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610, 4th time GMAT. Is it time to let go?

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610, 4th time GMAT. Is it time to let go?

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Hi All.

Although I was mostly a silent observer in this forum, I followed and learned from many great members and tutors here (especially Ron). This is the 4th time I am taking the GMAT and, frankly speaking, I have no idea what went wrong (again). For me, I am kindda in a place where me and my close circle of friends and family (some supported me all the way, and some didn't) have the same feeling of letting it go. Probably going to a top 10 business school is not meant to be for me. I have worked really hard, and did everything that I could to beat the GMAT, without any success. Whenever I was down, whenever times were hard, whenever I didn't feel like studying, and whenever I doubted myself, I always saw the goal of getting accepted to a top 10 business school.

I want to share my story with you guys, and will appreciate any comment / thought. So this is how it goes:

Background: International, 29 years old, Engineer from the best technology institute in my country (not Indian), with 3+2 years of work experience in a well know American Corporates (Intel, GE).

My journey is long. I started to prepare for the GMAT less than 2 years ago. I am not going to detail my experience in the first 3 attempts, but just as a reference, here are some highlights:

09 December 2009 23 / 28% 46 / 75% 570 / 55% 5.0 / 56% - I didn't really study for this one. Only after, I understood the GMAT level of complexity.

27 October 2010 17 / 12% 49 / 86% 550 / 49% 5.0 / 56% - Studied for 3 months + took 1 month off of work and studied like crazy. Signed to Master GMAT course, Scored 680-740 on Manhattan exams, 700 & 660 on GMAT prep 1st try. I didn't sleep a minute a night before and was very anxious during exam. My Verbal score was very disappointing (especially after the long preparation I had). I didn’t expect to get a high score considering what I've been through before and during the day, but 17 in the verbal!?? (wtf?). In retrospect, I should have canceled my score at the end.

27 December 2010 24 / 33% 50 / 93% 630 / 73% 5.5 / 77% - Signed up after a week off, and focused solely on the Verbal. I read tons of articles in nytimes and worked with SC99, GMAT prep questions. Was still anxious on the exam day, scored better, but still wasn't able to get near my scores on the simulation exams.

After the 3rd attempt, I thought that I can get accepted to a good school with 630. So, I've applied on the 2nd round to NYU, Columbia, Berkeley, and UCLA . Got an interview from UCLA, but eventually was dinged from all. Applied also to Booth on the 3rd round but was dinged as well.

So on July, I decided to study again for the GMAT, aiming to apply on the first rounds for 2012. So this is what I did in the past 2.5 months:

Obviously, my problem is with the Verbal section, so I decided to work solely on that. I read articles every day from multiple sources that were recommended by tutors. I was reading at least 1 hour a day articles from nytimes, science news, etc. I managed vocabulary document of the words I was not familiar with, and memorized them. At the same time, I signed up for Knewton on demand course that guaranteed 50 points or money back. I've read and heard many good things about Knewton, especially about their verbal strategies, plus, I needed to score at least 50 points more. I figured out that if it will work, with 680 (50 pts more), with my past experience, and with killer essays I will be able to get into a top school on the early decision or first round.
This time, in order not to not stress myself, I didn't schedule the exam date, but rather told myself that whenever I will feel ready, I will schedule a date. So, I hit the road. For a whole 1.5 months, I focused solely on the Verbal. Quant - I didn't do anything except quickly solving the mandatory Knewton HWs. I took GMAT Club math tests only when I wanted to exhaust myself before taking a Verbal test. I solved the 198 SC (twice, after reading Ron's explaination on every question in manhattangmat) and 98 CR from GMAT Prep. I solved all medium level RC from RC99, and also (usually wrong on the GMAT) most of the hard ones. I reviewed each and every question, and tried to extract takeaways (this is one of Ron's advises - write yourself a takeaway from each question). Redid every question I solved wrong. As for the simulation tests, since I was focusing solely on the Verbal, I didn't review the Quant section at all, so more time was available for me to review the verbal section. I logged into my errorlog every question I got wrong. Explained myself why it was right and why wrong. Sometimes I took a test in the morning and another verbal test later. After the first 3 GMATs, I assumed that my problem was time management, stress, and speed, so I wanted to get the feel for handling the entire Verbal section, without stressing out, and I wanted to master time management strategies. I was studying many hours a day and I guess one of the comments I will get here is that I was over-studying (which I have to agree, but I didn't feel that way).

