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Frustrated after my 2nd attempt. please help.

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Frustrated after my 2nd attempt. please help.

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Reaching out for help after my second attempt at the GMAT which I finished an hour ago. I can't help but cry because I have studied for the GMAT full time for almost 2 months and I still did poorly. Scored a 580 on my first test for obvious reasons: nerves and inability to complete the test. Didn't beat myself up about it because I know I have anxiety in general and also because there's a penalty for not completing the test.

But today I did it for the 2nd time and still scored a 580. And I don't understand why because I have scored higher on my practice tests. I enrolled in the Kaplan GMAT prep course and started studying on January 25/17. My first test was scheduled on February 28th. I know GMAT prep takes a few months but I was studying for 6-7 hours a day (it's hard to do any more than that without frying my brain) so I figured it would be enough. After I did poorly on my first test I did a few Kaplan practice tests and scored above 650 which I was happy with. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong and any advice or moral support will be appreciated!

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Hi cece2017,

To start, what were the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores on each of these two Official GMATs?

From your post, it's unclear what studying (if any) you did before you enrolled in that Course. Assuming that the Course was essentially the 'start' of your studies, then you've been studying for about 1.5 months. Many Test Takers spend 3 months (or more) of consistent study time before they hit their 'peak' scores, so it's likely that you just have not put in enough time and effort yet to have scored higher. It's also possible that you've gotten 'stuck' at this particular score level, but since you've mentioned some higher practice CAT scores, I'd like to know more about how you took those CATs:

When you took your CATs:
1) Did you take the ENTIRE CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) Did you take them at home?
3) Did you take them at the same time of day as when you plan to take your Official GMAT?
4) Did you ever do ANYTHING during your CATs that you couldn't do on Test Day (pause the CAT, skip sections, take longer breaks, etc.)?
5) Did you ever take a CAT more than once? Had you seen any of the questions BEFORE?

Beyond those questions, I'd also like to know a bit more about your overall timeline and goals:

1) What is your goal score?
2) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
3) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

Thankfully, the GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam, so you CAN train to score at a higher level.

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

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Test Date:
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Target GMAT Score:
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GMAT Score:
580
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Thanks for your reply.

I can't remember the exact scores, sorry. I didn't end up accepting them so I don't have a score report.
I know I bombed Quant and was approximately in the 36th percentile and for Verbal I was in the 79th percentile.

I did not study prior to the mentioned date. My start date was Jan 25th/17 as mentioned.

When I took my CATs:

1) Yes, I did take the ENTIRE CAT each time, including Essay and IR
2) Yes, I took them at home
3) No, I did not take all the CATs at the same time. I took them at my own convenience depending on my day
4) The only thing I did differently during my CATs at home was snack during the exam
5) I did not take a CAT more than once, but yes I did find questions similar to the practice questions on the Kaplan Test Prep website.

My timeline was to do the GMAT by April 1st, 2017 to meet some deadlines, however because my score is not good enough I am starting to consider applying for the 2018 session.

1) Goal Score - 680-700
2) I wanted to apply for Fall 2017, but it does not seem like a realistic possibility at this point
3) Santa Clara University, University of Bath, University of St Gallen

Happy to answer more questions if needed

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I'd only really trust the scores you get on the official practice exams (the ones from mba.com), particularly the newer ones in the Exam Packs. I hear horror stories almost every day from students who got great score X on unofficial practice test Y and expected to do that well on the real thing. Calibrating these tests is very difficult and many test providers don't do the best job; even when they do, there can still be natural error and variation, so one test doesn't say a lot.

Get the best and broadest sample you can, use only the scores from those tests closest to the real thing.

On a brighter note, I doubt you need a 680-700 to get into Santa Clara, especially these days when applications are down to most MBA programs. I live in the area and have had a few students who have gone there, few if any of whom had that high a score. (Can't speak to the other schools, they're a little outside my bailiwick!)

