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 Post subject: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:57 am 
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Students


Posts: 15
I am taking GMAT in 2 weeks time. My problem is that on an average I make 8-11 mistakes in most of the tests such as MGAMT, GMATPREP, KAPLANs etc.
SC takes the highest percentage in wrong answers, varying from 4-7.

When I analyze the incorrect questions in SC, I find that many of the correct answers were my second choice for those question. I need some suggestion on how to improve it. My dream score would be in the range of 730+. How many mistakes can I afford to make for such a score. In Maths, I manage around 48-50.

Please reply soon as I have just two weeks to correct my problems.


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:05 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7417
Location: San Francisco
First, everyone makes lots of mistakes. The test is not scored based upon percentage correct. If you can answer harder questions correctly, the test just gives you even harder questions until you make a mistake!

If you find that you are consistently narrowing to 2 answers and then sometimes picking the wrong one, you need to start analyzing the wrong answers. Don't do this only on the ones you got wrong. Chances are there are also some you got right, but you also narrowed to 2 and had to make some kind of guess - so you got a bit lucky on those. You still need to study them.

Articulate:
- why the tempting wrong answer is so tempting; why would someone think this choice is correct?
- why that reasoning is incorrect
- why the wrong answer is actually wrong
- why it's tempting to eliminate the right answer; why would someone think this choice is wrong?
- what that reasoning is incorrect
- why the right answer is actually right

(The above works for all of verbal, by the way, not just SC.)

Also, you say you have just 2 weeks until the test. FYI: It's tough to make a lot of improvement in only 2 weeks. You mention that you want to score 730+ but you don't mention what you are scoring right now, so I don't know how far away from your goal you are - but the last 2 weeks are typically about solidifying your current score to make sure you can perform at your best on test day and not as much about making a big improvement in your score.

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:20 pm 
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Posts: 14
Hi. I took the exam last June and I got a 680. I was bummed since I got higher on multiple practice exams, from mba.com (710). I decided to take it again, and I currently am scheduled to take it July 2nd. I have a little over 2 weeks. I have taken 3 practice exams (MGMAT CATs) and my scores were 630, 680, and 660 respectively. I was really discouraged to see the drop and that I am not scoring at least 700. Any advise? Push exam out further (but I am going to grad school this Fall and want to focus on getting prepared for that)? I also have the 11th and 12th edition of the official guide. I have not done many questions in them, should I maybe do some towards the end? I have taken already 4 gmat focus tests. I scored better on the math sections, in general, than I did on the math sections for the MGMAT CATs. I can also take the 2 mba.com tests. I am doing worse on verbal than I did last year and about the same in math, in general.


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:01 pm 
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ManhattanGMAT Staff


Posts: 7417
Location: San Francisco
In general, we should expect to score on the official test about what we're scoring on practice tests in the week or two before the official test. (Although there's a pretty wide standard deviation on the these tests, so when I say we can expect to score "about" what we're scoring on practice tests, I mean plus or minus 30 to 50 points.)

Because of that standard deviation, the ideal is to be scoring at or above your desired level on practice tests just before you take the real test. It isn't impossible to get a slightly higher score on the real test - it happens all the time - but most people don't want to count on that.

You don't mention when you took the practice tests (630, 680, 660) but I'll assume they're relatively recent. If your goal is 730, then you may need some more time before you take the official test; as I mentioned above, the ideal is to score consistently in the range you want (on practice tests) before you take the real thing.

Do you know why your scores have been stagnating? (A 20-point difference is well within standard deviation, so it isn't really a drop. It's just not an improvement.) What are your strengths and weaknesses. What are the areas that are consistently giving you trouble? Are you struggling with content, technique, timing, or all of the above?

If content, what specifically is giving you the most trouble? (eg, in SC, modifiers and verbs) Include in this category the different types of questions for CR and RC (eg, find an assumption vs. weaken or inference vs. main idea). On what types of questions or content areas are you struggling with technique or timing? (Technique is knowing how to identify / categorize a particular type of question and knowing what you're expected to do / answer as you move through the problem.)

The OG questions (and equivalent) are definitely important to do - this is where you'll make most of your progress, analyzing the questions, studying the material tested, practicing, etc. Think of the tests (official or practice) as the Wimbledon finals: you're not learning during the championship match. You're executing upon all of the practice and learning that you did before you got to the match (the test). Your study / practice sessions are where you did all of the hard work and analysis to learn what you needed to learn so that you can execute properly when you take a test.