I took the following tests:

Diagnostic GMAT 08/24/2011 at 01:12PM 49 31 670
Practice GMAT #1 08/25/2011 at 02:45PM 48 30 650
Practice GMAT #2 08/27/2011 at 10:28AM 49 37 710
Practice GMAT #3 08/28/2011 at 09:45AM 45 25 580
Practice GMAT #4 08/29/2011 at 01:45PM 45 30 620
Practice GMAT #5 09/01/2011 at 12:20PM 46 32 640


CAT EXAM #6A Completed 09/10/2011 V:36 (Took GMAT Club Math test before)
CAT EXAM #5A Completed 09/07/2011 V:45 (Took GMAT Club Math test before)
CAT EXAM #4A Completed 09/02/2011 V:41 (Took GMAT Club Math test before)
CAT EXAM #3A Completed 08/30/2011 V:41 (Took GMAT Club Math test before)
CAT EXAM #2A Completed 08/30/2011 V:41 (Took GMAT Club Math test before)
CAT EXAM #1A Completed 08/24/2011 V:41 (Took GMAT Club Math test before)

GMAT Club Test # correct # questions %correct
V02 28 41 68%
V03 28 41 68%
V04 26 41 63%
V05 29 41 71%
V06 30 40 75%
V99 25 32 75%

Kaplan free diagnostic test (full with essays) 09/06/2011 720 Q:99%, V:93%

GMAT Prep 720 (retake 2 days before the actual exam. Each question that I was familiar with, I read thoroughly and explained why the right answer is right and why the others are wrong).

Knewton course was very good, and it basically changed my approach to tackle SCs: meaning and sentence structure are crucial to solve the question! So, armed with that, I felt very confident to solve most SC. I still had a little trouble with questions that everything was underlined, or with questions that only one word was underlined, but even in those I was still able to nail most of them. With CR, which was my weakness, I used Powerscore CR bible. At first, I solved many but my performance fluctuated a lot and I couldn't nail medium and hard questions. But after reading one of the fabulous advices by Ron Purewal, who recommended to write your own parallel logic question for each wrong CR, I started to understand deeply every question and turned CR into my strength. As for the RC, my approach was to read the whole passage in 2-4 minutes (short one 2-3, long one ~4), create a MAP in my head and verify my answer against the passage, mainly after paraphrasing (whenever possible). I was never able to master RC, but managed to perform well (70-80% correct). Inference and application questions were always harder for me.

