[720 Q49 V40] My Blog: Errors and lessons learned

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by mayonnai5e » Mon Sep 24, 2007 11:02 am
CR 9/8/07:

Two specific ways to weaken:
1) Provide alternative explanation
2) Weaken the analogy is an analogous situation is put forth

9/13/07:
Assumptions - are premises that must support conclusion
--> eliminate choices that do not support conclusion (out of scope/irrelevant)
--> assumption must be true

LOOKOUT - for keywords that qualify/limit/narrow a statement - they can narrow the scope of the conclusion and provide a way to attack argument
--> "the company will see an IMMEDIATE cost benefit"
--> show that the company's benefit will not be immediate

WATCH OUT - for answer choices that simply restate a premise
stimulus: "...country x has experienced similar conditions"
answer choice: "both have experienced drought conditions"

CONTRADICTIONS - if an answer choice contradicts a premise, it is most likely wrong since premises must be true.
#101 CR OG11 (inference type)
"...but such an action would be likely to cause international discord" <-- premise!
(b) "As long as international opinion is unanimously against patria..." <-- unanimously implies agreement but premise states there will be discord
(e) "for a blockade of Patria's ports to be successful, international opinion must be unanimous"

TIME WASTER - rereading question stems that are long in order to fully understand what is being asked
--> look for the basic question type and go straight to the stimulus
--> long question stems often appear in stimuli with two opposing sides and you are asked to look for something relating to one side

Assumptions - premise must not be out of scope
--> e.g. "Sandactulus" and birds
--> answer choice: "...all creatures that fly..." (addresses more animals than stimulus discusses)

Statistics - watch out for stimuli with rates/percents/totals
--> focus only on the quantity that is relevant
--> #92 OG11 : ....10 cents per miles
(b)...the total number of trips...
(c) .. avg length of trips
(e) ...total distance...(correct...stimulus deals with money and distance)

Assumptions - Eliminate answer choices that presuppose conclusion. Assumption supports conclusion - the conclusion cannot already be true.

Statistics - Note the difference between a specific portion of a larger population vs the average for that population --> the specific portion is included in the calculations for the average
--> #103 OG11: "...the average life span [of Louisianans]"
(c) 25% of all Louisianans
(d) average life expectancy has risen
-->both are included in the calculations used to determine avg

REMEMBER - on long arguments with multiple sentences, do not overlook beginning sentences as crucial information is sometimes provided

WEAKEN - another important way to weaken (usually found on hard CR): weaken assumptions presupposed by argument
--> harder because you must find the assumption first then weaken it.

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by mayonnai5e » Mon Sep 24, 2007 1:11 pm
Finished RC section of OG11. I have now finished the CR, DS, and RC sections. My hit rates are:

CR - 89%
DS - 81%
RC - 91%

Those don't really mean much in the end - what matters is whether I can apply what I know under test conditions with the associated stress, anxiety, and time pressure.

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by mayonnai5e » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:41 pm
Updates:

1) Completed SC section of OG11 - hit rate 88%

2) Completed second MGMAT CAT. I took this over the past two days (Q first then V) because I cannot take a full CAT after 8 hours of work (that wouldn't be representative of testing conditions anyways - who takes the official CAT after 8 hours of work?)
- SCORED MY FIRST 700 on a CAT. 42 Q 42 V
- I thought the Q was just ridiculous again. I saw some word problems that were like 4 or 5 sentences long. They looked like CR questions. I guessed immediately and moved on - if I had tried to solve it I would have just wasted precious time.
- timing: guessed on last 4 of Q, guessed on only 1 in V
- V was pretty straight forward; I saw a few CR and RC questions that were hard, but I just guessed and moved on. I know my V is strong so if I get one wrong, I can probably make it up later.

3) RC notes 9/25/07:

Main Idea - Look in three places: 1) first paragraph 2) last paragraph and if you can't figure it out, 3) quickly scan all paragraphs and logically organize them together to create a main idea

WATCH OUT for qualifying phrases that reverse what the passage states
--> #77 OG11: (B) "concentration of serotonin in the blood before [meals]"
--> passage discusses the concentration of serotonin after meals

Experiments - in scientific passages, be sure to distinguish between the hypothesis and the results/conclusion --> results cannot have been positively known before experiment (watch out for answer choices that assume the conclusion)

"According to" - First, look for keywords in the question stem to determine the relevant portion of the text. Second, look for keywords in the relevant text to eliminate incorrect answers.

