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Strategy to go from 630 to 720?

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Strategy to go from 630 to 720?

by whatthecow » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:13 pm
I took the GMAT last April with limited and sporadic prep, and got a 630 (7 IR/40 Quant/36 Verbal) I did terribly on the AWA portion.

While I graduated college in August 2015, I have a degree in the arts. The last time I took any sort of math class was about 10 years ago. Math was easy for me in high school, and I tested out of the math requirements at my university. I have always done well on tests and math used to come easily to me (scored a 33 on the ACT on two separate attempts, with a 35 in the math section.) I understand that an ACT score is not indicative of a GMAT score, but I share this information as an example of why I believe I have the potential to make a drastic improvement.

It seems many GMAT test takers are either fresh from a math focused degree, working in a math centered career, or don't have the same high test goals that I do.

Does anyone have advice about how to structure a study program for someone who needs to relearn basics, but has a natural skill set to score in the 700s?

Timeline wise, I'm looking at apply to business schools early Fall 2017, so I have up to about 6 months to prep.

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by Bara » Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:53 am
Moo,

I have some questions for you.

Can you clarify and specify your 'limited and sporadic prep' and what your score was on any diagnostic test? What materials did you use?

I wouldn't agree (or it can be understood as alternative fact - -no actually it's not true, more importantly, it's not important) that GMAT test takers are 'fresh from a math-focused degree' working a math-centered career or that they don't have the same high test goals that you do. It doesn't matter. Why? Because the quant is basically 7,8th and 9th grade math. What you're being tested on, even with the math is your REASONING skills - - thinking out of the box, understanding RELATIONSHIPS between the numbers and information, and seeing deeper within the question itself.

If you took an LSAT, that might have greater bearing than that ACT score, which is a very straight forward tests. The GMAT is not.

The benefit of coming from an arts degree (fine arts, art history...which one) is the kind of critical thinking and problem solving which we'd encourage you TRANSFER into thinking through the test questions (I have both a BFA and an MA in Art History - - and I can see how that aided my rocking out on high stakes tests, specifically the GMAT).

I don't know what your specific needs sets are because I'd need to see a diagnostic test to know...but 6 months is MORE than enough time.
And the test is coachable...everyone can score in the 700s with enough exposure and practice...what else will you do to stand out to eh admissions foiks?

Keep us posted!
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by [email protected] » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:38 am
Hi whatthecow,

A 630 is a strong performance (it's right around the 75th percentile overall), so you clearly already know some of what you'll need to score at a higher level. In addition, you have something of an advantage - you've already experienced the Official GMAT - and you can use that knowledge to better prepare for this next attempt. Six months of study time gives you plenty of time to prepare too, which is good. That all having been said, you will have to commit to a more rigorous and organized study routine to hit your score goal.

Have you done any studying since last April? Assuming that you have not, then I suggest that you start by taking a NEW, FULL-LENGTH CAT (with the Essay and IR sections) so that we can get a sense of your current skills. I want to stress that it should be a CAT that you have NOT taken before (we want a realistic assessment, so we don't want you to come across any questions that you might have previously answered). Once you have that score, you should report back here and we can discuss how best to proceed.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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by whatthecow » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:00 pm
Thank you both!

I should have time this weekend to take a practice exam to reassess my current skill level, and I'll share the results as soon as I have them! (but already looking at practice quant questions, I already feel frustrated with myself)

My schedule is limiting - I have a very demanding job, which takes my time every week day from at least 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, but I am committing to two hours every week night.

In response to Bara - you give me hope that I can recenter and improve my skills with the quant section! My previous prep was done when I had an even more demanding job (usually 80 hours a week) and a couple medical issues. I took one practice test, and would do practice questions and analyze my mistakes whenever I could find the time. Unfortunately, time was rare.

I'm working on figuring out how to show my experience makes me a great candidate for an MBA, and I'm not sure where to start there either. It felt like the first step for me was to raise my GMAT to a more competitive level.

