## Analysis of my GMATprep Test 1 (need help for improvement)

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### Analysis of my GMATprep Test 1 (need help for improvement)

by alved » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:50 pm
Hi everyone,

I just took the GMATprep Test 1 and scored a 630 (Q47, V29) and below is the detail about my performance:

(Quant)
Number of wrong answers = 16/37
* Didn't start the test with concentration. I was kind of anxious and had to re-read questions stems for multiple times. As a result, got the 1st and 3rd question wrong. But things got way better as I proceeded. Unfortunately, got the last two questions wrong as well.
* Throughout the section, I was given some questions that were fairly simple and easy but (maybe due to time pressure) I freaked out and had to guess and move on.
* Mistakes per area:
Number properties = 11
Geometry = 2
Rate = 2
Combination = 1

(Verbal)
Number of wrong answers = 19/41
* Didn't feel any fatigue at the beginning of the section.
* In the middle of the section, I started losing focus when finished the 1st passage (question 20) and I think that took me several minutes before I could concentrate again.
* Also, skipped two long CR question to save some time.
* Had 5 minutes to spare after the last question.
* Got wrong 8 questions in a row (17 to 25) as well as question 38 to 40. I think they hugely dropped my verbal score.
* Mistakes per area:
SC = 8
CR = 3
RC = 8

If I'm gonna get into my target programs, I must score 700+ in the exam (something like Q49 - V35). Please let me know how I can improve my score and fill this 70-point gap with my target score. For preparation, I used several online resources for refreshing the concepts in my mind and then went through all OG 13th questions and read the explanations, as well as using some extra explanations available in GMAT online forums. I don't think that going through all those question again could be the answer. Please give me your expert advice. I really need to get a 700+ score in the next two months.

Thanks

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by [email protected] » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:35 pm
Hi alved,

The fact that you've reviewed this CAT and figured out which categories you're having trouble with is good. You'll likely have to do a bit more analysis though. How many of these questions did you get wrong because of a silly/little mistake? Fixing THOSE mistakes is essential to improving your score.

I'd also like to know a bit more about how you've been studying:

1) How long have you been studying?
2) What resources have you used?
3) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT (including the Essay and IR sections)?
4) How have you scored on your other practice CATs?
5) When is your Official Test Date?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
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by alved » Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:53 am
1) & 2) I decided to take the test about 3 years ago and studied Manhattan books and went through the OG 12th questions but didn't take the test since I was admitted to a program with no GMAT requirement. Now, I'm gonna apply to PhD programs and have to score a 700+ as I'm aiming only top schools. This time, I spent like two months reading some flashcards and collections of Q and V notes I found in this forum and GMATclub, as well as going through all OG 13th questions and their explanations.

3) I took the entire CAT

4) This is the first one. (I'm considering to take the 6 Manhattan CATs before trying GMATprep Test 2. Do you recommend it?)

5) I have not registered for the test yet but my goal is to beat it by end of March.

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by [email protected] » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:54 am
If you haven't already, go over the questions you missed on the GMAT Prep CAT and see what you could done differently to get them right.

The MGMAT CATs could be a good tool. At the same time, I suggest finding an online question bank to use for practice. So far you have been doing a lot of reading and solving some OG questions. Now by going to a question bank and playing the questions like a video game, you can hone your skills.

This is not a test of knowledge, really. It's more a test of skill. So a good way to drive your score higher is to play the game over and over and develop skill. Question banks allow you to focus on particular skills. So they are great forums for developing skill.

For quant, not verbal, you could use the BellCurves question bank. The questions can be broken down into dozens of categories. So that's a great tool for practicing quant.

Part of the reason your verbal score is low is that it's one thing to know the concepts, and another to apply them. So once again a question bank could be your tool for success. Veritas has a decent verbal question bank. You could also purchase the Question Pack from GMAC. Magoosh also has a question bank, from what I understand.

Also, just by combining your experience on this practice CAT with being more careful and determined you could probably score higher on verbal next time. Beyond that, make sure you see what got you on RC so you understand what it takes to get those right. There is not much mystery on RC, and one can learn certain ways of approaching it and quickly go from getting smoked to rarely getting any wrong.
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by ceilidh.erickson » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:07 am
It sounds to me like you're making a few very common mistakes:

1) You are focusing on the number of questions right and wrong. Your score actually depends on which questions you get right and wrong. If you miss several easy ones in the beginning, it's hard for your score to recover from that. So ask yourself this instead: how many did you miss that were below your ability level? Why did you miss them? Focus on fixing the careless mistakes you made on the easy problems.

