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690 retake question

This topic has 2 expert replies and 1 member reply
PadawanLearner Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
14 Feb 2016
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690 retake question

Post Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:57 am

Thank you for reading and any input would be greatly appreciated.

I took the GMAT for the first time yesterday (2/13/2016) and scored 690. The overall score was about what I had expected. I used Manhattan GMAT practice tests and books and the GMATPrep practice tests. My scores on completed exams (where I did complete exams)

Manhattan #4 - 680, Q45 V37 (2/6/2016)
Manhattan #6 - 690, Q44 V39 (2/9/2016)
GMATPrep #1 - 700 Q47 V39 (1/30/2016)
GMATPrep #2 - 690 Q47 V38 (2/6/2016)
Actual GMAT - 690 Q42 V41 (2/13/2016)
*there is some upward bias here on the quant section. I cut short a couple MGMAT practice tests after struggling through quant (high 30s)

As stated, I was not very surprised with the overall score. I was surprised, however, with the breakdown on the actual exam. I felt quite comfortable with the quant section. I expected to score in ~70th percentile - I got 50th. I botched the timing on the verbal a bit and rushed through a RC set and ended the exam with ~3-4 minutes left. I still felt comfortable with how I did, but I expected a moderate drop-off relative to my practice tests. I was totally wrong on both, which I find a tad funny.

Since I spent the vast majority of my study time on quant, it is funny that I showed really no improvement. Clearly, my approach was flawed. I spent little to no time on verbal (just practice problems in the official book and practice tests), and improved moderately. I would chalk this up to luck. If I retake, I doubt I'll get 94th percentile in verbal.

As for test prep, I went through all of the GMAT quant books and end of chapter problems. I made study guides on each book (~15 pages total), highlighting areas I struggled with. I reviewed this study guide a few times. I went through the official guide for GMAT quant and verbal review books (2016 versions). I made a list of the quant questions I missed, and reviewed them. I started studying in early December. For December and the first half of January, I studied ~3-4 hours during the week and ~5-8 hours during the weekend. For the second half of January and up to the exam, I studied >5 hours during the week and ~8 hours on weekends.

As a little more background, there are a few schools I would love to attend. These include NYU (median - 720, 80% range - 680-760), Columbia (715, 680-760), UCLA (714, 680-750), USC (690, 620-730), and Univ of Michigan (710, 660-760). Of these five, NYU and Columbia would be tops. I went to Hofstra, majoring in finance and accounting. I had a 3.8 GPA. I've passed all three levels of the CFA exam. I'm hoping that these factors offset my low quant score (at least somewhat). I also think that my work experience will be additive - I've been promoted twice since starting work a five years ago.

So, the question is - in your humble opinions, should I retake and try to boost my overall score? I was thinking of purchasing the Economist's study package, focusing almost entirely on quant. If I do retake, I will have to spend some time figuring out how my approach was flawed and plan out a new one (any suggestions here would be helpful).

Once again, thanks for reading, and any help would be much appreciated.

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Post Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:33 am
A 690 is a solid score, but it's a good idea to aim for the median or average score at your target schools. I'd recommend taking it again and shooting for the 720.

Generally speaking, schools don't care about the breakdown between quant and verbal, unless they have reason to doubt your quant abilities. You have ample evidence of strong quant abilities, so all that's going to matter is your overall score.

You said that you've done minimal verbal studying. That means that your verbal score had climbed from a 37 to 41 just by exposure. If you spent a bit of time really studying here, you could turn that into a 43 or 44. Then, just gain a few more points on the quant, and you'll be above a 700.

I recommend doing a *free* consultation with mbaMission: http://mbamission.com/consult/ . They'll look at your resume and tell you what score you should be targeting.

Good luck!


Ceilidh Erickson
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EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

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Post Sun Feb 14, 2016 9:18 pm
Hi PadawanLearner,

First off, a 690/Q49 is a fantastic score (it's just shy of the 90th percentile overall), so you can apply to any Business Schools that interest you. As such, a retest might not be necessary. Since you know which Schools you're interested in, you would likely find it beneficial to speak with an Admissions Expert about your overall profile and plans. There's a Forum full of them here:


1) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
2) When would you be planning to retest?

If you do plan to continue studying and retest, then you'll likely have to do more than just focus on Quant. Your practice CAT scores show that you're really good at the 'math' questions that you face, but you're missing out on lots of 'strategy-based' points. You also have described some surprise at your Verbal performance - if you don't currently expect to perform at that level again, then you have to put in some extra study to limit the potential 'loss' in that section.

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

Contact Rich at Rich.C@empowergmat.com

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Marty Murray Legendary Member
03 Feb 2014
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Post Sun Feb 14, 2016 9:04 pm
Hi PadawanLearner.

I think that you should retake and send that score through the roof.

Your preparation for verbal was slim - seems silly - and you indicated that you are considering once again basically neglecting verbal.

Meanwhile, your preparation for quant was not optimally managed.

