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 Post subject: Retake: Verbal Improvement Strategy Help
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:55 am 
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Posts: 13
Hi Stacey,

I took my first GMAT on 27th of April and got a mere 710 when I had actually reached around 760 in the GMAT Preps. My Distribution of Score was as follows:

Quant 49
Verbal 38.

I am planning to take the exam again on 18th June. In Quant, I had made personalized strategies for both Sections and I feel they were pretty good. I need to sharpen those strategies. After a short recall of what had gone wrong, Quant was all about time management. I would jump onto the question to solve it without thinking of the optimal technique to solve it and ended up resolving the question. This took the time and I had to guess the very last question. I plan to go through all the GMAT Prep Quants which are uploaded to this forum and find out whether I am missing techniques to solve quickly or are there miscalculations and how to avoid it.

Talking about Verbal, I feel I had got quite difficult Questions on CR and RC (assuming that one counts Evaluate the Argument and twisted EXCEPTs and Bold faces in the challenging category for CR and Weakens and Paragraph Bolds and Organization Questions on RC challenging questions) but I found that SC was fluctuating between tougher and simpler questions. I assume that I made mistakes in SC and few in CR (suddenly got Strengthen/Weakens simpler at the very end), causing my score to drop down to 38.

During Practice in SC, I found myself stuck on Eliminators (last two answer choices) and ended up selecting the wrong one. This was especially in the middle and end of the tests when SC was at its peak and the differences were in the meaning and concision. I had consciously included in my strategy that I should completely understand the meaning of the sentence and should not jump onto answer choices once I found a mistake in the original. Having included this, my score improved and I got just 2 SCs incorrect with complete accuracy in other areas. Still, I guess this is what caught me in the test. Though I am not sure what went wrong, I have suspect on Meaning and Concision in SC.

My plan for Verbal is the same. For SC, go through all GMAT Prep Verbals even if I have solved them earlier. I recognize solved problems only in CR and not in SC so that is an advantage. I will try to find out if I still make those mistakes I made in GMAT Preps 1 and 2 and if I am still adhering to the strategy I made. Other concepts wise, my SC seems to be good (having gone through SC Guide thrice and having eliminated well in GMAT Preps) except for Meaning and Concision for difficult questions.

Could you suggest any other method that will help me identify the mistakes I possibly did on my GMAT so that I do not repeat them?

Kindly get back if there is any other information required.


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 Post subject: Re: Retake: Verbal Improvement Strategy Help
 Post Posted: Wed May 02, 2012 12:50 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
710 is a great score! I know you're going for something even better, but don't discount your accomplishments - congratulations!

First, you're aware that the test is changing on 5 June, right? There will be a new section, Integrated Reasoning, so you will have to study for this new section as well. You may want to look at our blog for some information about what the section is, what to expect, etc.

How did your practice CATs differ from the real thing? Did both quant and verbal drop a little, or was most of the drop from one section?

Did you take your practice CATs under 100% official conditions, including essays, length of breaks, no use of the pause button, etc? Doing things that aren't allowed during the real test can result in an artificially inflated practice score.

It sounds like you've got a decent idea of what happened on quant, but one thing I'm noticing that's missing from your discussion: the notion that you will be given questions you can't do (yes, even at the 760 level), and your task there is to acknowledge that you can't do them and make a good guess in at most 2 minutes. Make sure that that is part of your study routine as well.

It does sound like you got some tougher verbal Qs. Could this have happened? You got tougher / more unusual Q types, so you got a bit bogged down, spent a little too much time, got behind, had to speed up to catch up, started making careless mistakes, and your score eroded by the end of the section?

Also, could there have been mental or decision fatigue? Did you do the essays and stick strictly to 8 minute breaks on practice tests? If you weren't fully prepared for the necessary mental stamina, that could have caused additional mistakes leading to score erosion. See this article for a discussion of mental / decision fatigue:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... you-crazy/

(Note: mental and physical fatigue are very different. Most people report not feeling fatigued, but they're referring to physical fatigue - the adrenaline keeps you more physically alert. You can still be suffering mental fatigue.)

Quote:
During Practice in SC, I found myself stuck on Eliminators (last two answer choices) and ended up selecting the wrong one.


Note: you probably didn't always choose the wrong one. Most likely, you paid more attention to the ones you got wrong, because the ones where you guessed right were then marked correct on your answer sheet... :)

Meaning is a tough thing to study; here are some resources for you:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... orrection/
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... on-part-2/
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... h-meaning/
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... problem-2/

There are more articles like the above on our blog - just browse back over the past 6 months or so.