_________________
Stacey Koprince
Instructor
Director of Online Community
ManhattanGMAT


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
 Post Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:53 pm 
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Posts: 14
Hi, actually I goofed, I got a 690 instead of a 680.

You are right, I took the exams recently:
    5/29/09,
      6/09/09, and
        6/14/09.

        My scores, again are:
          630 (79%),
            690 (91%), and
              660 (86%).

              You said 20 was not, just not an improvement. I wonder if 30 points is a big drop or not?

              Okay and the math verbal attributes are for each exam respectively:
              Math 42 (66%), Verbal 34 (72%);
              Math 45 (77%), Verbal 39 (89%);
              Math 43 (70%), Verbal 37 (83%);

              It seems like a point difference goes a long way! For instance, I got a 680 on the real thing last year, and the only thing that changed from it and my CAT #2 was one point on the verbal to bring me up to 690!

              My goal is to get over a 700. Like you said, it could happen. I just don't know whether to test my luck and take the exam July 2nd and be done with it, or pay money to push it forward some more, but it cost money to switch dates and I would be so burnt out trying to study and get stuff taken care of for grad school, I move August 6th and class starts August 10th. What is your advice?????

              Anyway, you asked I know my weaknesses. Here is my analysis:

              Timing:
              Cat 1: Math: timing was bad, guessed on 4 math questions and did not answer the last 1 (timed out), for a string of 5 wrong. Verbal: Oddly had extra time left in verbal.
              Cat 2: Math: Timing improved in Math, only timing out on the last question. Also timed out on last Verbal question. Verbal: Overall improvement in timing.
              Cat 3: Math: Timing worsened, finished the entire exam but had some strings wrong in the middle. I spent too long on a few problems in the middle in contrast to my first exam in which I had a string of 5 wrong at the end. Verbal: Once again did not answer the last question, but spent too long on RC 1st question.
              Conclusion: I need to not take too long on any math problems and work quicker on RC.

              Content:
              Verbal:
              I ran the Assessments MGMAT provides on the last 2 exams (CAT 2 & 3). I had trouble determining my weaknesses on Verbal, other than maybe RC Detail (odd) and Inference. My average difficulty RIGHT and Average Difficulty WRONG respectively are:
              CR: 700, 710;
              SC: 690, 740;
              RC: 620, 740.

              Math:
              My average difficulty RIGHT and Average Difficulty WRONG respectively are:
              PS: 610, 650
              DS: 640, 700

              I can only determine that I need to improve on Word Translations & that I am awesome at Number Properties other than I am REALLY terrible on Divisibility & Primes. I thought if there was a way to pick out Divisibilty & Primes in the OG then that could help. Any advice on this??????

              So, based on this information, can you give me any advice????


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:36 pm 
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              ManhattanGMAT Staff


              Posts: 7417
              Location: San Francisco
              Basically, a 10-30 point difference is not much of a difference from a statistical standpoint- that can be the difference between having a slightly off day and a slightly on day. Of course, the real thing we're worried about is what the admissions people think - so although technically there's not that much difference between a 660 and a 690, if they were looking at official scores, they'd prefer a 690 to a 660. If you posted both scores on the official test, they'd consider your higher score.

              Good analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. You do have a timing problem that you need to fix. It's very tough to hit 700+ if you are getting strings of 5+ answers wrong in a row (particularly at the end, because you don't have any more problems left via which you could raise your score a bit). If you get a string of 5 in a row wrong at the end, the penalty works out to be about 2 to 2.5 percentile points per question. That means you were doing better until you hit that string and then your score dropped quite a bit. (Isolated questions wrong have an average penalty of only about 1 to 1.5 percentile points.) Oh, and if you time out without answering a question, the penalty is 3 percentile points per question.

              The ones on which you spend the most time are also the ones you are more likely to get wrong, so it's not a good use of time to spend a lot of extra time on a problem. Even if you get it right, all you're doing is guaranteeing yourself something else wrong later on the test due to lack of time. Do that a few times, and you've now got a string wrong at the end and your score nosedives. It would have been better to get isolated (and very hard!) problems wrong earlier in the section so that you have time to address the last 5 (some of which should be well within your ability to do correctly within the expected timeframe, by the way - in contrast to the really hard ones on which you're spending the extra, very valuable time).