Time - in passages where dates and time is discussed, mentally organize relevant dates and time.
e.g. experiments with subsequent experiments
e.g. economic changes followed by social changes and vice versa
--> some incorrect answer choices may reverse time order and thus make the question wrong even though relevant topics are discussed

Specific VS Group - Note when the subject of the passage is a specific part of a larger group --> WATCH OUT for answers that generalize from the specific part to the entire group
#84 OG11 (inference):
(c) the rats would produce neurotransmitters other than serotonin
--> serotonin is the only neurotransmitters discussed so we cannot generalize to a larger group

#80 OG11:
(d) the number of neurotransmitters of any kind that the rats will produces

--> the passage in this case says, "we have discovered that production...of the neurotransmitter serotonin"

Statistics - is the data representative?
#114 OG11 (weaken):
--> author states, "as much as 90 percent of the mass of the universe is not radiating..."
--> if we can prove the data the author studied is not representative then we can weaken (similar to CR strategy)

DO NOT forget the original idea that introduced the main topic of a passage - this occurs when an idea is first discussed that leads into the main idea (the intro idea is usually found in the first paragraph)
--> intro provides clues for inferences, etc
#121 OG11:
Main topic: oligosaccharins (specific type of regulatory molecule)
Intro idea: gene complements in plants and how they are controlled

"According to" - If you find the exact match and you're confident it's right, answer it and move on quickly. Don't waste time reading the other choices (this is counter to the rule that you should always read answer choices, but if timing is an issue..)

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by mayonnai5e » Sun Sep 30, 2007 12:51 pm
Completed MGMAT CAT #3. This CAT was completed all at once unlike my last CAT, which I completed over two days.

690 Q45 V39

Thoughts:
1) My Q went up which is good considering I've been focusing on Q for the past week. I have some very specific areas of Q that I relaly need to increase my speed in (e.g. word problems with rates and percentages).
2) My V went down which is not so good since I think my verbal understanding is decent
3) Timing: guessed on about 3-4 on each section. This is worst than my previous CAT. I need to learn to recognize more quickly harder questions that I cannot possibly complete in 2 minutes.
4) Overall score is still good once I factor in standard deviation.
5) I looked through my verbal and I missed 17 questions total. Out of those 17, all but 2 were 700-800 level. I don't quite understand why my V was only 39 when I mostly missed 700-800 level questions and got almost every 500-700 level question correct. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Overall feeling: Satisifed because I was scared going into this CAT that my score would drop significantly and that the last 700 was just a fluke.

MGMAT CATs:
1 650 Q40 V38
2 700 Q42 V42
3 690 Q45 V39

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by mayonnai5e » Sun Sep 30, 2007 1:01 pm
Anonymous wrote:Great seeing your progress, congratulations!
Wow that was fast. Thanks!

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by mayonnai5e » Sun Oct 07, 2007 11:15 am
Well I haven't posted anything in a week because I've been really trying to hard focus on my studying rather than trolling through these forums. I took my second GMATPrep today and scored decently well:

710 Q42 and V45

I missed 16 out of the 37 and had to guess on the last 2 or 3.
I missed 7 out of the 41 V and had to guess on the last 4.

However, I did see one RC passage from the OG and knew all the answers for that passage so I answered them fairly quickly which obviously skewed my V timing.

I'm really disappointed in my Q score because I'm an engineer and because my MGMAT Q scores have been progressively getting better (supposedly the Q on those CATs are harder then the official Q)

Anyways my progress is as follows:

MGMAT 1 Q40 V38 650
MGMAT 2 Q42 V42 700
MGMAT 3 Q45 V39 690
GMATPrep 2 Q42 V45 710

Looking through the Q questions that I got wrong, a majority of them were ones where I just guessed and moved on although I did notice 1 or 2 really careless mistakes. I have only one week left so I think I will focus on the math portion.

I'm not 100% sure how to proceed, but going over the OG problems that I missed is definitely necessary. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can bump my Q score in a week's time please do let me know.

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by mayonnai5e » Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:58 pm
I'm quite happy with my Verbal on GMATPrep 2. I got 5 right in a row, then missed #6, then got 9 right in a row and missed #16. Then I got 15 right in a row and missed #32. Questions 32 through 36 was the multinational corp question from OG11, which were the only repeats I saw. I missed 4 at the very end because I ran out of time. My timing is still an issue, but my accuracy seems to be right on the money.

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by mayonnai5e » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:02 am
My veritas experience:

I'll say it up front - Veritas is not worth the money. If you want a course to take, take MGMAT.

I scheduled myself for the live class in July and paid for the course upfront online. Two days before my class was due to begin (and after informing my boss that I would be leaving early on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a class I'm taking to prepare myself for business school), I received an email stating that there were not enough people interested in the course and that the class had been canceled. In lieu of this, I was offered the opportunity to take the online course, which are a series of recorded PowerPoint-like slideshows, and/or get a private tutor. I decided to swing for both.

My tutor was great for helping me improve my verbal, but she did not provide me with solid study plan, which would have helped. Essentially every meeting involved going over issues that I had on the previous week (missed problems etc). In the math department, she did not seem all that strong so I didn't ask many Q related questions. I asked her when we first met how she got the job as a Veritas tutor. Basically, she said they interviewed her, verified her scores and that was it. No training required. In addition, she did not score in the 99% as Veritas claims ALL their instructors score. False advertising indeed.

The online material was sufficient, but nothing new compared to the information available in other books. The main benefit is that the information is better organized. As far as the material provided goes, it is mostly material licensed (I hope) from other material (lots of OG11, OG10, PowerPrep questions included). The CATs are just CATs they bought from other companies (arco, 800score) and one they created themselves although it is supposed to be bad.