Here's something else to read for anyone going for a 760:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/7 ... erence.cfm

And, finally but most importantly, here's HOW to study those OG questions:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/a ... roblem.cfm

Examples of the above, one per question type:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/GMATprep-SC.cfm
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/CR-assumption.cfm
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/a ... estion.cfm
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/a ... roblem.cfm
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/a ... roblem.cfm

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: Retake: Verbal Improvement Strategy Help
 Post Posted: Thu May 03, 2012 11:37 am 
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Forum Guests


Posts: 13
Hi Stacey,

Many thanks for your inputs and inspiration. Yes, I believe that I can reach 760 or possibly more than that if I can find out what aspects I am lacking in terms of technique. Content-wise, I do feel confident and will be going through the MGMAT Guides again along with the question banks and 3 MGMAT tests which I could not attempt.

Yes, I am aware of the changes in the test. I have downloaded the latest GMATPrep to check some Integrated Reasoning Questions which I would be practising this weekend. I hope the amount of effort required would not be significant. I would give myself sufficient amount of time to be confident in IR before reattempting. I am also following your blog and even some sample questions from Veritas Prep for IR. Has Manhattan GMAT come out with sample IR Questions so that students could get familiar with them.

Quote:
How did your practice CATs differ from the real thing? Did both Quant and Verbal drop a little, or was most of the drop from one section?


The Verbal score dropped quite significantly from 43/44 to 38. The Quant Scores in my practice tests were 49/50/51 and I got a 49. I think some improvisation in the Quant technique such as noting down the possible constraints for the question in advance before moving onto to solve the question, spending 10-15 seconds per question to think of how I could solve the question and which technique I could use and calming down in case of Tough Questions ( I got baffled with some of those and made a random guess so I need to have some Educated Guessing Strategy).

Quote:
Did you take your practice CATs under 100% official conditions, including essays, length of breaks, no use of the pause button, etc? Doing things that aren't allowed during the real test can result in an artificially inflated practice score.


I had taken each section without pausing but I think in almost all tests I had not taken the same amount of time the test lasts. That means longer breaks. Maybe that gave me some focus back which I could not sustain during the real test. Yes, and in some tests I had skipped the Essays..:(. Maybe thats the reason I got inflated scores, but do you think that if I now practice with full length with essays and accurate break lengths, I would be able to improve. Unfortunately, I have seen all GMATPrep questions so I have no such tests left...:(

Quote:
the notion that you will be given questions you can't do (yes, even at the 760 level), and your task there is to acknowledge that you can't do them and make a good guess in at most 2 minutes. Make sure that that is part of your study routine as well.


Although I had no separate strategy for educated guessing, I did educated guesses in my practice exams. But I found that the questions I got in GMAT were such that I could not do an educated guess. I did not see those kind of questions earlier. Although, I would have solved them in 4 minutes or so, the very unfamiliarity led me to lose confidence and with 2 minutes of futile efforts, I had to make a random guess. I needed tips on educated guessing on those type of questions but unfortunately I hardly remember a few of those questions. And one more thing I found was the questions in the OG were quite simple as compared to the questions I received on GMAT or GMATPreps I guess even below the 700 range and this made me realise that I had more work to do in Quant in the last month.


Quote:
It does sound like you got some tougher verbal Qs. Could this have happened? You got tougher / more unusual Q types, so you got a bit bogged down, spent a little too much time, got behind, had to speed up to catch up, started making careless mistakes, and your score eroded by the end of the section?


Yes, I guess that is exactly what happened. I was actually cruising confidently and was more confident to get a good score on Verbal than on Quant and there came a big 4 paragraph passage containing more than 14 lines per paragraph (and that was huge) and the very first question of that was a Weaken Although I never had the habit of seeing the question first, I was stunned for around 30 seconds with the length and the first question eventhough I was well on track following your pacing strategy of dividing the timeline into 5 section checkpoints. And this passage took quite some time in which I had a Weaken, an Organization and a complete paragraph bold question (with Role of Paragraph). This passage took quite some time as I did not want to compromise on accuracy. It is possible that after that I gave very less time to SCs and CRs further (Which is when I got the simpler SCs) and lost the points in succession. In these SCs and CRs, I remember that I didnt follow my customised strategies and jumped onto answer choices immediately. At times after the bigger passage, I lost focus in CRs (got mentally fatigued I guess) and had to reread the CRs to retain the conclusion and the chain of reasoning and in SCs, jumped immediately to elimination without reading the sentence just to check errors that were quite evident and eliminate them. That was a bad PoE approach but I guess the bigger passage caused the panic.

Quote:
Also, could there have been mental or decision fatigue? Did you do the essays and stick strictly to 8 minute breaks on practice tests?


Yes, I got mentally fatigued after the huge passage. I will go through the links that you have posted and then work on those and see if I can sustain the focus till the end with accurately timed complete practice tests.

