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30 Days to Improve My Score. Can it be done?

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30 Days to Improve My Score. Can it be done?

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Hi guys,

I started preparing for my GMAT 3 months ago. I took one of the official practice tests and scored a 430 (that's horrible, I know). Currently my score is between the 530-550 mark, and I'm aiming for at least a 650. I plan on writing my exam in the last week of December. I'm a non-native speaker, so I'm scoring about V27-30 in herbal and Q36-40 on average. Since I'm short on time, any tips would be appreciated.

Thanks.

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Hi clubber112358,

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) What study materials have you used so far?
2) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
3) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
4) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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

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Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Hey. I'll list down the answers one by one.

1) I've used the Manhattan GMAT prep guide along with the OG. I also use the Versitas iOS app from time to time to practice a few questions when I'm travelling.
2) I took an official prep CAT before I started preparing for my exam, and scored a 430. Horrible, I know.
I took a Kaplan test sometime last week (after ~3 months of prep) and scored a 530 (V27, Q36)

I seem to be having trouble with RC in verbal and probability, stats and ratios in quant.

3) I plan on applying to business schools in Canada. I'm aiming for Fall 2019.
4) I'm more inclined towards tier-1 schools. Richard Ivey, Queens, McMaster and Laurrier are some of the schools on my list. An average admission score is around 650, based on the admission guides I found online.

I plan on writing my exam on December 26th, which gives me around 5 weeks to at least cross the 600 mark, if not more. I work six days a week, so its hard to study after work hours and having only a Sunday to catch up.

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Hi clubber112358,

To start, if you have taken any other practice CATs besides the two that you listed, then that information is important. If you've been scoring in the low-500s for some time, then it's possible that you have gotten 'stuck' at this particular score level - and your 'next steps' would be a bit different than if you were just studying normally.

Assuming that this 530, then raising a 530 to a 650+ will likely require at least another 2-3 months of consistent, guided study - and you'll have to make significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. From what you describe though, your studies may have inconsistent - and potentially limited - so if that is how your studies will be going forward, then you might need even more time to get to your Goal Score. With just 5 weeks, there will likely be a limit to how much you could improve.

1) What are the exact application deadlines for each of the Programs that you plan to apply to? Are there later application Rounds (and if so, then what are they?)?
2) What is the minimum GMAT Score that you would apply with?
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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Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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Hi Clubber112358,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. Since you have been studying for 3 months and are stuck at a 530, it may be quite a tall order to improve your GMAT score by 120+ points in just 30 days. Furthermore, since you scored a V27/Q36 on your most recent practice exam, it’s clear that you lack some of the GMAT quant and verbal fundamentals necessary for a high score, right? I see that you are struggling with RC in verbal and Stats and Ratios in quant, but given where your score is, it’s likely that you have more weaknesses than just those topics. Thus, consider adjusting your study routine such that you can follow a structured and detailed plan that allows you to fill in ALL your gaps in knowledge and ensure that no stone is left unturned. Specifically, you should ensure that you are learning one topic at a time, gaining mastery, and only then moving on to the next topic.

For example, say you are learning about Number Properties. First, you should develop as much conceptual knowledge about Number Properties as possible. In other words, your goal will be to completely understand properties of factorials, perfect squares, quadratic patterns, LCM, GCF, units digit patterns, divisibility, and remainders, to name a few concepts. After carefully reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of how to answer Number Properties questions, practice by answering 50 or more questions just from Number Properties. When you do dozens of questions of the same type one after the other, you learn just what it takes to get questions of that type correct consistently. If you aren't getting close to 90 percent of questions of a certain type correct, go back and seek to better understand how that type of question works, and then do more questions of that type until you get to around at least 90 percent accuracy in your training. If you get 100 percent of some sets correct, even better. Number Properties is just one example; follow this process for all quant topics.

When you are working on learning to answer questions of a particular type, start off taking your time, and then seek to speed up as you get more comfortable answering questions of that type. As you do such practice, do a thorough analysis of each question that you don't get right. If you got a remainder question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not properly apply the remainder formula? Was there a concept you did not understand in the question? By carefully analyzing your mistakes, you will be able to efficiently fix your weaknesses and in turn improve your GMAT quant skills.