A day before the test, I just reviewed my formula sheets in the morning, but didn't do more than that. I spent the day with my friend, and later went out to see a movie with my wife. I slept pretty good a night before, woke up, ate something light for breakfast, was a bit nervous but felt like this is my day. Solved some questions to warm up my mind, ate some pasta and left to the test center at 11:00. Arrived at 11:30. My test was scheduled to start at 12:00. I finished the AWA, but felt like it didn't go very smoothly. Maybe I spent too much energy on it. Took the a break. Ate some raisins, drank some water, felt that I am in focus and started the Quant section. Until question 30 it went pretty smoothly, maybe except for a question that I had to make an educated guess after 4 min. Most questions I double checked, and this probably slowed me down. On question 30, I saw that I've left with 12-13 min. Usually I finish the Quant at least 2-3 min before, so I started to hurry up. Then 2-3 questions didn't go very well, and I rushed though another DS. Lastly, I had to guess the last one question because I was left with no time. When I finished the Quant, I knew it wasn't my best one, but I told myself that this was not what's important. Now it's money time, and this is what I've been working for in the past 1.5 months, so let's nail the Verbal section. I took the 8 min break. Went to the restroom. Drank coffee. Ate some chocolate and raisins, and went in with a feeling of cracking in the section. Started well, and did the first 5 questions in ~ 8 min. My time strategy is to check every 5 questions the time. I was ahead and felt like I knew exactly the answers. At this point I got a hard RC that took me forever, and I wasn't sure in any of my answers. After that, I got some SCs that again I solved without much confidence in my answers. I debated between 2 answers always. SC format were very different from the ones I've encountered during my studying. In most CRs I felt that I know the answers, except for one that was very hard to understand. Instead of guessing and moving on, I spent ~2 min trying to solve it. After 2 min, I realized I was still unable to understand and not really in focus, so I just guessed and moved on (~ question 20). In question 30 I've left with 17 min, 4 min behind my time strategy. I decided not to guess a question but rather hurry a bit up. So I rushed a bit through the last 11 questions. Question 36 turned out to be another RC, when I had 7 minutes left. I was stressed out. For the last 2 questions I left with 1 min. CR came first, so I tried to solve it quickly, but was too nervous to focus. And no time was left for the last SC. At the end of the exam, I was trying to evaluate my performance in the Verbal. I felt that I did OK, not the best. For sure better than the previous tests, but didn't get to the 40 level. I expected 30-35. But when I clicked on "Yes" to see my score, it came like a big shock to me! So many feelings and thoughts went through my head: surprise, disappointment, self doubt, angriness, and the feeling of giving up (which is the worst).

Members of the forum, can you please advice how to continue?
Is there a point to take the GMAT for the 5th time or is it time to let go?
What am I doing wrong? Do I have a problem with my knowledge or with my performance on the actual test?
And why do I feel on the actual exam that the questions are significantly different from the ones I am practicing at home (maybe except for the official ones, but these are somehow easier).

I will appreciate any comment.
Thanks

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Hi edrik,

Sorry for my late response. In the past couple of weeks I was avoiding GMAT matters in any way possible. First, let me thank you for being the first and the only who replied on my post so far. I do appreciate your attempt to encourage me and I am starting to believe that maybe an MBA is not the right path for me. GMAT is a beast and a big obstacle in the way of many talented people. No question about it. Some manage to beat it, some don't (like me and you).

As you said - in the past 2 years my mind was locked on MBA, MBA, MBA. I paid high price (mentally, economically, physically, etc) - I lost many job opportunities and potential promotions since everyone around me knew I am leaving soon and going to study an MBA. It was never a question.

Now, I've reached a point where I need to let go and search for the "light" in a different path, with hopes that it will make me fulfilled.

Thanks again.
eladshush

P.S
It's funny you mentioned Cameron Diaz because she is my favorite actress in the world.

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Hey I have been looking at this thread for some advice from the experts but really no Idea why wont some experts just post their comments upon this one. I am also going thru a similar state guys please comment what do experts think one should do is taking again a good idea???

And what have u decided ??? r u taking it again???

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DUDE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU MAN??!?!?!

U want an MBA??? If thats what you REALLY WANT, THEN GO GET IT !!!!!!!!!!!

630 (ur 3rd attempt) IS A GOOD SCORE !!!!!!!
I dunno why ppl think 700 is the bare minimum and that only top B Schools give u great end results... there are MANY ppl who graduate from 2nd tier universities and are sitting in top positions (i work for a very very huge MNC and our country CEO went to some no name university for his MBA) .. the real journey starts WHEN YOU GET INTO school (IMO & belief) ...

and u applied in R2... apply again.. maybe in R1... with stronger essays/recs.. work on ur profile... learn new things which can make u look attractive to adcom !... dun spend ur time on trying to do the gmat again or doing smth else which u never really wanted...

if its education (MBA) that you want ... go get it... if u r doin it just for the name (e.g. Oh i went to Sloan).. then dun bother.. u r better of focusing on ur career and maybe one day doing an executive MBA at a top biz school

cheers man

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eladshush wrote:
Members of the forum, can you please advice how to continue?
Is there a point to take the GMAT for the 5th time or is it time to let go?
What am I doing wrong? Do I have a problem with my knowledge or with my performance on the actual test?
And why do I feel on the actual exam that the questions are significantly different from the ones I am practicing at home (maybe except for the official ones, but these are somehow easier).