Overall, Veritas is terrible. The course got canceled, the tutor lessons began nearly 4 weeks after I had planned to start my live class, the tutor was good, and the material they provide is available elsewhere.

In other words, I just wasted $1500.

[edit: Extra info I forgot to mention - I am very impressed with the commitment of the MGMAT tutors with the GMAT community online (e.g. Stacy here on btw.com). This goes to show how far MGMAT goes to stay up to date with the latest trends, latest materials and latest concerns of students.]
Last edited by mayonnai5e on Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:42 am, edited 3 times in total.

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by beatthegmat » Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:36 pm
WOW. I'm really sorry to hear about your experiences. :(
Last edited by beatthegmat on Fri May 02, 2008 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by mayonnai5e » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:48 pm
It's strange how my strength is opposite of what I thought it would be. My verbal seems to be very strong, while my math is in doubt. On practice CATs, I am usually very nervous in the Q section and make careless mistakes due to the pressure and anxiety. In addition, I spend so much time doing grunt work while trying to solve the problem quickly that I forget to take a step back and calmly evaluate the question. I noticed I make the same mistake while doing timed practice so the past few nights I've been practicing the art of staying calm on Q while spending some upfront time evaluating the question. This usually takes about 15 seconds and involves various things, but after the 15 seconds if I cannot come up with a quick solution path, I just start with whatever comes to mind. If at the 1 minute or 1.5 minute mark, I'm no closer to the solution than I was during the first 15 seconds, I guess and move on. It's worked well in my timed practice, but I really need to perform on the real deal. I only have 3 days left and that's not much time.

On the other hand, when I reach the Verbal section, I'm usually calm and collected. The problems are often difficult, but I can elminate down to two usually and even on guesses I have a pretty good hit rate. I did 20 problems from the OG Verbal review tonight - the last 10 on RC and last 10 on CR. The last 10 on RC were from a repeat passage that I think I saw in OG11, but the first time I did that passage, I got several wrong. Tonight I got them all right, which is a good sign (at least I'm not making the same mistakes again). On CR, almost every question was new and some seemed even harder than the OG11. The very last question was of the bold-faced type. Those take forever, but I think if you see one, it's a pretty good sign. I saw two of them on GMATPrep 2 (got them both right) and scored 45 on V. I got all 10 of the CR questions right. The answers just clicked. The wrong answers were just obviously wrong. The key, I still believe, is careful analysis of the keywords in the passage and; in particular, how those keywords are related to one another in the context of the CR stimulus. I'm not going to go into detail now because I'm trying to avoid posting in the last three days, but after I'm done with my GMAT, I"ll provide more details on my approach for the verbal section. Hopefully, I can maintain my verbal pace and score another 45V on the big day.

For all the readers of this blog, I want to say thank you for tagging along on my ride. If I do not break the 700 mark, you'll be seeing more of me. If I do break it, I'll still post my final ideas on verbal so you'll still be seeing more of me. HA!

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by beatthegmat » Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:49 pm
Thank you for taking us along for the ride. :) Your blog here will definitely inspire many future GMAT test takers.

Good luck!
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by mayonnai5e » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:23 am
Tomorrow's the big day and the anxiety is already hitting me. My heart rate has not come down from an elevated state all day. The only time it went down a little was when I lifted some weights, but that was temporary. I've already studied about 5 hours today and I need a quick break so I decided to write a little bit. Things I've done in the past two days:

1) Gone over my lessons learned logs for DS, RC, CR, SC
2) Created an Quant error log on the hardest problems that I missed with lessons learned for each problem and reviewed them. One of the lessons learned on a difficult geometry problem reads: "give up and give up fast on a problem like this." =P
3) Briefly looked over the first few pages of Arco's Real Essays book
4) Went over all missed Verbal questions in OG11
5) Worked the SC and CR practice sets in GMATPrep.

Things left to do:
1) Look at some of the real questions for AWA and brainstorm how I would write the essays as well as read some sample essays from the Arco book.
2) Go over my lessons learned log for PS
3) Go over my errors from GMAC CATS (powerprep and GMATPrep)

Things to do tomorrow morning before exam:
0) Eat a good breakfast.
1) Do 5 questions from each section timed to get my mind going
2) Exercise to get the blood flowing.
3) Study some quant notes an hour before exam (I always feel more confident going into the exam after I've studied my Q lessons learned).

I'm not confident that I can break 700 on the real deal even though I scored 710 on GMATPrep 2 last week. However, I feel like I am more prepared this week than last week because I've really focused on learning my Q mistakes and Verbal just seems to click for me now.

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by beatthegmat » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:58 pm
GOOD LUCK ON YOUR TEST!

It's been wonderful following your story over the last few weeks! I'm really pulling for your success--please let us know how it goes!
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by mayonnai5e » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:03 am
After months of perpetual seclusion, I've done it - 720 Q49 V40

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by achandwa » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:20 am
Congratulations mayonnai5e! I wish I can break the 700 barrier myself. Scored 660 on my MGMAT last night after 7 weeks of study. Still got atleast a month of prep time. Good luck in your applications!