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How to start studying?

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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How to start studying?

Post Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:37 pm
Hi,

I know this question has been asked and answered countless times. But if i could get some first hand answers, it would be great.

First of all, my history, i have given GMAT once last year. I did not prepare well, i barely even knew what GMAT was or what actually it tests. I simply took it as a general test, prepared for like 20-25 days and came crashing down with a score of 630 (i had hoped to get 650 at least).

This time, i have given myself 9 months to prepare. But, i read several posts which say that 3 months is optimal time to prepare and give GMAT. My plan was to give myself 4, 5 months of time to prepare, give my test and next 4 months to improve and write my applications.

I am leaning towards longer preparation because its hard for me to grasp mathematical concepts and i wanted enough time to master it. I am an engineer and usually engineers are good at mathematics, but in my case its simply reversed. I am able to grasp verbal concepts but math always eludes me.

Right now, my study plan includes watching magoosh videos, making notes of my strengths and weakness in a particular topic, solving whatever questions come up during the explanations or in the magoosh blogs(i have an excel sheet to maintain error log with all the details) and going through BTG and GMATClub forums. I wanted to clear my concepts first before diving into actual practice.

My question is, is this way too slow? I can and do dedicate 3 hours of study time per day and my concentration is good, so its purely 3 hours of study time. Should i dive right into solving questions and try to clear my concepts through them? Or should i take time like as i am doing right now and then start practicing?

With my current study plan, i am aiming to finish understanding the basics and advanced concepts by mid January and then begin the actual practice. I am planning to give my GMAT in May 2016.

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Yash

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Post Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:55 am
yash188 wrote:
Hi,

I know this question has been asked and answered countless times. But if i could get some first hand answers, it would be great.

First of all, my history, i have given GMAT once last year. I did not prepare well, i barely even knew what GMAT was or what actually it tests. I simply took it as a general test, prepared for like 20-25 days and came crashing down with a score of 630 (i had hoped to get 650 at least).

This time, i have given myself 9 months to prepare. But, i read several posts which say that 3 months is optimal time to prepare and give GMAT. My plan was to give myself 4, 5 months of time to prepare, give my test and next 4 months to improve and write my applications.

I am leaning towards longer preparation because its hard for me to grasp mathematical concepts and i wanted enough time to master it. I am an engineer and usually engineers are good at mathematics, but in my case its simply reversed. I am able to grasp verbal concepts but math always eludes me.

Right now, my study plan includes watching magoosh videos, making notes of my strengths and weakness in a particular topic, solving whatever questions come up during the explanations or in the magoosh blogs(i have an excel sheet to maintain error log with all the details) and going through BTG and GMATClub forums. I wanted to clear my concepts first before diving into actual practice.

My question is, is this way too slow? I can and do dedicate 3 hours of study time per day and my concentration is good, so its purely 3 hours of study time. Should i dive right into solving questions and try to clear my concepts through them? Or should i take time like as i am doing right now and then start practicing?

With my current study plan, i am aiming to finish understanding the basics and advanced concepts by mid January and then begin the actual practice. I am planning to give my GMAT in May 2016.
There is no ideal recipe for everyone. However, there's a reason most study plans range between 30 and 90 days - there isn't that much content to learn. The GMAT is mostly a test about logic, attention, and detail. If you're 2.5 months into 3 month study plan and you find you haven't made the progress you've wanted, sure, think about extending your deadline, but otherwise, I don't think there's any reason to plan on devoting 9 months from the start, particularly in light of your strong starting point. Also, try not to get too caught up in mastering the fundamentals before you begin taking practice tests. One of the key skills you'll be cultivating is how to apply strategies with a time constraint, and the practice exams are an excellent way to cultivate that skill.

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Dec 17, 2015 7:14 am
Thanks Dave for the excellent advice. That is what i wanted to know. I didn't plan on studying the whole 9 months, its just that i have almost 9 months before R1 application deadlines for the schools i want to apply in.

Just mastering fundamentals is slow and against my study style. But your suggestion really helped. If i am not satisfied with the progress in the timeline, i can always extend.

_________________
Regards,
Yash

Post Fri Dec 18, 2015 10:28 am
HI yash188,

I have a few questions about your prior studies and GMAT score:

1) What were your Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores on your 1st GMAT?
2) What materials did you use to study during that time?