I will appreciate any comment.
Thanks
Again, I feel the need to step in. First, I was in your shoes, so I know how it felt. You might want to have a look at my post...
http://www.beatthegmat.com/gmat-660-quant-48-verbal-32-t89671.html#398833

From what I understand so far, taking the GMAT for a number of times can demonstrate your persistence and determination IF (yes ... there is a BIG IF) you show the progress and improvement. After scoring 610 in your 4th attempt, you must have felt a great despair. At this point, you need to stop for a moment and carefully examine your situation. You need to think whether you would have the chance of improving your score if you took another shot. It's already a good step that you realized that the style of questions you saw on the real test is different from that from your practice questions. I have shared in the link above a number of thoughts I have gained from taking the tests3 times. You would also notice that I took different sorts of practice and preparation before each test. You probably want to do the same. You need to change the way you practice if you expect a different result.

I hope I've shed some light for you. If you still have some doubts in mind, let me know.

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Just to piggyback on the above post, I don't think you should retake the test unless you can pinpoint exactly what is going wrong and what would improve your score. Without that you're just blindly throwing darts. Obviously you have narrowed it down to verbal but you for sure want to be more specific than that. Are you having a hard time with modifier SC questions, inference RC questions, long RC questions, timing or just generalized test anxiety? Until you analyze your current performance in detail it would be difficult to improve.

For starters, go over your error logs to see what categories you are missing the most on (RC, SC, CR). Do the same with your exams. Then narrow it down from there (strengthen CRs with causal conclusions for example).

Additionally it sounds like timing may be an issue as well so you'll need to figure out why that is an issue (maybe you don't have a good enough internal clock and you need to practice that).

You've done a lot of tests and it sounds like a lot of problems so you have an excellent data set to work from. That's a huge plus!

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Hi guys,

Thanks for the comments and as taneja.niks said - I don't understand why experts in the forum are not posting their comments. Please do so. I will appreciate that.

rohit_gmat - Man! I really appreciate your words. Honestly. 630 is a good score but it's not enough to get into a top business school. Let's be honest - although top business schools keep saying that GMAT is just one factor of the entire application, they barely accepts students with low GMAT scores (I mean well below the lower score of their range). Obviously I want the education, but as an international student and as someone that always aimed high (work places, positions, education, etc), it's hard to give up and direct myself to mediocre schools. Moreover, let's face it, the name of the school is playing a major role in the career advancement. I am not saying that the school name is the only thing that matters, but it's important. There are exceptions and there are successful people who have amazing careers without even study at all, but that's not how I see my future.
Last year, I fooled myself into thinking that I can get accepted with 630. I did work thoroughly on my essays, but got dinged from all. I've learned (from my experience and from talking to many accepted students, alumni, and admission officers) that high GMAT score, which is at least in the school's GMAT range, is a cut.

ronaldramlan - thanks for your comment man! Your post actually inspired me before I took the last exam. I have few things to say to you:

1. I am very well familiar with what you said about plateau scores that If my scores don't show any progress and improvement, it might raise a red flag to the admission. Before my 4th time, I was very confident in my knowledge and in my performance, and I was sure that I will get a better score than 630 if not hit the 700. But that didn't happen. And now, with this in mind from one hand, and with the will to get into top business school from the other, I was spending a lot of time debating whether to take the GMAT for the 5th time.

2. As for the format of the questions - you are more than right and your post was the first one I really identified with. I already realized in the past that the style, format, and difficulty level of the GMAT questions are different from those of prep companies' questions. But I didn't do much about it because the pool of official questions that are available is very limited. I already burned all the GMAT prep / official guide questions.

