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How to Get to 700+ in 5 Weeks (75-80%+ Perc. in Quant.)?

This topic has 4 expert replies and 3 member replies
beatgmat16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
26 Sep 2017
Posted:
4 messages

How to Get to 700+ in 5 Weeks (75-80%+ Perc. in Quant.)?

Post Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:05 pm
Hello,

I just completed my first official GMAT exam, and I got a whopping 600 (33Q/38V)! Sad I got in the 89 percentile for Verbal, but it was Quant that brought my score down so low; I got either 25 or 33 percentile (please forgive my memory - I was shocked to see the official score, and was quick to cancel it).

I have a strong literary background, so getting a score in a higher percentile for Verbal seems very possible if I study harder. However, it's Quant that's making me so worried. I studied hard for the exam and went from a 560 on (36Q/31V) on my first diagnostic MPrep exam up to 720 on a GmatPrep practice test (48Q/41V) halfway through my study preparations! I took a total of eight practice exams leading up to my first GMAT test:

MPrep 1: 560 (36Q/31V)
MPrep 2: 620 (39Q/36V)
MPrep 3: 660 (42Q/38V)
GmatPrep 1: 720 (48Q/41V)
MPrep 4: 710 (45Q/41V)
GmatPrep 2: 660 (44Q/37Q)
MPrep 5: 660 (42Q/38V)
GmatPrep 3: 620 (38Q/37V)

As you can see, there was a steady rise in my overall performance, but there was also a steady decline! I pushed back my initial test date because I wanted to break 700 on a practice test, but after I achieved this twice, my score became worse. It was difficult for me to find extra time to study because work became unbelievably demanding three weeks before my test date, so I think that that was where my progress stalled. Additionally, nerves are a serious issue for me when taking this test.

After reviewing the last three practice tests I took, I saw so many foolish mistakes that I easily spotted during my review that I couldn't help but chastise myself for rushing too much, not reading the math questions carefully, solving for the wrong problem, etc. It almost seems that, as the test date neared, my scores got worse!

After reflecting on what likely caused my low score today, I think that getting too nervous was a huge part of the problem. Even more importantly, I noticed that I have a number of problem areas in math - specifically Algebra, Number Properties, Probability/Combinatorics, and difficult Word Problems. While I did better on those two 700+ practice exams, I think my score has settled in the low 600s now because I don't have a true understanding of the math problems that I struggle with.

In sum, I'm wondering what I can do to get to a score of 700+. I still have a number of resources to use to study for my next scheduled exam in early November (~5 weeks from now). I have quite a few math questions left, as well as three practice exams to help me study, plus all the resources from Manhattan Prep.

Do any of you have any recommendations for a 5-week study plan to break 700?

Thanks so much for reading, and I look forward to any bit of advice! Smile

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beatgmat16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
26 Sep 2017
Posted:
4 messages
Post Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:42 am
Bump Smile

Post Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:19 pm
Hi beatgmat16,

I'm sorry to hear that Test Day didn't go as well as planned. Based on what you've described about your review of your CATs - you seem to understand that you were making lots of little mistakes - and that those mistakes led to a lower score. That's almost certainly what happened on Test Day as well.

Beyond that self-assessment though, 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 when you took 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

_________________
Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Thanked by: gmatdestroyer13
Post Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:52 pm
It sounds like test-taking anxiety might be a big part of the issue (assuming that, to Rich's questions, you didn't do anything differently on the practice exams). You mental state can have a HUGE impact on your performance! Try to tell yourself the following:

1. There's no need to stress on any given test, because there's no penalty for taking it multiple times (except the cost of the test itself, which is minimal in comparison to the cost of graduate school). Just tell yourself "if this doesn't go well, I can always take it again."

2. Stress is a good thing! (A little bit of stress, anyway). It means that your body is preparing for a fight - you're in "game-time" mode. Try to tell yourself, "ok, it's good that I'm feeling excitement. That will focus my concentration!"

3. Remember to BREATHE! Your brain needs oxygen. Taking a DEEP BREATH before every question can help reduce the buildup of cortisol & make it easier for you to think clearly.

4. The GMAT is very forgiving. It's ok to guess & move on from any individual problem - even the experts get lots of questions wrong / have to skip on the real thing!

Here are some more resources about managing anxiety:
http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2013/05/09/stressed-out-meditate-to-lower-your-anxiety-and-boost-your-gmat-score/
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2009/11/27/techniques-for-managing-gmat-stress/
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2012/01/03/stress-management/
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2014/04/09/my-score-dropped-figuring-out-what-went-wrong-2/

Another thing that students often don't think about, but which can have a huge impact: decision fatigue. When you've made dozens of decisions in a row (as on a GMAT exam), it depletes your ability to make new decisions. One way to combat that - eat something! Increasing blood glucose has been proven to counteract decision fatigue.

“Even the wisest people won’t make good choices when they’re not rested and their glucose is low,”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?_r=0

If you took an Mprep class, you qualify for a free Post-Exam Assessment. An instructor will go through all of you CAT data & help you to figure out how to improve for the next time. Email gmat@manhattanprep.com or call (800) 576-4628 for more info.

Good luck!

_________________


Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education


Manhattan Prep instructors all have 99th+ percentile scores and expert teaching experience.
Sign up for a FREE TRIAL, and learn why we have the highest ratings in the GMAT industry!