For free math practice and help, I recommend that you set up an account at Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org). The site is completely free and makes the learning a bit more fun and 'game-like' (as opposed to the dry academic approach taken by most books). While the site is vast, you should limit your studies to basic Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry. After spending a little time re-building those skills, you can start your GMAT studies.

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

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:07 am
Hi Rich,

1. I don't exactly remember the sectional score i got last year, but i think quants was in 40s and verbal was in high 20s (got overconfident with my verbal skills here Very Happy).

2. I used only the official guide for GMAT as it was a completely baseless preparation.

Thanks for providing the site. Its actually very good.

_________________
Regards,
Yash

Post Sat Dec 19, 2015 8:27 am
Hi yash188,

You should be able to access your Official Score by logging into your account at www.mba.com.

Since you took the GMAT last year, it's been quite some time since you've taken any type of FULL-LENGTH Test, so you might want to take one soon so that we can get a better sense of your current strengths and weaknesses. Once you have those scores, you should report back here and we can talk in more detail about how you can go about studying.

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

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:03 am
Hi Rich,

I will give a full length test and will post the results here. Hopefully it won't be that bad.

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Yash

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Post Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:12 am
Yash, here's another idea for your quant prep.

You can do questions and see what you find challenging and then do focused work on whatever that is.

Here's what I mean. Let's say, for example, that you are doing questions and you come to an overlapping sets question and it takes you ten minutes to get to the right answer. That would be pretty annoying right? So you would be MOTIVATED to learn about overlapping sets questions and how to handle them and to practice doing overlapping sets questions. You could do all that by using all kinds of resources available online and let that motivation get you to the point that you are expert at handling any kind of overlapping sets question that you see.

Ok great.

Then you keep going and run into a work and rates question getting the right answer to which takes you fifteen minutes...

Doing it that way guarantees two things. You are working on things that you actually need to work on in order to drive your score higher, and you are motivated to work on those things by seeing how they challenge you.

And here's a key point.

The order in which you work on things does not matter, and in a way covering everything that might show up on the test is not essential. The only thing that matters is that whatever you work on drives your expected score higher. If you aren't good at handling a certain type of question and you work on that type for two days, a week or whatever, you will have developed skills that are pretty much guaranteed to translate into a higher score the next time you take the test. Do that enough and INEVITABLY you will hit your score goal.

One good source of categorized quant questions for focused practice is the question bank here, http://bellcurves.com. You can access it by going the GMAT area and signing up for a practice account.

Meanwhile, you said that your quant score was in the 40's and your verbal score was in the 20's, and now you are focusing on quant. Sounds to me as if you need to get to work on verbal too, and not just verbal concepts but also how to get to right answers to verbal questions, maybe more the latter than the former.

One way to decide about scheduling your test is to start preparing, taking practice tests as you go along. After a month or so you should have a much better sense of what getting to your score goal is going to take and of whether having the motivation of a scheduled test will be useful for you.

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Post Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:35 pm
Hi yash188,

Just do your best with this CAT and don't worry about this initial score result. You've given yourself plenty of time to hit your score goals and you're going to improve a great deal over time. Right now, we're looking for a realistic assessment of your current skills (regardless of what 'level' they currently are) - so that we can put together the most practical and useful study plan for you.

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

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:45 am
Hi,

Thank you so much for your excellent advice.
I am trying to incorporate the strategies suggested by all of you and see what works out best for me.

Right now i am giving the diagnostic test from OG (not timed) and then will give the free GMAT prep test and see what score i get. And meanwhile, i am also noting down each and every question/topic which i a getting wrong or taking too long to solve so that i can focus on them more. Giving the diagnostic test and the full length test will hopefully make it more clear which areas i am particularly weak in.

Marty,

I know the verbal score is low but last time, since i face difficulties solving quants questions, i focused on it a bit too much and as i said got over confident with my verbal ability.
This time,i am focusing on quants but the emphasis on verbal is equal. Its just that i can work out a strategy for verbal but with math, i need help.

And this is just my initial perception about me. As i progress, i will get to know whether i am actually good with GMAT English or not and change my strategy accordingly.