2) You mention that you've done all the problems in the OG, so I assume you just went through the book and did them in order. This isn't a very effective way to study. You need to study each topic individually using strategy guides, then analyze the OG problems that relate to that topic. For example, studying all of the ratios problems together will give you a better conceptual understanding of how the GMAt tests that topic, and you'll be better prepared to attack the next ratio problem. Study topic-by-topic, then put it all together with CATs.

Good luck!
Ceilidh Erickson
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by [email protected] » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:47 am
HI alved,

With a planned Test Date at the end of March, you have about 2 months of study time, which will give you the opportunity to get in some serious studying. From your Scaled Scores, it's clear that you have a greater opportunity to pick up points in the Verbal section (but you can still pick up some points in the Quant section too). As such, you should probably spend more time on Verbal practice.

Many Test Takers think that 'training' for the Verbal section involves mowing through 100s of Verbal questions, but there's actually a lot more to the process than just volume. The Verbal section of the GMAT is just as predictable and standardized as the Quant section - they're both pattern-based, so part of your study time should be spent learning (and mastering) tactics, content and patterns.

From your original post, you also defined some 'weak spots' that are NOT about content/knowledge. Fatigue is something that almost all Test Takers face. You mentioned how you started to lose focus at the mid-point of the Verbal section - if you're not alert enough for HALF of that section, then it will be difficult to hit your score goals. This is likely a 'physical' problem more than a 'mental' one. Also, your pacing needs some work. You mentioned skipping 2 CRs to save time, but you ended up finishing 5 minutes EARLY. That extra time could have been spent on those 2 CRs OR on some of the other questions that you got wrong.

Thankfully, all of these issues can be fixed/improved. As a way to measure your progress, you should plan on taking 1 FULL-LENGTH CAT per week. The bulk of your time should be spent on studying.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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by alved » Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:48 pm
Marty Murray wrote:If you haven't already, go over the questions you missed on the GMAT Prep CAT and see what you could done differently to get them right.

The MGMAT CATs could be a good tool. At the same time, I suggest finding an online question bank to use for practice. So far you have been doing a lot of reading and solving some OG questions. Now by going to a question bank and playing the questions like a video game, you can hone your skills.

This is not a test of knowledge, really. It's more a test of skill. So a good way to drive your score higher is to play the game over and over and develop skill. Question banks allow you to focus on particular skills. So they are great forums for developing skill.

For quant, not verbal, you could use the BellCurves question bank. The questions can be broken down into dozens of categories. So that's a great tool for practicing quant.

Part of the reason your verbal score is low is that it's one thing to know the concepts, and another to apply them. So once again a question bank could be your tool for success. Veritas has a decent verbal question bank. You could also purchase the Question Pack from GMAC. Magoosh also has a question bank, from what I understand.

Also, just by combining your experience on this practice CAT with being more careful and determined you could probably score higher on verbal next time. Beyond that, make sure you see what got you on RC so you understand what it takes to get those right. There is not much mystery on RC, and one can learn certain ways of approaching it and quickly go from getting smoked to rarely getting any wrong.
Marty,
Thank you for your response. I am not sure whether going through question "banks" can be the answer. Why? I reviewed the wrong answers today (in quant section) and it was very irritating because I failed to answer questions that "in the normal situation", are super easy for me! I have been wondering how in the world I got such questions wrong?! So, I'm starting to believe that doing tons of practice questions may not be the answer. Probably I should get to used to answering quant questions under exam conditions. I don't know if such strategy can help me increase my quant score from 47 to 49.

About the verbal section, especially the RC, one of the passages was a bit tough to understand and unsurprisingly, I got four questions wrong (in a row). You said "one can learn certain ways of approaching it and quickly go from getting smoked to rarely getting any wrong". How can I find those certain ways? Is there any solid guidelines available online or you mean these certain ways will come to me naturally after practicing a lot of RC questions? What bothers me about verbal is that I my accuracy level at doing OG questions for SC and CR is about %90 percent but in the real test, I got 8 SC and 3 CR questions wrong! There must be a way for me to increase my verbal score for 6 points.

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by alved » Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:03 pm
ceilidh.erickson wrote:It sounds to me like you're making a few very common mistakes:

1) You are focusing on the number of questions right and wrong. Your score actually depends on which questions you get right and wrong. If you miss several easy ones in the beginning, it's hard for your score to recover from that. So ask yourself this instead: how many did you miss that were below your ability level? Why did you miss them? Focus on fixing the careless mistakes you made on the easy problems.

2) You mention that you've done all the problems in the OG, so I assume you just went through the book and did them in order. This isn't a very effective way to study. You need to study each topic individually using strategy guides, then analyze the OG problems that relate to that topic. For example, studying all of the ratios problems together will give you a better conceptual understanding of how the GMAt tests that topic, and you'll be better prepared to attack the next ratio problem. Study topic-by-topic, then put it all together with CATs.