              It sounds like your timing on verbal is fluctuating a bit - sometimes too fast and sometimes too slow. You may want to dig a bit deeper to figure out why so that you can normalize that a bit more.

              Given what you've said about your timing, your actual ability is probably already in the 700+ range, but you're pulling your score down a bit due to your timing problems. (That doesn't mean you can ignore your weaknesses, such as divis and primes... :)

              What were your quant and verbal subscores on the official test? Were they right in range with your practice tests, or were either higher or lower?

              You asked about identifying the Divis and Primes type problems on the test, which leads me to believe that you don't have our Number Properties book? (That book gives problem sets for divis and primes out of OG.) I can't, unfortunately, simply paste that information here. You can get some of that info by looking here at the conversion lists. http://www.manhattangmat.com/fourth-ed-info.cfm If you want the full info, you'll either have to buy the book (it's geared for OG12 now, not OG11) or borrow the book from a friend or the library.

              In terms of whether to invest more money or just go for it on your own, there isn't a simple answer to that question. There are no guarantees no matter what you do, unfortunately. You're not far enough from your goal for me to say "you probably need a class or tutor" - you may be able to do it on your own or you may need help. (Also, I do have a conflict of interest here. I try not to recommend specifically spending money on classes or tutors unless I think there's a clear case that those resources are necessary.) Think about your general motivation level, your organization and ability to develop and stick to a plan, that sort of practical thing. Also think about your weaknesses. Do you feel confident that you can fix those weaknesses on your own (with the help of books or online resources)? Or do you think that you might do better with some guidance from a tutor / teacher? What about that timing problem - can you fix that on your own or would you benefit from some help with that?

              _________________
              Stacey Koprince
              Instructor
              Director of Online Community
              ManhattanGMAT


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:23 pm 
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              Posts: 14
              Hi Stacey, when I took the exam last June, my score break down is:

              Total: 680; Math 45; Verbal; 38

              Actually I expected Verbal to be higher since I was scoring on my previous 3 practice exams inthe 90+ percentile, even had two in the 99th. I scored about in range on math, was hoping a point or two higher.

              So, I have not touched any of the OG questions. Of course I only did the sentence correction last time and some problem solving and managed to get a 680.

              I have only one week-end left prior to taking the exam. As of now I am scheduled Thursday, July 2nd. I wonder if I should pay the $50 and take the exam after long holiday week-end, like on July 7th (Tuesday). I need to decide by this Thursday the 25th or I will have to pay more $250. If you reschedule over a week in advance, you only have to pay $50. Would an extra week-end really make a difference? Ugh! But it sure would be nice to have that holiday week-end to not worry about studying!

              What do you think about the stats I have for average wrong and right answers? I am not quite sure how to interpret that.


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...nervous breakdown
               Post Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:49 pm 
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              Posts: 14
              I am seriously about to have a nervous breakdown. I am crying so hard I can hardly breath. I have been putting my life on hold for this stupid exam. I don't know how I am getting worse. I had a 690 on an exam a few weeks ago, and then last week 660, and I JUST GOT A 580!!!!!!!! I don't understand what is even going on. I never did so poorly on verbal, a 27! I have gotten 44 before, more than once! I couldn't even come close to finishing the section. I just couldn't think and moved slowly through everything. I didn't finish even guessing. I made it to problem 36 or 37. I can't think straight. On Math, I got a 43 but that is the lowest I got too, though my highest is only a 46. Why am I not getting better?????????????? Why am I getting worse????????????????? I seriously can't take it. I am supposed to take the exam next Thursday and was thinking of pushing it out further but I am sick of putting my life on hold. I could just keep studying and keep getting worse. I don't know what to do. I hate all the time I wasted studying and studying and it isn't even paying off. I mean I could push the exam out further but still do poorly!!!!!!!!!! What is going on????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:37 pm 
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              ManhattanGMAT Staff


              Posts: 7417
              Location: San Francisco
              It's okay. Breathe deeply. It's just an exam. There is an explanation for the drop in your performance. We're going to figure out what it is so that you can stop this from happening again.

