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Overcoming Issues with Computer Based Testing

This topic has 3 expert replies and 7 member replies
Knitgeek Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Overcoming Issues with Computer Based Testing

Post Tue May 03, 2016 1:29 pm
I am still fairly early in my preparation for my GMAT. I am planning on writing my GMAT mid July. I have been working with the OG and Magoosh as my study resources and I have noticed that I perform significantly better when working with the OG then with Magoosh's practice. I'm attributing most of that to simply not being used to computer based testing as I'm far more comfortable with pen and paper tests.

Aside from lots of practice with questions on the computer does anyone have any advice for helping narrow my performance gap between the two formats?

I do all my practice sessions regardless of format with a timer so that I'm getting used to working under time constraints and I am working on brushing up on some very rusty Quant skills (it's been almost 12 years since I last looked at some of the math on GMAT). Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to do any full length practice tests yet but my schedule has opened up as of this week so I'm going to be tackling a full length practice test this week.

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Post Tue May 03, 2016 7:04 pm
Knitgeek wrote:
I am still fairly early in my preparation for my GMAT. I am planning on writing my GMAT mid July. I have been working with the OG and Magoosh as my study resources and I have noticed that I perform significantly better when working with the OG then with Magoosh's practice. I'm attributing most of that to simply not being used to computer based testing as I'm far more comfortable with pen and paper tests.

Aside from lots of practice with questions on the computer does anyone have any advice for helping narrow my performance gap between the two formats?

I do all my practice sessions regardless of format with a timer so that I'm getting used to working under time constraints and I am working on brushing up on some very rusty Quant skills (it's been almost 12 years since I last looked at some of the math on GMAT). Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to do any full length practice tests yet but my schedule has opened up as of this week so I'm going to be tackling a full length practice test this week.
Hi Knitgeek,

Unfortunately the only way to train yourself for the computer based test is to practice from a computer based test. It would be a good idea to sit for a mock CAT this week and then analyse your results thoroughly.

Once you have given the CAT, you would be able to pin point at your weaknesses and then improve them by focussing on them. You need to build the concepts/fundamentals before you jump in solving the problems. You can do so by choosing one of the following ways:

1. In person classes/private tutoring
2. Online classes
3. Self paced online preparatory course
4. Book heavy approach

Since you have already chosen the online course method, make sure you go through the videos and understand the concepts. In addition to the preparatory course, buy the Official Guides(both the Official Guide and the Verbal Review), Question Pack 1 and the 4 official mock CATs. They should be an indispensable part of your preparation. These resources will help you to practice more online material.

You need close to 3 months to prepare well for the GMAT.

1. Understand the concepts and fundamentals before jumping into problem solving
2. Solve full length CATs including AWA and IR. You can get two free GMAT Prep mock CATs and can purchase two more from mba.com
3. Make sure you solve the official questions from the Official Guide

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Post Tue May 03, 2016 7:44 pm
Hi knitgeek,

Since it sounds like you've already done some studying, then it would be a good idea to take a FULL-LENGTH practice CAT Test; you can download 2 for free from www.mba.com (and they come with some additional practice materials). That score will give us a good sense of your natural strengths and weaknesses and will help provide a basis for comparison as you continue to study. A FULL CAT takes about 4 hours to complete, so make sure that you've set aside enough time to take it in one sitting. Once you have those scores, you should report back here and we can talk through your overall plan.

I'd like to know a bit more about your timeline and goals:
1) What is your goal score?
2) How many hours do you think you can study during a typical week?
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?

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

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Knitgeek Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed May 04, 2016 7:52 am
Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com wrote:
I'd like to know a bit more about your timeline and goals:
1) What is your goal score?
2) How many hours do you think you can study during a typical week?
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
Hi Rich,

I'm looking to apply to Simon Fraser University's part time MBA before the end of the summer (ideally as soon as I write my GMAT). The minimum GMAT based on the admission requirements is 550. I'm aiming to be over 600 but so long as I hit 550 I'm happy. My GPA and work experience are strong enough that being on the lower end of the admission requirements with the GMAT won't hurt my application too much.

As far as study time I average 2-3 hours on weekdays and 4-5 hours on weekends. Last weekend ended up being a write off thanks to a sick toddler and husband along with a minor family emergency which is the only reason I haven't attempted a full CAT yet. Right now I'm concentrating on working through Magoosh's math lessons and practice with the various question types from both Magoosh and the OG on weekdays and my weekends are focused on AWA and IR practice and full length practice CATs (starting this weekend).

I'm not particularly worried about the verbal portion of the test. My undergraduate background is a BEd with an English minor so I have a good grasp of what is being tested and am so far doing well on my practice. And while I am good at math the review is a much needed reminder as I haven't worked with a lot of the concepts since high school and Excel and calculators have definitely ruined me for the speed at which I do mental math. It's starting to click back in to place though and I'm seeing gains in my scores on topics I've reviewed.

I will definitely report back after I finish a CAT this weekend! Smile

Post Wed May 04, 2016 2:31 pm
Hi knitgeek,

The average score on the Official GMAT hovers around 540-550 most years, so your goal is absolutely achievable in your given timeframe. You will have to be efficient with your studies though - while 2.5 months might seem like a long time, it will pass by quickly. You mentioned in your prior post that you were already working with a timer, but that might not be a good idea just yet. Much of the speed and efficiency that you'll pick up in the coming weeks and months will happen because you'll be becoming familiar with the material and putting in the necessary practice repetitions (not because you're forcing yourself to work fast right now).