I have not been in any position where I have permanent direct reports, but I have trained and managed 100s of employees and volunteers for events for 2 influential entertainment companies. Because event management has a demanding schedule, irregular hours, and regular travel, I've found it difficult to find leadership opportunities outside of work.

I don't know how much any admissions committee will care, but I'm fairly autodidactic (with the assistance of the Internet). I have taught myself conversational Italian, how to play ukulele and piano, and basic HTML. Of course, and advice on how to admissions is appreciated.

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by Bara » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:39 pm
whatthecow wrote:Thank you both!

I should have time this weekend to take a practice exam to reassess my current skill level, and I'll share the results as soon as I have them! (but already looking at practice quant questions, I already feel frustrated with myself)

You need to work on your attitude - - really -- tests don't only measure what you know, they measure how well you take tests. Are you confident, focused, on your game, etc.. While I can empathize with your feeling frustrated, THIS is also (reframing!) a great opportunity to learn and get great at something. You can do this!

My schedule is limiting - Yours and most other applicants.

I have a very demanding job, which takes my time every week day from at least 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, but I am committing to two hours every week night.
Great. And what are you doing to center and ground? Find ways to not only work and prepare for the GMAT. Otherwise you run risk of burnout and not being as effective or productive. Your mind works better when it gets some breaks and rewards!

In response to Bara - you give me hope that I can recenter and improve my skills with the quant section! My previous prep was done when I had an even more demanding job (usually 80 hours a week) and a couple medical issues. I took one practice test, and would do practice questions and analyze my mistakes whenever I could find the time. Unfortunately, time was rare.
You can improve!

I'm working on figuring out how to show my experience makes me a great candidate for an MBA, and I'm not sure where to start there either. It felt like the first step for me was to raise my GMAT to a more competitive level.

I have not been in any position where I have permanent direct reports, but I have trained and managed 100s of employees and volunteers for events for 2 influential entertainment companies. Because event management has a demanding schedule, irregular hours, and regular travel, I've found it difficult to find leadership opportunities outside of work.

I don't know how much any admissions committee will care, but I'm fairly autodidactic (with the assistance of the Internet). I have taught myself conversational Italian, how to play ukulele and piano, and basic HTML. Of course, and advice on how to admissions is appreciated.
There are awesome admissions consultants on BTG -- reach out to them!

Let ue know how your diagnostic goes.
Bara Sapir, MA, CHt, CNLP
Founder/CEO City Test Prep
GMAT Badass and Test Anxiety Relief Expert
ANXIETY RELIEF: https://citytestprep.com/mindfulness-therapy/
BOOK: https://tinyurl.com/TPNYSC

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by whatthecow » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:37 pm
I was afraid to face the music and actually take my first practice test, but I bunkered down tonight.

34 Quant, 36 Verb, 580 Total.

I was hoping the 630 score from the actual GMAT last year would be a little closer to my practice score. Really struggled to set up a number of the Quant questions efficiently, and saw myself go way over time without an educated guess at an answer. I was very aware of how hard I was fumbling, and it messed with my confidence. Surprised to see the number of critical reasoning questions I got incorrect, as it's normally a strength.

I will spend a few hours tomorrow really looking at the questions, and understanding my mistakes. I think the best way to learn would be to study in a way the prepares me to teach someone else how to answer the same question, but without a study partner, I'm trying to think of the best way to execute that practice.

As far as a study plan goes, I am planning on following the Magoosh 3 month study plan. it fits my budget and my schedule, and I appreciate the 50 point increase guarantee.

If any one has any additional advice, I am a a very eager listener.

I'm off to read success stories of people getting a 580 on a practice test, and still getting above a 700. Must keep perspective!

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by Bara » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:55 pm
That all sounds good.

And you already know you need to get into the best practice of setting up Quant equations efficiently, guessing strategy, and critical reasoning questions.

I tend to not like to read other people's success stories. Everyone who 'strikes' gold typically does so because of their unique talents and foci - - yours will likely be your own secret formula...and now it's up to you to figure it out.