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Hi cece2017,

To start, Test Day is a rather specific 'event' - the details are specific and they matter, so you have to train as best as you can for all of them. The more realistic you can make your CATs, the more likely the score results are to be accurate. The more you deviate, the more "inflated" your practice scores can become - and that's what happened here. By taking the CATs at home, taking them at different times of day, snacking during the CATs, etc., you were ending up with unrealistic practice scores - and as such, you weren't properly training for the FULL GMAT 'experience.'

Thankfully, this is a relatively easy set of problems to fix. The big question now is "how long will it take you to properly get 'used to' taking the full GMAT?" Beyond those issues, you will have to continue studying and built up your Test Taking skills. As far as your GMAT score goal is concerned, the score that most Test Taker's "want" and the one that they actually "need" to get into Business School are rarely the same thing - so it might be that you don't actually need a 680+ for the Schools that you're interested in. You should be able to research the average GMAT Score at those Programs - and many Schools list the "middle 80%" of each class, so that you can get a sense of the range of scores that the School considers "acceptable."

All things being equal, if we assume that you want to score in the low-600s to mid-600s at the minimum, then you could conceivably hit that level with 1-2 months of additional consistent, guided study. It's unclear whether your existing study materials will be enough to get you to that level or not, but you can continue to study as you like and we can use your future CAT scores to track your progress (you just have to be mindful to take those CATs in a strict fashion that matches up with what you'll face on Test Day).

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

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Hey guys, thanks for all the advice. I checked and the average GMAT scores vary but for my first choice of school the minimum score required is 680. I will definitely replicate test day settings for any future CATs.

In terms of study material, I saw people mention Manhattan and Target prep. Any advice/opinions about that? Also is there any way I can gain access to more practice tests other than the 2 on the GMAC website?

Thanks

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Hi cece2017,

I'd be curious to read how that School communicates the idea that a 680+ is 'required' - and are there any additional requirements (re: Quant/Verbal percentiles, etc.); would you mind posting a link to where you read that information?

Based on the Official Score data that you provided, you have a greater opportunity to pick up points in the Quant section. In addition, many Business School Programs consider the Quant Scaled Score to be a strong indicator of an applicant's ability to handle the academic aspects of the Program - so raising your Quant Scaled Score would be beneficial in several ways.

When it comes to studying for the GMAT (and/or just the Quant section of it), there are a variety of different options. Most GMAT Companies offer some type of free materials (practice problems, Trial Accounts, videos, etc.) that you can use to 'test out' a product before you buy it. We have a variety of those resources at our website (www.empowergmat.com). I suggest that you take advantage of all of them then choose the one that best matches your personality, timeline and budget. As far as additional CATs are concerned, there are 4 additional Official CATs that you can purchase as well as 'packs' of CATs that you buy from MGMAT and Veritas.

If you have any additional questions, then you can feel free to contact me directly.

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

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Hi Rich,

Here you go:
https://www.unisg.ch/en/studium/zulassungundanmeldung/zulmasterstufe/mbf

"An application can only be made with the following minimum score: GMAT 680 points (total score), GRE Revised 160 points (quantitative reasoning). If your GMAT or GRE score is below the stated minimum score, your application will not be considered in the selection process. "

thanks for the advice. I know my Quant needs major improvement. I am going to look into EmpowerGMAT.

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Hi cece2017,

It's interesting that a Masters in Banking & Finance would place an overall minimal GMAT score without any specific minimal score in Quant (while still requiring a minimal Quant for those taking the GRE). I still highly suspect that the Admissions Committee will pay attention to your Quant Scaled Score though, so the higher you can score in that section, the better.

If the last day to apply for this Program this year is April 30th, then you would have to do a LOT of work in the next 6 weeks to hit your goal score. While challenging, it might be possible (depending on how able you are to learn and properly practice some new Tactics) - but you'd have to be really efficient about how you spend these next 6 weeks.

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

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I faced the similar situation. I hope my debrief can help and motivate you at the same time.
http://gmatclub.com/forum/580-700-760-q51-v41-ir-228526.html

Thanks
Prateek

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