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

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Post Sat May 07, 2016 3:01 pm
Took the first GMAT Prep test this morning. I have to say the results surprised me. In a good way.

I score 500 (Q29, V31, IR7)

While I've got a friend evaluating my essay for me (she's a teacher and good with marking rubrics) I felt that I managed my time well and got a good product down.

I was very surprised at my IR mark I was expecting worse. I had a bit of a struggle with some of the questions, primarily with table sorting but that I think I can improve fairly easily with some practice with the question formats.

In both the quant and verbal I rushed myself and left marks on the floor because of silly calculation errors and missing key details. Considering I had time on the clock for both sections I have to get better at pacing myself.

Given this was my first shot at a full length exam I'm actually pretty proud of myself. I was expecting a score in the 400's based on how much review I have yet to complete. I did my best to replicate test conditions, but I did get interrupted twice near the end of the test (about six questions in to the verbal and then again with 10 questions left) because my toddler was trying to find me (apparently he can now reach doorknobs...a child lock is going on the den door tonight).

I know I'm still loosing quant marks because I still have a lot of concepts to brush up my skills with. Right now I'm able to look at each problem and at least have an idea of how to solve it. For the subjects I've reviewed in the Magoosh lessons I'm performing significantly better than on the subjects I have yet to tackle (yay! I'm teachable!)

In verbal I am pretty much smacking myself upside the head with almost every wrong answer I review. In most cases in rereading the question I can immediately pick out what I've done wrong. I need to slow down and concentrate more and I can pick up a good deal of points right there.

Post Sat May 07, 2016 4:27 pm
Hi knitgeek,

It's good that you can acknowledge the little mistakes that you made while taking this CAT. THOSE little mistakes cost you a bunch of points, but if you train properly to eliminate them from your work, then you should be able to score considerably higher in the future. In most cases, the 'fix' for these types of situations is to work on your note-taking - don't do any work in your head (write EVERYTHING on the pad). You'd be amazed how easy it is to pick up the missing points you're looking for when you focus on doing careful, organized work.

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

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Top Member

Post Sat May 07, 2016 8:11 pm
Hi Knitgeek.

Based on what you have said, here are some things to consider.

First, I will add to what Rich said about not using the timer yet by saying the following. For most of your practice, DO NOT USE A TIMER.

You need to get good at getting right answers, and getting right answers takes learning to see key things such as certain details and the logic of the questions. Learning those things happens best when at first you take all the time you need to in order to do them. I mean spending even an hour, or more, working on one question is not too much. Then once you have gotten good at those things, you can speed up.

Notice, you missed details and logic in verbal, your currently stronger section. Why? Partly because you haven't developed skill in seeing them. Learn to get 85% to 100% of verbal questions right, and then speed up.

Basically the same thing goes for quant. Learn to get right answers consistently, and once you have done that, you can speed up.

A person's score can EASILY go up 100 points just via the person switching from always practicing with a timer to practicing without a timer most of the time.

Regarding the IR table sorting, I want to confirm that you are using the sorting function on the tables as that is a huge time saver.

Also, it might help you to see the GMAT more as a reasoning game than as a test of math and language skills. So studying is just one aspect of preparing. The other aspect is learning to play the game, both in terms of getting good at finding your way to right answers and in terms of handling the timing and other aspects of the test itself.

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Post Mon May 09, 2016 12:31 pm
Hi Marty,

I have to say with the verbal section I lost a lot of points to simply being too overconfident and a bit of test fatigue. Basically I knew I was almost done and in a sense got lazy. There are few concepts I want to really go back and refresh myself with in the verbal section but overall I need to do as you say and just work on getting the right answers consistently first then start worrying about my speed.

For the IR section I was using the table sorting function, I'm just used to being able to manipulate data more than the function allows (I spend probably 80% of my day at work using Excel so I'm pretty comfortable with being able to manipulate data six ways from Sunday). I also hadn't done any IR practice before taking the CAT so it took me a couple questions to get used to controls and such.

At the end of the day I'm happy with where I'm at for hitting my goals as I continue to study. A couple more practice CATs to work out my pacing issues and continuing to review the concepts and skills I need to answer questions correctly and I think I will see my score start to move upward.

Top Member

Post Sat May 14, 2016 5:04 am
Knitgeek wrote:
Hi Marty,

I have to say with the verbal section I lost a lot of points to simply being too overconfident and a bit of test fatigue. Basically I knew I was almost done and in a sense got lazy.
Yeah, to score high on verbal you have to be ruthless with every question. Being the least bit overconfident or complacent can cost you points.

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http://infinitemindprep.com/
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Post Sun May 22, 2016 8:02 pm
Amazing what two weeks can do. I did another CAT this morning and came out with a score of 620 (Q 39, V 35, and IR 4).

I was thrown by my essay as the prompt was on a subject I know a lot about so I had to work to keep my response confined to the information in the prompt. I didn't do my best work there. That flowed in the IR section and I ran in to some timing issues which resulted in my not so stellar performance there.

Overall I think my timing was better after I got in to the quant and verbal sections. I still need to build up more stamina as I'm loosing points from my attention starting to wane near the end of the verbal section but I happy with my progress so far.

Now back to reviewing my math concepts and lots of practice! 😊

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