You could actually prepare for verbal and could prepare for quant in an effective way and score well above 700, maybe within three weeks to a month, little more than the 16 days that you have to wait in order to retake.

Here's why your quant score did not go up.

"As for test prep, I went through all of the GMAT quant books and end of chapter problems. I made study guides on each book (~15 pages total), highlighting areas I struggled with. I reviewed this study guide a few times."

"I made a list of the quant questions I missed, and reviewed them."

The GMAT is a game. If you had wanted instead to learn to play tennis, or a video game, would you have reviewed the game? or would you have PLAYED the game.

You barely played the game. It's as if you trained by reading the rule book, playing a few practice rounds, and then reviewing videos of your play.

Would Serena win a single match if that were her training regimen?

Let's consider verbal first. I am not sure why you didn't prepare much for verbal, but seeing as verbal has a lot of kick to it in terms of its ability to juice your total score, getting clear about what totally rocking verbal takes makes sense. GMAT verbal is not that difficult, and if you are already scoring in the upper 30's in verbal then you are in a position to actually prepare some and score in the mid to upper 40's.

That's a great way to get that score into the 700's, without even getting to quant yet.

There are various philosophies of how to prepare for and handle verbal, but seeing as you are already scoring pretty high in verbal, it seems to make sense to go with mine, which is ultra simple and won't require your learning all kinds of strategies or how to write notes in code.

Here it is.

Find a good source of verbal questions and start practicing them very slowly, going over each answer choice and figuring out why each wrong answer is wrong and why each right one is right. I mean take ten minutes per question or however much time you need in order to be clear about each answer choice that way.

For sentence correction, notice the patterns that show up regularly and get good at seeing how meaning tricks are used. If there are any concepts that you don't get, and that trip you up consistently, research them here on Beat the GMAT or anywhere until you are totally clear about them, and do some questions that incorporate them.

CR is simple. You need to be ultra clear about what is going on in the prompts and then notice exactly the logic that makes one answer choice the clearly right answer.

Also, there are some key gimmicks that are repeatedly used to create wrong CR answers, gimmicks such as scope shifts. Get a better sense of what those gimmicks are and learn to never be fooled by them again.

Also for CR, learn to notice key details. Even one ignored word can cost you a right answer.

For RC, learn three things.

Learn how to get through the passages, noticing how they are laid out, understanding what they basically convey and noting where key details lie.

Learn to go back to the passages and find key information when you are working on questions.

Learn to not get smoked by choosing answers that seem to match something the passage says but really do not.

C'mon. At least lock in that 41 in verbal. Verbal is about logic, and there is no reason for you to score below 41. 45 or higher would make more sense.

The verbal questions here are good enough for practicing in that way that I have outlined. https://www.veritasprep.com/gmat-question-bank/

OK. Now for quant.

To rock quant, you need to be a gamer, not a video reviewer. Here's what you could do.

You already seem to know what your weaker areas are, but if necessary go over your practice tests to get any further information on your weaker areas that you might need. One way to do this is by using the Manhattan analytics.

Then one by one turn those weaker areas into STRONG areas. I don't mean just review what you did wrong. I mean learn concepts, review the ways pros on Beat the GMAT answer questions of the types you find more challenging, and then do dozens of such questions until you are an expert at handling them.

Start off doing questions slowly, noticing just what moves to make, and then speed up as you get better at them and can still get right answer after right answer in just two minutes per question.

Becoming an expert in a quant question type takes a day or two usually. So within 20 days, you could get MUCH better at handling at least 5 to 10 if not 10 to 15 quant question types. Within 45 days, you could get to the point where you are a total GMAT quant gamer.

Using the Economist program could help you, but I wonder whether you are kind of planning to repeat what you already did, learning ABOUT GMAT quant without really TRAINING to ROCK GMAT quant.

Recently someone contacted me with a request. He wanted to drive his quant score three points higher in about a week. No big deal. We found maybe a half dozen things that he could be doing better. He worked on those things and took the test and hit his target.

That illustrates the power of training in exactly what one needs to train in.

For categorized quant questions that you can use to train in a focused, topic by topic fashion, you could use the quant part of the question bank here. http://bellcurves.com You can access the question bank by going to the GMAT area and signing up for a practice account. The you could go to each category and, taking your time, seek to achieve a hit rate around 85%. The truth is that you probably you already know what you weaker areas are. In how many topic areas could you get 85% right in two minutes per question? five minutes per question? ten? Go to that question bank and take as much time per question as you need to get at least 80% right in category after category, doing maybe at least 20 to 30 questions per category, and 50 or more in some if necessary.

If you don't know how to handle certain types of questions, do the work to find out. You can post questions on Beat the GMAT for one thing.

You want to go to one of those schools right? I realize that doing what I described will take some work, but why show up with a below school average GMAT score and hoping to use your CFA charter to cover for a relatively weak quant section score when you could show up with 740 or higher in a month or two with the right training.

Rock this thing.

Marty Murray
GMAT Coach
In Person in the New York Area and Online Worldwide

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