Keep us posted!
Bara Sapir, MA, CHt, CNLP
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by [email protected] » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:45 am
Hi whatthecow,

To start, a 580 isn't as far from a 630 as it might appear. GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, this score results shows that you essentially performed the same way as you did on the Official GMAT (+/- a few points) and that your current ability level is likely around a 600 or so.

Raising this score to a 700+ is absolutely doable, but you'll have to make some significant changes to how you 'see' (and respond to) the Test. Doing lots of practice questions will likely NOT be the solution that you might think it will be. If you continue to approach this Exam in the same ways as before, then you will likely earn the same general score. As such, you really have to put an emphasis on learning and practicing the proper Tactics. You can certainly proceed with your studies as you've described, but if you find that you're not working on 'new' concepts, then you might want to make some proactive changes to your routine.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich
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by [email protected] » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:29 am
whatthecow wrote:I took the GMAT last April with limited and sporadic prep, and got a 630 (7 IR/40 Quant/36 Verbal) I did terribly on the AWA portion.

While I graduated college in August 2015, I have a degree in the arts. The last time I took any sort of math class was about 10 years ago. Math was easy for me in high school, and I tested out of the math requirements at my university. I have always done well on tests and math used to come easily to me (scored a 33 on the ACT on two separate attempts, with a 35 in the math section.) I understand that an ACT score is not indicative of a GMAT score, but I share this information as an example of why I believe I have the potential to make a drastic improvement.

It seems many GMAT test takers are either fresh from a math focused degree, working in a math centered career, or don't have the same high test goals that I do.

Does anyone have advice about how to structure a study program for someone who needs to relearn basics, but has a natural skill set to score in the 700s?

Timeline wise, I'm looking at apply to business schools early Fall 2017, so I have up to about 6 months to prep.
A few more things to consider in addition to Bara's and Rich's sensible advice:

1) Two hours per night on top of a demanding job will be tough. Two interesting bits of research to consider: first, there's a fair amount of evidence that beyond a certain threshold our study time not only suffers from the law of diminishing returns, but begins to actually erode our progress. Too much studying is detrimental. Also, the research indicates that we tend to retain more when we do more frequent/shorter study sessions. You may well be able to handle two hours every night. But I know what happens to me when I get overly ambitious with a schedule - if I fall short, I'll unconsciously alter the plan, leading to the path-of-least-resistance, which entails infrequent, very long sessions. Less than ideal.

2) Every time you master a given topic, prepare a one-page summary sheet with important reminders. Come back to these one-page summaries often. It's very easy to delve into a topic, master it, ignore it for a couple of weeks, then realize that some rust has built up in the interim.

3) Set concrete goals for quant and verbal. Given your starting position and your natural facility with testing, you should be ambitious. Shoot for 48+ on quant and 42+ on verbal. (A 49/44, for example, would have you at about 750-760.)

Otherwise, come back often and post questions you struggle with. Make the process a game and, as much as possible, have fun with it!
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by [email protected] » Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:16 am
Hi whathecow.

People go from the 500's to the 700's all the time.

To increase your quant score, you just have to learn how to handle one problem type at a time, until you know how to handle each type. Doing that is no big deal, as long as the way you learn is more logic based than it is memorization based. Things that you memorize you can forget pretty easily. Things that you really understand will stick with you longer.

For verbal, you have to learn to see the tricks in the questions. The writers often write the wrong answers to look right and the right answers to look wrong. So your best bet is to do practice questions slowly and carefully, learning to see what you have to see, such as key details, and to do what you have do in order to get right answers consistently.

Notice, I did not say practice answering questions in two minutes each. In fact, in the beginning, you could easily spend a half hour on one question. Doing that is fine. You have to learn to get right answers. Getting wrong answers in two minutes each will do you NO good. Reading a million explanations to find out what you missed will do you little good. What will do you good is getting right answers by doing whatever it takes to get them, even if doing that takes you ten to fifteen minutes per question in the beginning. You can be sure that you will speed up as you become more skilled.
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