peak' scores. If you really only studied for about 2 weeks, then it's likely that you just have not put in enough time and effort yet. To that end, scoring 660 after such a short study period means that you're likely already a really strong critical thinker, so I suspect that you have a very good chance to score higher - once you've put in the proper study time.

Considering that you have just a little over 3 weeks of potential study time, and that highly-competitive Business Schools tend to place an emphasis on the applicant's Quant Scaled Score, you would likely find it best to focus on your Quant skills before you retest. Keep in mind, that does not mean "math skills" - with a Q44, you likely handled most of the 'math' just fine. With that score, you made a couple of little mistakes in that section and you missed out on lots of 'strategy-based' points. Thus, your emphasis should be on learning/practicing the proper Tactics and learning the common patterns that GMAT questions are 'built around.' While you might be able to 'self teach' all of those concepts, you would likely find it most efficient to invest in some new study materials that focus on those ideas.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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jvcasade Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
03 Nov 2016
Posted:
3 messages
Post Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:10 am
sdv,
I would highly recommend signing up for EmpowerGmat. They have a 1-month, $99 option. You and I started in the same place, and I too have been through Manhattan's program. I would highly recommend going through Empower and reviewing the strategy-based quant tips. The videos are easy to digest and incredibly insightful. That program is worth its weight in gold to me.

GMAT/MBA Expert

Margaret Strother Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
Joined
01 May 2015
Posted:
247 messages
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Most Active Expert
Post Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:05 am
As an admissions consultant, I hear this story a lot. Many applicants who go through "one size fits all" GMAT-prep courses seem to see a gap between their practice tests and their test-day results, often as much as 50 points! As others have said here, there is a big difference between the real test and practice tests, so it's advisable to take timed practice tests that replicate the experience as closely as possible. Of course you can burn out if you do that too often, so you'll have to find your own balance between over-preparing and under-preparing.

If it's any consolation, I often see people increase their scores dramatically the second time they take the test, simply because they're more used to the time-management and stress-management components.

If you're still seeing these kind of performance gap issues when you retake the GMAT, you might want to work one-on-one with an experienced GMAT tutor. I agree that it would be helpful to get your enhanced report and identify precisely where your weaknesses lie; then you can target those weaknesses specifically with a tutor, even if the weaknesses are just test-taking skills.

Good luck!
Margaret Strother

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