Thanked by: gmatdestroyer13
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beatgmat16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
26 Sep 2017
Posted:
4 messages
Post Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:14 pm
Hello,

Thank you both so much for your reply! Yes, I took those tests under the normal test conditions (no breaks, etc.). I did take the tests in the afternoon, however, and my test was scheduled for the morning. Also, I took the test at home, seated at a table.

I think that I got those two high scores because I wasn't worried about the outcome. I felt like I had more time to prepare, so I was more so curious where I was,and how I could improve. So, as the test day neared, stress definitely became a huge factor, as well as timing issues for questions that were greater problem areas for me.

I started tutoring sessions, and my tutor, just as you stated above, highlighted that test anxiety was quite a problem for me. I will definitely look into the stress-relieving techniques posted above, and have also started using affirmations and meditation techniques.

Beyond getting my stress in check, I also noticed that I wasn't thoroughly going over exactly why I got test questions wrong. While I would thoroughly review my practice exams and practice questions, I didn't write down why I got those answers wrong, and how to avoid making that mistake again. A lot of the errors stemmed from misreading the question, answering too quickly, answering the wrong question halfway through, etc. - all of which I chalked up to silly errors that I could avoid making if I focused more. That "technique" hasn't worked at all, however, so I've started actually writing these errors down.

I'm also starting to study smarter; before, I was trying to amass a wealth of knowledge about each subject, but I wasn't doing short practice sets that helped build my endurance and timing skills.

Finally, I'll definitely keep the breathing technique in mind! I remember that my chest was feeling tight before and during the actual exam, which isn't a good thing! I know that I care about what I'm doing, that it's good to care, and that I'm not afraid of hard work and studying my a** off (who here on this forum isn't? Smile ), so a good blend of nervous confidence is key!

In light of this, is there anything else I can do to help myself out? I plan to take a practice test in the coming days. Thanks so much, again!

Post Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:39 pm
Hi beatgmat16,

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 (and the more likely you will be to be comfortable with experience that you will face on Test Day). The more you deviate, the more "inflated" your practice scores can become - and that's what happened here. By taking the CATs at home (without any of the natural distractions that will occur on Test Day), taking them at different times of day, etc., you weren't properly training for the FULL GMAT 'experience.' By extension, your practice CAT scores were not completely accurate.

Beyond those details, it's worth re-iterating that making lots of little mistakes is what will kill many Test Takers. You almost certainly have the ability to get those questions correct, but if you don't force yourself to do the precise work every time (on the PAD - NOT 'in your head'), then you run the risk of losing lots of points... and that's something that you simply cannot allow to happen.

Since it's been over 2 weeks since you took the GMAT, so taking a new FULL-LENGTH CAT (in a realistic fashion that matches up with what you'll face on Test Day) is a good idea. You've now faced the Official GMAT, so you should think about all of the details that will go into your next Official Test Date and implement them into how you take your CATs.

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

_________________
Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

Post Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:45 am
beatgmat16 wrote:
Beyond getting my stress in check, I also noticed that I wasn't thoroughly going over exactly why I got test questions wrong. While I would thoroughly review my practice exams and practice questions, I didn't write down why I got those answers wrong, and how to avoid making that mistake again. A lot of the errors stemmed from misreading the question, answering too quickly, answering the wrong question halfway through, etc. - all of which I chalked up to silly errors that I could avoid making if I focused more. That "technique" hasn't worked at all, however, so I've started actually writing these errors down.

I'm also starting to study smarter; before, I was trying to amass a wealth of knowledge about each subject, but I wasn't doing short practice sets that helped build my endurance and timing skills.
SUCH an important thing to realize! Most students over-emphasize the content knowledge, but under-emphasize the importance of good review. Here are two more resources to help you with that:
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2013/01/18/the-worst-mistake-you-can-make-in-gmat-studying/
https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog/2017/03/09/why-you-should-be-redoing-gmat-problems/

Did you sign up for the Post-Exam Assessment yet? It's free, and I think it would be a really huge help, even in addition to tutoring.

Good luck!

_________________


Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education


Manhattan Prep instructors all have 99th+ percentile scores and expert teaching experience.
Sign up for a FREE TRIAL, and learn why we have the highest ratings in the GMAT industry!

Free Manhattan Prep online events - The first class of every online Manhattan Prep course is free. Classes start every week.
beatgmat16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
26 Sep 2017
Posted:
4 messages
Post Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:36 am
Hello,

So sorry for my late reply! Thank you both very much for your advice: they definitely came in handy! Stressand test anxiety were serious issues for me, and I also made sure to take my practice exams under conditions that we're similar to those on the real test day. Also, doing smaller drill sets, thorough going over the questions I got wrong with my tutor and family members, and studying much, much more efficiently helped a lot. Rather than cram as many practice tests as possible in the weeks leading up to the GMAT test date like I had done the first time around, I took two practice exams. On the first exam, I got a 670, and on the second exam, I got a 700.

I suppose I can give an update. I got a 710 on test day!! I think that telling myself that I could apply next year if I didn't do well enough was what helped take the edge off the most. What's funny to me is that the very portion of the exam that made me the most anxious - Quant - was the very area that helped me get over 700. My raw score was 48!

So, once I learned that I could actually apply this year with a fairly good test score, I've been working on applications ever since. I'll very likely check out areas of this forum for advice on essays.

Thank you both again!

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