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Very poor practice CAT - Advice Welcome!

This topic has 5 expert replies and 5 member replies
jem41989 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Very poor practice CAT - Advice Welcome!

Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:08 am
Hi All,
I took my first practice CAT (free Economist trial), with a 2-3 hours of studying (no quant) and did very poorly (490, 31Q, 28V, 6 AR). To say the least this has been very disheartening. I knew I would struggle on the quant section but I never imagined to such a degree.

I initially had pretty lofty B-school goals targeting a weekend program at a Top 20 program in the Midwest. Obviously, there is an ocean between where things stand currently and where I would need to be.

I would be interested in any study advice, or strong study planning resources for this situation. I have 3-4 months(or hypothetically longer) to study. I estimate I need to get into the 650 range to really have the options I am interested in. I am struggling to formulate a plan in my head that is realistic for a 160 point increase. I have seen the stories so I do know it possible.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

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Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:17 am
jem41989 wrote:
Hi All,
I took my first practice CAT (free Economist trial), with a 2-3 hours of studying (no quant) and did very poorly (490, 31Q, 28V, 6 AR). To say the least this has been very disheartening. I knew I would struggle on the quant section but I never imagined to such a degree.

I initially had pretty lofty B-school goals targeting a weekend program at a Top 20 program in the Midwest. Obviously, there is an ocean between where things stand currently and where I would need to be.

I would be interested in any study advice, or strong study planning resources for this situation. I have 3-4 months(or hypothetically longer) to study. I estimate I need to get into the 650 range to really have the options I am interested in. I am struggling to formulate a plan in my head that is realistic for a 160 point increase. I have seen the stories so I do know it possible.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
The default study plan is engineered to help test-takers who are starting at around 500 get to 700+. So you not only shouldn't be disheartened - you should be encouraged that the kind of increase you're looking for happens all the time. Jumping 160+ points in 3-4 months is perfectly realistic. The first step, as you noted, is to construct a study plan. Every company offers a free trial so you can get a sense of their teaching philosophy.

So take some products for a spin and then select one that's compatible with your learning style. Take the emotion out of it. If you're anything like most people, the first time you hopped on a bike you fell on your face. You did not conclude on that basis that bike-riding was beyond your capability. It was simply a skill you hadn't mastered yet. Same thing with the GMAT. Once you select a curriculum, you'll want to take regular practice tests, review them thoroughly, and then make adjustments based on what is and isn't working.

Keep us posted...

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Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:45 am
Hi jem41989,

Many Test Takers are unhappy with their initial CAT scores, so you're not alone. It's worth noting that this is just the first of many CATs that you're going to take, so you should look at all of this as part of the broader learning experience. Many Test Takers spend 3 months (or more) of consistent study time before they hit their 'peak' scores, so you'll almost certainly improve as you get deeper into your studies (and become more familiar with the Test). Raising your score 160+ points in the next 3-4 months is an absolutely achievable goal, but you're going to have to put in some serious work to improve in BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections.

1) What study materials are you currently using?
2) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
3) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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

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Thanked by: jem41989
Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:12 pm
I agree with Rich and David. There is definately a personal-sticker-shock when you think you've got this taken care of, or at least wouldn't fall on your face, and then: yeah. You don't.

There are three upgrades you'll need to make: content mastery, best methods in critical thinking and strategy, and B-lining into the best mindset. Your inital CAT score is a GIFT. It's a poloroid of where you are right then and there, and if you do your work diligently, you'll never be there again. You can't go on a diet without weighing yourself! Start a fitness plan without getting your vitals and heart rate! This is the same.

It's absolutely achievable to increase your score 160+ points, but you'll need a plan and based on your performance, practice. And more practice. And even more practice. I agree with David: You want to find material that works with your learning style, as well as addresses your weaknesses. When we work with students we do an extensive evaluation - - which I can in part, help you do for yourself. You want to identify not only WHAT you get wrong but if there is a pattern to HOW you're getting things wrong. Also look if there are patterns in the content or question numbers that you get wrong. For example, if you ALWAYS get question numbers 5 - 7 wrong - - mabye you have a dip in your ability to focus at that point.

Setting up a schedule (realistic one) is also important for streamlined score improvement. When will you study? When will you not-study and not-work? I ask because if you're all work and no play - - more than a dull-person you become, you also will likely lose steam. And this is as much a perserverance game as it is a showing up game.

There are more things to suggest but you've got a good bit to start with.

Can't wait to hear how things progress!

Good Luck!

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jem41989 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:19 pm
I wanted to write a quick thank you. This has been very encouraging and I will take the ideas to heart. I was a bit in a daze and this has helped me to refocus and concentrate on achieving a score I'm proud of.

And Rich I wanted to respond to your questions which I will consider myself:
1) I'm starting by following the three month plan on here. So currently the Kaplan book with plans to expand
2) Apply for Spring 2018
3) realistically 1.5 hours weekdays, 3 hours weekend days for 13.5 per week (I did the CFA, totally different type of studying but know my limits)

Thanks!
Jay

Post Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:21 am
Hi Jay,

You have plenty of time to study before you plan to apply to Business School - which is good. If you want to start with the materials that you have, then I suggest that you study as you see fit for the next 2-3 weeks, then take a NEW, FULL-LENGTH CAT (with the Essay and IR sections). Once you have that score, you should post back here and we can discuss how to adjust your studies (if needed).

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

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jem41989 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:48 am
Thanks Rich, that is much more approachable. I will post back once I have a new CAT.

Thanks.

jem41989 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:41 am
Hi Rich,
So this feels exceptionally flukey. I took the Manhattan prep free CAT and here are the results.

Essay - not scored
IR - 2.47 (I got 6 I believe on the Economist CAT) apparently this is about as low as you can get Sad
Quant - 41 - 45%
Verbal - 39 - 89%
Total 660 - 79%

I cannot explain such a drastic improvement, which is why I feel like this is inaccurate. And I still cannot put into words how lost I felt on the quant section. I have be reviewing the Kaplan premier book solely to this point. I did the SC chapter and the been working my way through quant.

Thanks,
Jay

jem41989 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:42 am
Please forgive the typos. It is indicative of overall academic laziness I am trying to fix.

Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:55 am
Hi Jay,

A 170-point increase in just 2 weeks is not typical, so you're right to be a bit suspicious of this result. However, we don't know which result (this recent score or your initial CAT score) is a more accurate reflection of your actual GMAT skills - it's possible that the first score was 'off.' It's also possible that neither score is actually representative. As such, I have a few questions about how you took these 2 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 plan to take your Official GMAT?
4) Did you do ANYTHING during your CATs that you won't be allowed to do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you take either of these CATs more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE?

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

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jem41989 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:24 am
Sure, see responses below.

1. First CAT had no writing section, 2nd one was full length
2. First at home, 2nd at office
3. First was in the evening on a weekday, second started at 10 am
4. First one was clean. Second one froze and had to be reloaded three times. One of those times I used the restroom
5. No

I'm very skeptical of the verbal score. I'm fairly comfortable reading but on SC I am essentially picking what sounds best, and looking for the most basic errors.

I am planning to sign up for the Empower 3 month plan now. I need to really sharpen the quant side and practice a lot in general is my takeaway.

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