              Possibly part of the reason you did poorly is that you were seriously stressed out about it - you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself. How were you feeling, both nerves-wise and stamina-wise, before and during the test? Also, did you take it during the evening? It's best to take the exam at the same time of day as you'll have to take the real test - when are you taking the real test? Unless you're a night person, most people don't do as well if they take the test in the evening.

              Clearly, timing was a major factor in your score drop on the verbal. You said that you timed out on question 36 or 37, which means you left 5 or 6 questions blank. Each blank question has an automatic penalty of 3 percentile points, which means that your score dropped 15 or 18 percentile points from where it was on the last question you actually answered. And actually, we make the penalty a little bit higher on our tests than it is on the actual tests (the official penalty is 3 percentile points) because we want to train you NEVER to leave things blank!

              Also, I'm guessing that you had to guess on some number of questions before you ran out of time - you probably noticed you were low on time and started guessing, right? So there was a drop in score there, too. If you have 5+ questions wrong in a row at the end, the penalty averages about 2 to 2.5 percentile points per question. So add that to the guessing penalty from above and you were actually scoring at a much higher level till you ran out of time.

              So, something was clearly going on because you were running out of time so early. It's important to take the time to review the exam reports and figure out why this happened. Where did you spend too much time? Why did you spend the time / how did you get sucked in so much? If you figure out why, then you can take steps to prevent a similar result in future. Run the assessment reports and, if you need help figuring out what to make of the data, post the data from the first report (the summary) on the site. We'll help you figure out what to do.

              I'm guessing, at this point, that it may be best for you to decide to postpone. Your confidence is very low right now and that's not good for taking the real thing in a week.

              _________________
              Stacey Koprince
              Instructor
              Director of Online Community
              ManhattanGMAT


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:41 pm 
              Offline


              Posts: 14
              Thanks Stacey! I have been really stressed out and did take the exam in the evening. I am not sure if I can postpone the exam since I really could do worse still. I am trying to plan a move out of state to go back to school, plus working, plus doing prep work for school. I am moving August 5th. If I push out the exam further, it I won't have much time to get the prep work complete and I want to enjoy myself. I am taking the exam again to try to get over 700 because I did before on practice exams and I heard that if I want to do consulting, some companies won't even look at a candidate if his or her score is below 700. I also did not have to pay for the exam. GMAC gave me a 100% discount since I lost time when taking the exam last year because of technical problems and the instructor did not handle things properly. Also I kept getting markers that did not write well (dried out). I still got 680 so I didn't take the exam again right away. I wish I retook the exam already, but I didn't know I would need over 700 and that I would beat myself up until I took the exam :)


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:07 am 
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              ManhattanGMAT Staff


              Posts: 7417
              Location: San Francisco
              Okay, well, as long as you can psych yourself up and not get too down on yourself, I'm okay with you taking the exam. :)

              I do think it's important to try to figure out why the score drop happened; if you can figure that out, then you can figure out what to do to avoid a repeat. If you'd like to do that, take a look at my comments and questions in my last post and let us know!

              _________________
              Stacey Koprince
              Instructor
              Director of Online Community
              ManhattanGMAT


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:20 pm 
              Offline


              Posts: 14
              You know I honestly can't entirely figure out why I managed to drop so much. It is so strange, sometimes I am on the ball; other times, I am not. I don't understand it. Some nights I get problems wrong that I had previously gotten right! And I know I know how to do them! Sometimes I just can't comprehend what I am reading and my brain hurts. It's like I just can't think sometimes. This is all fairly recent, though. I hope I have an "on" day Thursday.


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               Post subject: Re: GMAT in 2 Weeks...
               Post Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:35 am 
              Offline
              ManhattanGMAT Staff


              Posts: 7417
              Location: San Francisco
              You might have some stress reactions going on - there are some links to articles below that might help.

              http://www.manhattangmat.com/stress-tips.cfm
              http://www.manhattangmat.com/strategy-series-stress.cfm

              You also may be "over-training" so to speak - trying to do too much and overloading your brain (not to mention, raising the stress levels). Are you doing a lot in a row - many hours in one day - or at odd times of day for you (very early, late at night)? That sort of thing?

              We've also been discussing this in another thread, so I'll leave it at that for now.

              _________________
              Stacey Koprince
              Instructor
              Director of Online Community
              ManhattanGMAT


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