Follow a similar routine for verbal. For example, let’s say you start by learning about Critical Reasoning. Your first goal is to fully master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice so that you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

When practicing Reading Comprehension, you need to develop a reading strategy that is both efficient and thorough. Reading too fast and not understanding what you have read are equally as harmful as reading too slow and using up too much time. When attacking Reading Comprehension passages, you must have one clear goal in mind: to understand the context of what you are reading. However, you must do so efficiently, so you need to avoid getting bogged down in the details of each paragraph and instead focus on understanding the main point of each paragraph. That being said, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can just read the intro and the conclusion and thereby comprehend the main idea of a paragraph. As you read a paragraph, consider how the context of the paragraph relates to previous paragraphs, so you can continue developing your overall understanding of the passage. Furthermore, as you practice, focus on the exact types of questions with which you struggle: Find the Main Idea, Inference, Author’s Tone, etc. As with Critical Reasoning, analyze your incorrect Reading Comprehension answers to better determine why you tend to get a particular question type wrong, and then improve upon your weaknesses. Keep in mind that GMAT Reading Comprehension passages are not meant to be easy to read. So, to better prepare yourself to analyze such passages, read magazines with similar content and style, such as the Economist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian.

Sentence Correction is a bit of a different animal compared to Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. There are three aspects to getting correct answers to GMAT Sentence Correction questions: what you know, such as grammar rules, what you see, such as violations of grammar rules and the logic of sentence structure, and what you do, such as carefully considering each answer choice in the context of the non-underlined portion of the sentence. To drive up your Sentence Correction score, it is likely that you will have to work on all three of those aspects.

Regarding what you know, first and foremost, you MUST know your grammar rules. Let's be clear, though: GMAT Sentence Correction is not just a test of knowledge of grammar rules. The reason for learning grammar rules is so that you can determine what sentences convey and whether sentences are well-constructed. In fact, in many cases, incorrect answers to Sentence Correction questions are grammatically flawless. Thus, often your task is to use your knowledge of grammar rules to determine which answer choice creates the most logical sentence meaning and structure.

This determination of whether sentences are well-constructed and logical is the second aspect of finding correct answers to Sentence Correction questions, what you see. To develop this skill, you probably have to slow way down. You won't develop this skill by spending under two minutes per question. For a while, anyway, you have to spend time with each question, maybe even ten or fifteen minutes on one question sometimes, analyzing every answer choice until you see the details that you have to see in order to choose the correct answer. As you go through the answer choices, consider the meaning conveyed by each version of the sentence. Does the meaning make sense? Even if you can tell what the version is SUPPOSED to convey, does the version really convey that meaning? Is there a verb to go with the subject? Do all pronouns clearly refer to nouns? By slowing way down and looking for these details, you learn to see what you have to see in order to clearly understand which answer to a Sentence Correction question is correct.

There is only one correct answer to any Sentence Correction question, there are clear reasons why that choice is correct and the others are not, and those reasons are not that the correct version simply "sounds right." In fact, the correct version often sounds a little off at first. That correct answers may sound a little off is not surprising. If the correct answer were always the one that sounded right, then most people most of the time would get Sentence Correction questions correct, without really knowing why the wrong answers were wrong and the correct answers were correct. So, you have to go beyond choosing what "sounds right" and learn to clearly see the logical reasons why one choice is better than all of the others.

As for the third aspect of getting Sentence Correction questions correct, what you do, the main thing you have to do is be very careful. You have to make sure that you are truly considering the structures of sentences and the meanings conveyed rather than allowing yourself to be tricked into choosing trap answers that sound right but don't convey logical meanings. You also have to make sure that you put some real energy into finding the correct answers. Finding the correct answer to a Sentence Correction question may take bouncing from choice to choice repeatedly until you start to see the differences between the choices that make all choices wrong except for one. Often, when you first look at the choices, only one or two seem obviously incorrect. Getting the right answers takes a certain work ethic. You have to be determined to see the differences and figure out the precise reasons that one choice is correct.

To improve what you do when you answer Sentence Correction questions, seek to become aware of how you are going about answering them. Are you being careful and looking for logic and details, or are you quickly eliminating choices that sound a little off and then choosing the best of the rest? If you choose an incorrect answer, consider what you did that resulted in your arriving at that answer and what you could do differently in order to arrive at correct answers more consistently. Furthermore, see how many questions you can get correct in a row as you practice. If you break your streak by missing one, consider what you could have done differently to extend your streak.

As with your Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension regimens, after learning a particular Sentence Correction topic, engage in focused practice with 30 questions or more that involve that topic. As your skills improve, you will then want to practice with questions that test you on skills from multiple Sentence Correction topics.

In order to follow the path described above, you may consider using an online self-study course, so take a look at the Beat the GMAT reviews for the top GMAT courses .

You also may find it helpful to read this article about
how to score a 700+ on the GMAT .

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!

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Scott Woodbury-Stewart Founder and CEO

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