_________________
Regards,
Yash

Post Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:05 pm
Hi Yash,

While the Diagnostic Test in the OG is a nice source for practice questions, that Test doesn't really 'line up' real well with what you're going to face on the Official GMAT. As such, it should not be a priority right now. That CAT result is the essential data that we need to assess your situation and put together a study plan, so you should take the CAT sooner rather than later and save the OG Diagnostic for another time.

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

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:10 am
Hi Rich,

I was giving the diagnostic test for myself, just to brush up on concepts.

I gave the GMAT test prep and got the following score:
Quants: 46
Verbal: 35
IR: 4
Overall: 660

To be frank, IR simply went over my head. I know it's an important concept, maybe not so much for GMAT itself but for the management studies I am aiming for and it's really bothering me.

How do you think I should proceed now? The score seems okay for a first attempt though some topics like geometry and set theory proved to be too difficult and CR in verbal was proving too tough. It seemed like I just couldn't get into the mentality of what the question was trying to ask. Especially inference question.

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Yash

Marty Murray Legendary Member
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Post Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:50 pm
Yash, it looks to me as if you are pretty much set. Just bump that quant score up to 49-51 and push your verbal score up five to seven points to 40 to 42 and you will be at 720 to 740. If you want to score even higher than that, you could just keep at it. This game is pretty much yours to win.

Regarding quant, many people who do engineering don't start off doing that well in GMAT quant and actually you did pretty well scoring 46. Now, to increase your score, start with the topics you mentioned, overlapping sets, I guess, and geometry, and work on each of them until you could teach them. Then go to other topics and do the same as necessary until you hit your quant score goal.

For verbal, the key thing about CR and RC inference questions is that what the right answer choice says has to be unambiguously true given what is said in the prompt.

With some practice you should get to the point where you see exactly what is going on in CR questions and you should start getting all of them or close to all of them right. I realize that right now they may seem challenging, but once you develop an eye for what you need to see in order to get them right, they will seem much more straightforward and easier to handle. It's just a matter of doing a bunch of questions and getting a better sense of the skills and processes you need to get them right. Do them very slowly at first, working on each question for as long as it takes to see EXACTLY why the wrong answers are wrong and the right answer is right. By taking your time that way, you will develop the vision you need to get them right, and once you have developed that you can speed up, seeking to still see exactly what is going on.

Regarding IR, once you do some more practicing your score will increase. You need to get good at using the sorting function and at doing some basic things that getting those questions right involves. Also, you don't need to answer them all to score 8. No big deal. What are you worried about?

Rock this test.

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yash188 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:48 pm
Thanks for the encouraging words Marty.

The thing is that last year I had studied and got 630. This time, I just sort of gave the test and got 660. I am worried that this might just turn out to be a fluke Very Happy I will revise the topics as you suggested and give the test again next week just to be sure.

For inference questions, I will go as you suggested. That's the only thing which I get really stuck in. Hopefully, when I start solving, I will be able to grasp it.

I had another question, right now, I am using Magoosh premium and Manhattan guides as my primary sources of study. And Manhattan CR is a bit tough to understand easily.
Should I get some other books or online sources for that?
Or will Magoosh will be enough? I haven't gone through the videos for CR till now.

I would really like to get a score above 720 as I have a low GPA of 2.7.
If I can get some edge during the application process, it will be great.

_________________
Regards,
Yash

Post Wed Dec 23, 2015 8:54 am
Hi Yash,

This 660 is a strong CAT performance. Considering all of the study time that you've given yourself, you could absolutely score at an even higher level on the Official GMAT (assuming that you practice the proper Tactics and hone all of your Test-taking skills).

Many Business Schools have publicly stated that they do not factor in the IR score when evaluating applications, so you likely have little to worry about there. IR does have a lot in common with Verbal CR though, so as you hone your skills in one area, you'll likely see an improvement in the other.

With a Q46/V35, you have a great opportunity to pick up points in both sections. With all the time that you have, you can continue your studies in any way that you see fit (at least in the short term) - it might be that you can make the necessary adjustments to your studies on your own. You might end up choosing to invest in some new study resources, but you don't have to necessarily make that decision just yet.

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

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