I will also try some timed LSAT RCs to check if length is costing me that extra time. My strategy in RC was to go slow on smaller passages making very brief notes on almost every line, invest the time in understanding the passage pretty well and then move onto quick elimination ensuring that each and every word in the answer choice is read and interpreted. For long passages, I used to get a gist of the paragraph as my notes instead of having it for every line and then moved onto the answer choices carefully, returning back to the passage when required. But I had never faced such a big passage and that kind of derailed me.

For CR, my strategy is to ensure understanding of
1. The Chain of Reasoning
2. The Conclusion and
3. Prephrasing Assumptions, if possible
and then use strategies such as Impact Reasoning (to check impact of answer choice on the conclusion) to get things right.

Quote:
Note: you probably didn't always choose the wrong one. Most likely, you paid more attention to the ones you got wrong, because the ones where you guessed right were then marked correct on your answer sheet... :)


Yes, this might be a possibility, annoying though but then I would now focus on the quality instead of quantity for SCs (go through all SCs in OG and Verbal Review) and see how I eliminate. I will certainly go through the links regarding meaning that you have posted and see if I get some improvement there.

Finally, do you have any additional suggestions regarding pacing in the Verbal Sections if something like a huge passage (on which the fate of around 3-4 questions is hanging) can be handled more efficiently? Also, should I follow proper strategy for each question type even if I am in a crunch situation and maybe sacrifice some questions in between and not in succession (thats cruel though..:(). I think the mistake I made is to avoid the strategy completely for all the questions after the huge passage. I wish I could attach my strategies for review (pretty much that I have mentioned above) but have some of them in detail.

Truly appreciate your help on the post exam analysis and for all those posts from you and Ron (and ofcourse the guides) that have helped me sharpen my skills. Let me see if some crucial changes in how I handle the exam can get me the desired score...:)


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 Post subject: Re: Retake: Verbal Improvement Strategy Help
 Post Posted: Wed May 09, 2012 6:11 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
Good. Yes, we just published an entire book on IR. We've also updated our CATs so that you can take them with an IR section if you prefer.

It does sound like you weren't fully prepared for the length of the test from a mental stamina aspect. When you're going for a 760, everything's got to be perfect. So, yes, you need to take future tests under 100% official conditions.

There is a new version of GMATPrep (2.0), but the quant and verbal question databases still contain a lot of the same questions. Still, you could try - there are some new questions in there too. Have you also already done our tests?

Here are two articles (one quant, one verbal) on how to study educated guessing.
http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/07/ ... s-on-quant
http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/e ... verbal.cfm

Note: you can often learn HOW to make educated guesses by studying easier problems - problems that you can already do. Then you try to use the same kind of reasoning on harder problems of the same type.

Quote:
This passage took quite some time as I did not want to compromise on accuracy.


You need to adjust your mindset. Timing and accuracy are of EQUAL importance. You WILL have to decide to compromise on accuracy sometimes. Think of the business world - you can't get *everything* done today, so some things get pushed off or never get done. They're literally testing you on your ability to make those kinds of calls and move on - your ability to prioritize. :)

Okay, so we know what happened. A combination of mental fatigue, timing, and panic / stress brought on by the timing and mental fatigue. Good. If we know what happened, then we can take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again!

Long GRE passages are also a good source for getting used to really long passages. They tend to be even longer than GMAT passages.

I think you probably already know what I'm going to say in response to your question about what to do when hit with a really long passage or something like that... right? Think about it and then check below to see whether you're right.

You are still going to have to sacrifice things at times. Even at 760. Read this:
http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index ... to-win-it/

If you get derailed by anything and find yourself behind, bail early on a small number of questions rather than trying to rush through a large number. That strategy is absolutely the best way to minimize your losses.

:)

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: Retake: Verbal Improvement Strategy Help
 Post Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 3:25 am 
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Forum Guests


Posts: 20
One thing would like to point out is the overall gain in score will be around 30 points from Q49-Q51 and 10-20 points from V38-V40. The reason is Q51 is at the higher end of percentile spectrum and boosts your score by a greater margin. To get Q51, its all about solving the questions faster (practice and practice) and identifying whatever weak areas you have and making them your strengths.


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 Post subject: Re: Retake: Verbal Improvement Strategy Help
 Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 4:29 pm 
Offline
ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7695
Location: San Francisco
They don't release the exact conversion scale, but I would be willing to bet that V38 to V40 won't provide as much of a boost for a simpler reason: V38 is 83rd percentile and V40 is 89th percentile (6 percentile points). For quant, Q49 is 85th percentile and Q51 is 98th percentile (14 percentile points). The increase in skill level needed to pick up those 2 quant points is much greater.

In other words, quant and verbal do not actually use the same scale (although they use the same number range). A 2-point difference on one is not necessarily the same as a 2-point difference on the other.

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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