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How should I estimate my progress with practice tests?

This topic has 5 expert replies and 3 member replies
mmok Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
20 Jul 2016
Posted:
4 messages

How should I estimate my progress with practice tests?

Post Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:01 am
I have done 3 practice tests with the official GMAT Prep software, and I am starting to see some repeated questions. How should I gage whether I have made progress with my studies?

Test #1 - June 11
Quant: 44
Verbal 36
Total: 660

Test #2 - June 18
Quant: 47
Verbal: 39
Total: 700

Test #3 - July 23
Quant: 47
Verbal: 40
Total: 710

My goal is 680-700, and I am registered for exam on Sep 3.

Any tips would be helpful, thanks!
Mimi

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Post Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:26 am
Hi Mimi,

When you take a CAT, if your goal is to receive a realistic score assessment, then you really have to be strict about HOW you take the CAT. The more the 'CAT-taking event' deviates from what you'll face on Test Day, the more likely the score is to be inaccurate (and in most cases, that means "inflated"). As such, you should make sure to take a NEW CAT each time, with the Essay/IR sections, away from your home, at the same time of day as your Official GMAT, etc. Retaking a CAT that you've already taken will almost certain lead to repeat questions. Seeing even a few of those repeat questions will throw off the 'realism' of the experience and your pacing, stress and energy levels will all be 'better' than they normally would be.

Were all 3 of these score results from the SAME CAT (taken 3 times)? If they were, then we have to ignore the second and third score results. By extension, you're likely still scoring in the high-600s, but we'll know more once you take a NEW CAT.

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

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Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

mmok Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
20 Jul 2016
Posted:
4 messages
Post Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:25 am
Hi Rich,

I took tests #1 and #3 at home with the free software GMAT offers on their official website, and #2 with a trial course offered by a test prep company. Since test #2 was arranged for me, I am just guessing it is also the same GMAT software since the Essay and IR questions were the same as test #1. Test #3 was the remaining test I had on the GMAT software I downloaded for free, and while the essay question was different, the IR questions were also the same.

In this case would you recommend buying further CAT practice tests from GMAT? In your experience, were there different materials in the Exam Pack they offer for sale? I am most concerned about having new materials for quant, because that is the area I am concentrating to improve, and I would like to know if my studying is giving me any results.

Thanks!
Mimi
[/quote]

Post Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:48 am
Hi Mimi,

I have a few follow-up questions about how you took these CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at the same time of day as your Official GMAT?
3) 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.)?

Since your Official GMAT is in about 5 weeks, you'll need some new CATs to work with. The GMAC CATs are the most realistic on the market, but you'll get a reasonably accurate score assessment from the Kaplan, MGMAT or Veritas CATs. You can decide which ones you'd like to use. Your current scores show that you likely have all of the necessary knowledge to hit your goal score on Test Day, so you have to keep those skills sharp and potentially get in some Tactical practice (so that you can squeeze out a few additional points in both sections).

4) What practice materials have you used so far?

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

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Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

mmok Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
20 Jul 2016
Posted:
4 messages
Post Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:00 pm
Hi Rich,

My response to your questions in green below:

1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)? Yes
2) Did you take them at the same time of day as your Official GMAT? Only for Test #3, as I haven't registered when I did Test #1 and #2
3) 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.)? Took longer breaks only for Test #1, when I was unfamiliar with how long the breaks should be at that time.
4) What practice materials have you used so far?
OG Quant Review 2012
OG Quant Review 2016
Princeton Review Math Workout 2015
Also working with Princeton Review Math Workout 2017 and have OG Quant Review 2017


Many thanks for taking time to answer my question Smile

Best,
Mimi[/quote]

Post Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:07 pm
Hi Mimi,

Considering that your studies have been limited to a handful a books, your scores are really strong - by extension, you seem to be a strong critical thinker and Test Taker, which is good. Based on everything that you've described, I don't see any big 'red flags' in how you've been preparing, so I would suggest that you keep studying as you have been. That next CAT result, assuming that the CAT is completely new, should provide the data we need to define your studies for the next 5 weeks.

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

_________________
Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

mmok Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
20 Jul 2016
Posted:
4 messages
Post Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:30 pm
Thanks Rich. As per your suggestion I just finished the mock test offered by Kaplan, the materials are all new, and my results below:

Test #4 - July 31
Quant 44
Verbal 35
Total 650

This is quite close to the first test I took before I actively put in time to study:

Test #1 - June 11
Quant: 44
Verbal 36
Total: 660

Am not sure whether I am working on the quant section effectively as there doesn't seem to be much improvement in the score. What would you suggest I do to improve that?

Best,
Mimi

Post Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:09 pm
Hi Mimi,

Since this score is so similar to your earlier CAT score, you're likely consistent in the things that you do correctly and the in the little mistakes that you make.
This type of situation actually happens to many Test Takers who use a "book heavy" study approach. Even the best books are limited in what they can teach you; they also can't force you to approach questions in a certain way and their explanations are often one-sided.

When reviewing a CAT, it's important to try to define WHY you're getting questions wrong. After reviewing this CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/Verbal rule that you just didn't know?
3) Because the question was too hard?

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

_________________
Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Post Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:11 am
I want to address your question: I Am not sure whether I am working on the quant section effectively as there doesn't seem to be much improvement in the score. What would you suggest I do to improve that?

In regard to how to study for the GMAT, you must realize that the GMAT is such a challenging exam because there are relatively few questions asked in a given exam, yet those questions come from a huge topic pool. Thus, the best way to get a great GMAT score is to have a thorough understanding of all the topics that may be tested on the exam. To develop such mastery, you want to strive for linear and targeted learning and follow that with focused practice. In other words, you want to master one topic before you move to the next. Have you been able to study in this way?

For example, if you are learning about Number Properties, you should learn everything possible about that topic, e.g., LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, remainders, etc. After that, be sure that you practice with a lot of questions (50 or more) just on Number Properties. The results of that practice will help you to determine how well you have truly mastered that topic.

Once you feel you have fully learned all the important GMAT topics, but not before, start taking practice exams again. I suggest taking Official GMAC tests, as those exams provide the most accurate exam experience and use the most accurate scoring algorithm. Since you have exhausted the two free exams, I suggest that you purchase and use exam pack 1 and exam pack 2.

Also, I noticed that you are using only GMAT prep books for study for the GMAT. Have you considered an online self-study course?

In comparison to GMAT prep books, Self-study courses typically provide detailed study plans and have granular analytics, so you can easily track your progress as you move through the course. By being able to track your progress, you will remain more engaged, and you’ll be able to forecast when you are ready to take your real GMAT. If you would like to learn more about what online resources are available, check out the verified course reviews on Beat The GMAT.

If you have any further questions feel free to reach out.

Good luck!

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Jeffrey Miller Head of GMAT Instruction

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