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I don't know where to go from here

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I don't know where to go from here

by ZarahXO » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:54 am
I started preparing for the GMAT sometime in July, so I've had almost five months of getting ready, but i really haven't made much progress from when I started. I used the Manhattan prep study guides for both quant and verbal and I also solved a lot of questions from the official guide, so I thought I had a good grip on both sections. However, my scores in the 5 practice tests I've taken prove the opposite.

My first practice test was one of the official GMAT tests and I scored 470 (Quant 22, Verbal 32). The other four tests were Manhattan prep CATs with scores 570 (Q37, V31), 460 (Q27, V28), 580(Q36, V33) and 420(Q19,V29). My self confidence was completely deflated after my last test so I decided to take some time to cool off, re-focus and re-strategize. I read a lot of stories here about people who beat the GMAT and I try to be encouraged, but its hard not to doubt myself because I'm not anywhere near the score I need. I'm aiming for 700+ .

I started an error log and I've been able to pinpoint my areas of weakness both on the quant and the verbal, but the problem is I don't know how to go about improving my score. I don't know what materials to use to tackle my areas of difficulty. I don't think going back to the Manhattan guides is a good idea and I'm not sure whether taking classes is what I should do right now since I've done a lot of self-study, plus I'm running out of time. I'm looking to apply in January - the second deadline for most of the schools I'm interested in. As an international student, it would give me enough time for my visa application than the third deadline would and it would also give me a better chance of getting admitted. The IR and essay sections are as much a struggle to me as the verbal and quant. The highest number of questions I've gotten right on IR is three and then my brain just freezes on the essay section and I end up not typing enough or just off point. I'm really struggling here, please help!

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by Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:35 am
Hi ZarahXO,

Many Test Takers find studying for the GMAT to be a challenging process, so you're not alone. The GMAT is a consistent, predictable Exam though, so you CAN train to score at a higher level. It sounds as though your studies have been 'book heavy' so far - and many Test Takers who study in that way end up getting 'stuck' at a particular score level, so investing in some new materials that emphasize Tactics will likely be what you'll need next.

Before I can offer you the specific advice that you're looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

1) Did you take the FULL CAT each time (including the Essay and IR sections)?
2) You've stated your Score Goal (700+), but what is the minimum score that you would apply with?
3) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
4) What are the Round 2 and Round 3 application deadlines for those Schools?

Since most of your CATs have been 3rd-party Exams, you should plan to take one of the Official GMAC CATs next and take it in a realistic fashion (take the FULL CAT - with the Essay and IR sections, take it away from your home, at the same time of day as when you'll take the Official GMAT, etc.). Once you have that score, you should report back here and we can discuss how best to proceed.

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Rich
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by ceilidh.erickson » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:42 am
ZarahXO wrote:I started preparing for the GMAT sometime in July, so I've had almost five months of getting ready, but i really haven't made much progress from when I started. I used the Manhattan prep study guides for both quant and verbal and I also solved a lot of questions from the official guide, so I thought I had a good grip on both sections. However, my scores in the 5 practice tests I've taken prove the opposite.

My first practice test was one of the official GMAT tests and I scored 470 (Quant 22, Verbal 32). The other four tests were Manhattan prep CATs with scores 570 (Q37, V31), 460 (Q27, V28), 580(Q36, V33) and 420(Q19,V29). My self confidence was completely deflated after my last test so I decided to take some time to cool off, re-focus and re-strategize. I read a lot of stories here about people who beat the GMAT and I try to be encouraged, but its hard not to doubt myself because I'm not anywhere near the score I need. I'm aiming for 700+ .

I started an error log and I've been able to pinpoint my areas of weakness both on the quant and the verbal, but the problem is I don't know how to go about improving my score. I don't know what materials to use to tackle my areas of difficulty. I don't think going back to the Manhattan guides is a good idea and I'm not sure whether taking classes is what I should do right now since I've done a lot of self-study, plus I'm running out of time. I'm looking to apply in January - the second deadline for most of the schools I'm interested in. As an international student, it would give me enough time for my visa application than the third deadline would and it would also give me a better chance of getting admitted. The IR and essay sections are as much a struggle to me as the verbal and quant. The highest number of questions I've gotten right on IR is three and then my brain just freezes on the essay section and I end up not typing enough or just off point. I'm really struggling here, please help!
You CAT scores are all over the map, especially on quant. This kind of inconsistency usually indicates issues with your technique, not your content knowledge. (If you didn't know the content, you'd be consistently low).

Keeping an error log is a good first step - now you need to start interpreting it. Which kinds of errors are you making consistently? How was your timing? More here: https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog ... -studying/

Buying new materials and doing a bunch of new problems won't help. You've probably seen enough problems at this point to do well - you just haven't mastered them yet. Go back and redo the problems you've gotten wrong so far. Can you get them right the 2nd time? Can you extrapolate generalizable rules to apply to the next similar problem?

I would recommend booking a session or two with a private tutor, if that's possible. They can help you to pinpoint where your technique is faulty, and what to do to fix it.

For now, ignore the essay and IR. You can still take them with CATs for stamina practice, but no one cares much about the essay score, and Mprep IR is significantly more difficult than the real thing. We're in the process of updating it, but it's still too hard, so don't pay attention to that score. Even on the real thing, the IR score matters far less than the 200-800 score. Focus on that first.

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

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by ZarahXO » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:16 am
Hi Rich, thanks a lot for the reply. To answer your questions, yes I took the full CAT with the IR and essay sections each time I tested. The minimum score I would apply with is 650. These are the schools I'm applying to and their round 2 and 3 deadlines -
1. Harvard (jan 3, april 2)
2. Stanford ( jan 10, april 4)
3. Columbia Uni ( jan 15, april 11)
4. UPenn (jan 3, march 27)
5. Uni of Texas (final deadline feb 1)

Thanks.

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by ZarahXO » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:28 am
Hi Ceilidh, thanks a lot for the reply. I'll definitely work on what you suggested and I'll check out the link you sent as well. I'll let you know my progress as I go along. Thank you.

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by Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:58 am
Hi ZarahXO,

It's likely that your most recent practice CAT was the result of a 'bad day.' That having been said, assuming that your current skill level is in the mid-500s, you would still likely need at least another 2 months of consistent, guided study to hit the mid-600s (and likely longer to hit 700+). Considering the Round 2 application deadlines that you've listed, you might need to consider pushing back your Test Date.

1) How long ago did you take this most recent CAT?
2) Going forward, how many hours do you think you can consistently study each week?

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by ZarahXO » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:07 pm
Hi Rich, I took the last CAT 3 weeks ago. I might have been a bit cranky that day, hence the poor result. I can consistently study for 28 hours a week. Thanks

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by Rich.C@EMPOWERgmat.com » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:40 am
Hi ZarahXO,

Since it's been 3 weeks, you should plan to take one of the Official GMAT CATs sometime soon (perhaps this weekend) and take it in a realistic fashion (take the FULL CAT - with the Essay and IR sections, take it away from your home, at the same time of day as when you'll take the Official GMAT, etc.). Once you have that score, you should report back here and we can discuss how best to proceed.

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by ZarahXO » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:50 pm
Hi Rich, I'll work out a good time and take the test as soon as I can. Thank you so much for your help.