Good luck!
Thank you for the feedback.

1) In quant section, more than half the questions I missed were absolutely easy and I think the time pressure significantly limited my ability, so I missed several easy questions. But it was a little different in the verbal section. I faltered at one of the passages that cost me several wrong answers in a row and mentally, I was not as fresh as I was during the quant section and that kind of led to losing focus and engagement with the material.

2) The reason I went through all OG questions is that, 3 years ago, I did use the Manhattan strategy guides and studies the relevant OG questions but it took a very long time. I need to take the test in two months. I think the main problem with me is that I wasn't quite myself (calm and confident) during the test and probably that's why my score is way below 700. If that's my problem, I really don't know what to do about it!!

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by alved » Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:24 pm
[email protected] wrote:HI alved,

With a planned Test Date at the end of March, you have about 2 months of study time, which will give you the opportunity to get in some serious studying. From your Scaled Scores, it's clear that you have a greater opportunity to pick up points in the Verbal section (but you can still pick up some points in the Quant section too). As such, you should probably spend more time on Verbal practice.

Many Test Takers think that 'training' for the Verbal section involves mowing through 100s of Verbal questions, but there's actually a lot more to the process than just volume. The Verbal section of the GMAT is just as predictable and standardized as the Quant section - they're both pattern-based, so part of your study time should be spent learning (and mastering) tactics, content and patterns.

From your original post, you also defined some 'weak spots' that are NOT about content/knowledge. Fatigue is something that almost all Test Takers face. You mentioned how you started to lose focus at the mid-point of the Verbal section - if you're not alert enough for HALF of that section, then it will be difficult to hit your score goals. This is likely a 'physical' problem more than a 'mental' one. Also, your pacing needs some work. You mentioned skipping 2 CRs to save time, but you ended up finishing 5 minutes EARLY. That extra time could have been spent on those 2 CRs OR on some of the other questions that you got wrong.

Thankfully, all of these issues can be fixed/improved. As a way to measure your progress, you should plan on taking 1 FULL-LENGTH CAT per week. The bulk of your time should be spent on studying.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
Rich,
Thank you for your response. Regarding to comments, I got several questions:
1) What are the best ways to increase my pattern recognition skills in the verbal section? I think I know the patterns for, like, modifier questions in the SC and I rarely get any such questions wrong. But how to improve this skill in RC? I know the question types but I'm usually clueless when dealing with tough passages (especially those biology and astronomy related ones).

2) How can I tackle the "physical" problem? Is taking several more full length CATs the answer?

3) Which full length CAT tests do you suggest?

4) Since my Verbal score is 29 and I need to raise it to mid-30s, do you suggest if I enroll in any of these "well-known" GMATprep companies verbal courses? like the one that E-GMAT offers?

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by [email protected] » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:47 pm
What you said about doing questions under test like conditions is related to what I said about using online question banks. With the timers they often include and given that the questions are presented one after the other on a screen, online question banks to a degree do resemble the test itself.

Also, you can choose a topic and do many timed questions on one topic. In doing this you will have plenty of opportunities to make "stupid mistakes" and over time you will condition yourself to not make these mistakes. That's part of what I mean by play the questions like a video game. I mean get used to doing questions without blowing up.

The questions in the OG are not that difficult, especially the ones toward the beginning of the lists. A test, on the other hand, starts with questions of medium difficulty and as you get the questions right ramps up the difficulty to a level that is challenging for the test taker. Many of the question banks contain questions more challenging than those in the OG.

Having said all that, if you really feel that it is less of a skill thing and more a test situation thing, especially on quant, then maybe doing more CATs is a big part of the answer. I have to admit that that has worked for me. One gets used to that blue screen and the ticking clock, and with comfort and experience often comes improved performance.

Regarding the issues you find "very irritating", I can actually think of another guy who uses pretty much exactly the same words, and I know him well enough to tell that his irritation is actually getting in the way of his success. Any kind of negative emotion can suck up energy and throw a person off, often without his realizing it. I actually meditate on the test and my attitude toward it to find and adjust how I am reacting to it all, consciously and unconsciously. The less negative I get and the more even and unperturbed I keep myself, the easier it is to do questions, and the fewer mistakes I make. This is no surprise really as it is logical that things would work that way. So there's another angle for you to consider.

Regarding verbal, you can pick up strategies by doing tons of questions and figuring out strategies, by learning from strategy guides or other sources or by doing what is probably optimal, which is combining those two approaches. Sure, one could do dozens of questions and not make much progress, but what I have found is that by doing questions and really making a point of learning from the experience one can learn plenty, and meanwhile one becomes primed to apply strategies one learns from others because with the benefit of the experience with the questions one clearly sees how the strategies fit the situation.