Luke.Doolittle - I totally agree with you. That's exactly what I did before the 4th time. I examined carefully my past results and pinpoint my weaknesses in the Verbal section (mainly RC), timing, stamina, and anxiety. To tackle the verbal - I signed to Knewton course that is very recommended for their Verbal strategy. To tackle the the timing and stamina - I took many simulation tests to make myself comfortable with the pressure, tiredness, and test strategy that I've develop. And as for the anxiety - well I realize today that, surprisingly, this is playing a big factor in my test day performance. I am working today with a therapist to tackle this too. Unconsciously and I guess also consciously (although I am trying to convince myself otherwise), I put a lot of pressure on myself to get a high score, and I see only one direction in life - MBA. After consulting with professionals, I understood that this is not the way to go.

I have decided to take the exam again at the end of November. I am going to work only with official questions and I am going to sharpen my Verbal skills even more. There are always new things, concepts, and questions to master, and I need to come in a better "shape" to the next exam.

eladshush

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U're one helluva fighter !!! Go n beat the GMAT now !!!

Hard work always pays... (a bit late sometimes)

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eladshush wrote:
ronaldramlan - thanks for your comment man! Your post actually inspired me before I took the last exam. I have few things to say to you:

2. As for the format of the questions - you are more than right and your post was the first one I really identified with. I already realized in the past that the style, format, and difficulty level of the GMAT questions are different from those of prep companies' questions. But I didn't do much about it because the pool of official questions that are available is very limited. I already burned all the GMAT prep / official guide questions.

To tackle the verbal - I signed to Knewton course that is very recommended for their Verbal strategy. To tackle the the timing and stamina - I took many simulation tests to make myself comfortable with the pressure, tiredness, and test strategy that I've develop. And as for the anxiety - well I realize today that, surprisingly, this is playing a big factor in my test day performance. I am working today with a therapist to tackle this too. Unconsciously and I guess also consciously (although I am trying to convince myself otherwise), I put a lot of pressure on myself to get a high score, and I see only one direction in life - MBA. After consulting with professionals, I understood that this is not the way to go.

I have decided to take the exam again at the end of November. I am going to work only with official questions and I am going to sharpen my Verbal skills even more. There are always new things, concepts, and questions to master, and I need to come in a better "shape" to the next exam.
eladshush
I'm glad that you decide to take the test again and hope that this will be your last one and that you BEAT it out of sh**t (ehmm ... sorry about that).

I can not emphasize more on how important it is that you take the following points into consideration. Although you have probably read in my post, I'd like to keep the summary as follows.
1. never skip the essays when taking practice tests.
2. master the concept from any reliable sources, but practice your skills only on OG and GMATPrep.
3. so long as you can not confidently tell why the other four answer choices are incorrect, you can never be sure on your hunch of the correct answer.
4. for some (including me), taking some sweet snacks during the break between Quant and Verbal really helps. That's why test centres provide many sorts of sweet snacks in the waiting room.

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Hi ronaldramlan,

Thanks again for your help and support. I am following your recommendations, and I deeply hope that this going to pay off on my next and last GMAT.

Thanks man and I will keep you updated.

eladshush

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Guys,

I took yesterday the GMAT for the fifth and last time, and I am more than happy to finally say it out loud: I HAVE BEATEN THE GMAT!!!!

I got 720 (Q: 49, V:39).

When I saw the score on the screen, I just wanted to cry (and scream)..

Thank you all for your help and support.
I have a lot of insights which I want to share with you. Promise to write a detailed debrief soon.

Happy new year indeed!

eladshush

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Hi,

Congratulations!! I'm really thrilled to hear that...

I wish you luck with your MBA application journey ...

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u da man.... u da man....


wat a journey u've had bro...

salute!

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Thanks guys!

Indeed a journey.

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Hey buddy nice to see this:-) cograts trust me i was done after my 2nd try and had that thing to beat it but ws lacking courage ur results have again shown me the light I need to again go and fight I know:-)

Do share what changed it this time..... really happy for u on this:-)

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