First GMAT Practice (Kaplan CAT2) 660, 48Q, 38V

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I took my first GMAT practice test after about 3 weeks of studying using the Kaplan 2015 book (660, 48Q and 38V). Quant seemed very difficult and I ended up having to guess on the last 10 questions. What is a good way to get better at pacing in this section? Also, I'm looking to get around 750 on the actual GMAT in 3 months. How realistic is this goal and what study strategies (outside of the book) would you recommend to get there?

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by [email protected] » Sun May 29, 2016 6:04 pm
Hi buckeyeGMAT,

If you've really been studying for just 3 weeks, then this initial CAT score is a fantastic performance. You're likely already a strong logical thinker, so I think that you have a very good chance of scoring higher on the Official GMAT. Many Test Takers spend 3 months of consistent study time before they hit their 'peak' performance, so many of the issues that you might be facing right now (including pacing) should improve as you continue to study and become more familiar with the question types, patterns in logic, etc.

I have a few questions about how you took this CAT:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take it at home?
3) Did you take it at the same time of day as your Official GMAT?
4) Did you do ANYTHING during the CATs that you can't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Had you taken this CAT before? Had you seen any of the questions before?

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by OptimusPrep » Sun May 29, 2016 8:00 pm
buckeyeGMAT wrote:I took my first GMAT practice test after about 3 weeks of studying using the Kaplan 2015 book (660, 48Q and 38V). Quant seemed very difficult and I ended up having to guess on the last 10 questions. What is a good way to get better at pacing in this section? Also, I'm looking to get around 750 on the actual GMAT in 3 months. How realistic is this goal and what study strategies (outside of the book) would you recommend to get there?
A 660 is an excellent first mock CAT score and you can certainly reach your target score with some focussed preparation. Having said that, going by the sectional split, I think this might not be your current standing. It would be better if you go ahead and take a GMAT prep CAT to get your most accurate current standing. You can download 2 free tests from mba.com

1. Did you take the test including AWA and IR?
2. Did you complete both the sections? (There is a high penalty if you do not complete a section)

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

Whatever you choose, make sure that you choose one. Because GMAT tests you on some concepts and fundamentals that you can learn from a course. Most of the preparatory companies including ours offer a free trial of our course. You can take the trial and see if the course suits your needs.
In addition to the preparatory material, 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.

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 4 more from mba.com
3. Make sure you solve the official questions from the Official Guide

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by buckeyeGMAT » Tue May 31, 2016 2:16 pm
Thank you so much for the quick replies! To answer your questions, yes I took the the AWA and IR sections as well and did not take any additional breaks during the CAT. I took it at home a couple hours later than my actual GMAT will be and it was my first time seeing the Kaplan CAT2. To address OptimusPrep's question, I did complete both sections but my last ten answers on the quantitative section were complete guesses because I ran out of time.

OptimusPrep, I was planning on taking a Manhattan practice CAT this weekend, but you make a good point about taking one of the GMATPrep ones early to get an idea of my current standing.

On the quantitative section, I got 9 out of the first 11 questions correct and kept well under 2 mins/question. At that point, the questions got pretty difficult and I was able to get about half of the next 15 right, but it took 2-3 times longer than it should have to get through it and I fell too far behind to recover. I'm considering buying supplemental advanced material (ie. Manhattan's Online Challenge Problem Archive) to get more comfortable with the most difficult quant questions, is there a particularly good one you recommend?

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by [email protected] » Tue May 31, 2016 7:04 pm
Hi buckeyeGMAT,

Most of the questions that you'll face on the Official GMAT can be solved in more than one way, so it's likely that your 'default approaches' are taking longer than other approaches (that are based more on Tactics and the patterns that are built-in to the GMAT). Your speed will likely improve over time as you become more familiar with the types of questions that you'll see in each section. That all having been said, many Test Takers who use a 'book heavy' study routine end up getting stuck at a particular score level, so there's something to be said for investing in some new, non-book resources. Before you make any big changes in your study routine though, you should continue with the resources that you have, then take a new CAT in the next 1-2 weeks. That score result will give us a better idea of whether your skills are consistent or not and how well you might be able to improve by studying in this same fashion.

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by buckeyeGMAT » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:20 pm
I took the GMATPrep CAT1 today and scored 730, 48Q, 42V, 8IR. The verbal was much easier than the Kaplan CAT, but there's still a lot of room for improvement on Quant (78th percentile). I put a lot of emphasis on pacing during the quant section and was able to finish on time, but definitely sacrificed some accuracy in the process.

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by [email protected] » Sat Jun 04, 2016 8:52 am
Hi buckeyeGMAT,

Since you took this CAT just 5 days after your initial CAT, the score result confirms my original assessment - you're clearly a strong logical thinker and I think that you have a very good chance of hitting your score goals on Test Day.

When reviewing each CAT, it's beneficial to define WHY you got questions wrong...

After reviewing this CAT, how many questions did you get wrong....
1) Because of a silly/little mistake?
2) Because there was some math/verbal that you just didn't know how to do?
3) Because the question was too hard?
4) Because you were low on time and had to guess?

By defining these issues, you'll have some targeted areas to work on in the coming weeks.

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