That's my approach anyway. I do questions to see different angles and learn to be accurate. Meanwhile any challenges I face in finding right answers are guides for analysis and research. I used to get smoked by RC, for one thing. It was bizarre to me that I could somehow miss answers to questions on a passage that is right there. Then I did a bunch of TRICKY RC questions in the Veritas question bank, figured out what it takes to not get smoked and get them right and turbocharged what I was learning by learning a little about other people's challenges and strategies.

The verbal stuff tends to be rather logic based, by the way. Yesterday someone on Beat The GMAT brought up a rule in the context of discussing how to answer a certain question. Truth is she didn't really need any rule in that situation. A careful reading of the answer choice being discussed could pretty quickly reveal a key flaw and that it does not really make sense, rule or no rule. Yes, there are many twists and bizarre idiomatic conventions to the English language. At the same time language is mostly logical and the GMAT verbal section tends to be a test of skill in applying logic. I say if one can use logic to score high on the quant section, one is well on the way to scoring high on verbal. So there's something else to consider as you work on verbal.
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by [email protected] » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:44 am
alved wrote:But how to improve this skill in RC? I know the question types but I'm usually clueless when dealing with tough passages (especially those biology and astronomy related ones).
When it comes to Reading Comprehension (RC), I don't believe that there's one specific approach that works best for everyone. I always recommend that students spend some time experimenting with different strategies to see which one best suits their memory, reading speed and English proficiency.

Having said that, when reading ANY Reading Comprehension (RC) passage, it's crucial that you engage 100% in the passage. So, rather than approach a new passage with dread ("I don't enjoy reading it at all"), try to feign interest ("Excellent! This passage is about stock market regulations in Mexico!"). The better your engagement, the better the results.

You'll find additional tips to help you better engage with the passage in this free video: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat- ... on?id=1123

If you're interested, we have a complete set of free videos covering all sorts of Reading Comprehension strategies: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat- ... prehension

Cheers,
Brent
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by [email protected] » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:48 am
One thing caught my eye so wanted to mention it here.

Remember that on a Q 50 or 51 the GMAT will play the "deception" trick on you. The questions will look very easy but you would have ignored some minor thing. It could be not considering a particular value, say 0, or not considering some extreme ranges (say >1000) but the answer will always make you feel "OMG! How could I have got it wrong". For example, the most common trap is to have the test-taker pick C in DS. If you feel both are required, then probably the answer is A or D. Go back and check if you fell for anything of this sort.

Trust me GMAT has mastered this art and even the best of us have fallen prey to this. So instead of beating yourself by saying "how could I have made the mistake?" - ask yourself "why did I make that mistake?". Here are some tips:

1. Go back to the scratch-paper and see if there some traces you have left of your folly

2. Try to construct a similar question but with different values - it might be time-consuming but helps you remember.

3. Ask yourself i you could have approached it in an another way.

4. Are there any check-and-balances that you use? I found substituting with the right answer a great way to double-check in arithmetic, algebra.

Just my \$0.02

Arun

PS: I wrote about this on my blog sometime ago & has been seen by over 5000 test-takers so maybe some worth here: https://gmat.crackverbal.com/score-51-in-gmat-quant/
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by alved » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:00 am
Do you think that taking several CATs can help me overcome the test anxiety (which significantly limited my ability in the Gmatprep test 1)? I was my first experience.

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by [email protected] » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:07 am
alved wrote:Do you think that taking several CATs can help me overcome the test anxiety (which significantly limited my ability in the Gmatprep test 1)? I was my first experience.
Yes, that could help a lot. You get so used to taking the tests that it's much less of a big deal.

That is not the whole solution, however. It's also important to just be able to keep calm and carry on. For instance if you start bugging out, just keep doing questions, bit by bit, until you are calm again, too busy answering to be anxious. If your way of relaxing yourself is to do questions, then you are kind of set.

There can always be some reason to get anxious or lose confidence. So it really helps to be good at calming one's self and at seeing things in a way that is optimal for success.
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by [email protected] » Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:29 am
alved wrote:Do you think that taking several CATs can help me overcome the test anxiety (which significantly limited my ability in the Gmatprep test 1)? I was my first experience.
Taking several practice tests might help, but you should also have some anxiety-reducing strategies for when you take the test. If you're interested, we have a free video on the topic on overcoming test anxiety: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gener ... es?id=1252

Also, as part of managing anxiety, it's crucial that you adopt the proper mindset/attitude on test day. To this end, you may be interested in reading the following articles:
- https://www.gmatprepnow.com/articles/min ... -destroyer
- https://www.gmatprepnow.com/articles/jun ... g-big-gmat

Cheers,
Brent
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